Beauty & Fashion

How to Find Your Signature Scent

Have you ever walked into a room and been instantly transported back in time by a familiar fragrance? Or felt a surge of confidence when wearing a perfume that just feels ‘right’? A signature scent is more than a mere accessory these days! Today, we are going to dig a little deeper into the psychology of smell and how to select your own signature scent out of the thousands of fragrances available.

The fragrance section at department stores seems to grow each week, and tiny boutiques are overflowing with them as well. It feels like everyone is coming out with fragrances these days, so the options can feel overwhelming.


Understanding Fragrance Types

Perfumes come in various concentrations – Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, and Eau de Cologne, to name a few. The key difference lies in the concentration of oils in the fragrance. Eau de Parfum, with its higher concentration of perfume oils (15-20%), offers a deeper, longer-lasting aroma, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a lasting impression. As we age, our skin’s chemistry evolves, subtly altering how fragrances react. This change makes it essential to re-explore and possibly redefine our scent preferences.

The Psychology of Scent

Scents have the power to evoke emotions and memories. A fragrance can uplift, soothe, or even empower you! For instance, the aroma of jasmine is known for its uplifting properties, while sandalwood can bring a sense of calm. I love the scent of lavender for a calming feel, and clove transports me back in time.


As we age, our preference for certain notes might evolve. Notes like rose bring a timeless elegance, while vanilla and amber offer a comforting warmth. Bergamot and other citrus notes can add a fresh, energetic feel to your day. These notes offer complexity and depth, embodying a sense of luxury and maturity.

One of the best ways to start discovering what notes you like is by determining what type of fragrance you’re looking for floral, fresh, fruity, warm & spicy, or woody & earthy. If you have no idea where to even start, I highly recommend taking Sephora’s fragrance finder quiz. You can do so by clicking here. This is a great jumping-off point!


Tips for Finding Your Signature Scent

  • Start with a sample: Fragrances can be expensive, so don’t feel pressured into buying a full-sized bottle immediately. A lot of perfumes have travel or sample-sized bottles. I’m a big fan of fragrance discovery sets so that you can sample lots of options.
  • Test it out: Wear it over several weeks. Make sure it doesn’t give you a headache or overwhelm your senses. See if you get any compliments on your scent when wearing it. Everyone has a unique body chemistry, so it’s best to see how the scent works with your own body and skin. Pay attention to the base notes that a fragrance dries down to because that’s what lingers.
  • Ask for advice: The staff at your local fragrance counter or beauty store are often very knowledgeable about the scents they have available. It’s much easier for them to narrow down a few selections for you to choose from than trying to smell one hundred perfumes yourself.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed: Ask for coffee beans to sniff when you’re sampling scents. They are a great nasal palette cleanser to help prevent olfactory fatigue.

How to Apply Your Fragrance

To apply a fragrance correctly, start by targeting pulse points such as the wrists, behind the ears, and low on your chest. These areas are warmer and help to diffuse the scent throughout the day. I avoid spraying directly on my neck because the sun can interact with the ingredients making it hard on the delicate skin. Hold the bottle 3-6 inches away from your skin and spray lightly. Avoid rubbing the fragrance into your skin, as this can break down the perfume’s molecular structure and alter the scent. Instead, let it dry naturally.

For a subtler effect, spray the fragrance into the air and walk through the mist. This technique allows the scent to evenly distribute across your body. Remember, less is more; it’s better to start with a light application and reapply if needed.

Layering fragrances is very trendy right now. It allows you to create a unique scent profile. Start with a base of a deeper, musky scent, then add lighter scents like floral or citrus on top. This method can produce a complex, multifaceted aroma that evolves throughout the day.

Caring for Your Fragrance

Perfumes are delicate compositions. Store them in cool, dark places to maintain their integrity. A perfume past its prime might change color or emit a sour smell, indicating it’s time to find a new favorite.

Jennifer’s Signature Scent

Two years ago, I wrote, “While I think it’s incredibly romantic and sophisticated to have a signature fragrance, I don’t have one. It’s not for lack of trying. New perfumes are always coming out, and I love to sample them as much as I do new makeup.”

If you’ve been reading AWSL for any length of time at all, you know I love using products made with clean, vegan ingredients, which has complicated my search in recent years. I discovered Maison Louis Marie No. 04 several years ago and keep coming back to it because it reminds me of a very special time in my life.

I carry the small spray when I travel, use the matching deodorant, and just bought the body lotion to try.

When I’m not using my Maison Louis Marie, I’m wearing Jake’s House by Henry Rose. Henry Rose is unique because they use only safe ingredients that don’t contain any of the unacceptable personal care products on the Environmental Working Group’s list.

Henry Rose fragrances are Peta certified cruelty-free, and Cradle to Grave certified, which “considers impact at each stage of a product’s life-cycle, from the time natural resources are extracted from the ground and processed through each subsequent stage of manufacturing, transportation, product use, and ultimately, disposal.” They also meet Nordstrom’s sustainability and responsible manufacturing criteria. These are all a huge plus in my book!

I spent several days going back and forth sampling the fragrances and brought small samples home to try before I zeroed in on Jakes House Eau de Parfum. Here’s how they describe it…watery, clean freshness encounters honeyed neroli for a light and clean, musky finish. It’s a rather unique scent that’s fresh and non-toxic, which makes me happy. It turns out they also make a candle and body cream in this scent.

Iconic Scents for Women Over 40

There are fragrances that have stood the test of time and become iconic among mature women. Here are a few of the popular ones:

CHANEL NO.5, with its luxurious blend of floral and aldehydic notes, represents classic femininity.
Lancôme’s La Vie Est Belle offers a sophisticated sweetness, perfect for those who embrace life’s joys.
Jo Malone’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt captures the essence of a breezy seaside.

Have you discovered your own signature scent?

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