Some people like buying shoes or handbags, some people like buying makeup. For me, it’s fragrance. I remember a time when I would make fun of my mom for her candle obsession. Laughing and rolling my eyes as she would stop, mesmerized, by the mere sight of that scented wax filled jar. No matter where we were, from Walmart to Saks, from small business to gas stations. It didn’t matter where we were, only that she bought one. Little did I know that I, too, would become fragrance obsessed, and that it would be one that my mom and I happily share. I don’t buy as many fragrances as I used to (my wallet thanks me for that), but I do still enjoy browsing any store I go to for their fragrance sections; online stores these days. I’ve noticed that shopping for fragrance online isn’t very easy if you don’t know what types of notes or scents you like. It used to be a rule of mine that I would almost never buy a fragrance online without trying it on my skin first, but as I’ve smelled and tested more and more fragrances over the years, I have grown slightly more confident in online buying. Having said that, I am definitely no expert on the ins and outs of how fragrance works. When I look at the notes in a fragrance, I mostly know what I don’t like and there are a handful of notes I know I do like, based on past experience. Like I mentioned, my mom and I share the love of fragrance and I find it so interesting that there are some scents she loves that I dislike and vice versa. This gave me the idea to share my favorites with you, and I thought it would be a funny, realistic way for me to attempt to describe scents, since I don’t understand all the technical, more sophisticated terms. I also asked the other Tulhoma girls what their favorites are, so that is included as well.
What kind of scents do we like:
Alexys: This is where I get a little confused. I know there are some things I see when reading perfume descriptions that I like. For example, I know I love perfumes that have amber notes, and I know I tend to like either darker, woody fragrances or light floral/fruity fragrances, but honestly this is something I want to learn more about. As for dislikes, I know I strongly dislike powdery smelling floral perfumes, I also don’t usually like tobacco in perfumes. Other than that, I am pretty open to trying new scents.
Taryn: I like more masculine scents when it comes to candles. Scents like tobacco and different kinds of wood, what you would smell if you were in a small cabin in the forest. But I also like sweeter scents that remind me of baking (because I don’t do that often), pairings like vanilla and cinnamon or vanilla and orange. For perfumes, I lean towards subtle floral. I don’t like strong scents in general, so I like understated perfumes and fragrances used in other beauty supplies.
Bethany: I have the hardest time picking out perfumes or candles for myself. It seems like what smells good on someone else or in store develops a completely different scent once I get home. The scents I most lean towards are warm and sweet. I love fall scents the most. If I find a candle that reminds me of sitting on the couch wrapped up in a blanket next to the fireplace it is definitely going home with me.
Favorite natural scents
- Fresh cut grass
- Green tea
- Earthy smells, like forest floor and wood
- Fresh flowers (lilies)
Chanel Chance Eau Tendre: This is a very fresh, sweet, but not overly sweet, floral scent. It smells really clean and crisp to me. I have worn this for many years now and I still haven’t gotten tired of it. I think I will always have this in my collection.
Killian Princess: This is my newest fragrance purchase. To me, this is a very sweet, spicy scent with a very mild sharp undertone. It’s a really well done candy type of perfume. The notes in this are just beautiful (marshmallow, green tea, ginger), and it does kind of remind me of a spicy, well-dressed marshmallow. Really like this one!
Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt: This is another staple in my collection. One of the great things about Jo Malone colognes is that the names are pretty much a description of what the fragrance smells like. This one, to me, is a very woody, warm scent, but also has a lightness to it with the sea salt and sage notes. It’s like a cozy, sophisticated campfire on the beach.
Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom and Honey: Again, the scent is pretty much in the name. This is a fruity and floral scent, with the sweetness of honey and is very light and airy. I like to wear this in the summertime when the weather is hot and humid and I don’t want to feel weighed down by a fragrance.
Glossier You: I got a sample of this in my Glossier order and really liked it! I only got to use it once, but from the website description and memory, I would say this has lovely woody, musky notes that wear on the skin really well, and cleaner top notes that pair well with the warmth of the muskier notes.
Jo Malone Lime Basil and Mandarin: Another Jo Malone product (I’m a fan of Jo Malone, if you can’t tell). This is quite a unique scent for a perfume. It’s very bright, crisp, tarte, and herbaceous. It’s one of those fragrances that I kind of want to make a drink out of (maybe don’t actually do that, obviously). I love the room spray version of this fragrance as well. It just makes me happy when I smell it.
