11 perfume layering lessons from a fragrance expert—so you can create your own original scent

Perfume layering can help create an original scent

Scent layering: pictured four pipettes with brightly colored liquid alongside a picture of a single perfume bottle with orange liquid inside/ in a pink and cream template
(Image credit: Getty Images: (L) lavsketch/(R) Iqbal Nuril Anwar)

Scent layering is an easy way to either boost the longevity of your best perfumes or add your own signature touch to your favorite fragrances—but how do we do it and which perfume notes are the most complimentary? We asked the experts to break down exactly how to go about layering perfumes…

You can approach scent layering in two different ways, either by performing your own bit of alchemy and combining two perfumes to create your own, unique concoction (like Gigi Hadid’s ‘skin scent’ layering trick) or by literally layering yourself in one scent, through your moisturizers, body washes and so on, to make help the aroma last throughout the day. 

And while all the best long-lasting perfumes have been expertly crafted to wear on their own, there’s nothing stopping you from spritzing different perfumes together to create something new—that’s both familiar and entirely unique to you. So, if you want to give your scent game a boost, here are all the perfume layering tips, straight from the experts… 

How to layer scents

If you're looking for a new dreamy spring perfume combo, or want to add a burst of sweetness to your favorite floral perfume, Natalia Ortiz, Chief Commercial Officer at The Fragrance Shop, along with Vicken Arslanian, Re-founder of perfume brand Commodity have shared some tips and trick to scent layering like a pro...

  1. Use scented body products: Ortiz says to "look out for body cleansers and moisturizers that match your favorite perfume." Alternatively, you can also try mixing your perfume with lotion, if you don't want to spend money on another scented body product.
  2. Opt for similar fragrances: "A rule of thumb for fragrance pairing to layer is to go for fragrances that are similar, as this will enhance the notes in each other to bring out a more powerful scent layering," Ortiz notes.
  3. Opposite notes attract: Ortiz also adds: "It also works to layer with opposites—one lighter scent with a sexier, darker scent."
  4. Don't pair two heavy scents: "Avoid pairing two heavy scents together as they can come off too strong and create quite an offset balance that becomes harder to derive the different notes," Ortiz advises.
  5. It takes a bit of trial and error: Vicken Arslanian also explains that the "only way to tell if two fragrances will layer well together is by sampling on the skin. They’ll smell a bit differently on the skin versus on a blotter due to everyone’s unique skin chemistry."
  6. Have fun with it: Arslanain also reminds us to enjoy the process: "Layering is meant to be experimental and fun; it’s all about discovering what you like and what you don’t like."

What perfume notes layer well together?

As for which perfume notes to pair together, Arslanian says: "There isn’t a hard rule about which fragrance notes pair best together. Layering is all about having a space for creativity and adding a personal touch," but recommends, "For someone new to layering, I’d recommend pairing notes in the same scent family, such as warm spices like Vanilla with Nutmeg or fresh citrus like Bergamot with Petitgrain. 

"Notes commonly found in skin scents like Iso E Super, Skin Musk, Ambroxan and Cetalox are also foolproof for layering as they add a unique, “second skin” signature twist on any scent,"—a popular skin-scent is Glossier You (available at Sephora) or Niall Horan's favorite cologne, Le Labo Santal 33.

Ortiz also advises layering newbies to give it a whirl for spring/summer and suggests: "Layer with florals and woody notes or fresh earthy scents like musk with aquatic, fresh notes. These are going to create an airy dynamic in your perfume wearing which is both light but offers a variety of top, middle and base notes to explore."

Your beginners guide to layering perfume notes:

  1. Pair notes from the same family: Arslanian recommends pairing warm notes like vanilla and nutmeg together or alternatively, combining zesty scents for summer, like bergamot and petitgrain
  2. Go for 'skin-scents': Skin scents are also perfect for layering with other perfumes, as Arsalain explains it gives a 'second skin' twist to any scent.
  3. Layer floral and woody notes: For layering beginners, Ortiz recommends layering florals with woody notes
  4. Earthy scents and musk: For a fresher, more aquatic vibe, Ortiz says to experiment with earthy scents—like cedarwood—and musks. 
  5. Start with the heavier scent first: If you're wanting to layer two perfumes together, Arslanian says to start with the heavier scent, followed by your light, floral numbers. "The warmest, darkest scents are the heaviest, while the brightest, freshest ones are the lightest" Arslanain adds.

Can you layer an eau de parfum with an eau de toilette?

If you're wondering about layering with eau de parfums vs toilettes, Arslanian says: "Yes, an eau de parfum and eau de toilette can be layered together. The only difference is their oil concentration, which impacts the power and longevity of the scent. Layering them can add an interesting new dimension to your scent over time as one ends earlier than the next."

Ortiz agrees, adding: "An EDP lasts for around four to five hours, which makes it perfect for a night out scent (hello, date night perfumes!) or a special occasion. EDT’s are good for those who wear their perfume throughout the daytime as it normally lasts for two to three hours and is a little lighter than an EDP." 

Time to start some sweet-smelling perfume potion-making!

Naomi Jamieson
Lifestyle News Writer

Naomi is a Lifestyle News Writer with the Women's Lifestyle team, where she covers everything from entertainment to fashion and beauty, as well as TikTok trends for Woman&Home, after previously writing for My Imperfect Life and GoodTo. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but lept into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing and earned her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ.

Before working for Future Publishing’s Lifestyle News team, she worked in the Ad production team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping.