One Perfume, Four Ways to Wear It

My day-to-day perfumery work requires an extensive library of fragrances, but for pleasure, I can make do with a small wardrobe. When I had to pack in preparation for my move to Belgium, I faced a Sophie’s choice many perfume lovers dread–which perfumes to take with me. We didn’t know if we’d be moving for a couple of months or a couple of years, and the limited luggage allowance left me with few options–three or four full bottles maximum.

I relied on this small fragrance wardrobe for several months as most of my collection made its way the ocean, but I’ve never felt deprived.  Perfumers often say that a single perfume can be worn in such ways that it can smell like a completely different blend, but this was the first time I had experimented enough to discover this for myself.  Depending on how I applied a fragrance, I enjoyed different facets of my favorite perfumes. It was both fun and liberating, proving once again that one need not spend a fortune to be beautifully scented.

Wrapped in Sheer Veil

If you smell jasmine oil in its pure state, it smells thick, jammy and opaque. But dilute it in a neutral base, and the aroma of white flowers rises forth. Dilute even further, and you will smell a wistful, green note reminiscent of young leaves and sticky buds. A similar exercise can be done with your favorite perfume, and a sheer application might even reveal new facets that are not as obvious when you apply a fragrance full strength.

It doesn’t matter if your favorite perfume is the ethereal Hermès Hiris or opulent Thierry Mugler Angel, any fragrance can be made more transparent through application techniques. Instead of spraying, consider dabbing your perfume or spray in tiny, targeted bursts. It’s a subtle difference, but the result can be dramatically different. Angel dabbed on neck and wrists will smell like hazelnuts and milk chocolate, while a generous spray will give you a rich caramel and candy apple effect.

My sense of smell is particularly acute in the morning, so I opt for a delicate veil of scent for an uplifting, but not overwhelming effect. Later in the day I might refresh my fragrance to make more of a statement.

Making a Statement

I’ve always wondered why my mother receives an extraordinary number of perfume compliments, and I realized that her secret is in the perfume application. The best way to create a statement with your perfume is to amplify its sillage by applying the fragrance to your hair and clothes. The warmth of the skin makes the fragrance evaporate faster, while the hair and fabrics trap it for much longer.

Even a delicate blend like Annick Goutal Néroli can be a statement perfume if I apply an additional spray when I’m fully dressed. Spraying my scarf is another great way to ensure that a perfume lingers.  But a word of caution–be careful when applying perfume to delicate fabrics, such as organza, silk or satin, since they may stain or discolor.

Skin Care: Scented Lotion

You can make your perfume go a long way by scenting your favorite lotion with it. I’m rarely tempted by the expensive shower gels and body creams.  For the most part, you don’t receive a good return on your investment–the perfume component is much less expensive than it would be in the Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette equivalent, while the product base is standard. You end up paying for the brand name and the luxurious packaging.

To indulge in my luxurious Serge Lutens La Myrrhe body cream, I follow a trick that I use in the perfumery lab whenever I test several batches of lotions–I take my favorite cream and add a couple of sprays of perfume, mix thoroughly and apply to my skin. Some body products have ingredients that might interact with perfume, so I don’t advise making such blends in large batches; only make as much as you want to use that day.

Pampering: Fragrant Bath

I’ve already written about my favorite pampering ritual, a cologne bath, but it’s possible to use any of your favorite perfumes to scent a bath. Of course, it doesn’t make sense to pour a rare, expensive fragrance into your bath, but usually you don’t need to use much perfume. Even the inexpensive 4711 cologne makes for a refreshing and exhilarating treat.

Fill the bathtub with water and just as you’re ready to get in, add your perfume of choice. If I feel like indulging in a Guerlain Shalimar scented bath, I use 2 drops of perfume or 3-4 sprays of Eau de Toilette. The warmth of the bath will make the scent blossom.

Do you have your favorite ways of using perfume? 

Photography © Bois de Jasmin.

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129 Comments

  • Lucas: This is an amazing and interesting article Victoria! One can learn a lot about experiments with perfume from it.

    From my own experience I usually apply simply by spraying perfume from the bottle directly on my wrists and neck/chest area.

    I also spray a little bit of perfume on two fingers and then I dab behind ears.

    I recently noticed that my Cuir Ottoman smells different when spen it’s sprayed or dabbed. Spraying releases a little plasticy, burnt leather and styrax while dabbing gives lighter leather scent with more pronounced powdery iris and sweet raisins. January 7, 2013 at 7:53am Reply

    • Elia: I also noticed a huge difference in spraying vs dabbing. SL Rahat Loukoum smells so much better when sprayed. January 7, 2013 at 9:48am Reply

      • Lucas: Nice. I’m not familiar with this perfume but I’m sure it’s great. January 7, 2013 at 11:19am Reply

      • Elisa: I actually think most of the Lutens line smells better dabbed than sprayed, at least the orientals. I’m glad the bottles make it easy to do both. January 7, 2013 at 12:15pm Reply

        • Lucas: you made an interesting notice. January 7, 2013 at 3:15pm Reply

    • Ferris: Ive only dabbed Cuir Ottoman so I can only imagine spraying it. I’ve never detected a raisin accord before Lucas. I will dig out my sample and dab away to see if I can smell it also. I must figure out a way to make my Creed fragrances last longer then 3 hours. I only had sample vials (dabbers) and I dab all over, my neck, elbow crease, wrists, behind ears. LOL All that and I still get 3 hours if that. I will try the lotion thing to see if I can get better longevity. January 7, 2013 at 10:52am Reply

