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Post in Fragrance Fans

New to Fragrance--How Do I Start?

Hi, everyone! I'm new (like, super brand new, just received a sample and fell in love and want to try everything) to the world of fragrance and am trying to work out what would be the best option for me to start with. I received a sample of Juliette Has A Gun's "Pear Inc." with a purchase and fell head over heels for it, and want to try and find that and other fragrances that I really like. Perfume is...super expensive and I'm a student with a part time job, so I can't exactly accumulate a big collection, but I hardly even know where to start when it comes to finding one or two bottles to stick with. I've discovered I like what seems to be called "gourmand", fruity, and citrusy scents, and some floral (just from research and past experience with lotions, body sprays, etc.) and I don't really care whether something is masculine or feminine or unisex, but there's so many options it makes my head spin. Where do I start? Do you have any recommendations for a total newbie? Thanks in advance (and please be kind--I know I come off a bit dumb, but I really am lost and excited).

Re: New to Fragrance--How Do I Start?

@madhattermads yay! It's so exciting to discover the world of fragrances 🙂 Absolutely you can explore fragrance on a budget. Try your best to smell broadly and widely and as @SportyGirly125 advises, you can do this at beauty counters, testing first. You can also snag free samples when you can at places like Sephora and department stores. Some houses sell samples online and there are also websites where you can purchase samples and decants easily, especially if you live in the US.


I would also add that it will help if you make sure you are not just smelling a thousand variations of the same thing. You're on the right path identifying the genres and notes that interest you. This gives you a great base to start from, seeking out similar scents and exploring the gourmand genre further. But I would also considering exploring classics in different genres and not limiting yourself to what you personally enjoy. Classics are like anchor points and you'll find that many other fragrances will riff off the classics or just copy them.


There's a few great articles by Claire Vukcevic on Basenotes that I'd recommend to help you get started and get a lay of the land. They're Top Ten Female Designer Fragrances Every Beginner Should Sample, Top Ten Male Designer Fragrances Every Beginner Should Sample and Top Ten Niche Fragrances Every Beginner Should Sample. These lists are not comprehensive and of course they are subject to the author's opinion but they are a solid starting place. 


Once you find a fragrance that you realllllly like, test it a few times. I'd recommend taking your time before investing in full bottles. It's okay and expected for your tastes to change over time as you are exposed to different scents! This is why I would recommend smelling broadly first. Some genres like gourmands are very easy to like. Others require more education and exposure, but you may come to love them just as much 🙂

Re: New to Fragrance--How Do I Start?

Frangrances quickly bring about memories. Like music, fragrances have types and most people have a favorite type they like best, even though they make like a lot of different types. Frangrances have a base type: wood, floral, fruit, citrus. Think about which of these you like best and that will be where you start. It's great that you've identified you like gourmand - just a fancy way of saying a fragrance that comes from food - cocoa, vannilla, lemon, cinnamon for example. So think of which gourmand scent (s) you really like and then look for scents with that in description of fragrances. Because perfume/cologne will change withe the heat of your body - and will smell different on you specifically - always ask for a sample or wear a tester spray on your wrist or inside of elbow for at least an hour and then smell it. And have fun exploring scents. When you find your fragrance (s) you should feel tingly and just know it's the one for you. 

Re: New to Fragrance--How Do I Start?

Welcome to the world of perfume addiction! If you’re able to visit a store, they have a fragrance finder where you can enter fragrances you like and get suggestions. If the store has a tester, they can make you a sample to try. 

Also, if you really like the Pear, Inc and can afford it, you might want to look at the Sephora Favorites New at Sephora Perfume Sampler Set You get to try 8 perfumes and then get one (and you can even do it online now), and Pear, Inc is there for a lot less than buying it directly. They also have smaller samplers that redeem for travel sizes if you’re not ready to jump into a big bottle. Juliette Has A Gun also has a Juliette Has a Gun Mini Perfume Discovery Set  like the Atelier Cologne ones mentioned earlier. It doesn’t redeem for a larger size, but it’s a great way to try things.

Re: New to Fragrance--How Do I Start?

@madhattermads You can start by going to the beauty counter and testing out fragrances.  Or another great way is to get a Sephora Favorites collection fragrance sampler sets.  They have a couple different varieties.

I know Atelier Cologne Perfume Palette Discovery Set and Atelier Cologne Nécessaire Best Of Atelier Cologne Set are pretty popular 

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