How do I get that "she smells nice!" reaction, not coughing and gagging?
December 21, 2011 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Every time I apply perfume I'm afraid that I'm going overboard. For those of you who wear scents, how much (and where) do you apply?

What I do now is spray one spray at my wrist, rub my wrists together, and then rub my wrists on my neck. I find myself trying to barely press the sprayer in the hopes of getting just a few drops instead of a whole cloud, because I am so afraid of being the lady who fumigates the office. However, I think that the scent is not lasting very long because I am not actually putting very much on.

I know that some perfumes are stronger than others, and that different formulations are also stronger. For the sake of the question, assume that I use eau de toilette and tend to favor heavier scents like orientals. I'll take advice on oils like BPAL too, in case I ever branch out into those.
posted by cabingirl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (39 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Your method sounds just right. Although, yes, there are some scents that are very strong and just a tiny spray seems overwhelming. I use oils myself and initially had the same concern because I could smell it when I moved around, so I asked and was told they couldn't even smell it until they got right up to me. To me, that's perfect: you don't want someone smelling you before they see you. :)
If in doubt, ask someone around you (someone who will be honest).
posted by Eicats at 7:46 AM on December 21, 2011

I spray a cloud in front of me and walk through it. I think I learned this trick from a magazine. It seems to work okay. (It's usually one spray for the nice stuff, 2 for the cheaper stuff.) Sometimes I'll duck down and swing my hair through the cloud as well (I have a lot of hair.)
posted by GastrocNemesis at 7:48 AM on December 21, 2011 [7 favorites]

You also acclimatize to your own scent, so when you feel like the scent has dissipated, or even if you don't notice it except for when you put it on, it's still there.
posted by smitt at 7:50 AM on December 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh- one other little aside—please don't apply your perfume in a public setting. I used to have a cubicle neighbor that would douse herself repeatedely in her cubicle. Maybe her perfume scent would be fine, but the act of spraying it on in the middle of the office was chokingly overwhelming. And as someone who gets migraines, I can say that this amounts to torture.
posted by Eicats at 7:50 AM on December 21, 2011 [8 favorites]

As a man who finds most scents unbearably strong and over-applied, I applaud your question! :) My wife will, depending on the strength of the perfume, either do what you describe (dab / mist on wrists, then touch to neck/collarbone) or will spray a single shot into the air, close her eyes, and walk through the cloud.

I was reared in the school that says cologne and perfume should never be smelled at arm's distance, but only when you hug someone, lean in to say something close, or kiss someone's hand. I may be a bit biased towards subtle application methods.
posted by introp at 7:51 AM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I cloud walk like GastrocNemesis.
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:51 AM on December 21, 2011

First, thank you for being aware that you might be too heavy handed with the perfume. It sounds like you're not, though. I do what GastrocNemesis does, walking through the cloud. I learned it from Holly Hunter in "Broadcast News."
posted by Dolley at 7:54 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I forget where I read this, but I do a spritz on the back of my neck. Something about so that only people who are really close to you can smell it (like when they come in for a hug) but the source is vague and if, like me, you have long hair you get a light whiff of it when you walk by.
posted by like_neon at 7:56 AM on December 21, 2011

I use Eau de Perfume; more than you use and I do not get complaints about it being too strong (I am surrounded by people that DO say something if it is too much). I also apply some in my cleavage (and sometimes a dab under my nose so I can smell it too!); sometimes I do the whole body thing with a dab at the ankles, knees, belly button, back of the neck and a dab at the temples too. I try to avoid using other scented products (shampoo etc - can be hard to find!) to keep the scent "pure".
posted by saucysault at 7:56 AM on December 21, 2011

I don't have a legitimate source, but I recall (probably from Seventeen Magazine, though, so perhaps a grain of salt) that rubbing your wrists together releases heat, which causes the scent to dissipate much more quickly. The cloud as recommended above was posed as the solution.
posted by AmandaA at 8:03 AM on December 21, 2011

Cloudwalker here, though I usually wind up spraying it in my face by accident.
posted by jessamyn at 8:22 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh- one other little aside—please don't apply your perfume in a public setting.

Yes, this. The closest I have ever come to actually slaughtering someone was when a coworker decided to spray herself multiple times with heavy perfume while in a slow, ancient elevator with me.

When I used to wear perfume/scented oil stuffs, my method was a drop/spray on both wrists, rub wrists together, then rub on back of neck.
posted by elizardbits at 8:28 AM on December 21, 2011

Don't rub perfume - it breaks down the scent. Mist or dab for longer-lasting scent.

Here's perfume blog Now Smell This tips on applying perfume.

