How Do I Find A Fragrance I Like?

Finding a fragrance that you truly love can be a fun but challenging process. With thousands of new fragrances launched each year and endless options on the market, narrowing down your preferences and testing different scents is crucial. The global fragrance industry is estimated to be worth over $40 billion, fueled by consumer demand for new and interesting fragrances ( This article will provide an overview of the key steps to take when searching for your signature scent. We’ll cover understanding your preferences, testing fragrances properly, exploring different fragrance families, considering seasonality, and trusting your nose to guide you towards the perfect match.

Understand Your Preferences

When finding a new fragrance, it’s important to understand what types of scents you enjoy. Consider when and where you plan to wear the fragrance. Do you want something for daytime or nighttime? Work or weekends? This will help guide you towards lighter, fresher scents for day versus warmer, muskier notes for evening.

Think about any gender associations you prefer. Floral and fruity scents are often considered more feminine, while woody and spicy notes read as more masculine. However, gender norms are loosening, so don’t limit yourself if you don’t want to.

Make note of any fragrance notes that you know you like or dislike. According to research by Salon Today, some of the most popular notes overall are wood, vanilla, powdery, and musk [1]. Consider your affinity for top notes like citrus, middle notes like florals, and base notes like woods. This will give you direction when testing new fragrances.

Test Before Buying

It’s important to test fragrances directly on your skin rather than paper before deciding to purchase a bottle. Unlike paper, skin’s natural warmth and chemistry can transform how a fragrance smells once applied. Many perfume enthusiasts advise testing fragrances on the inside of your wrist or elbow and waiting at least 10-15 minutes for the scent to fully develop before making any judgments. This is because a fragrance’s top citrusy or floral notes tend to be most prominent upon initial spray, then the heart and base notes emerge over time. Give it time to settle into your skin. The drying time allows you to experience how the scent interacts specifically with your body chemistry. Some fragrances can smell very different at this stage compared to initial spray. What might have seemed too strong at first can become more balanced. Testing on skin gives a much better impression of how you’ll enjoy wearing the perfume throughout the day.

It’s helpful to pay attention to how scent develops over 20-30 minutes. Note if it gets stronger, changes dramatically or too much. Try moving your wrist near your nose occasionally to judge projection and sillage. This will tell you if it’s easily detectable by others without getting too overpowering. Give fragrances multiple wear tests on different days before committing. Your body chemistry and sense of smell can vary over time. Fragrances also smell much different in the summer heat versus winter cold. Multiple tests help you determine if your enjoyment is consistent enough to warrant a full bottle. Through careful testing, you’ll find a signature scent you truly love wearing for any occasion or season.

Visit Fragrance Counters

One of the best ways to find a fragrance you like is to visit fragrance counters at department stores or perfume shops. There are over 15,000 specialty fragrance stores across the United States as of 2023, up 2.1% from 2022 according to market research firm IBISWorld. This makes it easy to find a well-stocked fragrance counter near you.

visit fragrance counters at department stores and specialty shops to test fragrances on skin before buying.

Fragrance specialists at these counters can guide you through the sampling process and help you identify scents you may enjoy. Describe fragrances you currently like or don’t like to the specialist so they can tailor options for you to test. Specialists are very knowledgeable about the different fragrance families and notes and can provide personalized guidance as you explore new fragrances.

Take your time testing and sampling fragrances at the counter. The specialists can prepare sample strips for you to evaluate how a fragrance smells on paper and on your skin. Narrow down your preferences, then request take-home samples of your top choices. This allows you to experience how a fragrance wears throughout the day before committing to a full bottle.

Shop Online

Shopping for fragrances online can be very useful for sampling niche or hard-to-find fragrances. Many websites offer fragrance sample subscription services that allow you to try out a variety of new scents each month. For example, sites like Scentbird ( and ScentBox ( provide monthly sample vials of designer and niche perfumes and colognes, delivered to your door. This can be a great way to efficiently test out fragrances you may not easily find at your local shops.

Other online fragrance retailers like Olfactif ( focus specifically on niche scents and offer sample packs and monthly subscription boxes featuring more unique perfumes and colognes. Sampling niche fragrances online gives you access to interesting scents you may not have known about otherwise.

