Fragrance 101

Does the talk of EDP’s, EDT’s, notes & accords make your head spin? Don’t stress, I am about to give you THE BASICS OF FRAGRANCE in the hope that after reading this, you will know exactly how to choose the perfect scent & wear it with confidence.

(And in case you know your Fragrance 101 backwards, scroll down for my current favourite fragrances).

What is a note? And a ‘nose’?

A perfume is a variety of natural & synthetic scents/accords, created by a Perfumer or ‘Nose’.

“The base or dry down notes are the first to be created in the composition, as these are the building blocks of a perfume. They persist after the top & middle notes have evaporated such as musk, amber, wood, vanilla or moss,” explains Lorelle Meyer, Marketing Manager at Prestige Cosmetics group. “Middle/heart notes are the personality of the perfume, these notes have a life cycle of a few hours & give the fragrance its identity, such as floral/blossom notes. The top notes are the most volatile & evaporate quite quickly, giving the first impression of the perfume & last only a few minutes, such as citrus, floral or fruits.

There are different types of perfume families such as citrus, floral, chypre, fougere, leather, amber/oriental & woody.”

Eau de… what?

Eau de indicates the concentration rate of a perfume range, provides the ability to remain on the skin & also depends on skin type (perfume stay longer on oily skin for example).

* Eau de Cologne (EDC): the least concentrated & stays long on your skin. Great for summer.

* Eau de toilette (EDT): A good version of a perfume to test because it is not so concentrated. Use three sprays at a time.

* Eau de Parfum (EDP): To be used once a day & should last from a shower to the next.  One to two spritzes will suffice.

Why does fragrance feel like such a luxury?

“Since the ancient times, perfume was always a rich man’s indulgence: think of the Queen of Sheba when she visited King Solomon & the extravagant gifts she left with him, or the birth of Jesus & the gifts of the Three Wise Men. And over the years, perfume has become more accessible, & thankfully more affordable, but the sense of indulgence remains. Choosing a fragrance that excites you or compliments your personality helps to create a moment as you’re preparing for the day, a small pause where you feel 100% indulgent. I believe that’s the magic of perfume. It can lift you immediately – you never experience anger or stress in a perfumery!“ explains Leandri van der Wat, Optiphi’s Research & Development Scientist.

How do I choose a fragrance?

Definitely not in a rush. First smell a variety of fragrances & spray your favourites on little papers. Discuss your favourites with an experiences salesperson (if you like). Now test two scents – one on each wrist. Remember that your skin contains a unique code of hormones & pheromones that can change the way a fragrance smell ons you – a little or even a lot!

Take a walk for about 20 minutes, smell your wrists again & make your decision.

Avoid perfume shop when you have been eating spicy foods, if you have exercised very hard or if you are still recovering from an illness, feel upset or have just smoked. All of these factors can affect your appreciation of the fragrances.

Should my age dictate my choice of a scent?

The short answer: no. There is a tendency among older women to choose stronger perfumes with woody floral tones, while younger women prefer lighter fruit & floral notes.

But, the choice depends on your personality & preferences, so let the feedback from others be your barometer. If you are receiving compliments, then you are probably spot on.

How much is enough?

“It’s a very selfish to have people smell you from further than 1 ½ metres away. It’s like yelling indoors,” says Leandri.

To prevent over application, alternate your perfume daily, as your nose gets used to your scent. We often make the mistake to think that the fragrance no longer has staying power or scent on us, so we apply more. “Less is more. Spray about 25cm away from the skin on pulse points, one spray each,” says Lorelle. “Alternatively spray in the air & walk through the spray.”

Why does fragrance make us feel so special?

“Perfumes imprint on life,” says Leandri. A scent is always tied to a memory. In fact, it has been said that smells capture memories better than images. “Think back to your mother, or you grandfather, or the day you cried the hardest in your life. There’s a smell connected to that. So there’s a mystical connection between emotion, memory & what you smell.”

“It appeals to our senses, evokes positive emotions, defining our mood, like an outfit, it makes a statement creating a very individual signature,” explains Lorelle. “Fragrance is mood enhancing,” says Michele Higgenson CEO of Crabtree & Evelyn South Africa. “Perfume makes a statement about who we are; olfactory delights are an important sensorial experience.”

How do I make my scent last?

Firstly, store it in a dark, dry place. The temperature should not fluctuate too much – it will destroy the molecular structure of the scent. Light (especially direct sunlight) will ruin your fragrance.  It will keep for 20 years if unopened, but once it’s open, you must use it in a year or two.

Correct application is key. Do not rub your perfume (or wrists). Allow it to establish itself on your skin.The best places to apply is where your body is warm – wrists, belly button or behind your ears.

Layering of fragrance is a great way to make your scent last. Combine a moisturiser or fragrance oil with your perfume.

Moisturise before spritzing your perfume – a dry skin makes perfume evaporate faster.



The Body Shop’s Polynesian Island Tiaré EDT (R285 ) is a light but warm fragrance. Think floral & exotic.



Mont Blanc, Lady Emblem (R995 for 50ml EDP) – a floral fragrance born out of the essence of rose – the universal symbol of elegance & femininity.



AVON Alpha For Her (R390 for 50ml). The ideal fragrance for the ambitious, independent woman. She knows her worth, has charm & inner belief.


Jo Malone Basil & Neroli Cologne (R815, 30ml; R1625 for 100ml) – a green floral scent that has recently joined the permanent Jo Malone London line-up.


The newest member of the No.5 family, L’Eau is youthful & versatile – a perfect everyday scent that smells clean.  It opens with citrus notes & aldehydes. The heart: May rose, ylang ylang & jasmine; settles into a base of cedar & white musk. (R1600, 50ml; R2270, 100ml).


Crabtree & Evelyn Parisian Millefleurs, R1300, 100 ml. Feminine with top notes of French pink pepper, French juniper & litchi.

Yolandi ♥

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *