Buying perfume can be daunting. Citrus or floral? Parfum or Toilette?
Our perfume guide will help you find the perfect scent for you or a loved one.

Guide to Different Perfume Types and Scents

Our sense of smell is directly connected to our memory: it has the power to evoke a lifetime of experiences, from happy childhood moments to landmark adult milestones. In this guide to buying perfume, we’ll explain the different fragrance types and provide advice on finding a scent that boosts your confidence while enhancing your allure and mystique.

Whether you’re looking for a new scent or buying a gift for a loved one, Myer has an extensive range of perfume and cologne from the world’s leading fragrance makers. Discover the different types of perfume and scents that are available, and find out which types of fragrance are best suited to your personality.

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Choosing A Scent

Different types of perfume will have different characteristics, depending on their ingredients. We’ll give you the full rundown on the most popular perfume scent types, ranging from sweet floral fragrances to earthier scents with notes of spice and wood.  

When it comes to choosing a fragrance, it can be helpful to have a think about what kind of scents you’re naturally drawn to. It’s also important to consider if you want your new fragrance to be something you can wear every day, or whether you want something bold and unique for special occasions. Keep reading to find out about the different types of perfume scents that are available, to choose a fragrance you’ll love.

Floral Scents

Perfect for anyone who’s a romantic at heart, floral perfume scents evoke the sweet smell of blossoming flowers. Perfumes in the floral fragrance family are distinctively feminine and subtlety seductive, making them great for dates, parties and going out to see a show. The delicate and complex aroma of roses, peonies, jasmine and lilies frequently feature in these types of scents, and they can range in intensity from strong and vibrant, to powdery and demure. You can also find floral fragrances made from fruit blossoms, putting a fresh spin on a timeless classic.

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Wood Scents

Captivating and mysterious, wood scents are great for bringing out your sensual side. Made from earthy aromas such as cedar, sandalwood and amber, colognes and perfumes in the woody fragrance family are innately sophisticated, and are suitable both for women and men.  

Woody scents can have earthy and sweet undertones, inspired by mossy woodlands and tropical rainforests. At the other end of the wood fragrance spectrum are scents with drier notes of smoke, leather and aged oak. Wood fragrances are naturally inviting – great for all kinds of occasions.

Amber Scents

Great for making a bold and sensual statement, amber fragrances are best suited to those who love fun and adventure. If you’re looking for a fragrance with an intoxicating blend of sweetness and warmth, an amber perfume is the ideal choice for making a bold impression wherever you go.   

What does amber smell like? These types of fragrances often draw upon sweet notes of vanilla and honey, combined with earthy and musky notes of patchouli, vetiver and sandalwood. Some types of amber in perfume include sticky resins such as labdanum, as well as the nutty aroma of tonka beans.

Fresh Scents

Fresh scents are the most versatile of the fragrance families, great for everyday wear and occasions where you want to make a vibrant impression. Crisp and invigorating, fresh fragrances often combine citrus aspects together with notes of fresh herbs, cucumber, sea salt and clean laundry.  

A fresh floral perfume might also contain hints of lilies and irises, and sometimes also the delicately sweet aroma of watermelon. If you’re the kind of person who’s drawn to light colours, and you enjoy feeling the breeze against your skin on cool spring evenings, a fresh scent perfume is the perfect choice.

Citrus Scents

Bright, distinctive and clean, perfumes in the citrus fragrance family are evocative of an vibrant orchid in springtime. Infused with ingredients such as lemon, grapefruit and orange, a citrus fragrance is a great choice if you’re looking for something light and energetic.  

These fragrances make lovely perfumes for everyday wear, and are especially suited to those who love spending time outdoors in the surf and sun. Fragrances with a citrus scent often also contain notes of freshly cut grass, herbs from the garden, and even sometimes the smell of the ocean.

Fruity Scents

Fruit fragrances are the perfect way to experience the sweetness of summer all year round. Fruity scents like berries or citrus can remind you of enjoying a refreshing cocktail, whilst notes of mango and coconut can whisk you away on a tropical beach getaway.  

