Testing fragrance can be a bit of a daunting prospect. There are so many scents out there and so many “rights and wrongs” and “dos and don’ts”, but really, the process is relatively simple, and there are a few things you can do to make testing fragrances effective and easy. To help you, we’ve put together a quick guide that tells you exactly how you can test fragrances without any stress or fuss. All you will need is your nose, some blotters (post-its will do if you don’t have blotters), a pen, and an open mind!
Step One: Test on a Blotter
Here’s step one, and you should approach blotter testing as a shortlisting exercise. You have limited real estate on your skin, so you want to ensure that you only put scents on your body that you want to try. There is, after all, literally nothing worse than spritzing yourself with something you don’t like – it’s difficult to opt out of the situation once the scent is on! So yes, blotter testing is to give you enough of an idea of what the scent is like to allow you to decide whether you want to wear it or not. Yes, it will smell different on the blotter in comparison to your skin, but not so significantly that you won’t be able to get a distinct impression of the scent.
Start by making sure you’re in a place without any competing smells. You’ll want to sniff without olfactory interruption so having a sniff session in your kitchen whilst you slow cook a stew probably isn’t the most sensible thing you can do. Next, pick about five things you want to smell – anything more, and you’re likely to overwhelm your nose. If you have more to sniff, then split your testing into two sittings, with a small break in between (grab a cuppa). Now we sniff!
Spritz your scent on to the blotter. If you’re using a long blotter, bend the spritzed end to 90 degrees, this allows you to place the blotter down on the table without contaminating it. If you’re testing several scents, use a pen or pencil to write the name of the fragrance on the unscented end of the blotter, so you know which is which. Bring the blotter close to your nose and smell. Don’t inhale too deeply and keep moving the blotter to and from your nose for short bursts of scent. If you want to be massively nerdy, you can also jot down your thoughts in a notepad, but if not, follow your instinct to identify what you like.
If your nose becomes overwhelmed at any time, take a break and go outside for some fresh air. Don’t inhale strong smells such as coffee beans to clear your nose; this actually has the opposite effect. Instead, smell some clean skin.
Speaking of skin, let’s move to testing there!
Step Two: Test on Skin
Testing on skin is important because you will get a distinct idea of how the scent smells on you, but also how it feels to wear a fragrance. After all, it is one thing to smell a fragrance, but something altogether different to be immersed in a cloud of it. You may love something on the blotter but find that it doesn’t quite suit you when you wear it, and that may not be a case of skin chemistry and rather is just down to what you feel comfortable wearing, and what image you wish to project to the world with your fragrance.
So now we’ve shortlisted on blotters we try on skin. I recommend trying no more than two fragrances on skin at any given time – one on each arm – this way you won’t overwhelm your nose. I like to do a scent on the back of each hand, just because they are easier to smell, but if you want to try on your pulse points, then you can’t go wrong with the wrists.
Testing on the skin is really simple – just spritz the scent and sniff as you please. Avoid rubbing your wrists together as this will warm up the scent, and it will evaporate quicker. If anyone tells you that doing this “crushes the molecules” then ignore them, that’s not a thing. But still, no rubbing please and thank you.
If you want to wash a scent off, then a good soap will do, however, dependent on the tenacity of the scent you may find that a trace still lingers on the skin, so you may wish to wait before trying something else. Patience is king.
Once you’ve tried scents on your body in small doses, you can decide to try one to wear; this is the fun bit because you get to spray with reckless abandon and ultimately if the scent is right, you will know.
My final tip is to have fun. Pick out fragrances that you think will suit you and enjoy the process of evaluating them. When you find the right fragrance, relish that moment, because there is nothing better than that.
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