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How to Choose a Winter Scent You’ll Love

A woman holding a bottle of perfume in front of a Christmas tree.
Natalia Fedchenko/Shutterstock

If you love perfume, a new scent can help you ring in each new season with style. Winter, with its cold, dry air, offers the perfect palette for experimenting with fragrances that might not work in warmer seasons.

A winter scent can put you in the perfect mood for snow days, holidays, and cozy nights at home. Even if you aren’t a fan of all the cold and snow, a winter scent can make it a little easier to get through those long, dark nights. If you associate a certain scent with a happy memory, it can actually lift your mood.

Ready to delve into the wintertime vibes with a seasonal fragrance? These tips will help you choose something that will suit the season perfectly. It’s also a great gift guide for any fragrance lover in your life!

What’s a Winter Scent?

During winter, rich comfort food can seem especially appealing. Part of the reason for this is the way it smells. Research suggests that strong, warm scents are actually easier for us to detect in the winter, which makes that baked ham smell even more appealing.

The same effect seems to translate to the fragrances we wear. Rich, warm scents that might be distasteful in the summer stand out in a good way when it’s colder. Plus, if there’s a barrage of holiday parties, that’s a good enough reason to experiment with some fun, new fragrances to set the right mood for the new year.

For some inspiration when you go fragrance shopping, try these winter-approved ideas:

  • Evergreen: Whether you have a Christmas tree in your home or not, ’tis the season for this scent. While all the other trees lose their leaves, evergreen needles remain to add a little greenery to the wintry landscape. They also have a strong, pleasant fragrance. Along with woody notes, evergreen is perfect for winter perfumes because it’s rich enough to cut through the cold air. Look for fragrances with notes of sequoia or cedarwood, as well.
  • Warm drinks: In the winter, we often reach for warm, steamy drinks, like tea, cocoa, or hot buttered rum. The scents of these also make lovely winter fragrances. Look for scents with rich notes of black, red, or green tea. If you prefer cocoa, try something with a note of chocolate, instead. If you prefer your winter drinks spiked, a hint of rum or whiskey is also an excellent choice.
  • Fabrics: It doesn’t often make us think of fragrance, but many beloved winter clothing items also have decadent, comforting scents. Just think about what your favorite wool sweater or trusty leather boots smell like. While those notes are often found in more masculine scents, they can work well on anyone. Your unique body chemistry makes a fragrance smell different on you than it does on anyone else, so experiment!
  • Holiday memories: If you celebrate the winter holidays, you likely associate certain scents with that time of year. Maybe there’s a traditional pastry your family always bakes or a certain incense that reminds you of holiday church services. If you always bake cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, find a scent with cinnamon. Because scent is linked to memory, wearing something that reminds you of your favorite holiday memories is a great way to tap into joyful, seasonal feelings.
  • Heavier scents: Winter is the perfect time to wear scents that might be too much in the summer. If there’s a scent you like that’s usually too overpowering, spritz on a bit in the winter. You might find that it works perfectly. Winter is also a great time to wear your typical evening scents during the day. That way, you can switch things up without spending any money.

The Best Fragrance Formulas for Winter

An amber-colored bottle of perfume resting on sequin-covered purse surrounded by lights and holiday decorations.

In the winter, you might also want to reach for different fragrance formulas than you normally would. The following suggestions will ensure your scent lasts through the long nights of partying, gift wrapping, food, and fun:

  • Pure perfumes: These have the highest fragrance concentration, which does make it easy to accidentally wear too much. However, in cold weather, a stronger scent can seem more pleasant, making the potency of pure perfume a good thing.
  • Shimmer perfumes: These products have moved out of the realm of middle school and into the world of fancy adult nights out. Many high-end fragrance companies now offer their products in shimmering sprays, lotions, and highlighters. These fun, glitzy formulas are perfect for the holiday party season.
  • Room sprays: These can really elevate your winter experience. After all, you’re probably spending a lot more time inside this year, why not make it a more enjoyable experience with some lovely, relaxing scents? These are also a much cheaper way to try out an expensive designer perfume. After all, there’s no rule that says you can’t spray them on yourself, too!

Everyone’s reactions to scents are personal because they’re colored by our memories. What matters most is choosing a fragrance that speaks to you. Plus, if you really want to capture the spirit of hygge and the holidays, the right scent is a fantastic way to do it!

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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