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Expert reveals how to buy perfume for someone else

A perfume expert has revealed how to go about buying a scent as a gift – so if you’ve left your Christmas shopping until the last minute, this could be the perfect answer. 

Lee Harding, from London, who works with The Perfume Shop, is an expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry.

He has worked with luxury, lifestyle and celebrity brands such as Bottega Venetta, Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Vivienne Westwood, Cavalli, Philosophy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez, and more. 

With an extensive knowledge of the field, his tricks to buying the perfect scent for someone else include engraving the bottle for personalisation and thinking about the individual’s food and lifestyle preferences first. 

Lee Harding, from London, has revealed his top tips for buying fragrances for someone else. Pictured, stock image


Buying a scent for someone can be daunting, but there are a few things you can consider that will help you when buying a fragrance as a gift. 

Whilst tastes in perfume vary from person-to-person, age, personality and lifestyle play a big part in the perfume choices we make.

Although there is no age limit on a scent, science tells us that throughout our lives our sense of smell changes and matures based on age and life events such as pregnancy. 

Sales trends show that teens tend to prefer sweeter and fruitier smells, and as we get older we opt for more sweet florals, ouds or oriental fragrances.

Other things to consider are a person’s food or flowers preferences too. If, for example, the person you are buying a present for dislikes strong spices, it’s unlikely they will like spicy scents and oriental base notes.

If they dislike the smell of Jasmine and Tuberose, they aren’t going to like a scent where that is a key note. 

Lee Harding, from London, has over 15 years of experience in the industry (pictured)

I, for example, dislike vanilla and cinnamon, which means I avoid scents that either remind me of that or have those ingredients in.

Different perfumes can also fit in with different lifestyles. 

If you’re on-the-go and flit from day to night, with the gym in-between, it may be worth opting for an eau de toilette (EDT). 

EDT’s mainly consists of top notes and gives freshness and sharpness in a fragrance. 

They wear off in about three hours, so for those spritzing between different occasions they can either reapply or swap throughout the day.


We tend to opt for a safe choice when it comes to buying perfume as a gift, either re-buying a favourite scent or the one we’ve most recently heard them speak about. 

More and more people are experimenting with perfumes and creating their very own perfume wardrobes, so why not mix it up with your gift choice?

The Perfume Shop helps customers take calculated risks when buying scents by using someone’s previous likes and dislikes to identify other scents they will like. 

For example, if you like Good Girl you are very likely to like Chloe or Lancome Idole because they belong to the same family and share similar ingredients and notes.   


Layering is a great way to get more out of a scent as it helps to intensify and increase the longevity, as well as enabling you to create something bespoke and personal by layering different scents on top of one another.

 Lee’s other top tips include not buying on impulse and making your gift stand out by adding a personal touch. Pictured, stock image

Layering can be easily incorporated simply by adding a scented moisturiser or body oil into a morning routine or spritzing a hair mist. 

This is such a great thing to consider when buying a gift, as often scents have complementary or matching body ranges such as shower gels, hand or body creams that are formulated to extend the notes in the fragrance so it lasts longer on the skin.


Top notes in perfume dissipate within around 15 minutes while base notes last all day, so it’s important, especially if the scent isn’t for you, that you give it time to settle.LEE’S FIVE TIPS 

1. Think about the individual’s personality

2. Be experimental 

3. Gift a complementary scented moisturiser to make the scent last longer 

4. Don’t buy on impulse

5. Engrave the bottle for that added special touch 

If customers are unsure on a fragrance we recommend giving it 15 minutes to dry down on the skin to get a true reflection of the final scent. 

We often suggest that customers continue with their shopping and then come back into store once the scent has developed to make a final decision. 

You can go nose blind after smelling three different scents which is why impulse buying is not advised.


Fragrance is one of the most popular gifts to buy, so why not personalise the bottle to give that added special touch?

The Perfume Shop offers bespoke engraving on over 200 bottles of perfume and with up to 66 characters you can add names, dates or cute messages to the bottle. 

The last time I bought a scent for someone as a gift it was Sauvage EDP from Dior and I included the message Happy Birthday for my Dad – it really did take the present to the next level.

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