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How to Apply Perfume for Maximum Effect

BY: Reuben Westmaas | Feb 24, 2017

brunette woman in evening dress spraying perfume on her decolletage

Once you’ve picked a fragrance, it’s just as important to know how to wear it. Spritzing yourself in a cloud of cologne from head to toe isn’t the right answer, but neither is a barely-there mist that’s undetectable within minutes of application. To hit that sweet spot between too much and not enough, here’s how to apply perfume like an all-star.

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Where to Spray Perfume?

woman spraying perfume at wrist pulse point

Fragrance smells strongest and lasts longest when it’s sprayed or dabbed onto pulse points. Most people spray the neck, the insides of the wrists, and the base of the throat. But savvy wearers know that other options—such as behind the ears, inside the creases of the elbows or knees, or directly in your crush’s face—can be even more effective. But when deciding where to spray perfume, think about the scent itself. And remember, when it comes to how much perfume to use, more isn’t better, so choose just two or three places.

Light Scents

  • Where to spray: behind the ears; pulse points of neck; pectorals or décolletage
  • How to spray: instead of spraying more, spray higher on your body

Moderate Scents

  • Where to spray: insides of wrists; pulse points of neck; base of throat
  • How to spray: hold the bottle 6”–10” away from your skin

Potent Scents

  • Where to spray: Spray inside the wrists; biceps; in the creases of your elbows and knees—in short, lower on your body to keep it from overwhelming
  • How to spray: hold the bottle 10”–12” away from your skin

What Factors Affect the Way a Fragrance Smells?

woman in towels just out of shower applying perfume

There are a lot of things that can subtly, or drastically, change how a fragrance smells once it’s on your body. Some you might be able to guess, like that lotion and perfume can interact in strange ways, but others may surprise you:

Body Temperature

Warmth activates fragrance, which is why applying it to pulse points is most effective—that’s where skin is the warmest.

Diet and Body Chemistry

Spicy and fatty foods can change the intensity of your fragrances. Skip the scent if heading out for Indian or Thai.

Skin Contaminants

It’s best to apply fragrance immediately after a shower.

Skin Type

Fragrances are intensified on oily skin, and might be weak or short-lived on dry skin. Apply (and reapply) accordingly.

Skincare Products

Wearing scented lotion and perfume can be overwhelming, but you can use a layer of unscented lotion after applying fragrance, which can make it both stronger and longer-lasting.

How Much Perfume is in a Bottle?

perfume bottles on countertop

Even after getting to the bottom of where and how to apply a fragrance, you might still be wondering how long it will take to get to the bottom of the actual bottle. Though they don’t generally have an expiration date, there’s no need to load up on a scent that you don’t wear all the time. This table helps you estimate how long a typical bottle will last.

0.17 fl. oz. ~75 Sampling fragrances to find a new favorite
1.7 fl. oz. ~750 Seasonal wear or special occasions
3.4 fl. oz. and up ~1,500+ Wearing as your signature fragrance

Related Guides

Fragrance guide for men and womenA Fragrance Guide for Men and Women

Man or woman, perfume or cologne, learn how to select the right scent notes for professional, casual, and even romantic wear with this fragrance guide.

Guide Staff Writer
BY: Reuben Westmaas