All about perfume

I fell in love with Harvey Prince…one spritz at a time.

That probably sounds a little crazy. I guess I need to start at the beginning for this to make any sense.

Looking back on it, I can see my life was pretty blah. Oh, everything seemed great. I loved my job (still do), my apartment, my boyfriend (still do!). And I felt pretty good about myself. I mean, we can’t always feel sexy and perfect all the time, and everyone gets stressed out or worried now and then, but overall, I felt great. My life was full, satisfying, relaxing yet exciting. Everything was going well for me. But something was missing, and I didn’t even know it.

What was missing was Harvey Prince!

Who is this Harvey Prince? Well, that’s where the story gets complicated.

I first met him through a friend. I met her for lunch and I knew the second I hugged her that something was different about her. She was wearing a new scent. It was soft and beautiful: a rose perfume like nothing I’d ever smelled before. I know it sounds crazy, but I could swear it made her look different. This sweet perfume gave her an aura of elegance. Instead of looking stressed out by her long day at work, she looked like she’d been relaxing in a bubble bath all morning before she’d come out to meet me. She was calm, smiling, happy.

Most importantly, she smelled great! I asked her if she was wearing a new perfume.

“Not just a new perfume,” she said. “The best perfume. Well, the best perfume I’ve ever worn, anyway.”

Honestly, that was saying something. She’s the sort of person who really sticks with something she likes, and she’s been wearing the same sweet (too sweet, in my opinion!) women’s perfume for as long as I’d known her. For her to switch perfumes, she must really have found something amazing.

“So?” I urged. “What is it?”

Damask Rose,” she said. “It’s by Harvey Prince.” And that was the beginning of it all.

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The only reason she’d tried this sweet perfume was because she’d been shopping in a department store, trying free perfume samples, and was feeling unsatisfied with what she found. The saleswoman suggested trying online stores and my friend found Once she tried some of Harvey Prince’s perfume samples, she knew she needed to buy a full bottle of Damask Rose. She told me the perfume was cruelty-free, vegan friendly, and safe for kids and pregnant women, and that she’d seen it written up in a magazine article on the best beauty and haircare products. She rattled off a list of a few other products she’d read about that she recommended: color-safe shampoos and sulfate-free conditioners, relaxing body lotions, and that sort of thing. But I was just focused on that perfume. I didn’t need a free perfume sample to convince me—just smelling it on her was enough to make me know I needed to buy a whole bottle for myself. It was definitely the best perfume I had ever smelled.

I went home and got online. I checked out all my favorite sites for the best beauty tips and secrets, and I found a few reviews for Harvey Prince. Every single one was positive. Honestly, at that point I didn’t even care about the reviews—I was just curious. I knew already that Harvey Prince’s Damask Rose was just what I wanted.

The description of Damask Rose said that it was a sensual fragrance that could bring out the goddess in you, which I knew was exactly what I need. I just wanted a sexy perfume that spoke to me and brought out my inner seductress that I was dying to bring out. The more I read about their different fragrances, all of which sounded amazing and the best, the more I fell in love with Harvey Prince!

Once I’d done a little research, I went to the best online perfume store I know. I found Harvey Prince’s romantic rose perfume. (I knew already that my boyfriend was going to love it! And with Valentine’s Day coming up, I hoped the perfume would arrive by then so I could spray some on for our romantic evening out.) For years, I had wanted to find the best women’s perfume out there, and I knew this was it!

The rose perfume arrived just in time for Valentine’s Day, and it was everything I had hoped for. When my boyfriend leaned in to kiss me, he inhaled deeply. “What a sexy perfume….” He murmured. I was thrilled. It was a sexy perfume, while also being sweet, soft, and romantic. It even made me feel sexy—honestly, that was my favorite thing about it.

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For a while, I wore it every day. But I couldn’t help wondering…if Harvey Prince’s sweet rose perfume was so great, what were their other scents like?

It seemed sort of decadent to buy another bottle of perfume so soon, but I told myself it was totally okay: After all, what’s wrong with having two different perfumes? One for daytime and one for the evening? One for spring and summer, one for fall and winter?

