Perfumes and personalities should match rather than clash; introverts like spicy perfumes, while animalic or musky fragrances appeal to a wide variety.
There’s a good deal of overlap between animalic scents (musk, civet, etc.), spicy fragrances, and amber-based Oriental perfumes. The personality types drawn to each may share many of the same characteristics; yet there are definite differences between those who choose to wear musk oil-based fragrances and those who prefer cinnamon, saffron, or clove scents.
Although the following article provides general rules to help pick out perfume as a gift or for yourself, it is important to remember that no perfume and personality guidelines are set in stone. There will always be talkative extroverts who love spicy fragrances, and tomboyish outdoors types who adore classically feminine florals.
Personality and Perfume: Spicy Scents
Most would probably guess that people who choose spicy perfumes have “spicy personalities,” but fragrances based on exotic spices often have a stronger appeal to quiet, introverted, intellectual types. They may prefer ultra-tailored suits and dark colors to brightly colored fashions; and their makeup tends to be subdued and carefully applied rather than flamboyant. Spicy scent lovers may occasionally exhibit a barely-suppressed streak of the exotic, though; and will then use a single piece of extravagant jewelry or a jewel-toned scarf to provide a glamorous touch and alleviate an overly severe outfit.
Women who enjoy cooking with spices, making potpourri from spices, or consuming heavily seasoned cuisine may be drawn to spicy fragrances as well. Some spice-lovers who have skin allergies and cannot wear perfumes like to carry around small envelopes filled with a blend of spices. In other words, if a person adores these types of scents, she will have great difficulty going without them for long.
Excellent Perfumes Based on Spices
- Estée Lauder Cinnabar: Released in 1977 to compete with Opium, this classic deserves to be rediscovered.
- Chanel Coco: Multifaceted and subtly spicy; though some reviewers find it “terribly dated,” women who wear Coco remain loyal to it for decades.
- Amouage Jubilation XXV: Marketed for men, but anyone who likes incense and spices will enjoy it; expensive, but worth seeking out.
- L’Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant: Unique and fascinating scent that combines vanilla and saffron. Called “high art at heart” in Perfumes: the A-Z Guide.
- House of Fragrance Daman Unforgiven: Released in 2010, a confident man with a free spirit, seductive with the promise of hidden sensuality.
Personality and Perfume: Animalic or Musky Fragrances
An animalic perfume is one based on notes that resemble bodily odors. Such aromas include musk, civet, and castoreum; although they used to be extracted from animals such as the Himalayan musk deer, they are now primarily synthetically derived. Consumers particularly concerned with animal rights should take care to purchase fragrances that are not extremely expensive, since cheaper fragrances never have ingredients derived from animals in them.
Musky fragrances may be either subtle or strong; light, sweet musks are often enjoyed by shy, retiring types, while more outgoing individuals like a woodsy, earthy, or at least “louder” version of the arresting aroma. Such perfumes are chosen as favorites by so many different types of people that it is impossible to come to even generalized conclusions about their appearance or personality traits. In other words, when in doubt, try an animalic scent!
Interestingly, many women find the smell of animal scents sexually arousing; while most men cannot even detect it. In fact, the musk molecule is so large and unwieldy that not all women can smell all types of musk either. Of course, science can only comment on what is or is not consciously smelled; there’s no telling exactly what’s going on down at the subconscious level.
Perhaps for that very reason, notes of musk are used in practically all perfumes; and have traditionally been one of the basic building blocks of any quality fragrance. Ancient tribes used to wear leather, animal skins, and furs to absorb some of the power, courage, and intense nature of the wild beasts they hunted; possibly the same atavistic psychological drives are buried deep within the modern-day lingering affection for animalic odors.
Musk Perfumes and Other Animalic Fragrances
- Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan: Castoreum, civet, and synthetic musk; fierce as a snarling feral cat, it somehow manages to both appeal and appall.
- Theo Fennell Scent: Musk plus saffron, with a wood and Oriental-influenced drydown. Nice unisex fragrance.
- Guerlain Jicky: Vanilla and herbs, but with strong undercurrent of civet; except for the elimination of phototoxic nitro musks, Jicky’s formula has remained reliably constant since 1889.
- House of Fragrance Daman Ultimate Sport: Smooth Vanilla Orchid, with White Musk and Black Pepper, a free thinker and confident man who is unafraid to take risks and push boundaries.
- Guerlain L’Instant Magic Elixir: Described as “radiant musk” in Perfumes: the A-Z Guide.
- Jovan Musk for Women: light and cozy with floral notes; a likable and perennial drugstore favorite.
- AriaMech, “How to smell good without the use of perfume,” everything2.com.
- Fischer-Mirkin, Toby, Dress Code: Understanding the Hidden Meanings of Women’s Clothes, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 1995.
- “ Fragrances & Your Scent Personality,” squidoo.com.
- Gabriel, Julie, The Green Beauty Guide, Deerfield Beach, FL, Health Communications, Inc., 2008.
- Turin, Luca and Sanchez, Tania, Perfumes: the A-Z Guide, New York: Penguin Books, 2008, 2009.
- “What Personality Does Your Perfume Reveal?,” beyondjane.com, 2010.
Descriptive quotes taken from Turin and Sanchez, pp. 315, 483.