A Different Way To Look At Fragrance

Think about how you apply a fragrance – what probably springs to mind is the act of spraying an eau de toilette a couple of times in the general direction of your neck or chest.

But why just ‘spray and pray’ when you can create a longer lasting, all-over scent impression by layering several products from your favourite fragrance’s body range?

Or, if you’re feeling a bit more creative, how about layering completely different fragrances on top of each other to create something that’s unique to you? Whichever technique you fancy trying, here are a few useful tips…

Create A Lasting Impression

The easiest form of fragrance layering involves combining products from a brand’s body care range to create a more intense, longer lasting, top-to-toe scent. By using these products in tandem you don’t just increase its staying power though.

“Different toiletry mediums require different chemical adjustments, techniques and bases to carry the fragrance successfully,” says James Craven, Perfume Archivist at London’s oldest independent perfumery, Les Senteurs.

“A skilled perfumer will vary their original fragrance formula for each layer and according to each product. Take Creed’s Green Irish Tweed, for instance: the soap may be richer in the musky woody accords, the gel more predominantly green and minty, the lotion feature a touch more violet… and so on.”

Layering, then, can give your favourite fragrance even more complexity as well as longevity. “The fragrance will essentially be the same but each product will highlight a different aspect or a different mood,” he says.

What’s more, individual parts of the body have their own inherent smell and so will ‘wear’ fragrance in a different way and diffuse it at a different rate, making the effect continuous.

“Hair is an excellent conductor: it holds perfume most tenaciously,” says Craven, which is why fragranced shampoos and body washes are often a good investment.

Not all fragrances have accompanying body care collections, but many – like Aramis Classic, Acqua di Parma Colonia, Paco Rabanne 1 Million and Bleu de Chanel – have pretty extensive ranges infused with their scent. Personally, I’m a big fan of Tom Ford’s Oud Wood, which you can now buy as a soap bar, shower gel, body moisturiser and body spray:

Not all fragrances have extensive body care collections but many – like Aramis Classic, Acqua di Parma Colonia, Paco Rabanne 1 Million and Bleu de Chanel – have pretty extensive ranges infused with their fragrance. Personally, I’m a big fan of Tom Ford’s Oud Wood, which you can now buy as a soap bar, shower gel, body moisturiser and body spray:

Subtle Layering

You don’t have to use layering to boost your fragrance’s intensity though: you can also use it to create a more subtle scent impression.

Ideal for work, perhaps, when you want to smell good – but not so good your fragrance overpowers your co-workers – use a body wash, deodorant and aftershave balm in tandem but skip the eau de toilette itself.

  • Chanel Bleu De Chanel Shower Gel 200mlChanel Bleu De Chanel Shower Gel 200ml
  • Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male Shower GelJean Paul Gaultier Le Male Shower Gel
  • Creed Green Irish Tweed Hair And Body WashCreed Green Irish Tweed Hair And Body Wash
  • Acqua Di Parma Colonia Essenza Deodorant Stick 75mlAcqua Di Parma Colonia Essenza Deodorant Stick 75ml
  • Chanel Bleu De Chanel Luxury Soap 200gChanel Bleu De Chanel Luxury Soap 200g
  • Aramis Aramis Classic Invigorating Body ShampooAramis Aramis Classic Invigorating Body Shampoo
  • Dior Eau Sauvage Alcohol-free Stick DeodorantDior Eau Sauvage Alcohol-free Stick Deodorant
  • Guerlain L’homme Ideal Deodorant Stick 75mlGuerlain Lhomme Ideal Deodorant Stick 75ml
  • Paco Rabanne 1million Shower Gel 150mlPaco Rabanne 1million Shower Gel 150ml
Avoiding Clashes

Fragrance is just like food: some things go together naturally, other’s clash like the Titans. And since fragrance is one of the first things people notice about you, what you put on your pulse points is just as important as what you put on your plate.

“Most men tend to mix it all up when it comes to scents: shampoo, shower gel, deodorant, hair gel, and then on top of it all; cologne,” says acclaimed British perfumer Roja Dove. “That’s almost like saying ‘I love ties’ and then wearing every one you own all at once.”

The result is often a cacophony of competing smells. “Your own nose gets used to this after a while so you may not be aware of the overall alchemy, but others certainly will be,” he warns.

The solution? If you’re not layering from a fragrance’s own body range (see above), try using products that at least share common notes. For example, if your eau de toilette is big on vetiver, black pepper and sandalwood, a black pepper body wash will probably complement, rather than work against it.

Try L’Occitane’s Eau De L’Occitan Pour Homme with Molton Brown’s Black Peppercorn Body Wash:

Fragrance Pairs That Work Well: L'Occitane's Eau De L'Occitan Pour Homme with Molton Brown's Black Peppercorn Body Wash

When Two Become One

“Although I’m not a fan myself, many people like combining fragrances and sometimes achieve striking results in the process,” says Craven. If you’re going to try layering two completely different scents – whether two EDTs or a body lotion/EDT combo – he suggests applying the heavier of the two first, letting it dry and then spraying the lighter one over the top.

As an experiment I tried this with Creed’s warm and earthy Original Vetiver and Balmain’s uber fresh and citrusy Monsieur Balmain, which worked pretty well, as did the combo of Acqua di Parma Colonia and Aramis Classic – the former adding a refreshing and uplifting edge to the latter.

Whether they’re better together than apart is debatable (every fragrance is designed to be perfectly balanced remember) but it’s certainly fun to play perfumer:

Fragrance Pairs That Work Well: Creed Original Vetiver with Monsieur Balmain and Acqua di Parma Colonia with Aramis Classic

Also worth considering are the colognes from The Library of Fragrance. Based around familiar smells, there are over 300 of them (with 101 available in the UK) and you can mix everything from Fresh Ginger and Amber to Pure Soap and Play-Doh.

Trust me, you’ll never have more fun fragrance combining:

The Fragrance Library

If you’re unsure about combining, though, Craven suggests starting your experiments with your existing collection. “Don’t spend a fortune doubling up on fragrances until you discover whether you have a talent for combining: it does take a certain skill but can be rewarding – and, of course, if it works, you end up with a unique scent particular to you!”

Final Word

Do you have a favourite fragrance you like to layer? Or a couple of scent combinations you’ve discovered work well together?

Let us know using the comments box below…