Well….that was the beginning. First I ordered Hello, a bright, happy perfume. Its cheerful notes of Meyer lemon, mandarin, and grapefruit pair with notes of plumeria, which is traditionally used in Hawaiian leis that greet friends old and new. For me, this is the sweet perfume I wear when I’m about to go somewhere new or meet new people. It makes me feel confident, positive, and happy.

I bought other Hello bath and beauty products, too. Now I can take a relaxing shower with sulfate-free Hello shampoo, which is one of the best sweet shampoos on the market, follow it up with color-safe Hello conditioner, and, finally spray on some uplifting Hello perfume. Sometimes, I just stand in the bathroom for a while and breathe in their aromas—it’s so refreshing and relaxing!

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I saw on that there’s a Hello Travel Kit, too, complete with sulfate-free shampoo, color-safe conditioner, sweet shower gel, and relaxing body lotion. And a bottle of Hello perfume, too! I bought one of those travel kits, even though I didn’t have trips planned any time soon. I knew I would want it some time, and it was so easy to order it from their online store, I just couldn’t resist! And just like the rose perfume, it’s all cruelty-free, safe for all ages, and vegan.

Hello fragrance is by far one of the best perfumes for women! It’s a light, refreshing, clean perfume that’s perfect any time of the year. With notes of fresh Meyer lemon, wild verbena, and Satsuma mandarin mixed with sweet summer forsythia and pink plumeria, it’s easy to see—and smell!—why Hello perfume is so insanely addictive! Right at Hello‘s base, there’s warm Tahitian vanilla and sensual muskthat soothe your senses. Hello perfume has the perfect combination of notes and definitely is made of the best essential oils and natural ingredients. I can’t get enough of this perfume; it always makes me feel my best!

Next, I bought Ambrosia Botanica, which is the perfect blend of sweet and sexy. Notes of Sicilian lemon, musk, and amber warm and excite the senses. This is a romantic perfume, a sweet perfume, and a sensual perfume all at the same time. (My boyfriend went crazy for it!) After that, I bought Cherie Blossom, a romantic, youthful scent. (Honestly, he went pretty crazy for that one, too!)

I didn’t know which Harvey Prince women’s perfumes were the most popular ones or the best ones, but I knew they would all be amazing. Soon, I’d bought sexy Petaly Noir, flirty Temptress, and a whole bunch of “Singular Scentsations” single-note scents like dewy Imperial Gardenia and warm Madagascar Vanilla.

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Spritz by spritz, I fell more and more in love! My boyfriend even teased me about it. I was becoming a perfume addict, he said! I must have been the best customer that Harvey Prince’s online perfume store had ever had. Why did I need rose perfume for romantic occasions, sweet perfume for sunny afternoons, relaxing perfume when I was trying to unwind, sexy perfume for late nights out….and the list went on and on! Soon a whole shelf in our bathroom was dedicated to rows of Harvey Prince women’s perfume. (I had so many bottles, I could have opened my own online perfume store!) My boyfriend wouldn’t stop teasing me. But I didn’t hear him complaining each time I sprayed on something new.

Honestly, what’s wrong with having a lot of perfumes? Nothing, that’s what! We change our clothes, our shoes, our bags, our hair style. Why not our fragrance?

It’s strange to wear the same perfume all the time, when you think about it. How could one perfume be suitable for all moods, all occasions, all events, and all seasons? Okay, I’ll admit it. Any one of Harvey Prince’s pure, safe, vegan scents could be worn any time, any place, in any mood, and it would be perfect. They are all sensual, sexy, relaxing perfumes that could be worn on a bright summer morning or for a night out dancing. But why settle for just one? We’d never wear the same outfit to a wedding that we wore to a business meeting. So why should we wear the same perfume?

I’m not saying you need to change your perfume 4 times a day (sounds like a hassle!), but I can tell you this: Now that I have a collection of the best perfumes to match every occasion, I can’t imagine going back to having just one or two. There’s something wonderful about feeling you’re wearing just the right thing, right down to your perfume.

