What is perfume layering? And how to get the most out of it

Posted On: 2/18/2022

Answering this question is certainly not complicated. But understanding how to do perfume layering and doing it properly is very complicated.

That is the exact reason why we wanted to write this post. In it, we will talk about some basics of perfume layering, why do it, how to do it, and to set you on a straight path to success while doing it in the future.

But first, let us answer the main question here.

What is perfume layering?

Perfume layering is the process of putting more than a single scented product on your skin, usually referencing the process of applying more than one perfume on your skin, to be more exact.

If you are interested in this topic, you will benefit from this post massively. But before you keep reading, we have to warn you that perfume layering can lead up to some very horrible smelling results very easily.

That is why you need to educate yourself on this topic and learn as much as possible about scent layering techniques. If you mix scents that do not go well together, you will do a very bad thing. You will easily create a very heavy and intolerable cloud of incompatible odors that can make you and the people around you sick with ease.

One might even say that layering perfumes on top of each other is comparable to the job of perfumers, of course, on a much easier difficulty level. So if your dream was to create your own perfume creation, this is how you can satisfy that need (this is your next best thing for sure).

The complex nature of this topic makes us very limited in teaching you how to actually layer perfumes. If you think about it, perfumers have been learning about notes, techniques, and rules of perfumery for years before they can even start creating their first perfume. It would not be nice of us if we promissed you that you will become an expert on the topic after reading a single post. But we at least hope that you will learn a lot of basics and that you will, most of all, enjoy reading the post.

History of layering perfumes

The movement of layering perfumes is very old. People have been doing it throughout history, and there are parts of the world where it is to this day a part of the tradition. This tradition is still alive and going strong in the Middle east.

It is common for both men and women to create their personal signature scents from commonly found spices and oils. Usually, those scents are created from essential oils, and fragrance oils widely spread and within their reach.

Another very common thing is combining perfumes with other beauty products. Mixing shower gels, moisturizers, and other products of that kind with perfumes provides uniqueness and extends the capabilities of the perfume.

And when you think about it, why not extend the base capabilities of your signature scent and at least make it last longer and perform better. Of course, many people enjoy the uniqueness provided by a mix of different scents.

That was enough introduction. Let's start the serious talk with one very interesting question.

Why would anyone layer perfumes?

And the answer to that question is usually something in the context of "I wish to smell unique, and perfume layering allows me to do just that".

There are quite a few perfume brands and perfumers who offer their services for creating custom 1 of 1 perfume blends for their customers. Also, consulting services about good mix ideas are more often seen than ever, and your bank account will not like that at all.

That is why people tend to turn towards being their own perfumers and try layering their perfumes on top of each other, thus creating something completely new and unique.

But, as you could probably expect, perfumers and perfume enthusiasts are strictly against this movement of layering perfumes. And we can understand their frustration completely. Perfumers spend on average one to two years to create a single perfume! A lot of energy is being spent on creating something that can be described as art in a bottle. That is why it is to be expected from those people to see this layering movement as a sacrilege to their hard work and dedication for creating something beautiful.

But now you can decide for yourself if you will try this technique out or not. If you plan to do it, we recommend you to keep reading because we are about to take a deep dive into some rules about layering perfumes and products in general.

We are going to start with ideas on the safer side of things first.

1. Use different product types from the same family to extend the perfume performance

What is this supposed to mean? Simply put, perfume brands are not releasing only perfumes. You can very often find follow-up products released as sidekicks of the perfume. We are talking about things like shower gels, hair mists, aftershaves, deodorants, and similar products.

All of these products share the same DNA as the perfume when you think about it. They share most fragrance notes so that their scent resembles the one of the perfume. And when you combine the perfume with these beauty products, you will nourish the skin with them and make it a much better canvas for the show's main star.

As you probably know by now, perfumes tend to last much less when applied to dry skin because the skin will absorb the perfume oils, preventing them from lingering in the air around us. But when you do your groundwork before the perfume comes to the stage, it will last and perform as intended.

This scenario is the safest one of the bunch because you will not introduce new aromas into the equation. The scent is going to be relatively the same, just more performance-boosted.

2. Use perfume boosters as a base for the perfume

There are products on the market that are supposed to extend the performance capabilities of perfume by a long margin. Their basic operation approach is similar to the one from the point above. These products prepare the stage so that perfume can do its magic for extended periods, without adding any additional scents into the mix.

3. Include beauty products that are scented differently from the perfume

This is the next step on this ladder of ours. You will get the same exact benefit as with the first point, but you will also introduce new aromas. And these new aromas will affect the final scent signature of your perfume, making the final result different based on the nature of the scents included.

We will talk about the basics of scent combining as we progress down this post.

