How to Remove Unwanted Perfume

Why does it happen that the scents you detest linger the longest? My capacity to tolerate unpleasant odors has increased markedly during my perfumery training–remind me to tell you a story involving a place called “the stinky room”, but even so, I occasionally encounter fragrances that make me wrinkle my nose. Sometimes it can just be an innocuous perfume tried on the wrong day. I know as soon as the liquid dries on my skin that I’ve made the wrong choice. My throat tightens and an oppressive, sickly feeling rises up slowly from the pit of my stomach. At that point, there is nothing to do but remove the offending scent.

removing-perfume

Rubbing wrists raw with soap and water won’t make much difference because fragrances are formulated with ingredients soluble in alcohol, rather than H2O. Following this logic, you can rub your skin with pure alcohol, but this is a harsh solution that would turn sensitive skin into a patchwork of angry red spots. Instead, here are my three favorite methods to get rid of unpleasant perfumes in a gentle and effective way. Some of them even double up as beauty treatments.

Makeup Remover

I’m a fan of Bioderma, but any makeup remover designed for waterproof cosmetics will do the trick. Saturate several cotton pads with makeup remover and apply them over the perfumed area. Leave for at least 3 minutes. If any traces of scent remain, take a fresh piece  of cotton soaked with makeup remover and repeat the procedure. Rinse with water and voilà, the scent is gone.

Oil

This is a beauty treatment and perfume removal rolled into one, and I use it mostly after I come home from work saturated with a melange known as “the perfume lab smell”, or when I have tested so many fragrances that I seem to have something on every part of my body. Apply any mildly scented oil such as almond, jojoba or grape seed over your skin and give yourself a massage. If you want skin as soft as precious Indian silk, then rub it with a dry sponge or body brush. Rinse off with plenty of shower gel in the shower, apply your favorite lotion or oil. This is almost worth an encounter with an unpleasant perfume.

Laundry Detergent

I learned this trick from the ever resourceful Robin of NST Perfume. Instead of washing your skin with soap, you can use a laundry detergent, and it works well. Please read Robin’s detailed explanation over at NST. As she mentions, the only problem you might encounter is that most detergents are highly scented; unless you use a non-scented product for your fabrics, you will replace  one scent with another. Robin’s tips work on the most tenacious, impossible to scrub off perfumes.

Clothes, Hair and Sampling Notes

It’s a good idea to apply new perfumes to an area of bare skin where it won’t get onto your wrist watch, jewelry, or clothes. For this reason, I often test on my forearms, or in the winter when I’m not likely to walk around with bare arms, the back of my hand. If a perfume passes the first test, then I apply it more generously by spraying on the back of my neck or hair.

Scents are notorious for lingering in fabrics and hair, so if your clothes are drenched in something you don’t like, the odors can haunt you for days. Dry cleaning is one option, but another very good one is just to air out your pieces or pack them in a box with a tray of baking soda. The perfume ingredients are volatile, and they will get absorbed little by little, sparing you the expense of a dry cleaning bill. This tip works well for other unpleasant scents, be it smoke or cooking smells.

Finally, if perfume gets into your hair, you might discover that some fragrances, especially rich, musky ones, will stick around despite shampooing. A French grandmother’s tip is a vinegar rinse. Mix 1-2 Tablespoons of cider or wine vinegar into a cup of water and rinse out your shampooed and conditioned hair with this solution. You don’t have to rinse with plain water afterward. Once dried, your hair will not bear any traces of vinegary tartness and you will also enjoy the benefit of shiny locks.  (If you’re mostly after the shine, then you might as well go for the deluxe version and try my rose raspberry vinegar rinse).

Perfume is made to be tried on skin, and even if you’re not sure what you might find in the bottle, I still urge you to be courageous. As you can see, a spritz of perfume is a low commitment, and you might even have some fun in the process of removing it.

What are your tricks and tips for removing the scrubbers (as perfumistas like to call offending perfumes)? What perfumes made you rush to rinse them off as soon as possible?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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110 Comments

  • Aisha: Mmmmm…. Almond oil ….

    I’ve done the rubbing alcohol thing to remove unwanted fragrance, but sometimes the fragrance still lingers. And in some of those cases, the scent is more pleasing. LOL!