These fragrances are ideal for activities held during the day or outdoors. Fruit fragrances are a great mood booster and are especially suited to those who want to embody a youthful energy. You can combine fruity scents with floral or woody notes to add extra layers of sophistication to your fragrance.

Spice Scents

Spicy fragrances are imbued with the old world mystique of the spice trade, with an aromatic profile that’s warm, luxurious and seductive. What makes spicy perfumes so alluring is their balance: they contain sweet notes such as cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and cardamon, combined with sharper aspects of pepper and clove.  

Men’s colognes often contain notes of spice, creating an aroma that’s inviting and enigmatic. And for women, a spicy perfume is perfect for special occasions where you want to make an impression that’s assured yet playful.

Fragrance Notes In Perfume

Notes in perfume are the scent ‘layers’ that make up the composition of a fragrance. These fragrance notes are typically classified into three categories: top notes, heart notes (also known as ‘middle notes’) and base notes.

The combination of these perfume notes gives fragrances their complexity, and they’re also the reason why a perfume can take on 
a different scent profile throughout the day.

Top Notes

Top notes are the first scents that can be sensed when you apply a perfume. They’re the lightest and freshest aspects of the fragrance, providing the initial impression. A top note in perfume usually lingers on the skin for around 10-15 minutes after application, before it starts to fade.

Heart Notes

Once the top notes have faded, the heart notes of your fragrance will begin to blossom. Also known as ‘middle notes’, these are the main body of the perfume, providing the main personality and character of the fragrance. Heart notes make up anywhere between 40%-80% of the fragrance, and last longer than top notes.

Base Notes

Base notes in perfume are the foundation of the fragrance, providing richness and longevity. Smooth and deep, perfume base notes last the longest on the skin, emerging after the top and heart notes have dissipated.  Although the top and heart notes give perfume its initial intrigue and charm, the base notes are usually the ones that trigger emotional responses and memories.

Distinguishing Fragrance Notes

Perfume Concentration And Strengths

All perfumes and fragrances are made from concentrated oils. The most highly concentrated perfume available is Pure Parfum. Of all the various types of perfume concentration, parfum contains the highest percentage of essential oils, so you only need to apply a little for it to go a long way.  

Eau de Parfum has a slightly lower concentration of pure oils, making this perfume level another great choice for longevity. If you want something a little lighter and less intense, the perfume levels of Eau de Toilette are slightly lower again. Eau de Cologne is also good if you only want a light scent, with concentrations ranging from 2-4%.

Perfume Concentration 101

Pure Parfum

Pure Parfum has the highest fragrance concentration, containing around 30-40% pure perfume oil. Because it’s so highly concentrated, Pure Parfum will remain fragrant for up to 8 hours, and only needs to be applied sparingly to produce sensational results.  

If you’re wondering about the meaning of ‘Pure Parfum’, it translates from French simply as ‘pure perfume’. There’s a high concentration of fragrance in pure parfum, meaning that it doesn’t contain as much alcohol, water or other dilutants. Rich, deep and complex, a gift of pure parfum means that you want to give a present that’s truly special, luxurious and meaningful.

Eau De Parfum

Eau de Parfum (EDP) has a fragrance oil concentration of around 15-20%, and it remains fragrant of the skin for around 4-5 hours. For those curious about what ‘Eau de Parfum’ means, it’s a French term that translates to ‘water of perfume’. The meaning of Eau de Parfum refers to the fact that the concentration is not as strong as Pure Parfum, making it a great choice if you want a fragrance that’s a little more subtle.  

It’s common to find a higher concentration of alcohol or water in Eau de Parfum, meaning that EDP can also be a better option for those with skin sensitivities. Browse our full range of Eau de Parfum to find beautiful fragrances from the world’s best brands.

Eau De Toilette

Containing between 5-15% pure fragrance oil and lasting for around 2-3 hours, Eau de Toilettes (EDT) are great for everyday wear. But what does ‘Eau de Toilette’ mean, precisely? The name of this perfume is derived from the French phrase faire sa toilette, which roughly translates as ‘to wash up’ or ‘get ready. So the meaning of Eau de Toilette is connected to the act of freshening up to go out.

What is Eau de Toilette? Put simply, this is one of the most popular and versatile types of perfume, perfect for wearing every day, or applying behind your ears for special occasions. Browse our full range of Eau de Toilette to find exquisite fragrances infused with rich floral, fruit and amber scents.

Eau De Cologne

The term ‘Eau de Cologne’ reflects the place where this fragrance originates from: Cologne, Germany. The word eau is French for ‘water’, so the meaning of ‘Eau de Cologne’ is ‘water from Cologne’. This fragrance type contains roughly 2-4% pure fragrance, and it lasts for approximately 1-2 hours on the skin.  

For many people, the Eau de Cologne meaning is associated with male grooming – many men enjoy applying cologne after they shave. However, using Eau de Cologne’ means simply to apply a light fragrance, meaning that colognes can be worn both by women and men. Browse our women’s cologne and cologne gifts for him to see our full range.

Eau Fraiche

Eau Fraiche is one of the lightest fragrance options, containing around 1-3% fragrance oil. It lasts for around 1-2 hours after being applied to the skin, and it’s a wonderful choice for anyone who wants to wear a fragrance that’s subtle yet sophisticated.  

The term Eau Fraiche means ‘fresh water’ when translated directly into English. While yes, this type of perfume does tend to contain more water, the more nuanced meaning of Eau Fraiche is that it can boost your spirits, and help you feel renewed with fresh confidence. There are also relatively low levels of alcohol in Eau Fraiche, meaning this fragrance type is best for people with skin sensitives.

Top Perfume Brands

Discover Perfume And Fragrance at Myer

Discover Myer’s range of perfume, cologne and timeless classic scents from designer brands including Gucci, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Lancôme, Prada, Versace Fragrance and more. Indulge your senses and find gorgeous gifts for the people you love.  

Browse our full perfume range to find fragrances to suit all personality types. From rollerball fragrances to niche fragrances, there’s a perfume for every style. Buy online and enjoy fast delivery times, making gift shopping easy and stress-free.

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Perfume FAQs

How to choose a perfume?

In this pocket guide to buying perfume, we’ll make it easy for you to a fragrance you’ll love. If you’re shopping online, it helps to have an understanding of the types of scents you usually enjoy. For instance, do you like the sweet smell of flowers, or do you tend to gravitate towards earthier notes of amber, spice and wood? Use your personal taste to guide your decision.   

What perfume should I buy? When buying online, it can be helpful to look at customer reviews. Also, if there’s a perfume brand that’s worked for you in the past, have a look at what other types of fragrances they have on offer. To get inspired, explore our range of Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette and specialty niche fragrances.

How to layer fragrance?

Fragrance layering is the art of combining multiple fragrances to create a signature scent. The key is to choose complementary scents that share similar notes. If you use a perfume finder by notes, you can find perfumes that share common scent profiles. For instance, if you want to create a fragrance profile based around fresh scents, you could start with a fragrance with notes of herbs and cut grass, and then follow it with a citrus-inspired scent.

Start by applying a base fragrance: this will be the dominant note. Then, apply a lighter fragrance either directly to your pulse points, or to your clothing or hair. Fragrance layering provides a fun opportunity to experiment and express your creativity.

How do I know what perfume suits me?

With so many types of perfume to choose from, making a decision can be tricky. First, consider the occasion: do you want a subtle perfume for daily life, or are you looking for a sensational showstopper? The intensity of the fragrance largely depends on its concentration: we recommend choosing a Eau de Parfum for special occasions, and a lighter women’s cologne for everyday wear.  

