The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Signature Scent

By Ellie Child -
Woman smelling perfume with gold details

There’s nothing quite like discovering a fragrance that turns heads for all the right reasons. At some point in our lives, we’ve all latched onto a signature scent (Daisy by Marc Jacobs, we see you), but now the time has finally come to branch out and explore something new.

Whilst the market is saturated with an abundance of pricey, poetically titled formulations, hunting down a scent that actually suits your personality and lifestyle can be quite difficult – and that’s before you’ve even tried to decode their complex, over-the-top product descriptions.

With this in mind, we’ve created a little kick-starter guide in partnership with The Perfume Shop to help you discover whether you’re a sugary-sweet kind of gal, or someone that’s after something a little more sophisticated. Below, you can explore each scent family, the best ‘save or splurge’ options, and whether you’re after an EDP, EDT or eau fraiche formulation.

Getting to know the family:

Don’t worry, this part is super simple. Scent families fall into four main categories: Floral, Oriental, Woody, and Fresh. These are the main sections that we will be focusing on, but, if you want to get even more technical, each section has its own subfamily.

Floral

roses close up

Arguably the most popular family member of the four, floral notes are used within many of your favourite perfumes and feature primarily in women’s fragrances. Loved for its sweet yet fresh ‘zing’, floral notes will commonly utilise the likes of rose, orange blossom, and jasmine extracts.

Bursting with romantic undertones, floral accords are ideal for the women who own their sensuality and femininity (and we’re right there with you on that one!).

Subfamilies:

  • Floral: The most distinctive subfamily. Imagine a garden of fresh-cut flowers that transports you back to the classic English summertime.

  • Soft floral: Softer, more subtle notes. Think powdery, gentle waves of fragrance – the beginning of spring.

  • Fruity: The clue is in the name. This subcategory bursts with sugary-sweet notes that can range from the likes of peach to raspberry accords.

  • Floral oriental: Sugar, spice and all things nice.

We recommend:

DKNY Women's Eau De Toilette

DKNY Women's Eau De Toilette

SAVER: £29.99 for 100ml

This light-wearing eau de toilette is the everyday floral essential that every woman needs. Containing a strong floral heart of daffodil, orchid, and waterlily, this beautifully feminine scent adds a spritz of lust-worthy brilliance to your scent wardrobe.

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GUERLAIN Mon Guerlain Florale Eau De Parfum Spray

GUERLAIN Mon Guerlain Florale Eau De Parfum Spray

SPLURGER: £53.00 for 30ml

Boasting a seriously fresh scent, this feminine addition to the Guerlain family contains a mix of elegant florals, oriental spices and refreshingly sweet woods.

Housed in an epically lavish bottle, this long-lasting scent contains light top notes of bergamor and lavender that move on to a floral heart of sambac jasmine, peony note, paradisone, and ylang ylang. This is polished off with a warm base of Iris, vanilla, and sandalwood. Ideal for the spring and summer months, this floral-inspired scent is a sell-out sensation.

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Oriental

spice close up

Worn by both men and women alike, oriental scents are known for their heady and rich notes. This category is considered to be quite luxurious by many due to its inclusion of extracts like cardamom, vanilla, myrrh, and pepper. Opulent by nature, oriental scents tend to give off a spicy aroma and originate from more exotic corners of the world.

We love these warming scents for the colder months!

Subfamilies:

  • Oriental: The classic, well-known scent. This main category tends to be warm and sweet, utilising spices, cinnamon, vanilla, and musk.

  • Soft oriental: A more subtle version of the aforementioned category. This softer scent mixes floral notes with classic spices and incense.

  • Woody oriental: This subfamily focuses on earthier notes, mixing them in with spices for a well-rounded finish. Here, you can expect to find the inclusion of patchouli and sandalwood.

We recommend:

Vera Wang Embrace Rose Buds & Vanilla Eau De Toilette Spray

Vera Wang Embrace Rose Buds & Vanilla Eau De Toilette Spray

SAVER: £19.99 for 30ml

This crisp, oriental fragrance is a timeless addition to any woman’s scent wardrobe, combining lightly floral top notes with a warm heart of sweet magnolia and cyclamen. This is rounded beautifully off with a combination of sandalwood-musks and vanilla for a truly warming scent that wears perfectly all-year round.

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Tom Ford Noir Eau de Parfum

Tom Ford Noir Eau de Parfum

SPLURGER: £79.00 for 50ml

Encapsulating the sensual fragrance of oriental spices, this opulent eau de parfum for men is the ultimate finishing touch to any outfit. Masculine florals are delicately mixed with a heart of black pepper, nutmeg, Tuscan iris, geranium, Bulgarian rose, and clary sage to provide a warming and timeless aroma.

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Woody

wood close up

Another warming scent family member. Woody accords tend to be featured more in men’s fragrances and possess a distinctive musky undertone that makes it easy to recognise. Regardless of their often ‘masculine’ aroma, woody scentd also feature within women’s perfumes, making them the ultimate go-to evening fragrance for special occasions.

Woody fragrances will usually incorporate notes of sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, and oakmoss for that deeply sultry finish that we all know and love.

