Going Lightly, Moderating Your Fragrance Use

One of the more troubling trends in recent years has been the banning of fragrances in public places and work places. It seems more and more work places are opting to ban perfume use and in some instances–fragrance use in general–to create a “healthy air” or “clean air” policy.

Needless to say, I’m not one of the people who subscribes to the pseudo-science that is often brought up when people want to make their case for why fragrances are dangerous. That situation is an entirely different debate that will be relegated to another post.

Let’s, for now, talk about how perfume lovers and users of fragrance can go about minimizing the possibility of having their place of work ban fragrances.

1. Realize how strong your fragrance is.

It is easy to try and trust your own nose as an indicator of fragrance strength but your nose is actually a pretty unreliable tool when it comes to determining the strength of a perfume. Try getting a second opinion, or third opinion. Or go online and see if your perfume is considered a powerhouse or not. Then make a conscious effort to go light on it. It’s better to enjoy your scent when you bring your wrist to your nose than surround yourself with a cloud of fragrance that’s impeding someone else’s space.

2. Think about where you’re going to be.

Are you going to be in an enclosed space? A place where a lot of people are packed together? An office? A school? Be considerate of others and remember that not everyone likes the same scents. So going easy on your fragrance will ensure that you can enjoy your fragrance but not assaulting someone else with it at the same time.

3. Layer instead of re-apply.

Re-applying perfume can be a tricky business. Sometimes your perfume is actually gone but sometimes it might still be there but you just can’t smell it anymore. If it’s still there, spraying it again will intensify the scent for you but also for everyone else around you. So layering comes in handy in this regard. Get yourself a nice unscented lotion (or use a companion lotion that perfumes sometimes have) before you apply your fragrance. The lotion will moisturize your skin and help hold the fragrance for a little longer, thus reducing your need to re-apply.

4. When in doubt, go light.

If you don’t know how someone’s going to react to your scent or don’t know where you’re going to end up that day, go light. Never assume that other people are going to love how you smell, no matter how inoffensive or popular your perfume is. Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to people.

5. Be considerate of those who may have allergies.

No perfume lover would purposefully wear a scent that would harm someone else but with many perfumes, it is hard to tell what exactly is in them. People can be allergic to certain components in your scent and their reactions can vary from the mild (coughing, sneezing and stuffy nose) to the severe (difficulty breathing). Now I should note that when I refer to people with allergies, I don’t mean the people who label their allergies as a blanket, “I’m allergic to all perfume. Aaaaah!” But there are people out there who have adverse reactions to certain aroma components such as jasmine essential oil. You simply don’t know who is going to react to what. It is easier to keep a reign on your fragrance if you go light on it where an allergic individual won’t have to deal with as much of it or won’t even smell it at all, rather than if you slather yourself and risk slapping someone with allergies in the face.

6. Spray sparingly.

If you know you’re going some place and need your scent to be light, ease up on the trigger finger and spray sparingly. I’ve witnessed people spritz perfume directly on themselves several times before walking out the door. And we’re talking Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfums here and not body mists. For a lot of fragrances, several spritzes is way too much. Try to limit your spraying to three or less. With exception to some very strong fragrances, three spritzes is a generally safe bet. Don’t hold yourself to always apply three spritzes. You will sometimes need to use less and in some cases (as with Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle) even one or two sprays is more than enough.

7. Where you apply depends on how strong you smell.

Did you know that where you apply your perfume can have an effect on how strong you smell to others? For instance, most people like to apply perfume to both wrists and to the neck. This creates a sort of aura around your upper body that gives off lots of scent as the wrists and neck are considered pulse points. The pulse points on the body are a little warmer than other areas and thus the scent is released faster and may smell more potent. If you want to perfume yourself in a lighter way, try spraying the ankles or the back of the knees. This way, you’re still wearing perfume but the scent has to travel further to reach the nose of whoever is around you. This can sometimes temper the scent and make it seem lighter.

Probably the most important thing to keep in mind if you plan on using perfumes around other people is to remember that while you might love your perfume, other people may not. Perfume is a mostly personal thing. It is okay to project your scent in some instances but no matter how inoffensive a scent might be, you cannot please everyone all the time.


Perfume Expiring? How to Preserve Perfumes

The bewildered look on someone’s face when you tell them perfume goes bad is one of those strange moments in a person’s life where they realize a few things:
1) Most people don’t realize fragrances expire.
2) Most people don’t know how to prolong or preserve their fragrances.
3) Most people just don’t really care that much, nor do they own so much that they should.

Here’s some food for thought, perfumes and fragrances in general have three enemies. They are, light, heat, and air. Let’s do a rundown of how these three components can work against your perfumes.

Light: Probably one of the biggest culprits that cause perfumes to go bad is light. Particularly sunlight. Most people with a bottle of perfume make the ultimate, but very common, mistake. They display the bottle on their vanity, or tabletop, and allow them to be exposed to the sun. This causes some of the more volatile components in perfumes to break down, or alter. Eventually, the fragrance will change on you and oftentimes, this is not for the better.

Now, can you really blame anybody for doing this? Some perfume bottles are downright beautiful and to not display them seems like a shame. But did you know that direct contact to sunlight can start deteriorating a perfume within a manner of hours? So while you’ve got a beautiful bottle on your vanity, that stuff inside of it isn’t doing so well.

