2021 is the year of fragrance layering. With personalisation being a key beauty trend, perfume brands are encouraging you to mix and match your scents now more than ever.
As soon as I spotted this ever-increasing fragrance trend, I knew that I had to delve a little bit deeper into the concept of perfume layering and tell you all about it. After all, it’s a fun, creative way of experiencing fragrance, and I think it’s only set to become even more popular.
So, while the first edit in my fragrance layering series looked at some of the key questions around the history, concept and benefits of mixing and matching scent, this time I’m going to be offering a few top tips on how to find the best fragrance combinations for anyone who isn’t sure where to start:
1. Make It Fun!
In this piece, I won’t make any big bold claims about which scents work perfectly together and which ones absolutely don’t. In fact, if you take away anything from this article, I want it to be this: fragrance cocktailing is supposed to be fun, experimental and maybe even a little bit shocking. So, I want to encourage you to try perfume combinations that you perhaps don’t feel one hundred percent confident will go together because, sometimes, it’s the most unexpected combinations that are the most divine.
On the flip side, there might be two perfumes that should – on paper – be a match made in heaven, but they just don’t quite work together in reality, or perhaps they don’t bring out the best in each other. So, this only goes to show that, when it comes to fragrance layering, there is no right or wrong. It’s about trying something new, experimenting with something a little different, and hopefully enjoying the process in the meantime. And if you just so happen to find your new all-time favourite signature scent, then that’s just an added bonus!
That being said, I completely understand if you feel a tiny bit daunted by the prospect, especially if you’re new to the art. So, keep reading for a few more top tips that will help guide you into the world of perfume layering…
2. Start With Something Subtle
If you’re unsure about layering two scents together, then a great way to start is by pairing two or more fragrances that are naturally lighter, less intense and perhaps a little bit fresher. This is a great way to ease yourself in if you don’t want to go too bold or make too much of a statement straight away. Then, you can go for bolder, stronger perfumes as you build your confidence.
3. Stick To The Same Fragrance Family
As much as I believe that there are no rules when it comes to fragrance mixing, there are certain types of fragrances that lend themselves to layering. Naturally, picking two or more fragrances within the same fragrance family is often a safe bet. Alternatively, try fragrances that are in different fragrance families but are often paired together in perfumes. For example, you’ll often see fruity facets paired with floral notes, so you might like to combine a floral Eau de Parfum with a fruity Eau de Toilette.
4. Explore The Top, Heart And Base Notes
Most perfumes are built around a classic perfume pyramid made up of top, heart and base notes. You’ll often find that fragrances can have a similar note structure. So, if your favourite perfume starts with fresh, bright citrus facets before blending into a white floral heart and rounding off with soft, sensual gooey base notes, then a scent that goes on a similar journey might make the perfect match.
5. Find A Central Note
Lots of perfumes that are made for layering are built around a key note. For example, Narciso Rodriguez’ perfumes often have a unique, central Heart of Musc accord. This means that they blend well together because they share the same DNA. It’s the same for Salvatore Ferragamo’s Storie di Seta collection, with each fragrance tied together by a Ferragamo-exclusive accord. So, looking for perfumes with the same key note can be a good indicator that they will layer well, especially if the fragrances are made by the same perfumer, or are from the same brand or collection.
6. Think Of Your Favourite Flavour Combinations
Lots of the recommendations above are helpful if you’re looking to start your own fragrance layering journey and want to test out the waters before diving in headfirst. But what if you want to be more experimental? Playing around with different notes or fragrance families is the way to go if you want to be more avant-garde.
I find it helps to think of food when you’re pairing different fragrance families together. Just like absolute opposites work in food – think prosciutto and melon, or strawberries and balsamic vinegar – sometimes juxtaposing two scents can have impressive results. In cuisine, it’s all about finding the perfect balance between salty and sweet, spicy and cool – and the same can be said for perfume layering.
Although this is by no means a comprehensive or absolute guide to scent combinations, we’ve created this fragrance layer chart to help guide the more adventurous perfume mixologists who want to explore multiple fragrance families at once:
Fragrance Family: Aquatic
Works Well With: Citrus, Floral, Solar, Woody
Fragrance Family: Aromatic
Works Well With: Spicy, Woody, Citrus
Fragrance Family: Citrus
Works Well With: Aquatic, Chypre, Fougere, Woody, Aromatic
Fragrance Family: Chypre
Works Well With: Floral, Oriental, Woody, Citrus
Fragrance Family: Floral
Works Well With: Aquatic, Fruity, Citrus, Woody, Oriental, Solar
Fragrance Family: Fougere
Works Well With: Woody, Floral, Citrus
Fragrance Family: Fruity
Works Well With: Floral, Gourmand
Fragrance Family: Gourmand
Works Well With: Fruity, Floral, Woody, Oriental
Fragrance Family: Oriental
Works Well With: Floral, Fruity, Woody, Gourmand, Spicy
Fragrance Family: Spicy
Works Well With: Woody, Oriental, Aromatic
Fragrance Family: Solar
Works Well With: Aquatic, Citrus, Floral
Fragrance Family: Woody
Works Well With: Aromatic, Citrus, Oriental, Floral, Aquatic, Spicy
7. Think Of Your Favourite Destination
My final top tip on fragrance layering is to think of your favourite destination, and partner two scents together which will take you there. For example, I love visiting sandy beaches as the sun beats down on you, while a breeze blows through your hair and salty seawater gently laps at your feet. So, I’d recreate this by pairing a solar fragrance with an aquatic one. Or, if you want to recall an enchanting stroll through lavender-filled sun-kissed fields in the Mediterranean, try pairing an aromatic perfume with a woody scent to transport your senses.