      • Lucas: I bought a bottle last month and was surprised when I used it for the first time since it smelled different comparing to when I was wearing it earlier using dabs from my sample. That was surprising.
        I’m not sure if raisins are really in Cuir Ottoman but while dabbing I get a sweet feeling that makes me think of raisins indeed. January 7, 2013 at 11:20am Reply

    • Victoria: So true! I will try Cuir Ottoman dabbed next time. With some perfumes the difference can be so noticeable! January 7, 2013 at 3:48pm Reply

  • nikki: Great new ways of using perfume, thank you Victoria! Will you let us know which 4 perfumes were in your suitcase? January 7, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

    • Victoria: In the end I took Chanel No 19 EDP (complex enough to wear often and still find new facets to love), Annick Goutal Neroli (I can wear it daily and not get tired of it), Coty Chypre (a small bottle and one of my most valuable) and Guerlain Apres L’ondee parfum (a small, portable bottle, a favorite perfume, and it was a gift from a dear friend). I also had a little bag of samples and decants of Serge Lutens Bois de Violette, Iris Silver Mist and Frederic Malle L’Eau d’Hiver. Unfortunately, L’Eau d’Hiver has turned, but I discovered it only after I’ve arrived to Brussels. So, there you have my tiny wardrobe that kept me more than happy (and I didn’t even wear Chypre or Apres L’Ondee that summer). January 7, 2013 at 3:53pm Reply

      • Victoria: And I forgot that shortly after I’ve arrived, I bought a bottle of Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche, so it was another staple. 🙂 January 8, 2013 at 2:09pm Reply

  • thai: Lovely piece! I am curious though, which perfumes did you pack then? I sm facing with that dilemma soon and I want to cry. January 7, 2013 at 9:16am Reply

    • Victoria: I just replied to Nikki in some detail on what I took and why. I’m sure that you will end up selecting a nice wardrobe. Just take your absolute favorites and that will be the best choice! January 7, 2013 at 3:57pm Reply

  • Elia: This article is timely for me, because I just started the spring semester and I need to save up. I’m curious to read about making my own perfumed lotion. What is your favorite body cream? I presume that you use something unscented? January 7, 2013 at 9:47am Reply

    • Victoria: I usually use something unscented or that has a very mild scent. Right now, I like DHC Body Silker, which contains AHA and exfoliates the skin slightly. Otherwise, I like Curel–moisturizes well and doesn’t have a strong scent. January 7, 2013 at 3:58pm Reply

  • Heather: Very useful, thank you! I am often enticed by matching body lotions. I will try experimenting to make my own now. Are there any base lotions/creams you recommend? Would something like E45 work? January 7, 2013 at 10:10am Reply

    • Ferris: Heather, I would use a great non-scented moisture rich lotion such as Vaseline Intensive Rescue 3-in-1(I’m not sure of the name exactly) but its thick and rich and I think it will hold your favorite scent very nicely! Plus it is so much cheaper than buying the company produced body lotion equivalent as Victoria has said. Try it out and lets us know how it fares out for you. January 7, 2013 at 10:39am Reply

      • Heather: The reason I asked is that I was under the impression that unscented, or is it fragrance free, products do contain aromachemicals that mask the fragrance of whatever else is in there, so therefore would mask the perfume as well. January 7, 2013 at 1:01pm Reply

        • Victoria: Some might interact with the scent, that’s true, but many lotions work well enough. For instance, I use Curel, DHC Body Silker and Kiehl’s Creme de Corps, and for the most part, they work well enough with most of my favorite perfumes. January 7, 2013 at 4:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: It should be fine! Anything with mild scent or no scent works really well. Just spray some perfume into the lotion, mix well with your fingers and apply.

      The truth is that most matching lotions are made with the cheaper version of the original perfume (and most cases, much cheaper!), so if you want to save some money, you can come up with much better alternatives. January 7, 2013 at 4:01pm Reply

  • Zazie: Dear V, fascinating article. I second Thai, please tell us what where your choices!
    When I travel for a few weeks or a few days, I always bring with me the same light packaging, that usually covers my most probable cravings:
    – a 4 ml mini of Bois des iles (for woody ambery warmth, and because it doubles as one of my staple bed-time fragrances)
    – Kai roll on oil (for bright and fresh floral needs + the bottle is lighweight and small)
    – fracas (because I need at least a tuberose, and I have many travel friendly samples of Fracas)
    – Amaranthine for gourmand cravings
    – Tubereuse criminelle, for it’s therapeutic effects, if and when I remeber to decant it in a travel spray…

    I shall use your “tuneable” application technique to make the most out of my “travel perfumes”. I already use it (sort of) for a different purpose: when I want to tone down an unpleasant opening (or reduce the volume of a very diffusive fragrance) and bring forward the base I favor dabbing over spraying… January 7, 2013 at 10:39am Reply

    • Victoria: Told it all in my comment to Nikki! 🙂

      You’re a perfectly scented traveler! For the past few long trips I’ve taken, I’ve packed only Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist. But my mom takes with her a nice little collection, so if we travel together, I don’t even have to pack my own. January 7, 2013 at 4:07pm Reply

