CATCH A WHIFF
What’s that? The sun is actually out? Then it’s time to nab a light, summery fragrance. Follow our guide to choosing a new sunny-weather scent and you’ll be smelling hot
How to pick your summer scent
The smells of summer are unmistakably heady: freshly applied sun cream, salty sea air, bin bags gently steaming in the city heat. The same goes for fragrance; some will smell extra delicious in hot temperatures, some not so much. You just need to know how to choose the right one for you. And – more importantly than you might think – for the weather. ‘Hotter climates will affect the behaviour of perfume when it’s sprayed on to the skin,’ explains Roja Dove, world-renowned fragrance specialist and perfumer. ‘The warmer the climate, the warmer the body becomes. The increased blood circulation heats the skin, which causes the scent to dissipate faster – and the upside of this is that the fragrance becomes intensified.’ The downside of this increased dissipation, though, is that the initial notes that prompted you to buy the fragrance when you tested it in the shop become rather fleeting. THE EVOLUTION OF A SCENT ‘The first bloom of scent from a freshly applied fragrance is dominated by “top notes”,’ says Will Andrews, director and technical expert of fragrance communication at Coty. ‘Lightweight and volatile, these are usually fresh and citrusy or sweeter floral notes – they set the scene. When the weather is hot, they are gone after 30 minutes. Once evaporated, the “drydown” phase of the fragrance comes through, which is a combination of the heart and base notes. This is the true scent profile you will live with from day to day and you can therefore make a reliable selection based on this.’ Scents fall into three camps – and whether you’re a fan of chypre (we’re talking warm, dry and woody), oriental (spicy and musky) or floral (does what it says on the tin), high temperatures will make your fragrance develop more quickly and could change your scent of choice. So, how exactly are you supposed to know which one to splurge on when the tmperature starts to rise? ‘There is no universal language of fragrance in any culture, which means that descriptions for perfume often resort to metaphor
in order to articulate odour character,’ explains Andrews. ‘This frequently falls short of accurately describing the smell of the fragrance.’ You can research the perfumes that sound nice all you like, but smell is one sense that can’t be digitised: you can’t accurately shop for scent online. You have to actually get out there and smell it. In. Real. Life. ‘The best time to shop for fragrance is when you’re hungry, ideally in your lunch hour or early evening, before you eat a meal,’ says Andrews. ‘Your sense of smell becomes heightened when you’re hungry, since you’re effectively hunting down the next meal, and this means you’ll be more discerning when it comes to choosing between fragrances.’ TESTING TRICKS Already have a signature scent? Don’t spritz before you hit the stores. Skin needs to remain odour-neutral to accurately test those new fragrances. Once you’re in the shop, your nose will tire after smelling three freshly sprayed scents. ‘The alcohol content works like an anaesthetic,’ explains Dove. ‘Smelling the perfume on paper after the alcohol has evaporated is the only sane way to test a fragrance. Spray a few scents on blotter cards, taking note of the names, and smell them away from the alcohol-heavy air of the perfumery.’ Now wait. ‘Hold off for 30 minutes until making a decision on which are your favourites,’ advises Andrews. This time delay is necessary to see how the fragrance evaporates and evolves into the heart and base notes once applied. Next, go back to the shop and apply the fragrances you selected one by one to your skin to see how they combine with your natural pheromones (those chemicals emitted by the skin that affect how a perfume will smell on you – and whether your crush will fancy you too). As for where to put them? ‘The back of your hand and the wrist are ideal,’ says Andrews. And don’t worry about ‘breaking’ fragrance molecules by rubbing your wrists together. ‘It’s impossible,’ says Andrews. ‘The worst it can do is warm it up and make it develop into the heart note more quickly, as it would in a hotter climate.’ Turns out it’s a pretty good thing to do. Right, now you know what to look for and how to look for it. So stop reading, get out there and sniff out your new hot weather fragrance. We can almost smell summer from here.