4. Using two different perfumes on different body parts

It is time to address the use of more than one perfume in our equation for the first time. We are going slowly with two perfumes as well. That is why you can apply two different perfumes on different body parts and then ask someone to go behind you as you walk and tell you what the mixture smells like to them. Of course, you will be able to smell the mix, but it is always nice to have some help in the process.

This way, you will know what to expect from mixing those two perfumes and will not go as far into the unknown as you would by mixing two scents directly on your skin. That is why we consider this a good, safe way to test potential combinations.

5. Mixing Soliflore perfumes together

It is time actually to mix two scents. We are going to use soliflore perfumes as our starting point here.

Wondering what soliflore perfumes are? Check out our post in which you will be able to learn everything about perfume notes called "What are perfume notes? Complete guide". In it, we have explained this term.

Anyways, a short definition of this term would be something like the following.

Soliflore perfumes are perfumes based on a single note, usually from the flowery family. This does not mean that the perfume contains only a single note. It means that all notes besides the main note are being added to the mix only to enhance the star note of the perfume.

The fact that these perfumes are defined as single-note perfumes means that you can be much safer when combining them than you usually would be with more complex perfumes, which is to be expected due to their less complex nature.

6. Mixing Soliflore perfume with "regular" perfumes

This was probably an expected step to follow up the mixture of exclusively soliflore perfumes.

Now, this is where you need to be a bit more careful. You have to calculate a lot about all notes present in the "regular" perfume because many scents do not work well when put together.

This means that you will have to pay close attention to the entire fragrance pyramid of both perfumes and inspect if those oils work together before mixing them.

7. Mixing "regular" perfumes

This is the final step. It will require you to pay very close attention to the fragrance pyramids of all perfumes involved in the mix before you can decide if actually mixing them is a good idea.

Everything is the same as in the previous step but more complicated due to the larger number of notes involved.

So now, we can finally start discussing some basic rules that you need to follow before mixing perfumes together. This list should be observed as a basic guide you can check every time you consider layering perfumes.

  1. Heavier perfume first - the perfume that is darker, stronger and with stronger notes in its fragrance pyramid should always be the first one you apply.
    The lighter perfume should be put on top of the heavy one, so it can do its magic and evaporate. Heavier perfumes tend to be the ones with dominant base notes, which are woody, spicy, musky notes. These notes tend to stick closer to the skin, and if you put light perfume intended for breezing with the air, you will enclose it under the base notes of the heavy perfume, thus preventing it from doing its magic.
  2. Not more than one complex perfume - it is not a very good idea to include more than a single complex perfume into the mix.
    Complex perfumes contain a wide array of notes in their fragrance pyramids, making it really hard to work well with other perfumes of complex nature. Of course, that is because the chances of scents that do not work together will be mixed together, in this case, are much greater.
  3. Maximum of two perfumes - this rule is here because of the similar reasoning as the second rule from this list.
    If you increase the number of perfumes with more than a few notes, you significantly increase the chances of adding two incompatible scents into the mix. Of course, if you are using soliflores, you can probably include more than two, but again, you have to be very careful.
  4. Combining heavy perfumes should be evaded - again, if you mix two perfumes that are heavy in nature, you will end up smelling too strong, and the resulting scent will, in most cases, be unpleasant.

So those were some rules that you should have in mind when layering perfumes. The only thing left is to discuss which notes tend to work well together and which ones usually don't.

  1. Combine perfumes that share the same dominant note
    It is usually good to mix perfumes based on the same note. That way, you will enhance the performance and ensure that the mix will not be too complex and heavy because you are only adding a bit different finish on the same thing.
  2. Enhance light perfumes by applying them on top of heavy perfumes
    The heavy perfume will provide depth to the sharp and zesty nature of the light perfume, thus making it last longer and feel more complex. Usually, light notes come from the family of citruses, fruits, and flowers. So that you have a base idea about what we are talking about here. On the other hand, heavy perfumes are based on woody, musky, spicy scents.
  3. Opposites tend to work well
    The most commonly accepted combination that works great is mixing sweet vanilla scents with spicy notes. That way, you will end up with a bit darker, more complex sweet scent. Sweets on their own tend to feel cheap and simple. Upgrading them with some complexion always works great.
  4. Fruity and sweet notes should be used with caution
    If you try to add anything to the fruity or plain sweet perfume, you will have a difficult time in most cases making it work great. When a perfume already has a very strong and aggressive nature, you have to mix it with something that will lower its stance a bit. The only idea here is to try adding earthy or woody, dark aspects to the mix, but be very careful when doing so. It is very easy for things to go horribly wrong.

And those were our tips for the process of perfume layering. We hope you have learned quite a bit from this post. Keep in mind that you should not feel discouraged from experimenting. Just be aware that it is not easy to get a firm grasp on this skill.

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