The art of layering

Author: Redazione Date: 11 April '23 Category: Perfume World

The art of layering and how to do it right

As we always tell you, emotions can be triggered by our sense of smell.

We know that a particular scent can evoke different feelings in each of us; it can take us on a long journey through our olfactory memory, and this is because it is able to tap into different parts of the brain that access moods, emotions and memories. Most importantly, however, a scent can become part of our personality and reveal our identity to those around us.

What if we told you that there is a way to express our mood as well, day to day, through the perfume we wear? We call it layering, and today we want to tell you about this art and how best to practice it.

What is Layering

To explain layering (or “overlaying”) we start by defining some of the most important terms used in perfumery, so that you can well untangle the following concepts.

Difference between Essence, Fragrance and Perfume

Essence: it is the foundation. It is the element without which aromas, fragrances, perfumes and colognes would not exist. It refers to the particular aromatic ingredients used in the creation of a fragrance. For example, floral components such as rose or jasmine; fruity components such as pear or coconut; citrus components such as lemon or bergamot.

Essential oil: is the substance that contains the essence. Essential oils are always in liquid form and are extracted from natural elements, plants such as mint or lavender, for example.

Fragrance: is an accord obtained by mixing ingredients of natural origin (the essences) and others of synthetic origin. Generally, fragrances are divided into several main groups. Depending on the dominant notes, we distinguish between floral, spicy, woody, fruity and fresh fragrances.

Perfume: it is what you smell, what you perceive with your sense of smell. Every perfume, eau de cologne or, in general, aromatic substances and odoriferous products, has a particular smell, a fragrance that refers to the essential oils and aromatic components involved in its creation.

“Essence is the basic odor of the essential oil. The combination of essences gives rise to fragrances. A fragrance is the unique smell, a combination of essences, given off by a perfume. A perfume is a substance that gives off a fragrance that is pleasant to smell.”

Originally developed in the Middle East, layering is a technique of combining different scented products (liquid or solid) at the same time, on different areas of the body, with the aim of creating a personal, new and inimitable fragrance, whenever we want.

We all have a distinctive style: some people, for example, like clothes that add a delicate and classy touch to their look, while others dress flashy or transgressive to get noticed. In fashion, creativity is left precisely to the individual: we can add and remove accessories and colors as we please, depending on what best suits our taste at that precise moment.

However, for fragrances, this is not exactly the case.

The formula of a perfume is sculpted; it cannot be changed. If one day that citrus note in our favorite perfume bothers us, we cannot simply remove it from the bottle. Just as we cannot add another one that we would like to wear at that very moment. This is where the art of layering comes in.
This simple technique allows us to combine different fragrances, or different essences, to create a personal scent that is both distinct and unique each time. A blend that complements our style, then, and reflects our current mood.


For example, if we are feeling bold, we can try wearing a contrasting mix, such as sweet and spicy (rose and black vanilla, to name a couple) or fresh and oriental (such as iris and sandalwood). The result will be a distinctive and provocative scent to leave behind.
On the other hand, if we don’t want to be too daring, we could think of a combination of floral essences, such as jasmine and rose, to leave a sinuous and delicate trail.

Layering then gives the creative freedom to find our own olfactory identity, something that can illustrate our personality when generic scents are not enough for us. Different mixes to find a perfect scent for every day, tailored directly to our skin, to tell our story piece by piece.
A fascinating and effective way to catch the eye, then, without saying a single word, exclusively through our invisible accessory.

How to layering well?

The first important rule to remember is that there are no fixed rules. First of all, layering is an opportunity to have fun and get creative, to figure out what combinations of ingredients work best on us.

To begin with, we must remember that each fragrance has different levels. The top notes are the stronger ones, while the middle notes are the heart of the fragrance, warmer and softer. All held together by the base notes, which remain even when the other two have disappeared, and which increase the sillage (the trail a perfume leaves behind when we wear it, ed.).

Applying fragrances, or individual essences, in the right order is essential: always start with the strongest one and end with the lightest one. That way, the first one will not overshadow the following ones.
Building on this foundation, here are some simple tips you should keep in mind to play correctly with the different layers:

  • first, you can use a wide range of products, such as scented waters or creams, shower gels, body lotions, etc;
  • generally avoid very strong scents that may overshadow or mask other fragrances;
  • in case, stronger scents should be sprayed first, so as not to overpower the lighter notes;
  • avoid combining two strong, heady essences; they may be too overpowering and be unpleasant;
  • you can enhance the oriental character of a perfume by adding a note of vanilla;
  • or add freshness by choosing essences with citrus notes;
  • floral fragrances go very well with fruity ones;
  • spicy ones work perfectly with vanilla notes;
  • opposite notes attract: combine spicy and sweet notes for a divine result.

Finally, at least in your first experiments, try to limit yourself to two fragrances or no more than five essences.

Where to apply perfume for best performance

The key points are the pulse spots: neck, wrists and inside of the elbows, but also inside of the knees, chest and back of the ears. In addition, you can also use other more original areas, such as hair, ankles or the clothes themselves, to indulge in different combinations.
So feel free to experiment: it is up to you to play with the different notes to see which fragrance suits you best.

Just have fun!

Want to learn more about the world of smell and its power?