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The 2021 guide for finding your perfect fragrance

By LLM Reporters  |  September 9, 2021
Perfume bottles. Fragrance for man and woman. stylish luxury perfume store with fragrance

So many ‘traditional’ ways of shopping for things are being swapped out for ‘doing it digitally’ – and this includes how we buy perfumes and aftershaves.  

Advances in digital shopping tools mean that spending hours at the perfume counter overloading our nostrils with samples (that all end up smelling the same anyway) are a thing of the past.

The smart scent shopper is letting technology do the hard work, using personal insights to serve us fragrance options tailored just for us. From fragrance finder tools, easy to follow fragrance guides and growing demand for try-before-you buy miniatures delivered to our doors, the future of fragrance shopping is online, according to statistics provided by Perfume Direct.

So if the changing of the seasons is spurring you on to update your signature scent as well as your wardrobe, it’s time to let science sniff out your next scent.

“The pandemic has fuelled a bit of a perfume obsession in the past 12 months,” says Jonny Webber from

“Not only have we turned to fragrance to lift our spirits, we have also become a lot more tuned in to our favoured scent notes and fragrance types, making us more confident in buying perfumes without trying them on. At the same time, the fragrance industry has turned to the latest technology to help make the online buying process as streamlined as possible. With science and technology now playing a key role in shaping our preferences, you could say we’re now using our head rather than just our nose!” 

If you’re looking to switch up your fragrance for the new season, here’s how to sniff out your perfect scent 2021-style in a five-step guide by

perfume bottle collection
Advances in digital shopping tools mean that spending hours at the perfume counter overloading our nostrils with samples are a thing of the past

1. Know your preferred fragrance notes

The first step to choosing a new scent is to understand what types of fragrance notes you prefer as chances are there will be similarities in some of the notes across your favourite perfumes. This will give you a good starting point when picking out a new one and when inputting your data into any online tools.

As a rule, the five main types are floral, woody, oriental, fruity and fresh with each effect brought out by different combinations of fragrances.

You can find out all about fragrance notes by looking at the famous Fragrance Wheel, originated created by Michael Edwards.

Fresh scents, like Davidoff Cool Water, generally rely on aquatic and citrus notes, whereas warm scents like DKNY’s Be Delicious use more florals and juicy fruit scents.

It may be that you prefer a number of different notes – chances are these will sit next to or opposite each other on the fragrance wheel and make up the top, middle and base notes of your favourite scents.

If you are looking for a new fragrance for autumn/winter then you might want to pick out a scent that is more warming and heavier than you would wear in the summer. Woody and oriental perfumes are a popular choice in the colder months. Whereas fresh and water-based scents embody more of a summertime vibe.

2. Use an online fragrance finder

It can be overwhelming understanding your top notes from your base notes but there are now a plethora of online tools that have been designed to significantly streamline this process, offering more insightful and comprehensive results than the traditional way of overloading out noses with scent.

For example, Perfume Direct’s new online Fragrance Finder asks you to answer a few questions (including your current favourite perfume and the scent note you prefer) to be served with a number of handpicked matches. You can choose to be shown options that are similar to your favourite fragrance or something a little bit different. It’s also a great way to pick out a present for a friend or loved one – using their current favourite scent as a starting point.

3. Don’t be gender specific

Unisex perfumes have been part of the mainstream for almost 30 years – since Calvin Klein launched CK One – however increasingly people are shunning whether a perfume is designed to be ‘male’, ‘female’ or unisex and just following their nose.

Remember – the key to finding a scent that you love are the notes and not the marketing. Male-orientated fragrances from Acqua Di Parma, Tom Ford, Creed and Dior are all extremely popular amongst women who are looking for something a bit deeper than traditional ‘female’ or unisex scents offer.

male aftershave cologne
If all else fails when it comes to finding your new favourite fragrance – you could try sniffing out a family member, neighbour or friend – taking inspiration from their preferred scent notes

4. Jump on the miniature trend

Miniatures are really popular right now and this represents our new buying habits. Many brands will sell 4.5ml bottles of their signature scents – this gives you a great way of knowing if a fragrance is for you before investing in a larger bottle. It is also a good way of growing your perfume collection and gives you the flexibility to wear a number of different scents for different occasions – just remember to stock up before you run out!

5. Sniff out a friend

If all else fails when it comes to finding your new favourite fragrance – you could try sniffing out a family member, neighbour or friend – taking inspiration from their preferred scent notes. Research conducted by Perfume Direct discovered that there are distinct regional trends in the scent notes that we prefer – and that we tend to opt for the same notes as those around us.

The data also revealed a definitive north and south divide when it comes to our favourite fragrances, with the north preferring floral and oriental scents while the south opts for citrus or woody notes. For instance, in the North West, some of the most popular fragrances bought include Gucci Bloom and Marc Jacobs Daisy. In London, the most popular fragrances include Dior Sauvage and Tom Ford Black Orchid. You may not realise it but you are likely to be attracted to fragrances that are familiar in your surroundings and with friends, family and special people in our lives. With that in mind, they could provide the starting point for your next signature scent.