Did you know that on average, women in the US purchase a new perfume every month? That’s a lot of fragrance, and a lot of money spent.
Most people who splurge on a nice new bottle of perfume want to get the most out of it, and there’s no bigger disappointment than realizing your new signature scent dissipates after an hour of wear.
Sometimes, it’s just an illusion. People develop nose blindness to the scent they’re wearing. So although it may seem like their perfume has no longevity, their friends are still noticing the fragrance hours later.
That being said, not all perfumes are created equal. Some of them really do only last a couple of hours before fading, while others can stay in our clothes for a week!
So, how long can perfume actually last on your skin and clothes? There are a lot of factors that can affect the longevity of your fragrance. From the perfume composition and molecular structure to where you spray it, there are lots of moving parts that determine how long your scent will last.
Luckily, there’s a few tricks you can employ to make your fragrance hold up for as long as possible. In this article, we will go over how long perfumes last on average, what affects their longevity, and what you can do to make your favorite scent last all day.
Average Longevity For Perfume
On Your Skin
When you wear your perfume on your skin only (not your clothes, hair, or anywhere else), it has the shortest longevity. Your skin typically doesn’t retain the scent for a whole day.
In fact, on average, perfume sprayed onto the skin lasts about 6-8 hours.
On Your Clothes
When you spray some of your perfume on your clothes, you can extend its longevity. This is because fabrics (and hair) are much more porous than your skin, which allows them to retain the scent much longer.
On average, perfume on your clothes or hair lasts up to 25 hours. Some very strong scents can stay there for several days.
When talking about perfume longevity, it’s important to understand that not all notes in your scent have the same lifespan.
So even though your perfume might last 8 hours on your skin, it won’t smell the same at the end of that day as it did when you first sprayed it.
Most perfumes are composed of a multitude of notes, each of which is categorized into three groups: top notes (also known as head notes), middle notes (also known as heart notes), and base notes.
Tops notes are the first to dissolve, which is why you should never judge a perfume in the first 15 minutes of smelling it! Top notes come in strongly, but they rarely last longer than 15-30 minutes.
Middle notes will stay around for 2-4 hours on your skin, and base notes stick around the longest – for about 8 hours on your skin.
We’ll discuss different notes a little later, but for now it’s just important to understand why the smell of your perfume can change so drastically throughout the day.
How To Make Your Perfume Scent Last Longer
Here are a few things you can do to make your perfume last longer when you wear it:
Interestingly, perfume molecules tend to bind better to oilier skin. The oils in the perfume “stick” better to other oils than to a dry surface. This is great for those who have naturally oily skin, but if you’re on the drier side, you might notice that your fragrances don’t last as long.
Luckily, there is a solution: moisturize your skin before you spray perfume on it. You’ll want to use a fragrance-free moisturizer so that it doesn’t intervene with the smell of your fragrance. You should also look for a moisturizer that contains oils in the ingredient list.
Spread some of the moisturizer on areas where you plan to spray your perfume, let it absorb for a few minutes, and then spritz your fragrance on for the best results!
2. Choose A Concentrated Perfume
The higher the concentration of fragrance in your product, the longer the scent will last. If you want to extend the longevity of your perfume, try using a Parfum or Eau De Parfum instead of Eau De Toilette or body spray. Parfum is the most concentrated type of perfume.
It is also the most expensive, so keep that in mind. If you aren’t able to afford a Parfum of your favorite fragrance, the next best choice is Eau De Parfum or Eau De Toilette.
3. Spray It On Porous Areas
Another great way to extend the longevity of your perfume is to spray it on some porous areas in addition to your skin.
The best porous areas for perfume are usually clothes and hair.
However, be mindful about spraying Eau De Parfum on clothes – it can stain them, especially if the perfume has a color to it. Before you spray it on your clothes, we recommend first spraying it on white tissue to see if it leaves a colored stain.
Spraying on your clothes and your hair will help extend your perfume scent for another 6-8 hours, maybe even more. Have you ever put on a scarf and smelled your old perfume on it?
It’s a very effective way to make the scent last longer.
4. Spray It On Areas With Heat
Another great trick to make your fragrance last longer is to spray it on areas that produce a lot of heat. This will help your scent radiate further even when it’s starting to fade out at the end of the day, which allows you to stretch it out a little longer.
