How to Make a Fragrance Work More Efficiently

Have you ever discovered a fragrance that you adore but it doesn’t last long enough? Or perhaps you received a bottle as a gift, but it’s just not “you”? These are problems that seem even more foreboding in today’s economic climate, when we’re all trying to ‘waste not, want not,’ and make the most of what we have.

Perhaps you used to adore certain scents but are no longer in a relationship with them because your tastes have changed? Or do you want to be braver in 2023 and step outside of your comfort zone but aren’t sure where to start? If any of these apply to you, or if you simply want to know how to make any perfume work harder for you, this guide will show you how.

1 – Develop your sense of smell

Everyone can benefit from this – we’ve had people tell us how trying these techniques has changed the way they smell for the better, from casual perfume lovers to industry professionals (for good). This does not imply that you will suddenly be able to detect every single ingredient in a bottle of perfume, but rather that you will learn to train your nose in the same way that a perfumer does: by deeply exploring the emotions it evokes, the colors, textures, places, and people it reminds you of.

Black Orchid by Tom Ford

Here are a few easy tricks to try every day:

  • Spray a scent on a blotter, preferably; close your eyes and sniff for several seconds, then remove the blotter, inhale deeply, and re-sniff. Repeat for about a minute, and then start writing a few words in a notebook. It doesn’t have to be a description, and it shouldn’t be a ‘list’ of notes – try to use words that evoke other thoughts. As an example…
  • What would this scent be if it were a fabric? Which color? What would you wear if you made an outfit out of that fabric? Where would you go?
  • What instruments would be playing if this were a piece of music? Is it classical music, rock music, pop music, rap music, or jazz?

Try to get past picking out individual notes or (if you’re not initially interested) thinking ‘I don’t like this’. Instead, concentrate on the atmosphere it creates. The images that come to mind, the memories that are triggered, the places that come to mind. Thinking about fragrances in a more abstract (but still personal to you) way allows you to more clearly evaluate them.

2 – Extend the life of your perfume

If you dislike perfume because it appears to ‘disappear’ on your skin, you are not alone. This is a common problem in people with dry skin, and it’s even thought that genetics and hair color may play a role. Scientists are still working on this, but there are some things you can do to make perfume last much longer:

  • Use a body oil, rich body balm, or moisturising lotion before (and even after) applying fragrance, as scent evaporates more slowly on nourished skin. This allows the fragrance to cling to your skin more easily, allowing you to smell it for longer periods of time without frantically re-spraying.
  • Spray pulse points that you might not think of. A good example is behind your knees – it’s a warm spot that, once spritzed, will leave a fragrant trail…
  • Spritz the perfume at the nape of your neck, even into your hair and on your clothes – BUT check first by spraying a tissue that it won’t stain your hair or fabric, or leave an oily residue! We love this method of perfume application because hair and fabric are porous and do not heat up as much as your skin, allowing the perfume to last all day.

Spraying a fragrance on a scarf is an excellent way to ‘try on’ a new (perhaps more personally challenging) scent without committing to it all day.

3 – Properly store your fragrances

Fragrance does not last forever, but properly storing it will help preserve the quality and lifespan of your perfume. The key is to keep it away from light and heat – so don’t keep your fragrance stash in the bathroom or on a sunny dressing table: higher temperatures affect the top notes of fragrance, making them musty or more sour.

  • If you have a dark cupboard or drawer to store perfume in, that’s ideal. (Ideally, keep in the box, but if you’re using a drawer, wrap bottles in a scarf or even plastic, as unappealing as that may be. Be aware that perfume that has never been opened and has been stored in a dark place can last for over 40 years…!).
  • If you can’t manage that environment, keep it on a shelf out of direct sunlight in a cool room. Once opened, a bottle should last up to two years (we’ve had fragrances that last much longer…). Lighter, citrus-like scents degrade faster than opulent florals…
  • You may find that a spray bottle lasts longer than a splash bottle: if you touch the glass to your skin and oil from your body gets into the bottle, this can also affect the lifespan of your perfume: Touch your skin to the bottle’s rim – and avoid using stoppers for application because they come into contact with the contents. NB Dark glass retains scent longer than clear glass.
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4 – Discover how to layer

Layering fragrances was once considered a scent sin, but we’ve all gotten over it (well most of us have). You don’t have to do this to a perfume you already adore – why would you? – There are, however, brilliant ways to bolster a sadly flimsy fragrance or add zing to something that’s a little too dark or cloying on your skin. Give it a shot because, as we always say, perfume isn’t like a tattoo – you can wash it off!

