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Aisling Keenan: The scent of summer


Ever wondered what your scent says about you? When I say scent, I mean your perfume, not the whiff following you as you hop off the treadmill.

Your smell can make or break the impression someone gets of you. Too much perfume and you'll overwhelm; too little and less-appealing natural scents might bust through.

Getting the right perfume can be a tricky business. Hopefully, this mini-guide will help.

Perfume has layers of fragrance. Top notes, or head notes, are the first scent you smell, and are generally light and dissipate quickly.

Middle notes, or heart notes, can be smelled after the top notes and make up the main body of the fragrance, and often mask the less appealing base notes, which take a while to settle.

Base notes, then, are what give the fragrance depth and solidity and usually aren't perceived until half an hour after you apply.

As a general rule, expect to pay more for eau de parfum than for eau de toilette -- the higher the concentration of oils, the higher the price.

Creating a fragrance is a seriously complex business. Luckily, all you have to do is sniff a few.

Heat Rush (€25.95 for 30ml, €33.95 for 50ml, selected pharmacies nationwide) is the second scent from Beyoncé. The top notes are passion fruit, blood-orange and cherry. Fruity top and then a woody base described as “subtle and alluring”. Seduction seems to be the name of the game with this one.

If your main objective is individuality, then there is a new concept ‘effect’ or ‘aura’ — note they don’t call it perfume — called Escentric Molecule 01. It doesn’t have the traditional make-up of a fragrance; it contains a pheromone-like aromachemical that adapts to your natural scent and odours, personalising the smell exactly to you. It’s even been called a “love potion”. Escentric Molecules 01, €75, Samui Boutique in Cork and Harvey Nichols in Dundrum.

YSL doesn’t like to reveal the combination of scents it uses to create fragrances. The brand doesn’t list them; it describes feelings, ideas, concepts and creation rather than what goes in the fragrances. Lemon and bergamot seem to feature at the top while pink pepper and ginger linger towards the bottom. A heady summer fragrance perfect for an exotic holiday. Yves Saint Laurent Saharienne, €60 for 50ml, €75 for 75ml and €100 for 125ml, available from July 1 at YSL counters.

One of my all-time favourite perfumes is Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf. Even the name smells delicious. Top notes scream citrus and freshness. Its heart is like a bouquet of flowers and the base is made up of cashmere and patchouli. It is an absolutely feminine, floral and very summery fragrance and I find it works well as a day and night fragrance. Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf, €69.50, Brown Thomas and other selected stores.

Weekend Magazine