Perfume 101 How to find your signature scent

Published on August 2nd, 2013 | by The Perfume Expert

How to find your Signature Scent

This step-by-step guide will help you find your signature scent that is unique to YOU!

Written by a Perfume Expert, these simple to understand tips & tricks will lead you on the journey to discovering your own personal fragrance style.

Shopping for a new fragrance can be intimidating, especially if we don’t even know where to start! But with only a few moments of soul searching and a few tips in hand, finding your perfect scent can be a fun and rewarding experience. And the scent you find will create lasting memories for years to come!

Know Yourself

The first step to finding your signature scent is to know yourself. Spend a few moments and answer these basic questions:

How would I describe my personality?

This question is essential to finding out more about yourself and will be instrumental in matching a fragrance to you. For example, if you are an out-going life-of-the-party kind of gal, then you might prefer more vibrant Fruity Floral scents over soft demure scents . If you are shy introvert, you might prefer soft powdery scents over something strong and attention grabbing. If you are a serious and confident person, you might like deep, rich, musky scents. And you sex-kittens out there might gravitate to mysterious and sultry Oriental Florals.

What is my style?

This question usually fits with the answers from above.

Is your wardrobe filled with the latest trends or is it filled with the classics?

Do you own more romantic flowing dresses or tailored suits?

Is your closet filled with bright colours, earth tones, or black and white?

Knowing your style can help you pick out fragrances and certain notes that suit you best. For example, if you wear a lot of tailored black suits, you probably aren’t going to like smelling like a sweet candy store. Instead you will probably gravitate to classic scents. Or if you wear a lot of earth tones and outdoors clothes, you probably won’t want to smell like a perfume counter, you will most likely wear natural scents. Likewise, if you wear a lot of brightly coloured trends, you probably aren’t going to gravitate to serious notes of nature and instead go for more vibrant fruity florals.

What kind of activities do you like doing and do most often?

For example, are you an avid reader or do you spend most of your time outdoors? Do you like to paint the town red or cuddle on the couch with a chick-flick? These answers can be instrumental to leading you to a perfume that suits your lifestyle best.

If you live in your Hunter wellies or Nike sneaks then you might prefer clean, fresh, and natural scents that don’t detract from the nature you surround yourself in. If you are the opposite, and live in your slippers, than you probably want scents that are soft, powdery, and comforting like being cuddled on the sofa. And for those of you who have 4inch stilettos glued to your feet, you are most likely gravitating to bold, sexy, and alluring scents.

What’s your dream vacation?

Would you like to go back-packing across India, stay at a five star hotel in New York City, or lay on a beach drinking a pina-coloda? The answer to this question can point you in the direction of certain fragrance notes that may appeal to you.

If you are an adventurous globe-trotter you may prefer notes like Cardamom, Wood, Patchouli, and Amber. A city slicker might be drawn to notes of Vanilla, White Flowers, and Musk. A beach comber may be drawn to notes of Citrus and Tropical Fruit or Aqua notes.

What kind of foods do you like to eat?

This question offers great clues to both your personality AND fragrance notes you may like. It sounds strange, but the ingredients we like to taste are usually similar to the notes we like to smell. So if you like spicy food, you may like Oriental Florals or notes like Cinnamon, Cardamom, Black Pepper, and Star Anise. If you like fresh foods like fresh fish, garden vegetables, and fruit then you may prefer scents with Aqua notes, Cucumber, green florals, and Citrus. Or if you have a sweet tooth, you may gravitate to Gourmand scents like Praline, Chocolate, and Vanilla.

In conclusion, knowing your own likes and dislikes, and gaining a better picture of who you are, can lead you to particular scents that suit you best. Even if you don’t know what fragrance notes it translates to now, having the answers to these questions in the back of your mind while shopping can help you narrow down your search. Also, by communicating more about your personality to the sales associate, they too can work with you to help you discover scents that best suit you and your lifestyle best.

Scent Memories

Another way of starting your search for a signature scent is to recall moments in your past where you have been particularly moved by a scent in a positive way. This could also include scents that move you in your present day too. Do you have a particular memory from childhood, like the smell of your grandma’s garden, the smell of fresh baked cookies your mom used to make, the smell of dew on the leaves of the forest trees while camping, the salty smell of the ocean when on vacation, etc.?

