It’s true that because the smell is invisible, we are reliant on external cues for how we should interpret what it is that we’re experiencing. But, if people can buy clothes online looking at the colours, fits and sizes, why is it not possible to buy fragrances looking at the colour, shapes, notes and the mood it evokes? From the colour of the bottle to its shape, from the ingredients to the brand it comes from, there are hints in every aspect, a customer should just know how to read it.

Depending on you the mood you want to wear, select your fragrance.

1. Identify your fragrance family
There are eight major fragrance families – fresh, floral, oriental, fougere, woody, chypre and gourmand. I would compare these to the fabrics in fashion. Understanding how each family smells and which one do you like in particular makes the process of buying fragrances simpler. Think of it like a dress you want to buy, and you know exactly how cotton will feel versus chiffon. I do believe the first step is identifying which fragrance families one is comfortable with. How do you figure this out sitting at home? To make things easier, perhaps begin by making a note of particular scents that you’ve liked in the past and checking out their notes and fragrance families online. This sounds cumbersome, but once you know how which fragrance family your nose belongs to, you will be able to eliminate the fragrances which you don’t like. So, you cut down the chances of buying something you wouldn’t like.
You can read up on the ingredients of the perfumes you already own and see what is common between them. There are resources available online to further streamline your interests, websites such as and help find out which notes (white musk, sandalwood, amber etc) should feature in your favourite fragrances. And if you want to leave it to an algorithm to decide then you can also do an online quiz on which scent profile best suits you.

2. Pay attention to the colour
When you’re buying blind, every hint helps and colour imagery is an advertising staple. There is a connection between the colours you gravitate to and the notes in the fragrances you gravitate to. A fragrance packaging may not be the only indicator of what’s inside but does hold a big hint on what to expect, especially when you are looking at global perfumery brands.

First, consider the tone and the saturation of the bottle. The deeper the colour and the more it veers towards the bright side, the more vibrant the fragrance will be. Subtle shades house discreet fragrances, which whisper your presence but don’t scream your arrival.

For instance, the fragrances in the pink family will allude to the romantic in every woman. Expect the notes to be fruity-floral with the presence of more rose than jasmine in the heart notes. If the colour is a deeper pink, you know there is a strong fruity presence which makes the fragrance more playful.

Similarly, bottles in shades of blue, reference the sea, and pack in aquatic notes. Pales blues are often associated with given a watery freshness and ‘marine’ touch to the packaging.

Another popular colour category in fragrances is yellow – which is your typical summery, bright citrus composition. Typically, the yellow fragrance channel jasmine in the heart notes with fresh or warm citrusy notes in the top notes.

Gold bottles often would refer to a rich, opulent, oriental composition, great for evening wear.

And of course, nature-borrowed colours like Green and Browns represent the woodier, smokier scents that evoke a sense of running in an open field.

If you like something which is off-beat look for fragrances in lavender, purple or lilac hues. These are not your typical fruity-florals or aquatic fragrances. These mostly would be in the category of aromatics.

3. Identify the perfumer
Crafting fragrances is an art, and knowing the perfumer or the perfume house helps as you can then consider what the artist or the nose brings to the bottle in terms of experience, balance, style. As each designer has a distinctive style, each perfume or perfume house also has a signature flair. The fragrances should be created with certain integrity towards ingredients. Farm-to-fragrance brands, who are growers themselves will know their ingredients, and will not compromise with the quality of ingredients in its formulation.

4. Try the Discovery Sets
Though the risk of ending up with a fragrance you won’t love is less likely if you stick to a fragrance family you like, invest in fragrance discovery sets if the brand or the perfume is something you are unfamiliar with. ‘Discovery sets’, typically a set of minis, more substantial than single-spray testers allow you to discover a set of new fragrances at a fraction of a cost. It is honestly a smart way of trying fragrances before you invest in its full-size version. This will also give you a better sense of experiencing several scents in your own time and comfort.

5. Wear your Mood
Fragrances are designed to evoke an emotion or a memory. You can match a fragrance to the mood you are in, to amplify it or you can use a fragrance as a tool to transport you into a mood or a place of your choice. It’s about Crafting Memories! Typically, fruity citrus will bring in cheer, while floral fruity will take you back to the comfort of childhood. Aquatic notes help you get into an active mode, hence are preferred for day wear when you need the fresh energy to carry you forward. Aromatic scents with lavender or those with lotus are key ingredients are good buys if you want to play to your mystical side.

Fragrances are often considered an extension of one’s personality, and it is a wise investment to make when you want to scent your mark. So, research and take time in choosing the fragrance for you. I daresay the fun is actually in the process of discovering your signature scent.

-By Abdulla Ajmal, Business Mentor and Perfumist, Ajmal & Sons. He holds the distinction of being the first of the third generation to join the 70-year-old heritage perfumery brand. He has collaborated with some of the world’s most renowned master perfumers such as Dominique Ropion, Maurice Roucel, Christian Provenzano, Arturetto Landi, and Alberto Morillas, and is one of the go-to names in the arena of fragrance development.