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Picking the Perfect Fragrance for Mom on Mothers Day

Buying perfume for Mother's Day always sounds like a great idea until you actually have to go to the perfume counter of your local department store. Then things get dicy. But don't worry, we've got some tips to help you get around this unfamiliar territory with ease. Women generally like perfume shopping, but it's a rare man that can endure it. Engage the help of a female family member, if possible, since she actually likes to go perfume hunting. And make no mistake, you're on the hunt.

If you know the scent you want, half of the battle is won but only half. Be aware that perfume is not just perfume anymore. There are lots of diverse fragrance products on the market. You can buy scented creams and lotions, fragrant soaps and shower gels, bath products, and solid perfume along with all kinds of perfume and colognes.

Let's start with creams and lotions. These are sometimes sold with fanciful names like "body butter" or "soufflé" or other intriguing names. This is an emollient cream for moisturizing the skin that carries the scent of the perfume. These are great products for women who like lotions and for anyone with dry skin. If your mom has dry skin, get a fragrant cream or lotion. Scent in liquid form does not last long on dry skin, so if she wants to wear fragrance she'll have to moisturize.

And why not apply fragrance at the same time? That doesn't mean you should not also get fragrance. One trick in the world of perfume is the art of "layering," that is, using multiple vehicles to apply the scent. Scented shower gel is very popular with sporty women, those who might shower in the middle of the day (such as after an afternoon workout or tennis game), and busy women who just like to be efficient. Shower gel with fragrance is just that: it's soap that leaves the fragrance on your skin. Perfumed soap does the same thing, but for some reason, it's considered a bit old-fashioned.

Now as you start looking at the perfume itself, start to notice what it's called. There is a big difference among perfume, eau de parfum and cologne and not just in price. Perfume (sometimes called parfum) is the richest stuff available, any way you look at it. It has the highest percentage of scent to carrier, so it's strongest, and it's the most expensive. It also will last longer and rarely is more than the tiniest bit necessary. A small bottle of perfume will last much longer than a larger bottle of cologne.

Besides, perfume sounds great. To a perfume lover, perfume is like the Rolls Royce of the fragrance world. Buy this to impress your mom. Eau de parfum is next on the list and this is always written and said in French (oh-duh-par-fam). It is a notch below perfume in the luxury scale but very potent and wearable. Some fragrance lovers prefer a specific type of product, but most women are pretty flexible.

Cologne is the weakest of the bunch, often with just a small percentage of scent to carrier. It's less expensive, but count on frequent re-applications to keep the fragrance going. Still, cologne is fun if you're active, don't mind re-touching, or just want to sample a new scent without making the commitment that a bottle of perfume seems to imply. Toilet water has an unfortunate name (even the French eau de toilette doesn't sound much better) but it's a real genre of fragrance product situated below eau de parfum but a notch above cologne.

Which should you pick? If your mom has a specific preference, obviously, you should go with that. Perfume is definitely the most wonderful of all, but you want to be sure she loves the scent. If you're guessing at what she likes, go with a cologne or eau de parfum.

There is a lot to pay attention to as you navigate the perfume department. Perfume almost never goes on sale. It's not a discount item. The best you can do-and you may wrangle one of these around Mother's Day-is a package deal. Sometimes manufacturers will sell a gift set at a bargain price by combining shower gel and cologne or an eau-de-parfum with a lotion.

This is actually a nice arrangement, since layering fragrance works well for most women with dry skin (and the older you get, the more likely it is you'll have dry skin). What scent? Well, that's a hard question. If you know what your mom likes either get that or ask a knowledgeable perfume clerk (and there are many of them, believe it or not) to recommend similar scents. For instance, if you know your mother likes fruity florals (that's a type of perfume) the salesperson can probably show you dozens of fragrances in that family. You can sample perfumes, but that gets confusing after trying more than a scent or two.

For a big honeysuckle perfume, try Beyond Paradise by Estee Lauder. Obsession by Calvin Klein is a great classic and it's one of the world's great floral scents. If you think your mom would like something tropical and youthful go with Sunset Heat by Escada. Does your mother favor roses and softer, feminine scents? It's hard to beat Very Irresistable by Givenchy. Want an update on an old classic? Go with Pure White Linen by Estee Lauder. Another favorite of mine for Mother's Day is Tresor by Lancome.

It's a classic scent that just about everybody likes. Copyright (c) 2007 Joanna McLaughlin.

Joanna McLaughlin is a freelance writer who lives in the United States and writes about fragrance. She admits she wears too much perfume and her work appears frequently in .

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