    Thanks for these suggestions, Victoria. September 18, 2013 at 7:19am Reply

    • Victoria: In case of some perfumes, I really like how they smell once I take a shower. 🙂

      Glad that you liked the post. September 18, 2013 at 8:14am Reply

  • rosarita: I like the almond oil suggestion, looking forward to trying that one. I test on the back of my hand and use a little Dawn dish washing liquid and water, rinse thoroughly and dry, then swab with alcohol. It’s pretty effective and since I don’t sample as much as I used to, not harsh for occasional use, at least for me. September 18, 2013 at 7:45am Reply

    • Victoria: You can also use some sugar or honey mixed in with almond oil for a scrub. It really makes skin lustrous and silky soft. September 18, 2013 at 8:18am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: I’m not very courageous so I only test fragrances on skin if they smell fine on blotters. So I haven’t had many cases when I had to run to scrub myself off. but I’ve been using Bioderma sensibio H2O (I’m also a fan of Bioderma!) to remove any trace of perfume before I spray myself with a different perfume. I found removing scents from my clothes, especially wool sweaters, more challenging. I rarely spray perfume on my clothes but some perfumes really cling to my clothes even if I wear them on my skin. I think I’ll try the baking soda method you suggested.

    Actually, I tried SL La Myrrhe last night and I wanted to wash hand right away but I didn’t hoping that it will develop into something better. It was only a wax sample but it still made me feel pretty sick – probably because of aldehydes which I sometimes associate with insect repellent. September 18, 2013 at 7:54am Reply

    • Victoria: I wonder if the wax sample for La Myrrhe is different, but in any case, it’s a challenging perfume. It took me a long while to start appreciating it, but I’m glad I kept revisiting it time to time. Aldehydes are rather like coriander leaves in cooking (incidentally, they contain a lot of aldehydes naturally). Some people absolutely can’t stand them at all, but it can happen that with slow exposure over time, one can develop a liking. In a way, one associations (bug spray) gets replaced by another, much more pleasant one. September 18, 2013 at 8:22am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: How funny that you mention coriander. It happens that I also don’t really like coriander. It’s a pity because I like many Indian and South East Asian dishes. I’m training myself to like it by exposing myself to small quantities but it still gives me a hard time. I had no idea that it contained aldehydes. A quick Google search tells me that the fact I don’t like aldehydes may be partly due to my genetic makeup (http://www.nature.com/news/soapy-taste-of-coriander-linked-to-genetic-variants-1.11398). In contrast to aldehydes, I love cinammon both in foods and perfumes. 🙂 September 18, 2013 at 2:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: I used to hate coriander leaves, because they made me think of stink bugs. My grandmother’s raspberry bushes were full of these creatures, and I hated them more than any other insect because of their smell. I don’t know when I started liking coriander greens, but the change took place slowly. Now, I can easily munch on whole stems as I wrap them in pita with some feta and tomato slices. September 19, 2013 at 11:34am Reply

    • Isis: The only perfume that was a real scrubber for me so far was also a Myhrre: AG Myrrhe Ardente… I’ve tried it several times, it makes me feel uncomfortable to the point where my stomach turns. I do see its beauty from afar.. as long as it stays at a safe distance from my skin I think its lovely. Funnily, It smells almost exactly like the insides of my grandmothers wardrobes. She lived in Brasil, and they must have been made of some really strong-smelling tropical wood. September 23, 2013 at 5:34pm Reply

  • Lauren T.: Thank you! For a perfume newbie like me this is a very helpful post. My worst perfume experience so far was Poison. I liked it until my toddler knocked the bottle out of my hand and it got all over me, my clothes and couch. September 18, 2013 at 9:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Gosh, that would make one hate the most favorite perfume! September 18, 2013 at 12:54pm Reply

  • Zazie: I’m sad to say I’ve become quickly a perfume coward…
    As I mentioned yesterday, I must be very sensitive to some kind of white musks (but also some spiky oudy woods)…and the problem is they usually don’t come forward in the top notes. Entire lines like Keiko Micheri, or nice-on-top perfumes like La tulipe, Prelude to Love, Nasomatto Nuda become white-musked nightmares as soon as the base notes emerge.
    So I became less and less brave as I noticed how many mainstream and (even more so!!!!!) niche perfumes were literally loaded with the cheap, offensive stuff.
    I will try the oil suggestion: seems great! I’ve opted many times for the make up remover, with poor results (especially when the offender is a base note. Especially if the base note is musk!).
    For the record, my worst scrubbers evah were not white musk cases: Nahema and the generally-considerd-inoffensive Infusion d’iris. The last was such an instinctive loathe…I felt truly sick. Truly sick. The infusion d’homme: almost as bad. Talk about quiet scents….:( September 18, 2013 at 9:14am Reply

    • Annette Reynolds: Zazie, I’m with you. I’ve been trying to figure out what, exactly, is in some perfumes that just STINKS when I get it on me and I’ve narrowed some of it down to the White Musks. And you’re also right: it doesn’t show up right away. Only when it’s too late, and you’ve put it on! So, this particular blog is extremely useful to people like us. September 18, 2013 at 11:23am Reply