Subfamilies:

  • Woods: Typically defined by its inclusion of sandalwood and vetiver. A truly classic go-to scent.

  • Dry woods: The more ‘masculine’ of the subfamilies. This scent is known for its distinctive smoky notes and leather aromas.

  • Mossy woods: Unlike dry woods, mossy woods add a sweet and earthy twist on typically woody notes. This smooth and sensual subcategory usually contains amber.

We recommend:

Pascal Morabito Bois Et Vetiver Eau De Toilette

Pascal Morabito Bois Et Vetiver Eau De Toilette

SAVER: £12.99 for 200ml

This fairly priced eau de toilette is an unmistakably woody fragrance that wears throughout the day for an instant spritz of freshness.

The scent opens up with top notes of cardamom, pomelo, and bergamot before moving onto an insatiably woody heart of Egyptian geranium, cedar Virginia, and jasmine. This is rounded nicely off with java vetiver, patchouli, and musk.

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Issey Miyake Fusion d'Issey Eau De Toilette

Issey Miyake Fusion d'Issey Eau De Toilette

SPLURGER: £49.00 for 50ml


Combining woody and fresh accords together, this multi-faceted men’s fragrance is the innovative new way to spruce up your scent wardrobe. Inspired by the four elements of nature, the fragrance contrasts hot and cold tones throughout for a totally new scent.

You can expect to find top notes of lemon essence and coconut water featured, before delving into a woody heart that’s made up of sandalwood and mineral solar accords. This is then polished off with warming patchouli essence for a grounding olfactory experience.

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Fresh

lemon and mint close up

A personal favourite of ours. Citric accords and green notes. Combining herbal harmonies with citrusy fruits and springtime essences, fresh fragrances are loved by both men and women alike.

Fresh perfumes and aftershaves give off an uplifting olfactory experience that transports the wearer to a revived and recharged headspace. This fragrance family can be combined with many other accords to provide a totally new scent.

Subfamilies:

  • Aromatic: Fresh, herby notes that work in perfect harmony with the likes of woody and lavender-based scents.

  • Citrus: The most common of the fresh subfamilies. Includes zesty or tangy accords that come from bergamot and other citric fruits.

  • Green: Smells almost grassy, like a freshly trimmed lawn and newly cut leaves.

  • Water: Aquatic and/or ocean-inspired scents that smell of a more ‘traditional’ freshness. Think of a post-rain aroma.

We recommend:

Calvin Klein CK One Summer Eau De Toilette

Calvin Klein CK One Summer Eau De Toilette

SAVER: £26.99 for 100ml

Summer, encapsulated. This fresher-than-fresh eau de toilette for him reminds us of sunnier days thanks to the inclusion of ginger root, mandarin, and sea salt within the top notes.

The heart itself is made up of fresh sage and dune herbs, before moving onto a base of sandalwood, amber, and benzoin balm.

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TOM FORD Neroli Portofino Acqua Eau de Toilette - 50ML

TOM FORD Neroli Portofino Acqua Eau de Toilette

SPLURGER: £83.00 FOR 50ml

This citrusy-fresh fragrance is ideal for women that have a strong taste for the finer things in life. Adored for its vibrancy and sparkle, this citric scent delivers a seductive aroma that wears brilliantly for a refreshed and revitalised vibe.

Better still, this bottle is a part of The Perfume Shop’s personalisation service, meaning that you can engrave the 100ml bottle with your own little message!

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Eau de what?

With perfume counters throwing all sorts of concentration types at you, it can be hard to actually find a formula that works for your and your lifestyle. The main thing to remember when shopping for your perfect fragrance is that the stronger the percentage of perfume oil, the longer it will last.

Let’s break it down into the main categories:

  • Parfum (around 20% to 30% of aromatic compounds)
  • Eau de parfum (around 10% to 30% of aromatic compounds)
  • Eau de toilette (around 5% to 20% of aromatic compounds)
  • Eau de cologne (around 2% to 3% of aromatic compounds)

It ranks from strongest to weakest – parfum being the strongest and eau de cologne being the weakest due to its concentration level. So really, it depends on how long you want your scent to last. For an aroma that stands the test of time (six to eight hours, to be precise) you’ll be snapping up the parfum – but be wary of the higher price tag that this can come with.

Make it last longer.

You’ve found your scent match, but now it’s time to make it last. The best way to enhance your perfume is to find a matching body lotion that the fragrance can cling to.

Struggling to find your perfect combo? Why not browse The Perfume Shop’s latest collection of face and body formulations to maximise your favourite fragrance. Containing everything from eye creams to shower gels and body lotions, shopping for your skin care needs and go-to fragrances just became a whole lot simpler.

Now you’re armed with a newfound knowledge on all things fragrance, you should feel pretty confident when shopping for your new signature scent!

If you’re looking to make the move and discover your next perfume, why not browse the all-new collection of fragrances that have just dropped at The Perfume Shop? And, if you’re still a little baffled about which scent you should opt for, try out their innovative fragrance finder tool that does all the hard work for you!

Some of these products are independently selected by our editors, whilst others are paid for content. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.