Okay, maybe I went a little bit overboard. What can I say? I fell in love with Harvey Prince ….head over heels! But even if you’re not quite as madly in love as I am, at the very least, you may want different perfumes for different seasons. If I had to narrow it down to just four, I’d probably say: Eau Fling for summer. For me, the notes of raspberry and black currant feel just right for those hot days of summer when berries are ripe for the picking. It’s a fun, flirty perfume—something that makes me think of summer flings and carefree sunny days. In spring, I’d wear Hello, with its notes of forsythia. Forsythia is early spring floral that signals new beginnings and possibilities. Certainly the best choice for the season of new blossoms and new adventures. I’ll be honest; it’s tough to narrow these perfumes down to just four, and the more I think about it, the harder it gets, but, if I had to choose just four…In autumn, I’d probably go for Ambrosia Botanica: rich, floral, and complex. And in winter, Cherie Blossom, to keep my heart open and my mood romantic, no matter how cold it is outside!

But here’s the thing. Once you have different perfumes for different seasons, it’s hard not to start wanting different perfumes for different times of the week! On a busy weekday, Madagascar Vanilla is just the thing, no matter what the season is. It’s a single-note fragrance that is pure, rich vanilla. Its sensual and relaxing properties can ease all your tension. Personally, I carry it in my purse so I can always have a spritz or two of relaxing vanilla to relieve the stress of a nagging client, a demanding boss, or an anxiety-producing conference call.

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On the weekend, I usually wear Sincerely during the day. The combination of Indian Tuberose, Turkish Cyclamen, and Spanish Mandarin invigorates me and makes me feel awakened and refreshed. It’s the kind of exotic scent that whisks you away from the here and now. It gives me the feeling of setting off on adventures, going out into a land full of richness and mystery. Okay, on most of my weekends, I don’t usually travel to distant lands, but the spirit of self-discovery is exactly what I need to get the most out of my weekend.

If I’m feeling really free-spirited, I wear Harvey Prince’s Patchouli perfume. This is a sexy perfume for when I’ve kept my feelings all bottled up and want use the weekend to free my spirit. It’s invigorating, energetic and exciting. This is the best perfume to lift my worries and open my heart and mind. I say it’s a sexy perfume, but I don’t mean that in a “romantic night out” sort of way. For that, the best perfumes are Petaly Noir, or maybe Damask Rose perfume, or even something sweet and sensual, like Ambrosia Botanica. But Patchouli is a sexy perfume in a totally different way. It’s sexy because it unlocks the free spirit in me. Above all, it’s empowering. There’s nothing sexier than that!

And if you have a different perfume for each time of the week…well…you may as well have different perfumes for different times of day, right? I know it sounds crazy, but think about it: You wouldn’t carry the same purse to a brunch date as you would to a cocktail party. So why would you wear the same perfume? For the brunch date, Young Pink Grapefruit or Hello  could be just the thing. They are sweet perfumes that are inviting, invigorating, fresh, and cheerful. For the cocktail party, maybe something like Imperial Gardenia, a sexy perfume that is naturally elegant.

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The way I see it, your fragrance tells the world who you are. Are you sexy, happy, sweet? Well then you should have a sexy perfume, a happy perfume, or a sweet perfume. But of course none of us is just one thing. We all deserve perfumes to match each one of our sides and each one of our moods. So you should have a sexy perfume, a happy perfume, and a sweet perfume. And much more. There’s no such thing as a single “best perfume.” There’s the best perfume for who you are and where you are right now, and that can change from day to day—even from moment to moment.

Can you tell I really went nuts for perfume? When I say I fell in love with Harvey Prince, I mean I fell hard!

Anyway, by this time I had a shelf full of perfume bottles and a boyfriend who wouldn’t stop teasing me, but I was just getting started. Now that I was head over heels in love with Harvey Prince, I wanted to know everything about perfume! So I started researching. First I went back to the best online perfume store I know, and I read every review I could get my hands on.

But that wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I wanted to know more about how perfumes can manage to change my mood. When I’m stressed, the right perfume can be relaxing. When I’m feeling romantic, the right perfume can make me feel even more so. By choosing just the best perfume for every mood and occasion, you can be true to yourself, and I wanted to know how it all worked.

That’s when I got really serious about my research. My boyfriend might have thought I had gone nuts for perfume before, but he had no idea how intense things were about to get! I spent time online and in bookstores, finding out everything I could.

