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How to Pick Perfume as a Gift

How to Choose Perfume as a Gift

The holidays are a time for giving, and if you're hitting the fragrance counter, Allure has the steps to sniffing out the right scent for anyone on your list.

Does anyone like patchouli? What exactly is the difference between Damask rose, English rose, and black rose? And does it even matter? Choosing a fragrance to give someone as a gift can be tough. Just ask anyone who has received a gorgeous, expensive bottle and immediately stuck it on the back of their vanity to collect dust. But the same thing that makes scent so subjective — namely, how personal it is — makes giving one worth the risk. Hey, there aren't many presents that are thoughtful, indulgent, and can be used every day. I'm not the only one who thinks so: A recent survey from the consumer market research firm NPD Group shows that fragrance ranks at number six on holiday shopping lists. If that sounds familiar, follow these expert pointers:

Related: How to Choose a Scent For Everyone on Your List

Do some preliminary detective work. If you can find out what fragrance the recipient normally wears, your best bet is to get her something similar (you can search for fragrances with similar notes on, or if that sounds overwhelming, just ask a salesperson.)

Not sure what they wear? Look for a scent with a name (Malin + Goetz Rum Tonic, anyone?) that relates to the recipient, says perfumer Francis Kurkdjian.

Test — in moderation. It's easy for your nose to get overwhelmed (and then everything starts to smell the same . . . and you get a headache), so try not to sniff any more than four fragrances at once. Keep in mind that it can take 30 minutes for a fragrance to develop, so you may want to hold on to your top pick (or be a really good friend and spritz it on your wrist) so you can smell it again later before you commit.

Still feeling a little overwhelmed? Go with a candle. Just skip very light scents, which often aren't strong enough to cover the smell of the wax, advises Kilian Hennessy, perfumer and founder of By Kilian. That's not to say that a candle can't be personal: If someone loves to cook, give them a lavender-scented one, which complements the smell of food in a kitchen. If they entertain, choose a gardenia or rose absolute candle, which works well in a living room. Or, if it's that kind of a gift, rich, comforting scents like tuberose are perfect for the bedroom.

Or you could always just go with one of the best-selling perfumes: Chanel Coco Mademoiselle and Chanel No. 5 are perma-hits.

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SwagScentDOTcom SwagScentDOTcom 3 years
It's all about testing.
awayaway awayaway 3 years
My favorite thing to put on my Christmas list is the sampler sets from Sephora; they give you a set of like 10 sample sizes to try out and a coupon for a full-sized once you've chosen your favorites. I've chosen all my favorite perfumes that way.
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