There are two main reasons why it makes sense to learn how to wear perfume discreetly.
First of all, some people experience perfumes as chemical irritants, causing them to have allergy-like symptoms such as nausea, headaches, or worse. Second of all, it is simply rude to douse yourself in perfume when you know you are going to be in close proximity with other people.
In general, as with everything else in life, it pays to be considerate of the needs of other people in your environment.
Here are some tips:
1. Wear less: Most of us learned that the correct way to wear perfume was to spray all our pulse points – both wrists, the back of the ears, and perhaps even the collar bone. For heavy perfumes, this is too much. Cut down on the amount of perfume going on by spraying once to your left wrist, gently pressing your right wrist against it, and then using your wrists to dab behind your ears. This cuts the amount of scent by 75%.
2. Wear it in odd places: Try one spray of scent on the small of your back (if you can reach!) or behind your knees. This will allow gentle wafts of scent to reach your own nose during the day, but is unlikely to bother the noses of your co-workers or sensitive family members.
3. Walk-through method: For extremely potent fragrances, like one of my favorites, Clinique Aromatics Elixir, the trick is to spray it into the air in front of you, wait a second, and then walk through the remaining mist. This ensures that the scent is diluted and cannot then overpower you. Any other method for spraying Aromatics Elixir is a declaration of chemical warfare.
4. Wear Pure Parfums: Pure perfumes – the most concentrated forms of perfumes (containing 30% or more concentrated perfume oils) – wear very close to the skin and are the format most suited to allowing you to enjoy your own scent but not inflict it on others around you. Extraits are expensive – around 6 times more expensive than eaux de parfums. But if you really enjoy a scent, do try to track down a sample of the pure perfume form – they are luxurious and above all, discreet.
5. Choose Light, Inoffensive Perfumes: Even perfume fanatics like me recognize the importance of choosing light, inoffensive scents to wear in enclosed areas like an open plan office environment. Think ahead and choose something very light. My suggestions would be: Chanel 31 Rue Cambon, Prada Infusion D’Iris, Guerlain Apres L’Ondee, Bulgari Omnia Crystalline, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist, or Kenzo Parfum d’Ete.
6. Go Solid: Perfume solids are a very discreet way to wear fragrance – far lighter than applying sprays of liquid, because you control exactly how much goes on. Try Diptyque or Lush – these brands make wonderful solid perfumes and won’t break the bank either.
7. Don’t Wear It: Don’t even think of wearing perfume in small, enclosed spaces like planes, trains, and automobiles – be considerate of your fellow passengers. You might be enjoying that heavy application of Angel you just put on in the duty free, but people four rows down from you might be suffering in silence. It’s a big no no.
Do continue to enjoy your perfume! Nobody is saying otherwise. Here are my recommendations for summer. But just be conscious of your environment and pay other people the same consideration you would wish for yourself. A golden rule for life in general!
Do you enjoy other people’s perfume or does it irritate you?
Claire Vukcevic is a mother of 2 who is passionate about fragrances and how it relates to style. She contributes articles on fragrance, style and dressing to 40+Style. She currently lives in Ireland.
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Thank you for explaining how applying perfume to the back of your knees will help you smell good without creating an overpowering scent. My wife and I would like to attend an office party, and she would like to find an organic perfume that is subtle so that she can maintain a professional appearance. I’ll let her know that she should consider where she should spray the perfume when she finds some that will suit her.
I have asthma and fear someone’s scent will one day kill me. I really fear flying. For some of us, this is a big problem and entertaining in our own homes more or less impossible, since many people show little to no consideration, even after being informed. Like for smoking, I hope there will some day be a ban. Sorry to be such a wet blanket…
Very good point, Louise!
I would add to point #7, never wear perfume to a job interview, or a meeting with anyone you wish to influence.
A former boss of mine was very allergic to perfume. Over the years, some talented young job applicants made the mistake of wearing perfume for their Stage 1 interview with her. Unsurprisingly, they were never called back. Of course, the perfume issue wasn’t mentioned (anti-discrimination laws being what they are), and I doubt that the candidates ever guessed the reason why their interviews were not successful.
As someone who often finds myself nauseous by others’ perfumes, thank you for this article.
I hardly ever smell ither people’s perfume unless I kiss them on the cheek. So I either do not have a very good sense of smelling or people in my surroundings are modest. I use Issey Miake eau de parfum at the moment and I love it.
Now I have to learn how to spell it LOL Issey Miyake. There.
I wouldn’t even attempt it, Greetje…at least not without spellcheck 🙂
Hahaha, I had to Google it as well.
I have many different perfumes. I have developed many food and fragrance intolerances. So now i can’t wear any of them.
I always enjoy your photos and articles. I wish our Norstroms was closer. They sell beautiful things.
Oh, Beverly! If you can’t wear any of your perfume collection anymore, wouldn’t you please consider offering them to Goodwill? Women who are going thru an Unemployment stretch and searching for work clothing or Christmas presents they can decant into a pretty bottle from Hobby Lobby, would be so grateful! I have been in that position and discovered a teeny tiny little bitty bottle about the size of a silver dollar of something so lovely with only a few drops left. All the letters had been rubbed off so I have no idea what it is but have been searching for the signature bottle for years so that I might buy a larger size. Any woman in such a situation would be so grateful for your kindness. Thank you.
Good tips. My signature fragrance right now is Prada’s Infusion of Iris. I love the light flowery scent.
I love it after a shower in the summer, Patti – very refreshing and crisp, like a fine coating of talc!