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How to choose the best perfume for women

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How to choose a signature scent

A signature scent can be what sets you apart in a crowd, letting you express yourself in a fun, invigorating way. Perfume is a tool to showcase personality. Notes of spice, essences of flowers and herbs, and hints of sea salt — all of these can let others learn a little bit about you without saying a word.

With so many brands, concentrations and scents to choose from, you need to understand what makes every perfume unique.

Shop this story: Light Blue  Eau de ToiletteCarolina Herrera Good Girl Eau de Perfume and DKNY Be Delicious by Donna Karan for Women Eau de Parfum

Qualities to consider when looking for perfume


Perfumes come in a wide variety of concentrations ranging from 2% to 40% oil content. The oil concentration determines the fragrance's potency and longevity on your skin. Perfumes with a higher oil content last longer and have a much stronger smell than ones with less oil. It depends on your preference whether you want an intense scent that will last throughout the day or something subtle and temporary.

Be sure to conduct a patch test before using any perfumes to determine what level of concentration suits your skin best.


Ask yourself where you'll wear the perfume and what you want it to convey. For example, a heavy musk and spice perfume may be better suited for an evening out on the town than an office setting, just as wearing a light oceanic scent would be a good fit for a summer picnic. Scents can set the tone and mood for wherever you're going. Choose a fragrance that matches the scenery.


Perfume is a great tool for expressing yourself. It can complete an outfit, convey your mood and non-verbally tell others about you.

  • Floral perfumes, with notes such as gardenia or rose, indicate friendliness and warmth — perfect to match a bubbly, positive attitude.
  • Woody perfumes with musk and amber can have a sultry, intense scent profile that expresses confidence and commands a room.

The composition of your perfume should match the outward expression of your character.


Understanding the notes of a perfume helps you decide where and when to use it, and how to find the right perfume for your personality. Three types of notes make up a perfume: top notes, heart notes and base notes.

  • Top notes are the scents you encounter upon first whiff. They usually last the least amount of time on the skin.
  • Heart (or middle) notes are most of the fragrance and have the strongest presence on your skin.
  • Base notes are a perfume's foundation and last on the skin after the top and heart notes have faded.

Figuring out which notes you want to last longest gives you an idea of the perfume's longevity.

What are the different types of perfume?

Parfum (Perfume)

This is the most concentrated type of perfume, with the highest percentage of oil — usually 15% to 30%, but up to 40% or even higher. That's why a parfum lasts the longest on your skin and produces the most intense smell. Moreover, parfums contain the least alcohol, making them excellent for those with dry skin or other topical skin sensitivities.

Eau de parfum

This is a favorite option for those looking for a mild-intensity scent that lasts second to a parfum. It lasts several hours and usually is made of 10% to 15% oil.

Eau de toilette

An eau de toilette is much more affordable than a parfum, as it contains far less oil — only about 7% to 10%. It lasts a few hours, but isn't as intense as a traditional parfum.

Eau de cologne

Traditionally used in men's collections, eau de cologne — or simply "cologne" — is a low-concentration fragrance, with 4% to 6% oil. It lasts for up to two hours.

Eau fraiche

French for "fresh water," eau fraiche is the least concentrated perfume type, with 1% to 3% oil content. It's extremely delicate and is mostly made up of water and alcohol. It will produce a fresh, airy version of the scent you choose.

Best perfumes

Light Blue  Eau de Toilette

A popular choice among all genders, this is a refreshing, soft eau de toilette with notes of bamboo, amber and musk.

Sold by Amazon, Sephora and Ulta Beauty

Carolina Herrera Good Girl Eau de Perfume

With a delicate, floral scent profile, this has a dainty and sweet aroma with notes of sandalwood, bergamot, and orange blossom.

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

DKNY Be Delicious by Donna Karan for Women Eau de Parfum

Packaged in a tart green apple bottle, this is a biting, fresh green apple scent perfect for any person who effortlessly commands a room with confidence. It has a sleek, energizing fragrance profile of magnolia, green apple and sandalwood.

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Estee Lauder Beautiful Eau de Parfum

A romantic choice, this is a full-bodied floral fragrance with notes of mandarin, jasmine and vetiver.

Sold by AmazonKohl's and Ulta Beauty

Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum

Classic and renowned, this is a sultry, rich floral fragrance, essential for any perfume connoisseur.

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Versace Bright Crystal Eau de Toilette Spray

Versace presents an invigorating and bursting refresh of pomegranate, lotus and mahogany with this spray. A fruity, light fragrance perfect for summertime.

Sold by AmazonMacy's and Ulta Beauty

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Isabella Acitelli writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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