How to Layer Fragrances the Right Way


[Photo: Jo Malone London]

Smell has the powerful ability to evoke strong emotions—sometimes even before we realize what we’re smelling. One person’s love of vanilla or tunisian amber can make another’s nose wrinkle. Our relationship with personal fragrance is highly individualized. In this day and age, many scent-obsessives are taking matters into their own hands—or noses—to create a wardrobe of fragrances that they can pick and choose from depending on the season, the time of day, their mood, even how they want those close to them to feel.

Enter the art of fragrance layering. Since most of us don’t have access to a complete library of perfumes, combining different fragrances allows us to create nuanced, bespoke scents with just a couple of selections. It sounds intriguing, but also a little scary—what if you mix two scents that just don’t work together or accidentally end up smelling like Cinnabon? We spoke with Andrea Martelli, an NYC-based stylist for Jo Malone London, to get some tips on the do’s and don’ts of fragrance layering.

Find something in common

If you’re not sure where to begin, Andrea recommends choosing two scents from the same fragrance family (e.g., floral or citrus) or that contain similar notes. For example, Jo Malone London’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt is a fresh, clean scent with woody notes of sage, which plays well with the bay tree and brambly forest notes of their Blackberry & Bay scent. Both have a woody, herbaceous element that forms a common thread, but the bite of blackberry from Blackberry & Bay adds juicy depth to the freshness of Wood Sage & Sea Salt.

Add lightness or depth

Sometimes the easiest way to decide how you want to combine fragrances is by taking a one you love and adding lightness or depth. For example, you may have a fragrance that you like wearing during the day, but you want to make it more smoky and sensual for evening. So, choose a darker, more intoxicating scent to layer with it. The sparkling floral notes of Orange Blossom shows its sumptuous, sensuous side when combined with Tuberose Angelica Cologne Intense—perfect for making a night memorable.

Mix your mediums

“If you want to add complexity to your fragrance and make it last longer, try layering a body lotion with a cologne,” Andrea suggests. For the ultimate fragrance layering ritual, start your day with a body and hand wash in the shower or bath, followed by lotion and then a spritz of cologne. That will lock in a total-body scent experience.

Try this at home

You can even mix scents to create a bespoke fragrance for your home. Kate Middleton is reported to have filled Westminster Abbey with Orange Blossom and Lime Basil & Mandarin candles to create a signature scent for her wedding day.

Most importantly, have fun

The primary rule of fragrance combining? There are no rules. “You can’t go wrong. It’s all about trying things and having fun,” explains Andrea. Experiment with several different fragrances until you find a combination that works for you—after all, perfume washes off.

Explore more fragrances from Jo Malone London and start creating your own signature scent.

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