Heat: Though heat is a big one, you shouldn’t allow your perfumes to get so cold it freezes either. Despite the logic that if heat is bad for fragrances then cold should be better. The truth is, your perfumes do best in cool temperatures and neither being too hot or too cold is good for it. One of the worst places people keep their fragrances (aside from the vanity) is in the bathroom.

The bathroom has a fluctuating temperature and humidity level. And if you’re like the average person you bathe or shower once a day. This means those perfumes in your bathroom are being exposed to rapid change in environmental temperature on a regular basis. Every time you take a shower or draw a bath, you are probably making the environment in that little room hotter and more humid. Heat can also deteriorate your fragrances like sunlight.

Air: Most people who own bottles of perfumes probably own the spray bottle type with a sprayer nozzle to distribute the scent. These types of bottles do a good job at reducing air exposure which can lead to perfume deterioration. However, if you own parfum extraits, oil pased perfumes, or splash bottles, you’re in a doozy of a time.

It is impossible to prevent air from contacting your perfume if you own a perfume bottle that requires you to open it. In addition, splash bottles tend to be more susceptible to in-bottle evaporation. Some of these types of perfumes hold up better than others. Older perfumes such as classic Carons may last for decades before losing their scent whereas a newer splash form perfume like Chanel Chance probably won’t have those kinds of–heh–chances. Bouquet Roses

Now that you know about the three major players leading to perfume deterioration, how do you know when your fragrances are going to expire? You don’t. And here’s the other kicker, you may never be able to find out because perfumes age according to how they were stored and what their chemical or natural compositions are.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s take Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfume oils as an example. These are 5ml bottles of fragrance oils that are composed from a wide variety of different scents and compositions. All scents from BPAL will eventually age and change as they age. Some age for the better (Snake Oil), others go bad (Violet Ray). The beauty of the fragrance depends entirely on the individual but most people would probably agree that a dense vanilla-like fragrance from aged Snake Oil is more desirable than a bottle of flat, scentless Violet Ray.

It is important to keep in mind and note the top notes and compositions of fragrances because you can sometimes tell which notes will go first. Citrus notes are especially vulnerable to aging. Most of these are used as top notes and top notes are extremely delicate. Generally, the stuff you get at the bottom in the base note category should be more robust but with modern perfumery, it is still hard to tell what will and will not last. Or how long your fragrance is going to stay the same one you bought and love.

So without knowing a specific use by date, your best bet to perfume use is to ensure that you store your fragrances appropriately.

1) Get them out of the light. I know how awesome some of those bottles look but leaving them out in the open is deteriorating the juice inside. One of the most convenient containers for a bottle of perfume is the original box it came in. The box can provide the fragrance an extra layer of protection against the sun. For best results, keep your perfumes in a dark place. Put them in your closet, in a drawer, a dresser, under the bed. Whatever’s available and dark. I store my fragrances in their original boxes in a closet.

2) If you must display, use up the juice inside first. I k now some people like to collect perfume bottles because they look nice and want to display them. If you want to display your bottles of perfume, decant your scents into another bottle¬† first. This way you have a bottle to display and don’t have to worry about the stuff inside going bad. If you couldn’t care less about the stuff inside the bottle and just want a full looking bottle of perfume to display then have a blast, I suppose.

3) Reduce exposure to heat. I know it’s hard to keep perfumes in a steady, even and cool environment. Especially if you’re like me and your home doesn’t have air conditioning. For the average fragrance lover who uses their collection on a regular basis, storage at room temperature will do fine.¬† Some hard core fragrance collectors who own rare perfumes or have hundreds of bottles they don’t use regularly have refrigerators that are specifically set to preserve their fragrances. The ideal temperature for fragrances seems to be around12-14 degrees C with citrus heavy fragrances preferring lower temperatures around 4 degrees C. [Source]

4) Avoid freezing and the cold. Just like heat, cold can also damage your perfumes. If you were thinking about putting them in your regular refrigerator or even in the freezer, you can start drawing up plan B. The temperature for a regular refrigerator is too cold for most fragrances. The freezer option shouldn’t even be considered.

5) Get them out of the bathroom and off your vanity. I know the vanity is a great place for display. I know the bathroom is really convenient, but they aren’t doing your perfumes any good.

6) If you don’t plan on using the fragrance regularly or feel that you may take a while to completely use everything in the bottle, opt for a spray bottle (where possible) instead to avoid the air issue. If you do happen to own splash bottles and are concerned about preservation, start using up those fragrances or get yourself a fragrance fridge. You may never win the war against air with your splash bottles but you can at least minimize the impact by avoiding light and heat.

So how long can you keep perfumes if you store them properly? Years and years. Decades. Maybe even centuries. Some fragrances are incredibly robust as there are bottles of Chanel No.5 from the 30s and 40s that still smell the same as they did all those years ago. Likewise there are bottles of classic Carons and Guerlains that smell just as wonderful now as they did when they were first made. Heck, there was that perfume residue discovered in a bottle people think belonged to Hatshepsut that could still be analyzed and probably recomposed.

Don’t underestimate perfume’s ability to stick around, but don’t overestimate it either. Take the necessary precautions to ensure your fragrances last and you can enjoy them for many years.

In short, the best place to keep your perfumes is in a cool, dark place.

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