Here's Why Fragrances Can Smell Different On Different People

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Let's face it: the perfume lady in the mall can sometimes feel like a pushy car salesman insisting that you try on scents. Besides, many of us can already recognize Eau de Parfum classics like Chanel No. 5, Miss Dior, and Marc Jacobs Daisy. After giving it a quick puff in the air, we get the picture. The truth is simply that the perfume mall lady actually knows what she's talking about.

Researchers and dermatologists both agree that perfume can create different scents for different people. Fragrance expert Michael Donovon, who has been testing fragrances for more than 20 years, tells Byrdie that "certain skin types have specific properties when it comes to fragrance." He recommends always trying a scent before committing fully to it. "You want to make sure it loves you back." Who knew perfume had attachment style issues? Take note of these factors when looking for your next favorite scent.

Your skin's oiliness and pH level are determining factors

If all of our bodies are uniquely different, it makes sense that perfume would create a marriage scent once it hits the skin. Scientists say that, most notably, your skin's acidity level and oiliness will most likely affect fragrances. For example, oily skin is more likely to retain floral and citrus top notes, while drier skin tends to pull in a perfume's oils, thus weakening its scent (via For this reason, oilier skin tends to preserve bright top notes, really making a fragrance pop, but it can also hold onto sweetness, painfully exaggerating a scent (via Byrdie). 

Drier skin, on the other hand, should seek perfumes with powerful base notes because milder bouquets will quickly dissipate (via Flux Magazine). If you want your scent to last all day, it's also important to stay moisturized and hydrated, as this will give the perfume something to cling onto.

Your lifestyle creates a unique skin signature

An array of factors can create subtle yet noticeable changes in one's body chemistry. For example, eating spicy foods or meat can alter one's skin odor, and so can living a more active lifestyle because your sweat glands are working harder (via Flux Magazine). Even having a hangover can directly alter the scent of a fragrance. In a PopSugar interview, perfume expert Anne Nelson Sanford explains that when experiencing a hangover, your body is chemically processing alcohol, which is also pushed out through the pores. The sugary byproduct, therefore, affects how perfume oils interact with the skin.

As if that's not enough, the BBC claims that even single people smell differently than their couples counterparts. There are so many hormones and pheromones at play that each of us has an irreplicable scent signature. It's no wonder then that brands are now playing up our biodiversity by creating skin scents (via Elle). These fragrances are skillfully designed to mimic the skin's natural scent. So, in the age of the no-makeup makeup look, could we now be approaching a no-perfume perfume? Some notable brands jumping on this trend are Glossier with its You Eau de Parfum and Maison Margiela with its ironically named scent Replica. The magic of these perfumes is that they would still smell different on all of us, highlighting our diverse manifold.