      • Zazie: I’m glad I’m not the only one!
        Though of course I’m not happy you have the “white-musk-hate” too, since the stuff is so ubiquitous…
        truth to be told, I don’t hate all white musks, it’s just that so many perfumes are overloaded with the stuff of the cheapest kind, as if the perfumer couldn’t really smell it and went overboard!
        And I’m not talking about musk-centered fragrances, which put the accent on other kind of musks.
        Plus, I think the laundry-type-white musk that is poured into cheap-smelling expensive niche scents is just as cheap an ingreadient as it smells. La pausa is loaded with the stuff, for example, but most people will say it is a fleeting, quiet scent! Fleeeting??!!!! September 18, 2013 at 11:33am Reply

        • rainboweyes: No, you’re definitely not the only one! Unfortunately white musks can be found in the drydown of so many otherwise good scents.
          However, I must say La Pausa is one of my favourite scents and I don’t get the musks in there… But I really hate the drydown of Infusion d’Iris! It makes me absolutely sick. September 18, 2013 at 3:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: Some people are just incredibly sensitive to certain materials, especially musks or woods. For instance, Denyse of Grain de Musc can detect even a smidgen of sharp ambery woods, and it bothers her very much. What can smell delicious to me is pure torture to her. You must be very sensitive to the clean, white musks. I’ve noticed that other people don’t like them, so I try to mention in reviews if the white musk stands out to me. I’m not as sensitive to white musks though. September 18, 2013 at 12:57pm Reply

    • nozknoz: Zazie, I think it’s easy to be hyperosmic to a particular musk. I don’t notice the musk in La Pausa at all, but Guerlain Vetiver pour Elle is ruined (for me) by a white musk that almost wipes out everything else. It’s just a matter of good or bad luck with these large molecules. September 18, 2013 at 10:24pm Reply

  • dp: Many of the hand sanitizers have a high alcohol content, with glycerin or other humectant/emolient. I have found them to be very helpful. Also the little packette hand wipes are frequently alcohol based, so I keep some in my purse for shopping trips when I will be sampling and run the risk of a stinker. September 18, 2013 at 9:17am Reply

    • NeenaJ: Seconding the hand sanitizer! Purell works some serious magic on scrubbers. September 18, 2013 at 10:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for a great tip! This is especially useful if one’s on the go or is doing a big sampling session at a boutique. September 18, 2013 at 12:58pm Reply

  • susiebelle: I’ve got that strange body chemistry that makes quite a few perfumes smell terrible on me – Shalimar = rubber tires and powdery sour diaper. So I use dishwashing liquid, like Dawn. Deodorant soaps work well too, like Lever or Dial. I’ve even used the soap mechanics use – I think it’s called Goop. On the other hand, some perfumes that get mediocre ratings smell awesome on me. September 18, 2013 at 9:20am Reply

    • Victoria: The personal chemistry can make a big difference. For instance, I have a friend whose skin turns anything overly green into metallic, harsh. That’s why it’s good to start testing on paper, but for the true test, some skin time is essential. September 18, 2013 at 1:00pm Reply

      • susiebelle: Paper is a good way to start but I sometimes have a hard time distinguishing scents (especially men’s) that way even though I have a decent nose. I don’t mind if things smell bad. It’s a great way to learn. September 18, 2013 at 5:36pm Reply

        • Victoria: I think it’s because most blotters are too narrow. For instance, some perfumers would never smell on thin pieces of paper and prefer business card sized blotters instead. Those can be hard to find even at the professional labs, so my favorites are somewhat in the middle, perhaps 1-2 cm wide. Otherwise, you just got too little scent on paper.

          And I totally agree with you! Sometimes discovering something you don’t like can be helpful to figure out your tastes. September 19, 2013 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: The personal chemistry can make a big difference. For instance, I have a friend whose skin turns anything overly green into metallic, harsh. That’s why it’s good to start testing on paper, but for the true test, some skin time is essential. September 18, 2013 at 1:00pm Reply

  • Maria: BBW Cherry Blossom was an instant scrubber for me. I don’t get it, it’s described as light, but on me it was horrible and heavy. September 18, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

    • Victoria: It has fresh, sparkly notes, but it isn’t light and gauzy on me either. September 18, 2013 at 1:01pm Reply

  • Lucas: There were quite a few scents in my perfumista career that required scrubbing, for example Dior: Leather Oud, Eau Noire; Montale Aoud Ever.
    My method to get rid of the undesired smell on your skin is to use a toothpaste. I take a very small amount and rub it in my hands under a hot water to produce the foam and them I massage the “stinky spot” with this toothpaste foam. Then I rinse it off. A toothpaste leaves a minty smell on the skin but it disappears quickly enough to allow you to enjoy another, nice smelling perfume.
    I guess a biphase make-up remover would work as well. September 18, 2013 at 9:40am Reply

    • Victoria: What a cool tip! Thanks, Lucas. I will have to give it a try. 🙂 September 18, 2013 at 1:01pm Reply