  • Rachel: Awesome! If I have 6 full bottles in my collection now, not counting samples, I can wear these perfumesin 24 different ways. 🙂 January 7, 2013 at 10:45am Reply

    • Victoria: And you can layer them too! 🙂 January 7, 2013 at 4:08pm Reply

  • OperaFan: We have similar lines of thought when it comes to developing alternate uses for perfumes. I also routinely mix favorite perfumes into creams and lotions to create scented moisturizers. Perfumes and edps are great for this purpose and I mix with unscented products from natural brands such as Alba Botanica or Sonoma Scent Studio, where I know they do not add fragrance neutralizing ingredients.
    I have also sprayed perfume directly into bath water to indulge in scented baths. Never tried cologne baths but your article DID inspire me to purchase a large bottle of 4711 to try….
    Cheers and Happy New Year! January 7, 2013 at 10:51am Reply

    • OperaFan: I forget to mention a hint for scented creams and lotions: If you prepare ahead and blend in small batches, let the mixture sit for a few days or a week, the fragrance will integrate better with the moisturizer and improve the scent-wearing experience. 🙂 January 7, 2013 at 10:57am Reply

    • Victoria: 4711 is fantastic! It’s such a versatile fragrance, and a bath scented with it is one of my favorite de-stressing treats.

      I miss Alba Botanica products here. Their Midnight Tuberose shower gel is a dead ringer for L’Artisan La Chasse Aux Papillons. January 7, 2013 at 4:09pm Reply

      • OperaFan: So glad to know another fan of AB products. I’m a long time user of their lotions. Will take a look at their bath products. January 7, 2013 at 10:28pm Reply

    • Annikky: Thanks for mentioning SSS body products – I am a fan of the scents, but somehow it never occurred to me to try other things. January 8, 2013 at 3:55am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I always noticed that some perfumes are better sprayed, others dabbed. So I was very pleased with your instructive article. For exemple: Sa Majesté La Rose is far more better on me when dabbed. generally speaking, I prefer dabbing, except fresh citrus or eau de colognes. But most bottles have a spray; I am always glad when I can remove the spray (Lutens, MPG..). I was intrigued by the comment of Lucas: spray on your fingers, then dab. But what is the difference between spray directly on your wrist and spraying on the fingers first? in both cases the perfume is driven out of the bottle with gas. Well, i have to experiment!
    Perhaps I am underperfumed, I only perfume my wrists (generously). January 7, 2013 at 10:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Spraying generally covers a larger area with a thin film of perfume, while dabbing is more concentrated in a small area. For some fragrance, this might make a differences, but not for others. Still, when one wants to play with their collection and enjoy different facets of their favorite perfumes, spraying vs dabbing is a great way to get more mileage out of a single perfume bottle. January 7, 2013 at 4:11pm Reply

  • Ann-Sofie: Great advice – thanks! I handwash my silk scarves in non-scented soap, and in the last rinse spray one of my favourite perfumes into the water and put the scarves in this for a couple of minutes. After drying, they are perfectly scented without any perfume stains. January 7, 2013 at 11:12am Reply

    • Ilse: What a great idea! I want to try it on my night gowns. January 7, 2013 at 11:50am Reply

      • Ann-Sofie: An even better idea! Hmmm, I wonder what the scent effect would be if I add my own perfume to non-scented softener in a maschine wash, washing linnen for example? Or sprayed in the tumbler during drying? Will it just evaporate? I must try this. January 7, 2013 at 3:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s how we test fabric softeners in the lab–we take unscented bases and add our perfume mods. Most softeners on the market are so strongly perfumed, but if you can find something unscented, it would be a fun experiment. January 7, 2013 at 4:13pm Reply

          • Ann-Sofie: There are a (regrettably?) wide variety of unscented softeners here in Sweden – the Twilight Zone of artficial naturaleness concerning scents. The scentless softeners therefore tend to smell slightly chemical because no perfume is added to ward off the smell of the active ingredients. I think good old reliable powerhouse Chanel will combat this with ease. January 7, 2013 at 6:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: This does sound wonderful! I second Ilse’s idea to try it on my night gowns. I already imagine my nightgown perfumes with Penhaligons’ Violetta (one of my favorite nighttime perfumes). Thank you, Ann-Sofie. January 7, 2013 at 4:12pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: Yes, this is a problem I have faced many times in my travels. Which bottles to take? Usually I take two or three, along with a handful of decants. On my latest trip to Europe I took L’Eau d’Hiver, Mitsouko, and Le Temps d’Une Fete. I love your ideas for discovering new facets of each perfume! Maybe I can finally give Cristalle some sillage on me. January 7, 2013 at 11:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Replied under Nikki’s comment! It required some thinking, but I just ended up packing some of my top favorites.

