How to Buy Fragrance Online When You Can’t Smell It

How to shop fragrance online | Space NK
There are many things the internet has blessed us with. Funny cat compilations, the ability to end an argument with a quick Google search and of course, the blissful scroll of online shopping. Yet, when it comes to seeking out a new signature scent, the internet (sadly) hasn’t managed to come up with a way to ‘smell before you buy’.

That the virtual aisles offer an extensive array of options is one thing, but they lack a crucial element: the sensory experience. Unlike popping into your local brick-and-mortar Space NK store, where you’re able to sniff and sample to your heart’s content, when it comes to how to choose a perfume online, you’re relying solely on descriptions and reviews. This can be tricky because how do you know if that 50-word description has truly captured the subtle nuances of a fragrance? Or whether it chimes well with your individual body chemistry?

The bad news is that, ultimately you don’t. The good news? We’ve created a whistle-stop tour into the world of scent so that you can get to grips with perfume lingo and feel much more confident when it comes to how to buy a perfume online.

What are the different perfume notes?

The ultimate hack for how to buy a perfume online? Understanding how fragrances are created. The bricks (if you will) that form a scent’s structure, consist of notes known as top, heart, and base notes.

Top notes are the initial burst — light, fresh scents like citrus or herbs. Heart notes follow, adding character with florals and spices. Base notes, like musk and vanilla, provide depth. Understanding this helps predict how a scent will evolve, especially during the dry-down phase when the base notes linger after the top and heart notes fade.

So, when shopping online, pay attention to these notes to ensure your chosen scent aligns with your taste.

What are the different perfume families?

Olfactory perfume families group scents based on their dominant characteristics.
• Floral fragrances capture the essence of various flowers, from roses to lilies.
• Citrus perfumes exude the bright, zesty scents of fruits like lemon and orange.
• Oriental fragrances blend warm, spicy notes with heady ingredients like vanilla and amber.
• Woody perfumes conjure up the earthy, aromatic essence of trees and forests.
• Fresh fragrances are light and airy, reminiscent of clean laundry or freshly cut grass.
• Aquatic scents bring about the refreshing aroma of the ocean breeze.

A handy guide to the top fragrance terms

Sillage: Pronounced "see-yahzh", this sumptuous sounding French word refers to the scent trail that a perfume leaves behind as it evaporates. Heavier scents will have more noticeable sillage, while lighter scents will have less.

Concentration: Concentration determines a fragrance's longevity, with four categories ranging in intensity. Eau de Cologne offers the lowest concentration, providing a subtle scent that fades quickly. Eau de Toilette provides a moderate aroma, while Eau de Parfum offers a stronger presence. Extrait boasts the highest concentration, delivering the most potent fragrance.

Chypre: A family of earthy tones that are also citrusy. Think bergamot paired with rich woods at the base like oakmoss and patchouli.

Eau de Parfum: Eau de Parfum (EDP) is the most common fragrance type, offering higher concentration for longer. They’re made with fifteen to twenty percent fragrance oil and so lasts up to eight hours. EDPs give a good first impression because they have increased refreshing top notes while about 30 percent of its concentration consists of base notes, giving a lasting impression.

Eau de Toilette: EDTs have a lower concentration range of about five to fifteen percent and typically last between four to six hours.

Gourmand: If you've ever encountered a fragrance that has tempted your taste buds, it probably belonged to the gourmand family. This category is made up of notes such as vanilla, chocolate, and caramel, which dominate the olfactory experience.

Pulse Points: Spritzing your perfume on certain areas of your body will help to ensure it goes the distance. Wrists, elbows, and collarbones and behind the knees are your best bet and remember, don’t rub it in, just let the perfume unravel and linger.

What are the best perfume brands?

Now that you’re au fait with all the perfume terminology, understanding how your favourite fragrance houses create their blends won’t feel as daunting as Ikea flatpacks or sudoku.

Ultimately, each brand's philosophy shapes the final olfactory composition of that perfume. Take rose perfumes, for instance. One fragrance house may approach rose traditionally, capturing the pure essence for a romantic, feminine allure. Others opt for innovation, blending roses with unexpected accords to create boundary-pushing scents. This diversity is brilliant because it allows you to explore a spectrum of olfactory experiences, from classic to avant-garde.

Diptyque for example tends to embrace a more classic and refined approach to note blending, often featuring harmonious combinations of traditional fragrance elements and its iconic Diptyque Eau Rose Eau De Toilette, £95.00 is a classic example. Diptyque perfumes often evoke a sense of nostalgia and storytelling, drawing inspiration from literature, art, and travel to craft scents that resonate on an emotional level. [copy]Brands likes Byredo and Jo Loves, on the other hand, often feature unexpected combinations of notes that challenge traditional fragrance norms, resulting in distinctive and memorable fragrances.

Jo Loves Pomelo A Fragrance, £75.00 is famed for its knack to transport you to lazy summer mornings, while Byredo Mojave Ghost Eau de Parfum, £150.00, is reminiscent of desert wilderness and is the perfect example of how the founder draws inspiration from his multicultural background, infusing each scent with a unique narrative and artistic vision.

Maison Margiela, famed for its Replica scents, nails the power that perfume holds by enabling you to travel through time and space with a single spritz. The brand’s approach to blending notes is characterised by its boldness and it’s this that sets Maison Margiela apart from more traditional fragrances.

Then there’s Tom Ford and Bulgari who blend rare and exotic florals to rich and decadent spices, that contribute to its depth, complexity, and longevity. Think the sultry warmth of tobacco.

Takeaway Points For Shopping For Perfume Online

Ultimately, how to choose a perfume online doesn’t have to feel like a gamble. Once you get your head around the fragrance concentration levels and have explored the blend of notes, it’s easy enough to make an informed decision. Finally, trust your instincts to choose fragrances that resonate with you emotionally.

Looking For More Fragrance Inspiration?

Come down to Space NK’s A World Of Fragrance pop-up at The Stables in Covent Garden from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th March. We’ve teamed up with some of our favourite brands to curate the ultimate, immersive experience with seven exciting fragrant destinations for you to explore. From Vietnam to New York, it’s a truly global experience with plenty of travel-friendly treats to collect along the way. We’ve got your passport covered, so all you need to do is head down, check-in and enjoy the journey. Click here for more information.

Read More

The Conscious Fragrances to Add to your Collection
How to Fragrance your Home
The Best Byredo Fragrances to Know About
The Best Floral Street Perfumes
The Best Mood Boosting Perfumes
Posted: Thursday, 07 March 2024

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