Will Rubbing Your Wrists Crush Perfume?

I’ve had this happen a few times to me and used to subscribe to the idea myself before I gained a little initiative and went looking for some real answers. Does rubbing your wrists together really crush those delicate scent molecules?

Picture yourself standing in the fragrance department of Saks Fifth Avenue or other department store of choice. You pick up a bottle of the latest release and give it a spray on your wrist. Just to test it out. And, as you go to combine your wrists together, someone from across the room–a sales associate, another perfume appreciator, a man whose hat is composed of used beer cans, whatever–shouts, “No! You’ll crush the scent!”

There’s talk buzzing about the fragrance world surrounding wrist rubbing and perfume. A lot of people rub their wrists together or rub perfume into their skin after application. I don’t know how this started or who originated it but in addition to these wrist-rubbers you have anti-wrist-rubbers on the other side having a conniption every time they witness someone do it. By far, the most common declaration I’ve heard:

“Don’t rub your wrists together. You’re crushing the delicate scent molecules.”

Is there any truth behind this? Yes and no.

First of all, you are not crushing any molecules by grinding your wrists together. You can’t crush molecules with your wrists. Molecules are extremely, mind-bendingly, tiny. So crushing molecules is not at all like crushing a grape. They’re simply too small for your wrists to obliterate. And if you could crush molecules, you’ll be a few years ahead of current scientific research and should probably turn yourself in for scientific study. Come on, for the good of mankind.

So perhaps it’s not so much the fact that people truly believe they can crush molecules with the magic of their wrists but a poor choice of words. “Crush” is a hyperbole and a rather poetic way of saying, “You’re generating heat and causing some perfume notes to evaporate faster than they should.”

Perfumes work through evaporation. When you spray a fragrance onto your skin, your body temperature causes the fragrance molecules to start evaporating. As they evaporate they fly away from the body and give off their scent. The warmer your body is, the faster these scents evaporate.

What you’re doing when you rub your wrists together is generating heat. Heat increases the rate of evaporation and some notes are more susceptible to heat than others. Due to the different rate of evaporation, the perfume may end up smelling different than it should.

This does not mean that wrist rubbing should be banned and you’re a terrible person if you rub your wrists together to distribute the fragrance. Nah. If you want to rub or you’re just used to it, then do it slowly. You’re not in the wrist rubbing competition here and you’re probably not trying to start a fire using your wrists either. Though that would probably make you very popular among smokers and campers.

Twilight, The Perfume

I had the dubious honor of being able to smell Twilight (the fragrance inspired by the books and movies).  It was a rather strange moment in my life as I had originally thought myself too insulated to ever encounter a bottle of this fabled stuff but lo and behold, it wafted itself to me.

Now, it wasn’t like I thought it would smell bad. So few modern made fragrances (especially celebrity fragrances and those based on pop culture) could contain anything that would be considered “stinky”. I just didn’t buy into the hype. I didn’t like the books which excluded me from everything else, thankfully. Aside from seeing the occasional personal thumbing through one of the novels in the series, I largely avoided this phenomenon. But hey, a chance to smell a pop culture phenomenon? Who am I say no? Twilight

In Bottle: Word on the manicured, rainy Oregon streets have it that this fragrance is supposed to be representative of what Bella smells like to Edward. My initial reaction? This reminds me of high school. Lavender is the prominent note in this and I detect that sweet, bubbly, clean freesia too.  There’s more to it than those two notes though. I’m picking up something woodsy and very, very slightly bitter. Cedar, very small cedar though. Think sapling sized.

Applied: Okay, I really only had one shot at this so here goes. The initial burst is a flare of green lavender and bitterness. The bitterness is really fleeting though as the freesia comes in to do its work. The lavender is a nice, dewy, clear note that does a great job until freesia rolls into town with its screaming soapiness. This is a clean fragrance, clean and cool like a late spring shower in a forest. Which, I suppose, is appropriate given the imagery in the movies and books about rainy old Forks. As the fragrance starts to dry down the lavender takes off for the background letting what I’m pretty sure is some sort of musk note come up. I lost all traces of cedar except a tiny patch of green. Throughout the duration of this, I get green, clean, sweet and floral. The four scent groups that are the most inoffensive to people. The final dry down is a sweet, soapy with an now almost invisible lavender. Not a whole lot of evolution, kind of predictable lifespan and really not breaking any new fragrance ground. But it is a step above what I thought this would be.

Extra: Apparently these were initially only sold in Hot Topic stores and were fairly popular. I can see why people like this. It’s really inoffensive, highly wearable, and it’s a fairly competent clean lavender scent. There’s barely any interesting dry down though and it’s no wonder they only bothered to list two notes. It’s because the dry down is pretty uneventful. Musk, green, and persistent lavender. This isn’t going to rocket Twilight into the gilded halls where the likes of Guerlain and Caron live it up but it’s workable.

Design: All right, let’s talk bottle. Twilight’s bottle is pretty much a direct rip off of Nina by Nina Ricci. The differences being a slightly darker glass and a sentence written on the Twilight bottle. The bottle construction itself is also a fair bit poorer than Nina. The little silver leaves on the Twilight bottle were a bit loose. And on the Nina bottle, the glass is seamless and smooth. On the Twilight bottle, there is a noticeable seam where the two halves of glass were combined. It’s a blatant copy otherwise. In early 2009, Nina Ricci opened up a can of lawsuit over the bottle design. No surprises there. No word on how that’s going but I’m sure there won’t be any dirt slinging. If there is, I am so there.

Fragrance Family: Fresh Floral

Notes: Lavender, freesia, cedar, musk.

Twilight was sold at Hot Topic stores as a limited edition scent that rode in on the coattails of the book series and movie successes. As far as I understand it, this fragrance is extremely popular among fans and whoever likes (or doesn’t mind) lavender will probably like this too. The fragrance itself is hard to hate. Oh, and don’t ask me if “perfume spray” means eau de toilette or eau de parfum. I honestly don’t know.

Reviewed in This Post: Twilight, 2009, Perfume Spray.