Discovering Your Signature Scent

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We have all been there. You’re at a store, looking at all the perfumes available, and you don’t have a clue where to start when it comes to picking one.

On the other hand, maybe you know what scents you like or what brand you want to buy from, but the sheer number of options — all with only slightly different notes — makes it incredibly difficult to decide which one to try. With so many different scents and brands to choose from, it can be hard to know which will smell good without you getting tired of it in a week. 

A good fragrance is an unseen accessory that should compliment your personality and style. It acts as your trademark; your fragrance can announce your arrival, make you stand out in a room or conjure up memories of you when you’re not around. Every person is unique, and your fragrance should reflect that.

Figuring out your signature scent can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. VALLEY is here with some tips for finding the perfect scent for you. 

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Do Your Research

Before you set out to find your next perfume, do some research. Figure out what smells you enjoy and what you get tired of quickly. If you are new to fragrances, think about the distinctive smells that you like in your everyday life. Do you love the rose smell in your body wash? The coconut scent from your shampoo? Even the tobacco in cigarette smoke? All of these questions are great starting points to finding the right scent for you.

Once you find the perfect note to use as your starting point, you can either ask for recommendations with that note at the store or use an online resource such as or

Another thing to think about before choosing your signature scent is your environment. You might want to tailor your fragrance to your mood or lifestyle. For example, lighter scents such as floral or citrus might work better in an office or school setting, whereas woody or spicy aromas might be better for a night out.

Also, think about the intensity of your fragrance. Do you want people to notice the fragrance you’re wearing, or is the scent just for you? Researching these small things will provide a starting point for your new fragrance, and it should help narrow down your search, at least a little bit. 

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Take Advantage of Samples

The most crucial part of finding the right fragrance is, of course, trying it on. You’ll never know if you actually like the scent unless you put it on your body. Fragrances are sensitive to many different things; a person’s body chemistry, diet and even hormonal levels will impact how it smells, its intensity and how long the scent lasts on the skin. Mindy Yang, the founder and CEO of perfume discovery studio Perfumarie, said not to make the mistake of buying a perfume only seconds after trying it on. 

“The essence of the scent will reveal only after it’s intermingled with the wearer’s chemistry, and it takes time.”

Mindy Yang, Founder and CEO of Perfumarie

If you like a scent but are afraid you will get sick of it after a while, there’s a solution. Luckily, most stores, and even some websites, offer customers the chance to sample fragrances — all you have to do is ask. Websites such as Dossier and Scentbird allow you to choose samples from several brands and scents. If you prefer going to a department store, you can always ask an employee to bottle up a scent on their shelves so you can try it out at home and see if you still love it. 

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Try it On, The Right Way

Where you try a scent, and where you spray are important. Yang said it’s essential for a perfume to make skin contact. Spraying it on a pulse point where the skin is naturally warm on your body, such as your wrist or elbow, will make the fragrance heat up and naturally reveal its scent over time.

It’s also recommended not to rub the scent into your skin. Rubbing the scent creates heat that breaks up the molecules found in perfume faster. By rubbing the scent into your skin, you are inadvertently speeding up the length of time the scent will last, and you’ll miss out on the true fragrance. 

Another tip when sampling perfumes is only try on three scents at a time. Initially, you might want to smell every scent that jumps out at you. But as you keep going, you’ll likely start mixing fragrances up, or each scent will linger together.

Try to stick to only smelling three to five of your favorite scents per visit, just to ensure that you give each fragrance the proper shot. When it comes to sampling, it’s also recommended that you try lighter scents first before focusing on the heavy ones. Erika Shumate and Christine Luby, founders of fragrance start-up Pinrose, said that it’s better to start with more aqueous or muskier scents (aqueous scents are fresher and musky scents are more like clean-laundry). Move from musky to citrus to florals and then heavier wood scents. 

Take a Signature Scent Quiz

If you’re still nervous about picking out a scent, try Googling. There are several fragrance finder quizzes available on sites such as Sephora, Macy’s and even Buzzfeed. These sites offer many suggestions based on exactly what you’re looking for in your next perfume. You can even choose from top-rated products, bestsellers or new products that designers are trying out. 

When it comes to finding the right scent, it all comes down to personal preference. It’s important to choose a perfume because you like how you feel when you wear it. The worst thing you can do is pretend to like a certain scent or brand, only to get sick of it a week later. 

What’s your favorite perfume? Tweet us @VALLEYMag and let us know the scent you usually go for!


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