    • Eva S.: I second that!
      Toothpaste (Marvis is my favourite!) it is, and I use the same method as Lucas.
      Tilda Swinton Like This was instant scrubbing for me., I tried it several times with the same result. September 18, 2013 at 2:38pm Reply

  • Anne Sheffield: Oh you don’t know how usefull that is! I never knew these trick! How often am I scrubbing my wrist with soap trying to get rid off a disturbing scent! My wrists thank you! Xx September 18, 2013 at 9:44am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so glad that it’s helpful. I realized that over the past few years I’ve used a number of different techniques. The oil rub is like a spa treat as well. 🙂 September 18, 2013 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Rita Sanyal: Nice content, I can fully understand the situation cause I too am at times plagued by the teeny boper body mists & lotions out in the market these days. September 18, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Rita. Hope that some of it comes in handy. September 18, 2013 at 1:02pm Reply

  • casey23: I don’t know if anyone told in the comments or if I missed it in the post but there is a thing called “metal soap”, which is basically metal shaped as soap and to remove the scent on your body, you just have to use it like a soap (just loaf in that area) and the smell just goes. I am a chemist and I don’t know how but it works and it is not a placebo effect I tell you 🙂 September 18, 2013 at 10:11am Reply

    • Lynley: I use that to remove the smell of onions and garlic from my fingers. Rubbing your fingers on the stainless steel sink works just as well! September 18, 2013 at 10:35am Reply

      • Lynley: Not sure how effective this would be for perfumed wrists though 😉 There are some great ideas here though!
        I save the potential scrubber samples for home usually so I can de-stink myself ASAP. New scents I try when I’m out are usually scent strip first, then if I like maybe on skin September 18, 2013 at 11:55am Reply

      • Victoria: I googled it, and apparently, it has to do with a reaction between the sulfur molecules in the onions and garlic with the molecules in the steel. They bind together. Not certain that it would work on perfume, except for Guerlain Pamplelune, which is a tad sulfuric. 🙂 September 18, 2013 at 1:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t tried it. Very interesting, thank you, Casey! September 18, 2013 at 1:03pm Reply

  • RenChick: This comes at such a great time, thank you! I most recently had an unfortunate encounter with whatever chemical it is that Le Labo uses for their musk in so many of their scents. That musk on me becomes a screeching, “metallic-teeth-and-tongue” experience that totally ruined anything else in the scent. And the worse elements for a scent, for me, are usually the ones that last through an attempt to scrub them off. This one definitely did! I will assuredly try out these methods and see which works the best. I really most like the idea of using oils to remove scents. Seems so kind and gentle on the skin, while really making for a pleasant ritual. September 18, 2013 at 10:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Please let me know what ends up being your favorite.

      I know what you mean about Le Labo. Some of their scents have this persistent, metallic-starchy note that seems to linger and linger. Not pleasant at all. September 18, 2013 at 1:05pm Reply

      • Jennifer C: I’ve noticed that too! I think that’s why there are very few Le Labos that I like. I don’t pick that up in Ylang 49 or Lys 41 so much, and I like those two. Of the ones I tried, I think Fleur d’Oranger 27 (I think that’s the number) was the worst. In that one, all I smelled was methyl anthranilate and that starchy thing and nothing else. It kind of annoyed me. September 18, 2013 at 8:36pm Reply

        • Victoria: They’re made by different perfumers and at different labs, so I don’t think that every single Le Labo contains that note. Just a few. I didn’t like Fleur d’Oranger 27 either. September 19, 2013 at 11:48am Reply

          • RenChick: Sorry for the late response!

            Victoria, yes, that is it exactly. Even scrubbing and showering can’t eradicate that note on my skin! And it starts literally turning my stomach after a while.

            I actually have quite a few samples of Le Labo’s to try. So far I absolutely love Poivre 23. Baie Rose 26, Gaiac 10, and Vanille $$ have all demonstrated that horrible musk note for me, so those are out. I’ve tried Rose 31 as well, but that one just doesn’t work well on my skin. I still have samples of Santal 33, Bergamote 22, Vetiver 46, Lys 41, Ylang 49 and Patchouli 24 to try. For some reason, my skin is not reacting well to ANY fragrance right now, so it may be a while before I do. Rashes aren’t fun! And I was so looking forward to trying Santal, Vetiver and Patchouli especially. They smelled fantastic on paper!

            Jennifer, it’s good hearing you pick up the same musk notes I do, and that you like Ylang and Lys. I hope they react the same way for me, the bottle sniff was very nice for both of them. Fragrantica lists musk as a note in Lys 41. Do you pick it up at all in there? September 23, 2013 at 11:39am Reply

            • RenChick: LMAO! Just noticed the $$ after Vanille instead of 44…but it is very appropriate, don’t you think? LOL September 23, 2013 at 11:41am Reply

            • Victoria: The musks are notorious for being persistent, especially since many will withstand water and most detergents easily. You might have to do the alcohol rub in the case followed by oil (to soothe the skin and remove the remnants). September 23, 2013 at 11:42am Reply

  • Caroline: It’s gotten so that I much prefer testing samples at home, for fear of getting a scrubber on a coat sleeve. Will have to try the oil method–usually use Dawn or Tide free, which has become much more ubiquitous since Robin wrote that post. Fortunately, all the Targets & Jewels around here carry it. September 18, 2013 at 10:32am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s definitely much easier to buy unscented detergents today than even 5 years ago. I don’t mind a scented detergent, as long as the scent is not too strong or too sweet. September 18, 2013 at 1:08pm Reply

  • lari: Just yesterday after reading bois de jasmin I was out running errands and wandered into my local Sephora (there’s one in my neighborhood). I decided to test for t he first time Kenzo Flower and expecting it to be more or less innocuous I tested carefully but it in all the right spots. UGH! I detest baby powder and it smelled like I had bathed in it. I couldn’t get out of the store fast enough, didn’t want to be near anyone lest they smell it and I still smell it today on clothes etc. I’ll take your suggestions but I don’t remember the last time I had such a visceral reaction to a scent. It struck me as funny that it coincided with todays piece. Thanks for all the “get rid of the odor quickly” info. September 18, 2013 at 10:55am Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: lari, I’m very sorry to hear about what happened. Did you decide to try Kenzo Flower after reading the comments from yesterday’s post (Byredo La Tulipe review)? I’m the one who’s thinking about getting a FB. I’m wearing it again today and I’m still loving it. It’s interesting how different people react to scents differently. I can understand your association with baby powder. It’s very powdery but for me it’s more than baby powder – it smells magical to me. However, the comments on Fragantica show divided opinons. I think it’s one of these love or hate perfumes. September 18, 2013 at 11:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Oy, lari, if it were our gushing over Kenzo, then I’m especially glad I posted this today. 🙂 September 18, 2013 at 1:14pm Reply

    • susiebelle: The only time I really had to move quickly was when I tried Caroline 212 at an Ulta. It made me feel angry! I was gripping the steering wheel on the way home and practically had road rage. So scrubbing was mandatory! September 18, 2013 at 5:38pm Reply

  • solmarea: Lately I’ve noticed slight burning sensation when spraying perfume on my throat / décolletage. This has never been issue, before, & doesn’t cause same reaction when applied on wrists.

    Is there any reason for spraying on the back of the neck, or is it just preference? September 18, 2013 at 11:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Have you gotten any sun on your chest recently? It might also be that the skin there is more sensitive, so you feel the prickling sensation from the alcohol.

      I like to spray the back of my neck for several reasons: even though it’s close to my face, it’s surprisingly less overwhelming. Also, the hair picks up the scent well, and whenever you move your hair, you get a lovely waft of perfume. September 18, 2013 at 1:16pm Reply

      • solmarea: Ah, I tanned quite deep over summer {despite wearing lotion} & my chest is still lingering sunkissed. Perfume wasn’t worn there until recently, so it’s probably more sensitive, yes.

        Spraying on the back of the neck would be a beautiful alternative to try instead, Victoria. Thankyou for the suggestion. September 18, 2013 at 2:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s what my mom uses, and I love how it works to create a soft but perceptible sillage. September 19, 2013 at 11:37am Reply

  • Amy: Second dish soap, and sometimes a going-over with unscented deodorant will also do the trick. Whatever you do, do NOT rub yourself with a Mr. Clean Magic Sponge. Just trust me. September 18, 2013 at 11:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Amy, a Mr. Clean Magic Sponge sounds scary. 🙂 September 18, 2013 at 1:17pm Reply

  • Hannah: I just use honey. It usually works for me. September 18, 2013 at 11:20am Reply

    • Zazie: Hear hear! Honey is interesting (and delicious)!
      How do you proceed? do you rub it and then rinse? September 18, 2013 at 11:59am Reply

    • Victoria: How do you use it? Just rub it in and rinse off? September 18, 2013 at 1:17pm Reply

      • Hannah: Yes, I also do that when I eat potato chips with vinegar I just put honey on my fingers and wash it off. September 18, 2013 at 1:30pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thanks for a handy tip, Hannah! September 19, 2013 at 11:30am Reply

  • iodine: Here you are another white musks hater! I can detect them even at low rates and feel really sick… 🙁
    On topic- my remedy is… put on something I like and cover every trace of the wrong fragrance! In this way, my nose concentrates on the good scent and bad scent molecules are free to evaporate unnoticed… September 18, 2013 at 1:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: Welcome to the club! 🙂 What are some perfumes that got ruined by white musk for you? September 18, 2013 at 1:20pm Reply

  • Ferris: Great tips Victoria. I’ve never thought about using oils or laundry detergent to get rid of offending scents. I will surely use these tips next time I come across a stinker/scrubber( Montale’s Black Aoud I’m looking at you) September 18, 2013 at 1:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Black Aoud is so strong, it probably would require all methods combined! 🙂 I do like it though, but I can’t use the spray bottle. It’s a “dab only” perfume for me. September 18, 2013 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Jillie: Lovely tips, and I will be using them.

