How to Create a Signature Scent
It seems like every A-lister in Hollywood has launched a fragrance with their name on it —Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Beyonce just to name a few.
But not everyone wants to smell like a star. That's where customized perfumes come in.
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“Customization is a growing trend among shoppers,” explains Sue Phillips, founder and president of Scenterprises. “People in general don’t want to smell like someone else. They want to smell like themselves."
With more than 1,000 perfumes entering the market last year, how can you stand out from the perfumed pack? We visited Phillips in her New York City showroom (where fragrance workshops can cost between $150 and $300 on average) to get a nose ahead.
To begin creating a fragrance, it’s crucial to learn as much as possible about the art behind fragrance-making and what it takes to put your unique stamp on a scent. “You don’t want to develop something that has a ‘hangover affect,’” warns Phillips. “In other words, something made with cheap ingredients, which can give unwanted headaches. You have to explore which aromas best suit your personality before mixing them together. There is more to floral, for example than just roses. You might not like the smell of a rose, but you could be captivated by a light gardenia.”
Determine Your Personality
At Scenterprises, guests are prompted to take a “Fragrance Personality Test,” which will help determine which scent you like best. Results can be woody, fresh (think citrus and dewy grass), floral (most popular among women), and spicy oriental. As an alternative, you can visit a perfume shop and take slow, careful whiffs of scents that fall under each category on tester paper to help you determine which one suits you best.
Figure Out Your Notes
“Your fragrance should have three notes: a top, middle and base,” explains Phillips. “Your top note is the first scent impression you have. It should be refreshing. Think about when you wake up in the morning. You want something that will invigorate you to start your day.” The middle or “heart note” is what the top then transforms into after about 30 minutes. Phillips advises to look for a scent that will help you settle into your day, such as soft floral or even some spice. The base is what the fragrance finally evaporates into, lasting the longest. Are you looking for a pick-me-up that smells like creamy vanilla, sensual musk or earthy and green? Once you’ve evaluated what are the notes you want your personal scent to feature, it’s time to experiment.
The fun of developing your fragrance is the opportunity to explore essential oils and figure out which one will smell best when blended together. To get your oils, you can also visit a specialty perfume store, such as The Fragrance Shop in New York City.
“You can go to a place like Whole Foods or any perfume store in your zip code or online,” adds Phillips. “Some websites have different quality oils, so it’s just a test and try variation, but they must be essential.”
Essential oils are made with natural ingredients, such as flowers, fruits or herbs. They can be more expensive than fragrance oils, which are usually blended already for wearing, but they won’t contain synthetic materials that could potentially cause headaches or allergies. For those with sensitive skin, Phillips suggests adding a few drops of baby or almond oil to their blended creations. Also, it will lessen the power of the finished product, making it ideal for wearing it at the office without disturbing your co-workers.
Once the essential oils are combined, pharmaceutical-grade alcohol is added before bottling for spritzing. The more alcohol you add, the more the fragrance will dilute, lessening its scent power. “Never use rubbing alcohol,” warns Phillips. “I use fragrance-grade alcohol from my lab. But if you do some research, you can find where to buy the appropriate alcohol for perfume-making near you.” Whether your blending or adding alcohol, it's advised to use droppers, which will not only make the process less messy, but it will also make it easier to determine how much of each product you are adding.
Wear Your Scent Correctly
Think you know how to apply fragrance? Think again.
“I’ve worked with a lot of French women in Paris and truthfully, they really do know how to wear fragrances,” says Phillips. “For maximum effect, you must wear it on your pressure points. They applied it on their ankles, behind the knees, the inside of their thighs, their cleavage and the nape of their neck. What happens next? The pulse points warm up and the fragrance rises. If you apply it on the right places, the scent will last and stay with you throughout the day.”
And for those who like to spritz the scent in the air and then walk through a perfume cloud? Phillips says that’s a major mistake.
“Not only are you wasting the perfume, but it stays on your hair and stains your clothes,” she adds. “The scent doesn’t go anywhere and it disappears.”