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Sniff or Spray: How to Properly Test Fragrances

fragrance care fragrance facts Q&A

Choosing a scent is as personal as choosing a favorite shade of lipstick or the perfect outfit. You want to find something that you love and is completely you!  When you’re shopping for fragrances, it can be tempting to smell each and every bottle of perfume or cologne. After all, each of those beautifully styled bottles and rollers look so enticing! But even making an attempt at that can get seriously overwhelming - for you and your nose!  

If you’re looking to test fine fragrances before making a commitment on what to buy, it’s important to go through a progression of experiencing the scent so that you can truly make an informed decision. Here are a few tips from the team at NOTE Fragrances on how to fully enjoy testing out new fragrances.

woman testing NOTE fragrances with paper blotter

Start with Blotters: Paper blotters (the strips of paper you see near fragrance display bottles) are usually the first step in the journey of perfume or cologne shopping. Blotters are made from absorbent, porous papers that allow for perfumes to be absorbed quickly so that you can read how the fragrance smells. To use, spray two or three quick sprays in a downward motion into a cloud. Pass the scent strip through the cloud and let it absorb. Wave the scented strip under your nose, being careful not to touch it. Blotters should be kept at least an inch or two away. Take a moment to pause, close your eyes, and inhale.

NOTE fragrances pink peony perfume

Try on Skin: After you’ve tried fragrances on blotters, it’s time to narrow things down to the one you really want to try. Start by choosing your one to test and then spray either your wrist or back of the hand in a downward motion. Two spritzes should do it. Drop your hand to your side and wait at least 30 seconds for the scent to settle on your skin. Once it has started to dry, bring your hand up and inhale. Be careful not to touch your nose to your skin - it should be kept at least an inch or two away.


Take Your Time: Something you may love in the store may not be what you love at home, so it’s recommended to take some time after spraying the perfume on your wrist to do something else so that you can allow for the fragrance to play with your body’s natural chemistry. Over time, the fragrance will deepen as you experience each of the levels of notes in its formulation. After testing on skin, browse the shop, grab a coffee, go for a walk around the block. Take a sniff of your wrist or back of your hand after 15-30 minutes (or longer!)  to see how the fragrance has developed. You should also try testing scents earlier in the day, as our sense of smell usually peaks in the morning and that’s the time of day when you’ll be sharpest.

coffee beans for fragrance testing

Mind Your Senses: It can be easy to overload your sense of smell when trying a variety of new fragrances, but there are some things you can do to keep yourself at ease. First, avoid wearing other fragrances when testing out something new. While you may love your everyday perfume, it could hinder your ability to experience a new fragrance you’ve been dying to try. Speaking of trying new scents, it’s a good idea to not test out more than 3 fragrances on blotters on a given day. Your sense of smell can really only handle about 3 scents well before it begins to get confused! Finally, use the olfactory palate cleansers provided (e.g. coffee beans). Coffee aromas have been used by perfumeries to make it easier for us to experience odor intensities at a consistent level so that they’re not dulled between fragrances. If there aren’t any coffee beans on hand, you can also try smelling your own clean skin to give yourself a “reset”.

And of course, if you’d like a lesson in fragrance testing, be sure to stop in to our custom perfume studio. Noteology is happy to help you shop and select the perfect eau de parfum or cologne from our collection, or you can create your own with our custom perfume studio experience!

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