How to shop for a new scent

IT is the rainy season. Along with this weather comes an array of delightful plant and flower scents wafting in the breeze…giving you tax-free body scent ideas! As Moses Opobo writes, there is no better time than this to shop for that new cologne.

IT is the rainy season. Along with this weather comes an array of delightful plant and flower scents wafting in the breeze…giving you tax-free body scent ideas! As Moses Opobo writes, there is no better time than this to shop for that new cologne.

Leave your usual scent at home

First off, know that your nose has its limits. Before you head out in search of that new scent, leave your usual one at home, in the bottle. It is perfectly okay to scrub and smooth with your favourite scented shower gels and lotions because you’ll likely be using these products prior to dabbing on your new scent. But any additional fragrance beyond that will just confuse your senses. Wearing a three-quarter sleeve shirt or a top that exposes even more than your wrists is a good idea – you will have all that body space for testing your choice fragrance.

Go along with coffee beans

If you have some coffee beans at home, scoop a few and go along with them. You will need those to reset your smell glands as you try out one scent after another.

Research

It also does no harm to arm oneself with basic research pertaining to fragrances prior to hitting the road. For starters, fragrances generally fall into one of several categories based on what the dominant scent is – for example: aromatic (think of herbs like rosemary and basil), citrus clean (also known as fresh or green – think of fresh-cut grass), floral, fruity, spicy or oriental, and woody.

Fragrances come in varying levels of concentration – essentially it’s a balance between the amount of scented oils and the alcohol or other ingredients. For women’s fragrances, perfume (or parfum) is the most highly concentrated formula, meaning it’s going to have the strongest fragrance, the most staying power and the highest price tag.

Fragrances are usually a combination of several different scents, which fragrance creators refer to as notes. There are top notes, middle notes and base notes. The top notes are the first scents you’ll be enjoying upon application of the fragrance. These will be evident during the first 15 minutes or so. After that come the middle notes, which you’ll smell for up to an hour after the initial application. And, finally, come the base notes – the scents that will linger the longest, typically several hours after you’ve applied the fragrance.

Now that you have these basics down, it’s time to ponder what fragrance family to go for – it helps to narrow down the field prior to sniffing samples on the shelves. Even if you’re fairly new to the scent-wearing game, you should be able to figure out what fragrances appeal to you.

If you are still unsure, try to recall a friend’s scent that you like and ask what she or he wears, and make note of it – the salesperson will likely know what fragrance family it belongs to.

Sniff and re-sniff

According to Jeanette Umuhoza, a beauty products dealer in Nyabugogo, it is best to hit the fragrance counter first before doing any other shopping because you will want some time to test and sniff and re-sniff. It’s not about smelling multiple samples in one go, though. Jeanette recommends three or four samples at a time – “otherwise you’ll become overwhelmed and everything will start to blend together.”

Begin by asking the salesperson for a little help. Let him or her know what fragrances you like or what scent family you’re looking for and that you’d like to try just a few samples. You can begin by sniffing the samples, giving your nose a break between each by getting a whiff of the coffee beans you brought with you. (Some nice beauty stores will have their own coffee beans, but sometimes you find that they’ve lost their aroma due to overstay – so they won’t help.) At this point, you might find a fragrance that you love so much you’re ready to invest your last coin in its acquisition. But wait – the only way you will really get a purchase-worthy fragrance is by testing it on your own flesh. So the next step is to dab one, two or a few on you.

As the day progresses, take a moment to sniff the test areas. Your goal is to see if you like the way the fragrances are wearing throughout the day. And don’t forget to clear your head between sniffs using the coffee beans. By the end of the day you might just have a new scent. If not, repeat the process the next time you go shopping.

 

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