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The first thing I learned is that perfume has existed for almost as long as humans have. From the time of the earliest human civilizations, we’ve wanted to smell sweet! Well, that’s if you’re using “perfume” in the broadest possible sense. You know, oils and flowers and things like that. Modern perfume—perfume as we really know it, and as we buy on great online perfume stores and read about in lists of “best beauty tips”—that didn’t exist until the 19th century. That’s when people figured out how to make compounds like vanillin and coumarin, which allow for scents that previously were impossible. That’s when commercial perfume was invented. And thank goodness it was! That sweet perfume I love so much? Smells a lot better than just dabbing some scented oil onto your skin.

Vanillin is pretty much just a fancy name for the most important part of vanilla bean extract, and coumarin…well, coumarin is a chemical found in a lot of different plants. That includes vanilla grass, sweet woodruff, sweet grass, cassia cinnamon, and sweet clover, just to name a few. It’s a member of the benzopyrone chemical class. If you studied chemistry, you probably know what that means. If you didn’t, let me just tell you that all you really need to know about coumarin is that it smells sweet, and it’s used in some of the best perfumes in the world! Some people say coumarin smells like freshly mown hay, and it’s been used in sweet perfumes since 1882! Pretty much every sweet perfume I’ve ever loved probably has coumarin in it!

Once I’d done some online research, I started to wonder…what exactly is perfume? I mean perfume in the modern sense, the way it’s existed since the 19th century. I’m not just talking about oils and powders; I’m talking about commercial fragrances—the sweet perfumes and sexy perfumes that we buy in department stores or online perfume stores. What is it, really? How do you define it?

It turns out that “perfume” means a mixture of a certain amount of aromatic compounds and a certain amount of solvent, like alcohol or a mixture of water and alcohol. Ever wondered what the heck the difference is between perfume, eau de toilette, eau de cologne, and all those other fancy French terms? Me too! You’d think that online perfume stores would give you that kind of kind information, but they never do. They just list a whole bunch of products and expect you to know what the difference is. I always felt silly for not knowing. Well, it turns out it’s pretty complicated!

The basic idea is that all those words describe a different amount of aromatic compound—the more of the compound is put into the solvent, the more intense the fragrance is, but the shorter it lasts. “Perfume” (or, in French, “parfum”) means that there’s about 15%-40% aromatic compound in the alcohol-water-compound mixture. The smell isn’t super intense, but it lasts a nice long time. So that sweet perfume you love? Or the sexy perfume that drives men wild? On average, those are probably about 20% aromatic compound.

Make sense?

Well, even if it doesn’t, all you really have to know is what you like. If it smells good, wear it! And if you’ve chosen a Harvey Prince perfume, I can promise you it will smell good. At the end of the day, the best sweet perfume for women, the best relaxing perfume, the best sexy perfume, or the best romantic perfume is simply the one you like best.

But what goes into those sexy perfumes and sweet perfumes? Alcohol, water, maybe vanillin or coumarin and some other fragrance compounds….but what does that really mean? What are the ingredients?

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From the earliest days of essential oils, plants have been a big source of all those wonderful smells we love. Today, plants continue to be at the center of perfumery. Sometimes this means using flowers. Romantic rose, sensual plumeria, relaxing ylang-ylang, and sexy jasmine perfumes all come from flowers and blossoms. But other fragrances may come from seeds or other parts of the plant. The orange plant, for instance, gives us orange leaves, orange blossoms, and fruit zest, each with their own distinctive aroma. The best perfumes in your collection could all use different parts of the same plant.

Plant resins have always been important in perfumery, as well as in ancient medicine. The same is true of plant roots, like ginger. Even bark can be used—like sassafras root bark, which features in some of the most popular perfumes on the market.
In addition to citrus seeds, seeds like coriander and anise are often used in perfume, as well as tonka bean. Never heard of tonka bean before? Well, I hadn’t either, but it’s pretty important in the perfume world, since it’s the very first plant that coumarin was isolated from. So all those popular sweet perfumes? We have the little tonka bean to thank for them, because it’s the tonka bean that gives us sweet coumarin. In fact, the name “coumarin” comes from the French word for tonka bean: coumarou. Of course the French are always involved in perfume! Or should I say parfum?

