How to Gift the Perfect Perfume

This post has been sponsored by Kohl’s.

tips for buying perfume for someone else

Fragrances are a very personal, intimate gift, which can make gifting one for someone else pretty intimidating.  With so many fragrance options – from niche brands at specialty shops to more mainstream brands that you can find at your local convenience store – it can be difficult to know where to shop and how to narrow down your options.  So, how do you avoid buying someone you love a perfume that they’re never wear?  Keep reading for a few tips…

Do your homework.

The first thing to consider is how familiar your loved one is with the fragrance world.   If they already wear fragrance, use their current collection as a guide.  Snap a quick photo or jot down the names of their bottles.  Then do a quick search online to identify each scent’s profile and main accords, and work from the same family of notes.  To save yourself some time, take a trip to a specialty store and ask a fragrance expert to recommend other scents from the same scent family.

tips for buying perfume for someone else

Think about format.

If your loved one is a complete newbie to perfume, then it’s safer to start with something lighter and less potent, like an eau de cologne or eau de toilette.  They only last for a couple of hours and are a great way to ‘wean’ into perfume wearing for those who aren’t used to wearing scents all day long.

However, if your recipient is a perfume enthusiast, they’ll likely enjoy eau de perfumes and perfumes (or parfums), which are purer and more potent and typically last all day, which any well-trained, veteran nose will appreciate.

Probably the best way to gauge which format to choose is to, again, take a look at their current collection if you can.  If they have mostly perfumes/parfums, they’ll likely appreciate the same potency in any new scents you gift to them.  But if they have mostly body sprays and aftershave on their vanity, stick with eau de colognes or eau de toilettes.

tips for buying perfume for someone else

Consider their lifestyle.

Lifestyle and personality are very important factors to consider when choosing a perfume.  A person’s wardrobe typically incorporates both, so it’s a great place to take hints!

Does your friend wear a lot of leather and edgy accessories?  She’ll probably love a darker fragrance with deeper rose notes, leather, tobacco, and a touch of spice. If she’s into romantic, vintage-style clothing, she might appreciate a more classic floral perfume.  If she loves the outdoors and going hiking, she’ll likely enjoy a mix of green and woodsy notes (don’t be afraid to gift masculine scents here, as they often work for women too!).  And if her closet is stocked with pencil skirts and professional attire, she’ll likely enjoy something modern and sophisticated, yet light and understated for the office – think citrus and green notes with a touch of spice and warmth.

For guys, if they have a sportier or more casual style, they may appreciate something citrus-y and fresh over something deep and spicy.  Meanwhile, if he’s the artistic type, he may enjoy a unique niche scent that mixes rich herbs and woodsy notes with fresh citrus notes.

From there, instead of analyzing each individual note, let you nose be the guide.  Take a whiff and think of how you would describe the scent – bright and cheery; dark and mysterious; light and demure; bold and sexy; simple or complex; natural or sophisticated.  Then ask yourself, “Does the scent align with their personality?  Is it something they’d feel comfortable wearing?”

tips for buying perfume for someone else

Try something different.

If, while trying out different scents, you find one that you feel matches their personality to the T, but isn’t in their usual ‘scent wardrobe’, go for it!  Part of the fun of gifting perfumes is introducing your loved one to a whole new fragrance world that they may not have tried on their own.  And with the growing world of niche perfumes, there are so many unique combinations and ingredients to try out.  For example, if they love scents with tonka bean or vanilla, try a fragrance that incorporates chocolate as a base note for an interesting twist.

Even if you know it’s not going to be their new signature scent, just remember – it’s only perfume. People often have scent ‘wardrobes’, which they wear depending on their mood, the season, or the occasion.  So while they may not reach for it everyday, they’re bound to spritz a little on when they’re feeling adventurous or in need of a change.  And who knows – it could become their new favorite!

tips for buying perfume for someone else

When it doubt, opt for bestsellers.

On the other hand, if you’re not feeling adventurous as a shopper, or if you’re completely in the dark with what to gift, you can’t go wrong with a bestseller.  These scents tend to be classic, timeless, ‘universally’ pleasing.  They have a fresher feel while staying clear of potent herbal and spicy notes, and heavier musk bases, which aren’t suited for everyone.

To hunt one down, start by doing a quick search online or visit a department store (or specialty store, if the recipient is a more seasoned perfume shopper) and ask them what their most popular scents are.  They’ll likely point you to a few with green, aquatic, floral, and/or citrus notes, which tend to make great casual, everyday scents.   Try out as many as you can until you find one that best matches your loved one’s personality.

Do they have a feminine and romantic side?  Philosophy offers some wildly popular scents, including their best-seller Amazing Grace, which features feminine florals and clean, bright citrus notes overtop of a subtle musk base (my mother loves this one).   If they like ‘cozier’ scents in the gourmand olfactive family, try Fresh Cream.  It’s sweet yet delicate, and is one of my personal favorites to wear alone, or layered with other Fresh Cream products.

Men’s cologne tend to be a bit easier to navigate, especially when it comes to mainstream brands – you have your fresh daytime scents, and darker evening scents. Lacoste has some of my favorites when it comes to casual, nature-inspired colognes.  Lacoste Blanc, for example, is ultra-fresh, clean daytime scent that blends woody, citrus, and subtle herbal notes including vetiver, cedar wood, grapefruit, rosemary, and cardamom.

tips for buying perfume for someone else.

Consider different sizes.

If your significant other has been wearing the same signature scent since the first day you met them, go ahead and buy the biggest bottle you can find. But if you’re unsure with your choice, going smaller.  Many stores offer travel sized fragrances, in .5 oz bottles and even smaller .33 oz rollerballs.  They’re the perfect sizes for ‘experimenting’, while holding enough juice to last a good 2-3 months if you loved one ends up enjoying the scent.  You can even pick up a few at this size to give them options, or grab a curated fragrance gift set.

If you’re going for something completely new that may also be a bit on the pricier side, it’s a good idea to get a sample of the perfume at the same time as the full bottle so your loved one can try it before committing to it.  Almost all department stores and specialty shops stock small 2ml vials that they give away for samples, so don’t feel funny asking for one to take home with you.

When you gift the perfume, have them wear the 2ml sample for a couple of days first so they can test how the scent develops and whether they like it.  If they don’t, it’s much easier to return perfume that hasn’t been opened.  Plus, when you go to make the return, you can bring along your loved one and have them try out scents in person – which I’m sure they’ll equally enjoy!

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