On Choosing a Personal Scent

Two anecdotes about my good friend Sarah.

Sarah anecdote number one: We are in our early 20s, working together on a university co-op work term. We head to the mall on our lunch break and Sarah flips through several magazines, eventually settling on Glamour, because she “smells a perfume sample” and that’s always a good thing.

Personal mind blown: a) ladies read magazines! b) ladies wear perfume!

This lead to me becoming a regular reader of Glamour and also exploring the world of smells, and what smelled good to me, having never given it one iota of thought before.

Sarah anecdote number two: Later that same summer, we are doing some shopping while waiting for a movie to start. Sarah needs some shampoo and is standing in the aisle of the drugstore, smelling a variety of choices. Eventually she settles on one because she likes the scent.

Personal mind blown: a) people can change personal care products any time they feel like it! b) people can choose products purely based on smell as a factor!

Up until then I had been using the same shampoo and conditioner that all my sisters and my mother used, because that’s what had been in my house growing up, plus the same deodorant that my mother had first bought me in grade 5, which was the same brand and smell as my best friend used, because I was envious of her grown up liquid roll-on.


Without sharing too much personal detail, a certain member of our household recently joining the Wearing Deodorant club. Without my knowing it, her older sister suggested it was time, and gave her a stick of what she wears for the younger one to try.

And I was all like, no way!

It was because of the scent. My older daughter is not girly at all and wears a nice cucumber/fresh sporty scent. My younger daughter is very girly and it doesn’t match her at all.

After the Summer of Sarah, I went to the drugstore myself and smelled everything and picked out a shampoo and deodorant that I actually liked. Naturally I still use these both to this day, because unlike Sarah, I am a woman of habit and extreme brand loyalty. But also, I feel like both of these have become by Signature Scent. A few years back, when my older daughter was finding her own scent, we ended up with a few leftover deodorants and I used them up but I felt weird the whole time, like, who is this weird-smelling woman I am attached to?

So I took my youngest out to the store and let her smell everything, and she picked out a lovely rose-scented deodorant to experiment with that suits her to a tee, and which may become her lifelong signature scent, although I suspect she has a little of The Sarah about her and will be continue to experiment.

Still, she’ll always be a flowery one, I’m sure.

What’s your signature scent? Do you have a lifelong commitment to it?

8 thoughts on “On Choosing a Personal Scent

  1. I use unscented. 🙂 But I also like baby powder scent. Most scents for me are too strong…and I struggle for the boy to find him something that doesn’t make him smell like a man. He’s 13 and needs protection, not ‘attraction’. lol

  2. Zhu

    As a French, I grew up with perfume 🙂 My mum loves anything by Guerlain (she went through different scents, though) and even now, once in a while, if she sends me a gift, she sprays perfume on the scarf/t-shirt so that it “smells like mommy” 🙂 Note that perfume used to be kind of affordable in France back in the days… cheaper than here.

    Anyway, I started wearing perfume when I was a young teen and went through several scents. We used to spray a bit of it in our room. Scents did matter!

    I stopped after a couple of years in Canada because 1) perfume is expensive here 2) scent-free workplaces (and I had the feeling like scents were not welcome here in general).

    Funny enough, I typically don’t like most North American scented products (i.e. deo, shampoo, etc). I usually stick to European brands, I find scents lighter.

  3. Shannon

    Most sents give me a headache, including the smell of the unscented items. I’ve been using Degree in a shower clean scent for what feels like a lifetime. I will be beyond upset if they ever stop selling it.

  4. We’re an unscented household – laundry detergent, hand soap, dish soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc. So much so that when the kids were younger my husband could come home from work, sniff the air and know that the next-door neighbour’s kids were in the basement playing with our kids because their mom used Tide to wash their clothes.

    We used to have so much trouble traveling to Britain because they seem to be All. About. The. Scent. Everything is perfumed, and heavily perfumed, and it’s a selling point. This last time we were there it was less noticeable, so I wonder if unscentedness is becoming more of a thing there.

    Like you, if I wash my hands in a public washroom, and have the smell of the soap on my hands afterwards, or if I have to use different deodorant, I have a constant unsettled feeling when I catch whiffs of the strange scent throughout the day.

  5. Marianne

    As a young girl my preferred deodorant was a rose scent. I later tried some others, but gravitated to baby powder rather than choose scents that didn’t feel (smell?) right, and because as brands changed names and scents baby powder always appeared as a choice. When I became a mom, baby powder didn’t seem like the right personal choice any more. Now I sniff until I find something appealing, and then buy 6 or 8 of the same scent so I know I won’t be forced to make a change when that one runs out and I find it has been discontinued.

    Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps is my perfume scent. Though with scent-free restrictions everywhere, I wear it perhaps once a year. My mom is Chanel No. 5.

  6. Marianne

    Older daughter’s deodorant scent is lemongrass, which is perfect for her. Though she is pretty haphazard about wearing it. Younger daughter on the other hand sadly showed this spring that she requires routine use of deodorant, at least in hot weather, despite being only 7. I wasn’t surprised when she picked a super sweet and flowery one.

  7. I guess in deodorant I like a fresh scent. Nothing too sweet or flowery, and GOD FORBID baby powder scent. Why would I want to smell like a baby? Creepy…

    In perfumes, I go for musky smells. Again, nothing too sweet or flowery. I guess I’d be okay with a fresh scent perfume, too.

    For hair products, I’ll take pretty much whatever product works on my nightmare locks. But I have ditched a product or two because I didn’t like the scent.

    For bath gel, I tend to stick to lavender, which I realize is a flower, but I don’t find it too flowery, know what I mean?

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