      Your choices sound great. I think that I would be happy with those as well. January 7, 2013 at 4:15pm Reply

  • Camilla: A wise and “chic on a budget” woman gave me her secret which was to use a drop of the (Guerlain) scented bath oil on a piece of cotton ball and lodge this between the skin and the front part of the bra. I do this with EDT as well which prevents loss in the air of half the spray (and does not set my spouse coughing).
    Not good for sillage, but creates a subtle personal perfume zone and is very economical.
    (Of course that company doesn’t make the bath oil any longer, but I have found some at a price on EBay.) January 7, 2013 at 12:01pm Reply

    • Heather: Love this idea! I’m going to try this as well. January 7, 2013 at 1:02pm Reply

    • OperaFan: This is one of my favorite ways to wear fragrances. The scent wafts directly up into your nostrils and while you’re basking in its full glory, others around you just get the faintest pleasant whiffs. January 7, 2013 at 2:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a great tip, especially for oils and parfums!

      Shalimar bath oil sounds wonderful too. January 7, 2013 at 6:38pm Reply

      • Camilla: Today I mixed Nahema with a skin lotion which I applied to as many parts as I could reach, as well as applying two squirts into a piece of cotton as mentioned above.
        Between the two I was happy and scented all day. Great tip for scenting lotion. Thank you. January 8, 2013 at 10:52pm Reply

  • Shoppingaholic Jiya: I am so glad that I read this article. BTW your new follower here. Actually I had know about these facts by myself but I didn’t know that these are also the right way to wear a perfume. Probably this is what is called a pro (you) and a novice (me). A pro always believes in what he/she does and a novice always doubts what he/she does. I am so glad that I found your blog and I would learn a lot from you. Thank you. Jiya from India January 7, 2013 at 12:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: Welcome, Jiya! I don’t think that there is a right or wrong way to wear a perfume, and the best part is experimenting to see what works best for you. 🙂 January 7, 2013 at 6:49pm Reply

  • fez: Hi. Thanks for the informative article. I jst want to know, when having the fragrant bath do you just add a few drops or sprays of perfume to a plain water bath or to a bath that has already been scented with bath salts, foam gels etc? January 7, 2013 at 12:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: You can do it either way, but if your bath salts or foam gels are strongly scented, adding another scent might create a strange mix. I usually like to add plain sea salt to my bath water or a little bit of glycerin (for an extra moisturizing effect), and then I add perfume. January 7, 2013 at 6:51pm Reply

  • mezzodiva54: It never occurred to me to scent the bath with spraying fragrance (although I certainly do not know WHY this would not have occurred to me, it’s perfectly obvious now that V has suggested it!), but I have for many years added a squirt or so of fragrance to unscented body creams or lotions. In fact, I now am having to use a compounded prescription ointment for muscle pain — GREATLY improved by adding a little fragrance! I could add the fragrance directly to the container, but if I just scent one application at a time, I have a universe of fragrance choices to help ease my pain and cheer my heart! January 7, 2013 at 12:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: When I was dancing professionally and had to live scented with muscle ointment, I loved adding a bit of perfume. The best masking perfumes were usually citrus or orange blossom, but almost anything is better than the persistent ointment scent. January 7, 2013 at 6:52pm Reply

      • mezzodiva54: Luckily the base is completely neutral, so I’m not having to compete with camphor or its smelly resinous relatives! January 7, 2013 at 7:08pm Reply

        • Victoria: Oh, that’s much better! (And I hope that the muscle pain goes away, and you won’t have to use the ointment anymore.) January 7, 2013 at 7:11pm Reply

  • Kay: Oh dear, which ones did you choose? The scents mentioned in your article? January 7, 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: I replied under Nikki’s comment all the way at the top! Gosh, perfume choice aside, I still have nightmares about having to pack for this move. 🙂 January 7, 2013 at 6:53pm Reply

  • Patt: I’ve heard that Shea Butter helps to extend the longevity of perfume, but do you first use the Shea Butter on skin and then spray, or do you mix the Shea Butter with the fragrance? January 7, 2013 at 1:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Shea butter is terrific, but I find that it works better if the perfume is sprayed on top, rather than mixed in. January 7, 2013 at 6:54pm Reply

  • Sheena: Victoria, I so enjoy reading your blog…it’s what I do to relax after a day negotiating the financial markets 🙂 I’d love to know which four perfumes you chose to take with you to Belgium? January 7, 2013 at 2:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Sheena! Scroll up to Nikki’s comment–I just replied there. It was a tough choice, but I was so happy with what I selected in the end! January 7, 2013 at 6:55pm Reply

  • Andi: Thank you so much for the reminders and the bath sounds devine!

    For those looking for a great truly unscented lotion line, Vanicream is the best that I have found. For US friends, it can be found at Wallgreens. They have a few formulas, a light lotion as well as a rich cream. January 7, 2013 at 3:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: My pleasure, Andy!
      Drugstore brands of body creams and skin lotions are among some of my favorites. After all, these companies spend a lot of money on developing their product bases, and often the luxury brands buy from them, rather than develop their own. January 7, 2013 at 6:56pm Reply

      • Ferris: Some products are of dubious quality. I remember getting a store brand private label “Eucerin type” lotion and I could feel the granules/crystals in the product. Seemed like the components didn’t fully incorporate into the mixture.

        Your idea of making scented lotions sounds like a great way to prolong the life of a scent. I will try this technique with some Creed fragrances, which are notorious for their limited longevity on the skin . January 9, 2013 at 3:18pm Reply

  • annemariec: Lovely piece, many thanks. I often apply under clothes if I want to damp down sillage, but something I want to experiment with some more is how a perfume reacts under a loose top, where it pillows around between the fabric and your skin, and a close fitting one, where it adheres to both skin and fabric.

