May 26, 2024
Graphic by Kayleen Dicuangco

Plus, three editor-approved pairing suggestions.

Customization has become standard in the beauty industry, with personalized offerings available across all categories — from pH-adapting makeup that promises a truly perfect match to AI-powered skincare that delivers a made-for-you approach to treating complexion woes. But what happens when consumers still want more? They take customization into their own hands.

Enter fragrance layering. “Layering scents is about being creative with what you have,” says TikTok content creator Noelle (@_iamnoelle), who teaches her 45,000 followers how to effectively mix and match perfumes. She says they began messaging her after being disappointed with fragrances they’d ordered online without having sniffed them first. (The practice has become increasingly common, with a whopping 773 million global consumers relying on e-commerce platforms to get their fragrance fix.)

“They’d want to essentially ‘correct’ the smell,” says Noelle. “Maybe it was too citrusy, too woody or not sweet enough for their taste. Layering can help cover up certain notes of a perfume or make others stronger.” Noelle’s go-to method is combining scents with similar or complementary notes. (Her favourite pairings are vanilla and coffee, lime and coconut and jasmine and musk.) But, she insists, there are no rules. “It all comes down to personal taste.”

Gone are the days of having a signature scent that makes a daily appearance. Instead, fragrance wearers — especially Gen Z consumers, who have grown accustomed to a unique-to-them beauty routine — are opting to combine different scents to create something entirely new and one-of-a-kind. “Developing a perfume is something many of us dream of doing,” says Noelle of the #PerfumeTok community. “Layering fragrances is the closest we can get to creating our own unique scent.”

After all, the chances of walking into a party wearing the same perfume as someone else are relatively high, especially if the scent in question is particularly popular or buzzy. But the chances of wearing the same multiple fragrances as someone else? Nearly non-existent.

These editor-approved pairings blend new launches with current faves for combos that feel totally fresh and new.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris Aqua Media Cologne Forte paired with Skylar Salt Air Eau de Parfum

With its notes of verbena, bergamot and sweet fennel, Aqua Media is a tangy and vibrant aromatic that almost sparkles and fizzes upon first spray. Pair it with Salt Air, a sea-inspired fragrance with notes of driftwood, green seaweed and water lily. You’ll smell like you spent a sun-soaked day in the ocean, no matter the time of year.

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The 7 Virtues Lotus Pear Eau de Parfum paired with Hermès Tutti Twilly Eau de Parfum

fragrance layering

Some fragrances take a while to introduce themselves to you, peeling back their layers slowly. Others arrive in a more explosive fashion that demands immediate attention. Hermès’ newest launch falls into the latter category. A cheerful, spritzy blend of ginger and lychee that bursts onto skin, Tutti Twilly is the perfect companion to The 7 Virtues’s Lotus Pear, a bright blend of peach, pear and mandarin that is as fresh and sweet as it is graceful. Together, these fruit-forward scents soar.

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Gucci Flora Gorgeous Magnolia Eau de Parfum paired with Ellis Brooklyn Myth Eau de Parfum

fragrance layering

Not sure a sweet, floral scent is very you? Try pairing it with a clean musk. On its own, Gucci’s Flora Gorgeous Magnolia is a delectable combination of magnolias and dewberries. But when it’s paired with Ellis Brooklyn’s Myth — a subtle scent inspired by freshly washed sheets and warm skin — the result is the olfactory equivalent of adding a drop of highlighter to your foundation: sheer and luminous.

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This article first appeared in FASHION’s November 2023 issue. Find out more here.

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