How to buy perfumes 101

I am not a perfume person somehow or maybe I am just very specific when it comes to getting a perfume for myself. Usually, strong, floral notes give me a severe headache. I almost never wear perfumes until I realized the trick to how to buy perfumes that suit my taste. Some perfumes I have used were really fancy like the Chanel No. 5, Christian Dior’s Hypnotic Poison and London by Burberry. But unless you know how to buy perfumes that work for your preferences, you just never happen to like even these fancier ones.

The only way I found out was when a woman on one of my flights told me how great I smelled. That was my Chanel by Chance Eau Fraiche with Citrus top notes. Let me tell you it smells heavenly and I never once had a headache. Picking a perfume can be tricky but it is essential to know what you like. Also, unless you know someone’s scent or the notes they like, never really gift them a perfume because it is a very personal choice and people may or may not use the perfumes they receive.


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Types of scents

If you want to know the tips on how to buy perfumes, you must know the major kinds of scents perfumes are based on.


A more traditional scent with floral tones such as gardenia, lilac, jasmine or rose that endeavors into fruity tones like peaches, pear or berries.


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A scent that men love, the notes are derived from the nature such as sandalwood, cedar, moss and gives a feel of forest-inspired scents which are refreshing and makes you feel good.


Oriental includes a sensual mix of scents defined by rich spices such as patchouli, vanilla, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Musk also falls into this category providing a heavier note to oriental scents.


One of my favourite kinds, fresh fragrances will instantly enhance your senses with its aromas of orange, fresh grass, lemon, sea breeze, etc.


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Fragrance Terms

Another step on our how to buy perfumes guide is to know which one is what. The French influence on perfumes is evident and for all the good reasons. These perfumes come with some French terms which can be hard to decipher if you aren’t a French speaker. But here’s a quick translation so you are never lost while shopping for them again.


This means perfume and has the largest percentage of oils (>20%), lasting up to 6 hours.

Eau de Parfum

This is quite literally a slightly watered-down perfume, as “eau” means water in French. This has 10-20% oil and lasts 4-5 hours.

Eau de Toilette

A lightly scented fragrance that is used more as a skin freshener (scents with citrus notes often fall in this category), containing 7-12% oil and lasting 3-4 hours.

Eau de Cologne

This is the lightest of the fragrances, this type only contains 2-7% oil and lasts 2-3 hours. Cologne can be a good choice for fragrance-sensitive folks.

Pour Homme

Something you find written on specifically Men’s perfumes.


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Read more: Memorize this: The right order to apply skincare products

How to buy the perfumes, once you know this?

Here’s the thing, no one can really help you pick the right perfume unless they are fragrance experts. You can be the best person to decide the right perfume for yourselves. A few things to note:

  • The best perfume is the one which synchronizes with your body odor.
  • If a lot of people say the scent, you’re wearing smells bad, maybe then it is time to change and get some help.
  • When shopping in-store, do not smell the perfume on cards as you will only be able to smell the top notes. The best way is to narrow down your choices to two perfumes and then spritz one on each of your wrist. Smell about 10 minutes later to actually see how the fragrance smells on you.
  • Dabbing is the key or just spray, let the liquid sink in and do nothing. Rubbing will generate heat that changes the course of the scent and the most affected are the Top notes of your fragrance. This means that your perfume will probably not last as long as it is meant to be.
  • Perfumes are sensitive to the kind of environment you stay in. It is best kept in its own box, in moderate room temperatures. Since India is a tropical country with extreme summer conditions, you may even store a bottle or two of your favourite perfumes in the refrigerator to preserve its freshness.
  • The smaller the bottle, the better it is for your perfume. However, larger bottles can be maintained well by keeping them in the refrigerator.
  • In extremely hot weather, it is better not to wear your perfume directly on your skin as the natural oils released from your body can destroy the scent. Instead wear it on a scarf or spritz a little over your clothes from a 3-6 inch distance so the fragrance moves with the air.
  • Less is always more. If it is overpowering, you could be turning off a lot of people.
  • How to buy perfumes when you are planning to make a switch? The best way is to go to an exclusive brand store or a place like Sephora which usually have sample sizes. Get a couple best ones of your choice and try them over a week. This will help you to make a better decision.
  • Avoid keeping your perfumes in the bathroom as the steam can affect the scent notes making them less effective on every use.
  • Under arm is not a good place to apply any fragrance because it produces the highest amount of heat disrupting the perfume’s longevity. Other than heat, light and oxygen can ruin your perfume too.


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Whether you’re looking for men’s or women’s perfumes, I am sure this guide will help you understand the basics. Some amazing brands to try can be Chanel, Dior, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent, Armani, and pretty much all those big names in the perfume industry.

My favourite: Chanel CHANCE EAU FRAÎCHE Eau de Toilette

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