  • Increase power by adding more base notes such as patchouli, labdanum, vetiver, woods, or musk.
  • For added freshness, look for citrus notes like bergamot, neroli, lemon, lime, or ‘green’ notes like galbanum, tomato, or violet leaf, green tea, marine/aquatic accords (synthetic recreations of sea-like, watery scents), and aldehydes (often desribed as being like Champagne bubbles).
  • Add beauty: do you think a scent is too ‘harsh’ or clinical? Layer it with decadently velvety or lusciously fruity rose oils, orange flower’s sunshine-bottled scent, tuberose’s heady glamour, or a luminescent jasmine; try an apricot-like osmanthus flower, mimosa’s fluffiness, or iris/orris’ powdery elegance.
  • Add sweetness: vanilla and tonka bean can ’round’ a perfume, making it swoon on your skin (and addictive to smell), as can synthetic notes like ‘caramel’ or ‘dulce de leche,’ ripe fruits, chocolate, or even candy floss. Try to add less than you believe you need, as adding more is always easier than subtracting, and a little of these can go a long way!

If you want to layer any of these, try wearing them over other fragrances in which the above notes dominate, with a single-fragranced’soliflore’ (one main note) fragrance oil or spray, or layering the scent you don’t currently like over a differently perfumed body lotion or oil.

5 – Make it a part-time perfume.

There are days when we want to try something completely new but don’t want to be stuck with that scent all day, so what should we do?

  • Consider spraying a scarf (preferably not silk or a light color, unless patch-tested beforehand!) If the perfume becomes a little ‘too much’ for you or you want to wear something different, simply remove the scarf and you’re not committed to having it on your skin for hours. If you work in an office that prohibits the wearing of strong scents (or, in some cases, all perfumes – quelle horreur! ), this is a great way to wear a perfume that you can quickly remove.

6 – Take into account the weather (and your mood!)

Did you know that the weather, your mood, and even what you ate two weeks ago can all have a significant impact on how scent smells on your skin? Because skin and climate temperature are important factors in perfume performance, even your favorite fragrance will smell different depending on the time of year. When perfumers test their creations, they frequently use climate-controlled booths to see how they smell in hot and cold conditions (depending on which countries they will sell in). Don’t re-gift the perfume until you’ve tried it again later in the year, or even on vacation (remember those?)

  • Similarly, strongly spiced foods can alter how a perfume smells on your skin, and when testing fragrances in the lab, the’skin model’ volunteers they use are frequently specifically asked to refrain from eating such foods for up to two weeks prior to testing, so the perfumers can smell a ‘true’ representation of the scent. If a fragrance is to be primarily sold in a country where people eat a lot of spicy foods, the’skin models’ are asked to replicate that diet to ensure the scent works efficiently.
  • We now know that mood and hormones influence how we choose fragrances – try a scent when you’re feeling a certain way, and it will color how you feel about the fragrance itself. When you’re stressed or upset, a little under the weather, or simply overwhelmed, it’s not the best time to try something new. Wait until you’re calmer or have more time to really investigate what you’re smelling.

7 – Give it some time

If you follow all of this advice and still fall out of love with a fragrance, store it for a while and come back to it. If you still dislike it, organize a scent swapping party with your friends. BUT MAKE SURE. Nothing beats waking up at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat because you’re suddenly craving that scent you kindly passed on to a friend, only to have to buy another bottle. So, don’t be too quick. Every perfume lover has made this mistake at some point, and it stings. Oh, how it hurts. And it intensifies the longing, like having guiltily lurid fantasies about a distant ex who’s since hooked up with someone else. I once did this with a bottle of perfume that has since been discontinued (and is now selling for ridiculous amounts of money on eBay), and it still haunts me to this day. Learn from my perfume misfortune!

Shafie SEO

SEO Blogger

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