So, you’ve decided to dive into the wonderful world of Niche Fragrance. Great! At Smallflower and Merz Apothecary, we pride ourselves on curating one of the country’s finest collections of unique and hard-to-find scents. If you’re brand new to the Niche, you can check out our beginner’s guide here. But we understand that even with a written primer, such a big world with so many options can feel daunting! Sometimes you just need to chat with someone who knows their stuff. That’s why we sat down with Tanja and Sharmane, two of our super-knowledgeable fragrance associates, to answer some FAQs and talk all things fragrance.
What’s the best way to apply a fragrance?
Sharmane: You’ll want to spray your fragrance on the places where your skin is the warmest, on the pressure points. That’s where I’ll put it. Even if the areas are covered up by clothes, those are the best places. The wrists, neck, and the insides of your elbows. I know some people like to spray their clothes, too.
Tanja: You’ll want to apply in places with a lot of vascularity, where the veins are closer to the skin. Also, places that have thinner, more delicate skin. The inside of your forearm—from the wrist to the elbow—that’s a great place for fragrance. Make sure that you’re using a lot of surface area, not spraying too close to the skin.
Do you know any tricks to make a scent last longer on your body?
Tanja: Keep your skin clean! Make sure there isn’t any residue from soaps or body washes, or lotions. Skin that’s a little drier absorbs the fragrance better and that helps it vaporize.
Sharmane: Canvas & Concrete have this product called Fragrance Primer that preps your skin for a fragrance and helps it last longer. It also helps keep the scent true to the bottle—everyone has different body chemistry that changes the way a fragrance wears.
What’s the best way to store your fragrances?
Sharmane: I keep mine in my linen closet. Light, moisture, and heat can break down the molecules, so you want to keep them somewhere dark and dry. If you’ve got something with a darker bottle, you might be okay— like with essential oils, they’re packaged in dark bottles for protection.
Tanja: Keep them away from heat and light. I think it’s best to keep them against a dark exterior wall, away from any vents or windows. I keep mine in the hallway. I like to have them out somewhere where I can enjoy and share them with guests when they come over.
Sharmane: I know that some people store theirs in the fridge. Some collectors even have a special refrigerator where they keep their most valuable fragrances.
Tanja: Yeah, if you have a vintage perfume or something that’s really valuable to you, the fridge is a great way to preserve that.
How long can a bottle last?
Sharmane: They say that a perfume won’t diminish until it’s been sprayed. So, if you have a bottle of something and you’ve never even opened the box, it’s going to be good for a long time. I have a bottle of Duro I’ve had for over 10 years, and it still smells like its first spray.
What advice do you have for someone who’s just starting to get into niche fragrance?
Tanja: Explore, experiment, and educate! There are so many great scents out there, and everyone is different—you just can’t know what you like until you smelled and tried a bunch. Even within the same note, there are so many different variations. There are a million different types of jasmine, for example, and you can’t know which ones you like unless you experiment a little.
And if you’re serious about it, do some research. Get to know a little bit more about the different notes and plants that go into a fragrance, and maybe even a little bit about their countries of origins.
Sharmane: Once you figure out a little bit more what you’re into, explore a little deeper into each scent and note. On Smallflower, you can do a search by scent and explore that way. And we have a sample program, so if you want to try out a scent but don’t want to commit to something right away that can be a good way to get to know what you like.
Also, brands will often do discovery kits of their own. I know Etat Libre d’Orange and Maison Francis Kurkdijan do good ones. And we have our own on Smallflower with some really great scents in there.
What scents are you loving right now?
Sharmane: I think that Bitter Rose, Broken Spear by D.S. & Durga is a great fragrance for fall. It has that lovely rose note, but also a smoky depth. I don’t have a signature scent or anything, though—I love too many to choose!
I’ve noticed that a lot of people coming into the store are looking for more powdery and iris notes. It’s so interesting to see people who previously were very into dark, smoky notes transition to something lighter. But that’s the beauty of fragrance—there’s always so much room to explore and experiment.