The Right (French!) Way To Use Perfume

For instant je ne sais quoi.

 French perfume spraying techniques
Photography by PHUONG NGUYEN

We recently sat down with renowned perfumer Francis Kurkdjian of his namesake's Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris to chat all things fragrance. Over coffee at Ladurée Soho, Kurkdjian gave us a few tips and walked us through the basics—we hate to say it, but you're probably wearing perfume all wrong.   

Never rub
"When you spray, there is a pulse the scent should have," says Kurkdjian. "When you rub, you are breaking the rules the perfumer has set up for the scent. When you rub, your 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 clothing is especially good to spray perfume on during hot temps. "It's more neutral than your skin, and the natural sweat of your skin eats up the scent." 

Keep a safe distance and don't over do it
"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. Give or take about three to four sprays between wrists, clothes, and/or neck (your pick according to your preference).

Don't be afraid of unexpected places
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 loves the hidden spot concept, 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 the hair mist too: Spray on each side of the head, then underneath your hair for staying power. 

Opt for oil
Try a scented oil for summer. But make sure it feels good: a dry oil scratches the skin, an oily oil never rubs in. There is a perfect middle of the road, and Kurkdjian has worked hard to find exactly that.

His version is 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).  

On the go
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! 

Think beyond your standard spritz
Explore alternative uses of fragrance, like a hair mist (or the mentioned body oil above). Kurkdjian has just released body oils and hair mists, each specifically formulated for their purpose. The hair mist has no alcohol so it doesn't harm the strands; the body oil has been blended specifically for that never greasy feel.

"We love diversity in products—hair mist, body lotion and body oil. It's the same formula twisted a bit to make sure it's the highest quality for each format. It's an option for someone that doesn't like to spray perfume on their clothes, or alcohol fragrances on their skin. You can layer everything—body lotions, perfume, hair mist if you want 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—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 indifferent—be you
What makes French women unique and alluring, says Francis, 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."

Published on June 22, 2017 - 11:05am EDT

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