How to appreciate a Solid Perfume

How to appreciate a Solid Perfume

How do you know if you like a fragrance?

Well if it's a mainstream big-name brand you might go to the store and spray it on one of those little cards. You might spray it in the air and let it waft around you. Maybe you’ll spray it on your wrist. You might have even smelled it on somebody else and thought “I like that!”. One thing you probably wouldn’t do is smell it straight from the bottle. And you probably shouldn’t do that with a solid Perfume balm either.

Why? Well, fragrances are complex formulas that have layers and notes (I’ll get to those later). If you try and smell them all at once in one instance, you just won’t get a good sense of the actual scent. So what IS the best way to know if you like a fragrance? Just try it on!

blonde lady smelling perfume on her wrist in a shop with an african american sales person


First things first.

There are a couple of things to consider before we start.

The Fragrance Wheel

I’ve spoken about it before, but I’m going to mention it again here. The Fragrance Wheel is a great tool to narrow down which of our solid perfume balms you might like the most. It’s not always accurate for everyone, but it will give you a good guide when you can’t actually get into a Stockist and smell them in person.

Wilderness Lab solid Perfume Balms are alcohol-free.

This is an important point to make. If you’re new to the world of solid perfume, you may only have alcohol-based synthetic perfumes to compare with. Alcohol is used to “throw” the scent into the air. This means that as the alcohol evaporates, it carries the scent with it and separates it from your skin a little bit. It’s an effective mechanism to use in perfumery, but it can come with the drawback of causing skin irritation and sinus sensitivities. These reactions might not just affect you, they could cause discomfort in the people around you too. Have you ever walked into a room and been hit with the smell of perfume? It can literally dominate a room! Solid Perfume, on the other hand, is really a “skin scent” that lingers close to you and can be appreciated more intimately.

 wilderness lab solid perfume samples

Trying on a solid perfume

Once you’ve decided on which solid perfume you might prefer, the next step is to actually try it on.

A side-note: I realise that if you’re buying online then you might not get the chance to try the Perfume until after you’ve purchased it and it’s been delivered to you. There is a very small amount of risk involved when you buy a subjective thing like Perfume online, but I’ve tried to mitigate that risk for you by providing tools like the Fragrance Wheel and the Perfume Picker, and you could read the reviews too. In the end, it is going to come down to personal preference though and hopefully $16 (compared to the $100+ price tag of more famous brands) doesn’t represent too huge a gamble. You could always gift it to somebody who might really LOVE that fragrance.

The first thing to do is to make sure the inside of your wrist is clean. If you have any other perfume on there already, you are not going to get a good sense of what the solid perfume actually smells like. You could use an unscented wipe, or just wash your wrist with soap and water. The inside of your wrist is the best place to test a new perfume as it has a pulse point and will warm the fragrance nicely. It’s also very easy to access with your nose!

Once your wrist is ready, take a very small amount of the solid perfume on a clean finger of the opposite hand. You can either rub your finger a few times across the perfume surface, or take a very small scraping with the back of your finger nail. Apply the balm to your wrist by gently rubbing it in until it’s absorbed.

Now wait 5 minutes. You can smell it immediately of course, but it will develop over time and you’ll get a better sense of the fragrance if you can wait a while. If you’re trying the Perfume in-store at one of our Stockists, then wander around the shop for a while and smell your wrist periodically. If you’re at home, make a cup of tea and relax.

lady with short hair smelling her wrist


So what do you think?

Hopefully you love it! If not, then there are some things you can do that might help.

  • Gift it to a friend (as mentioned in the side-note above). They might absolutely love it and not understand why you don’t!
  • Use less. Maybe you went a bit overboard with the application and you just need to ease up on the amount.
  • Give it some more time. Some blends have a base-note that takes some time to fully emerge. It could take up to an hour to appreciate it. (See next section.)
  • Layer it. If you already own one of our solid perfumes, you might know that they can be layered with each other to create a unique fragrance. Some combinations that are popular: Pink Roses + Elemental Amber, Fresh Mojito + Citrus Smoothie, Pure Aura + Princess Jasmine, Cradle Mountain + Wild at Heart…….or create your own and just have fun experimenting!

 group of wilderness lab solid perfume balms


What can influence the way you feel about the final fragrance?

There are a few factors to consider when predicting how a fragrance will smell on you.

Skin Chemistry

This refers to the unique and minor variations in skin pH as well as hormonal fluctuations and even diet. Your skin can (and does) effect how a fragrance will smell on you. You can’t control this, the only thing to do is try some different fragrances to see what works. 

Notes and Layers

This should probably have its own Blog post, but I’m going to briefly explain it here. “Notes” refers to the ingredients in the fragrance, in our case the essential oils. The notes are divided into “layers”: the top layer, heart layer (or middle layer), and base layer. As the fragrance develops, your nose will detect the top notes first, then the heart, then the base. This means that you might not like the perfume as much in the first few minutes but enjoy it more later on when the heart and base notes reveal themselves. This is why it’s important to give it some time.

Nose fatigue

There’s probably a better term for it, but I like this one. I’m referring to when you smell many different fragrances one after the other and your nose just gets tired (or confused!). You can counteract this by just testing a small number of perfumes at a time or you can use the old “coffee bean trick”. Get a small container of whole roasted coffee beans and give them a sniff in between testing fragrances. This is supposed to “reset” your nose, but doesn’t always work for everyone.

roasted coffee beans in a hessian bag


Summing it all up

If you’ve read this far, hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two about evaluating a solid perfume. The main points to consider are these:

  • Don’t smell the solid perfume straight out of the tin, but try it on your skin before you decide if you like it.
  • Give it some time to develop, allowing the notes and layers to reveal themselves
  • Know that there are some things you can do if the fragrance isn’t what you thought it would be.
  • Finally, enjoy the journey! Fragrance is fun and when you find your favourite it can bring much joy to your everyday life.


Please use caution: although our Perfume Balms do not contain alcohol, it is still possible to develop an allergy to any fragrance (even natural essential oils). Please patch test before using and discontinue use if any reaction occurs.
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