    When I was young, my parents were friends with a very chic French lady, and I remember she smelled so good and very different to my mother. I eavesdropped on their conversations and learnt that she wore Mitsouko (my mother took to wearing it after that). I snuck a look in her bathroom once, and saw the lovely Guerlain “dial” bottle; next to it was a bottle of alcohol, made especially for removing perfume, with a label saying so. I don’t know if it was pure alcohol, and I wonder if it ever made her skin sore! But I admired the French so much for creating this. September 18, 2013 at 1:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a beautiful and helpful idea. I wonder if it may not have contained also some skin softeners or maybe glycerin? Alcohol definitely works well to remove fragrance, but unless you have normal or oily skin, it will definitely be too drying used in its pure state. September 19, 2013 at 11:31am Reply

  • Daisy: What great tips! I am also a huge fan of Bioderma for getting everything off. I would also recommend dish detergent in a pinch. Particularly Dawn in any formulation. September 18, 2013 at 2:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: I always forget about dish detergent (prob because I’m not the one washing dishes at home!), but you’re right, it would work really well too. September 19, 2013 at 11:32am Reply

  • Sapphire: This is very timely indeed. I had the serious misfortune last night to try to pull a bottle of perfume out by the cap. I was being hasty and the bottle dropped out, fell on the floor and broke. Miss Dior Le Parfum (the spicy one that is a little similar to Coco) was all over my bathroom floor. I wiped it up and washed some towels that happened to have been on the floor and soaked some up. But I think it permeated the grout. I really loved it, and my husband even liked it, but it was strong to begin with. One spray is all you need. Now my bathroom smells “like a French whorehouse,” as my husband would put it. Any ideas? (I am hoping for a replacement bottle for our anniversary. Do you know that that bottle had such thick glass that it only broke into two pieces?!?! No shards!) September 18, 2013 at 2:25pm Reply

    • Elena: I think a paste with baking soda and water, applied liberally, left to dry and then vacuumed might get you a long ways toward getting rid of the smell. Maybe try that a couple of times and then a vinegar wash. September 19, 2013 at 12:02am Reply

    • Victoria: What a disaster! Sorry to hear about this. I 2nd the baking soda paste recommendation. It will soak up the smell really well. Another idea is to soak a rag with vinegar and cover the perfumed spot with it. It will smell strongly, but it will dissipate taking some smell off with it. Then go over the spot with some soapy water and rinse really well. September 19, 2013 at 11:36am Reply

    • Lyn: Baking soda is what I’d use. I once had a dog be sick over a carpet. Poor dog, poor carpet. I mixed baking soda with water, applied paste over carpet and let it dry. I had to repeat it twice, but it worked. September 19, 2013 at 3:53pm Reply

    • Sapphire: Thanks, everyone. I already sprinkled baking soda twice and vacuumed it up, but didn’t try making a paste, so will try that. I have discovered since that a little of the carpet in the bedroom got involved . The smell is toned down now (actually smells pretty good), but it is so pervasive that I am not even wanting to put any fragrance on myself. I still want a replacement for my anniversary! September 19, 2013 at 10:45pm Reply

  • george: I rarely spray fragrance on my skin but made the mistake of sampling Jeke by slumber house on my wrists. A 35% volume extrait, I could still smell it even after having washed my wrists three times. I was beginning to feel like Tollund man- buried in a peat bog. I therefore nuked it with Coromandel, which- if you don’t mind not returning to a non-fragranced state- would be my other tip: after a couple of washes I doubt there are many fragrances that will put up a decent fight with Angel (and its descendants). But next time- based on the above tips- I think I will try some baby oil. September 18, 2013 at 3:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: “I therefore nuked it with Coromandel”–fight fire with fire, in other words. 🙂 September 19, 2013 at 11:39am Reply

