By Prudence Wade
Few things are more personal than the perfume you wear. It’s the smell you’ve chosen to express yourself, and it’s what you want people to remember you by.
Smell is the most evocative of the senses, because it pulls out certain memories from your past. Smell “triggers us, in a way that even scientists find hard to explain – it can bring something back so quickly and so strongly”, says behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings.
“I’m interested in the psychology of scent,” she explains. “People’s characters and personalities: what they are wearing, why they would wear it, and how you might choose something for somebody else.” Picking out a perfume for a loved one is “an almost impossible situation these days”, groans Hemmings. We have what’s known as the paradox of choice – there’s just too many options to easily decide on one.
That’s where the psychology of scent comes in. When buying for another person – or for yourself – you want a fragrance which suits their personality, which means you should look out for certain notes in the perfume.
Spring is a prime time to get a new fragrance, as there are so many new releases to look out for. Here are some perfumes which might match up to a certain personality type…
Unsurprisingly, introverts tend to suit subtler scents. “They would like things like sage, geranium and jasmine,” says Hemmings. “They’re not always floral, but they are discreet – they wouldn’t have overpowering scents.”
People who don’t like to be the star of the show wouldn’t want a perfume which fills a room when the walk in. “They would be more likely to wear something which doesn’t attract attention to them, but does make them feel fresh,” says Hemmings.
Try: Roger & Gallet Gingembre Exquis Extrait de Cologne Spray: with plenty of fruity and floral notes, this perfume has a jasmine element which introverts will love; Carolina Herrera Good Girl Fantastic Pink: the bottle might not scream ‘introvert’, but Good Girl will suit with its cocoa and jasmine notes.
Shy, gentle scents won’t suit an extrovert. Instead, they’d be looking for big, bold notes, says Hemmings: “Ginger, spice, patchouli – quite a lot based on essential oil-type smells that are quite strong.”
Not only would extroverts choose different smells, they’d also wear fragrances differently. “They’d probably spritz it more liberally than an introvert might, in order to really make them feel good,” Hemmings explains. “If you can smell your own scent, it really does imbue you with a sense of confidence.”
Try: Lancome La Vie Est Belle Intensement Eau de Parfum Spray: this Lancome scent is floral and feminine, with a patchouli base and notes of bergamot oil; Giorgio Armani Si Passione Eau de Parfum Intense Spray: This is a bold fragrance, with a patchouli and vanilla base.
For extra sex appeal…
Judging by the advertising, perfumes are intrinsically linked with sex. If you really want to amp up your sensuality this season, there are plenty of fragrances to suit.
For Hemmings, sexy people tend to wear perfumes with “that Middle Eastern, leafy, woody, earthy kind of tone. They come from nature, like cedarwood and leather”.
The psychologist says: “I would also add musky scents in there – that’s a natural thing for us in terms of sexual appeal, so if you’ve got a bit of musk in there, you’ll get people’s pheromones going.”
Try: Jimmy Choo Blossom Special Edition Eau de Parfum: while this might smell floral and feminine, the sandalwood and white musk undertones give it plenty of body; Flower by Kenzo Poppy Bouquet Eau de Parfum: a new spin on the classic Kenzo perfume is inspired by poppies, with woody and floral notes.
For more androgynous options…
As our interpretations of gender become increasingly fluid, the fragrance industry has innovated to match. There’s a growing trend for gender-neutral perfumes – even if scents aren’t explicitly genderless, they can be worn by anyone.
For Hemmings, these are “quite fruity – they tend to be sporty, zesty fragrances. They’ve probably got things like cut grass smells, basil, apples or green tea”.
Try: Givenchy L’Interdit Eau de Parfum Spray Couture Edition: with notes of pear and orange blossom, this is a fruity scent with deeper undertones; Coach Dreams: this is a fun and fruity fragrance, which has a youthful vibe to it.