What better way to dive headfirst into the world of fragrances than by discovering which perfumes you can't imagine ever parting with? There's always a way to make something that's already great even better, and in the case of fragrances, it can be done through the practice of layering them. If you haven't tried it before, take it from a beauty editor who recently discovered this: You've been severely missing out. To gain a better appreciation for it (and come up with an extensive shopping list of my own), I reached out to two of TikTok's most talented fragrance content creators, each with their own expertise and role on the social media platform's fragrance community. Scroll on to see which perfumes you should be adding to your cart right after you finish reading this.
What Is Perfume Layering?
I first spoke to Emma (last name redacted), a beauty specialist with a popular TikTok account dedicated to the discussion of all things fragrances. "Layering fragrances is when you wear more than one fragrance at once! It can be two perfumes, a fragrance and a body lotion, or even your body wash and haircare," she explains. "All the scented items you use will contribute to your overall scent bubble. Layering is when you coordinate these scents." That means from the moment you apply a scented product to your skin, you'll have a fragrance signature. Emma also took the time to explain the roles of accords in fragrances. Vanilla, for example, can be combined with other notes to create a unique scent.
Emma's biggest recommendation for layering fragrances is to start with a body cream. "A great, simple way to layer that you may even already be doing is to use scented body lotions and spray perfume on top," says Emma. "The lotion will add depth to the fragrance and help its longevity." From there, you can identify perfumes with similar notes to layer over it.
How Does Layering Perfumes Work?
The second fragrance expert I had the opportunity to speak to was Lee Romaan, TikTok's self-proclaimed "local perfume enthusiast." Like Emma, Romaan has established herself online as a resource for fragrance novices and veterans alike, dedicating the majority of her content to sharing her go-to fragrances, honest reviews, and recommendations. "The term fragrance layering essentially means to pair or layer fragrances or body products to form a personalised scent. Some people do it to increase longevity or to create a unique scent. It all just depends on what you are interested in and what level of control you want to have on your sillage," she says.
For any newcomers to the world of fragrance, sillage refers to the olfactory trail created by a perfume when it is worn on the skin. But is wearing a single perfume enough? Romaan broke down her fragrance-layering process for me step by step, taking the time to highlight the importance of identifying fragrance families, similar notes, and familiar scents. "The general rule of thumb is to start off with the heaviest/strongest or darkest scent and layer it with the lighter scents (working your way up). This would allow your lighter fragrances to be carried with your heavier scents," explains Romaan.
Both Romann and Emma agree that discovering unique and unexpected pairings ultimately adds to the overall olfactory experience. Romaan says, "My best tip is to experiment and have fun with fragrance layering. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to go by strict rules. It's okay if you don't like the outcome. (You always wash it off or try another day.)" According to this fragrance enthusiast and expert, there are no rules for experimentation when it comes to layering perfumes.
"I like to break boundaries in what we know about scent and experiment with alternative fragrances, oils, and lotions," Romaan says. "You get to control what you want to smell like. Who wouldn't want that? I am constantly mixing fragrances and bodycare on the daily, and I am always experimenting." Her fragrance family of choice is gourmand, while Emma favors the floral and woodsy fragrances.
Ready to try layering your perfume like the pros? Shop our fragrance expert favorites below, and get ready for compliments.
Shop Emma's Favorites
Key notes: Ozonic accord, amberwood, and white musk
Emma's first pick for fragrance layering is Lake & Skye's crisp and clean 11 11 Eau de Parfum. Combining notes of ozonic accord with musk and amber, it yields an unforgettable aromatic experience.
Key notes: Vanilla orchids, tonka absolute, and amber woods
Here's another TikTok-viral perfume that's received thousands of raving reviews. Kayali's best-selling vanilla fragrance captivates the senses with sweet and Madagascan vanilla orchid, amber, and brown sugar for a memorable finish.
Key notes: Sandalwood and bergamot
Trust me: This Armani Beauty Eau de Toilette will give you that love-at-first-spritz experience everyone dreams of. This perfume's unique fragrance is composed of warm sandalwood and fresh bergamot to evoke elegance and serenity of the Chinese imperial palaces.
Key notes: Coconut, violet, and musks
Soft and sensual, Fragrance du Bois Santal Complet is absolutely brimming with smooth, tropical notes that will have you booking your next vacation ASAP. At this perfume's heart is violet and black pepper, balanced by warm base notes of sandalwood, amber, musk, and vanilla.
Key notes: Vanilla, salted caramel, and pistachio
One of Emma's biggest recommendations for layering? Identifying a scented cream that serves as a base for all other fragrances you decide to layer with it. This one, by Sol de Janeiro, has an addictive scent with notes of vanilla, salted caramel, and pistachio.
Shop Romaan's Favorites
Key notes: Cinnamon bark oil, ylang-ylang, and Australian sandalwood
The first of Romaan's recent favorites for layering, this Tom Ford perfume boasts a mesmerizing blend of Eastern spices, creamy sandalwood, and luxe florals.
Key notes: Caramelized vanilla, toasted macadamia nut, and tonka bean
After spritzing Tom Ford's Santal Blush Eau de Parfum, Romaan goes in with this hair-and-body fragrance mist by Sol de Janeiro. It's surprisingly warm and spicy with notes of caramelized vanilla and cozy toasted macadamia nut.
Shop More Fragrances
Floral and Fresh
Key notes: Italian lemon, jasmine, and bergamot
I've used up two full bottles of Ouai's North Bondi since being introduced to it less than a year ago. It's a great mix of fresh florals that features notes of zesty lemon, rose de mai, violet, and white musk.
Key notes: Citron, jasmine, and teakwood
Lovers of fresh citrus and juice need to get their hands on Chanel's Eau Fraiche Eau de Toilette. As the name hints, the fragrance contained in this bottle offers a a fresh fragrance that rivals the feeling of stepping out of the shower.
Fruity and Bright
Key notes: Cassis, white rose, and tonka
One of my favorite fragrances to layer, this perfume begins with a spicy black pepper note balanced by bergamot and black currant. Next come notes of white rose and clean musk base for an energetic finish.
Key notes: Strawberry, violet leaves, and jasmine
And oldie but goodie, Marc Jacobs Daisy will always bring the right amount of bright floral and juicy fruity notes to any composition of layered perfumes.
Woodsy and Spicy
Key notes: Mandarin, violet, and sandalwood
I've always been a dedicated fan of fragrances that are clean and energizing with hints of bright citrus layered over warmer notes. If you're in the same boat, this Clean Reserve perfume is one to add to your collection.
Key notes: Jasmine, orange blossom, and patchouli
Victor & Rolf's Flowerbomb has been everywhere lately (and with good reason). Floral and sweet, this perfume also offers a vibrant blend of spices composed primarily of patchouli.
Smoky and Warm
Key notes: Hinoki, thyme, and frankincense
The addition of this one in my roundup shouldn't be surprising if you know how much I love my woodsy spices. It's earthy and ethereal scent makes this perfume one of my top picks for a night out.
Key notes: Skin musk, bergamot nectar, and blonde wood
If you've ever wanted a fragrance that smells as familiar and warm as an old friend or loving family member, you'll want to get your hands on this one by Phlur.