Fragrance Layering 101: A Guide To Finding Your Signature Scent

Picture this: you’re nose deep in the fragrance department and going a little scent blind. “Will this go with my lotion?”, “Should I spray on my wrists, my neck, or both?”. Have no fear. We’re about to break down the ultimate guide to scent layering—from your time in the shower ‘til your last spritz before you head out the door. With this, you’ll be a layering pro in no time.

Become Your Own Perfumer

Fragrance layering is the idea of pairing scent notes from each of your body care and perfume products to create your signature scent. It helps set you apart from the other people on the street wearing the same fragrance or mist as you. By combining complementary notes from your body wash, lotion, oil, mist, etc., you can cultivate a unique scent that is purely you—because you are one of a kind, and how you smell should reflect that. 

Anatomy Of A Fragrance

Let’s start from the top (note). Top notes are the first olfactive you’ll smell when taking a sniff of a lotion, mist, or any sort of fragranced product. They open the scent and create the first impression. These notes dissipate the fastest and make way for the middle notes. Middle notes help ground the fragrance and enhance the top and base notes—they last a bit longer than the top notes, often about thirty minutes to an hour. Often called the “heart” of the fragrance, middle notes make up a large part of the scent and start to fade just as the base notes begin to appear. Base notes are the longest-lasting portion of a fragrance. These are deeper notes made of heavier molecules that stick around far longer than the top and middle notes. In the same way, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge a fragrance by its top note. Let it dry down and develop all its complexities before you decide whether it’s right for you or not. 

Put Your Best Nose Forward

Now that you have the basics of fragrance figured out, it’s time to get smelling. Think about the notes in your all-time favorite scents. Are they a little sweet? Citrusy? Fruity? Woodsy? Once you’ve discovered those factors, you can have a little fun and experiment with layering. Want to smell like a field of flowers on a sunny spring day? Layer floral notes, woodsy notes, and a hint of warm gourmand (those have musky, sweet, vanilla notes) in your body wash, lotion, and fragrance. Would you like to smell like you’re on a tropical vacay every day of the week? That calls for tropical fruit, gourmands, and citrus notes (yum). What if you want to evoke the aroma of your favorite bakery? Go gourmand all the way—think vanilla, pistachio, and even chocolate in your body care and mists. 

Priming Your Canvas

You’ve found your fragrance combo, and now it’s time to prep your skin for scent. It all starts in the shower with a body wash. Scented body wash may not linger long, but it helps to set the tone for the rest of your routine. Use a body wash that complements the middle and base notes of your final fragrance—this will ensure you start and end with the scent that lingers the longest. If you’re in the mood for scrub, try mixing and matching with your body wash so that your exfoliant has similar top notes to your favorite fragrance, that way your shower is a totally luxe, sensorial experience (and we love that). Fresh out of the shower, it’s time to moisturize. Not only is a scented lotion great for softer, glowing skin, but it also helps fragrance last longer. Mists and Perfumes stick to the oils in your body lotion and make them stay all day long. 

Time To Spritz

We’re nearing the fragrance finish line and it’s time to spray. If you have a fine fragrance that is so close to smelling exactly like you want it to, but it’s missing that one last oomph, try layering body mist with your fine fragrance to create a custom scent. Look for notes on mists that pair well with your favorite perfume and mix one spray of mist plus one spray of perfume on your wrist, behind your ears, and your collar bone. 

Refreshing Tips for On The Go

By now, you’re probably coming out of this routine smelling like a rose (or whatever perfect mixture you’ve created), but to ensure your signature scent sticks around, we suggest keeping a travel spray or rollerball on you in your bag for a quick refresh after work or if you just need a little boost. When re-spritzing, keep it minimal. A close spray on one wrist is all you need to revive your scent. 

Have Fun With It!

Finding your signature scent takes time, but it also should be an adventure. If you didn’t nail it, just keep trying. This process should be enjoyable and playful, not a chore. It’s also great to try new scent combos every season—even if your final fragrance stays the same, you can mix up your lotions, body mists, and body wash to change your scent in spring, summer, fall, winter, and whenever you want. Don’t be afraid to experiment. 

Kristin is a Copy Manager at Victoria’s Secret living in Brooklyn, NY. When she’s not busy writing or drinking too much cold brew, she’s probably watching horror movies with her boyfriend and their two cats. An avid beauty lover, she’s always on the hunt for her new favorite product.