Finding out what scents have had a lasting and positive impact on your life so far, or right now, can be a powerful tool in finding a new fragrance. This not only helps you to reconnect with positive memories but it could also help you establish new ones. Perhaps you’d like to immortalize the scent of Gardenias from your wedding bouquet, or the scent of Coconut and Hibiscus flowers from a trip to Hawaii you just went on with your girlfriends, or the scent of Rosemary from your first herb garden you planted in your new home.

Scent is a strong force in our formation of memories. So why not use it in a positive way!

Likes and Dislikes

This is an obvious point. What fragrances or scent notes have you liked or disliked in the past or right now. For example, have you always liked the smell of CK One or thought that Chanel No.5 smelled like an old granny scent? Which fragrances have you enjoyed wearing in the past? What fragrances have you complimented others on? Once you have a few answers , do an online search to find the scent notes in these particular fragrances.  You may find a commonality in the scents you like and this will help guide you in the right direction when picking out a new scent.

Also, in general, think about what scents are appealing to you in everyday life? Do you like the smell of spring flowers but hate the smell of Lilies, or do you like the smell of Vanilla but detest the smell of nuts.  Knowing what kind of notes you like and dislike can be instrumental in finding your perfect scent.


The last step in starting your fragrance journey is to do some research, usually online.

Go online and search perfume shops; read descriptions of fragrances and make a note of ones that sound interesting to you. Make sure that when you are searching you are paying attention to the scent notes used in these fragrances so you can get a better understanding of what they might smell like. If you know of a scent you already like, or dislike, Google the name of the fragrance plus “Notes” and you’ll find someone online describing them.

You can find a lot of good information right here on ThePerfumeExpert.Com where there are plenty of reviews, along with useful articles on Fragrance Families and a comprehensive list of scent Notes and their descriptions.

In addition, you can search well known perfume houses (Gucci, Dior, Guerlain, Calvin Klein, etc.) and see if they have any new fragrances coming out.

Spend some time surfing around and always make note of fragrances that you’d like to try, this way you aren’t going at your search blindly.


Now that you have some arsenal of knowledge, you are ready to face the dreaded perfume counter. But shopping for a new fragrance does not have to be overwhelming or intimidating anymore because you have the knowledge from the above steps to help you navigate the retail store. (You can read more on my in-depth Shopping article here :)

I recommend always visiting either a department store, flagship store, or a beauty store like Sephora or Space NK, in order to try the fragrance on your skin. We all have different skin chemistry and even though we are attracted to certain notes, they may not wear well on our skin. So always try first and give the fragrance a good 10min in order to see how you like it, and to test its sillage (do you have to put your nose right up to your wrist to smell or does it linger around you) and its longevity (does it disappear instantly or can you smell it all day).

If you can’t try it on your skin, ask if they have a sample you can take with you. Getting samples from a department store is like pulling teeth but some stores like Sephora give out or make up samples for you without a fuss.

Trying the fragrance on your skin and/or getting a sample allows you to try the perfume out in your natural environment. What smells amazing to you while being swept up in the luxury of a Yves Saint Laurent counter, may not work in your everyday life. You want the scent to work within your regular activities, whether that’s work, driving your kids to school, or out for dinner. Yes, we do want to dream big and use our imagination, but we just have to make certain it’s not an impulse buy we might regret.

When you have chosen a fragrance that you love, the next logical step is to purchase it. And when you do, ALWAYS ask if there is any promotion, offer, deal, or gift with purchase.

Never leave a perfume counter without something extra! Whether that’s one of the offers above, or some free samples of other fragrances, makeup, or skincare. Even if you can’t get anything for free, perhaps they’d give you a free mini makeover, if there is a makeup line associated, or at least ask to be on a customer mailing list so you can receive notifications for offers in the future.

Happy Shopping! and Good luck!

Remember to take your time and give careful care to discovering your scent. Fragrance is another medium of expression and is powerful in celebrating and creating memories. Our perfume enters a room even before we do, and it’s also the last to leave. So leave a lasting impression!

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About the Author

The Perfume Expert is an online Perfume Blog, Beauty Blog and Skincare Blog all rolled into one so you can stay looking good, smelling nice and feeling great all in one place! Written by an expert you can trust, I provide you with Perfume reviews, Best Perfumes, Beauty reviews and Makeup trends that are all written with passion and an eye for excellence.

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