One of the more common questions surrounding perfume use has to do with making the stuff last longer. In a given week, it’s inevitable that someone will want to know why their fragrance is disappearing halfway through the day, leaving them with a ghost of perfume or–in many cases–seemingly nothing at all.
The following are some tips you can try to prolong the wear time of your fragrance. Please keep in mind that you can try any number of things to keep a fragrance on your skin but some perfumes have a penchant for being less robust than others.
Also called the ‘Big M’. Okay, okay, only I call it that. Moisturizing your skin is the very first recommendation for anyone looking to prolong their fragrance wear time. Not only is moisturizing a good practice to keep your skin healthy and happy, it also helps to keep your fragrance around a bit longer. As near as I can tell, well moisturized skin holds onto perfume better than dry skin. Therefore, you get more wear. It’s best to use an unscented lotion or body cream. You can even use petroleum jelly (Vaseline) as an unscented option. You want it to be unscented so that the fragrance in the lotion or body cream does not mix and interfere with the progression of your perfume.
Layering your fragrance is another good way to help it last longer. Many perfumes come with bath and body sets that you can buy along with the fragrance. For instance, Chanel No.5 box sets can include a No.5 scented bar of soap, a bottle of Chanel No.5 perfume, and a bottle of No.5 scented lotion. These sets are good because they not only help prolong your fragrance, they also tend to be pretty decent deals where you can buy a shower gel and lotion along with a bottle of your perfume. Some fragrances even sell separate lotions and soaps (like in the case of Chanel No.5, Thierry Mugler Angel, and other widely popular fragrances). To layer your fragrance, just shower with the same scented soap or gel, apply the same scented lotion, and put your perfume on.
Though not always a possible solution, keeping cool and keep your fragrance around a little bit longer. You burn off your fragrance much faster if you’re exercising or hanging out in a hot location. Perfume works through evaporation. Without getting into the scientific nitty-gritty, when your climate is hot, or if your body temperature is elevated then your fragrance will disappear faster. It’ll probably smell stronger at first, but its wear time will also be reduced. So try to keep cool and if you’re heading to the gym, maybe you should hold off on spraying your favorite fragrance until after your work out.
Wearing Perfume on Your Clothes
Spraying your fragrance on your clothing can keep it around for a very long time. But the things to keep in mind if you choose to wear it on your clothes is the fact that your fragrance won’t progress naturally. Perfumes were meant to be worn on the skin to mix with the individual user’s body chemistry. They were meant to evaporate with our body heat and change and evolve the longer we wear them. If you wear your fragrance on your clothes, you’re missing out on the complex experience and will likely get mostly top notes and whatever else happens to escape. Some perfumes also contain dyes and may stain light colored clothing. So long as you are aware that your perfume will smell different on your clothes than on you, and that you run the risk of staining your clothes, wearing a fragrance on your shirt or something will definitely prolong the life of your scent.
Wearing Perfume in Your Hair
A bit similar to the clothing approach. You may have more luck wearing your fragrance in your hair unless you plan to go out with your head uncovered into very strong sun, your hair should do a better job at keep your scent around than on your skin. Some people warn that the alcohol in perfumes can cause damage to your hair. But keep in mind that the amount of alcohol you dispense with a couple of sprays of perfume probably won’t harm you that much. Especially when we remember that most of us use heat to dry our hair and use styling products that are sometimes worse than a couple of squirts of perfume. But, in addition to not being a scientist or a doctor, I am also not a hairstylist.
Wear a Scent Locket
Scent lockets can be a good idea if you find you have skin allergies to some perfumes. What you can do is buy a scent locket (or even a regular locket) made from a neutral smelling metal (like silver). Next you can soak or spray a small piece of tissue, or cotton with your perfume and stick that in the locket and wear it. The heat from your skin contacting the locket should help the fragrance progress somewhat. Keep in mind that you are once again not wearing the perfume directly on your skin so your fragrance may smell different than it normally would.
Consider Your Nose
I’ve mentioned before the problematic issue with regards to our noses and sense of smell and how it can get used to an aroma over time. If you have a favorite perfume that you wear everyday that you notice smells less and less strong, it may not be the perfume–it might just be your nose. Before you freshen up or worry about your fragrance fading on your skin, ask a friend if they can still smell your perfume on you.
Consider the Composition of Your Fragrance
While perfume concentrations cannot always tell you how long a fragrance will last on your skin (remember, many perfume houses change or tweak the formula between their Eau de Toilette versions and Eau de Parfum versions), you can usually depend on a higher quality fragrance made with certain ingredients to last longer than others. Citrus-based fragrances like Bath and Body Works’ White Citrus, for instance, don’t last very long. On the other hand, a powerhouse oriental like Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium will last like a champ. Take a look at the notes pyramid for a classic fragrance. Notice how the citrus notes are usually on top? These notes tend to evaporate and disappear first. And often you’ll have things that will stick around for a lot longer at the bottom like woods, musks, incense and resins.
Hopefully those tips will help you keep your fragrances around for a bit longer. While no one technique can guarantee an entire day of wear for delicate scents like Balenciaga Paris, you might be able to squeeze out a bit more wear time. And if nothing else works, carry a travel spray or sampler vial of your fragrance and freshen up throughout the day. I know, it’s kind of a pain, but some fragrances just don’t want to stick.