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Top tips on how to choose your signature scent, from understanding olfactory profiles to how to layer fragrance like a pro, plus where to spritz for maximum impact

Follow your nose: discover the key fragrance profiles

The first step to finding the perfect women’s perfume is to understand its composition. “The world of fragrance is generally divided into ‘families’,” explains Sonia Deary, beauty technologist at M&S. “Often we tend to fall for one family without even realising it, or we may be drawn to fresh fragrances in the summer and warm fragrances in the winter. The fragrance families are categorised using olfactory ‘groups’: floral, fruity, fresh and woody.”

Choosing a new scent needn’t be overwhelming. “Our latest Discover sets for men and women are designed to help you find your perfect fragrance and olfactive group,” says Hannah Zapala, M&S beauty buyer. “The sets feature six intense 2ml eau de toilettes for £8, and the olfactive keys are listed on the side of the box for easy identification. M&S can help guide you towards the fragrances that fall into each of these families: simply select your favourite fragrance profile from the drop-down menu when browsing.”

Did you know: M&S has sold half a million bottles of perfume and aftershave in the past year – that’s nearly one every minute!

Shop the Discover rangeShop all women’s fragrance


Pink pepper eau de toilette
Eau de toilette with a hint of pink pepper
Black pepper eau de toilette
Lift your mood with spicy black pepper
Velvet rose eau de toilette
A balance of rose, violet and bergamot
Gardenia eau de toilette
Discover our new Intense range

Create a perfume wardrobe

While some swear by a single does-it-all fragrance, many more prefer the freedom to cater to their mood. Whether your week involves an important meeting, brunch with friends or a dinner date (or all three), tailoring your perfume to the occasion can boost your confidence and leave a lasting impression. Consider a different scent for work, weekend and evening to mark the transition throughout the day – handbag-sized dispensers are ideal for this purpose.

How to layer fragrance like a pro

Combining perfumes is a way to create a unique signature scent and express your personality. “Relaunched in January 2021 with a sleek new minimalist aesthetic, Autograph perfumes come in three scents specifically designed for layering – enabling you to become your own perfumer if you so wish,” says Hannah. “Furthermore, the luxurious ingredients, such as Indonesian patchouli oil, boast enviable provenance without commanding a premium price tag.”

“Our bright and zesty Autograph riviera neroli eau de parfum is perfect for starting off the day,” reveals Sonia. “Layer on plum blossom eau de parfum for extra sparkle and spritz on celestial fig eau de parfum in the evening for extra intensity.”

Did you know: M&S’s Autograph fragrance is made in England

Shop Autograph fragrance


Autograph riviera neroli eau de parfum 100ml
A bright and energising eau de parfum
Autograph Cashmere boxed gift set
Up your gifting game with a boxed set
Autograph celestial fig eau de parfum 100ml
Fresh green botanicals meet Timur pepper
Autograph fragrance layering gift set
A fragrance trio designed for layering

Spritz wisely: the best places to apply fragrance

To help your perfume last all day, apply to pulse points (inner wrists, neckline, behind ear lobes) and allow to dry naturally. Do not rub as this can cause the top notes to quickly evaporate. Make fragrance last longer by applying immediately after a pampering bath or shower, when skin is still damp. Even better, layer your fragrance over matching body cream to intensify. Avoid the urge to mist perfume on hair as the alcohol content can be drying; opt for a fragranced dry shampoo instead.

Store carefully to preserve the ingredients

While an array of bottles on your dressing table certainly adds flair to any bedroom, the slightly less glamorous confines of your top drawer might be better suited to perfume storage. “Fluctuating temperatures, humidity and changes in lighting can have undesirable effects on fragrance,” advises Sonia, “so make sure they are stashed away safely to make the most of every precious spritz. I recommend keeping your fragrance stored in its original box in a drawer, away from direct sunlight.”

Did you know? Eau de parfum contains higher levels of fragrance oil than eau de toilettes

Shop all women’s perfume


Shay and Blue oud eau de parfum
This oud perfume is an online exclusive
L’Occitane cherry blossom eau de toilette
Five-star-rated cherry blossom eau de toilette
Fragonard l’etoile eau de parfum
A seductive scent by Fragonard
Nuxe Prodigieux eau de parfum
Contains 88% natural-origin ingredients

Scents of occasion: fragrance gift ideas

When it comes to treating your loved ones, a carefully considered fragrance or a perfume gift is guaranteed to please. Eau de parfum is a standout choice for special occasions – the superior complexity of the scent and volume of fragrance oil make it a real treat to receive – whereas an eau de toilette is best suited to everyday wear.

“Don’t forget the men”, advises Hannah. “No Ordinary Day is one of our bestselling ranges for him – not only on trend with its stylish packaging but made in the UK and vegan friendly too.” Check out our Valentine’s Day gift guide for further inspiration.

Did you know? All M&S own-brand fragrance is certified cruelty free by Cruelty Free International

Shop No Ordinary DayShop fragrance gifts


No Ordinary Day amber eau de parfum
Amber is a softly seductive scent
Autograph discovery set
Treat him to an Autograph discovery set
No Ordinary Day bergamot fragrance
Uplifting citrus meets subtle sage
Autograph bergamot fragrance gift set
A fragrance duo featuring bergamot

Words: Dulcie Emerson

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