How to buy perfume for someone else

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  • Follow our essential guide and you won’t even need a gift receipt

    On the surface, buying perfume for someone as a gift seems like a really good idea.

    It shows them that a) you know them really well and b) you put in the effort. Plus, if you get it right, that fragrance will be one of the most memorable presents that person will ever receive.

    On the flipside, because fragrance is so personal, buying perfume for someone else could be the riskiest gift you’ll ever shop for.

    So, how do you avoid giving someone a fragrance that they hate?

    Marie Claire spoke to Michelle Feeney, founder of award-winning British fragrance brand Floral Street, about how to avoid the pitfalls of scent-shopping for someone else…

    1. Gift someone a discovery set

    ‘We all have different feelings and moods every day so give someone the opportunity to play around and try a whole collection of scents before selecting the perfume that fits their individual personality.

    We have created the Floral Street Discovery Fragrance Gift Set of eight 1.5ml bottles to enable people to do just that. Fragrance often smells different on a blotter so it needs to be worn on the skin to be fully appreciated.

    A mini bottle will let you experience a variety of scents, allowing them to evolve over the course of the day to make sure you are choosing the right ones.’

    Floral Street Discovery Fragrance Gift Set, £14, John Lewis

    Buying perfume

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    2. Choose a scent that has a high level of perfume oil

    ‘Skin type, sebum production, hormones and the pH balance of our skin can all affect the way a scent smells.

    These factors also play a part in how long the fragrance lasts. When buying perfume for someone else, choose one that has a high perfume oil level for maximum strength and longevity.

    Eau de Parfums can boast as much as 20%  – certainly all our Floral Street fragrances do – while Eau de Toilettes only contain about 5-10%.’

    3. Vanilla or soft florals are the safe bet 

    ‘If you are choosing for a person that finds big, heady floral fragrances overpowering or just not right for them, choose softer ones centred around sweet peony or delicate rose.

    Vanilla can also be a favourite scent and studies have shown that it reduces stress and anxiety, as well as being considered comforting and warm.’

    4. Focus on the person’s character or lifestyle

    ‘Similar words can be used to describe a fragrance and someone’s personality or mood: delicate or bold; focused or energetic or even quirky or rebellious.

    Use this as a guide for your scent selection, and also think about their personal preferences.

    If they like spicy food, for example, they might like something laced with saffron or red peppercorn (try the Floral Street Black Lotus Eau de Parfum). Someone who enjoys long country walks might be into a green, woodsy smell.’

    Floral Street Black Lotus Eau de Parfum, £58, John Lewis

    buying perfume Floral Street Black Lotus Eau de Parfum, £58, John Lewis

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    5. When in doubt, go for popular and sustainable

    ‘Increasingly people are recognising that we need to care more about our impact on the planet.

    So, choose fragrances that have sustainable or responsibly sourced ingredients as well as packaging that is recyclable, reusable or biodegradable. When I launched Floral Street two years ago this was at the heart of our brand. 

    Bestsellers are also a safe bet because chances are, if they’ve smelt it on someone else and liked it, the more open they might be to trying it for themselves.’  

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