How to Layer Fragrances: The Art of Creating a Whole New Perfume

Last year, as a friend and I were getting ready for a party, we found ourselves gazing discontentedly at our collective perfumes. It wasn't that the scents were in any way distasteful. It was that — well, we were bored. We wanted the night to be memorable, unique, and none of our fragrances seemed up to the task. As she turned over a bottle of INeKE Poet's Jasmine and I lazily considered my go-to, Fresh Citron de Vigne , it suddenly hit us: why not just wear both?

Scent mixing. The art of layering fragrances. A mathematical conundrum, wherein scent plus scent does not equal two scents, but rather, a single, transcendental fragrance (or a powerfully disastrous odor, if you do it wrong). In the Middle East, layering fragrances is a revered ritual that can involve as many disparate elements as oils, perfumes, rose water, and infusing one's hair and clothing with scented smoke from bakhoor.

It's an elegant way to smell like an individual, rather than a walking perfume company billboard. But you have to do it with care. A few things to keep in mind:

1. Opposites do attract

Spice and citrus. Florals and wood. Vanilla and wood. Florals and spice. Musk and citrus. Apply the heavier scent first, then finish up with the lighter one. Jo Malone has a fantastic fragrance combining guide that you can use to figure out which scents play well together (and you don't necessarily have to use Jo Malone's).

2. But keep something in common

When both your fragrances share a common interest — a note of rose, perhaps — it's more likely that the combination will be a match made in heaven.

3. Use a light hand

Remember, you don't need to apply twice as much scent as normal for this whole mixing thing to work.

4. Any scented product is fair game

Body lotions, hand creams, colognes, body sprays, and even deodorants can all provide an extra dimension to your signature scent.

5. Keep a ray of light

Debbie Wild, lifestyle director for Jo Malone London, says that the key to mixing scents is to always have a "shot of light." Don't go pairing that heavy Musk Magic with an overpowering Wood 'n' Oud scent unless you want to bring the whole room down with you.

6. Not everything has to go on the skin

Dab perfume on your wrists and then walk through a mist of cologne. Spray one scent in your hair and another on your lingerie. Moisturize well with a floral-scented cream, then top it off with a spicier fragrance (perfume lingers longer on moisturized skin, anyway). Your entire outfit is your palette.

7. Test, test, test

Layer those scents on test strips, or spray your preferred duo into a room and see how you like the room's aura a few minutes later. Try out different combinations on weekend mornings when you don't have to be anywhere. And try not to pair two new scents before something important, like your wedding day.

8. But above all, go crazy

After all, isn't the goal here to find something that's quintessentially you?

And the combination my friend and I dreamed up? Poet's Jasmine is dark and romantic, studded with jasime, star anise, rosemary, and absinthe. Citron de Vigne is light and citrusy, inspired by champagne. And together? A heady, sparkling romance of a scent — the perfect ingredient for a memorable night.