Ellis Brooklyn Myth: I wore this perfume all winter and it has become one of my all time favorites! It has a very fresh cozy, musky (in a really good way) scent. It’s also floral with notes of jasmine and tiger orchid. All around interesting, lovely fragrance.
Le Labo Another 13: I really love this fragrance! There is just something about it that is incredibly enticing, like I just want to keep smelling it. When I first got it, I actually wasn’t sure if I liked it or not, but when I still wasn’t sure about it I decided to spray some on a piece of paper, and I ended up forgetting about it. Over the next few days I kept getting whiffs of something that smelled really good, I just couldn’t figure out what it was. I eventually realized that it was the piece of paper that had been sprayed with Another 13. I couldn’t believe that it not only lasted that long but that it remained smelling good, actually better than it did when I first sprayed it. I was hooked after that! It’s hard for me to describe what it smells like because it is so unique, but the website lists some of the notes as synthetic animal musk, moss, jasmine, and ambrette. All pretty interesting ingredients for sure.
Chloe Love Story: I mistook this as a rose scent when I first smelled it, but it is actually a really lovely floral scent. It also has some neroli and jasmine , which I think come through well. I like wearing this in the winter time as it is a bit on the heavy side, for me.
Penhaligon’s The Coveted Duchess Rose: Speaking of rose, I tend to find it quite a hit or miss scent. Sometimes roses can be a bit overpowering and unenjoyable to me, but this fragrance really hits the mark. I’ve only gotten to try a sample of this once, but it still sticks in my memory. It’s a warm rose scent, the tiniest bit of a spicy warmth (from what I remember), although I don’t see any spice notes on the website’s description. I also saw some reviews saying this is a light scent and I would agree, I don’t remember this being heavy at all. This is a good example of what rose should be in a fragrance.
Dolce and Gabbana’s Light Blue: My dad got me a bottle of this when I was maybe 20 and I’ve just kept buying it ever since (I’m 30 now). I wore Betsey Johnson’s perfume for about a year before it got discontinued and loved it so much (it’s sweeter and more floral than Light Blue). So, yeah, I’m a creature of habit, but reading about everyone else’s perfumes they like makes me want to try some others. I like Glossier as a brand in general, so maybe their perfume would be a good start.
I also always have a travel perfume, that’s tiny with a little roller. But I have no commitment to which perfume it is. I had a Victoria Secret’s roller that lasted me for about three years and now I have one from Anthropologie that was a gift and has nice floral notes. I wear more perfume when I travel because I repeat outfits and walk a lot.
Givenchy Hot Couture: A girl I used to work with always wore this perfume and always received compliments. I’m not good at pinpointing the exact blend of fragrance but it has a warm, sensual smell.
Flowerbomb: My sister got me hooked on this perfume. I think it has more of a sweet smell and it is not too floral.
Favorite Dark Horse Scent:
Jo Malone Dark Amber and Ginger Lily: I feel like I don’t hear this fragrance being talked about a lot, but it is one that really sticks out to me. Unfortunately, it is not one in my current collection, but I remember the first time I smelled it, I just fell in love. It’s a very heavy, dark, spicy, sexy scent. It’s something I would wear all year round, although I think I would save it for special occasions because it is quite powerful and long lasting.
Tom Ford Black Orchid: Ok, this one is definitely not unknown, but I don’t think I know of any other fragrance that get such an equal amount of love and hate as this unisex scent does. That’s sort of the thing about this perfume, you either love it or you don’t. I’m one of the people who love it, although there have been days I have questioned that. It’s described on the website as a warm floral, and that is exactly what I would describe it as; a very warm floral, bordering spicy, with a special “love me or hate me” kick to it. Definitely worth a smell if you get a chance.
Oribe Côte d’Azur Eau de Parfum: If you have ever tried or smelled Oribe hair care products, then you know how lovely the scent is. This is just the perfume version of that scent and it is a very fresh, enjoyable fragrance to wear!
- The Nest on Cherry Street Lavender
- The Nest on Cherry Street Driftwood
- The Nest on Cherry Street Sandalwood
- Nest Velvet Pear
- Nest Rose Noir and Oud
- Nest Apricot Tea
- Yankee Candle Warm Luxe Cashmere
- Candle warmer: This is a great thing to have if you want to get more use out of your candles. Once your candle gets to the bottom and you can’t burn it anymore, just put it on the warmer and it really extends the life of your candles.
- Yankee After Sledding: Unfortunately this candle is seasonal (at least I hope so). It is seriously one of the best candles I’ve ever had. I can’t remember exactly how it smells now, the best I can remember is warm biscuits in the oven on a snowy christmas night. I know I will be buying many if/when it is released again.
