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How to Apply Perfume: 8 Secrets to Make Your Scents Last

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Applying your perfume is probably the final (and fastest) step in your beauty routine—a spritz here, a dab there, and you’re out the door. You may not even think about how to apply perfume because well, it seems so simple. But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to wearing fragrances. Where you spray perfume on your body, how much you spritz on, and even where you store it (like a steamy bathroom vanity) can impact how long the scent will last on your skin and in the bottle.

Want to make sure you're applying and caring for your favorite fragrance like a pro? Here are 8 essential tips on how to apply perfume to make your signature scent last.

1. Don’t rub perfume into your skin.

You’ve probably seen your mom, grandmom, or friends dabbing perfume on their wrists and then rubbing them together. It’s one of the first fragrance habits we ever learned (and one of the hardest to break, TBH). But rubbing perfume into your skin in this way actually causes the fragrance's top notes to fade and evaporate before they can settle. This means the notes that made you fall for the scent to begin with never truly translate onto your skin (gasp!).

You want your perfume to slowly mix with your skin’s natural oils—it’s what makes your scent last and what can make the same scent smell slightly different from person to person. Rubbing perfume on your skin causes friction, which can heat it up and change the scent.

2. Spray it onto your pulse points.

Wondering exactly where to spray perfume? Focus on your pulse points. These are areas where your veins sit closest to your skin, so you can (literally) feel your pulse. It's places like the inside of your wrists, inner elbows, below your belly button, behind your ear lobes, and the back of your knees. These warm spots on your body emit extra body heat, which helps to naturally diffuse a scent. To apply perfume to your pulse points, spritz or dab it (remember, don’t rub) on a few or all of them, and your fragrance will linger all day.

3. Where you store your perfume matters.

If you’re like us, and you treat your favorite eau de toilette like a statement piece for your vanity—you’re in for a surprise. Storing your fragrance in your bathroom where steam from daily showers can interact with them is a no-no. Water, humidity, and drastically changing temps can change a perfume’s composition and cut short the shelf life of your favorite bottle. Additionally, any form of light (especially sunlight) can break down a perfume’s makeup. Where should you keep your perfume? The answer: a cool, dark, dry place. Before you bury your bottles in your closet, try inside a bedroom dresser or vanity drawer—or simply, inside the box your fragrance came in. Most of these were made to keep your perfume happy and safe for the long haul.

4. Spritz, then walk into your perfume.

Have you ever been within a few feet of someone and found yourself overwhelmed by how strong their perfume smells? Let's not be that person. The key to keeping your perfume pleasant but not overpowering is to diffuse it all over, rather than concentrating it in one (or every) area. When you wear perfume, you want the fragrance to complement you and enhance your natural scent—not completely mask it. Instead of spraying perfume all over, dab it onto your pulse points and then do what we call a “spritz and step”: spray your perfume in front of you, then walk right into it and back out. This will leave a light layer on your clothes, and make sure you’re covered (without overdoing it).

5. Feel free to spray your clothes.

Speaking of clothes, applying a little perfume to your clothing is a great way to keep your scent going all day long—just make sure it’s not something that can stain (like silk). Fragrance interacts with fabrics differently than skin, so it’ll probably smell lighter or slightly different—but still like your favorite perfume. Try spritzing some perfume in the air and waving your clothes around in it, or spritzing a bit on the inner lining of your coat or blazer. The result? A light wafting of your favorite perfume that will travel with you, wherever you go.

6. Apply it post-shower.

Many of us apply perfume as the last step before heading out the door, but perfume is actually able to absorb better into the skin when it's warm and the pores are open. So it's a good idea to apply it post-shower when the skin is dried off but still warm.

7. Moisturize first.

Speaking of dry skin, perfume often evaporates quickly on skin that's super dry. Instead, try spritzing it over a light coat of unscented body lotion or a touch of Vaseline (i.e. petroleum jelly). While these moisturizers keep your skin soft and supple, they also give the perfume oils something to grasp onto so that your scent lasts for longer.

8. Only spritz certain formulas in your hair.

In addition to pulse points, spritzing a bit of perfume into the hair is often a common go-to. It makes sense, when you swing your head around or the wind picks up, you'll give off a little bit of your signature scent's aroma. But you shouldn't necessarily be putting every perfume formula in your hair. For example, alcohol-based formulas like parfum and some eau de toilette or eau de cologne can actually dry out your strands. Instead, you'll only want to apply pure perfume oils to the hair or make sure that your formula is water-based rather than alcohol-based.

P.S. If your perfume is ok to apply to hair, you might try spritzing it onto your hairbrush vs. directly onto the hair for a more even application.

The best perfumes to try now

Looking to switch up your perfume (and practice what you've learned)? Try these irresistible scents from some of our go-to brands.

1. CHANEL No. 5 Parfum

CHANEL No. 5 Parfum
Courtesy of CHANEL

When it comes to an elegant, iconic perfume, it's hard to beat a classic. Part of what sent CHANEL No. 5 into the fragrance hall of fame way back in 1921 was the use of aldehydes, synthetic components which add layers of complexity. It opens with scents like ylang-ylang, neroli, bergamot, and lemon; moves into notes of iris, jasmine, and rose as it settles into the skin, and finishes with base notes of amber, sandalwood, musk, moss, vetiver, vanilla, and patchouli.

2. LELABO Santal 33

LELABO Santal 33
Courtesy of LELABO

This unisex fragrance has developed a massive cult following, and with just one sniff you'll probably be able to tell why. Formulated to embody the spirit of the American West, this rich, woody scent has violet and cardamom top notes, iris and ambrox mid notes, and smooth base notes of cedarwood, leather, and sandalwood. It's a perfect pairing for cozy winter nights.

3. DIOR J'Adore Dior

DIOR J'Adore Dior
Courtesy of DIOR

Feel like something super feminine? Try this grand floral scent by Dior. It brings all the most beautiful flowers from around the world in its composition: jasmine, Lily-of-the-valley, tuberose, freesia, rose, orchid, plum, and violet. To balance out those floral notes are touches of fruity scents (like pear, melon, peach, and mandarin orange) as well as richer base notes (think: musk, vanilla, and cedar).

4. JULIETTE HAS A GUN Pear Inc. Fragrance

JULIETTE HAS A GUN Pear Inc. Fragrance

Meet the freshest fragrance in your stash—this blend of bright green pear accord, ambroxan, and musk is the perfect scent for sunny days (and to brighten up dull ones). It’s a blend of irresistible citrus and fruits that’ll wake up your senses (and not overpower them). Spritz it on for a dose of happy wherever you go.

5. AURIKAH PARFUM Fragrance Duo - Wander Stick + Lucid Compact

AURIKAH PARFUM Fragrance Duo - Wander Stick + Lucid Compact

We’ve never felt vacay vibes more strongly than when we take a whiff of this island-inspired duo. The solid perfume is made with coconut water and frangipani while the Lucid Compact is infused with cucumber and lily, and reminds us of a sea breeze. The best part? You can literally use these anywhere for a hit of moisture and beautiful scent.

6. JULIETTE HAS A GUN Lady Vengeance Fragrance

JULIETTE HAS A GUN Lady Vengeance Fragrance

This bold, irresistible scent feels richer than many rose-based fragrances we’ve tried. It’s floral and earthy with notes of Bulgarian rose, patchouli, and lavender, and warm and inviting thanks to a hint of vanilla. Consider it your new go-to for any occasion.

7. JULIETTE HAS A GUN Vanilla Vibes Eau de Parfum

JULIETTE HAS A GUN Vanilla Vibes Eau de Parfum

Beach days on your mind? One whiff of this sea salt-infused fragrance will transport you to sand, surf, and sun. It’s made with natural vanilla and sandalwood for a fresh, earthy scent that you won’t want to stop spritzing.

8. JUSBOX PERFUMES Feather Supreme Eau de Parfum

JUSBOX PERFUMES Feather Supreme Eau de Parfum

That feeling when you put on a song you love? This smooth scent is that, bottled. Inspired by Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, this blend of bergamot, jasmine, tuberose, ylang-ylang, and musk will transport you to days driving with the top down—it’s warm, floral, and unforgettable.

9. ETAT LIBRE D’ORANGE She Was An Anomaly

ETAT LIBRE D’ORANGE She Was An Anomaly

We can’t stop spritzing this unique blend of fresh florals and warm woods—it includes notes of iris, sandalwood, cedarwood, vanilla, tangerine, musk, and ambergris. (So light and refreshing).

10. JULIETTE HAS A GUN Not a Perfume

JULIETTE HAS A GUN Not a Perfume

This one-of-a-kind formula isn’t technically a perfume—it’s a “molecular composition” made from just one (yes, one) ingredient. The result is a delightful scent that adjusts to your skin’s chemistry so it’s unique to you.

11. KENSIE Life Beat Eau de Parfum

KENSIE Life Beat Eau de Parfum

Who can resist fresh fruits? This deliciously scented perfume is light and versatile enough to wear year-round. Try this heavenly blend of citrus and florals made with notes of coconut, peach, jasmine, magnolia, and more. Trust us, you’ll want to wear it 24/7.

Ready to discover even more scents you’ll love? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
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Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
About the author
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Pia Bhattacharya
Pia is a New York-based beauty editor at IPSY with over 10 years experience including editorial, public relations, and copywriting. Her work has appeared in SELF magazine, in beauty and branding for Bloomingdale’s, and others.
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Article Last Updated January 7, 2022 12:00 AM