Making Sense of Layering Scents
Have you ever dreamed of a perfumer creating a bespoke fragrance for you? In reality, that kind of ultra-luxury service can cost many thousands of pounds and take several years to complete. But don't despair, because the power to create your very own unique home scent - through the art of 'layering' - is at your fingertips...
Why bother 'layering' if you already have a scent you adore? The problem is our noses get used to the same smells if we live with them 24/7. You might have experienced this phenomenon if you've been away from your house for a few days (perhaps on holiday if you're lucky!) and its only on re-entering you suddenly become aware of the scent again. The reason for this is the ways our sense of smell evolved. Your nose is the only sense literally 'plugged in' to the limbic system of your brain, which deals with memories and emotions.
In the past, we relied on our sense of smell for survival - to sense danger, find food that's safe to eat or a suitable mating partner. Now we're not running from the sabre-toothed tigers, when your brain recognises a familiar smell, it 'skips' over it after a while, because it doesn't need to work out what it is. What a shame to get so used to a favourite scent you can barley smell it anymore. Layering your home scents helps create a brand-new aroma, which in turn will help you fall in love with that favourite candle or diffuser all over again.
But we know not everyone feels so comfortable about mixing and matching, so here's some general rules to follow when layering your fragrances at home...
No.1: Decide what mood you want to create. Do you want something to perk you up on a dull day or help you feel more relaxed in the evening?
Fresh, citrus scents with lemon, lime, orange, or bergamot notes help revive energy levels. So place these candles or diffusers in a home office setting - or at the breakfast table to get your day going with a burst of sunshine.
Woody, musky notes tend to help mellow the mood. So, use scents with sandalwood, cedar, vetiver, patchouli, frankincense, amber or musk to introduce an immediate 'Out of Office' change of atmosphere.
No. 2: Try layering two scents at first, simply by placing candles/diffusers side-by-side or near each other in the same room.
This is also a great way to 'test' your chosen layers before lighting the candles and committing to your bespoke aroma.
If using diffusers, the instant 'hit' of the new combined aroma will be more noticeable. But you can simply swap one to another room whenever you want.
No. 3: When layering any fragrances, remember that 'opposites attract'. If you put too many similar smelling candles or diffusers in one space, you end up confusing your nose. Just as a perfumer composes a fine fragrance, or a chef creates a delicious dish - balance and harmony is everything.
If you have a sweet, creamy scent, layer with something zingy or even 'salty' that smells like a coastal breeze or fresh, woodland walk.
Floral notes can work for both day and evening. Try 'freshening' a floral scent by cutting through the headiness with a zing of a citrus, then quieten the feeling by leaving the floral one in place and swapping the citrus candle with a woodier or muskier scent later that day.
No. 4: If you want to layer three or more scents, start with the 'heaviest' one - which has very prominent 'base' notes often used in perfumes, such as patchouli, clove, frankincense, woods, and vanilla.
Then add in the 'heart' of your fragrance - floral notes such as rose, jasmine, geranium, lavender, tuberose, gardenia, or spices like cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Now add a candle or diffuser which has the lightest, or 'top notes' like citrus or herbs.
This way of building your scents work on the same 'fragrance pyramid' a perfumer uses. Base notes have the heaviest molecules so evaporate slowly and last longest. Top notes are more volatile and disappear more quickly, heart notes bridge these two stages and help the fragrance journey unfurl.
X + Y = ?
Try these five fragrance combinations and then experiment with your own...
Lime, Basil & Mandarin + White Jasmine & Ylang Ylang = An exotic holiday, the freshness of a cool citrus balancing a golden sunset swagged with heady white floral notes, sending you to scent paradise.
Feu de Bois + Lavender & May Chang = Late summer/early autumnal evening walks, a drift of wood smoke mingling with rosemary's resinous sweetness on the languid breeze.
Orange, Cedarwood & Clove + Grapefruit & Jasmine = Ramp up the zing of citrus with grapefruit's juicy zing and infuse the smooth, luminescent jasmine with spices for a uniquely addictive signature scent (great for dinner parties).
Pomegranate Noir + Dark Rose = A fabulously opulent boudoir-esque scent, the luscious pomegranate pairs perfectly with tart raspberry rosiness, warm ambergris now drizzled with honey for an ultra-sensual aromatic caress.
Parks Original + Blue Camomile + White Tea = An everyday de-stress of soft lavender, patchouli and creamy vanilla lapping sweet, full-bodied freshness of German camomile. A signature home scent you'll always be glad to return to.
However you choose to layer your scents, most of all it should be fun. And if you want to break these 'rules' when you feel more confident - be our guest! Fragrance layering is a deeply personal activity, and we believe your nose knows best.