Next, think about the kinds of scents you’re drawn to in life. Do you like the smell of springtime? A floral fragrance could be perfect. Other alternatives include fragrances with fresh notes, or warmer amber aspects. Don’t be afraid to experiment – you never know what you might discover, if you’re bold!   

Should I have a signature scent?

A signature scent is a fragrance that facilitates individual expression. Think of it as an extension of your personal identity – as important as your clothes, shoes and hairstyle.   

To create your signature scent, think about the types of perfume scents you’re naturally attracted to. Do you like smells that are sweet and floral? Or are you more attracted to unisex fragrances with notes of sea salt and clean laundry? It all comes down to your unique preferences.  

You can also layer different fragrances to create your own trademark scent. The first fragrance will form your base scent, and you can then add an additional layer of complexity by spritzing a second fragrance on your clothes or hair.  

Where to spray perfume?

If you’re wondering how to wear perfume, the key is to apply small amounts to areas of the body known as ‘pulse points’. These include the inner wrists, just below your ears, your chest, inner elbows, and the backs of your knees. Because these places generate heat, they help to distribute the scent of your perfume throughout the day.

When it comes to perfume, where to spray and how many perfume sprays are common concerns. In addition to the pulse points, you can spray perfume anywhere you like really, as long as you avoid the face. How to spray perfume? If you want to keep it subtle, a couple of sprays is usually fine – you can always add more later. Try to avoid rubbing the perfume, as this can alter the scent.  

What is a perfume dupe?

Savvy beauty shoppers are always on the lookout for affordable replications of luxury fragrances. Social media is abuzz with channels and influencers dedicated to finding dupes for popular fragrances, so people can get the fragrance types they love, at a reduced cost.

Perfume dupes aim to capture the character of luxury perfumes, using similar notes to mimic designer fragrances. Popular with younger people who might not have the budget for big brand fragrances, perfume dupes make it possible to rock a level of luxury that would otherwise by prohibited by price.    

How do I choose perfume for someone else as a gift?  

Looking for a gift, but not sure how to choose a perfume for someone else? In this pocket guide, we’ve got great tips for buying beautiful fragrances for your friends and family to enjoy.  

Below you’ll find helpful info about the various types of perfume and what they’re best suited for, as well as some general guidance about fragrance notes and scent profiles.  

To get started in your search, take a look at Myer’s range of women’s perfume gifts, and cologne and grooming gifts for men. With so much inspiration at your fingertips, it’s easy to find great gifts to make your loved ones feel special.   

Check out their current collection

Before you begin your research, try to find out what fragrances your loved one currently wears. This could be as simple as asking them: although you might risk ruining the surprise, it also guarantees that you’ll get a gift that’s perfect!

It might be possible to guess which perfume scent types they prefer, just based on their personality. If you’re buying for a woman who loves dressing up and looking glamorous, chances are she’ll appreciate an Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette with strong floral notes. On the other hand, a lighter women’s cologne might be more suitable if their style is more understated.

Browse our full range of perfume gifts to get inspired!  

When will they be wearing the fragrance?

It’s useful to consider the levels of fragrance concentration in different perfume types. Eau de Parfum has a high concentration of fragrance oil, which means that it has a stronger scent that lasts longer. Eau de Toilette also has a fairly high fragrance concentration, making these perfumes perfect for wearing to weddings, birthdays and other special events.   

On the other hand, sometimes people want fragrances that a little more subtle and understated. Eau Fraiche, women’s cologne and men’s fragrances tend to have lower concentrations of fragrance oil, making them perfect for everyday wear.   

Our recommendations

If you want to base your decision on the quality of the perfume, the highest quality is Pure Parfum, which is the most concentrated. Eau de Parfum is the next most concentrated form of fragrance, followed by Eau de Toilette, Eau Fraiche and cologne.  

Another way you can approach it is to simply stick to the best-selling perfume brands. Take a look at our full range of women’s perfume and men’s fragrances to find quality fragrances from leading brands.

Myer also has a beautiful selection of candles and home fragrances which make excellent gifts for those who love home entertaining.