    I like mixing perfume with a dab of unscented lotion and feel no need to purchase the scented versions, which I often find of dubious quality anyway. But I will put in a good word for Chanel’s body creams, however, which are extraordinarily beautiful. True to the scents, and very long-lasting. You need to use so little that I can’t comment on how moisturising they are – I’ve never really used enough! Reasonable, I ‘d say. They would make a good travel option too, if you want to decant some into a small jar. January 7, 2013 at 3:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Anne-Marie! Chanel spends some effort research its product bases, which is not the case for many other companies. My mom gave me Diptyque Olene shower gel as a gift, and while I loved the scent, I couldn’t believe how poor the gel base itself was. January 7, 2013 at 3:56pm Reply

      • Ferris: How terrible was the gel base? January 9, 2013 at 3:21pm Reply

        • Victoria: It didn’t foam well and left a sticky film. Perhaps, it also had to do with our hard water. January 9, 2013 at 5:59pm Reply

    • Camilla: Could you recommend an unscented lotion please? Thank you. January 7, 2013 at 4:47pm Reply

      • annemariec: I’m in Australia and tend to use products from local companies, which my be no help to you. I’ve been using a Kenkay moisturiser but it has a faint chemical scent. Now I use Dermaveen. Other people may have other recs. January 7, 2013 at 5:20pm Reply

        • Camilla: Thak you Anne Marie for bothering to reply. Afterwards I saw when I read further that there were several recommendations for suitable lotions. I in New England. Happy perfume! It is a wonderful field and I have learned such a lot from exploring Bois de Jasmin. Thanks again. January 7, 2013 at 9:25pm Reply

          • OperaFan: Camilla- you can find Alba Botanica lotions in most healthfood stores or high-end supermarkets in the NE regions that carry organic foods. They have a couple of formulations with no fragrance additives (except for a trace from the natural essential oils in the ingredient list). January 7, 2013 at 10:40pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I don’t know where you are but I really like Bioderma’s unscented bodylotion. It’s one of those wonderful French pharmacie brands. January 7, 2013 at 6:25pm Reply

        • Camilla: Thank you Austenfan. I’ll look out for that when I will be in France this year. January 7, 2013 at 9:28pm Reply

  • Das: Lots of good ideas in this article and the comments. I’ll add a couple more:
    1- Use jojoba oil or another unscented carrier oil instead of lotion/cream. I got this idea when Victoria was describing the Coco Mademoiselle oil. Since I already have the EDP, I thought it would help soften it up (tone down the scent) if I used one small spray of the perfume in a much larger quantity of oil. The oil feels luxurious, and it’s so inexpensive.
    2- Since I don’t take baths, I spray perfume into the shower area instead just before stepping in. I aim the sprayer to the ceiling to create a cloud of scent and use 4-5 sprays. It doesn’t always last the whole shower but it’s nice for a quick scent experience without having to wear that perfume that day. Of course, I only use my less expensive 100 mL bottles that I don’t think I’ll ever use up for this. January 7, 2013 at 3:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for a reminder about a scented shower. I’ve used it in the past when my apartment didn’t have a bath, and it’s true, it doesn’t last that long, but it gives a terrific boost of scent. January 7, 2013 at 6:58pm Reply

    • Annikky: I really like the shower idea, thank you! I always enjoy the moment when I step into the shower and the scent that I’m wearing intensifies and really blooms before it is washed off. So I believe I would enjoy your technique as well. January 8, 2013 at 5:38am Reply

  • annemariec: OT, but I was at the cinema with my daughter watching Wreck-it Ralph (great fun!) and someone was wearing Angel. Clearly she had not heard of the scented veil concept … January 7, 2013 at 3:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ha! I have this experience pretty much every single time I’m at the movie theater here in Brussels. Angel and Coco Mademoiselle are the beloved fragrances here, in all age groups, and they are worn with a generous hand. And I like Angel, but I think that I’ve had more than enough at this point. January 7, 2013 at 6:59pm Reply

    • mezzodiva54: LOL! When I was still in school, ~20-some years back, I had a class with a girl who loved Giorgio, and wanted EVERYONE on the planet to know it. I had to make sure to arrive early so I could sit as far away from her as I possibly could. To this day, I cannot smell that fragrance without cringing… January 7, 2013 at 7:15pm Reply

  • paola: One thing I like is to spray my books with my favourite fragrance! January 7, 2013 at 4:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Fun! Reminds me of an old custom of spraying letters with perfume. January 7, 2013 at 7:00pm Reply

  • Audrey H.: I love the idea of spritzing scent in my hair but never tried it, will remember to do this. I’m also thinking that adding scent to body lotion could help extend the life of a edt that was gifted to me but doesnt last long on my skin. Thanks for the ideas, excited to try them. January 7, 2013 at 4:24pm Reply

    • Austenfan: It’s wonderful, gives lovely sillage. ( depending on how long your hair is of course). I have had my hair sprayed with Songes and Carnal Flower, fortunately not at the same time! January 7, 2013 at 6:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree with Austenfan, it’s impressive how much it boosts the sillage, especially if your hair is long. But even so, I usually wear my hair up, and spraying perfume over my bun makes it lasts really well. January 7, 2013 at 7:01pm Reply