As wonderful as fresh fruit smells, it’s rarely used in perfume. A few exceptions, though, are blackcurrant leaf and juniper berry, as well as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit. Lastly, there are leaves and even twigs. Think about relaxing, sensual, and popular perfumes like lavender leaf and patchouli. Oh, and wood, too. Sandalwood, rosewood, birch, juniper. Basically, any part of a plant you can think of is used in perfume.

Animal products have been used to create some very popular women’s perfumes, too. From honeycombs to the petrified excrement of African Rock Hyrax (nope, I’m not kidding!), animal products have been in some of the best perfumes throughout history. Of course, sometimes using animal products can cause harm to the animals, so, as you can imagine, there’s been a lot of controversy. That’s why Harvey Prince’s vegan perfumes and haircare products were so exciting to me. I don’t want to have to worry about animal cruelty. It’s important to me that my perfumes are both safe and ethically made. Fortunately, things like musk (which used to be collected from a sac near the genitals of the male Musk deer—ew!) are now made synthetically. Phew! Synthetic musk is often called “white musk.” That sounds much sexier than “deer sac musk” to me!

As you can see, there’s quite a bit of science behind those sexy perfumes we all love. So is there a science to wearing them? What’s the best way to use women’s perfume? Do you spray it into the air and walk through it, letting it settle all over your body? Dab it behind your ears? Pour it onto your skin for maximum effect?

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The secret is in the pulse points. Behind the ears, the nape of the neck, the delicate spots on the inside of your wrists and elbows, and even behind your knees! These are the best spots to put your favorite perfume. The gentle beat of your pulse keeps the perfume warm, which helps release its fragrance long after you’ve put it on.

But of course you don’t have to be a real expert to wear perfume. All you really have to do is figure out what the best perfumes are for your taste.

One easy beauty secret is to try to keep your skin moisturized with body lotion—Harvey Prince has plenty of sensual and relaxing beauty products to choose from (all cruelty free, safe, and vegan, of course). Dry skin doesn’t hold fragrance for as long as skin with more oil and moisture. Believe it or not, some people say eating spicy and fatty foods can increase the intensity of a perfume, but I wouldn’t necessarily suggest changing your diet just to make that sexy perfume you love stronger.

The other thing I started noticing as I spent more and more time at online perfume stores was that perfumes tend to be described as having “notes.” You read things like: “Notes of rose and vanilla” all the time, right? Of course that means there’s a touch of rose and a touch of vanilla in the perfume, but why “notes?” Why not just say “This sweet perfume has touches of vanilla?”

Well, it turns out there’s a reason. A complicated but actually pretty beautiful reason. Perfume is described like music. The idea is that the three different notes come together to create something harmonious, just like a song.

Perfume has top notes (or “head notes”), middle notes (or “heart notes”), and base notes. Now, we all know what that means when it comes to sound or music, but what could it possibly mean for your nose?
The top notes are the first things you smell. They evaporate quickly, but they’re the very first thing your nose perceives, so they’re very important. When you first spray a perfume on yourself and think “Rose! What a sexy perfume!” those are the top notes you’re referring to. A top note could be a single main ingredient (like rose), or a central scent that’s a combination of two main ingredients (for instance, rose and jasmine can combine to form a single top note).

Then on to the middle notes. These are the aromas that you begin to smell just before the top note disappears. When you say, “Oh wow; at first it smelled like rose, but now I’m starting to see there’s plumeria in it; this isn’t just sexy, it’s a sweet perfume, too!”… those are the middle notes.

The base notes are the last things you’ll smell. As the middle notes begin to fade, the base notes rise to the surface, and it’s the combination of the middle and base that lie at the heart of the perfume. Base notes don’t appear until thirty minutes after you’ve put the perfume on, and they tend to be rich and deep.

As you can tell, a real perfume expert needs a nose as finely tuned as a wine expert’s palate. Of course all you really need to know is what you like. You can go into a department store and sniff all the free perfume samples until you say, “That’s a great sexy perfume! I want that one!” Or you can say, “I love how the notes of jasmine give way to middle notes of plumeria and then base notes of musk.” Both are good ways to choose a perfume—it’s just a matter of what you prefer. (Or, if you’re like me, you can skip the department store altogether and rely on a great online perfume store— personally I think that’s the best way to shop!)

