4Men - Style

From toys to furniture, sneakers to hairdo's. Everything that makes a South African gay man's life interesting

Fragrance Layering Explained

By David Saunders

Think about how you apply a fragrance – what probably springs to mind is the act of spraying an eau de toilette a couple of times in the general direction of your neck or chest.

But why just ‘spray and pray’ when you can create a longer lasting, all-over scent impression by layering several products from your favourite fragrance’s body range?

Or, if you’re feeling a bit more creative, how about layering completely different fragrances on top of each other to create something that’s unique to you? Whichever technique you fancy trying, here are a few useful tips…

The easiest form of fragrance layering involves combining products from a brand’s body care range to create a more intense, longer lasting, top-to-toe scent. By using these products in tandem you don’t just increase its staying power though.

“Different toiletry mediums require different chemical adjustments, techniques and bases to carry the fragrance successfully,” says James Craven, Perfume Archivist at London’s oldest independent perfumery, Les Senteurs.

“A skilled perfumer will vary their original fragrance formula for each layer and according to each product. Take Creed’s Green Irish Tweed, for instance: the soap may be richer in the musky woody accords, the gel more predominantly green and minty, the lotion feature a touch more violet… and so on.”

Layering, then, can give your favourite fragrance even more complexity as well as longevity. “The fragrance will essentially be the same but each product will highlight a different aspect or a different mood,” he says.

What’s more, individual parts of the body have their own inherent smell and so will ‘wear’ fragrance in a different way and diffuse it at a different rate, making the effect continuous.

“Hair is an excellent conductor: it holds perfume most tenaciously,” says Craven, which is why fragranced shampoos and body washes are often a good investment.

Not all fragrances have accompanying body care collections, but many have pretty extensive ranges infused with their scent. Personally, I’m a big fan of Tom Ford’s Oud Wood, which you can now buy as a soap bar, shower gel, body moisturiser and body spray:

You don’t have to use layering to boost your fragrance’s intensity though: you can also use it to create a more subtle scent impression.

Ideal for work, perhaps, when you want to smell good – but not so good your fragrance overpowers your co-workers – use a body wash, deodorant and aftershave balm in tandem but skip the eau de toilette itself.

Fragrance is just like food: some things go together naturally, other’s clash like the Titans. And since fragrance is one of the first things people notice about you, what you put on your pulse points is just as important as what you put on your plate.

“Most men tend to mix it all up when it comes to scents: shampoo, shower gel, deodorant, hair gel, and then on top of it all; cologne,” says acclaimed British perfumer Roja Dove. “That’s almost like saying ‘I love ties’ and then wearing every one you own all at once.”

The result is often a cacophony of competing smells. “Your own nose gets used to this after a while so you may not be aware of the overall alchemy, but others certainly will be,” he warns.

The solution? If you’re not layering from a fragrance’s own body range, try using products that at least share common notes. For example, if your eau de toilette is big on vetiver, black pepper and sandalwood, a black pepper body wash will probably complement, rather than work against it.

If you’re going to try layering two completely different scents – whether two EDTs or a body lotion/EDT combo – we suggest applying the heavier of the two first, letting it dry and then spraying the lighter one over the top.

If you’re unsure about combining, though, Craven suggests starting your experiments with your existing collection. “Don’t spend a fortune doubling up on fragrances until you discover whether you have a talent for combining: it does take a certain skill but can be rewarding – and, of course, if it works, you end up with a unique scent particular to you!”

Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Keep up with us on Pinterest Join our Google Plus circle Join us on Tumblr