Don't get me wrong, I love a new scent. A body spray, a glorious perfume, anything that is slightly caramel based with a bit of vanilla but not so much that I become the token vanilla chick in the room. Plus, I love to be around good smelling people.
This time of year, it seems like the go-to gift is a fragrance of some sort, for both genders. I like the idea, because it is something tangible and can be less damaging than chocolate (although an interesting body spray AND chocolate? I might love you.)
However, I went into class today and I was accosted by this overpowering wave of men's cologne. It was terrible. I have no idea what it was, but it was so strong I wanted to gag, die, or run. Unfortunately, we had a test so I wasn't able to go through with any of those options. The sad thing is that I really, really like the guy who was wearing it, and was sitting close to him. He is hilarious, and I would love to be friends with him. It is really too bad that whoever gave him the cologne didn't share with him what I am about to share with you.
There are a few different types of perfume, and wiki has one of the most clear break-downs;
Perfume extract, or simply perfume (Extrait): 15-40% (IFRA: typical 20%) aromatic compounds
Esprit de Parfum (ESdP): 15-30% aromatic compounds, a seldom used strength concentration in between EdP and perfume
Eau de Parfum (EdP), Parfum de Toilette (PdT): 10-20% (typical ~15%) aromatic compounds, sometimes listed as "eau de perfume" or "millésime"
Eau de Toilette (EdT): 5-15% (typical ~10%) aromatic compounds
Eau de Cologne (EdC): Chypre citrus type perfumes with 3-8% (typical ~5%) aromatic compounds
Perfume mist: 3-8％ aromatic compounds (typical non-alcohol solvent)
Splash and After shave: 1-3% aromatic compounds
These differences are the reason why you can spriz on fifteen squirts of body splash and have only the lightest bit of scent, and can have a small EdP last for ages because you only need a drop.
The unfortunate part of all of this is that you get used to a scent after a while — which is why you find lovely older women who smell as though they have bathed in their Shalimar. The truth is that you really only need one spray or so of a rich fragrance like that, and it will probably last all day.
My rule of thumb is this: if there is the slightest question, use one full spray less than what you were planning to use. It is much, much better to use too little than too much.
I also like to test a new scent on a trusted friend. It always helps to have a friend who will tell you that even though you love those pants, they hate you. These friends are usually just competitive enough to keep you on your toes, but are sporting enough to want you to have an equal shot. You don't want someone who you have bad history with, or bad things happen.
I personally prefer to test it on a close male friend, one that I am not romantically involved with. It gives me perspective. I don't really like picking out a scent with someone I'm dating, because I tend to equate scent with a strong memory. If things end poorly, I don't want to forever cringe away from a certain scent.
(I must admit, I once told a "friend" that these terrible white, skin-tight skinny jeans that she was trying on looked good. This was after she told me that my body was too unfortunate for fashion, because I have a larger chest and no butt, but an hourglass shape from the front. Tip: don't ask for advice from someone you just insulted. It is a bad, bad idea. I'm not usually this mean, and I am usually quite honest.)
Bottom line: Even the best scent is terrible when overpowering. When you first purchase a scent, figure out how many squirts/dabs you need for the perfect scent. Never, ever go over that, because it probably isn't the scent that has changed. Your ability to smell it has.