How to Apply Your Favorite Perfume or Cologne

How to Apply Your Favorite Perfume or Cologne

You have your DIY perfume and it is glorious. You’ve done everything in your power to extend the life of your fragrance, from choosing the right scent combination to building a sound fragrance base and adding fixatives to make the perfume last longer. 

Now you’re ready to wear it around town.

But did you know that there are also ways to apply a perfume to make it last longer?  

What’s the best way to apply perfume?

We are the first to admit some of this is subjective. Want to fill your tub every morning and bathe in perfume? Hey, if you have the funding and the desire to repel all humans (and perhaps animals), then by all means, be our guest. 

However, there are some standard methods of applying perfume. Some work better than others in creating a lasting scent. We will cover two: the perfume cloud and direct application.

The perfume cloud

This is a romantic way to start your morning. Do this as the final touch to your routine. You’ll need an alcohol-based scent in an atomizer bottle for this to work.

Spritz the air in front of you with your fragrance, creating a scent cloud. Then close your mouth (you don’t want to eat your perfume), and walk through the cloud. 

It’s a good idea to close your eyes, too, in order to avoid getting perfume in your eyes. Do this at your own risk, klutzes. 

Why a perfume cloud? 

This gives you a gentle, diffused scent that lingers not just on your skin, but also in your hair and clothes. So, make sure you’re not wearing delicate silk or another material that can easily get stains from perfume oils. 

This method will not help your perfume last longer, but it is a beautiful morning ritual. If you are trying to extend the life of your scent, you’ll need to layer on an initial direct application before entering your cloud of fragrance.

Applying perfume directly to skin

When applying a fragrance from an atomizer bottle, do not rub the fragrance in after spritzing. 

Perfume scents are temperamental. Rubbing the fragrance into your skin can disrupt the molecules, especially in the delicate top notes.

Also, rubbing your wrists together releases enzymes that change how your perfume smells.

This applies to oil-based perfumes, as well. You apply these fragrances with a roll-on bottle or, if you’re feeling fancy, a special perfume bottle with a glass dabber lid like these perfume potion bottles

Simply dab or roll your oil-based perfume onto your skin. But where, oh where, shall you dab?

Where do I apply my perfume to extend its life?

Perfume smells different out of the bottle than it does on your skin. And it smells different on your skin than it does on others.

This is because your own unique chemistry blends with the fragrance to create something even more nuanced and complicated. This is a good thing! 

You are a part of your fragrance. 

You’ve probably heard the rule about applying perfume to your pulse points. But what does that mean, and is it true? 

Pulse points are a great place to apply your fragrance because the warmth of your blood, so close to your skin, helps awaken the fragrance.

A pulse point is anywhere that you would be directed to check your pulse. These are the places on your body where your arteries sit closest to your skin.

Want to impress your friends? 

Here are the technical terms for where the pulse points of each artery are found:

  • Carotid (the crook of your neck)
  • Radial (inside the wrist)
  • Abdominal aorta (below your belly button)
  • Popliteal (behind the knee)
  • Femoral (groin)
  • Brachial (inside the elbow)
  • Dorsalis pedis (top of the foot)
  • Posterior tibial (near the ankle).

Which pulse point you choose depends on the type of fragrance and who you want to smell it. A general rule is to target areas that are exposed and not covered up by clothing. 

What are the most common areas to apply perfume?

The crook of your neck 

This is a great place to add a scent people will get a whiff of when you hug them. Also, don’t worry about getting perfume in your hair. That can actually help carry the scent. Other places you can choose are behind the ears and the area between your collarbones in the front of your neck.

The inside of your wrists

A very traditional place to put perfume, and for good reason. The pulse point here is strong. Also, as you go about your day, people will get a whiff of your fragrance when you gesture as you talk. 

Inside your elbow 

The fragrance you spritz here has more staying power partially because this area of your body does not get as much contact with objects throughout the day.

And it has the benefit of being a pulse point. Save this for the summer when your elbows are uncovered. Also, save it for the lighter fragrances.


This isn’t a pulse point, but it is a sweat point, and your sweat will pick up the fragrance.

Can I spritz perfume in my hair?

Absolutely! Just be aware of your hair type.

Alcohol-based products can be drying, so if your hair is naturally dry, brittle, or prone to frizz, an alcohol-based perfume could exacerbate the problem.

But this does not mean you must be resigned to having scent-free hair! Just try applying an oil-based fragrance instead. 

Fractionated coconut oil makes an excellent base for hair perfume because the molecules are small enough that the oil actually seeps into the hair strands, giving it shine without weighing it down. 

Does applying moisturizer first help extend the life of my perfume?

Yes! The reason this works is that perfume evaporates more quickly on dry skin. The moisturizer gives the perfume something to cling to.

It is important, however, to be cognizant of the scent of your lotion and how it blends with your own. Layering fragrances is totally a thing. If the scent of your lotion blends well with your perfume, or compliments it well, then by all means, layer away! 

If you want your scent to be focused on your perfume and you want to keep that scent pure, then be sure your lotion, and any other body products you use, are unscented. 

Apply perfume after your shower

If you take morning showers, those minutes right after you get out are the best time to apply a fragrance. Showering in warm water opens your pores, allowing the fragrance to absorb better. Just be sure to dry off first. 

Find what works best for you

Keep experimenting. You’ll likely find that you prefer some application methods or locations better than others.

You also may find that it depends on which fragrance you are wearing that day. Perhaps your day fragrance gets a spritz on the inner elbow, but your evening fragrance gets more neck spritzes. 

For tips on crafting DIY fragrances, download our free Beginner’s Guide to Perfumery. It includes useful information on building your first fragrance, plus tested-and-loved recipes to try.

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