Friday, May 18, 2012

Frequent Questions: How to Make your Fragrance Last Longer

Many of us don’t fully realize how fragrance creates a lasting first impression, which is difficult to shake; perfume invades a space with each breath and speaks for us in ways no words can express. But many are those worrying about their carefully chosen fragrance not actually withstanding the time lapse it takes from putting it on and actually arriving and meeting those they mean to impress with it. So we turned to international fragrance expert Arnaud Marolleau for suggestions and I supplemented with a few tried & tested tips of my own so as to provide a brief but useful guide into how to make your perfume last longer.

Choose an intense olfactory family to begin with. Olfactory families denote a general classification that gives the character of a fragrance, as in how it translates to others: citrus or floral or woody for instance are three different categories, respectively characterised by the preponderance of citrus fruit essences, scents evoking flowers or aromata deriving from big trees such as cedar, sandalwood etc. Of course they do not only include the above mentioned ingredients, but that's the predominant impression. There are more esoteric fragrance families, such as chypre and fougere for which you will need to consult our Chypre fragrance accord guide or Fougère fragrance accord guide, if you're unfamiliar with those.

According to Marolleau, the purpose of having an intense effect out of your perfume is best served by chypres, woodies or oriental scents. Chypre is a family of perfumes that are characterized by a citrus top note (traditionally bergamot), a floral middle and a mossy-musk base comprised by labdanum and oakmoss in classic perfumes or recently a base of vetiver and patchouli in "nouveau chypres" (these involve perfume releases in the last 10 years or less). “Chypre fragrance has more than 60 percent comprised of base notes; it is a very enveloping, sensual and sophisticated fragrance, while woody is very good for business.”
You can find fragrance reviews of chypre, woody scents  and oriental perfumes on the corresponding links.

Choose a more concentrated form of your favorite fragrance. There are several fragrance concentrations (ratio of aromatic essences in alcohol and water), such as Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum and Extrait de Parfum (If you don't know which is which, click on the link). If in doubt opt for the higher concentration vs. the weaker one; such as Eau de Parfum over Eau de Toilette or pure parfum over Eau de Parfum. Usually this technique provides a better anchoring, the more concentrated version being richer in base notes which have a low volatility rate Just beware that some fragrances (for instance some Chanels, Narciso Rodriguez for Her or Dior J'Adore many perfume editions) can be slightly different in formula -and thus in their aesthetic effect- among their different concentrations; sample smartly before you invest!

Outsmart the weather, especially humidity. Cold weather tends to hold some notes, especially lush florals and balsams into check. This is why often some tropical fragrances smell all wrong in the wintertime or in northern climates. But heat and humidity can also alter the evolution of a perfume: heat volatilises essences quicker and as to humidity, “humidity is the vampire of fragrance,” said Marolleau. Humidity also makes you sweat more, which in itself alters the intended scent of any given perfume.
In order for the scent to last, you must wear it in as dry an environmen as possible. This means that if you're working in an air-conditioned office or use the air-condition in your car, you will perceive your scent for longer. Of course this isn't always practical! The best thing to do is to have a little bottle in your handbag and renew your fragrance accordingly, taking in mind the surroundings you're going to be in so as not to overdo it.

Improve your skin condition to make fragrance hold. If your skin is dry, the fragrance will never last as long as you want it to. Why? There is nothing for the scent to stick onto making the fragrance evaporate quicker. The easiest suggestion is to wear body lotion all the time to keep skin moisturized. It doesn't need to be scented in a matching scent as your perfume, though that is a romantic and indulgent idea (called "layering a scent") Unscented moisturizer will mean you can use it with whichever fragrance you plan to wear. You can also make your own: Put a little lotion in the palm of your hand and then spray or pour a tiny bit of your fragrance in that little "pool". Rub your palms together to mix and apply on your skin. Yummy!
I also recommend putting a bit of jojoba oil on still damp skin after your bath/shower, especially on places where you will wear fragrance later on. Jojoba is very simpatico to most skins, even oily ones, and is so close to skin sebum that it doesn't alter the scent profile of your perfume or your own body scent.
Also please consult some of the perfume application tricks in our How to Best Apply your Fragrance guide. Several of them help fragrances radiate better and last longer.

Mad Men, Christina Hendricks as Joan Halloway in front of the mirror with her perfumes tray


  1. I'm one of those weirdos that always has to check the weather. It narrows down (somewhat) what I will wear that day. It isn't so much for what kind of cloths I'll wear but perfume. I must have the world's driest skin and I am always slathering on lotion. I've also noticed on how no matter how much lotion I put on EDT's only last 3 or 4 hours max, hence why I always buy EDP's.

  2. Mimi Gardenia16:49

    It's true Elena about humidity being the vampire of fragrance ! Sweating just killed any kind of fragrance except for Fracas EDP which amplified greatly to the point of making me feel sick . I don't know why that is so .It behaves in a dry hot climate though - to the point of being 'clean' smelling on my skin.

  3. noetic owl17:33

    I always find that my really dry skin does not hold fragrance well in the winter so I tend to spray my clothes as well. I have more luck in the summer but perhaps this is because I often use organic virgin coconut oil as an all body moisturizer and layer it with essential oils for extra fragrance-the double wham of oil can last all day on my skin!

  4. Eld,

    I do watch the weather too. Though that's a quirk; I associate rainy days with a certain scent and I wear a specific rotation in the heatwave.

    Indeed concentration plays a significant part as well.

  5. Mimi,

    what an interesting observation on Fracas EDP! We don't have such humidity as the one I have witnessed in Florida or in the Far East (Singapore, Malaysia etc) but we do get a lot of heat in the height of summer. I wouldn't dare wear Fracas then, but you're giving me ideas of trying just a squirt.

  6. Noetic Owl,

    that's fabulous advice for anyone reading here. Thanks!

    I guess summer makes certain things "bloom": some clean powdery ambers translate beautifully (as opposed to dense very sweet ones) as do tropical flowers.

  7. annemariec01:19

    Making your own fragrant lotion is a very neat trick. I tried that this morning with Rochas Femme (not that I have too many worries about the longevity of Femme!) and it is lots of fun. It does seem to create a more encompassing, perfumed veil effect. Lovely! Thanks.

  8. Rappleyea19:38

    Hello Elena,
    I'm just catching up on my reading. You've left me drooling for the new Guerlains!

    On the subject of perfume longevity, I have to say that I have "scent-glue skin" even though it is very dry (also fair and tight-pored for the record). A short-lived scent will "only" last a good 12 hours. My SOTD, Champagne de Bois, will last a good 36 hours even through a shower.

    Hope you're having a great weekend!

  9. Annemariec,

    thanks for the feedback! Glad you liked this trick. It's neat and practical, isn't it?
    Thanks for commenting.

  10. Donna,

    thank you honey and good to see you back! Much appreciated coming on to share your experience. You're lucky then (unless testing a "scrubber" in which case you have a problem, LOL).

    Hope you had a great time too! :-)

  11. Found the bit about creating your own lotion a really awesome way to extend the lifespan of fragrances. I straight away turned around and told my mate's sister about it. Thanks for that!


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