Perfume oils might smell stronger than a spray at first, but they often don't last as long on the body, so they should be lightly applied to multiple pulse points (wrists, elbow pits, front of neck/collarbone, behind ears) and plan to reapply throughout the day.

I personally spray lightly at the back of my neck towards my hair, touch my wrists to the back of my neck where it's damp, and then touch them to the front of my neck and collarbone. If it's a light scent and I would like a little more, I spray the backs of my knees - scent rises as it warms, but it's low enough on the body that it's subtle, not overpowering.
posted by flex at 8:44 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I spray in my cleavage, behind my knees and on the back of my neck, all on the basis of the heat of my body releasing the scent. I've also read that rubbing your wrists together "crushes" the scent, so only ever spray. That sounds like a lot but I've never had anyone ever comment on my perfume unless they were hugging me.

To make the scent last longer, I also layer with a matching deodorant, and sometimes only use the deodorant just for a fresh scent when I'm running out the door.
posted by ukdanae at 9:04 AM on December 21, 2011

I make my own lotion, and add my preferred scent(ed oils) to it (you can do this, too, with unscented lotion) -- this way you can adjust the strength to your taste (nose).
posted by rosa at 9:04 AM on December 21, 2011

I wear perfume oils (BPAL specifically!), not sprays, so your question may not be exactly the same. But I apply a drop on the wrists, rub, a drop on the neck, rub and a small drop in the cleavage, rub. I find the rubbing, at least with essential oil based perfumes, actually helps warm up and open the scent. If it's a particularly strong one, I'll forgo the cleavage; if it's a particularly weak one, I'll put it somewhere else (like behind my ears) as well. This level of scent gets me a, "You smell great!" when I come in for a hug, but no one comments otherwise. I think the trick is to remember, the warmer the area the longer the scent will linger and the more 'throw' it will have, and also that just because you can't smell it doesn't mean that other people can't-- my nose gets used to perfume to the extent that, to myself, I don't smell like I'm wearing any, even though other people who come up for a snuggle say I smell fantastic.

For spray perfumes, cloudwalking is the way to go!
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:06 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree, dab oils and walk through sprays. Bear in mind your own body chemistry/skin type will affect how much you amp scent, and you may find that certain notes will be strong on you regardless of how sparing the application (jasmine is my particular nemesis). Some people like to apply to scarves and things (be careful of staining!) to avoid this.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:17 AM on December 21, 2011

I personally don't like how perfume smells on clothes and hair. It's a different smell and not one I enjoy. So no cloud-walking for me, I apply my perfume after a shower and before I get dressed. It's the first thing I put on, so to say. Amount and method depends on which perfume it is - a Frederic Malle scent can kill an elephant if applied in the same concentration as Hermes Jardin series (I know because I once did it and almost passed out myself as the perfume developed on my skin). I spray on my neck and above cleavage, sometimes arms in the summer. I never spray myself outside of my house.

The main advice I can give to not become "that person" is to own a few scents and rotate them. Anosmia that develops after wearing the same scent is usually the culprit in cases when you can tell if a particular person walked down a hall because the smell is still there two minutes later.
posted by Shusha at 9:23 AM on December 21, 2011

I do a quick spritz on one wrist, press it against the other, and spritz my chest, and I've never gotten any complaints (and I spend time with people I know to be sensitive to scents not infrequently). I do wear lighter scents, though.
posted by solipsism at 9:41 AM on December 21, 2011

"Don't rub your wrists together because you'll bruise the perfume" is a myth.
posted by matildaben at 9:51 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

From that link: "I've heard you're not supposed to rub your wrists together too much because the friction heats up the perfume faster than it's supposed to and it can ruin the effect of the top notes."

So, the bruising or crushing of molecules thing is the myth part? But not the part about how you shouldn't do it? I don't see anything conclusive there.
posted by hermitosis at 9:54 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

If I use perfume it's applied on the back of my knees. Or the back of my neck. One tiny drop. This was my grandmother's advice so that perfume remains subtle. I never wear a scent to work (or on an airplane, etc).
posted by marimeko at 10:28 AM on December 21, 2011

For eau de toilette, one spritz on cleavage, one on each wrist, one on insides of each elbow, one on back of each knee, one on each ankle. Some people spray the nape of the neck, but that may not react well with sunlight. Not behind the ears - the scent can go strange in that spot, I can't quite remember why - oil glands, perhaps.

Repeat with one spritz on cleavage at about noon.

Repeat with one spritz on cleavage at the end of the afternoon.

Don't rub your wrists together - that will crush the scent molecules and distort the fragrance.

