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Pick your potion: making sense out of scents.


Tired of wearing the same perfume as every other girl in the freshman class? Time to give that bottle of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue the boot. Here's how to sniff your way to a new signature scent.


Most fragrances fall into one of several scent categories: 1) Woodsy scents are soft, sweet and earthy, like Stila Creme Bouquet. 2) Orientals are more intense, with a strong spicy/sweet smell, like Stacked Style Empress Lily. 3) Flora/s, such as Lancome So Magic!, smell like flowers. 4) Green scents come from plants--grass, herbs, leaves--as in Fruits & Passion Human. 5) Oceanic scents are fresh and clean--try Davidoff Cool Water Woman. 6) And citrus fragrances smell, well ... fruity, like Miami Glow by JLo. Some fragrance counters organize their scents by type. Once you figure out which category you like best, the choosing is much easier.


If you're tight on cash, head to a drugstore or cosmetic store for a decent selection at low prices. If you can pay a little more, department stores carry popular (and, yes, more expensive) scents. Plus, they have trained staff to help you pick the perfect perfume--and often offer free samples you can try before deciding on just the right scent for you.


Intense smells like vanilla, patchouli and musk are best during cooler months because they stir up feelings of warmth. Citrus and floral scents are lighter, so they reign during spring and summer. Summer rays and body heat strengthen your fragrance, so go easy!


A perfume that smells fantastic on your BFF (and every girl in homeroom) might not smell so great on you. Remember, your body chemistry has a significant impact on any fragrance. And, really, isn't the point to find a scent that's totally yours?


When you're sniffing around the perfume counter for a new-you fragrance, don't be an early bird. (Your sense of smell is more tuned in later in the day.) Choose several scents, either in your current favorite category or a completely new one, and ask the salesperson for a blotting card.

Spray the scent on the card, and take a whiff to test. Narrow your choice down to two favorites and spritz each wrist. Take a stroll around the mall for at least 10 minutes to allow the scent to blend with your body chemistry. Pick your favorite out of the two, then ask for a sample to take home and try out. If you still love it after you've used up the sample, go back and buy it.


For a more subtle version of your scent, try using just the body wash or lotion version. Need your fragrance to last all night? Use both the body wash and body lotion, then just a dab of perfume.

Wish you had a scent that's truly your own? Customize! Use a single note body wash or lotion, like gardenia or tangerine, then lightly spray on a similar scent for a custom blend. Flowerbelle Parfum Spritzer and Korres Body Water are perfect for layering.


Nothing's worse than an overpowering perfume, so spritz at least an hour before you get dressed. Dab the scent on pulse points--wrists, temples, neck, inside elbows, and behind ears and knees. Fragrance rises, so start at your ankles, and work your way up. Have oily skin? It retains fragrance longer, so go light.

If you tend to overdo it, try a perfume that comes in a rollerball applicator for maximum control. And even though you always see characters on TV spray themselves fully dressed, scented products contain alcohol, which can stain your clothes. So don't try that at home!


Is it true your hair color can change a perfume s scent.

YES. According to The Fragrance Foundation, how a scent smells really is all in your head. Blondes with fair skin should go for a long-lasting multi-floral scent since the dryness of their skin causes subtle fragrances to evaporate quickly. Brunettes usually have darker, olive skin with natural oils, which allow scents to last longer, so dramatic orientals are a good choice. Redheads have extremely delicate skin and should pick something light and fresh, like an oceanic scent or single note floral.


FLORAL The Healing Garden in Bloom, $16, drugstores; beComing, $30,

CITRUS Dolly Girl Ooh La Love by Anna Sui, $35,; Clean, $45,

WOODSY Love's Baby Soft, $15, drugstores; Maybe Baby by Benefit, $46,; Bijan Style for Women, $45,

ORIENTAL Lolita Lempicka Midnight, $60, department stores

GREENS Urban Decay GO, $29.50,; Yves Rocher Bambou, $16,

OCEANIC Demeter Kahala-Hawaiian Surf, $19,
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Author:Davis, Jasmen
Publication:Girls' Life
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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