Perfume Etiquette: Dos & Don'ts of Wearing Fragrances

When it comes to wearing perfume, there are a few simple dos, don’ts, and etiquette rules you should be aware of. 

Keeping a few perfume etiquette considerations in mind can help you avoid a fragrance faux pas, like overwhelming your colleagues with a new scent or layering totally incompatible fragrances. In this guide, we’ll break down the best way to wear different fragrances so that you can make the most of your signature scent. 

Is There a “Right” Way To Wear Perfume?

At Snif, we believe there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to wear perfume. Just like with all clothing and accessories, your fragrances are an extension of you, so the scent you choose to wear and how you choose to wear it are totally personal decisions. 

That being said, there are best practices that you can keep in mind if you want your scent to last through the day and layer well with others. In the following sections, we’ll break down all of the best practices, as well as some to avoid, so that you can elongate the lasting power of your fragrances. 

What Is Perfume Etiquette?

Perfume etiquette is the name given to the dos and don’ts of perfume-wearing. You can think of the following rules as guidelines that can help you, rather than rules you have to follow. 

Remember that wearing perfume is something you do for yourself, so finding the practices that make you feel the most comfortable and confident with your fragrances should always be your goal.

What Are Some Dos for Wearing Fragrance?

If you want your fragrance to make a lasting impression and help you smell good all day long, then consider the following list of best practices for fragrance-wearing. 

Do: Apply to Pulse Points

The old adage that applying scents to your pulse points makes them last longer is actually true. These points include the inside of your elbows, behind your knees, the sides of your neck, behind your ears, and on your chest. Anywhere you can feel your heartbeat is a pulse point and is likely a good place to spray your signature scent. 

What makes these points ideal for fragrance application is the fact that they are naturally warming and a little bit more moist than the rest of your body. This warmth and moisture helps fragrances adhere and diffuse on your skin which makes them last longer. 

It’s important to keep in mind that when your skin is hydrated, your fragrances will last longer because they have something to grip onto. That being said, consider hydrating your pulse points with a moisturizer or skin oil before applying your scent to ensure it stays fresh and fragrant all day long. 

Do: Layer Complementary Scents

Layering complementary scents is one of the easiest ways to make sure your signature scent is truly distinct. Try mixing and matching your favorite fragrances to create a more complex scent. It’s important to try out your layered scents before wearing them at home because not all scents mix well. 

That said, try to keep in mind what kind of scents you’re layering to ensure that they are actually complementary. Usually, fragrances that have a similar vibe and a few ingredients in common go well together. 

If you find that your fragrances aren’t lasting as long as you’d like, you should consider layering them with scented body lotion. When your fragrance and body lotion are complementary, they will mutually benefit each other, and you’ll find that the fragrance sticks around longer.

Do: Match Your Scent to Your Day

Allow different scents to be an extension of your outfit every day. If you have a stressful day ahead, consider a spritz of a more calming, relaxing fragrance. For formal events where you want to feel your most elegant, a dab of your most classy scent goes a long way. In the dog days of winter, when you’re missing the summer sunshine, a citrusy fragrance can give you the boost you need. 

Do: Spray From an Arm’s Length Away

When it comes to wearing your favorite fragrance, a good rule of thumb is to spray from an arm’s length away. If you’re a lover of particularly strong scents, you might only need a spritz or two from this distance. 

Just like with layering fragrances, figuring out exactly how much of a scent you need and from what distance you should spray it requires a little bit of trial and error. Your personal body chemistry, olfactory sensitivity, and preference will determine exactly how much of your signature scent you need to wear. 

What Are Some Don’ts for Wearing Fragrance?

You know everything there is to know about the do’s of fragrance etiquette, which means it’s time to take a look at the don’ts. Avoid these fragrance errors to make sure you’re wearing your scents well. 

Don’t: Overdo It

You only need to wear a little bit of your favorite fragrance for it to pack a punch. Oftentimes, when people love a fragrance, they tend to layer it on, but this can overwhelm the people around you and be too much of a good thing. Use your scents sparingly, and watch as the “You smell good” compliments come rolling in. 

Don’t: Reapply a Powdery Scent on Public Transportation

If you’re wearing a powdery scent of public transportation, wait until you’re in the privacy of your home or in a more open space before reapplying. The close quarters of a bus, train, or subway aren’t conducive to the strong smell of powdery perfumes, and you risk disturbing and upsetting your fellow commuters if you reapply there. 

Generally speaking, try to avoid reapplying fragrances in spaces that are intentionally neutral smelling. Certain workplaces like hospitals, medical offices, and so on tend to discourage fragrance-wearing. If you know you’ll be entering a fragrance-free space, try to forgo wearing a scent altogether — but if you really want to, consider wearing a neutral fragrance. 

Don’t: Combine Clashing Fragrances

Think carefully about the kind of perfume you combine when layering fragrances. For example, you might not want to combine a woody, musky fragrance with a fruity, floral scent because the clash might be too intense. Try out your layered perfumes at home to make sure they mix well before wearing them in public. 

This logic extends to the other products in your beauty routine as well. If you use a super fragrant floral shampoo, consider matching your scent with the smell of your shampoo. The same goes for conditioner, deodorant, and laundry detergent. 

Don’t: Douse Your Clothes in Perfume

If you want your clothes to smell great, rely on laundry detergent and a scented laundry booster rather than perfume to do the trick. 

Another place you should avoid spraying your perfume is in your hair. The alcohol in fragrances can dry out and damage your hair. Just like with your laundry, it’s better to buy products specially made for hair if you want your hair to smell better. 

Avoid a Fragrance Faux Pas

Avoid a fragrance faux pas by following the simple do’s and don’t of scent-wearing that are outlined in this guide. Remember, you should always apply a small amount of fragrance to your pulse points to make the most of your signature scent without it becoming overwhelming. Think carefully about the scents you choose, layering them intentionally and matching the scent to the occasion, season, and your mood. 

Although these are good guidelines to follow, keep in mind that wearing a fragrance should be something you do for yourself, and, ultimately, the best way to wear it is the way that makes you feel like your best self


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Global study of variability in olfactory sensitivity | NIH

Laundry detergents: an overview | NIH

The role of fragrance and self-esteem in perception of body odors and impressions of others | NIH 

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