  • maja: Merry Christmas! 🙂 I absolutely love your suggestions and I’m going to try the perfumed lotion tomorrow. Am a bit craving jasmine today and I have a pure jasmin oil bought in Dalmatia… January 7, 2013 at 5:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Merry Christmas to you, Maja! Lucky you to have some jasmine oil on hand. You can definitely experiment scenting your favorite lotion with it, and you hardly need much. January 7, 2013 at 7:02pm Reply

  • Austenfan: The Orthodox church still uses the old Julian calendar? I seem to remember that. What is the celebration like?
    It’s really interesting this, I always prefer my fragrances sprayed, find it difficult to judge fragrances dabbed. Except for extraits of course.I will have to try the trick of adding fragrance to lotions.
    Yves Saint Laurent used to have this stunning body cream of Paris. In the black box with the red/pink top. The new cream is nice as well, but not as good. January 7, 2013 at 6:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it does, so our New Year is January 14th. The traditional celebration includes a special wheat porridge, three layer bread and lots of different dishes (the Christmas Eve is supposed to be vegetarian or fish only, while the Christmas Day allows meat). But this year, I didn’t make anything traditional. Instead, I’ve been inspired lately to cook more Japanese and Korean dishes, so I’ve used those flavors in our dinner. In other words, the celebration is really all about eating! January 7, 2013 at 7:06pm Reply

      • Andrea: Khrystos Rodyvsya! I was in church today for Ukrainian Christmas and enjoying all the senses that go with it, especially the essence of beeswax and incense. January 7, 2013 at 11:08pm Reply

        • Victoria: Voistinu rodyvsya! Oh, that’s the most wonderful scent–beeswax and incense. January 8, 2013 at 7:48am Reply

    • Annikky: Same here, Austenfan, I reserve dabbing for the most concentrated and precious juices only. Mostly because I feel I cannot really get a sense of the fragrance when dabbing and also because I prefer spraying as an act. I always get annoyed when samples come in dabber vials, they seem half-useless to me. But this is just personal preference, of course, I do not claim that spraying is superior to dabbing 🙂 January 8, 2013 at 5:33am Reply

      • Austenfan: I blame my bad nose! January 8, 2013 at 7:15am Reply

        • Victoria: It’s quite possible that you underapply when dabbing. A spray releases several times more perfume.

          And your nose is excellent, so don’t go blaming it! 🙂 January 8, 2013 at 7:35am Reply

  • Steve L.: In the winter I typically moisturize and then apply my fragrance which holds the scent longer…but I had not thought of creating a batch of perfumed lotion. Wonderful! January 7, 2013 at 8:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: It will be more potent and more evenly applied this way. And it’s fun to experiment with different scents. January 8, 2013 at 7:36am Reply

  • Phyllis Ann Iervello: I have been a perfumista a long time (before there was a coined word for it). When I was younger I would always buy a lotion and shower gel for my favorite fragrances if they were in the line. Now I never buy either. I just use my Melaleuca Renew Intensive Skin Therapy (which seems never to interfere with any fragrance I use) and then spray (or dab) my fragrance. Also I usually always spray the back of my neck and fragrance wafts around me. If some of the scent gets on my clothing, and stains, no one (including me) can see it. January 7, 2013 at 8:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: The back of my neck is one of my favorite places to spray perfume. Plus, the hair traps some of it too, giving a nicer scent trail. January 8, 2013 at 7:37am Reply

  • Andy: What a great post! I loved it! I can’t wait to do some experimenting with fragrances I already have to see how varying the method of application might affect the scent. I had an experience once where I found a difference between the rollerball and spray version of a fragrance, and now I know this must be why. It seems like some sorts of scents are definitely more susceptible to morphing based on different application methods, but it’s an interesting experiment to do with anything I think. January 7, 2013 at 8:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Andy! Layering is another interesting way to experiment, but tweaking the application method is even easier (and less likely to result in a scent cacophony!) January 8, 2013 at 7:38am Reply

  • behemot: Great post, full of excellent ideas how to wear perfume. I find the comments very helpful, too.
    On the other hand, I cannot imagine moving to another country with just four bottles.. Unless I go to Paris with a lot of extra money to spend on perfume. This could actually be quite interesting 🙂 January 7, 2013 at 10:13pm Reply

    • Claire: V good point and agree wholeheartedly: if I were to move to Paris with lots and lots of extra spending money, I will abandon my current perfume wardrobe in lieu of exploration. January 8, 2013 at 2:17am Reply

      • Victoria: You can also explore without buying anything, particularly since in Paris (and in Brussels in particular) the stores are much more generous with samples. Whenever I buy skincare or makeup, I get asked what samples I want. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I spend either. A nice policy! January 8, 2013 at 7:42am Reply

    • Victoria: I thought that it would be a tough challenge, but apart from needing some fragrances for work (but those tend the benchmark scents that I wouldn’t wear for pleasure anyway), I liked my new minimalist approach. It really opened up my eyes to how much mileage one can get out of a single bottle of perfume. January 8, 2013 at 7:40am Reply

  • Christy: I am totally agree with the first two methods. And I spray a lot on my scarf every day.

