Fragrance has a long and interesting history dating back to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt.  More than just the fashion statement it’s become today, perfumery is delicate art with deep cultural and ceremonial roots.

I highly recommend, when you have a spare moment or two, reading a bit of fragrance history, because I’m not going to recite it to you now ;> (for this we have wikipedia).  Instead I want to discuss the unfortunate way most people wear perfume today, because it’s a growing problem, within both sexes, so here is a simple guide to wearing your perfume well.

  • No need to drench yourself in it. When fragrance first became truly popular it was used to mask odor. Not only personal odor, but odor in the streets. The cities weren’t clean, there was disease, there wasn’t a lot of bathing going on, there were people dying. At that time the distillation processes was such that perfumes couldn’t be worn directly on the skin, so people would instead wear it on a handkerchief in a glove to bring to the nose to cover unpleasant smells while they were out and about, or on their clothing for more personal reasons. Today we have this lovely thing called indoor plumbing, which allows to bathe and most city streets aren’t permeated by a collaborative stench.  By the time you get to your perfume bottle, you’ve already covered yourself in fragrance. Your soap, your shampoo, your conditioner, your shaving cream, your facial cleanser, moisturizer, body butter or lotion, your hair styling products… for some the list goes on… and then to top off all of those smells, you want to douse yourself in a concentrated scent? Shame on you. One pump to a maximum of 3 areas is plenty.
  • Where you spray matters. Coco Chanel said to spray your perfume in all the places “you wish to be kissed”… but then she also said, “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” Whether you value Coco Chanel’s opinion or not, spraying where you wish to be kisses isn’t a half bad jumping off point, that is, unless you are a man, at which point that advice might become tricky. The idea is to spray in places your body is warm, or there is a pulse point. Behind the ears, wrists, elbows, knees, between breasts… you get the idea. Ideally you should create a head to effect, for example, behind the ears, at the wrists, and then behind the knees. However, I find I don’t like spraying perfume behind my knees, so my suggestion is to just choose three locations you’re comfortable with and spray ONE PUMP there.
  • Don’t assume that because you can no longer smell your fragrance, that no one else can. I cannot stress this point enough. In an average day there is no need to reapply perfume. There’s also no reason you should continue smelling it after half an hour wearing it. If you can, then without question you are wearing too much and you’re making the people around you ill from having to breathe you in from 20 feet away. It’s natural that after about 20-30 minutes you should have become accustomed to the way you smell and stop noticing it. This doesn’t mean your fragrance has faded away, it simply means your nose has adjusted and is being sensitive to smells that are NOT you.
  • Resist the urge to rub those wrist together! If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a thousand times. Women spray a fragrance on their wrist and then madly rub their wrists together for what purpose I can’t imagine. Perhaps in an effort to spread the smell around, I don’t know.  Whatever the case may be, you need to stop doing it. The friction caused by the rubbing “bruises” the notes of the fragrance and compromises the integrity of the scent. I have a sneaky suspicion that many women adopt this habit because they spray on one wrist and the fragrance starts to run and so they rub the excess into the other wrist. You are essentially breaking your fragrance down when you do this, and it may still smell good, but it wont smell as good as it was meant to and you are now drenched in a mediocre version of the stuff you paid for. Stop. Stop it right now.  Hold your fragrance 4 to 5 inches from the area you’re spraying, spray once, move to a new location and repeat.
  • Don’t spray your hair or clothes. Old habits die hard, I know. This one is important though. Unlike our fragrance wearing ancestors, we don’t have to deal with the trouble of perfume that wasn’t safe to wear directly on skin, on the contrary, we have the great fortune of having technology that allows fragrances to be made to work best on skin. You don’t need it sprayed all over your clothes or in your hair… especially not your hair. Not only is it not that great in your hair, hair grabs fragrance and holds on for dear life. I can promise you that as your hair is blowing in the breeze, if it’s covered in perfume on top of the scent of your shampoo and conditioner which hangs around until you wash it again, you’re wafting someone near you into a coma. Body only ladies and gentlemen.
  • Gentlemen please… Last, but certainly not least, I direct this specifically at men young and old. Please go up and read the first point again and allow me to reiterate cologne is not meant to cover odor. It should not be worn in lieu of taking a shower, or if you’ve run out of deodorant or soap. And really, really, spraying your fragrance on your hands and rubbing it on your face is a bad idea. If you have trouble, please limit yourself to one pump to the neck and be done with it. A freshly showered man, in my opinion, doesn’t even need cologne.