First, ‘hate’ is a strong word. If you’ve been landed with the preferred fragrance of your current opposite person, we’re not going to pretend to make you suddenly adore it, so maybe re-gift that one – see tip #5 – and treat yourself to one of our Explore Boxes of fragrant delights, and perhaps a new partner, instead?
But there are things you can try before you completely give up a scent – we can’t tell you how many fragrance experts (ourselves included!) and even perfumers have changed their minds about a fragrance by trying some of these good tips…
1. Improve your sense of smell
Absolutely everyone can benefit from this – despite you are complete novices, normal perfume-lovers to industry professionals telling us how trying these techniques has changed the way they smell for the better. This doesn’t mean suddenly obtaining the ability to be able to detect every single ingredient within a bottle of fragrance. You get it by learning to train your nose the way a perfumer does: by deeply exploring the emotions it makes you feel, textures, colours, places, and people it reminds you of.
This is why we developed our so-popular “How to Improve Your Sense of Smell” Workshops, which we have sometimes at independent perfumeries around the UK and often held in London. We’ll be adding new dates as soon as we can hold face-to-face workshops again, and plan to create a video available online.
Meanwhile, here are a few tips that you can try every day:
- Spray ascent on a blotter, preferably; close your eyes and keep sniffing for few seconds, then take the blotter away, breath deeply, and re-sniff the blotter again. Repeat this for a minute or more, and then begin writing a few words in a notebook. It shouldn’t ‘list’ notes and it doesn’t have to be a description – try to use words that make you think of other things. For example…
- If this aroma were a fabric, what would it be? What color? If you made someone an outfit from that cloth, where would they be going, who would they be?
- If it were a piece of music, what instruments can be playing? Is it rock music, classical, pop, rap, or jazz?
Really attempt to get past thinking “I don’t like this” and focus instead on the mood. Is it too fresh or too deep or floral for your personal taste? Give it time and then, if needed, move on to the next tips.
2. Seasonal changes
Did you know that your mood, the weather, and even what you ate up to *two weeks ago* can dramatically alter how the scent smells on your skin? Climate temperature and skin are vital to a perfume’s performance, so even your favorite perfume will smell different based on the time of year. When perfumers test the scents they’re creating they often use climate-controlled booths to check how they smell in colder and hot conditions (depending on what countries they’ll be selling in there). Don’t re-gift until you’ve tried the perfume again later on holiday or even in the year
- The same thing as above, strongly spiced foods can change how a perfume smells on your skin, and when testing perfume under lab conditions, the volunteers whom they use are often specifically asked to don’t eat such foods up to two weeks prior to testing, so the perfumers can smell a true representation of the aroma. Although sometimes the reverse is true: if a perfume is to be mainly sold in a country where people eat lots of spicy foods, the ‘skin models’ are asked to do the same diet to ensure the scent works efficiently.
- Now, We know that mood plays an important part in how we select a perfume– try a scent follow the particular way, and it colors how you feel about the perfume itself. If you’re feeling upset or stressed, just overwhelmed, or a bit under the weather, these are not ideal conditions for testing out something new. Wait until have more time to really explore what you’re smelling or simply you’re feeling calmer.
3. Layer up!
Layering fragrances used to be seen as a scent crime, but we’ve all gotten over ourselves a bit (but well most of us have). You don’t have to do this to a fragrance you already love on its own – why would you need to? – but there are wonderful ways of increasing a sadly flimsy fragrance, or adding a zing to something that’s cloying on your skin or a bit too dark. Try it, because, we always say: perfume isn’t a tattoo – if you don’t like it, you can wash it off!
- Add freshness: look for citrus notes like neroli, bergamot, lemon, lime or ‘green’ notes such as tomato, galbanum, or violet leaf, green tea, aquatic/marine accords (synthetic recreations of watery smells, sea-like), and aldehydes (often described as being like Champagne bubbles).
- Add power: enhance it up by adding more base notes like patchouli, vetiver, labdanum, woods or musk.
- Add sweetness: tonka bean and vanilla can ’round’ a perfume, making it faint on your skin (and addictive when you sniff ), as can touches of synthetic notes described as ‘dulce de Leche” or ‘caramel’, chocolate, ripe fruits, or even candy floss. Try to add less than you think you need, as adding more is always easier than taking away, and a little of these can go a long way!
- Add beauty: find a scent too clinical or ‘harsh’? Look to layer it with lusciously fruity or decadently velvety rose oils, the sunshine-bottled scent of orange flower, luminescent jasmine, or a heady glamour of tuberose; try an apricot-like osmanthus flower, the powdery elegance of iris/orris or the fluffiness of mimosa.
For layering any of these, you can either try layering over other perfumes you have in which the above notes dominate, with a single-fragranced ‘soliflore’ (one main note) fragrance spray or oil, or try layering the scent you don’t currently like over a differently perfumed oil or body lotion
4. A part-time perfume
There are days we feel the mood really needing to try something completely different, but perhaps don’t want to be stuck with that scent all day, so what do we do?
Consider spraying a scarf (preferably not a light color or silk, unless you’ve patch-tested it as above, first!) with this fragrance you’re unsure of, that way if it gets a bit ‘too much or you want to wear something different, you’re not stuck with it on your skin all day since you can simply take the scarf off.
Tried all that but still struggling? All is not lost, don’t give up yet…
5. Boost the lasting-power
If the reason you don’t like perfume is that it just seems to ‘disappear’ on your skin, you’re not alone. We sometimes find those with dry skin have this problem, and it’s even though genetics, things like hair color can play a part. Scientists are still finding this out, but while they do, there are ways you can make a perfume last far longer:
- Spaying the perfume at the nape of your neck, even into clothes or your hair – But do check by spraying a tissue first. In order to make sure don’t have your fabric or hair a strange color, or leave an oily residue! We prefer this way of wearing perfume, as fabric and hair are porous without heating up as much as your skin, helping the perfume to stay all day.
- Spray pulse-points you might not always think of. Behind your knees is a good example – it’s a warm spot that, will mean you leave a fragrant trail when it spritzed, …
- Try using rich body balm, body oil, or moisturizing lotion before you put any fragrance on because the aroma takes longer to evaporate on nourished skin. This helps the perfume ‘cling’ to your skin more easily, and so you get to actually smell it for more than a few minutes without re-spraying much time.
Spraying a fragrance onto a scarf is a particularly good idea if you want it…
6. Scent up your life
We all have certain fragrant ingredients or scents that, for one reason or another, we may not wish to wear but do like to smell it if it’s scenting something else.
- How about being utterly fabulous by spraying insides of envelopes and your notepaper, and writing a few thank you cards or factual letters to loved-ones you’ve not seen for a while. Everyone loves getting proper posts!
- Why not try spraying off-cuts of tissue paper or pretty wrapping paper, and using this to line your sweater drawers or lingerie?
- The truly decadent could try scenting table linen – again, PLEASE patch test, as above – for lavish dinner parties to rival Marie Antoinette – spraying on cotton wool and putting inside pottery vase or a decorative ceramic, on ceramic discs or wooden ornaments you hangover radiators to scent the whole room as they heat.
We do hope you can find a way to try this poor perfume again and give it some love, you still can’t bring yourself to use it though all else fails, well at least you tried! Why not…
7. Have a perfume-swapping party or re-gift
Um, remembering not to invite the person who gave you that fragrance… otherwise, major packs. Or, if you’re looking to re-gift, have a look at our wonderful Fragrance Finder.
Simply put the name of the perfume into the search box, and it’ll suggest six scents that are similar in style and character or share a number of significant notes – by the way, you can see if anyone you know already has one of these, and it means they’ll very prefer to love to receive this one from you.