The Right Perfume for You

Dr. Janet Zand

July 22, 2022

You probably know what this is like...

You’re in a store, spritzing perfumes on those little tester strips. Maybe you find one you really like, so you actually spray your wrist. You take a whiff, and ... you don’t love it so much.

That’s one of the problems with going to a store, spritzing lots of testers, and then buying a perfume. Test strips don’t tell you how a fragrance will work with your individual body chemistry. And even if you try on a perfume, you won’t be able to tell how the fragrance will wear on you over time.

Luckily, there’s a better way to find a new perfume: online shopping.

Now, it may seem odd to even consider buying a new fragrance online. After all, how do you find something you’ll love if you’re not physically at a store where you can smell it first?

Well, the good news is, it’s possible ... and it’s easy, too!

Here’s how to do it...

Know your favorite fragrance families

Most of us are drawn to certain fragrance families, like citrus, floral, fruity, amber, musky, or woody. And we tend to return to those families again and again, even if we’re not aware of it.

So the first thing to do is to figure out your go-to fragrance families. To do that, go to a site like Fragrantica. Then, use their search function, entering the names of perfumes you already know you love.  For each fragrance, you’ll see the fragrance family, along with the top, middle, and base notes.

Once you’ve got a sense of which perfume families and notes you love, it can help you decide if a new scent is worth considering or not. If it’s in your family and has your favorite notes, it’s much more likely to appeal to you.

Another helpful feature on the Fragrantica site is the “recommended other fragrances.” Each time you search for a fragrance, the site suggests similar perfumes based on the one that you’ve just searched.

As you go through this process, start making a list of perfume possibilities. Just write down any that appeal to you.

Next, it’s time to test drive them...

Try before you buy

Believe it or not, you can get a sample of just about any perfume, delivered right to your mailbox. There are so many options for getting samples these days.

So first we’ll start with one of the most obvious sources: free samples directly from the brand. Simply visit the websites of the fragrance lines, and look for a “free sample” tab or menu option. You might have to enter some info (like your email and mailing address), but in return you’ll get free samples of their scents.

Another thing to look for on the brand’s site is a "discovery kit." This is where they give you sample sizes or small bottles of several of their perfumes, so that you can try different fragrances. (Another great resource for discovery kits are beauty companies like Sephora, which also package together samples from different perfume companies.)

If you’re not interested in an entire discovery set, you can often buy individual samples. For example, Le Labo sells 0.05-ounce bottles of their fragrances. Some companies will even offer free shipping on samples.

Now ... what if you’ve tried all of the above, and you still can’t find a sample of a perfume you want to try?

Then your next stop is a site that sells decanted samples, like The Perfumed Court. These samples are hand-poured from the original bottle of perfume. And their inventory includes rare, vintage, discontinued, hard-to-find, uncommon, and even popular, mass-marketed fragrances.

So with these methods, you should be able to get a sample of just about any fragrance.

Next, once your samples have arrived, try each scent and really experience it over time. See how it unfurls on your skin during the day. You’ll get a much better sense of how a scent works for you when you really sit with it, over the day or even over weeks.

So ... try these tips out, and let me know how it goes. And happy fragrance shopping!


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