For eau de parfum or pure perfume, just one spritz in the morning and then one in the evening.
posted by tel3path at 10:57 AM on December 21, 2011

Good on you for thinking about this! No matter which way you end up applying your scent, please (I beg everyone in the world) NEVER wear perfume on a day when you're flying. It really should be illegal.

Switched from business to a middle in the back on a loooong flight to get away from Scenty McStinksalot
posted by cyndigo at 11:03 AM on December 21, 2011

tel3path, I'm afraid I'd be choking if you came near me with all that scent. I used to work with someone who probably used less than the amount of cologne and you could tell that she'd walked down the hall ten minutes after she was gone.
posted by Dolley at 11:05 AM on December 21, 2011 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: I love the term cloudwalking. I should have mentioned in the question that I do this sometimes with perfumes that resist a tiny spritz. I wasn't sure if it was a useful technique but apparently I am in good company!

Are there any solutions, besides cloudwalking, for when you want only a little bit but you can only generate a cloud?
posted by cabingirl at 11:36 AM on December 21, 2011

"any solutions, besides...": you could spray it on a cotton ball or gauze pad first, then dab onto wrists or neck
posted by Eicats at 12:06 PM on December 21, 2011

You could get one of those rollerball applicators and transfer the perfume to that. Then there's no chance of perfume going astray.
posted by emeiji at 12:52 PM on December 21, 2011

For those who are offering their methods with the endorsement "and I've never gotten any complaints": Please know that most people who are sensitive to perfume suffer in silence. It's incredibly awkward to complain and most perfume wearers end up feeling deeply insulted no matter how tactfully you broach the subject. After all, they want others to think they smell wonderful, and you're telling them they don't. So you just keep your mouth shut and try to get away, and only bring it up when it reaches crisis level.

The best advice here, in my opinion, is the one drop behind the neck. Especially if you like Oriental scents, which tend to be especially problematic for many people.

Em3path, I'll be blunter than I ordinarily would be, since we're having a frank discussion of how not to bother people with your perfume: I guarantee you are torturing people with that regimen.
posted by HotToddy at 12:58 PM on December 21, 2011 [15 favorites]

Sorry, I meant tel3path!
posted by HotToddy at 1:00 PM on December 21, 2011

As someone who both has environmental sensitivities to scents AND works with people with disabilities, I encourage you to cloudwalk at MOST. We have a "no scents" office, and I'm soooo glad.

Perfume should be barely noticeable---almost so much so that I will hardly notice you have it on in close proximity, but later when I smell it I'll think of you, always and forever.
posted by TomMelee at 1:44 PM on December 21, 2011

I spray some on a small wad of toilet paper and then dab it on - for some reason this seems easier to control in terms of amount of perfume than any other way. Then put the perfumed toilet paper in my underwear drawer for scented undies.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:12 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I give a tiny spray on my torso before I get dressed.
posted by emd3737 at 2:19 PM on December 21, 2011

I worked with a cloudwalker and it was absolutely intolerable. It's stronger than you think it is when you do that, but you inhaled the cloud so you don't smell it on yourself.

Try your preferred method and ask a trusted, smell-sensitive friend.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:20 PM on December 21, 2011

tel3path, I'm afraid I'd be choking if you came near me with all that scent.

I agree! I actually read it twice to make sure I wasn't reading it wrong because, holy shit. That is waaaaaay too much perfume and if you're reapplying, I hope it's not at the office.

OP, sounds like you're right on track. Two spritzes is good, maaaybe three if it's a subtle scent. 9 is mind blowing and will choke everyone you cross paths with even after you've left the room.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:36 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm a BPAL user: mostly orientals and musks. I touch the rim of the bottle or the wand from the imp to my wrist pulse point, rub my wrists together, and then rub my wrists behind my ears. If I'm going out at night, I may reapply before I leave home.
posted by immlass at 3:53 PM on December 21, 2011

No, not nine spritzes. One spritz in any of several different spots.
posted by tel3path at 5:30 PM on December 21, 2011

One spritz, normally on my cleavage, tummy area. I can only smell my scent during the day if I use one that is not may daily scent. I've never had any complaints.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:43 PM on December 21, 2011

The fear of going overboard is precisely why I use a rollerball. Easier to control than gauging the pressure of a spritz. I dab on pulse points: one dab behind each ear, one dab on pulse point on each side of neck, one dab on each wrist. If scent is stronger or weather is hot (which to me, amplifies scent), I omit the neck dab.
posted by kitkatcathy at 4:08 AM on December 22, 2011

« Older Is there an "edit window" for PHPBB?   |   minimalist running: ur doing it wrong Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.