    I am not buying the last two methods. Fragrance in skincare/bodycare makes our face more fragile and create free redials. For the same reason, perfumed body wash is also discouraged from the anti-aging point of view. January 8, 2013 at 12:06am Reply

    • Victoria: I wouldn’t apply perfume to my face either, but a scented body lotion or shower gel has never caused any issues. I haven’t seen any research showing that perfume speeds up the aging process. January 8, 2013 at 7:44am Reply

  • Claire: Lovely post, Victoria! I always learn a thing or two from your excellent blog. Well, first of all, what a “cruel” situation to compel you to travel with limited bottles of fragrance. It is almost unthinkable for a perfume connoisseur. Second, you are the first blogger I came across to have mentioned a 4711 bath. My grandma used to splash 4711 on her handkerchief and applied it on my forehead whenever we went to somewhere warm/sunny. The scent of 4711 speaks of summer & a loving memory with her. Third, I will share a way of “wearing” perfume that I also learned from my grandma is, again, on the handkerchief. I know this may sound counterproductive, but she always had a handkerchief with her (as many women of her generation were) and she’d always hold it on her hand, or in her purse, or in the pocket of her dress, and the perfume scented the hand/purse/dress delicately, touching everything she touched. I can still remember how lovely her hand smelt when she was fixing my hair, or how lovely my hand smelt after holding hers. January 8, 2013 at 2:15am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for sharing these tips and your touching story! My grandmother also had a collection of handkerchiefs, and I remember that hers were scented too. It was a whole process to prepare them, from starching to ironing. I miss such little details. January 8, 2013 at 7:47am Reply

  • Lauren: This is lovely, Victoria. I have to second the recommendation to only mix small amounts of scented lotion, and would say to perhaps test it first. A number of years ago I mixed a lotion that contained sunscreen and antioxidants with Kenzo Flower and it kept turning yellow. Turns out the CoQ10 (an antioxidant which happens to be yellow) in the lotion was reacting with the perfume! January 8, 2013 at 1:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 Sounds familiar! Most lotions contain various ingredients as well as additional scents masking the slight chemical odors of the bases, and they can react if left to macerate. That’s why I err on the side of caution and just mix a small amount. January 8, 2013 at 2:12pm Reply

  • MrsT: Thank all for the various new tips on scenting.
    I thought I would share a rather unique ‘anointing’ I saw Constance Talmadge do.
    She was a silent movie star in ’20s. In 2 movies, she takes the wand from the perfume bottle decanter then wipes the locks of hair (on both sides of face) in front of her ears; redips the wand and strokes once the neck behind each ear; then (to my shock) lightly slides the wand on the skin edges of both lips before replacing the wand! This ritual was exactly the same in both movies, filmed a year apart. January 8, 2013 at 3:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for this fascinating note. I now want to find those movies just to see that. Do you remember the names of those movies, by any chance? January 8, 2013 at 3:46pm Reply

      • MrsT: “Her Night of Romance” and “Her Sister from Paris”. Both have Ronald Coleman as the love interest. I hope you can find them in the EU.
        Another perfume ritual from these older days (a variation is mentioned in above posts) is a small piece of cotton inserted into centre of bra next to skin that has been perfumed.
        The way it was told to me was to not wash it, but let it build ‘your’ scent by a few wearings along with a few repeated applications of the same scent. The lady that mentioned it wore her “Bal a Versailles” this way. January 8, 2013 at 4:32pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much! I will look for them here.

          My grandmother also mentioned that when she had long hair, she used to perfume her hairbrush and then run it through her locks. January 8, 2013 at 4:41pm Reply

  • Shiloh: These are really fabulous ideas that never occurred to me. Thank you for sharing this with us! January 8, 2013 at 9:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome, Shiloh. Glad that it was helpful! January 9, 2013 at 2:27pm Reply

  • solanace: So interesting! I really like the idea of saving my bucks for really nice fragrances (like that FB of Rose Nacrée du Désert I’ve been craving) than spending it on lotions and other stuff that aren’t that brilliantly crafted anyway. Loved your cologne bath, and now I must try the ultra indulgent Shalimar one! January 9, 2013 at 8:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Shalimar is perfect for an indulgent bath! It’s almost a cologne anyway, so you get a nice rush of citrusy notes when you splash it into the bath. January 9, 2013 at 2:28pm Reply

  • JulienFromDijon: To get an excellent view of a perfume without nose fatigue, I unscrew a spray or vial and use a fan. It’s the best 3D view I get.
    When I’m really into it, I fan many dozen perfumes of my collection in a raw. Wonderful how the sensation don’t lower.

    As my favorite perfumes are florals, I mostly apply them on fabric. It seems like old Guerlain where somewhat more balanced and makes more sense on fabric, as a remembrance of the time perfume was applied on handkerchief.

    Especially joy, that I like spray inside my T-shirt. As I’m guy, it’s convenient. It’s also inebriating, cause your daytime move makes concentrated perfume gush rush to your nose.
    Amazing, when you know that on my skin joy is blah.
    The inner sleeve of you coat is also a good place to test in shops before buying.

