We've learnt more about the odour of Christmas Trees and Gingerbread, this week, with guest posts from perfumer, Penny Williams. Today, we asked Penny for her top tips on how to buy perfume or fragrance for a loved-up, this Christmas.
Perfume is a regular Christmas present staple. Carefully chosen scents, given with love and hope, unwrapped on Christmas morning and spritzed on excitedly. There are so many diverse perfumes and, without specific knowledge or a request, it can be tricky to buy perfume for others. We've no doubt all read countless articles that try to advise us how to select perfume for others (ours amongst them!), but have you ever stopped to wonder at the science behind what makes this so tricky? An individual’s personal choice on something as intimate as perfume can be hard to predict - read on to find out why!
There are 3 key areas that fascinate me as a perfumer, when it comes to selecting a fragrance for someone else...
Our Unique sense of smell: Our genes are responsible for our individual characteristics, including how we see, hear, taste and smell. In smell, there are estimated to be around 400 working receptor types in any one person. Each receptor type can be abundant or sparse and not every receptor type works in every person. We smell uniquely.
Our unique body odour: Our unique body odour relates to our genes, our age, health, the food and drink we consume. When we choose a fragrance for our self, there is a theory we are drawn to fragrances which enhance our body odours. When we chose fragrances for family members or people we know well, we have a better chance of appreciating what perfumes they like.
Our unique experiences: Our life hugely influences our perfume preferences. We start our relationship with smell before we’re born, inheriting some odour preferences from our parents through their genes, then exposed to odours of food in the womb. In our first years of life the aromas of our family, environment, food and drink set a tone of what’s normal, comforting, delicious, scary or alarming. As our experience broadens and we meet new people, places and cultures our odour preferences are modified. We can be influenced by associations and events and this can affect our perfume choices, even reversing them. The once loved aroma of a favourite scent associated with Mr or Ms X, can flip to become hated if the love turns sour.
You can read more about Penny in our 'People in Perfume' blog post. If you're interested in knowing more about courses with TIPA (or perhaps you know someone who would love to receive a course as a Christmas gift!), you can find out more, here.