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How To Make Perfume Last Longer: Perfumers Reveal Their Surprising Secrets

The one thing not to do? Rub your wrists together — here's why

There’s something so satisfying about finding your signature scent; Whether you prefer bright florals, something more dark and sophisticated or a classic clean fragrance, a go-to scent can do more than just make you smell irresistible – it can be a major confidence boost, and become a part of your identity. Unfortunately, no matter how good your signature scent is, chances are it only lasts for a few hours before fading. Frustrated with your perfume not lasting, especially after maybe dropping hundreds on the bottle? Short of carrying around a perfume bottle with you everywhere you go, there are a few tricks you can try to extend the scent-life of your favorite fragrance. Keep reading for advice from the experts on how to make perfume last longer, from sun-up to sundown.

1. How to make perfume last longer: Moisturize

We all know that moisturizing is important for maintaining hydrated and healthy skin, especially during the colder months when the air around us tends to sap skin of its moisture. But it will also help your fragrance last longer. “One of the best ways to increase longevity is to make sure your skin is well moisturized,” says Kalliope Amorphous, a perfumer at Black Baccara. “Perfume tends to dissipate much more quickly on dry skin, so applying an unscented moisturizer or balm prior to application will help hold the fragrance last longer.” 

Keeping yourself well-hydrated in general can help as well. Consider getting a humidifier and drinking enough water — or strategically choosing when to apply your perfume. Just like applying moisturizer straight out of the shower increase its chances of penetrating skin well, “applying perfume right when you get out of the shower also can help it stay on longer,” Amorphous adds. 

2. How to make perfume last longer: Apply to pulse points

Woman spraying perfume on wrist to make it last longer
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty

It turns out one of the most classic pieces of perfume advice is true: Applying fragrance to your pulse points is a great way to keep the scent stronger for longer. That’s because pulse points — those places on the body where your veins are closest to the skin — tend to run warm, explains skincare expert Christina DiFerdinando. “Heat helps diffuse and magnify the aroma,” she says. “Simply apply your perfume on pulse points like wrists, neck, inside elbows and behind the knees.” 

Also smart: Slather on some petroleum jelly or Aquaphor onto pulse points before applying scent — it will adhere to the oily barrier that clings to skin.

Related: 10 Brilliant Uses for Petroleum Jelly That May Surprise You

3. How to make perfume last longer: Spray it on your hairbrush

Another easy way to stretch that favorite scent: Try spraying it onto your hairbrush. “Spritzing a little onto your hairbrush can transfer the scent to your hair, which holds fragrance well,” says DiFerdinando.  And while you might be tempted to mist your hair directly — experts caution that strategy can actually be less effective than the hairbrush technique. “When you spray perfume directly onto your hair, it can be hard to get an even distribution,” DiFerdinando explains. “By spraying it on your brush, you’re more likely to get a light, even scent throughout your hair as you brush it through.” Plus there is less chance of the fragrance’s alcohol drying out your hair when you brush it as opposed to spraying it on directly.

Laura Pucker, founder of beauty blog Pucker Up Beauty, recommends using the same concept to scent your clothing. “Use perfume on your clothing, instead of bare skin,” Pucker advises. “The fabric holds the fragrance better, so it lasts longer. Target areas like shirt collars or scarves.” 

4. How to make perfume last longer: Layer scents

If you’ve ever walked into a Bath and Body Works to buy a single bottle of perfume and walked out with not just the perfume, but also matching lotion and body wash, you probably understand the concept of layering scents. By stacking different products from the same scent line, you can increase the longevity of the scent, explains Amorphous. “Another way to increase longevity is to layer fragrance formats,” Amorphous says. “You can do this by layering a scented lotion with the fragrance, or by layering a perfume oil and an eau de parfum. This will increase longevity slightly.” 

5. How to make perfume last longer: Know your skin type

Mature woman smelling perfume on wrist
Martin Barraud/Getty

The best way to make your perfume last longer, is to choose one that will last longer. “That means looking at the notes and learning how your individual skin chemistry works with certain notes,” explains Amorphous. For example, perhaps fruit scents such as anise and grapefruit tend to fade more quickly on you, whereas herbal notes like basil or lavender stick around for hours. Consider experimenting with testers or travel-sized perfumes to figure out what works best on your skin. 

