Here's How to Craft Your Signature Scent by Layering Fragrances

Master the art of fragrance layering with these helpful tips and tricks from Walter Johnsen, a perfume specialist. Trust us, you'll want to take notes!

By Alyssa Morin Mar 21, 2024 5:12 PMTags
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If you don't want to spritz yourself with any odor-nary perfume, we have your bases covered.

The art of layering fragrances has become a popular beauty trend in recent years with people craving customization and individuality. And what better way to express yourself than by creating a bespoke scent?

"Fragrance has always been about happiness," Walter Johnsen, the vice president of product development at Inter Parfums, exclusively E! News in an exclusive interview. "People don't buy fragrance unless they like it and it makes them smile."

He's certainly on the nose with his sentiments. After all, scents are known to evoke memories, as well as trigger emotions and, in some cases, arousal.

Fragrance, much like a sharp wing or statement lip, is a powerful tool for transformation. So, it only makes sense people are intrigued by layering fragrances and crafting a signature scent in the process.

"What I'm seeing now, more than ever," Johnsen told E!, "is a consumer that is more experimental. They're excited to try new things."

So, how exactly can you make a customized blend? The fragrance specialist breaks down all of the sweet details.

Perfumes Celebrities Wear

What is fragrance layering?

Like the technique suggests, layering fragrances involves applying more than one scent together. This effect, according to Johnsen, will "create a more powerful, complex and customized fragrance."

"One could say that the art of creating any fragrance is all about layering," he noted, "as a perfumer, at the core of what we do, is artistically craft and mix different ingredients to create a new scent."

But now, people want to play chemist.

"Consumers are having more fun with fragrance," Johnsen continued, "and taking it upon themselves to mix and match two or more of their go-to fragrances to create a new experience that is as unique and as individual as they are."

Ed Feingersh/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

How can you properly layer fragrances together?

The best way to layer scents, such as eau de toilettes or eau de parfums, is to layer on a pump of each in the order of the strongest scent to the most delicate.

"For instance," he explained, "if you have three fragrances: One is a woody amber fragrance—an opulent fragrance with a lot of power—your second fragrance is a white floral—a definite profile and a loud voice—then your last fragrance is a citrus scent, but it evaporates quickly because these notes are light and need something to hold onto."

With these three different products, the perfumer added, you'd get the full experience of a signature scent.

"They meld together," he said, "keeping the freshness of the citrus lasting longer, and adding brightness to the white floral. This infusion is then held by the foundation of the base fragrance because it would add a more fluid element in the final creation."

Tanja Ivanova

What is the best way to layer lotion with a perfume?

Let's say you want to spice things up and mix different types of fragrances, like a body lotion or a body mist. The perfume creator offered a simple rule to follow: "Start from the shower and work your way out!"

Think of a shower gel, for example, as a building block. "Adding your favorite scent to this daily ritual adds to the happiness of the experience," he shared. "Next, complement your already adored self with a body lotion or body cream to enhance the shower gel experience."

As Johnsen pointed out, a body lotion or body mist will give your perfume something to "hold and set" itself to, therefore, making it last longer. 

"Each step in the layering process adds a new level of scent application," he said, "and different versions of the formula to react and stay intact as they join together to heighten the overall experience."

What fragrance families work well together for layering?

Since fragrance is deeply personal, Johnsen encourages experimentation. But if you aren't sure where to start, he advises taking baby steps.

"Consider working with two fragrances that fall in the same category," he suggested, like two types of florals. "As you gain more confidence in your creative expression, add a third fragrance to the mix. Maybe citrus to add brightness to the florals."

What are the best perfume layering combinations?

According to Johnsen, fruity florals always blend well with other fruity scents. The same goes for layering amber notes with gourmand base fragrances. However, it's best to play around with different products to see what speaks to you.

"The uniqueness comes when you mix different fragrance families," he noted. "Like a citrus with a gourmand, or a spice with fruit. All will work, it's just a matter of personal preference and ratio of application."

Kristina Strasunske

How can you make a layered scent have lasting power?

Aside from customizing a scent, there is one major perk to layering perfumes. "By adding different forms of fragrance," Johnsen explained, "a shower gel, body lotion and an eau de toilette or eau de parfum—this is the best and only way to have your scent last longer."

What are the takeaways of layering scents?

While there are guides to follow, it's also okay to break the rules. "The art of layering is all about the creative process," the fragrance specialist said. "There is no right or wrong way when it comes to fragrance, it's all about if it makes you smile."

(This article was originally published on February 17, 2024, at 7 a.m. PT.)

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