When confronted by the plethora of fragrances available, it can be overwhelming to choose one that’s right for you. There’s so much to choose from and it can be really challenging to find one that resonates with your personal identity.
You can read all of the fragrance reviews that we have written to help. Still, fragrances are a deeply personal and sometimes pricey commodity.
In this tutorial, you will learn the best methods and steps for properly testing a perfume or cologne.
This page even features a handy infographic guide that you can use for easy reference. Simply continue reading our jump to the section that interests you the most:
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Testing Fragrances With Blotters
Using a blotter ensures is quite clean as you don’t get any fragrances on you. Furthermore, they’re usually available to use freely at most perfume stores.
However, they aren’t always decent quality and if you’re testing a number of them, you might want to write their names on the paper.
We recommend thick, matte paper that is much more absorbant than the glossy variety in shops. There are a number of 380g blotters available on Amazon that are worth purchasing.
Fragrances are designed to react with the skin’s heat so blotters only reveal a glimpse of a fragrance’s character.
However, they allow you to test a wide range of fragrances as you’ll have unlimited cards. The only barrier is your nose’s tolerance, which can become overwhelmed with nasal fatigue over time.
Nasal fatigue is when smell receptors become less sensitive to certain smells. Refer to the tips section at the end of this guide on how to overcome this.
How Do You Test A Fragrance With A Paper Blotter Card?
- Quickly spray the fragrance twice in a downward motion in front of you.
- Swiftly pass the blotter the fragrance’s vapour cloud.
- Quickly wave the blotter under your nose and inhale.
- Refer back to the card regularly to test its life cycle.
When sprayed directly onto the blotter, the fragrance’s head will seem unusually sharp. The alcohol can’t evaporate from the card due to lack of heat, which distorts the notes.
Furthermore, cards don’t absorb fragrances like skin, which causes the liquid to gather on the card’s surface. Instead, spray downwards and pass the blotter through a cloud. This will provide you with more precise results.
Finally, try to acquire thicker, grainier cards for testing. These tend to be more absorbant and will provide you with a richer, more accurate testing experience.
Some enthusiasts use blank, high quality business cards instead. These allow them to write the fragrance’s name and any notes that they may want to remember.
Testing Fragrances On Your Skin
Trying a fragrance on your skin is usually the next logical step after having tested a few blotters. Try to reserve this for a single fragrance that stands out of the crowd. Using your skin as a blotter will help you get to know it more and see how the fragrance evolves.
The heat and the skin’s natural oils allow it to go through its full life cycle to a much deeper extent. Furthermore, the way a fragrance’s oils react to card may be altogether different to your skin. What may smell good on paper might be an unpleasant experience on you.
A skin test limits you to only one fragrance. Naturally, you could always spray different parts of your body. However, the fragrances will contaminate one another. From a distance, you will only smell a mass of perfume and the scents will blend together badly up close.
How Do You Test A Fragrance On Your Skin?
- Spray the back of your hand twice whilst respecting the correct spray distance.
- Leave to dry naturally & do not rub in fragrance.
- Inhale the fragrance without letting it touch your nose.
- Refer back to your hand over time to see how it evolves.
Ensure always that your hands have been thoroughly washed before testing a fragrance. With all the things we touch during the day, the hands become dirty and polluted by other smells.
It may be difficult to resist but also avoid washing your hands during testing. Soap and water affect a fragrance’s natural evolution, which may affect the results. This is why applying fragrances to wrists has proven to be an ineffective habit.
Tips To Help You Testing Fragrances
Consider the following advice to enhance your testing experience and ensure you get the best results.
Avoid Wearing Fragrances When Testing
Perfume stores are notoriously polluted with all the fragrances flying about. However, these are controllable and usually at a safe distance thanks to air conditioning.
If you’re testing different fragrances whilst wearing one yourself, its lingering presence will have an adverse affect on the results. This is especially the case when undertaking a skin test.
Coffee Beans Neutralise Odours
Why are there coffee beans on a perfume counter in department stores? Well, although some scientists challenge the theory, coffee beans have been proven to work as olfactory palate cleansers.
In his 2006 UC Berkeley paper, “The Influence of Smelling Coffee on Olfactory Habituation”, Noam Sobel maintains coffee as an effective palate cleanser. The coffee aroma soothes nasal receptors allowing odour intensity to remain consistent when sampling perfumes.
However, the technique is not with caveats. Coffee beans can neutralise most odours lingering in the nostrils but are less effective with gourmand and oriental fragrances. This is because such fragrances may contain similar notes to coffee, which will instead enhance the aroma.
If sampling these type of fragrances, smelling clean skin, wool clothes or even lemon has been known to prove effective.
Alternatively, you can neutralise odours in other, easier ways. It may be an old-wives’ tale but we’ve found that sniffing a woollen scarf or even your own armpit can reset your nasal receptors. Nevertheless, you may look a bit silly doing the latter in a store!
Test Fragrances In The Morning
Your sense of smell often peaks in the morning hours, which means that your perception of fragrances will be sharper. Aim to test fragrances in the morning for a better assessment.
Similarly, due to higher moisture content in the air, our nasal receptors are more refined in the warmer months. You may notice that your sense of smell is better during spring and summer. However, this may swing both ways as some fragrances may have notes that are more effective in autumn and winter by association.
How To Test A Fragrance Infographic
Use the infographic below as a handy guide and reference when testing fragrances. It covers both techniques above and provides a few tips to help you on the way.
Now that you have learned how to properly test a fragrance, expand your knowledge and discover the different fragrance families. Otherwise, you can explore how to properly apply a fragrance for daily wear.
Now that you have read our guide to testing fragrances, why don’t you check out some more content?
- Best Men’s Fragrances For All Occasions & Seasons
- How To Properly Apply Fragrances
- History Of Men’s Fragrances
- Discover The Bespoke Unit Fragrance Wheel
"Thanks for the handy guide! I'm going to buy a new "signature" fragrance and this has helped me plan ahead!"Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★