Also important: “Each individual possesses distinctive body chemistry,” says Sarah Roberts, beauty blogger and founder of A Beauty Edit. “This includes natural body odor, sweat composition and skin type. Take, for example, dry skin types. They absorb fragrance more swiftly than oily skin types do, resulting in reduced perfume persistence.” 

Finally, certain notes are just naturally longer lasting than others. “Musks, resins and earthy fragrances will usually have greater longevity than citrus-heavy fragrances,” Amorphous adds. 

What *not* to do to get your perfume to last longer

woman rubbing wrists together
Dougal Waters/Getty

Although some common perfume hacks (such as spritzing on your pulse points) do help make your fragrance last longer, others are pure myth. The whole thing about rubbing your wrists together after perfuming them, for instance? Every perfumer we spoke with advised against this. “Contrary to popular belief, rubbing wrists after applying perfume can break down its molecules, altering the scent,” DiFerdinando explains. 

Another common mistake is layering up TOO much. Even the most pleasant scent in the world can become headache-inducing when it’s overpowering. “Go easy on application,” Pucker recommends. “A light spray is all you need. Too much can make it abrasive.” 

How to avoid scents that will fade too fast

Perhaps you’ve found what you think is the perfect perfume. It smells divine, the fragrance notes check all your boxes and the packaging is beautiful. How do you know that this is the real deal, and isn’t going to fade after a mere twenty minutes?

“There are a lot of ‘fast perfume’ type brands that mix fragrance oils into a carrier and pass them off as perfume,” Amorphous warns. “Fragrance oils are typically used in bath and body products, and are not used in professional perfumery due to their low sillage (the scent trail that a perfume leaves behind as it evaporates), longevity and lack of complexity.” 

One way to ensure you’ve picked a long-lasting scent? “Make sure the perfume house you’re purchasing from has a real perfumer behind it,” Amorphous says. “All the tips in the world won’t save a poorly-composed perfume.” 

Related: How Do You Choose a Good Perfume? A Fragrance Expert Offers Tips

5 scents that will last: Find the one that’s right for you

Valentino Donna Born in Roma perfume
Valentino/Ulta

If you like warm floral

Valentino Donna Born in Roma Eau de Parfum (Buy from Ulta, $85)

This perfume has notes of blackcurrant, jasmine grandiflorum absolute and bourbon vanilla that leaves behind a sweet, yet sexy scent.

Dime 7 Summers Perfume
Dime/Ulta

If you like woody

Dime 7 Summers Eau de Toilette (Buy from Ulta, $48)

A delicious-smelling fragrance that lasts all day and is less than $50? Sign us up! This eau de toilette has notes of juicy pear, whipped cream and fluffy musk — an unforgettable mix of scents sure to make it’s mark. This brand has clean fragrances, meaning they aren’t made with harsh chemicals or ingredients. In fact, the main ingredient in this perfume is water.

Glossier You Perfume
Glossier

If you like sweet and spicy

Glossier You Eau De Parfum (Buy from Glossier, $68)

This perfume is truly unique since it’s specifically made with notes that enhance your natural scent, rather than cover it up so it truly smells different on each person who wears it. Infused with sparkling top notes of peppercorns, white florals and a warm, slightly-sweet center, reviewers swear by the fragrance’s longevity. Plus, it’s less than $70, which is a great price for a long-lasting perfume.

Viktor&Rolf Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum Gift Set
Viktor&Rolf/Kohl’s

If you like warm and spicy

Viktor&Rolf Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum Gift Set (Buy from Kohl’s, $99)

A feminine and elegant scent with romantic floral notes of vanilla, jasmine, orange blossom, it truly is like being bombed with fragrant flowers! This is a great one to layer — especially in a gift set with same-scented body cream and shower gel.

Victoria's Secret Bombshell lotion and perfume set
Victoria’s Secret/Amazon

If you like woody and floral

Victoria’s Secret Bombshell Mini Fragrance Duo Gift Set (Buy from Amazon, $26.99)

A classic scent that never goes out of style? Victoria’s Secret’s Bombshell. It’s been around years, and for good reason. It’s affordable, and its harmony of scents from notes of purple passion fruit, vanilla orchid and peony will linger long after application.

Related: These Classic Fragrances Will Take You Back in Time

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