Ok, yeah I’m not a candle person. I really like when people buy me candles, but I almost never buy any for myself. We have one candle in our apartment right now.. BUT it’s a really special candle. My husband and I went to the American Hatfield store in the Boxyard in Tulsa a month before we moved to Washington DC. The store has cool stuff in general, but there’s a candle bar, where you post up, they pour you a couple drinks and you mix your own candle. If I remember correctly, we added scents like vanilla, bourbon, and a couple different woodsy scents. We even got to name our candle.
Bath and Body Works Harvest Gathering: This scent is only available for a short time in the fall. Every year I get nervous that they may not have it but so far I have been lucky in finding it. I usually buy a couple of candles and wallflowers but it’s never enough. This year I plan on buying at least a dozen of each.
Best Fragrance Gifts to Give
Gift card: I think fragrance is a tricky gift because everyone has such different taste. What perfume you like might smell completely different on someone else, so unless you know that person really well, it’s kind of up in the air whether they will love it or not. I think a good way to give a fragrance gift is to stick to candles or soap, or buy a gift card so they can pick out their own perfume.
Soap: It might sound like a funny thing to give someone soap as a gift, but I think it’s a great, safe way to gift someone a fragrance. There are a lot of nice hand soaps and fancy bar soaps out there, but you really wouldn’t normally buy something like that for yourself, so I think it’s a nice gift. I really like Molton Brown soaps and Jo Malone soaps (both liquid and bar soaps).
I like to spray perfume on each wrist. I’ve heard you’re not supposed to rub your wrists together after applying because it somehow changes the scent, so I try not to do that. I like to spray some on my clothes/jackets as well. I also like to mix/layer my fragrances. I think it’s fun to see what wears well together, and I’ve been surprised how much one perfume can enhance another and make it so much more interesting.
One spray on the wrist, rub together (breaking the rules), and one spray on my neck. If I’m going out, maybe one more on my neck. I used to spray in the air and walk into the perfume, because that was fun but seemed kind of wasteful (especially once I started buying my own perfume).
How does wearing perfume make you feel?
I don’t wear a ton of accessories, nor do I have the most exciting wardrobe, so perfume, to me, is like an accessory or extension of my personality. What perfume I wear changes as my mood changes. It is really a way I like to express myself and I have a lot of fun with it! I also like that I can smell a perfume I wore two or three years ago and it brings up a lot of memories from that time.
Most importantly, I like to smell clean. I like my clothes and hair to smell clean and adding a little perfume makes me feel feminine. I like to put on perfume when I go to the gym, because even though I don’t sweat a ton, it’s nice to smell a little feminine after a workout. And like Alexys said, I think smells are such a great way to remember the past or other people. Every time I smell Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door perfume, I remember getting ready with my grandma in a hotel in The Netherlands. It was such a wonderful trip and it’s cool that a particular smell always reminds me of that.
I always seem to forget to put on perfume but when I do actually remember I feel elegant. I think I associate wearing perfume with getting dressed up and going out since that is when I am more likely to wear it.
Tips on Spending:
I know most people are being more careful with their spending these days, and while I don’t think fragrance is a necessity by any means, it can still be a nice thing to buy for yourself or someone else and can bring a lot of enjoyment, if fragrance is something you’re into. If you are thinking of purchasing a fragrance, but wanting to save where you can, this is what I would recommend.
- Buy roller balls/travel size: While it is nice to have a pretty bottle of perfume sitting on your counter, it can be quite costly. If you really enjoy a particular fragrance, there are a lot of brands that offer roller balls or travel sizes of their products, so that is one way to save a little money on what would otherwise basically be spent on packaging.
- Discovery sets: A lot of brands offer discovery sets of their fragrances, and this can be a great way to try more than one perfume at a time, without actually committing to one product.
- Samples: I said this in my post about budget skincare products, but I think it applies to fragrance as well. If you want to try a perfume, but aren’t sure if you’ll like it, or you don’t want to buy a full size product, just reach out to the brand (or a retailer that sells it) and ask for a sample. Like I mentioned in my last post, sometimes you get a no, which is fine, but you’d be surprised how many companies are willing to send samples. In fact, a lot of the perfumes I have are samples or travel sizes because I like to switch it up so much. If I really like a fragrance I will buy a full size to have the pretty bottle, otherwise I prefer buying smaller/travel sizes.
Hopefully this is a fun post for you to read and definitely leave your favorite perfumes and fragrance products in the comments as well!