Believe it or not, there may just be a bit more to perfume application than a spritz on the wrist.

Where should perfume be applied?

Perfume should ultimately not be applied to the skin, in my humble opinion. This is of course due to the chemicals, which, whether synthetic or all-natural, are generally not going to be things you will want absorbed into your blood stream, especially if they build up over time.

Nonetheless, although I do try to stick to my clothes and hair, I find myself drawn to applying scent directly to my person, as do most perfume-wearers. If you, too, insist on applying perfume directly to your body, it should then be applied where the skin is especially warm and where there is good blood circulation. This is because heat helps diffuse and magnify the aroma of fragrance. The “pulse points” on the body are inside the wrists, inside the elbows, at the temple, below the ear lobes, at the base of the throat, behind the knees, and anywhere else you feel a heartbeat. These points are perfect activators for perfume. Fragrance rises, so it should be applied to several pulse points – not just, for instance, at the base of the throat. There are actually pulse points on the inside of the ankles, in the groin area (no, not the privates, please!), and in the armpits (though that is not recommended as it may sting, especially after shaving).

Pulse points are not the only place to ponder placing scent, however. With a fragrance I know to be especially powerful, I just give one spray to my chest or stomach. The back of the arms is also a place to consider, as is right behind the ears.

Applied on bare skin, perfume will find its full body, but spraying your clothes throughout the day is an arguably safer way to refresh your perfume. Spray your skirt, dress hems, jacket lapels, and pants for a longer-lasting effect. 100% natural fibers, such as wool, cashmere or velvet, strongly enhance perfumes. When spraying, stay at least 20 cm away from clothing and avoid spraying light-colored fabric to avoid staining. Avoid spraying furs or coats, as fragrance can stain them and emphasize the base notes to the point where the perfume is totally altered.

Avoid damaging pearl jewels, remove them before applying any perfume. Actually, if you are wearing any costume jewelry, avoid spraying after you have put on the necklace or bracelet – some mixed metals are highly reactive and your jewelry will quickly tarnish.

You can also try a light spray in damp hair before you blow dry, or mist your hairbrush and comb with fragrance before use. You can add touch of perfume to a handkerchief, on padded hangers, or to the water in a steam iron to lace clothes with fragrance. How about rinsing lingerie in scented water, spraying your curtains with it, or adding a bit to your bath? If fragrance makes you feel good, take advantage of its power.

Spray or dab?

Both spraying and dabbing perfume are fine, but sometimes you can waste precious drops of perfume when you dab it on. This problem is minimized with a spray that delivers a fine, even application of fragrance. An atomizer also minimizes waste, but its spray may not be consistent. Of course an oil-based perfume or a perfume with a higher concentration (see my post on fragrance concentrations) will work well with a roller ball or simply dabbed on. It’s best to spray perfume on about 20 cm away from your skin. An even spray over a wider area will help your fragrance last longer than a generous amount in a small area.

Some people swear by spraying the air in front of them and walking into its mist. Spraying into the air is supposed to prevent the fragrance from being too strong or to encourage even coverage, but I don’t want to waste a drop of my precious liquids, thank you, and I rarely worry (perhaps to the demise of those around me) about coming on too strong. Some say it is best not to rub your wrists together after applying perfume there, however, as doing so apparently dulls the delicate top notes and interfere with their development. I am not sure to what extent this is really true, but it is true that a perfume’s top notes tend not to last long, and we wouldn’t any premature top note death now, would we?

Can more than one fragrance be worn at once?

Some fragrances, like Jo Malone’s line, are meant to be mixed and matched and worn together create a bespoke scent that is truly your own. In general, however, it is preferable not to do so because each perfume is a balanced, complete creation… most of the time, anyway. If you wear one fragrance on top of another, you may indeed create an a new “scentsation,” but it’s more likely that you’ll produce something less than ideal. But, what the heck, if mixing things up floats your boat, go for it! I’ve had what I feel is success in adding a basic musk to dirty up a mainstream scent.

How often can I re-apply scent?

If you reapply a scent too soon, you may disrupt the lovely flow or evolution of the scent on your skin, from top to middle to base notes. If you are just starting the dry-down phase, adding a fresh spritz, from which you’ll initially get the scent’s top notes, could mess with things, perhaps negatively. I guess if you’re going to reapply, perhaps you can consider the strategy of applying the same or even a different scent later in the day, but waiting until the first application is nearly faded. That way you can avoid starting off too strong and finishing the day with just your own body scent, if that is what your desire.

How long does a fragrance usually last?

Most fragrances are not generally designed to last all day. You’ll probably want to refresh it at some point, but some fragrances do last longer. Perfume extrait (extract) will last the longest as there is there is little alcohol to evaporate and there is a high percentage of perfume concentrate in the blend. The higher the concentration of perfume concentrate in a bottle (and simultaneously the lower the amount of alcohol), generally the longer it will last. Not only will fragrances with higher concentrations of perfume concentrate last longer, but they will also bloom more beautifully on the skin. Not all fragrance lines sell their scents in extrait de parfum versions, but most will sell eau de parfum, which is a great deal more intense and long-lasting than eau de toilette, which I personally avoid. I’d rather have a smaller, more expensive bottle of stuff that won’t fade in a hour on my dry, fair skin. Do note, however, that scents without alcohol will not project nearly as well, though they may last longer.

Unfortunately, if you are one of those people for whom fragrance never seems to last (such as 1 hour instead of the usual 3 or 4) it could be due to your body’s chemistry, which causes the perfume to evaporate more quickly from your skin. Perfumers would say that your skin “throws off” fragrance. Specifically, this is probably due to high acidity in your skin. How can you tell if your skin acidity is high? Lick your wrist. Does it taste tangy and sharp? If so, your skin’s most definitely acidic. The good news is diet can change this. Eat more alkaline foods, like raw fruits and veggies, and cut down on meat, diary and processed foods, and coffee, all of which are acidic. Who would have thought that eating well would affect the longevity of your perfume?

Medicine, too, will change your body’s chemistry. Low fat diets, stress, spicy foods, fast foods all affect body temperature and encourage your skin to throw off perfume. Add dry skin and pregnancy to the list and you can understand why so many women complain about the staying power of their fragrance.

One solution to a fast dissipation is referred to as layering. No, layering does not technically mean using 2 or more different perfumes at one time, although many do use the term that way, but rather to putting on an emollient layer between your skin and your perfume to extend its life. What is an emollient? Basically, it’s a body lotion or cream that ideally matches your fragrance to create an adhesive foundation for the perfume. It’ll slow down the rate of evaporation and double the staying power of your fragrance. Now you know one reason those perfume and body cream sets are so popular.

Along the same line, another solution is to use the matching bath oils of your favorite fragrances as oil perfumes. After you bathe, while your skin is dry but still warm from the water, gently rub the fragrant bath oil across your dry areas, and especially your pulse points. Then you can finish with a spritz of the matching perfume.

Of course, if you own a gazillion bottles of perfume, you probably don’t have matching creams, oils, and lotions for all of them, in which case just use a non-scented or neutrally scented lubricant to help seal in your scent.