Perfume FAQ

Why can’t I smell my own perfume after several minutes?
  • The nose becomes desensitized and quickly gets used to the notes of your perfume. You may not be able to smell it at all after 30-40 minutes, although your friends and colleagues may still be able to.
Can I wear a men’s fragrance as a ‘perfume’?
  • Only in the last 150 years have distinctions been made between male and female fragrances. Of course, some may be more suited to a particular gender, but it is all personal choice. We know men who wear Shalimar and Angel, and plenty of women who adore Eau Sauvage or Habit Rouge. There really aren’t any rights and wrongs.
Do seasonal scents exist? Are some better for winter than summer?
  • In hot weather, you may find your fragrance seems ‘stronger’ or more overpowering. This is exactly why brands sometimes offer lighter versions of bestselling scents, for the summer. Some people prefer heavier more full-bodied, comforting, almost ‘cocooning’ scents in the winter – but again, this is individual. Just do what feels right for you, personally – in fact, follow your nose…
Are there some fragrances designed to be worn for daytime, or for evening?
  • Some do have the name ‘Night’, or ‘Nuit’ – which can be a clue that they’re intended for evening wear. But really, there are no hard and fast rules that have to be followed. This really is all about you. What you may want to do with a favourite fragrance, however, is choose a lighter concentration for daytime – an eau de parfum, or eau de toilette – and apply the perfume version, at night, which is basically a more intense version of the same scent.
Where should I apply perfume ?
  • Coco Chanel advised women to apply perfume ‘where you want to be kissed’… What that means is: spray/dab on your ‘hot spots’, or pulse points – behind the ears, temples, wrists, nape of neck, back of the knees, in the crease of your elbows, between your breasts, the small of your back, navel area… The blood flows close to the surface in these zones, and heats the fragrance oils. But do be aware of one no-no: perfume industry ‘insiders’ never, ever rub their wrists together after applying fragrance, because it affects the oils. Spray, waft your wrists around – and be patient…!
How much should I wear?
  • This is personal – but enough so you can smell it, and not too much that it overpowers the surrounding area. Your ‘scent circle’ should be your arms’ length and only when people come into your circle should they smell your perfume. If you’re unsure about whether you tend to ‘overdo’ your fragrance, ask a (good) friend. And take into account the occasion, too: you would certainly want to wear more for a romantic night out than to the office, or lunch with a future mother-in-law.
Can I wear more than one perfume at a time?
  • Yes! Did you know that in the Middle East, women layer up to SEVEN fragrances at a time? Never be afraid to play with perfume. The wonderful thing about fragrance is there is no right or wrong: if you like something, then it’s right.
Can perfume last all day?
  • Perfume can last four to six hours (or even longer), depending on the ingredients – and how dry your skin is. (Perfumes dissipate much faster on dry skins, or when the air is particularly dry.) From the moment you apply: the top notes, or ‘head’ notes last around 5-15 minutes before they disappear. The middle notes last from two to four hours, and make up most of the fragrance. The base notes (very occasionally referred to as ‘fond’) usually last from four to six hours.
How long will the perfume last on me?
  • That depends on the type of fragrance and on your unique odour footprint, as well as the oiliness or dryness of your skin; perfume likes to ‘cling’ to oil, and perfumes last longer on oilier-complexioned people. The strength of the fragrance is also a factor, and so are the notes: deep, smouldering base notes – the woods, resins, leather and tobacco etc. – last longer. So a fresh cologne will never last as long as an Oriental.
  • That might mean the natural oil of your skin – or it might mean, if you have dry skin, that you would do well to smooth on a body lotion or a rich cream, before applying your perfume, to give it something to ‘cling’ to.
How long will an open bottle last?
  • Fragrance certainly doesn’t last forever – but storing it correctly will help preserve the quality and lifespan of your perfume. The key is to keep it away from light and heat – so a bathroom, or a sunny dressing table, is NOT the place for your fragrance stash: higher temperatures affect the top notes of fragrance, making them musty, or more sour.
  • If you have a dark cupboard to store perfume in, or a drawer, that’s perfect. (Ideally, keep in the box, or – if you’re using a drawer – wrap bottles in a scarf, or even plastic, unglamorous as that is. Be aware that perfume that’s never been opened and kept in a dark place can last more than 40 years…!).
  • If you can’t manage that environment, store on a shelf that doesn’t get direct sunlight, in a not-too-hot room. Then once a bottle is open, you should get up to two years’ life out of it (we’ve had fragrances that last much longer…) Lighter, citrussy scents deteriorate faster than opulent florals…
  • You may find you get a better life out of a spray bottle than a splash: if you touch the glass to your skin, and oil from your body gets into the bottle, that can affect the lifespan of your perfume, too: touch your skin to the rim of the bottle – and don’t use stoppers for application, as they are in contact with the contents. NB Dark glass preserves scent for longer than clear versions.
  • But don’t hang onto any fragrance for too long…! Remember: perfume is to be worn, and enjoyed
What do the ‘top’, ‘heart’ and ‘base’ notes mean?
  • In classical perfumery the perfumery will arrange his ingredients/notes in a pyramid shape.
  • Top Notes/head are evident as soon as your perfume touches your skin; these are usually lighter – citrus, herbs, fruits…
  • They are followed by the middle notes/heart notes which tend to be floral – rose, jasmine, ylang ylang. They may be sensed at the start – but really, they make up the heart of the fragrance, which develops after 10-15 minutes They stay longer on the skin than top notes…
  • Finally the base notes/fond come through, with a direct relation to the staying power of the perfume. They help slow down the evaporation of the perfume and help perfumes last longer. There’s a comparatively small range of base notes for a perfumer to work with – sandalwood, musk, vanilla, oak moss, patchouli – because only a (generous) handful last long enough on the skin to ‘fix’ the smell.