Photo: Unsplash and Prada Olfactories, $440 each
Now that you are equipped with the basics of perfumery, it’s time to graduate on to the next level and experiment with layering scents.
Layering can mean two different things. The first refers to mixing different perfumes on your skin to create a new nuanced fragrance. While the second method is to layer your perfume with bath and body products from the same scent family to create a more impactful sillage and extend your fragrance’s longevity through the day.
Brands created for the first type of layering
One easy way to get into scent layering is to go for brands that are specially created for this purpose.
The most famous of them is British label Jo Malone. Each perfume in their stable is made with two to three core ingredients, such as English Pear and Freesia or Lime Basil & Mandarin. Because each of their perfumes are not complex, you can layer multiple scents without fear of the end result being too OTT.
Order of layering
Photo: Kenzo World EDP Intense is a heady gourmand with fruity black plums, vanilla and hints of peony and jasmine, from $101
Once you have rounded up the fragrances you want to mix and match, you need to know how to order the scent layers to get the best effect.
As a general rule of thumb, layer light scents over heavy scents. Spritz a heavier woody or spicy scent (like Jo Malone’s Wood Sage & Lavender) and let it dry before layering over with a lighter citrus or floral (like Pomegranate Noir).
Much like building a house, this method will ensure that you create a good foundation first before adding the embellishments and details. You want the different scents to work in harmony rather than overshadow one another.
Families come first
Photo: Maison Christian Dior Rose Kabuki, with delicate notes of rose, powdery musks and a hint of blackcurrant, from $140
Another way to layer fragrances is to stick with fragrance families, and is especially useful if you just love scents from a particular family. While the categorisation differs between brands and experts, the general fragrance families are aromatic, chypre, floral, fougere, fresh, oriental and woody.
If you’re unsure how to identify the family you prefer, you can use the brand’s website, fragrance description and notes (i.e. the ingredients used) and even fragrance specialty sites like Fragrantica to get an inkling. Or better yet, head to a speciality store and try them all out on your skin.
The same concept from the previous is applied here as well: Light on dark. For example, if you can’t get enough of floral scents, layer lighter, fresher smelling florals over the darker, deeper counterparts.
Success by trial and error
We must let you know - not every layering combination will work. It depends on how the scents work with each other and how they react with your body chemistry as well.
Experiment and play with different permutations, test them on a weekend (unless you’re meeting someone you don’t like) and be brave to try out combinations that might not naturally work together. You’ll never know what results.
However, some brands do not advocate to layer their fragrances with other perfumes, usually because the composition is already very complex and layered. You still can layer these perfumes but do note that it might end up being overpoweringly unbearable.
Layer with bath and body products
Photo: chanelofficial/Instagram; from left to right: Gabrielle Chanel Shower Gel ($82), Gabrielle Chanel Body Lotion ($105) and Gabrielle Chanel Deodorant Spray ($69)
The other side of the coin to fragrance layering is what we are coining as scent baths - which is to use perfume-related bath and products. This will help the perfume last longer, especially in Singapore’s hot weather where scents disappear faster.
For example, Chanel has shower gels and body lotions in their classic fragrances. Love the Gabrielle Chanel? Use the related shower gel and body lotion first to build a scent foundation before spritzing yourself with the perfume.
Chanel isn’t the only brand who does this. Other labels like Jo Malone, Penhaligon’s and Tom Ford create partner products like body sprays, hand creams and even deodorants that you can use to bolster the scent. You can also consider using hair perfumes to mix and layer with your body perfumes as well (our favourite picks below).