The key benefit of fragrance subscriptions and sample packs from online retailers is the ability to efficiently try out many new scents in small quantities, including hard-to-find niche perfumes. This allows you to experience a broad range of options and can help guide you towards fragrances you truly love.

Understand Fragrance Families

There are four main fragrance families that all scents fall into: floral, oriental, woody, and fresh (Scent Beauty). Understanding the characteristics of each family can help guide you towards scents you may like.

Floral fragrances are feminine, sweet, and flowery. They often contain notes like rose, jasmine, violet, and iris. Oriental fragrances are warm, spicy, and sometimes powdery, with notes like vanilla, cinnamon, and ambergris. Woody fragrances are masculine, outdoorsy, and evoke feelings of nature with notes like sandalwood, cedar, and pine. Fresh fragrances are clean, invigorating, and bright with notes like citrus, aquatic accords, and green tea.

Within each family there are also sub-families. For example, fruity floral and green floral are subgroups within the floral family. Testing scents from different fragrance families and sub-families can help you pinpoint your preferences.

Consider Seasonality

Some fragrances are better suited for certain seasons than others. Colognes typically have fresher, lighter, and more citrusy notes that work well in spring and summer when it’s hot outside. Fragrances with warm, spicy, woody, or sweet notes complement fall and winter weather better. For example, fragrances with notes of pine, cinnamon, amber, vanilla, and tobacco tend to be more popular in colder months according to one Reddit user (source).

As seasons change, you may want to switch up your fragrance. A fragrance containing fresh fruits or aquatic notes like melon, citrus, ocean breeze, etc. will give off a cooling effect in summer. For winter, go for fragrances with warm notes like vanilla, cinnamon, tobacco and woods. Some examples of popular winter fragrances for men include Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, Dior Homme Intense, and Creed Original Santal (source).

That being said, there are no hard rules. You can wear whatever scent you want no matter the season as long as you enjoy it. Consider adjusting how much you spray based on the weather. In summer, go lighter so the fragrance doesn’t become cloying. In winter, you can apply a bit more. Test out different fragrances and see what works best for you as the seasons change.

Keep Testing

It’s important not to make a quick judgment about a fragrance. It may take multiple wears for a fragrance to really grow on you. As one Reddit user said, “Ideally a couple of wears each season over a year. This gives me time to settle my opinion and get a sense of how it performs in a variety of situations” (source). On Fragrantica’s discussion boards, users recommend testing a new fragrance sample at least 3-5 times before making a decision (source). Testing a fragrance across different seasons and scenarios allows you to fully experience how the notes develop on your skin over time.

Don’t give up on a fragrance too quickly if your initial impression isn’t love at first sniff. Give yourself a chance to experience how the top, middle and base notes evolve throughout wear. You may find that a fragrance you initially disliked ends up smelling amazing on you after a few more tries. Be patient with new fragrances and keep an open mind.

Trust Your Nose

When finding a fragrance you like, it’s important not to overthink it too much. Go with what your nose enjoys. Research has shown our scent preferences are closely tied to our personalities and emotional states ( So don’t worry about what the trends are or what others prefer. Tune into your own senses.

Smell different fragrances and pay attention to your instinctive reactions. Does it make you feel energized or relaxed? Happy or annoyed? Trust that initial gut feeling. With fragrances, you’ll know when you’ve found one you love. It just smells “right.” If your nose loves it, don’t second-guess. Go ahead and buy it.

Rather than analyzing and judging, approach fragrance hunting with an open mind. Don’t try to force yourself to like what you think you should. Be true to your own nose. When you find a scent that makes you feel great when you wear it, you’ve found your perfect match.


Finding a fragrance you love can be a fun journey of self-discovery. Start by reflecting on your preferences, testing fragrances in-store, researching fragrance families, and considering factors like seasonality. Keep an open mind, trust your nose, and sample liberally. With so many options available, the right scent is out there waiting for you. The key is patience as you explore and learn more about what speaks to you. Savor the experience, and don’t be afraid to try something new. With a bit of guidance and persistence, you’ll soon discover your perfect signature fragrance.

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