Making Scents: The right fragrance for your skin type

People ask whether their perfume will smell different on another person’s skin. It will, but usually I answer: “It should!”

Fragrances – especially natural scents, which are more subtle and nuanced than chemicals – smell different on different skins because of skin chemistry and factors such as fat content, diet and even medication. The more oil-filled your skin is (often helped by a Mediterranean diet), the more oil the perfume has to cling to, and last longer with. This skin type appreciates volatile citrus notes such as lemon and zesty orange.

If you have dry skin, your perfume will last longer if you moisturise it frequently. Remember, the warmer your body temperature, the quicker your fragrance will evaporate. In summer, buy a spritzer for frequent invigorating hits throughout the day. A current scent trend is basil notes.

Also remember that skin is an organ and it secretes through the pores. So if we eat spicy foods, some compounds from these spices will make their way out of our skin and mingle with the applied fragrance – and change the overall scent profile.

But there is more than just biology and chemistry at work. At a recent scentmaker session, one of my attendees exclaimed that she felt naked leaving the house without a perfume. The fragrance is her armour, her refuge, she said.

Scents affect our mood and emotions. Aromatherapy uses the art of harnessing fragrant essential oils to enhance how we feel. Peppermint makes us alert, sandalwood is grounding and floral notes such as rose are calming.

According to studies by psychologist and sociologist Dr Joachim Mensing at the Research Institute for Applied Aesthetics in Freiburg, Germany, extroverts look for stimulation from the environment and tend to find fresh, green fragrances activating. Introverts, who prefer less stimulation, find orientals harmonious, and emotionally ambivalent people – dreamers – prefer floral, powdery scents.

The study used a small sample, but its findings are intriguing.

Scent artist Sissel Tolaas suggests that the bacteria on our bodies may be a key ingredient in the smells of the future: “Recently products have utilised bacteria for producing food, so we made teas from human body sweat, and it got a lot of attention.

“The body is a big subject – what the body can do beyond what we think it can do. Science is so much further along than the commercial world, and our notions of ‘bad’ and ‘good’ have to be rediscussed and re-valued.”

For me, it’s rather simple. It makes me happy when I spend time considering not only what to wear, but also what scent to wear. The process of adorning myself with an oil for a purpose as dearly felt as my client’s need for “armour”, or for a whimsical reason such as “I want this pink nail polish to ‘pop’ when someone smells me” is an expression as valid as any avant-garde fashion and a form of communication as noble as any other creativity.

Wearing a fragrance is so intimate, and yet so exposing. Thank goodness scent is invisible – otherwise it would be too overwhelming for our conservative senses to bear.

Follow Tammy Violet Frazer on Twitter: @frazerparfum

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Making Scents: Can perfume attract your perfect match?

Fragrance manufacturers claim their products can lure the opposite sex. The secret behind allure, is little more subtlety writes Tammy Violet Frazer.

Making scents: the secret ingredients to African luxury

Tammy Violet Frazer explains how ordinary handmade products achieve luxury status.

Making Scents: Eau de masculine has a new aroma

Perfumer Tammy Violet Frazer looks at how fragrances for men have changed over the years; from light, fresh citrus notes to sweet and smoky notes.

Making Scents: I’ve grown a custom scent for you

In the fragrance industry, perfumers are champing at the bit to offer distinct personalised fragrances, writes perfumer Tammy Violet Frazer.

Making Scents: Scent of a car named Maggie

Now is an exciting time for cars and scents, because we can harness smell to tell a story about the beliefs of a brand, writes Tammy Violet Frazer.

Making scents: ‘Natural’ products are no longer a luxury

The time has come for consumers to question what exactly is in the products they habitually replenish, writes Tammy Violet Frazer.

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Vitamin therapy is for drips

It may be marketed by influencers, but intravenous vitamin therapy is not necessary and probably not worth the hype, experts say

Facebook, Instagram indiscriminately flag #EndSars posts as fake news

Fact-checking is appropriate but the platforms’ scattershot approach has resulted in genuine information and messages about Nigerians’ protest against police brutality being silenced

Murder of anti-mining activist emboldens KZN community

Mam’Ntshangase was described as a fierce critic of mining and ambassador for land rights.

Unite with Nigeria’s ‘Speak Up’ generation protesting against police brutality

Photos of citizens draped in the bloodied flag have spread around the world in the month the country should be celebrating 60 years of independence

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday