Perfumista tip ~ how to make fragrance last through the day

Perfume’s persistence can be a blessing or a curse. It’s Murphy’s Law among perfume enthusiasts that the fragrance we loathe the most will be the one that wears through a night’s sleep and a shower, and clings to our coats through two thunderstorms and a dry cleaning. Conversely, the fragrances we love never seem to last long enough. Sure, I like to wear more than one perfume a day, but it would be nice if a perfume could soldier through a full workday without my having to rummage for a decant for a midday boost.

So, I loaded an atomizer with Guerlain Vol de Nuit Eau de Toilette and experimented:

The baseline

One spray of Vol de Nuit Eau de Toilette alone lasts about four hours before I really have to press my nose to flesh to smell it. It’s lovely enough to be worth it, but no one except me, with effort, can detect it after lunch.

The fail

Surprisingly, Eau de Toilette sprayed over shea butter gives a maximum two hours of fragrance. After breakfast, I thinly spread pure shea butter, which doesn’t have a lot of odor on its own, over my forearm and misted it with Vol de Nuit. By the time I got to work, the shea butter had eaten the fragrance, and the faint “nutty-stick” odor of shea butter was a little more robust, like it had just had a good meal. Meanwhile, the arm with Eau de Toilette alone was still going strong.

The questionable

Eau de Toilette on clothing lasts all day, but with drawbacks. Fragrance on cloth doesn’t wear as warm nor personal as it does on skin. Something about the effect of a person’s body chemistry, the blood coursing through her skin, brings a perfume to bloom better than the cold but efficient fibers of a sweater. Plus, if you spray your sweater or the inside of your coat with fragrance, it will stay smelling that way for days, even when you might want to switch perfume. Unless you have a signature scent or enough coats to dedicate one to each fragrance, think twice about spraying your clothing.

The one exception is if you spray fragrance on a scarf. I’ve heard that at Caron in Paris, the SAs will spray your scarf with perfume so you can try it for a day. A scarf is an exception because (1) it wears close to your skin so it can warm and diffuse something — although not exactly — like skin can; and (2) unlike with a coat or sweater, on day two you can trade in a scarf for a fresh one and scent it with another fragrance. But how many of you wear scarves? I do, but looking around I know I’m in the minority.

Here's another questionable way to wear fragrance: spray Eau de Toilette on a cotton ball and tuck it in your bra. Robin told me about this trick. I tried it, but I only lasted a few hours before I yanked it out (although I admit it was an awfully nice-smelling cotton ball to toss in the trash). A bra that fits well tacks to the rib cage. It shouldn’t hold anything except a tampon on a quick trip to the lavatory when you don’t want to be obvious by carrying your purse. Stick a cotton ball in there for long and it’s an itchy distraction.

The winners

Eau de Toilette over fragrance-free moisturizer adds a third more life to the fragrance. I used First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream, which on its own smells faintly medicinal but goes on like whipped cream and absorbs quickly. Over the cream, Vol de Nuit continued its vol straight and true for about six hours. Not bad.

Parfum over Eau de Toilette is marvelous and burns quietly from breakfast until dinner — a good nine hours. This isn’t the budget-friendly way to wear fragrance, but with Vol de Nuit it’s a magical combination. The Eau de Toilette is crisp and diffusive, but a drop of Parfum over it adds warm, sweet, sandalwood-rich depth. It wears off just in time to top it off with more Vol de Nuit parfum for the evening, or switch to something complimentary with wood or patchouli, like Chanel Bois des Iles, Caron Nuit de Noel, Chanel Coromandel, or Christian Dior Dioressence.

The ultimate

Parfum over Eau de Toilette over fragrance-free body cream. With this combination I won the double prize of endurance plus depth of fragrance.

Since I don’t have Vol de Nuit lotion, I didn’t try Eau de Toilette over same-scented lotion or cream, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were effective, too, at making perfume last. To some extent that defeats the purpose — body cream is usually expensive enough that why not just buy another bottle of perfume? — but I could see where it would work well. Please comment if you've tried it.

Do any of you have your own tips on how to make fragrance last? I’m listening…

Note: top image is SDIM0553_sfx3 [doubled & reversed] by pha10019 at flickr; some rights reserved.

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I never thought that scarves were so rare. In New York they are a common sight. Mine currently smells of Annick Goutal Grand Amour!

    • Angela says:

      I’m thinking of silk scarves worn throughout the year. I don’t see them much, it seems. When I do, often they’re tied into a dowdy Boy scout wrap or something like that. I’m glad they’re going strong where you are!

      • Elizabeth says:

        You mean Hermes-style scarves? I mostly see those on older women. I see a lot of cotton or pashmina scarves on my fellow grad students (20s-30s).

        • Angela says:

          Exactly–both the big silk square like Hermes makes, and the smaller silk or chiffon squares that just twist once around the neck. Now that you bring it up, I’ve definitely seen fringed cotton scarves looped around a lot of necks lately. I like vintage silk scarves with weird old prints on them.

          Fragrance on a pashmina scarf sounds really nice!

    • 50_Roses says:

      It must be a regional thing. I live in Texas, and I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone wearing a scarf of any kind.

      • Angela says:

        Maybe it is. We might have more chilly/damp weather where I live, and I rarely bicycle to work without a thick silk twill scarf around my neck. The scarf often stays on all day with a cardigan in my cold office.

    • Knit1CurlToo says:

      I’m with you, Elizabeth, in my experience they are quite popular. Personally, on most days I have with me some sort of scarf — the fabric varies depending on the weather and the style of my outfit. Granted, I live in the northern US, but even during the summer a scarf comes in handy with air conditioning or on a cool evening.

      • Angela says:

        Scarves truly are handy. They’re great for wrapping in your hair, too.

  2. Rappleyea says:

    Okay…. VdN edt lasts all day on me (like a 12 hour day) and the parfum lasts a good day and a half, although by the second day, I do have to put my nose close to my skin to smell it. But I certainly don’t want to layer another scent on the same spot. It’s called “Scent Glue Skin” (did Mals coin that phrase?) and it definitely can be a curse! Nothing, and I mean nothing takes perfume off of my skin. I think this may be part of the reason I hate scents with musk so much – all of the aroma-chemical musks currently in use linger forever, smelling like cheap deodorant!

    Instead of putting edt *over* scent free moisturizer, try spritzing the edt into a glob of the moisturizer in your hand, and then rubbing your hands together to combine before applying. That way it’s more like putting on a custom scented lotion.

    • mals86 says:

      I said it because I was envious…

    • Angela says:

      So another way to make fragrance last is to be you!

      Alas, i’m stuck as me, so I’m going to try your moisturizer trick right away.

    • Dionne says:

      The downside to Scent Glue Skin (yeah, I’ve got it too) is it really slows down sampling new frags. I pretty much have to commit to one fragrance a day, or choose a SOTE that complements my SOTM that’s still truckin’ along.

      • Angela says:

        Scrubbers must be just awful!

        • boojum says:

          They are! (Another with scent glue skin here.) In addition, if you’re not careful, you invent your own scrubbers. I sampled Liaisons Dangereuses the other night before bed. Got up in the morning, took a shower, and spritzed on some Safari, failing to notice that the shower barely put a dent in the LD. What an atrocious combination that was for half of the day, before LD finally slinked off to the corner.

          • Angela says:

            Oh no! I didn’t even think of those awful possibilities.

    • I tried this trick today! So far so good – just plain ol ordinary unscented moisturizer spritzed with some Balenciaga Paris and voila! What a great idea! Thank you for this wonderful tip.

      • Angela says:

        I’m glad it’s working well!

    • OperaFan says:

      On the other hand, for the perfumista on a low-budget, scent glue skin can save one tons of money!
      I’ve made scented lotion/cream like that in the past. What’s even better is if you pre-mix them and allow to sit for a few days so that the scent is fully absorbed into the moisturizer. I’ve wanted to try to make some body oil this way with stronger concentrations but have yet to find the time to try.

      • Angela says:

        It’s good to know that the moisturizer doesn’t simply devour the fragrance over time. I’ll have to try it!

      • April says:

        I realize this thread is very old BUT, I have made signature scents with bath saltz, moisturizers and bath gel. It works best with WP rather than EDT but it is fabulous. The best ones are usually fragrences with end notes of sandalwood, pathouli, cedarwood, tabacco and always Vanilla! It is quick and easy to do. Just use a dropper and add about 20-30 drops into a 3 oz bottle of unscented shower gel or lotion or 3 cups of Epsom salt and coarse sea salt and you are off and running! It is super fast, inexpensive and really helpful if you have allergies to soaps and lotions. You can choose the one you know works for you and then add any fregrance you like to it!

        • Angela says:

          That sounds like a great idea! Sort of a customized fragrance line.

  3. Meg says:

    Great post. I have been thinking a lot about sillage and longevity this winter because I feel like my scents just aren’t projecting/lasting. I am intrigued by the possibility of layering no just different concentrations of scent but different body products with the same scent, i.e., moisturizer, bath oil. I think I’ll start my experiment with N. 5…

    • Angela says:

      Let me know how it works! I like how with some fragrances the different formulations emphasize different parts of the scent, too.

      Some of the fragrances I like best don’t have matching body products–or they’re too expensive to indulge in like I’d like to. I adore Mythique and wish it would last longer, but I’m not ready to put out for the body cream yet.

  4. sayitisntso says:

    Angela, another tip, if I may: Don’t use an overly-scented ‘deodorizing’ body wash. These products don’t know a ‘good’ scent (your perfume) from a ‘bad’ one; their primarily function is to neutralize any odor it comes into contact with and will most definitely interfere with your perception and longevity of your SoTD. Unscented soap all the way. Personally, I love Whole Foods’ 365 unscented vegetable glycerin soap for about a buck. Can’t beat it.

    • Angela says:

      That’s a great tip! The last thing I want is a neutralizing soap before I put on something I want to smell in its full glory.

  5. Abyss says:

    *shrug* Well, I’m a routine fabric sprayer and I don’t see it changing any time soon for a number of reasons.

    Firstly, while the idea of fragrance ‘blooming’ on skin is a nice – even poetic – thought, I do think it’s perhaps a little over-emphasised on many occasions. On my own skin, most fragrances smell thinner, sharper and disappear in the space of two hours (at best!). Personal, warm and ‘bloomy’ they are not.

    Also, I tend to spray on whatever I’m wearing under the jumper/dress/ top which is usually a cotton tee or vest. So if I really feel like spritzing something else when I get home then it’s super-easy to change. This also helps avoid that hideous issue of being stuck with a scrubber what just won’t come off.

    I spray or dab around the chest which is close enough to my nose to keep catching whiffs of whatever I’m wearing (without the need to constantly sniff my wrists) but allows me to apply quite lightly so as not to have the scent bother people around me.

    Plus there’s the issue of potential to develop sensitivities with repeated application which is not a problem with spraying on fabric.

    And, yes, fragrances last so much better on fabric! Even the really light ones like Osmanthe Yunnan and La Pausa which a lot of people find fleeting last for hours on me.

    Sure, it’s great if fragrances wear and last well on your skin but I just wanted to point out that it’s really not the only/best way to wear a scent and there’s really nothing wrong with spraying on fabric if that works better for a person. Nobody is going to show up at your door and demand you leave the perfumista club :D

    • Angela says:

      It sounds like you found a great solution for making your perfume last! I end up inadvertently getting perfume on my clothing all the time, which is great the day I wear it, but often it bothers me later. For instance, last week I reviewed Chopard Casmir, and I had to give my bra a serious soaking over the weekend–of course, Casmir is an extreme case!

  6. Owen says:

    I got Guerlain Shalimar parfum initial 40ml gift set in the Boots Christmas Sale for nearly half price :D which came with the matching body lotion.

    Parfum Initial on its own doesn’t last too long, 4 or 5 hours and then completely dries up, so I have the same problem. but teamed with the body lotion the scent was stronger, had more depth and lasted about 6 to 7 hours.

    so teaming perfume its matching body lotion, or body crème(which is apparently more luxurious and smells stronger) will prolong the perfume’s lasting power :)

    • Angela says:

      Hey, that’s a great deal on the Shalimar Initial! What a luxury it is, too, to layer the fragrance over the lotion. At some point I’ll break down and buy a body creme and give it a try, too!

      • Owen says:

        I think it was meant to be nearly £40 and I got it for £26 :)

        and I refuse to buy the matching body products, my favourites Flowerbomb and Angel both last excellently well on their own and the body lotions are nearly as much as the perfume itself ! I think the even more luxurious Flowerbomb body ”crème” was about the same as the 100ml perfume, £70 !! but I think I’ll cave and treat myself to the Alien body cream ;)

        I only put the cream where I apply perfume, on my neck and sometimes my wrists, so the tub will last longer ;) is that right or are you supposed to put the cream all over? it seems a waste to me as the sole purpose of it is to scent your skin, not to moisturise it. plus they’ll be full of alcohol so they won’t moisturise your skin anyway, dehydrate it if anything.

        • Angela says:

          I know when I use regular body cream I use big globs of it, but like you I can’t imagine doing that with an expensive body cream! I suppose a thin layer over my chest or forearms would be plenty for me–and would leave a wonderful fragrance, too.

  7. maggiecat says:

    Some scented body lotions are strong enough to be worn on their own, expecially when you want to minimize sillage for some reason (on airlines, in meetings, etc.). I also like the trick of spraying a glob of unscented body lotion with my SOTD and applying it. Finally, re-spritzing can be refereshing and energizing, and I find I don’t mind it much at all, especially on long days (like today).

    • Angela says:

      Your comment reminds me, too, how sometimes a splash of warm water can wake up fragrance. I love the warm burst of basenotes I get when I take a bath.

  8. lucasai says:

    Angela, that’s a great article! Actually that’s the topic I’ve been thinking about some time ago.
    When I had cosmetic analysis classed at the university last semester, one of the lectures was focused on perfume. Our tutor suggested, that to promote a long lasting scent we should use small drops of jojoba oil on pulse points. Jojoba absorbs quickly, and despite being an oil it’s one of those that actually don’t leave an oily layer on your skin.

    • Angela says:

      That’s a great idea! I’ve been meaning to get some for my hair, anyway. I have Vitamin E oil, but it’s lightly scented so I haven’t tried it.

      • lucasai says:

        Give it a try then. I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve heard it really works. But it probably still depends on skin chemistry

        • Angela says:

          It’s amazing how much depends on skin chemistry.

          • lucasai says:

            It’s sort of mistery! The same fragrance smells a little bit different on every single person. Of course our noses react to fragrant perfume particles differently too.

          • Angela says:

            Good point. Plus, some skin is dry and probably doesn’t hold certain materials as well as moister or oilier skin might.

          • lucasai says:

            I guess you’re right. Seems like proper skin hydration is a key to keep skin young and make it capture the fragrance for longer periods.

          • Rappleyea says:

            Angela – my skin is very dry, fair and tight-pored – pretty much like parchment, aka “scent strip”! I always thought that sweat and oil would wash perfume away, and/or push it out of the pores. Interesting subject.

            Now I’d like to do a Lazy Poll asking folks whether they have scent glue skin, scent fleeting skin, or something in between and whether or not their skin is dry, oily, combination or normal!

          • boojum says:

            Rapple – my skin is pretty dry these days, but used to be oilier, and I’ve always had scent glue skin. To make matters more interesting, I used to smoke, but no one believed it bc that smell did NOT stick to me, apparently.

          • Rappleyea says:

            Now that IS interesting! I thought smoke stuck to everyone!

          • lucasai says:

            I think my skin is somewhere in between. Some fragrances stay forever, some easily escape. My observation – any Prada stays on me for the whole day. Does that mean I’m a full-blood born Pradaholic?

          • Angela says:

            It sounds like there’s a wide variety of experiences–dry, oily, Prada-sticking. I’m going to have to find a dermatologist to ask about it.

    • poodle says:

      I have jojoba oil. I’m going to have to try that tip because my skin devours fragrance. It never used to. it is funny though how the fragrances you really can’t stand are the ones that cling to you through multiple washings and the ones you wish would stick around are gone in a flash.

      • Angela says:

        Be sure to let us know how it works on you!

      • lucasai says:

        Poodle! I didn’t recognize you at first place! You have a gravatar friend! The dog with glasses looks cute

        • poodle says:

          That’s my baby Stanley. He was a good boy to pose for his momma.

          • Angela says:

            Have you ever seen the photo of Cary Grant discussing a script with a poodle wearing glasses? I love it. Had it as a screensaver for a while.

  9. Paisley Flowers says:

    Thanks Angela for this article. I don’t know if it’s because I have combination skin, or live in Australia, but I just eat up fragrance. Nothing lasts very long on me, unless it’s a heady EDP like a Tom Ford or Chanel Parfum, which can get pricey at times!

    • Angela says:

      I hope you found a couple of ideas to help stretch out the life of the day’s fragrance!

  10. I find that my perfume lasts a long time when I spray it on my hair right behind my ears. It warms up to my body temperature and diffuses when I move, and especially when it’s windy.

    • Meg says:

      That’s a good idea, I don’t know why I stopped applying a spray of perfume to my hair. I used to do it all the time.

      • Angela says:

        I’m going to try it, too!

    • Angela says:

      That sounds very romantic. I’d think the fragrance might lift too high and fly away, above the nose line, but I like the idea of turning your head and catching a whiff of something nice.

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      I LOVE spraying my hair! My hair is shoulder-length and when it swings past my nose, I love to smell my scent on it! Lipstick Rose lasts 2 days in my hair, so lovely!

      • Angela says:

        Yet another testimony to scenting hair!

  11. key change says:

    Don’t forget–you can always spray your hair. Mine inadvertently gets sprayed anyway, but I find it holds the scent right throughout the day. Plus, when people lean in for a hug, they’ll necessarily get a sniff (which is usually what I want).

    • Angela says:

      Do you think the alcohol in the fragrance dries your hair? I suppose there’s not enough of it to do any lasting damage. I love the idea of someone smelling it when they hug you!

      • mals86 says:

        I sometimes spritz the back of my neck, right at the hairline, and although I can’t usually smell it myself, I’ve been told that it leaves a nice trail behind me. I don’t have much trouble with the hair getting dried out in that spot since it is close to skin and scalp.

        • Angela says:

          Do you have long hair? I’ll have to try this with my hair up and my hair down and see how it goes.

          • mals86 says:

            It’s medium-to-longish. I can make a short (4-5″) ponytail with it.

          • Angela says:

            So, long enough to cover your nape, but short enough to move.

        • Alyssa says:

          I often spritz my hairline at the nape indadvertently and when I do I can always smell my perfume in bed the next morning. I mostly wear my hair up but it works even better when it’s down.

          • Angela says:

            Another vote for trying perfume in my hair. Thanks!

  12. PortiaT says:

    Olfactias Travels sent me here to learn how to keep my fragrance for longer and I’ve found it extremely helpful.
    Thank you

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad it’s been helpful! Make sure to check back later, too–commenters will probably have other good ideas for making fragrance last.

  13. sheree.s says:

    If it helps, as a SA, we have been told “officially” that we can recommend matching body lotions, or gift sets that come with them, for each fragrance on the basis that they help the fragrance last longer on the skin. I have personally found this to be true, but I typically only use the lotions if they come in a gift-set or go on clearance (far too expensive for what they are otherwise).
    I must say, I LOVE the Couture Couture body creme. I actually like it more than the fragrance. It’s a “special treat” when I’ve had a hard day and need to relax – my partner will rub a little into my shoulders for me and it instantly lifts my mood. So the matching body cremes and lotions are good in and of themselves as well.

    • Angela says:

      Hey, thanks for the inside info! I’m not surprised that matching lotions boost the longevity of fragrance, but it’s nice to know, too, that a fragrance-free lotion can do the same thing–even if it doesn’t do it to quite the same extent.

      Thanks, too, for the recommendation on the Couture Couture lotion!

  14. ladymurasaki says:

    Thanks for this interesting post, Angela. I was also thinking about ways to make perfume last and I’ve tried spraying it on the inside of jumpers, on a cottom ball stuffed inside a silver pomander, over body cream, etc. So far, over body cream seems to last the longest for me too and cotton ball/pomander just doesn’t warm since it’s not directly on the skin. I also thought about spraying perfume on a tiny silk square and stuff it in my bra.

    • Angela says:

      I bet the silk square idea would work well. I bet I have a scrap of silk around here somewhere–I’ll have to give it a try!

  15. egabbert says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the “spray yourself wet” technique (coined by Abigail at ISTIA). If I want an EDT or something light to last all day, I give myself a good 4-5 sprays where I’d usually use one — that means if I’d do one bitty spritz on each wrist and one on my neck of, say, a Tauer, I’d do a total of 12-15 sprays of Moschino Funny (what I’m wearing today, incidentally). Works like a charm for me!

    • Angela says:

      I guess that’s the most intuitive response of all: just put more on!

    • poodle says:

      I pretty much do this with a lot of my scents. It does help with some. My poor husband who is one of the ‘one or two light spritzes people’ is sometimes horrified to see me spraying away with abandon but if I only do a normal spray with most scents I may as well not do any. Luca Turin had a comment about some perfume in his book that said it was all the fun of wearing perfume without the fun of smelling it. I can relate to that.

      I’m gonna try the cotton ball/silk idea too.

      • egabbert says:

        I work from home now so I can always put more perfume on, but when I worked in an office, I really hated when my perfume had disappeared by lunch. That’s when I mastered the spray-until-wet technique. Also helps to get some on your hair and clothes, as mentioned above.

        • Angela says:

          Ah, the pleasures of working from home!

      • Angela says:

        I admit it really is fun to spray wildly. I usually only do it with my lighter summer fragrances, like Ananas Fizz, but it feels super luxurious.

    • mals86 says:

      I find that it works well for really light things – the lighter Annick Goutals and L’Artisans, in particular.

      I once spritzed myself three times with SSS Tabac Aurea (which I love) and nearly DIED. That was before I realized that all the SSS scents are approximately parfum strength. Eep!

      • Angela says:

        But I bet you smelled heavenly!

      • poodle says:

        Oh there are some that I do not spray like a madwoman. At least not if I’m going out in public.

  16. Charley says:

    Hi! I’ve been a fan of NST for ages but this is my first post because my curiosity was piqued.

    Does anyone know why the pure shea butter might eat or diminish a scent, whereas other skin creams, or jojoba oil seem to do the opposite?

    • Angela says:

      Welcome! I’m curious about the shea butter thing, too. I wonder if it’s because it didn’t absorb as quickly as the cream? I’m not sure why that would matter, though. It was 100% shea butter, if that matters.

      • OtakuKitteh says:

        Well, I used to work in a handmade soap shop, and we sold 100% pure, raw shea butter. Because of its thickness, it takes much longer for the skin to absorb it as opposed to the thinner oils, like jojoba. We always suggested putting it on dry areas before bed. It might work if you took your bath at night instead of in the morning, and you applied your fragrance over the shea butter after it had had overnight to sink in.

        • Angela says:

          Thanks for the tip!

  17. debbie says:

    I take the perfume, that I want to wear, into the bathroom and spray it on after a shower and before dressing-my pores seem to suck it in and then release it slowly all day. It doesnt work for all perfumes and it can take ages to decide what to wear knowing that it will be on my skin for so long.

    • Angela says:

      I’ll have to try that! I bet with a thin layer of body oil or lotion it would stick even better (I’m thinking of that because my skin loves the moisture).

  18. FragrantWitch says:

    I love all these ideas! My own contribution would be that I used up the breast pads I had from breastfeeding my daughters by spraying them with perfume and sticking them where they were designed to go. Worked beautifully and they are cheap, comfortable and disposable!

    Spraying on damp skin and air drying definitely seems to help as well. As for scented body products, if I have several samples of a scent (particularly of one that is ‘too much’ in some way) I will add them to an I unscented body product that is high in natural oils. Even better if they are samples or decants of something I have FB’s or large decants of!

    • Angela says:

      I love your use of breast pads! Clever. Nice use of fragrance samples, too. I bet one of those mixed with jojoba oil would make a nice body oil or bath oil, too.

  19. mikeperez23 says:

    Am I the only one who finished reading this article with a strong wish that Guerlain made Vol de Nuit Body Lotion or Cream. OMG, one can dream. :)

    • Angela says:

      I wish they did too!

  20. Undina says:

    I enjoyed reading the article (thank you, Angela!) and all the responses.

    If a perfume stays on me for at least 4 hours, I’m satisfied since a) I do not mind re-applying and b) usually I plan on wearing/testing another perfume in the evening anyway. So I wouldn’t try to prolong perfumes life for such perfumes. And if it doesn’t stay for that long, I probably do not want that perfume at all so I won’t bother prolonging its life. I might make an exeption for Chanel’s Bois des Iles: I love it too much to get scared by its almost non-existent tenacity on my skin.

    • Angela says:

      I like switching fragrances, too, so I see the beauty of not having a perfume go on too long sometimes. Have you tried Bois des Iles parfum? I have a few drops, and let me tell you, it’s wonderful.

      • Undina says:

        No, I haven’t tried it yet – and this is the only reason I haven’t bought a bottle of Bois des Iles EdC – I hope that the parfum concentration will last longer but I haven’t had a chance to check that yet. I should.

        • Angela says:

          On me the parfum does last longer.

  21. Alyssa says:

    Agree with the jojoba and hair technique. Also find a spritz on the bra works well for combining the retaining benefits of cloth with the warmth of skin.

    And another, heretical suggestion: stop wearing perfume for a week. Truly. It’s amazing how many of those perfumes that “disappear” smell quite strong all day once my nose has been given a good rest.

    • Angela says:

      I see the logic of your suggestion, but I’m not sure I’m ready to make the sacrifice!

      Right now I’m wearing Vitriol d’Oeuillet, which doesn’t need any help getting through the day all on its own.

    • Rappleyea says:

      I totally agree with this, Alyssa! I often don’t wear perfume on weekends when I’m doing massage or energy work, and on Monday a.m., a few drops on each wrist smell very strong!

  22. 50_Roses says:

    I have perfume-eating skin, but I have pretty well made peace with that fact. I have learned to enjoy being able to wear up to 4 different perfumes each day. I can wear one in the morning, another in the afternoon, a third in the evening, and a fourth at bedtime after my shower. Four hours is good longevity for me; 2 to 3 hours is more typical. Less than 2 hours and I probably won’t buy the perfume. This pretty well rules out most natural perfumes, and they seem to last 1 hour at most. BTW, I have used the cotton ball in the bra, but I don’t put it in the middle, I tuck it into one of the cups. It doesn’t itch or bother me, and it does seem to help a bit with longevity.

    I have wondered why this seems to be more of an issue today than in the past, and I believe it is not changes in my skin, but changes in ingredients. I notice that most of the vintage scents I have tried last much longer than modern frags. The overall winner is the tiny bottle of vintage Secret de Venus perfume oil I picked up. That stuff will last an entire day, and I mean a 24-hour day. I can put on a dab or two at night after my shower, and still detect it, with a little effort, the following evening. Granted, oils last longer than alcoholic perfumes, but still–those vintage scents had ingredients that made them last much longer than anything being made today. Bottom line: if you want your perfume to last all day, wear vintage.

    • annemarie says:

      I agree about vintage. I think what we may be talking about here is the trend in the last couple of decades away from long-lasting fragrances. It’s the cK One / Issey Miyake phenomenon.

      Thank goodness for good ol’ Estee Lauder, I say. Although even there I had trouble making Sensuous Nude last more than a couple of hours … Okay, thank goodness for Tauer and SSS!

      • Angela says:

        I second you on that!

      • boojum says:

        Hm, except I find things like IM to last even longer… anything that smells harshly synthetic seems to hang around forever on me.

      • ggperfume says:

        Try Azuree! Boy, does that last . . . and stay on your clothes, too. . .

        • Celestia says:

          I was just going to say that! The original Azuree has incredible staying power. The concentration on the bottom says”pure fragrance spray, made in U.K.”. I believe that this was for the American (U.S.) market which does not have French as a second language. My newer EL sprays say “eau de parfum” so we have become more sophistcated!
          As for Vol de Nuit, I’d bet that back in the day (the nineties) it came in at least body lotion if not other body products. One drop of pure perfume on the decolletee lasts and lasts on me perhaps because I’m very oily.

          • Angela says:

            I bet the body lotion was heavenly.

        • Angela says:

          I agree!

    • Angela says:

      Secret de Venus oil is so nice! I have a sample of it, and I cherish it. It does seem to last a long time, too. Now I want to do some side by side comparisons of new and vintage versions of the same perfume!

    • thegoddessrena says:

      I think you’re right about vintage ingredients–base notes are fixatives and it seems like a lot of modern scents are afraid of going deep. I also wonder if it has anything to do with fewer animalics being used

      • Angela says:

        Interesting points. I really do want to do a side-by-side sometime.

      • Rappleyea says:

        Great point!

  23. Liesl says:

    Great article as always, Angela! :) I moisturize daily with good ol’ Suave intensive therapy (or something like that) and spray over that. A perfume must last a bare minimum of six hours on me before I’ll deem it worthy of purchasing, and all of what I wear regularly lasts 9 to 11. I feel like it’s a little forced if I insist on wearing something that needs reapplying, like it doesn’t quite fit and needs adjusting. It’s why I wistfully still do not own No5 edp.

    • Angela says:

      Is the Suave intensive therapy fragrance free? Hopefully it doesn’t interfere much with your perfume. It sounds like it doesn’t.

      • Liesl says:

        It isn’t fragrance free, but I can’t detect anything, nor have I noticed an interference. However, I just now realized it isn’t even unscented, so I’ll probably be searching out something else. lol.

        • Angela says:

          If it isn’t intrusive, though, you may not even need to bother to find something unscented.

  24. COSMICSCENTS says:

    I wear perfume on my hair too:)

    • Angela says:

      Who knew how popular that was? I must try it!

  25. lilydale aka Natalie says:

    I’ve done the cotton ball trick, but never a whole cotton ball — more like 1/3 of one. If I stuffed the whole thing in my bra, I’d have a lump bigger than the other, um, items in there! And with just a scrap of cotton wool, you don’t feel it.

    • Angela says:

      Hey, great solution!

    • OperaFan says:

      LoL! Actually, same here – on both counts. I also don’t have custom fitted bras so that there’s always a bit of room in the middle…
      I use a half of a cotton cosmetic pad folded over, which is all I need (besides, they expand a bit against body warmth). Have done it for many years – the scent wafts directly up to my nose when I move. In fact, that’s how I managed to make my wedding day fragrance last all day. It was Joy + AG Rose Absolue edps, both rather ephemeral when sprayed directly on skin.

      • Angela says:

        What a pretty and very wedding-wonderful combination of fragrances!

        After years in the dressing room, I finally found a line of bras that fits well, and now I won’t stand for one that’s ill-fitting.

  26. stinker_kit says:

    I think that applying perfume to freshly bathed and moisturized skin does make it last longer. Today I used Nuance Rosehip moisturizing body lotion. I layered Yatagan over this. I spray the nape of my neck, my hair, the tops of my arms from the shoulder to the wrist, shins and chest. That was at 5:30 am. I can still detect this fragrance on my arms and it is nearly 10:00 pm. I find the skin on the underside of my wrists does not hold scent well. It gets washed off easily during the course of a normal day. There is a really excellent article on perfume application at Perfume Shrine, if anyone is interested. If it is a scent with short legs, like Bvlgari Black, sigh, I will spritz my clothes as well.

    • Angela says:

      Yatagan is a powerhouse! I’m not surprised at how long it lasts on you, especially given you care you take with it.

    • maw808 says:

      I, too, thoroughly enjoy Yatagan. It’s rich and compelling, and, most importantly, makes a bold statement.

      • Angela says:

        I lthink if Yatagan were a man, I’d be afraid! And allured.

  27. hollyc says:

    Naz at the Perfume Shoppe in Vancouver suggested applying over a thin layer of petroleum jelly. I tried that and it didn’t work for me at all. Instead, what really anchors a fleeting scent for me is applying over a thin layer of organic vegetable glycerin. For some reason it really grabs and seems to increase the sillage. Plus it’s pretty inert. I always wonder about body lotions changing a scent with all the other chemicals in them. Spraying on a hair brush and brushing hair is nice too and I don’t mind spraying my clothes, my lightbulbs, my carpets, my cat (JUST KIDDING)!! He’ s safe and has his own lovely scent!

    • Angela says:

      I almost experimented with perfume over Aquaphor, which is a lot like Vaseline, but I didn’t want the gumminess. Now I wonder if I missed a good option…

      Sometimes my cat ends up fragrant because she insists on getting petted just after I’ve put on perfume. But like you say, she smells marvelous naturally.

      • hollyc says:

        Do try the glycerin Angela, it’s marvelous.

        • Angela says:

          I think I actually have some glycerin in the cupboard. I’ll definitely try it.

  28. nozknoz says:

    I often spray on clothing, although I did regret that once with one of the Hermes colognes – either Gentian Blanc or Pamplemousse Rose. The next time I started to wear that cotton top, I found that everything had faded away except a jalapeno pepper note (like the one in that L’Artisan Piment something that smells picante). Gaah! I kept hoping it would disappear and I could wear the top again, but it lasted for weeks, until I gave up and laundered it.

    I’d be curious to know which fragrance free body cream you used. My old stand-by Lubriderm lotion just erases scents – except for the serious scrubbers, of course. ;-)

    • Angela says:

      I used one by First Aid Beauty, the intensive cream. I wonder what it is about some of the moisturizers that absorbs scent?

    • Knit1CurlToo says:

      I have the same problem with Lubriderm. I thought I read once somewhere — I don’t remember where — that the ingredients that make lotion “unscented” can “un-scent” your fragrance, so I chalked it up to that. I’ll have to try something else.

      • hollyc says:

        Ooooh, that makes sense. Apparently “unscented” products aren’t absent scent, they actually contain ingredients that cancel out the smell of the other ingredients, like a white noise machine. Stands to reason it would cancel out your fragrance.

        • nozknoz says:

          Interesting! Thanks, Holly C!

      • Angela says:

        I wonder if there’s a difference between “unscented” and “fragrance free”?

  29. thegoddessrena says:

    Surgically induced menopause–got rid of the cancer AND gave me fixative skin once my body got used to it :-) There are perfumes I’ve tried that have stopped wafting after about 30 hrs and are still detectable on skin 48-72 hrs later.

    • Angela says:

      Wow! Now that’s truly scent glue skin! I guess with skin like that you really have to be careful what you put on.

      • thegoddessrena says:

        D&G Velvet Love lasts 72 hrs on me, Montale Intense Tiare about 48 hrs. I consider longetivity of a fragrance I like a selling point but scrubbers are definitely problematic

        • Angela says:

          A fragrance that lasts two full days–amazing!

    • Blithie says:

      Hope I get scent glue skin too once my body adjusts to menopause! Right now my hot flashes are accompanied by furnace blasts of scent that use up the perfume faster.

      • Angela says:

        I bet you smell very nice, though–in bursts.

  30. Subhuman says:

    Longevity is rarely, if ever, an area of concern for me these days. I used to bemoan my skin’s scent-swallowing tendencies, but lately I find that even the lightest perfumes cling for hours, and the heavies go on all bloody day (the current champ is Chanel Coco, the base notes of which I can clearly detect a good 20 hours after spraying). Perhaps my nose has grown more sensitive, or my priorities have changed; I don’t mind perfumes that leave the party early, as long as they’re fun while they’re there.

    • Angela says:

      I love your quote about partying perfumes!

  31. hongkongmom says:

    OOOh lots of good ideas today. Thanks Angela for hosting. The best way to feed our skin is by what we eat, more so than moisturizing on the outside. So if we eat more healthy food and healthy fats, i think we feel better and not only do the frags last longer, but our sense of smell is stronger. Food will also affect our body temp. Junk food, stress etc cause my perfume to fly away and the need for the heavy hitters. Today is a lovely day Attrape coeur on the skin still lasting after four hours and wafting in my vey lightweight cashmere scarf…yum :-))))

    • Angela says:

      You make such a good point! Staying hydrated and healthy is certainly a great way to make perfume last (and to feel good).

  32. maw808 says:

    I LOVE this topic! I hadn’t really considered spritzing atop moisturizer or blending fragrance with moisturizer, but the suggestions are very helpful. May I also recommend the following: (1) If you’ve identified the notes of your favorite fragrance(s) and a handmade soap with the essential note(s) is available, do use it! For example, soapers favoring the use of essential oils usually make lavender, citrus, Vetiver, and spice single-note or blends. I know I do! (2) Hair holds fragrance, too, and I love finishing my preparations with a spritz on my hair. In Hawaii, we generally greet each other with a warm hug, and I routinely get compliments on my choice of fragrance, even if the hour is late.

    • Angela says:

      That’s great advice!

  33. fleurdelys says:

    I have two heart-shaped perfume lockets (one gold-toned, one silver-toned, so they’ll go with anything!). The locket can hold a piece of cotton ball sprayed with my scent of the day. The fragrance stays potent and true to itself. I’ve tried the cotton ball in the bra technique as well, but didn’t find it itchy or uncomfortable. Fragrance layering helps scent last, but I don’t have lotions to match all my ‘fumes!. I’ve always worried that spraying clothing or scarves would stain, has anyone had that problem?

    • Angela says:

      The locket sounds lovely. I really like how perfume smells on skin, though. But a pretty locket, well, that would be hard to beat.

  34. Aparatchick says:

    Neutrogena makes a fragrance-free body oil that works really well for me. A drop of oil rubbed onto my wrist, then spritz!

    • Angela says:

      Sounds like a good way to make a custom bath oil, too.

  35. Haunani says:

    I enjoyed this article and discussion! My skin seems to hold fragrance fairly well, but since I usually wear quiet fragrances, I typically reapply halfway through the day. I love the ritual, and I enjoy experiencing the top notes a second (or third!) time. Longevity is never an issue for me, that way. :-)

    • Angela says:

      There IS something nice and kind of glamorous about reapplying perfume! Maybe I need a second perfume collection at work….

      • hollyc says:

        Okay Angela, I’m calling the men in the white coats. It’s for your own good. You’ll thank me when you’re not living in a cardboard leanto under the freeway. (But while you’re recovering, I’d be happy to care for your ‘at home’ perfume collection) evil and maniacal giggles . . . . . .

        • Angela says:

          I know! Really, though, all I have are two tiny decants in my desk drawer. Oh, and maybe a few samples….

  36. anarchkitty says:

    Re: Shea butter – why it ‘eats’ fragrance
    Shea butter is a natural occlusive agent – a barrier to water loss or absorption, just like mineral oil or petroleum jelly are. It would tend the prevent the fragrance being absorbed by the skin, until after the scent oils/molecules have fully evaporated anyway.
    A well hydrated skin, or one to which moisturiser has recently been applied, will tend to do the opposite – to draw the perfume oils/molecules into the skin, and allow them to be gradually released, with moisture from the skin as the skin breathes.
    Hope this helps, and I’m an in-betweeny by the way. If it’s tenacious, it will really last (or if it’s a scrubber too, worse luck). If it’s generally fleeting, then I’ll have trouble finding it 2 hours later.

    • Angela says:

      Thank for the explanation!

  37. candeeKis says:

    I am one of those women that has a really hard time in maintaining a fragrance for more than about 3 hours. It doesn’t matter what the fragrance (with the exception of TM Angel) perfumes that others say they can smell at the end of the day or even the next day just doesn’t happen with me. I have dry skin anyway which likely contributes to my dilemna. My favorite is Flowerbomb so I shower or bathe with the Flowerbomb Shower Gel. After the shower I don’t completely dry myself off, and use the FB Body Creme on my legs and the FB Body Lotion on the rest of me. Then I ‘air dry’. Before dressing I use the Perfume and even the FB Hair Mist. (You’d think this was overkill right?) I even spritz my bra and as I am ready to walk out the door I spritz the Perfume in the air above my head and whirl around to let it land on me. I will smell delicious for about 3 hours and then it’s gone. I have to sniff my arms closely to find a trace of the fragrance. After that point apparently nobody else smells it either (I thought it just might be my own nose getting used to it) because nobody else comments or if asked, they say they can’t smell it. Crazy huh? I guess I am just one of those women that will always have to refreshen my fragrance through the day or evening.

    • Angela says:

      Wow, you really are a fragrance sponge! I don’t even know what to suggest, except that you donate use of your skin to the fragrance industry to figure out how to make perfumes that really last. At least you have the pleasure of wearing different perfume during the day, if you want, without worrying that they’ll blend with what you wore earlier.

Leave a reply