7 Tips for Layering Perfume

Natasha Burton
perfume bottles

Martin Poole/Getty

Wearing just one signature scent is so 2014. The rage in fragrance right now is actually layering perfumes, oils, and other aroma-carrying beauty products for a more dynamic scent.

Of course, just spritzing on random perfumes will likely result in a not-so-sweet sensory overload—and potentially activate your cubical-mate’s allergies—but actually doing it right is pretty easy once you learn the basics, says fragrance expert Patti Kapla, FragranceNet.com‘s Vice President of Business Development. “Fragrance layering may sound impossibly chic,” she says. “However, the skill of layering is all about incorporating the right scents into other aspects of your beauty routine to make your perfume work better for you or to change your scent in unique ways for more impact.”

Here, Kapla and other fragrance pros share their tips on mixing and matching scents like a champ.

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Keep the Layers Light

Rachel ten Brink, CMO and co-founder of Scentbird, who’s worked in the fragrance industry for over 15 years for L’Oreal, Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden, says that single note fragrances or lighter fragrances are easier to layer. “Especially heady fragrances—think Chanel No. 5, Shalimar, and Opium—or evening/noir fragrances—Versace Noir and Tom Ford Black Orchid—are usually too much if combined and may end up giving you a headache.”

Also be sure to take it easy on the number of sprays, she says. Your total number of spritzes should be no more than the number you’d spray of just one scent.

Stay in the Same Family to Start

As a general rule, you want to start by layering scents that are in or close to the same scent family, Kapla says, noting that scents typically fall into categories like Woody, Floral, Oriental, Fresh, Citrus.

However, she also says that vanilla, musk, and most citrus scents are all “safe” notes that work well in most layering situations. “Vanilla adds a sweet creaminess, musk brings out a spicy sultriness, and citrus adds a bright, refreshing touch,” she explains.

If you are new to layering, she suggests combining two fragrances that have a common note, like Gardenia. Then you can try combining two or more opposite fragrances, like an amber and a spice.

Go Heavy First

When layering, heavier scents should be sprayed first so they don’t overpower their lighter counterparts, Kapla says. “You may need to play around with different combinations to find the best one for you, like, for example, one spray of the heavier scent and two of the lighter.”

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Remember that Layering Starts in the Shower

If you use a scented shower gel or typically apply a scented lotion every day, guess what, you’ve already tried this layering trend! Kelly Gaskins, fragrance expert and creator of Charleston Girl Perfume, explains that layering scents doesn’t necessarily mean applying multiple perfumes on top of each other. “Keep in mind, any scented product is fair game in layering: perfumes, body lotions, hand creams and even deodorants, can provide an extra dimension to your overall lscent,” she says.

Make Your Scent Last

To make sure your layers stay fragrant, take a tip from Mark Crames, CEO of Demeter Fragrance Library, and keep your skin primed for perfume. “The fragrance molecules want to bind to the oil molecules in your skin, so the best way to make the fragrance last is to moisturize your skin first, with a good lotion or body oil,” he says.

Play with Application

“The traditional approach [for applying scent] is to your pulse points, like the elbow, neck and wrist,” Crames says. “I tend to think that traditional approach works, but if you want a bigger statement, simply use as much fragrance of the inside of your arms as you like.”

Gaskins also suggests thinking outside of the box by misting your hair lightly with your favorite perfume and applying a scented boy lotion to your arms and legs.

Wait an Hour

Roberta Perry, president of Scrubz Body Scrub, Inc., advises letting your scent combo sit on your skin for an hour or more to see how it blends with your own pheromones. Every scent, and blend thereof, will smell different from person to person.