Perfume shopping can be tricky enough to do for yourself, but during the festive season, buying a fragrance for someone else can be a minefield. Fragrance is so personal. A scent can bring back memories, remind you of someone or even shift your mood. Plus, everyone has different learned responses to odour.


So why do we always try and buy perfume for each other?


According to Jillian Rebeira, Learning & Development Trainer and Field Coach at L’OCCITANE Australia, it’s this personalisation that makes it special. “Giving a fragrance shows you have put a lot of thought and effort into choosing the right fragrance,” Jillian says.


But to avoid the awkwardness (and eventual re-gift) that comes with getting the wrong fragrance, we’ve gathered up some of the best tips to help you pick


The best thing you can do is try to sneak a peek at their perfume collection. Or if you’re a perfume aficionado – catch a whiff of what they wear. At least if you know what they own, you have a jumping-off point to work from while you’re perfume shopping.


“Try and find out which fragrance family your friend enjoys most as we all naturally prefer one to another, “ Jillian says. If all of their perfumes are floral, chances are they’ll be happy to own another floral fragrance.


Turns out, narrowing perfumes down to a fragrance family can also be a big help when testing out scents in-store.


“When shopping for a fragrance it is advised to only try three to four at a time as you will not be able to tell the scents apart after the fourth,” Jillian says. “Already knowing the fragrance family you are looking for will help with this.”


What’s their lifestyle like? Are they stuck in a stuffy, little office everyday? Or outdoors in the heat? Factors like this can impact on the kind of perfume they choose for their day-to-day life. “A lifestyle is how we think about a person. So when purchasing a fragrance for yourself or someone else, you need to think about the individual, who they are and what they enjoy,” Jillian says.


Do they take fashion risks? Or do they opt for a uniform-like wardrobe? A fragrance is another layer of how people present their personality, so try to take cues from their clothing.


Like food, there are a some scents that people tend to love or loathe. If you take the plunge, the payoff might just be worth it, but if you’re wrong, you could be VERY wrong. So you might want to steer clear of polarising scents like patchouli, leather, musk and oud.


There’s a reason so many gift packs come out during the festive season – they are perfect for the hesitant buyer. If you know someone likes a certain brand but you’re sweating about the specific fragrance, give them more options. They can play around with the different scents and figure out which they like the most for themselves. Solid, roll-on and gel perfumes are also good for mixing, matching and giving them options because they’re smaller, cheaper and can be controlled more easily.