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It happens all too often: you buy a fragrance, and then, shortly after, you find out, much to your surprise and secret embarrassment, that you don’t like it anymore.

Such mistakes can be costly, but they are relatively easy to avoid. Often, the main culprit is “impulse shopping” coupled with haste or impatience to get something new and fancy, simply to give vent to an unspoken frustration (an occasional condition that many women are familiar with).

Buying a perfume requires a certain dedication and patience. Try to go shopping for perfume when your mood is as “regular” as possible, when you are not hungry, or immediately after meals. And even though this may sound obvious, make sure you are not wearing other fragrances at the time of shopping for perfume.

7 Fragrance Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Yourself Perfume

Try to avoid the following mistakes, and you should be reasonably confident that you won’t regret your purchase unless your taste in fragrance changes dramatically overnight.

1. Buying a perfume because it’s famous

It is a mistake – albeit a very understandable one – that men often make when buying a scent as a gift for a woman. (In case any men are reading this, I might add: not all women are automatically impressed by Chanel No 5, gentlemen. In fact, many detest it.) Unless you are buying it for someone else who is easily impressed by status symbols – and status symbols only, disregarding the actual scent – forget the marketing, forget your friends’ opinion, forget polls. Trust your nose only.

2. Shopping for perfume when in a bad – or unusually good – mood

Scents are profoundly and inextricably linked to emotions – no wonder, really, since they are processed by the limbic system, arguably the oldest part of the brain, which is also the seat of emotions. And it works in reverse, too: your mood can and will affect your perception of a scent.

3. Evaluating a scent by smelling it directly from the bottle

Opening the tester bottle and sniffing it is the natural first step of any perfume shopper. But deciding whether you like it or not at that point would be a mistake. Normally it works well enough to exclude smells – but it still could preclude you from enjoying a fragrance you might have liked at “second sniff”.

4. Evaluating a scent after smelling it on a paper strip (blotter)

It works better than smelling the scent directly from the bottle, but the impression still cannot be accurate. After all, the chemistry of a paper is something entirely different from the chemistry of living human skin and flesh.

5. Evaluating a scent after applying it on your wrists only

I have been taught this since I was a little girl, but I have yet to find the exact reason why this is so. I suppose it has to do with the rate of evaporation from the very thin skin on the wrists, directly over the pulse. Whatever the reason, I find that fragrances really do smell differently when applied to a thicker layer of skin.

6. Sampling more than three or four scents in a row

The reasons why this should be avoided are probably obvious: not only you are likely to “blunt” your olfactory system by overexposure, but many fragrances use some of the same ingredients and therefore “blend” in the air. Furthermore, keep in mind that perfume stores or departments are saturated with fragrances as it is. Ideally, you should try one, maybe two fragrances, apply the chosen one on the skin of your arm – and leave the store.

7. Evaluating a scent after wearing it for less than an hour

Apart from the capital mistake – judging a scent after smelling it from the bottle ONLY – this is probably the worst mistake of all. Never forget that perfumes are composed of three layers: the top notes, the middle notes, and the base notes. The top notes – usually citruses and light, ephemeral flower notes – will often evaporate in a matter of minutes, giving way to the “heart” of the perfume. But the dry down is usually the longest-lasting phase, and it often isn’t revealed until two hours after having applied the perfume.

And so, if you rush your perfume shopping expedition, you could easily end up with a perfume that enchants you with its opening notes, but which an hour later you cannot stand anymore.

How To Choose The Perfect Perfume For You