Play Chemist Mixing and matching fragrances inevitably requires a little trial and error. But that’s the fun part! “This is all about experimentation,” says Carlos Benaim, Master Perfumer at International Flavors & Fragrances. “There are infinite combinations that you can create, and the only way to know if one is going to work is to try it.” Point being, get ready to spend a little time spritzing and sniffing. (Pro tip: If you feel like your sense of smell is starting to burn out, take a break and smell a tissue; its neutral scent can help cleanse your palette, so to speak.)
Look for Contrast As a general rule, people are usually drawn to fragrances that fall within one olfactive category, says Sue Phillips, President & CEO of Scenterprises & The Scentarium. That’s why even if you have 10 different perfumes in your collection, they may all be predominantly floral, clean, or supersweet. "But if you mix fragrances that are too similar, they’ll end up cancelling one another out. You want to create contrast,” explains Benaim. The easiest way to do so is to layer lighter fragrances with ones that are a bit heavier or more intense. One pairing we like: Pinrose Secret Genius Eau de Parfum and Pinrose Garden Gansgster Eau de Parfum.
Mix It Up Using Notes It’s not just about the predominant scent when it comes to finding complementary fragrances. The top notes (what you initially smell) and base notes (the scent that lingers after application) come into play as well. Look for a fragrance with top notes you love and pair it with a fragrance that has base notes you love, says Benaim. It’s obviously a matter of personal preference, but we found that the crisp and clean Etat Libre d’Orange You or Someone Like You Eau de Parfum mixes nicely with the green lime, neroli, and jasmine base notes in the Juliette Has a Gun Anyway Eau de Parfum.
Embrace “Less is More” Phillips likens mixing and matching fragrances to choosing spices when you’re cooking: “Individually, each spice is amazing, but if you were to combine every single one in your cabinet, you’d end up with a blend that’s overpowering and not distinct,” she says. The same goes for perfume. Start with just two scents, and possibly adding a third. “But cap it at three,” advises Phillips.
Test It Out Resist the temptation to use your skin as your canvas since our body chemistry can interact with the fragrance and affect the final result. To set up a proper at-home test, spray each fragrance on separate cotton balls, press them together, and then toss them in a Ziploc bag. Then, open the bag and take a whiff. If you’re into the mix you’ve made, then try it on to make sure it smells good on you “This is the easiest way to see if the scents mix well together,” points out Phillips.
Vary the Proportions Once you’ve got a combo you like, you can fine tune the formula. “Something as simple as changing the amount of each fragrance that you’re mixing can make the blend even more distinct,” says Benaim. Start with one spray of each, then try two of one and one of the other, or three spritzes to two spritzes. One blend to try: CLEAN Reserve Amber Saffron Eau de Parfum and CLEAN Reserve Velvet Flora Eau de Parfum. Experiment until you find exactly what you’re looking for, and write down exactly how you got there so that you can recreate your new signature scent in the future.