Buying Perfume For Others Can Be Tricky — Here's How to Do It

For starters, factor in their age.

Whether you're gift-shopping for someone's birthday or are brainstorming what to get for the people on your holiday list, fragrance has likely come to mind as a top contender. However, someone's personal scent is very intimate and can be as unique as they are, so finding a perfume for someone you love may be much more difficult than you may think.

Here, we tapped a fragrance expert to ask what factors to consider before buying a perfume for someone, including what to do if you'd rather be safe than sorry.

Tip #1: Think about their favorite color.

What does color have to do with scent preferences? Apparently, quite a lot. Amy Kiggins, the senior director of global marketing for consumer fragrances at COTY, says that marketers often package perfumes in colors that match the scent, or mood, of the scent. If someone loves pink, for example, they're more likely to lean toward feminine, romantic, and sweet scents. (Think Good Kind Pure's Wild Peony Eau de Toilette or Burberry Her Eau de Parfum). On the other hand, someone that prefers a deep brown shade is likely to lean toward deeper, more complex fragrances with notes of oud and tobacco. Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille Eau de Parfum is a great example.

Tip #2: Consider their values.

Whether someone leans left or right is beside the point — this is more applicable to the hardcore environmentalist and clean beauty enthusiast. If the person you're shopping for religiously composts and reads the backs of labels, narrow down your fragrance options to look at brands that use recycled and recyclable packaging and offer clean ingredients. Starting points are Maison Louis Martin, Ellis Brooklyn, and Henry Rose.

how to buy perfume for others

Tip #3: Remember what their favorite foods are.

Does your recipient have a sweet tooth or do they prefer a strong blend of spices? What types of food a person likes can be another indicator of the scent families they'll likely enjoy. "There's always that connection," agrees Kiggins, who says that her sweet tooth could be an indicator of why she loves gourmand, vanilla scents. "People who like spicy foods may find woody or amber scents to be more intriguing," she furthers.

Tip #4: Factor in their age.

Age isn't a one-size-fits-all determiner, but Kiggins points out that there are generalizations that can be assumed about different age groups. "Younger consumers like sweet, tasty vanilla, and floral fragrances," she says. "As she matures, she becomes more sophisticated and ventures into the sexier or deeper fragrances." She hints that as a woman grows older, she begins to gravitate toward more sophisticated florals.

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Tip #5: Think about where they want to travel to.

Snow or sand? Cabin in the woods or penthouse in Dubai? If there's a type of vacation the recipient has been talking about, or a place you know they love going to, a fragrance that reminds them of that location could be a smart bet. If someone you know is eager to recreate their epic beach trip from a few years ago, a whiff of Vacation by Vacation Eau de Toilette could instantly transport them to their sunscreen-filled days, for example.

Tip #6: When in doubt, be safe rather than sorry.

When all else fails, opt for either a cult-classic fragrance that leans on the safer side, such as Chanel No. 5, Santal 33, Glossier You. Prefer to be even more conservative? Choosing a good discovery kit is a great way to help your recipient test out several perfumes they may be interested in without having to commit to using a full-size bottle.

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