Expert tips to finding your signature fragrance

Expert tips for choosing— and wearing—a scent that’s truly “you”

InStyle Contributor / January 11 2017

With new scents springing up on shelves every month, your sensorial quest to find The One can be overwhelming. And if you don’t know the difference between pepper and patchouli notes here’s good news: when searching for your elusive signature scent it’s simple. Find the one you like.

Jacques Polge, nose of the House of Chanel and creator of such iconic scents as No.5 Eau Premiere and Chance, shares his expert tips for choosing— and wearing—a scent that’s truly “you”.


Discover your notes

“Fragrance should be as simple as possible,” says Polge. So start with the basics: choose a perfume you love. Identify your favourite notes by scouring your home, paying particular attention to the contents of your bathroom cabinet. If you find the same or similar scents in the candles and lotions you own, it’s likely that’s your natural preference. Search within that aroma family for your new fragrance.


Test on bare skin

Next stop is the perfume counter. Collect multiple samples to take home and test you can then see how they develop and react with the chemistry of your skin. Polge says to test a scent on a spot that’s not already fragranced and is as clean as possible. So skip your scented body cream as it will interfere with the bouquet, the longevity on your skin and the sillage—the trail perfume leaves in your wake.


Pick your potion

Once you’ve chosen your scent, you’ll need to decide on the concentration. As a guide, an extrait, also referred to as a parfum, often contains specially reserved ingredients and is considered to be the most potent and long-lasting— so it should be used sparingly. Eau de parfum is slightly less intense and is designed to be sprayed liberally. As for eau de toilette? It’s lighter—perfect to spritz in warm weather.
Fragrance should be as simple as possible
Jacques Polge


Decide where to wear it

Polge recommends dabbing scent onto your pulse points—the warmest areas of your body, such as the wrists, between your breasts and the nape of your neck. When your temperature rises, it will lift the fragrance from your skin, intensifying the aroma. If you prefer the smell to linger on your clothing, spritz the fragrance in front of you and walk through the mist, which will then settle on your clothes.


Build a wardrobe

There’s now a trend towards owning a fragrance “wardrobe”, which includes having different perfumes for different seasons, says Polge. While the base notes should still echo your natural preference, go for a light and fresh version in the warmer months and when it’s cold, opt for a perfume with a more intense composition that features more prominent aromas.

Main image credit: Getty

Hayley has contributed to a range of online and print titles including InStyle and Gritty Pretty