  • MaryAnn: Boy does this every bring back a memory that I’d like to forget. A loved one arrived by bush plane in a casket to a small, isolated community where we had all gathered to lay him to rest, so there was no undertaker to take care of the last of the details. However, he did send the key to the casket and gave instructions on preparing the corpse and the interior of the casket for presentation at the funeral. I did everything I was supposed to do and returned to the church with some beautiful natural air freshener I had just bought: lemons and rosemary, touch of basil. It was lovely. I gave the interior of the casket a good misting…and another one…and another one…to TRY to remove the chemical preservative odour. It was…an unnatural industrial odour that was intolerable. The bottle of expensive boutique air freshener helped A LOT. I was satisfied that when the casket was opened the next day for the service, no one would reel back from it. BUT…when I got back to where we were staying, I discovered that I could NOT get that odour off my hands… which had gotten there by adjusting his clothing, cleaning smudges of make-up, straightening hair, rigging up the little canopy in the casket. I scrubbed. I used every cleaning soap and solution we had. I used bleach! I used peroxide, alcohol…soaking my hands in all these things and nothing worked. I sprayed them with what was left of the air-freshener. I even rinsed out my nose and sinuses thinking there was a molecule of embalming fluid in there somewhere. That’s when I knew I was obsessed. Then it occurred to me that maybe I could just cover it up with mouthwash. THEN I reached for the toothpaste and scrubbed for awhile with that and a toothbrush. And THAT did the trick. There was something about the dentifrice, the fine grit in it and all that MINT that finally broke through the barrier and removed the odour. I will NEVER do that again without latex gloves. EVER. September 18, 2013 at 3:37pm Reply

    • nozknoz: What an experience, MaryAnn – dealing with overwhelming scent and emotions at the same time. September 18, 2013 at 10:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, MaryAnn, this must have been very tough. Such an emotional event and that persistent, unpleasant scent… September 19, 2013 at 11:42am Reply

  • nozknoz: I like testing perfume on the back of my hand, too. No need to twist the wrist to sniff it, either. One summer I developed skin sensitivities, though – maybe it was interaction with sunlight? I’m more cautious about it now.

    I had a funny experience spraying one of the Hermes colognes on fabric to make the scent last. It was either Pamplemousse Rose or Gentian Blanche. Most of the scent went away after one day EXCEPT for a definite jalapeño pepper note that even survived a machine washing with detergent. I really did not enjoy smelling like a jalapeño pepper! September 18, 2013 at 10:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: I bet it must have been Gentiane Blanche! Even on paper I notice that green pepper note in it. On skin it’s softer, but on a blotter it can stick around for hours. September 19, 2013 at 11:49am Reply

  • Elena: I wish I had known these tricks when my daughter got into my Coco Mademoiselle. She absolutely doused herself in it, and it’s not exactly a wallflower in the first place! We were of course headed somewhere (church? school?) where it was even more wildly inappropriate than usual for a 2 year old to be wearing perfume and I was quite embarrassed. She’s just turned 4 and is much better about asking (since she knows I’ll always say yes to a spritz) but her baby sister will surely make me seek out this article again before long! September 19, 2013 at 12:11am Reply

    • Zazie: Lol!!! I see a potential perfumista there!!! And maybe even two ;)! September 19, 2013 at 4:06am Reply

    • maja: My little boy doused himself with Safari for men last summer – several times. Absolutely inappropriate, horrifying actually. 🙂 September 19, 2013 at 5:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Why am I not surprised that a fragrance lover like you has a perfume loving daughter! 🙂 This story is hysterical, and I’m trying to imagine a toddler redolent of Coco Mad. September 19, 2013 at 11:51am Reply

  • Maja: Another mistake never to make – spray yourself before travelling anywhere, airplanes, trains etc. Last summer I tried Seville A L’Aube in a store and while it was wonderful at the beginning an hour later it turned into something so oily and sickening. I find that same note in the drydown of Traversee du Bosphor and have no idea what it could be. (bee’s wax?) However, I got stuck with the perfume for two hours on the bus on my way home. I was praying for the bus to crash or something 🙂 Eventually, I got a headache and it sort of ruined my day. You can only try new perfumes at home was the lesson I learned. September 19, 2013 at 6:08am Reply

    • Victoria: Urgh, that can be a horrible experience, especially if you can’t get do anything to remove the scent quickly. For me, the outcome of unpleasant scents is a headache, so I’m very careful not to test on skin at the duty-free stores. September 19, 2013 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Lynley: My latest scrubber was Mon Patchouly by Ramon Monegal. In theory I was sure I’d like it if not love it, but it was the second worse perfume I’ve smelled, because it smells very similar to Secretions Magnifiques, and we all know how lovely a scent that is :-/ it’s not the same smell if course, but it has that same metallic smell that I recoil from in SM. I seem to be the only person to experience this though… September 19, 2013 at 8:13am Reply

    • Victoria: I recently revisited SM, and I don’t know if it was me or perfume, but suddenly I’m super sensitive to its marine musky notes, to the point of wanting to wash off the scent asap. It rarely happens to me. September 19, 2013 at 12:11pm Reply

