You’re Probably Applying Your Perfume Wrong

But now you can make it last all day long with these French tips.

 French perfume spraying techniques
Illustration by PHUONG NGUYEN

You are busy, girlfriend. While rushing out the door in the a.m., you’re probably mindlessly spritzing on the nearest eau de toilette and not thinking another thought about it. (Guilty!) We hate to say this, but you’re probably wearing your fragrance all wrong, from how you spritz to what type of perfume you’re using. Don’t worry, we’ve got all the answers though, so you can be more clever about your daily fragrance, and never let another parfum bottle go unwasted. Spritz this way, friend. 

Never Rub

"When you spray, there is a pulse the scent should have," says renowned perfumer Francis Kurkdjian of his namesake's Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris. "When you rub, you are breaking the rules the perfumer has set up for the scent, because our skin gets warmer, so you accelerate and enhance the evaporation of the perfume." It's like overcooking a fancy meal, basically. 

Hit the Right Spot

It's better to spray on your inner wrists, rather than spots that can sweat, like your neck. But surprisingly, clothing is especially great to hold onto fragrance during hot temps. "It's more neutral than your skin, and the natural sweat of your skin eats up the scent," says Kurkdjian.  

Keep a Safe Distance

"Don’t get to the point where you have drops on your skin from spraying so close," says Kurkdjian. About 12 inches away from your skin is close enough. About three to four sprays altogether between wrists, clothes, and/or neck (your pick according to your preference).

Be Unexpected

There is a famous Catherine Deneuve ad that Kurkdjian loves where she mentions that she puts Chanel No. 5 behind her knees to radiate the special scent. While he doesn't recommend that placement, he does love the idea of a hidden spot, and is particular to inside wrists and clothes, but also spraying fragrance on the back of the neck for a nice subtle scent. This same concept works for a hair mist too: Spray on each side of the head, then underneath your hair for staying power. 

Opt for Oil

Mix things up by trying a scented oil for summer. But make sure it actually feels good: a dry oil scratches the skin, an oily oil never rubs in. There is a perfect middle of the road, test to see what works well for you. 

Also, bonus point for ease, too. For example, Kurkdjian has a scented body oil in a spray, so it's not slippery or messy as one that would need to be poured out of a bottle. The mist of oil that comes out when sprayed absorbs quickly, and can be used in place of body lotion or cream too. And, hey, it hydrates with the trifecta of almond, argan, and apricot kernel oil—ça sent bon! And yep, it's the one time it's okay to rub in (due to being sans alcohol).  Tom Ford and Herbivore also make two killer body oil options that both feel great and smell heavenly. 

On the Go

Pro packing tip: Spritz your clothes while placing them in your suitcase so when you arrive to your destination, your clothes have a slight smell of fragrance. Frais comme une rose! 

Beyond the Standard Spritz

Explore alternative uses of fragrance, like a hair mist (or the above mentioned body oil). Hair mists have incredible staying power, and have no alcohol, so they don't harm the strands. Byredo has a killer hair perfume that smells like baby angels, it's so divine. 

And if you really want to leave a lasting impression, you can layer everything—body lotions, perfume, hair mist for ultimate scent power. 

Switch It Up

It’s easy to get into a rut, but don’t underestimate the power of switching up your scent. Separate day and night scents, changing it according to your mood, the weather, anything, really—Kurkdjian says the French barely need an excuse to change their minds (and scent!). Pour n’importe quelle occasion! 

No Need to Reapply

Kurkdjian believes there is no need for reapplying your fragrance; if you use high quality fragrance, it should last. "It's a quality of cheap perfume—and that doesn't have anything to do with the price of a fragrance. It's more about how it's made and how it stays on the skin." But if you want to freshen up scent-wise before dinner, a handy rollerball is always a perfect fit, even in a tiny clutch. 

Be You
What makes French women unique and alluring, says Kurkdjian, is that they don't follow the rules. "They follow the rule up to the point, but they are always very individualistic and independent. In France, you try to be different and have a strong sense of self." But it's never effortless. "Effortless is the myth; it's never effortless, but rather, it's unexpected."


This story was originally published in June 22, 2017. It has been updated with new information. 

Keep reading about that je ne sais quoi:
This French Girl-Approved Trend Is Actually Super Affordable
The French Girl’s Guide to Cooking Eggs
The Best French Beauty Products You Can Buy Right Here in The States


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Published on April 02, 2018 - 6:45am EDT

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