How to properly smell (and choose) a perfume?

May 18, 2020Maëlys Préau0 comments

The feeling of not knowing anything about it, the fear of making a mistake in taste, the conflicting opinions of those close to you... We know: choosing a perfume is often impressive . Don't panic, Bastille explains everything to you!

The ideal way to feel good: at home, in the morning

First of all, know that to make the right choice, there is nothing better than being at home . No salesman speech that distracts you (we make an exception for independent perfumeries, when their staff is well trained and attentive), no disturbances or heady odors...

Woman hidden

Start by making yourself comfortable in a place with a relatively neutral scent (for example, it's better if you're in a room that isn't already scented with an indoor scent). Also make sure you aren't already wearing perfume. Choose the morning to discover your fragrances: this will allow you to follow their evaporation - and therefore their evolution - over several hours.

There are two ways to go about trying a perfume: spray it on a wand , or directly on the skin . The mouillettes - or "touches" are the small strips of paper that you find in perfumeries, or in the Bastille sample box . They are very practical for testing several perfumes at once. To use them properly: spray one end of a wiper with the perfume (2 spritzes, about 3 cm away). Place the wiper on a corner of the table, bending the part impregnated with perfume so that it is not in contact with anything. Don't smell right away, otherwise you will only perceive the alcohol, and it will upset your nose! Let about 30 seconds pass before immersing yourself in your perfume.

Have it in your skin

Mouillettes are easy to use, but they will only give you a partial impression of your perfume: it will develop more freely, more deeply on your skin, thanks in particular to the heat it gives off. The smell will be more lively, more personal as well since the perfume creates its own alchemy with each skin depending on its temperature and its own particularities. We therefore advise you, when you have a real interest in a perfume, to always test it on your skin.

Sun and bed

The ideal place to spray perfume is the inside of the wrist . It's easy to smell, and it's a place that diffuses perfumes well, because the skin is naturally warmer there - and for more advice on how to (properly) wear perfume, click here .

Mistakes to avoid

Avoid putting the perfume directly in contact with a watch or jewelry, and do not rub your wrists after spraying them: this “breaks” the structure of the perfume and prevents it from diffusing.
That's it, you are ready to smell your perfume ! And as with everything, the first impression is everything.

Top notes

Both on the skin and on the mouillette, what you will smell first are the top notes, the “ start ” of the perfume. It is the most volatile raw materials, generally the freshest, that evaporate first . The most typical top notes are citrus, that is to say citrus (lemon, mandarin, bergamot, etc.). These are raw materials which are very present in “fresh waters”. We also find at the start aromatic, rustic notes (lavender, rosemary, basil, etc.), spices (pepper, cardamom, etc.), fruits, the famous marine, aqueous notes, and certain floral notes, which have very volatile components (e.g. example the rose or the lily of the valley).

Lemons and flowers

Traditionally and academically, the head of a perfume was considered to be what you smelled during the first two hours. In recent decades, particularly with the internationalization, the “democratization” of perfume and our faster pace of life, we have shortened this definition of the head of perfume a little. We now consider that the head is really the first impression , the impact of the perfume. We must also be wary, because the top notes are now enormously worked on, sometimes to the detriment of the structure of the perfume. In this case, the top notes are like the somewhat hyped trailer for a film that is ultimately quite disappointing...

Heart notes

These are the notes that will develop after half an hour , an hour. Typically, these are flowers. There are also spices, rustic and aromatic notes, always fruity notes. Some woods will also already be noticeable, some notes like vanilla as well. Keep in mind that a perfume is constantly evolving : there is therefore no clear break between the head, the heart and the base of a perfume.

Base notes


The base is the kingdom of warm notes, woods, so-called oriental notes, musks... Typically, the base of a perfume is what you find the next day on the scarf you wore the day before.

And there you have it, you now know why it is crucial not to settle for a spritz on a bottle in the store when choosing your perfume! A few hours of testing are necessary to discover its full richness, and who knows, receive the unexpected compliment that will make you switch to this or that fragrance. We wish you great olfactory discoveries!

Photos: Jules Theret, ArtyShow


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