Essential oils often form the basis of perfumes, just as they did in ancient times. Beyond that, there are modifiers, which add an additional kick to the main fragrance; blenders, which smooth out the transition from note to note; and fixatives, which build
up the primary scent.

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Essential Oils

Just when you think things were about as complicated as they could get, there’s the issue of classifying perfumes. The categories I might use for perfumes are “sexy perfume,” “sweet perfume,” “romantic perfume,” and so on….but, as you might have guessed, those aren’t the official categories used by perfumers.

The first categories were created some time around 1900. They include:

Single Floral: This is pretty self-explanatory. It means a perfume that is centered around one single flower, like rose, for instance, or plumeria.

Floral Bouquet: Again, this one is pretty easy to understand. You combine a few flowers (say, rose and plumeria) and it creates a sweet perfume “bouquet.”

Amber or Oriental: This one is a little harder to describe, but think of old paintings of exotic Middle Eastern lands. Think rich scents like vanilla, woods, and incense. That’s the general idea. These are sensual and sexy perfumes, rich and transporting.

Woody: Here’s another one that speaks for itself. Sandalwood and cedarwood feature prominently, as does vetiver and even patchouli, that free spirited and sexy perfume that helps me celebrate my weekend.
Leather: This includes perfumes with strong notes of honey, tobacco, or, of course, anything leathery. The best perfumes in this category are warm and rich.

Chypre: “Chypre” means “Cyprus” in French, and this includes perfumes that contain the scent of bergamot or oakmoss.

Fougère: This one means “fern,” and includes relaxing and sweet perfumes with base notes of lavender and coumarin.

You still with me? It’s a lot to take in, but we’re just getting started. Those are just the categories from 1900….Then, around 1945, as technology got better and tastes changed, new categories were developed to describe new scents. The newer categories include:

Bright Floral: This is basically just a combination of the old “Single Floral” and “Floral Bouquet” categories.

Green: This is just a modern version of the Chypre type. There’s often the smell of cut grass, cucumber, and crushed leaf.

Citrus: This one is pretty obvious. Orange, lemon, line, all those refreshing sweet perfumes belong in this family.

Fruity: Black currant, passion fruit, mango….the smell of ripe fruit makes these sweet and sexy perfumes irresistible.

Gourmand: Maybe you can guess this one has something to do with “gourmet”….you got it: this means perfumes that seem edible or dessert-like. Kind of weird to think of perfume as being edible, but it’s just a certain kind of sweet perfume. Think vanilla, coumarin, that sort of thing.

Aquatic, Oceanic, or Ozonic: This is the newest category of perfume. It’s a clean smell that might remind you of the ocean… These perfumes usually contain calone, a synthetic aroma that wasn’t even invented until 1966. Sometimes calone can be used in floral, oriental, or woody perfumes, too.

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All this stuff is pretty hard to keep track of, so in 1983 a guy named Michael Edwards invented something called the fragrance wheel to help organize it all. It’s also great for showing how the different categories relate to each other. Can you tell I became a serious perfume dork? Bear with me…

The fragrance wheel focuses on the five major families of Floral, Oriental, Woody, Fougère, and Fresh. “Fresh” includes citrus scents and those new “Oceanic” fragrances I just mentioned. These categories are organized in a circular pattern (the “wheel”) and then divided into subcategories.

For instance, “Floral Notes” is divided into “Floral,” “Soft Floral,” and, finally, “Floral Oriental,” which is the bridge between Floral and Oriental. Then Oriental Notes are divided into “Soft Oriental,” “Oriental,” and “Woody Oriental,” which leads into…you guessed it…Woody Notes.

So the next time you get a free perfume sample or buy a new product at an online perfume store, take a second to think about all the work, science, and thought that goes into that pretty little bottle.

Maybe you’ll become perfume-obsessed, just like me…or maybe you’ll just find a few of the best perfumes for you. But if you buy a Harvey Prince perfume, you might find yourself head over heels in love. It’s like I say: I fell in love with Harvey Prince…and my boyfriend doesn’t even mind!

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