FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Everything you ever wanted to know about fragrance: How can you find your perfect perfume? What’s the best way to take care of it? Where should fragrance be applied, in order to get the most out of every spritz? Nobody’s born knowing these things, so we’ve collated answers to dozens of the questions we’re regularly asked, right here.
When you buy a Scent Sampler Kit from our site, you’ll find a pack of 6 signature fragrances inside. Allow a few minutes for the alcohol and the top notes to subside, and then smell the perfume. At this stage you may be able to eliminate one or more, if they don’t appeal – but it is really the heart notes and the lingering base notes which you will live with, and are crucial.
A We are conditioned to have smell preferences, and our response is based partly on our individual genetic make-up (our DNA), and partly on our life experiences. So: that crushed tomato leaf note that reminds you of a beloved grandmother and her greenhouse – or the jasmine that was growing around a door when you were poorly on holiday, and which you can hardly stomach. Technically, we all have an ‘olfactory fingerprint’, which is unique to us: it is our life’s experiences all locked away in our smell memory. In the same way that we each respond differently to different smells, we don’t all like the same pictures, or the same music. (And wouldn’t life be boring, if we did…?)
Your physical makeup can have an impact, but there are many, many exceptions. This is a very broad rule of thumb.
Those with fair skin may find they are happiest with rich florals, as their skin may have a tendency to dry, and subtle/citrus fragrances will evaporate quickly.
Those with medium/dark skin which tends to contain higher levels of natural oils, allowing scents to last longer; may find ambrées work well.
If you have fair and delicate skin, and sometimes this turns out to be incompatible with perfumes dominated by green notes.
In a perfect world, one, when you’ve narrowed down your choices – to really get to know the smell as it develops. Ideally, no more than two at a time – one on each wrist. We don’t believe perfume shopping should be rushed, but we all live busy lives so, at a push, you can try one more, on the inside of an elbow; the elbows also happen to be good pulse points.
Never try more than three fragrances at any one time, on your body, or you’ll confuse your senses. And because it’s hard to remember what you applied where we really do suggest jotting down the details of which perfume you applied to which pulse-point. (It’s almost impossible to remember later, even if you think you’ll be able to)
Ideally, really live with a fragrance before you part with your cash. That might mean getting a sample (explore the Scent Sampler Kit). We like to spray a darker-coloured scarf or pashmina, too, and sniff it later. When you’ve fallen in love, then go back and make your purchase for the full bottle.
These descriptions are used to identify the strength or concentration of oil in a fragrance. The concentrations can vary from fragrance to fragrance but here is an average guide. In general, the higher the percentage, the higher the price – but be aware that different concentrations (Perfume, or Eau de Toilette, etc.) may also have different notes in them, and not simply be weaker or stronger. So when you like a fragrance, we suggest you explore its different concentrations.
Extract/solid perfume – 20-30%
Perfume – 15-25 %
Eau de Parfum (EDP) – our EDP's come with a 25% concentration
Eau de Toilette (EDT) – 4-8%
Cologne (EDC) – 2-4%
After Shave – 2-4%
Soap - 2-4%
Perfumed candle – 10%
Absolutely, Only in the last 150 years have distinctions been made between male and female fragrances. Of course, some may be more suited to a particular gender, but it is all personal choice. We know men who wear Celeb Aqua and Be Naughty, and plenty of women who adore Noir or Rouge. There really aren’t any rights and wrongs.
A As Coco Chanel said, ‘Perfume is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion.’ So: some people have lots of shoes and bags and change according to their mood. A fragrance wardrobe provides the same opportunity for you to choose, according to your mood or the occasion. What we aim to do through Mocemsa is make sure that those choices are fragrances you truly love and which suit you – rather than something which languishes, unworn, on a shelf. (Just as we’ve all bought clothes which we’ve worn once, and realised didn’t suit us. That’s what we’re trying to help you avoid.
In hot weather, you may find your fragrance seems ‘stronger’ or more overpowering. This is exactly why brands sometimes offer lighter versions of bestselling scents, for the summer. Some people prefer heavier more full-bodied, comforting, almost ‘cocooning’ scents in the winter – but again, this is individual. Personally, at Mocemsa, we have richer fragrances that we love to rediscover around the time when we reach for our opaque tights, our socks (and vests!), switching to airier perfumes for the warmers months. Just do what feels right for you, personally – in fact, follow your nose…
It’s difficult, but not impossible. If you know what that person wears, you have the choices: buy a bottle of exactly the same perfume, or what’s known as a ‘flanker’ – sometimes a limited edition, but echoing elements of the original. Secondly, you could buy a different concentration.
If you don’t know AT ALL what someone likes, we would probably recommend chocolates – or flowers. Or a gift voucher for a fragrance. Just because you like the way something smells, that doesn’t mean someone else will.
Coco Chanel advised women to apply perfume ‘where you want to be kissed’… What that means is: spray/dab on your hot spots, or pulse points – behind the ears, temples, wrists, nape of the neck, back of the knees, in the crease of your elbows, between your breasts, the small of your back, navel area… The blood flows close to the surface in these zones and heats the fragrance oils.
But do be aware of one no-no: perfume industry ‘insiders’ never, ever rub their wrists together after applying fragrance, because it affects the oils. Spray, waft your wrists around – and be patient…!
This is personal – but enough so you can smell it, and not too much that it overpowers the surrounding area. Your ‘scent circle’ should be your arms’ length and only when people come into your circle should they smell your perfume. If you’re unsure about whether you tend to ‘overdo’ your fragrance, ask a (good) friend. And take into account the occasion, too: you would certainly want to wear more for a romantic night out than to the office, or lunch with a future mother-in-law.
A Spritz from eight to 10 inches (20-25 cm) away from your body, and let it develop on the skin. DO NOT RUB!
We love this tip from perfumer Olivier Cresp (responsible for the creation of Thierry Mugler Angel, Nina L’Eau, and more): ‘Do spritz fragrance into your hair rather than all over your body. This will help the scent to last longer compared to quickly rubbing off your skin. It also means that when moving your head, there’ll be a more natural whiff of fragrance.’
And the late, great Estée Lauder suggested to women that they spray perfume into the air, like a cloud, and walk through it
Yes! Did you know that in the Middle East, women layer up to SEVEN fragrances at a time? Never be afraid to play with perfume. (The wonderful thing about fragrance is there is no right or wrong: if you like something, then it’s right.)
As your sense of smell develops, you should become more adept at working out which fragrances will enhance each other. Initially, you might want to try wearing two fragrances from the same ‘family’, and gradually become more daring.
Perfume can last four to six hours (or even longer), depending on the ingredients – and how dry your skin is. (Perfumes dissipate much faster on dry skins, or when the air is particularly dry.)From the moment you apply: the top notes or ‘headnotes last around 5-15 minutes before they disappear. The middle notes last from two to four hours and make up most of the fragrance. The base notes (very occasionally referred to as ‘fond’) usually last from four to six hours.
If you moisturise your skin, this gives the oils something to ‘cling’ to and will boost their staying power. So: if the ‘matching’ body products are available, it’s a beautiful way to ‘layer’ on your fragrance; body creams and body lotions, in particular, add emollients which hold perfume.
If these range extensions aren’t available, go for an unscented body cream, butter or lotion which won’t clash with your chosen scent.
Fragrance certainly doesn’t last forever – but storing it correctly will help preserve the quality and lifespan of your perfume. The key is to keep it away from light and heat – so a bathroom, or a sunny dressing table, is NOT the place for your fragrance stash: higher temperatures affect the top notes of the fragrance, making them musty, or sourer.
If you have a dark cupboard to store perfume in or a drawer, that’s perfect. (Ideally, keep in the box, or – if you’re using a drawer – wrap bottles in a scarf, or even plastic, unglamorous as that is. Be aware that perfume that’s never been opened and kept in a dark place can last more than 40 years!).
If you can’t manage that environment, store it on a shelf that doesn’t get direct sunlight, in a not-too-hot room. Then once a bottle is open, you should get up to two years’ life out of it (we’ve had fragrances that last much longer) Lighter, citrusy scents deteriorate faster than opulent florals
You may find you get a better life out of a spray bottle than a splash: if you touch the glass to your skin, and oil from your body gets into the bottle, that can affect the lifespan of your perfume, too: touch your skin to the rim of the bottle – and don’t use stoppers for application, as they are in contact with the contents.
The colour might darken and the liquid may thicken and/or become cloudy – and you can be sure it will not smell like your normal scent. There’s really nothing you can do to redeem it at this point, alas.
MORE FRAGRANCE INFO
All perfumes are classified by the perfume world according to their overall aroma, and the ingredients. These ‘families’ have expanded, over the years: where once there were ambrées, now you may find ‘fresh ambrées’, or ‘floral ambrées’ – which are like brothers or sisters to the original family.
It’s good to know which family your perfume falls into – because it is a simple fact that most of us have quite narrow preferences.
A Perfume is composed – literally composed, with different notes – to create a complex blend, from different raw materials…These include natural materials, distilled or extracted directly from fruits, herbs, flowers, blossoms, barks, leaves, twigs, roots, resins, bulbs, rhizomes, seeds, woods and more.
Perfumers also use synthetics– man-made molecules, including the famous aldehydes which give Chanel No. 5 that initial ‘whoosh’, but nowadays almost any smell can be synthesised. Violet, for instance, is always synthetic, as it cannot be extracted from the plant. Musks are now mostly synthetic, because of conservation concerns. Even lily of the valley must be synthesised, because – perversely – those intensely-scented nodding white flowers will not give up their fragrant beauty to a perfumer.
Many of your favourite fragrances could not exist if the perfumers didn’t weave together natural ingredients and man-made synthetic chemicals. The extraordinary skill of the ‘nose’, or perfumer, is to combine these seamlessly, to take us on an emotional and sensory journey
A note in a perfume is an individual element – for instance, lemon, jasmine, rose, apple, sandalwood, and the many thousands of other flowers, herbs, spices and woods that perfumers use. Together, combining the individual notes, noses create harmonies and compositions. The language of perfumery borrows heavily from the language of music, and has never really evolved its own vocabulary.
In classical perfumery, the perfumery will arrange his ingredients/notes in a pyramid shape.
Top Notes/head notes are evident as soon as your perfume touches your skin; these are usually lighter – citrus, herbs, fruits
They are followed by the middle notes/heart notes which tend to be floral – rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang. They may be sensed at the start – but really they make up the heart of the fragrance, which develops after 10-15 minutes They stay longer on the skin than top notes
Finally the base notes/fond come through, with direct relation to the staying power of the perfume. They help slow down the evaporation of the perfume and help perfumes last longer. There’s a comparatively small range of base notes for a perfumer to work with – sandalwood, musk, vanilla, oakmoss, patchouli – as only a (generous) handful last long enough on the skin to ‘fix’ the smell.
Nowadays, in an increasingly fast-paced world, there is a trend for what’s known as linear perfumes: a what-you-smell-is-what-you-get construction, designed to give the wearer the true, overall impression of a perfume from the get-go – which might mean the moment you stop at a perfume counter, on your way to a meeting
That perfume doesn’t then change very much, over the time it’s worn. Personally, we would always encourage allowing perfume time to develop, rather than choosing on the basis of a first impression – even with one of these ‘linear’ fragrances.