Your Guide To Powdery Perfumes (Because 'Grandma' Scents Deserve A Second Chance)

The perfume you use can have a considerable effect on both your appearance and confidence. It's always pleasant and attractive when someone smells good, and this is definitely something you can use to your benefit. There is, of course, an extensive variety of scents out there, but one that is often overlooked and dismissed as a "grandma" fragrance is the powdery scent. But maybe it's the perfect signature perfume for you.


While selecting a perfume often comes down to smelling and seeing if you like it, a lot more thought and nuance can go into picking the perfect scent for you. Especially with more understated perfume scent types like powdery scents, you ought to give it a second chance and understand why it might work. Part of the fun of testing perfumes is trying options out of your comfort zone — ones that are possibly less popular and unexpected. So what is so great about powdery scents?

Powdery scents

When you think of a powdery scent, it instantly evokes the comforting memory of your grandma's perfume. Scents often prompt memories and feelings this way, a common human experience. Powdery scents offer a sense of comfort and familiarity while also smelling fresh, clean, and crisp. But it also is reminiscent of talcum powder and the fragrance of the '80s, your childhood, or a mixture of all of the above. It's certainly a scent with a classic allure, but it's often unpopular because many of us tend to gravitate towards more popular scents like fruity, sexy, or musky. But maybe that shouldn't always be the case.


This unexpected but comforting charm of the powdery perfume is what can make it the perfect fragrance for you. They are also quite a timeless scent and can suit you regardless of gender. Within the world of powdery fragrance, there are often many notes that you can look out for, each evoking a slightly different feeling.

Notes to look out for

Certain notes can make a perfume particularly powdery. According to Dior Perfumer François Demachy, who spoke to Town & Country, "Iris is often considered powdery, and as a perfumery note it is classified as a floral. However, the scent of orris butter is closer to that of green woods and wet roots. This damp, swamplike quality is magical and haunting." Iris, a flower with a purple bloom, is one such note to look out for when in the market for a powdery scent. The note is earthy and powdery, with a slight hint of sweetness.


There are, in fact, two types of iris scents — the Pallida iris, found commonly in Italy, whose root is used in perfume making. The Pallida iris is popular for its opulent and luxurious quality. It contains notes of mimosa and violet. The Germanica iris, on the other hand, is less extravagant and has less of an iris note.

Picking the perfect notes for you

The art of perfume lies purely in what notes make up said perfume. This is why picking the right fragrance is also about knowing which notes work for you. According to Perfumer Joan Tanis, who spoke to Vogue, "Simply put, there are eight olfactive families that are divided into two groups: in the Warm group, there is fougere, oriental, and leather. In the Fresh group, you have citrus, floral, and aromatic. Interestingly, the chypre and woody families are a cross between warm and fresh."


Perfume is also composed of top notes, middle notes, and down notes. Perfumer Kilian Hennessy tells Vogue, "The customer's attention will be driven for sure by the top notes, simply because they are the ones he or she will smell first. But the heart and dry down notes are actually more important as they are the true signature of the scent." So, when picking a powdery scent, read the fine print and find out which notes make the scent. You can look into the notes of perfumes you have already tried and use them as a reference to decide which powdery perfume you must pick.

Mixing scents

Another great tactic is to layer perfumes to create signature notes. This involves the mixing of two scents to create one that's unique to you. This brilliant technique lets you construct fragrances that you would never expect to work for you, and it can include a powdery scent, especially if you don't want to only wear this particular scent on its own.


For example, you can try layering woody, floral, oriental, fresh, and citrus perfumes together. This will allow you to create a personal perfume experience with a bigger impact than if you wear it on its own. Feel free to get creative and try things out for yourself. Although you should generally try layers of perfume with notes in the same family, rules are only rules. Breaking them and trying things out might surprise you and lead you to the perfectly unique signature scent for you. The important thing is to have fun and experiment till you find what aligns with your vision. Adding a powdery scent to this mix will result in an unusual perfume because not everyone gravitates towards powdery "grandma" scents.


Making the most of your perfume

There are also little tips and tricks you can use to make sure your powdery perfume, or any other perfume for that matter, lasts longer. One such option is to leave applying your perfume as the last step in your getting-ready routine. This one is pretty self-explanatory and is generally followed by many of us. You should also wear your perfume to specific parts of the body to make it last longer. Namely, they are the pulse points such as your wrists, neck, behind your ears, or decollete. 


Another great tip is to apply some perfume to your hair. Yes, that does sound a bit unconventional, but it does work. Although, you should avoid spraying it straight into your hair; spritz it on a comb, and brush it with it instead. Also, avoid rubbing your wrists together after applying the perfume, as this is a common practice. However, this has the opposite effect and can affect the potency of your perfume, making it smell not as strong as it would generally.