Until maybe two years ago I had absolutely no idea fragrance layering was a thing. In fact, I grew up on beauty magazines saying that I shouldn’t mix up scents, because they’re probably going to clash and create something unpleasant. Which is probably why my mind was totally blown when one day I complimented a lady at a makeup counter on her perfume, and she told me it’s a mix of “a spritz of this and two spritzes of that” on top of some scented body lotion. And so I began my experiments!
I wear perfume daily, and what I wear depends solely on my mood: sometimes I crave something crisp and simple, other times I’m yearning for deep and complex scents that tell a story, and on some days I want to create that story myself. This is where the art of layering comes in.
I say “art”, but this is definitely more like a skill that anyone can learn, and there are guidelines you can follow to make the learning experience a pleasant one. First of all, gather your fragrances that have a prominent note, or strongly lean toward one scent family: floral [tree blossoms, flowers, powdery notes], oriental [incense, amber, sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla], woody [vetiver, oakmoss, woods, leather], or fresh [citrus, fruits, berries, bergamot, aquatic, grass].
To start, try mixing scents from the same family and see how it goes. For example, a spritz of vanilla paired with a few drops of sandalwood will create a sultry and intriguing combination. Once you figure out what you like, the next step would be telling a story with your scent. Here’s mine:
Close your eyes. What is the first thing you smell? It’s the cool breeze from the sea and the crisp mountain air, infused with the fragrance from the surrounding citrus orchards, where the trees are in full bloom. With every gust of wind those delicate white petals fly around, filling the entire area with their strong bittersweet fragrance. When the wind subsides, you can smell the juniper bush and a flower bed of colorful freesias behind you. After catching a whiff of saffron, basil, and black pepper from a small tavern nearby, you decided to have lunch on the sunlit wooden terrace, and took a seat at one of the tables outside. Life is a bit slow-paced here, and it takes a while for the waiter to show up, but his cologne announced his arrival when you noticed faint notes of oud, musk, and amber. After finishing lunch, you decided to stay a little longer to watch the sunset and listen to the seagulls’ songs. “What a wonderful place”, you think, “I would love to come back again!”
And yes, you read that correctly, I actually borrowed a bottle of fragrance from my husband. It’s not so uncommon for men’s cologne to work well with women’s perfume, all it takes is a little mixing and matching to get a unique blend. In this case I started with a spritz of a heavier scent first, then immediately followed by two spritzes of the lighter one. To ensure that they fuse properly, it’s better to layer when they’re still wet on the skin, and just leave the puddle to absorb on its own. I noticed when I rub it in [or rub my wrists together], the effect is not quite the same, so definitely let them sit and do their thing to ensure the best possible outcome.
Both of these scents are nice enough to wear on their own. CLEAN Air is one of the newest additions to the brand’s extensive fragrance library, and was released earlier this year. It opens up with notes of bergamot blossom, mountain air accord, and lush greens, then reveals the heart of freesia and white peony, before drying down to a base of cashmere woods, musk, and white amber. It’s also a great catalyst to transform any fruity, floral, or citrusy scents you might own, by adding a hint of freshness to them. Naturally, it works best when paired with other CLEAN products, like CLEAN for Men Classic here.
Although it’s marketed as a men’s cologne, I think the fragrance is pretty unisex, and even more so when paired with something light and citrusy. CLEAN puts a modern twist on classic men’s notes, so I would say it’s a scent for the adventurous types, or for the younger crowd. It features top notes of bergamot, basil, and saffron, later revealing juniper berry, black pepper, violet leaf and surprising accents of iris and jasmine, that add a modern spin on the whole thing. The base is comprised of traditional musk, vetiver, oud, and amber that stay on the skin long after those other notes have faded.
CLEAN for Men Classic is an EDT, which means its staying power is quite short compared to more concentrated EDP fragrances and fragrance oils, which can last on the skin for days [no kidding], but that’s actually a good thing. The whole experience from the first spritz to the last whiff takes about 4-5 hours on my skin, but it’s pretty individual with everyone’s different body chemistry, so YMMV. I personally prefer EDTs for everyday wear because they’re crowd-friendly and never feel overwhelming. After all, nobody wants to be a walking cloud, just like no one wants to sit/stand next to one.
So go ahead, experiment, layer those perfumes, and be sure to come back to let me know about any killer combinations you discovered!
WHERE TO BUY:
- CLEAN Air – $69 USD for 2.14 oz. Available at Sephora, Ulta, Clean Perfume.
- CLEAN for Men Classic – $58 USD for 2.14 oz. Available at Sephora, Ulta, Birchbox, Clean Perfume.
- CLEAN for Men Classic Gift Set – $60 USD for 1 set [2.14 oz EDT + 2.6 oz deodorant]. Available at Sephora, Clean Perfume.
Have you tried layering fragrances before? What are your favorite notes to wear? Let me know in the comments below!
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