Yes, there's a right and wrong way to use fragrance.

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how to apply perfume
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Fragrance is a very personal choice, and finding your signature scent can take some time. As you begin to search for the right perfume, you’ll feel a lot like Goldilocks trying to find the right bed. One scent can be too potent, another scent can be too faint. But the right one will hit that sweet spot of sentimental and warm that will evoke all the right emotions. And once you find it, you’ll want to do all you can to make sure it lasts as long as it can on your skin (and in the bottle). That’s why it’s so important to know how to apply perfume the right way. 

Anyone can spritz a fragrance once (or twice or three times) and call it a day. But if you want to make the most of a scent that you love, wearing it will take a little bit of skill and finesse. To get this exactly right, we spoke with Ben Krigler, a perfumer and the fifth-generation owner of fragrance house Krigler, about all the ways you can apply perfume and leave a lasting impression.  

1. Test the perfume before using it.

Krigler says the most common mistake people make is using a fragrance they’ve never tried before, since the scent can change once it mixes with our skin’s natural smell. “Our [skin] chemistry will transform the fragrance,” he explains. “Someone [can] say they want a light scent, but depending on where and when they apply it, the scent can react differently.”

So, go beyond reading what notes are used in a fragrance and try it out before committing to it. This is something that you’ll want to be just right.

2. Spritz on your wrists and neck for the perfume to last.

For Krigler, there is no wrong place to apply fragrance (“except by accident in your mouth,” he jokes). However, if you’re looking to have your favorite scent last all day, he recommends spraying on the pulse points of your wrists and neck since the warmth of these parts will mix the chemistry of your skin and the fragrance more efficiently. 

“[It’s] a bit like an oil lamp: Your body will spread [the scent] faster and keep it more,” he says. 

And whatever you do, don’t rub it in. Because the skin mixes with the chemistry of the fragrance through its heat, rubbing it will cause more friction and heat and cause the smell to change even more, and it won’t last as long. Just spritz and let it be. 

how to apply perfume
Credit: Unsplash

3. If you want to smell like the perfume bottle, spritz it on your hair and clothes.

Krigler explains that fabric and hair will not change the scent as much as the skin does. So when you spray fragrance on clothes or just on your hair, you end up getting a scent most similar to how it smells in the bottle.  

He does caution against spraying fragrance on your hair if you plan to be under the sun for a long time. A lot of fragrances contain alcohol, and that may cause hair damage. He also recommends not overdoing it when you spray, since a simple spritz on the top of your head or even inside a hat is sufficient for the scent to linger.

4. There's no need to overdo it.

First, you don’t have to spray your favorite fragrance more than once when first putting it on. Krigler explains that the more we use a specific fragrance, the more our noses get used to the scent, and we might think we need to spray two or three more times. 

“Just spray [once in the beginning],” he says. “Do not think it doesn’t stay; it’s just that your nose is used to the scent already.” 

As for reapplying during the day, he says that it depends on what scent you like using. He says woody, spicy, and floral scents tend to last longer on the skin and will need less reapplication, while any light florals, citrus, and fruity scents fade away more quickly.

5. Store your perfume at room temperature—or in a fridge!

Just as your skin’s heat changes the chemistry of your favorite fragrance, so will storing it in a hot environment. You’ll want to keep fragrances out of direct sunlight and steamy places like the bathroom. Instead, store it at room temperature. If you really want to keep the fragrance fresh and lengthen its longevity, consider storing it in the fridge. 

In the end, it all comes down to personal taste. If you keep Krigler’s helpful tips in mind, you can’t go wrong.