      • Lynley: It’s that salty marine aspect that repels me too. It’s a metallic wet dog smell to me, which seems bearable but it seems to constrict my throat and physically repulse me- that’s the bit that I can’t handle. I’m sniffing it again now just to make sure, and yes, smell is ok, sensation isn’t. It’s like blood.
        Have you tried Mon Patchouly? I’m curious to know if anyone else picks up this aspect. September 19, 2013 at 12:53pm Reply

        • Victoria: I haven’t. A couple that I’ve tried from RM were so overpriced and unimpressive that I didn’t feel inspired seeking out the samples. Maybe, I’m missing something amazing, who knows… September 19, 2013 at 3:14pm Reply

  • The Blue Squid: That was a thoughtful and excellently-written compilation of tips that will come in very handy. Thankyou, as always. However, I would like to know more about the stinky room. I’m sure I am not the only one! September 19, 2013 at 8:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Ok, I will have to write up a story about this fascinating place. 🙂 September 19, 2013 at 12:11pm Reply

      • Lynley: Yes please. After teasing us like that with the suggestion 😉 September 19, 2013 at 12:44pm Reply

  • Lyn: Thank you, Victoria! I tried your oil method last night after a sniff session with friends and loved it. It seemed effective enough and my skin is nice and moisturized even today. September 19, 2013 at 3:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: So happy to hear this, Lyn! It’s such a great treatment, especially once the weather cools down and our skin becomes drier and more sensitive. September 20, 2013 at 2:38am Reply

  • Dovey: Hi Victoria,

    What a fantastic post! I love how so many options are detailed out here — I’ll definitely have to experiment with makeup remover, as that seems like a really straightforward option. Usually I use Dr. Bronner’s to get rid of scents, however for persistent ones I like oil, followed by dish soap or another reasonably strong soap. September 22, 2013 at 9:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: I hope some of the tips come in handy! 🙂 I’m usually using them not because of one unpleasant perfume, but because by the end of the day I end up with several. And several good scents may not make for one even better one. Sometimes it is totally the opposite.

      On the other hand, I layered by accident Chanel No 19 and by Kilian Forbidden Games, and the result smells like vintage Guerlain Chamade. September 23, 2013 at 2:45am Reply

  • Ola: Thank you for your advice:) unfotunately, I didn’t know these earlier. Once I tried Cartier Declaration, and couldn’t stand it on my skin, and soap&water didin’t help 🙁 another day, I tried Be Delicious DK, and even if I liked this fragrance when my friend wears it, I hated it on my skin…:( But your advice are great, and next time I take them into consideration!!:) October 14, 2013 at 6:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked the post! The makeup remover is something I always have on hand, even when traveling, so it’s my favorite one. Hope that you don’t have too many unpleasant perfume encounters, though. 🙂 October 14, 2013 at 7:51am Reply

  • Eliza T: Thanks for your interesting post. I was wondering if you could help me with something. I just bought a bottle of hair oil, but unfortunately, it was perfumed with Jasmine. A scent which I absolutely cannot stand. The flowery smell makes me want to gag. Is there anyway I can neutralise the Jasmine smell? The hair oil was quite expensive! Thank you! October 19, 2013 at 9:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Eliza, oh, I’m not sure if you can easily neutralize a scent like that, especially jasmine. Perhaps, you could try using the oil in tiny amounts to get used to the scent. Over time you may not even notice it anymore. October 19, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

  • Cathy: Have a really good sniff first – a sample of Breath of God went straight down the drain. Only one I’ve ever done that to as I usually try hard to understand what the perfumer is doing. Perhaps too much indole there? Then Luca raved about it but too late to go back and try again, it was gone. Very glad it didn’t make it on to me though…I do find on the whole that the cheap perfumes are easy to get off but the costly ones (especially vintage)survive a shower. December 8, 2013 at 5:39am Reply

  • E K: Thank you so much!! Right now, my coat stinks of an unfortunate melange of perfumes and it’s been really getting me down. I’m of to try your baking soda method! December 15, 2013 at 4:22am Reply

  • Laurie: Thank you! I desperately needed to get an unwanted fragrance out of my hair from a new conditioner I bought! August 22, 2015 at 7:21pm Reply

  • Tara C: I have recently found 2 great ways to get rid of perfume.
    The first is with an alcohol antibacterial hand gel. Costs pennies and won’t irritate skin. I just squirt some on. Gently rub then remove with a tissue. Smell has gone!
    The second which may seem a bit harsher but works if you’re desperate is nail varnish remover. We all tend to have some tucked away somewhere. I apply to a cotton pad and gently wipe over the area where the perfume is. The alcohol lifts it away easily. Then I rinse with water or cleanser as I don’t want to dry my skin out.
    For lighter scents an oil based eye make up remover works a treat too. ? September 29, 2015 at 10:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for these great tips, Tara! So useful. September 30, 2015 at 11:46am Reply

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