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Starting a fragrance hobby can be a thrilling adventure full of lovely olfactory discoveries, new friendships, and learning about the perfume world.

However, like any new hobby, there are certain things one eventually wished to have known before diving into the world of fragrances.

After being a fragrance enthusiast for over 15 years, I wish I hadn’t learned certain aspects the hard way. Therefore, I will share with you five key insights that can enhance your fragrance hobby experience.

No matter if you are just embarking on this journey, or already immersed in the fragrance world, these 5 tips will help you navigate the world of perfumery with ease and confidence.

By embracing these helpful insights, I’m certain that you will make more informed choices when buying perfumes, and truly indulge in the pleasures of the fragrance hobby. Let’s begin.

Exploring the Fragrance Hobby: Unveiling the Fragrant Path into the World of Scents

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I vividly recall my “fragrance salad days” when I was oblivious to what constituted a good fragrance, the disconnect between perfume prices and quality, and the importance of not succumbing to hype and buying everything in sight.

I made so many mistakes that it’s amusing to look back on them now. In the days before perfume Facebook groups became prevalent, there were only a few avenues available for engaging with fragrance experts and self-proclaimed “perfume experts.”

Websites like Basenotes and Fragrantica served as gathering spots for fragrance enthusiasts, where they could exchange perfume stories, write brief reviews, and even sell perfumes.

I can’t help but laugh as I write this, recalling the time when every fragrance seemed like a “miracle” or a hidden gem, and people would sell average perfumes at exorbitant prices simply because they “heard” that a particular fragrance was being discontinued.

The term “miracle” has regrettably persisted to this day, and I frequently come across it in Facebook groups where it serves as a sales tactic, enticing you to purchase something you likely don’t need.

So, my advice to you is, if you encounter a post like “selling a discontinued gem: Paco Rabanne 1 Million Cologne,” it’s best to skip it.

One more thing to consider before we delve into the actual tips and tricks: the fragrance journey is a personal one, and it’s perfectly fine to have preferences and take breaks when the hobby becomes overwhelming.

Remember, fragrances are not the most vital aspect of life. Your family and overall well-being should always take precedence.

Never prioritize purchasing fragrances over paying your bills or jeopardizing relationships with your loved ones.

Exercise caution with your finances and take things one step at a time, as this hobby can be quite costly.

This article is a continuation of my previously published article on how to start a perfume collection which I also recommend reading.

1. Understanding Fragrance Families

In the beginning, you have probably tested a couple or dozen perfumes at the fragrance shop. So what is the next thing you should do?

One of the fundamental aspects to grasp is the concept of fragrance families. This provides a framework for categorizing perfumes based on the fragrance characteristics which helps you develop a more discerning nose.

Although, there are more than a few sub-categories, 5 of them are the most common fragrance families you should know about when starting a fragrance collection:

  1. Floral: one of the most popular scent families on the market adored by millions, especially by women. These perfumes are centered around soliflore and bouquet notes. Whether it’s the romantic essence of roses, the sensual allure of jasmine, the indolic nature of tuberose, or the sweet-powdery elegance of iris, floral fragrances offer a wide range of experiences. Besides typical floral essences, florals also mix with oriental and musky bases.
  2. Citrus: this family embodies the energizing and lively fragrances of citrus fruits including lemon, bergamot, and mandarin orange. Citrus smells are generally associated with energy and brightness, making them ideal for energizing and exhilarating times. They are easy to wear, often fresh and airy uncomplicated scents. Citrus perfumes are also the only fragrance family group that’s wearable in any season and in most occasions.
  3. Oriental: oriental fragrances are noted for their luxurious, exotic, and sensual formulations. Oriental perfumes, which combine components like spices, vanilla, amber, and musk, produce a rich and enticing aura that frequently leaves a lasting impression. It is not uncommon for oriental perfumes to feature gourmand properties(“edible” notes). Thus, this fragrance family is often sweet, dense, powdery, and inspired by Eastern cultures.
  4. Woody: Woody fragrances evoke the scents of the forest and emanate warmth, depth, and sophistication. They create a sense of grounding and can convey a sense of nature’s peacefulness with notes like sandalwood, cedarwood, pine, oakmoss, and patchouli. Woody fragrances are divided into four basic groups(woods, mossy woods, dry woods, aromatic), but there are many more varieties because it is a fragrance family that overlaps the most with others due to the combination of fresh and resinous notes. Woody scents are also long-lasting, may be combined for different seasons, and are becoming increasingly unisex because of their warm heart.
  5. Fresh: The fresh fragrance family embodies cleanliness, crispness, and vitality. It contains aromas that are reminiscent of freshly cut grass, aromatic herbs, aquatic notes, and sand notes, creating a refreshing and exhilarating olfactory experience. The fresh fragrance family has the most sub-categories of all the varied fresh combinations that appear to work like bread and butter with others. Fresh scents also typically contain a blend of sparkling fruits, aromatic herbs, lighter woods, and musks. It is not uncommon to see fresh fragrances mixed with fruits, citrus musk, or spices.

Understanding the fragrance families is the number one thing to do after starting this journey since you can better understand your preferences and explore perfumes that will align with your tastes.

Take as much time as you need to acquaint yourself with the diverse fragrance families, and sample as many perfumes as you can.

This way, you allow your olfactory senses to guide you toward the scents that will suit your taste.

2. Wearing the Fragrances You Own

Now that you have acquired a few fragrance bottles and developed a better understanding of fragrance families, it’s time to actually wear the fragrances you possess.

In this ever-expanding world of scents, it’s much easier to get caught up in the pursuit of new perfumes.

Do not get overwhelmed by countless releases, and marketing campaigns, and develop a desire to constantly acquire new fragrances.

This especially triggers the temptation of blind buying new scents and more often than not, making the mistake of buying scents you will never wear.

To avoid this, it’s important not to overlook what you already own. Perfumes that you already have in your fragrance collection have stories to tell, create new memories, and provide you with the opportunity to rediscover their beauty.

I’m certain that by doing this, you will create a deeper connection with your scent collection.

First and foremost, wearing what you already have allows you to fully explore their potential, and get the most out of the invested money.

If you give yourself the opportunity to actually “live” with your scent, you can enjoy the smell as it was meant and discover all the hidden details that make it unique.

Furthermore, this tactic encourages a mindful approach to your collection. Constantly seeking the next best thing is probably the biggest lie in the fragrance community, and after a certain point, you will never smell better than you do now.

You might be surprised to discover that the true hidden gems are already in your possession, often overlooked for no particular reason.

Lastly, wearing what you already have is a practical and economical choice that helps you avoid the pitfalls of excessive consumption.

While it’s always nice to explore new releases, the real value lies in cherishing and utilizing what you already have.

What is the point of owning 100 or more perfume bottles if you only use 10 or 15 of them? It is much more practical to curate a smaller collection of fragrances that can be rotated through the seasons.

So, never underestimate the power and potential of the fragrances you already own, and let a fragrance that speaks to you gracefully accompany you on your daily journey.

3. Fragrance Clones and Cheapies: Not Always a Good Replacement for the Real Deal

Ah, yes. Everyone’s favorite “99.9% similar to Creed Aventus“, and affordable perfumes section.

Clones and cheapies are names in the perfume world used to describe fragrances that are designed to resemble popular, high-end designer, or niche scents at a reduced cost.

This idea of finding an affordable alternative to a coveted fragrance has skyrocketed in the last decade, but it’s important to recognize that fragrance clones and cheapies are not always a good replacement for the real deal.

I believe that there are great affordable fragrances, as much as there are great expensive scents. Many luxury niche houses offer sub-par products at prices that don’t reflect the quality.

This also applies to designer houses which have increased their prices recently. But, it’s essential to understand that clones are created to mimic the overall scent profile of a particular high-end fragrance.

Since clones often come at a tenth of the price of the original, they can lack the complexity, depth, and quality of the original perfume. Not always, but often.

As a result, the overall olfactory experience may be disappointing leaving you with a simplified version of the original fragrance.

Nonetheless, buying a clone of a much more expensive fragrance will usually give you an idea of what the original smells, and help you decide whether the original is worth the investment.

Similar to clones, affordable fragrances are typically mass-produced by budget-friendly brands, and stockpiling them does more damage to your fragrance hobby in the long run.

Keep in mind that if your budget is tight or you prefer not to invest in expensive perfumes, there is nothing wrong with building your collection solely with clones or cheapies. More power to you.

Certain inexpensive perfumes may deliver a surprising level of quality and be able to stand on their own.

However, if you are truly dedicated to this hobby and the art of perfumery, there comes a point where it is important to consider a limit to your clone/affordable purchases.

Cheapies may offer a more lower price tag but often compromise on the quality of raw materials, and result in a less satisfying fragrance experience.

Even if you buy these affordable alternatives, I highly suggest that you support the original creators and perfumers behind high-end fragrances.

This way, you are recognizing and appreciating their artistic talent which is dedicated to crafting exceptional creations and ensures that we get creative releases in years to come.

4. The Truth About Fragrance Reviewers

When starting this fragrance hobby, it’s common to seek guidance from fragrance reviewers. We as individuals, found on blogs, YouTube channels, or social media platforms offer our opinions and evaluations of perfumes and perfumery in general.

I believe that by reading and watching perfume reviews, we can provide you with valuable sources of information, but it’s necessary to understand the nuances of our perspectives.

It should be important to note that fragrance reviews are mostly subjective. Each reviewer brings their own preferences, and biases to reviews.

What one person and reviewer may adore, another may dislike, and it goes both ways. Thus, I recommend approaching perfume reviews with caution as personal opinions rather than objective truths.

While I’m not going to delve into the extensive changes that the online fragrance community has undergone over the years, including the apparent shortage of original content, there is one important truth to acknowledge.

Since approximately 2016 – 2017, the YouTube fragrance scene has experienced a surge in popularity, leading to the widespread fame of fragrance reviewers.

Regrettably, this development has unveiled the darker side of the perfume hobby, with some reviewers prioritizing monetary aspects of their content.

Consequently, this shift has marked the end of what can be considered the golden age of the fragrance scene.

Thankfully, with diligent research, quality content can still be found, albeit at a lower volume. Of all the YouTube reviewers I used to watch passionately, the only ones I still trust are Robes08, Joy Amin, and The Perfume Guy.

Getting back to the topic, while fragrance reviewers can provide insights into a perfume’s character, longevity, sillage, and projection, keep in mind that your own skin chemistry may yield different results.

Additionally, many popular fragrance reviewers are sponsored and receive complimentary samples or even sponsorships from brands.

I want to believe that even with this fact, reviewers strive to maintain impartiality, but I have seen how free bottles impact objectivity.

Personally, I have received a couple of free bottles so far, and no matter the outcome kept an objective perspective.

Because of this, I know that a certain brand won’t ever send me a bottle for another review since it was an overly negative critique. In the end, it is better to keep an objective opinion as much as possible than to lose your integrity.

In the end, use our opinions as informative resources to discover new perfumes, but sample the fragrances first before buying a full bottle.

5. Advice from a Seasoned Fragrance Collector

My final piece of advice for you is something a little different. I could have easily reiterated the common advice of not blindly buying fragrances, following the perfume trends, not falling for the hype, and not falling into the fragrance addiction. However, chances are you’re already familiar with these pointers.

Without sounding like a “know-it-all” expert on all things related to perfumery, there is undoubtedly a wealth of wisdom to be gained from those who have dedicated years to this fragrance hobby.

Just like you, I am a perfume lover and consumer who always seeks to learn something new about the subjects that pique my interest.

Hopefully, my experience and knowledge can be of benefit to those who are just starting or seeking to enhance their own fragrance journey.

Remember, this is your personal fragrance journey, and your taste will naturally evolve and develop over time.

If twenty years from now, I am still engaged in this pursuit, nothing would bring me greater pride than knowing that I have played a part in helping you discover new and captivating perfumes, as well as assisting you in creating lasting memories with fragrances.

So, embrace the journey, not just the destination. This fragrance hobby is a continuous exploration and discovery.

Never get to the point of being rushed by getting to the point of burnout, and enjoy the process of discovering new scents.

Remember this – it is always quality over quantity, and smell over longevity and projection. Only invest in scents that will bring you joy and provide more satisfaction than a large collection of seldom-used bottles.

Make new friendships. It is not uncommon to make real-life friends by joining fragrance forums, social media groups, or attending perfume events which can be a wonderful way to connect with people.

Trust your own senses. Written or spoken words cannot fully convey the scent of a fragrance. Follow your own nose and wear what brings you personal satisfaction.

Lastly, compliments should never be the sole reason for purchasing perfume. Lists claiming the top 10 complemented fragrances are often based on nothing and, more often than not, unreliable.

No one gets complimented for fragrances all the time. I only ever made one list about compliments, and that list is made out of the perfumes I wore for years.

So, let’s be realistic. The general population doesn’t care whether you’re wearing a $500 or $20 fragrance if your manners are lacking.

Final Words

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With my insights shared in this article, you can navigate the fragrance world with greater enjoyment, and start with something I wished existed when I started my fragrance hobby.

The personal connection that fragrances bring is probably the best thing you’ll get from all of this, and let your fragrance hobby be a source of pleasure and self-expression.

Congratulations on starting this journey by being a part of probably the best hobby in the world, and may it bring you delight for years to come.

What are your thoughts about this article? What else would you add to someone who is just starting the fragrance hobby? Let’s start a conversation and let me know in the comment section below.

In case you are in doubt about whether you should consider buying any fragrance or not, it’s always good to take a look at Scent Grail’s S.P.A. Signature Factor Guide.

It is easy to use and the most relevant perfume-buying guide on the web. This way, you can check out if a particular fragrance is worth checking out, and potentially find your signature perfume.


If you enjoy my blog and want to help me continue creating content, there are several ways you can support me:

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I am incredibly grateful for your support, as it holds tremendous significance to me. Your generosity enables me to persist in crafting content that celebrates the wonders of the perfume world and encourages others to start this beautiful journey. Your backing is truly appreciated, and I eagerly anticipate sharing more of my creations with you in the times ahead. Keep smelling great!

Find out more Scent Grail articles about perfumery, check out top lists, and other helpful reviews via the links below:




Until next time, stay humble, and keep smelling great!

Best, Marin!
#scentgrail #scentgrailtribe

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