While some people have a fragrance that they consider to be their signature scent (my grandmother was loyal to White Shoulders herself), others enjoy mixing it up with various perfumes and potions from time to time. Whatever your scent style may be, one thing that everyone runs into eventually is the age-old quandary of why does my fragrance fade so quickly?! This causes many of us (myself included) to double- or maybe even triple-spritz, which often leads to asphyxiation territory if we don’t check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. This got me thinking — just how should I be applying my fragrance? Does location really matter? To get the answers I yearned for, I headed to high-end fragrance shop Le Labo in San Francisco to speak with an expert — the shop’s manager, Jeff Racca. It turns out the tricks to making your perfume last longer aren’t what you think.


1. Format Comes First: The makeup of the perfume is the key factor that determines how long it lasts. Eau de parfum and extraits will have a higher concentration of scent compared to eau de toilette or eau de cologne, so be on the lookout for those the next time you’re scent shopping. Jeff’s preference and recommendation is a parfum, so that your perfume has time to really tell its story, burning off through its top notes, heart notes and base notes throughout the span of the day. According to Jeff, “sometimes those scents can even stay on your skin after you’ve showered.”

2. X Marks the Spot: Different places on your body will get different levels of exposure to air and other people. As such, how other people perceive your scent can be related to where you give yourself a fragrant spritz. For example, fragrance sprayed on the wrists is more dependent on simple air exposure because scent on that area is more likely to be what people smell as you generally use your arms and hands in closer proximity to others. But body heat is part of it too. Jeff explained that places like the chest release a lot of heat, which affects how your scent projects. However, how your scent smells is ultimately dependent on an individual’s own body chemistry. No one scent will necessarily smell the same on any two people because of our different diets and skin types, and how our skin reacts to fragrance. That’s just the way it is!

3. Location, Location, Location: The success of your fragrance is also dependent on your environment. “For instance, heavier more complex scents in some places like Miami or Hawaii where it’s a lot more humid and warm, those scents might be overbearing,” while those same scents work wonderfully in cooler climates like San Francisco. Smokey, dark and musky scents work well in colder climates because they’re not weighed down by the heat of the weather or atmosphere. If you live in a hot or tropical climate, opt for light, crisp and even fruity scents so as to not be bogged down in a powerful fragrance cloud.

4. To Dab or Not to Dab?: I also picked Jeff’s brain in regards to proper technique. We’ve all witnessed the different methods; some ladies spray perfume on themselves, some spritz a cloud into the air and walk through it, while other may smooth some perfume oil directly to their skin. “An alcohol-based spray wants to release, whereas dabbing oftentimes tends to be for oil applications. My personal problem with dabbing is that it’s not metered, so you really don’t know how much you’re putting on.” While perfume oils have a higher fragrance factor than perfume spray, Jeff recommends a spray rather than a dabbing oil just to be sure you don’t overdo it. If you’re not careful with dabbing, you run the risk of becoming a suffocating scent cloud.

5. Perfume Hair, Don’t Care: Believe it or not, your hair actually has amazing scent staying power. Sure, your shampoo might smell nice, but an additional spray of perfume to your locks can hold up all day long. Jeff relayed to me that spraying fragrance in your hair can also be a great way to get a little flirty when you’re out on the town. “If I go to a bar, I’ll put some of it in my hair so if I walk by you and I think you’re attractive, I’ll play with my hair a little.” This natural movement of the hair releases just the right amount of scent to cause intrigue. Crafty ;) However, make sure you’re not spraying too much or too frequently, as the alcohol can dry out your mane.

6. Time Isn’t of the Essence: Every woman has a preferred slot in her daily routine for applying her fragrance — fresh out of the shower, before getting dressed, after getting dressed or even right before racing out the door. There’s an idea that perhaps when you’re spritzing directly correlates to how long your scent lingers, but in Jeff’s opinion, that’s not necessarily true. “Applying fragrance is a part of getting dressed. For some people it’s the first accessory and for other people it completes the look. That’s all personal preference.” Since perfume is ephemeral, when you choose to apply it is more about your own ritual. Basically, scent relies much more heavily on your body rather than time of application, so don’t worry — you’re not doing it wrong.

To sum it all up in the words of the ever-helpful Jeff, there’s really no wrong way to apply fragrance — it’s all about preference. Opt for an eau de parfum or perfume oil if you want lasting-power that you’re not currently getting from your fragrance, but remember that multiple applications are no longer necessary. Don’t be that person in the elevator who chokes everyone else with their floral fumes. Now get out there and start spritzing!

What is your favorite perfume or scent? Share with us in the comments section.