The Art of Fragrance Layering

Perfume is extremely personal. Scent, after all, has the strongest tie to memory than any other of the senses. So when it comes to finding the perfect one for you, the best bet might actually be creating your own. Not a chemist or perfumer? No worries! Fragrance layering takes the guesswork out of it. Here are some of my favorite combinations.

pinrose secret genius perfume maison margiela by the fireplace

Growing up I couldn’t stand vanilla scented things. To me they all smelled like artificially flavored baked goods, and while I love a cupcake, I didn’t want to smell like dessert. Thankfully, vanilla fragrances have become more complex and refined sinceI started wearing perfume and it is now one of the most versatile scents on the market. Vanilla can take any scent and give it a little more warmth or depth, and I find I prefer it to musk. My favorite vanilla perfume is Secret Genius by Pinrose ($65 for 1.7oxz or $24 for .34oz); it’s balanced with caramel and somehow not sickly sweet at all. This scent is incredibly adaptable and can be paired with just about anything, from fruity to earthy, to floral. My favorite combo to pair Secret Genius with is By the Fireplace from Maison Margiela ($165 for 3.4oz, $28 for .34oz). By the Fireplace is exactly what it sounds like, warm, woody, a bit smoky. The pairing of the two together gives the most irresistible roasting-marshmallows-by-the-fire-but-not-in-a-gross-I-smell-like-food vibe. It’s an especially wonderful combination for the colder months.

Jo malone london nectarine blossom honey blackberry bay

Some brands make layering easy and create entire fragrance collections that are meant to be mixed with each other. Jo Malone London, for example, excels at this. I wore Nectarine Blossom & Honey ($136 for 3.4oz) for several years before I began to get scent burn out and wanted to ditch it all together but then felt oddly guilty about doing so? Enter Blackberry & Bay ($68 for 1oz). The fruit from both scents blend beautifully and the bay and cedar wood from the latter gave the former more body and a longer wear time on the skin. Jo Malone has dozens of different scents so you’ll have a harder time narrowing down your favorites than you will finding ones that pair well together.

fresh beauty hesperides grapefruit l’occitane lavender eau de cologne perfume

My final combination is inspired by essential oils. At my office we keep an oil diffuser going most days and our go-to scent for quite some time was lavender with sweet orange. The floral and citrus balance beautifully, the lavender soft but strong, the orange sweet and bright. Translating this pairing to perfume is easily achieved, as just about any floral scent will pair well with a citrus. Try layering Fresh’s Hesperides Grapefruit ($50 for 1oz) overtop L’Occitane’s Lavender Eau de Cologne ($59 for 10oz) for a fresh and soothing scent.