How To Layer Fragrances: 5 essential tips

Learning how to layer fragrances is the simplest way to arm yourself with an odour like no other, but there's more to it than throwing every aftershave you own…

How To Layer Fragrances: 5 essential tips
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Is there a greater compliment than being told you smell good? Sure, 'funny' is cool and 'handsome' has its perks, but smelling good? That's the pat on the back every guy aspires to. However, with the majority of the male population doused in eau de toilette, it takes something truly unique to stand out.

Of course, you could spend hours hunting down rare colognes that are tucked away behind the counter of some in-the-know boutique, or the best men's fragrances or best perfumes. Or you could simply make your own, using the stuff that's already lining your sink ledge. 

Learning how to layer fragrances is the simplest way to arm yourself with an odour like no other. But there's more to it than throwing every aftershave you own into a big scent soup. To get started, follow these five tips:

1. Learn The Basics

Along with style and sense of humour, the way we smell is largely a matter of personal taste. That said, there are a few guidelines to think about when layering fragrances. For best results, apply your scents to clean, moisturised skin, and do not apply more of one than the other to keep the balance equal. Of course, it also goes without saying that until you've mastered the art of mixing, always try combinations on a piece of paper first, so you aren't stuck scrubbing off mistakes.

2. Know What Goes

Before you put on your goggles and slip into your lab coat, it's a good idea to understand fragrance families. Traditionally there are six to seven of these groups, such as citrus, floral, woody and oriental. If you've never layered fragrances before, look for two with a common note — vetiver, for instance — and see how they work together. Once you feel more confident, you can start to combine opposite notes — such as oriental cardamom and citrusy bergamot.

3. Max Out

When it comes to fragrance cocktailing, make it more of a Cuba Libre than a Commonwealth. In other words, the fewer ingredients, the better. Less complicated perfumes are easier to mix, so stick to minimalist scents that call out one or two notes in their name. Brands like Jo Malone, Molton Brown and Maison Margiela are all worthy starting points. They will also provide a solid base when you move on to more complicated concoctions, like Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes Etat Libre d'Orange. (Us neither.)

4. Spread Your Scent

Layering fragrances doesn't necessarily mean spraying two perfumes directly on top of each other. These days, there are plenty of ways to get your olfactory kicks – roller balls, body oils, solid colognes – so don't be afraid to experiment. Start by switching out your soapy body wash for something with notes that complement or contrast your daily eau de toilette, or you can spray one scent on your wrists and another on your neck.

5. Keep It Light

Turns out, sadly, that you can have too much of a good thing – especially when it comes to your cologne. To avoid turning yourself into a walking chemical weapon, steer clear of combining two scents that are both dark and heady. For instance, rather than layer oud with a thick, leathery scent, add a zesty zing with a bit of citrus or amp up the sweetness with vanilla. Whatever you go for, always apply the heaviest first, so it doesn't overpower the lighter spritz.

Luke Todd