How to Choose Your Signature Scent in Your 60s, According to Beauty Pros
There are scents you should gravitate toward and others you should avoid.
Fragrances can be tricky at any age. Finding a scent that you like that's not too overpowering is difficult, and you can only sample so many perfumes at once. As we get older, though, things become even more complex: You want to make sure you find something you love that's also age-appropriate. With that in mind, beauty and style experts have specific recommendations for how you can choose your signature scent in your 60s, making the process that much simpler.
"By the time a woman reaches 60, she has acquired life experience, maturity, and wisdom that gives her gravitas," Elizabeth Kosich, certified image stylist and founder of Elizabeth Kosich Styling, explains. "Her signature scent should carry the same weight, which is why older women exclusively have the ability to pull off heady, complex fragrances."
Kosich adds that perfumes go beyond just making you smell nice—much like your wardrobe, fragrances help to accentuate your personal style and who you are as a person. If you're looking for the right scent to achieve this in your later years, read on for expert recommendations.
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Understand different notes.
To find your signature scent, Kosich first recommends understanding the three notes—or layers—that fragrances have.
"The top note is what you smell immediately after the fragrance is applied, which lasts 10 to 15 minutes before fading," she says. "The heart note—also known as the middle note—is the next layer to rise up, which is about 70 percent of the fragrance, lingering 30 minutes to an hour before dissipating. The base note is what remains—the final scent there to support the top two and create depth and longevity."
Speaking with The Zoe Report (TZR), Olivier Gillotin, master perfumer at Givaudan, compares the notes to those found in music, coming together "to compose the fragrance's formula."
Notes also come into play when you apply a perfume to your skin. So, it's true that perfumes smell different on different people, Gilloton said, and that has to do with the unique pH level in your skin. Brook Harvey-Taylor, founder and CEO of Pacifica, told TZR that this is why it's so difficult to identify our favorite fragrance.
"You know how sometimes you smell a scent and you are like, 'hmm, I sort of like it, but…' and you keep returning to it, not sure if you like it or not? That is often a sign that the top note isn't your favorite top note, but you are smelling through it to the heart," Harvey-Taylor explained. "In this case, try it on and smell the scent on your skin. It may vibe with your skin in a totally different way."
Look for bolder notes.
Now that you have a better idea of what notes are, you have a clearer sense of what to look for. Kosich says that over 60, you should be looking for bolder notes "with base notes that smolder."
"Smokey and spicy essences (tobacco, vanilla, patchouli, vetiver) add to the complexity and convey confidence and power," Kosich says. "Warm and woody scents (amber, cedar, leather, suede, dark chocolate) add depth while bringing a touch of luxury and intimacy. These dark and stormy touches add dimension, which references your own."
With that in mind, don't select anything too strong, Adrian Lauruc, the blogger behind FragranceSpotter.com, says. "Overpowering, strong projection perfumes can be avoided, as they can make a person feel sick."
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Don't be afraid of "high-drama florals."
If you aren't vibing with the smokey, stormy scents, there are plenty of other options. Dramatic florals may very well be the perfect alternative later in life—at least according to one of the world's most famous fashion icons.
"Coco Chanel once said, 'A woman does not become interesting until she is over 40,' validating that only fully-realized, mature women can carry heady, complex scents," Kosich says. "This is when you can try intellectual, confident heart notes like gardenia, ylang ylang, lilac, or tuberose and watch how they develop on the skin."
Kosich also recommends experimenting with "essences that add mystery like vanilla and tonka bean."
Avoid scents that feel too young.
Unfortunately, there comes a time when we have to accept when we've grown out of something. According to Kosich, that rings true for fragrances as well, and you should avoid "girly, flirty" scents that don't serve you anymore.
"By 60, a woman has grown out of light, bright bouquet fragrances," she says. Sweet citrus and green notes (those that smell like nature or vegetation) are "hallmarks of flirty, youthful scents," Kosich explains. Flowery scents are generally a good call in your 60s, but Kosich recommends steering clear of springtime florals, which are better suited for the younger set.
You can recognize these scents easily—they'll often have a citrusy top note, like lemon, peach, or mandarin, accompanied by a floral heart note, like jasmine or lily of the valley. According to Kosich, these fragrances are "a mismatch to a 60+ woman's grandeur, texture, and dignity."
Don't rely on a perfume that could be outdated.
While you're considering the timeliness of perfumes, you certainly don't want a signature scent that ages you. Some scents are classics for a reason, but the perfume you wore growing up might not be the best choice anymore—no matter how much you loved it at the time.
"Just like youthful scents should be avoided, so should old-fashioned ones," Kosich explains. "Certain lavenders smell too vintage, and same with overly powdery fragrances."
Rose can go either way, too, either modern or dated. "Stay away from heavy, duskier roses that smell too nostalgic and instead opt for fresh, fruity, and peppery roses that are more modern and complex—just like you," Kosich recommends.
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Go for natural ingredients.
Lauruc also recommends checking out perfumes made from natural ingredients when you're in your 60s. "Perfumes only made with pure essential oils and alcohol from organic sugar cane have a gentle formulation, and they smell amazing," he says.
You can find a hypoallergenic option, which can reduce your risk of a negative reaction if you've developed allergies or sensitive skin. According to Blissmark, these aren't guaranteed to prevent an allergy attack, but generally they "contain few, if any, chemicals and synthetic fragrances."