No pressure or anything, but Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. If you’re like us, you haven’t quite sorted out a surprise for your sweetie. But we’re not panicking, and neither should you. We’ve put our beauty thinking caps on and are contemplating picking out a first-rate fragrance to celebrate the lovers’ holiday. When correctly selected, perfume is an ideal Valentine’s Day present because it’s thoughtful, personal and intimate. It can definitely miss the mark, though. Usher, Sean Jean or David Beckham colognes could be too conventional for your unique someone and make it seem as if you didn’t put a ton of consideration into the purchase. “By taking time to explore outside the mainstream, you’re sending a romantic message that this special person deserves a special scent,” says Antonia Kohl, owner of San Francisco scent haven Tigerlily Perfumery. Exploring multitudes of unfamiliar fragrances, however, can be challenging. To land on the best choice for your companion, we asked Kohl and Rachel Ten Brink, cofounder and chief marketing officer of fragrance subscription service and online retailer Scentbird, to help us narrow down the fragrance field. Here are their sage suggestions:
Embark On A Bit Of Scent Snooping
Ten Brink recommends scouting your partners perfume stash. “Find out what they wear already or what kind of scents they like,” she says. “See if they like floral, fruity, spicy, fresh [or] sweet scents or even a particular note like vanilla or jasmine.” Going even deeper, Kohl counsels, “Consider personal style and the smells he or she loves out in the world. Remember when you were hiking, and he raved about the smell of the sugar pines or how the scent of orange blossoms reminds her of a favorite vacation on the Italian coast.”
If you swoon when smelling a scent, there’s a good chance you’re partner may too. At the very least, you’ll be pleased when he or she wears it. “It’s a much easier sell if you actually like the fragrance,” says Ten Brink, who adds, “It’s always best to try a scent before investing in a full bottle. Give yourself a little time to try it even if you’re in a store. Smell it right away but also wait 15 to 20 minutes to see what it smells like once it’s dried down.”
Seek Out An Expert
Shops such as Tigerlily Perfumery have knowledgeable specialists to guide you through the scents you’ve been thinking about. Once you’re at a perfumery, Kohl’s tip is to inquire about the in-store specialists’ favorite fragrances. If you can’t find a shop in your area, she notes, “There are online stores that focus on niche fragrance, have great product descriptions and include sample programs so you can try before you buy.” Scentbird, Luckyscent and Aedes Perfumery are three of the leading online destinations for extensive scent assortments.
Be Aware Of The Backstory
Many scents have fascinating histories that could appeal to your significant other. “Learn about the makers behind the scents you’re considering,” proposes Kohl. Specifically, she elaborates, “Great [fragrance] houses to look up include Andy Tauer, Kerosene and Imaginary Authors. Sometimes a hard choice between two equally beautiful smells can be made easier when you find an affinity between the maker and the person you’re choosing for.”
Look For New Launches
Ten Brink advises, “Find out what are the newest scents on the market. If the person you’re buying for already uses a certain brand, they may enjoy other scents from that same brand.” If you’re not up to date on the latest fragrances, you can solicit ideas from friends, family members or colleagues who might have their fingers on the pulse of perfumes.
Sample Before You Splurge
Fragrance retailers understand that pinning down a perfect perfume is difficult, and they often provide samples to simplify the process. In addition, Kohl points out that many shops allow gifts to be exchanged if the perfume packaging is unopened. “This way your giftee can try the sample and exchange it if skin chemistry gets in the way. It [can] happen to the best of us,” says Kohl. “You will most likely pick a hit but, if not, your valentine will be touched by the thought you put into it and will have fun picking out something perfect.”
Gift Sets Or Cards Are BBTA Approved
Acknowledging scent shopping can be complicated, Ten Brink states don’t be afraid to settle on a gift scent subscription or gift card. That way, she emphasizes, “They can choose their own scent.” Gift sets can also be excellent options. Kohl says, “Niche and artisan perfumers usually offer offer gift sets that give wearers the opportunity to try the whole line before deciding which scent is perfect on their skin.”