    When I don’t mind wearing a “weak” perfume, is like using it as a deodorant. As I don’t share my armpit and use no deo, it’s a nice trick, because the perfume get a very beamy diffusion. It helps not to overlook a perfume : for example no18 turn from preppy to alluring.
    I know I’m talking about sweat, but some perfume are sleeping beauties. They get a personality only after awaken with warmth and moist. (alike, you know, the trick -or OCD?- to revive a paper blotter with your breath)

    I’d like to reach a ritual, so I can get compliments. Maybe I apply not enough perfume. Or people are not into complimenting a guy on its perfume. It’s hard to dose, I’d like a perfume to get its effect, without being obviously detected. I think it’s the best effect range for a perfume, when it’s reaching others inconscientiously. January 17, 2013 at 10:09pm Reply

  • Jessica: Thank you for the fantasticly informative article and thread! This is absolutely inspirational! January 19, 2013 at 7:33pm Reply

  • Ferris: I just tried your suggestion of making my own scented body lotion. The scent I mixed in was Bal a Versailles and it is heavenly. I used unscented Vaseline Intensive Care 3 in 1 Rescue Lotion as a base. My home made cocotion engulfs me in a veil of fragrance without being overwhelmed. Perfect in every way. February 15, 2013 at 9:08am Reply

  • Isabelle: Dear Victoria,
    I’m facing now the same “Sophie’s Choice” you faced a few years ago, when you moved to Belgium. Only that I’ll move next year in the opposite direction (from Europe to Canada). Having a huge perfumes collection (that I managed to reduce to just over 100 bottles…), I clearly have to 1) reduce it even more 2) make choices 3) find a way to get the perfumes I really want to keep travelling to Canada.
    Do you have any practical suggestions? Are we really allowed to pack only 3-4 full bottles in our luggage??? I’d really be thankful for any advice!
    Thank you very much, kind regards from Berlin,
    Isabelle July 20, 2014 at 3:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Isabelle, I wish you luck with your move! You can pack many more than just 3-4 bottles in your suitcase, and don’t forget that you can also stuff as much as you can into your ziplock bag for the carry-on. I had to bring oils and a part of my perfumer’s organ, so I had to sacrifice the actual perfumes. But as for shipping the bottles, here you’ll have fewer options. You can’t send them by air, so they will have to go on a ship. This takes a long time. I’d check with your shipping company first, though. They might have some better options. July 20, 2014 at 12:13pm Reply

  • Isabelle: Dear Victoria,
    thank you so much for your reply! Nice to know that it’s possible to carry more than 3-4 bottles in my suitcases…
    Have a wonderful evening, kind regards,
    Isabelle July 23, 2014 at 2:47pm Reply

  • Misty: I am enjoying your site SO much, thank you for putting all of this wonderful information out here forus all!

    Much like another commenter above, I often scent books (but only new ones—I enjoy “old book smell” too much to alter it). Especially the information and notes binder I use in arrangment conferences at work–I think I get more compliments on my perfume from that application than any other!

    I’ll often spray the lining of my handbag with Shalimar (all-time favorite comfort scent) or Notes de Lanvin Oud and Rose (which I picked up for a song at Marshall’s, and love the fragrance of, just not *on* me).

    Once in a while, a member of a family I’m working with (always a husband) will bring a bottle of perfume along with the clothes in which they want their loved one dressed for the funeral. I used to hate having to explain that the scent would not smel the same, given a lack of body heat and the way all natural oils are stripped from the body during the embalming process and subsequent cleaning. I’ve had good luck with spraying the casket lining, and also arrangements of un- or weakly-scented flowers. But by far the most successful use has been to lightly scent the guestbook—-so many wistful smiles from attendees, and I’ve gotten to hear a lot of fascinating stories about that person and “their” perfume. When the family has a table of photographs and mementos on display, I’ll scent the cloth on the table, as well. It has proven such a success that I’ve begun asking after perfume in arrangement conferences, and aded a line to our pre-planning worksheet for those who would like to have others remember them just a little more fragrantly when the time comes. January 30, 2015 at 8:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Misty! And I really love all of these extra ideas on using scents, especially scenting one’s handbag. February 1, 2015 at 11:03am Reply

    • Joanne: Misty, what a beautiful story! It is so true that our perfumes become a part of us. I will always think of my aunt Claire whenever No. 5. January 18, 2016 at 1:39am Reply

  • Momo: One more way to use perfume – saturate a cotton ball with your scent and place it in a glass jar. Fill the jar with cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Seal tightly and put in a cool, dark place for a couple weeks, shaking daily. Use as a body powder. This is especially nice on sweaty areas during warm weather, it helps prevent that sticky feeling and chafing. August 2, 2015 at 5:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for sharing such a terrific tip. Those of us who love scented powders now can experiment with our own variations. August 2, 2015 at 6:07pm Reply

  • Amber: I was wondering which unscented cream I can use for making my own scented lotion. I just bought Chanel No.5 EDT and I can’t afford the body cream/lotion. So I would love to make it myself! I tried once to mix Tresor by Lancome with the unscented lotion from Kruidvat but it just stinks and I did’t get any of the notes, just a stench.
    I would appreciate your advice on this! November 13, 2015 at 11:15am Reply

  • Joanne: Thank you so much for this article, and particularly for the tip about the scented lotion. I mixed some Gold Bond unscented lotion with a tiny spritz of Coco in a mini eyeshadow jar, and it was so luxurious! The scent was light enough to wear to work, also, which was such a treat since I would generally not wear something like Coco to work. January 18, 2016 at 1:35am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m glad that you liked the tip. It really makes it easy to wear sillage bombshells in most circumstances. January 18, 2016 at 11:55am Reply

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