The Right Way to Put on Perfume

April 15, 2013 | By | Comments (7)


When do you put on your perfume in the morning? If you’re like me—and tend to walk through a spritz of scented mist right before you head out the door—I’ve got news for you: You’re doing it wrong. (I know, I was surprised too!)

It turns out that perfume can stain fabric, and that fabric fibers can make perfume smell unpleasant. Fragrances are formulated to be applied to skin (and to interact with the heat of the body); when they make contact with your clothes, you don’t get the intended effect.

So when should you put on that lovely floral fragrance? Before dressing, lightly dab or spray it onto the skin at one or two of the “pulse points”―knees, wrists, base of the throat, and behind the earlobes. And don’t rub your wrists together. This breaks down a perfume’s molecular structure.

Ready to invest in a new scent? Check out nine recent favorites, or take our quiz to find out which of the four main families of fragrance appeals to you.


  1. Amy

    Emphasis on “lightly dab” … There are always those who smell like they are wearing the whole bottle! :/ I remember reading somewhere that perfume is not intended to be detected the moment you walk through a door. It should only be detected by someone standing right next to you. I wish sometimes that we had a Perfume Patrol!

    April 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm
  2. Sabrina

    Interesting! Back in ’82, I attended the Barbizon School of Model (in reality it was an advanced ‘charm school’ vs a genuine career training place lol). At any rate, I remember the instructors telling us to spray the cologne in the air and then walk into it. Supposedly all the “top models” did this. My mother used to spray her stockings/pantyhose with her favorite cologne before putting them on…and I still do this to the present day if I am going to a special events.

    April 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm
  3. Ree Diolosa

    I was taught that if you can smell your own perfume, you have on too much. Your scent should be subtle .. not so overwhelming that it coats the throat and nose of anyone within a 20′ radius …

    April 17, 2013 at 8:57 pm
  4. Hannah Mendez

    Couple points-

    Yes, perfume should not be smelled from a mile away, or God forbid, tasted (yes, I’ve smelled it that heavy on people!). Some people just don’t realize it is so strong though- their noses have gone numb from the scent. Your best bet is to ask a spouse or someone you live if they can smell it from a distance. If they can, change, layer, or launder your clothes before leaving. Spare everyone in the elevator a headache!

    You could technically smell your own perfume without it being too much. Perfume can be “reactivated” if you become warm- from stress, from working out, or dare I say it- sex :) The best perfumes are the ones that last all day and work with your chemistry. I like that when I’m feeling flustered and sweaty from running after my children in the grocery store, I might catch a bit of my perfume after thinking it wore off ages ago. Instant confidence booster!

    Oh, and I was taught that you spritzed fragrance in the air and walked through it because it coated some of the best spots- the nape of your neck, behind your ears, and your collarbone. Your hair could hold fragrance well too, as long as you don’t have a lot of product to warp the scent. The best way by far though, is to put on an unscented lotion, then dab perfume on pulse points- back of knees, behind ears, anywhere on the neck, and in your cleavage too. I have a very sensitive nose, so I know how to not overdo it. Wish others knew too- would spare me a lot of instant migraines!

    April 18, 2013 at 1:42 am
  5. CharB

    I’m allergic to most things that have a scent. I spray in my hair :)

    April 21, 2013 at 12:46 am
  6. CharB

    Oops. I should add that I have the allergic reaction if it gets on my skin :(

    April 21, 2013 at 12:49 am
  7. FragranceSmeller

    I have always liked to spray perfume in my hair. Recently, Halle Barry said that she likes to spray perfume between her thighs! I guess it is true you can really spray perfume anywhere haha. It is important to realize that scents move upwards which is why a lot of people spray perfume on their wrists and the back of their necks.

    April 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

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