Perfume Ideas for Mothers Day We Name Names

Perfume can be a wonderful gift on Mother's Day. Most women love perfume, and it's one of those luxury items that few women buy for themselves. It's a perfect gift in many ways, but there is a catch. The catch is you have to buy it, and if you're not an experience perfume shopper, the task can be somewhat daunting. That's because there are literally hundreds of perfumes on the market, some with very similar-sounding names. After you've sampled a few, you won't know what you're smelling any more.

The perfume counter is not an easy place for a newbie. However, you can navigate the perfume counter and wind up with a great gift that will delight your mom. First, you need to get over certain preconceived notions you have going in. You're not going to get a bargain.

Perfume is one of those luxury items, like Manolo Blahnik shoes and Rolex watches, that just does not go on sale. With some luck, they'll be offering some gift sets, packaged deals, or products that come in fancy tote bags or with accessories. Perfume is as complex as fine wine and about as difficult to make.

At times, perfume experts may speak to you about things you don't understand. That's why you need this guide. If you know your mother's favorite fragrances or if she has specifically hinted about wanting a certain product, you're halfway home. But you may be asked if you want perfume (sometimes pronounced the French way, parfum or par-fam) or an eau-de-parfum (always pronounced in French) or a cologne.

Those are three different products and you'll notice they differ in size, possibly packaging, and price. Perfume is by far the most expensive and it contains the most scent. Pure fragrance is too harsh on the skin and disagreeable on the nose to wear, so it is blended with other fragrances and then put in a vehicle to help stabilize it.

Fragrance products consist of scent mixed with a liquid (no fragrance product is pure 100% scent). In terms of how much scent the product contains, perfume contains the most, eau-de-parfum ranks next, and cologne contains the least. However, there is no official percentage of scent set forth that defines perfume; it tends to be a range.

Here's your first insider's tip. Estee Lauder fragrances are known as being strong stuff, that is, having more scent than most other similar products. Thus, an Estee Lauder eau-de-parfum may be close to what another manufacturer labels as perfume. Is strong better? A woman uses less perfume and eau-de-parfum with each application and the scent lasts longer.

If your mom likes to re-apply fragrance frequently during the day or if her activities are such that she frequently works out or showers during the day, a lighter spray-on fragrance is best. When in doubt, select an eau-de-parfum. Sometimes you won't have a clue about what perfume your mom would prefer, so we are going to list some scents that are classics because they are so universally popular. The fragrance world, like fashion, is prone to fads but every now and then something stands the test of time. These are fragrances that have been around a while but are still very popular. They're good choices for Mother's Day because most people like them (so the laws of probability hold that your mom will, too): ? Tresor by Lancome, floral, sparkling, sophisticated ? Eternity by Calvin Klein, floral, youthful ? Obsession by Calvin Klein, floral, feminine ? Happy by Clinique, light, floral, fun Those are fragrances that most people would like.

But maybe your mom (or grandmother) remembers certain perfumes from "way back." Perfumes often get discontinued so it can be hard to find a nostalgic scent. Some oldies but goodies on the market that are highly recommended: ? Chanel No. 5 by Chanel, a "sparkling" floral fragrance that has been around since the 1920s ? Youth Dew by Estee Lauder, a spicy Oriental fragrance that dates back to the 1950s; there's also a "re-make" of it called Youth Dew Amber Nude ? Miss Dior by Christian Dior from the 1970s, another spicy fragrance ? Y by Yves St. Laurent, also from the 1970s, a sparkling fragrance But maybe your mom would like to try something new. If she's fashion-forward, sporty, or just likes the latest stuff, here are some relatively new things to hit the perfume counter: ? Sunset Heat by Escada, a youthful very tropical scent ? Beyond Paradise by Estee Lauder, a rich floral with strong honeysuckle notes ? Very Irresistible by Givenchy, like a great big bouquet of roses, I never met anyone who did not like this scent ? V by Valentino, light, clean but still sophisticated ? One by Calvin Klein, a fresh scent that could worn by men or women If you prefer to shop online, you should be careful about perfume warehouse websites that are actually selling knockoffs or counterfeit fragrances.

If the prices are very low or the website looks shady, stay away. This is your mother, for pity's sake. Don't buy her sham products.

There are lots of good websites and one I recommend is

You won't find everything here but you will usually be able to find more than you can get at the perfume counter of your local department store. If you think your mom might enjoy something more obscure and unusual, look for these: ? Stella by Stella McCartney, very trendy packaging, nice fragrance, and, yes, that's Paul McCartney's daughter ? Green Tea by Bvlgari, an unusual but light fragrance which reminds me of a luxury spa ? Goddess by Baby Phat, a pretty pink floral in a girly container ? Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker, a "celebrity" fragrance that's actually quite charming ? Lemon Sugar by Fresh, which is what they call a "fruity floral." it's definitely going to remind you of food, but it's a very fun summery scent If you're an Internet denizen and don't mind going to a niche perfumery website, the best one from my perfumista's little black book is this:

The company, Bond No. 9, is a New York perfume house that names its fragrances after New York neighborhoods. If your mom is a fragrance maniac, get her one of the multi-scent gift packages that Bond No. 9 offers.

But if you're looking for one scent, I don't think you can pick a dud in the entire Bond No. 9 line-up. This stuff is exquisite. Nevertheless, let me share a couple of my personal Bond No.

9 favorites (and I have not tried them all yet). ? Chinatown, a glorious and very unusual fragrance; The first thing you'll smell are the top notes, which are mainly citrus, but you'll probably also pick up the patchouli notes. ? Gramercy Park, both light and sophisticated, a sort of summery fragrance that has some oomph to it ? Chelsea Flowers, a very robust floral ? Little Italy, possibly the very finest citrus scent available anywhere One good thing about buying perfume: most places will provide gift wrapping and since perfume is generally nicely packaged anyway, the gift will look gorgeous.

If you can't make up your mind, buy several. If the bank allows, buy your mother a few different scents. Very few women are truly devoted to one scent exclusively. Most of us like some variety in our fragrance life. If you do buy a few different fragrances, try to mix up fragrance types. For instance, if you pick out one floral (such as Calvin Klein's Eternity) then go for a spicy or fruity scent as your next choice.

One last note before you venture into fragrance shopping. Perfumes all have names (Eternity, Chinatown, Pure White Linen) but it is common to name the manufacturer right after the name (Eternity by Calvin Klein). When you get to the perfume counter, you'll find perfumes grouped by manufacturer. Also, if you shop online, many large fragrance sites also group scents by manufacturers, although you can usually search by name.

Copyright (c) 2007 Joanna McLaughlin.

Joanna McLaughlin is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to the fragrance website Perfume-Reporter (

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