Some warmer areas include:
- Inside of your elbow
- Inside of your knee
- Behind the ears
5. Pick Heavier Scent Profiles
Ok, this tip won’t be for everyone, because not everyone likes “heavy” perfume scents. However, fragrances with heavier base notes like woody, sweet, and gourmand scents tend to last longer due to their larger molecule size.
On the other hand, lighter and more citrusy scents have the shortest lifespans. Even if you follow all the best practices to extend their longevity, they won’t stay on your skin and clothes as long as those heavier profiles.
Just something to consider when selecting your signature scent.
6. Store Your Perfume Properly
To make sure your perfume doesn’t go bad or lose it’s potency, make sure to store it in a dark area that doesn’t experience any direct light or too much temperature variation. This will protect the integrity of the ingredients and will keep it smelling right for longer.
What Affects Perfume Longevity?
The science of fragrance is fascinating to us, and we hope you’re just as curious as we are about what makes perfume scents last longer, and how they interact with the chemistry of your skin. Here are a few factors that affect the way your perfume behaves:
Like everything in our world, perfumes are made up of molecules. Different scents (known as “notes”) in each fragrance have different molecule sizes. Smaller molecules dissipate quicker, while larger molecules linger longer.
Perfume notes are categorized into groups based on their molecule size:
- Smaller molecule sizes are called top notes or head notes and dissolve within 15-30 minutes after spraying the perfume. They include scents like citrus, lemon, mandarin, bergamot, anis, lavender, and lemongrass
- Medium molecule sizes are called middle or heart notes and last 4-5 hours on the skin. They include rose, jasmine, lilac, and other florals, as well as grassy and fruity scents like raspberry, pear, and peach.
- The largest molecules are called base notes and last on average up to 8 hours. They include heavier scents like musk, cedarwood, patchouli, moss, vanilla, heliotrope, tonka bean, and sandalwood.
Your perfume’s scent profile and molecular composition will determine how long it lasts on you as you wear it. If your perfume has a lot of larger molecules and heavier musky scents, it will stay on your skin longer than a light citrusy perfume.
The variety of molecule sizes also affects how your fragrance profile changes throughout the day. In the morning, your perfume will have a brighter scent, whereas towards the end of the day it can become muskier and woodier because only the base notes are still around.
When you’re buying a perfume, pay attention to the type of fragrance it is. Most brand name perfumes are released in different versions of concentration, differentiated by French terms like:
- Eau de Parfum
- Eau de Toilette
- Eau de Cologne
- Eau Fraiche
Parfum is the most concentrated type of fragrance – with more than 20% concentration of essential oils. This type of fragrance lasts the longest (8+ hours) and costs the most.
Eau de Parfum is the most common type of fragrance on the market – when you go to a department store and try different perfumes, they’re usually all Eau de Parfums. The oil concentration in them is between 15-20% and they last 6-8 hours. It’s a little more affordable than Parfum, but there is more alcohol content in it so it can dry out your skin.
Eau de Toilette will last for about 3-5 hours as the oil concentration is only 5-15%. That being said, it’s more affordable and great for “day wear.”
Eau de Cologne and Eau Fraiche have the lowest concentrations of perfume oil. They typically come in larger bottles and have a high alcohol and water content.
Sometimes they are referred to as “body spray” and “body splash.” You might get an hour or two of fragrance out of them, but don’t expect them to last long. They’re great to freshen up for a short event, but they’re not meant to be fragrant all day.
If you’re trying to get the most longevity out of your fragrance, opt for a Parfum or an Eau de Parfum. An Eau de Toilette might also work if you’re wearing it daily for a shorter commitment like school or work.
Investing in a high-quality perfume is another thing that you can do to get a longer scent life out of your fragrance.
Higher-end brands typically last longer on your skin and clothes because they’re made with the highest-quality ingredients that don’t fade as quickly. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should opt for the most expensive bottle on the shelf.
The price of perfume doesn’t only depend on quality. Sometimes perfume is more expensive simply because it has a complex scent profile with a lot of different notes.
Simpler perfumes with a few distinct notes can be just as long-lasting and high-quality but without the crazy price tag.
A good rule of thumb is to opt for well-known reputable perfume houses like Chanel, Versace, Tom Ford, Dior, and Gucci. You can also look at the “nose” behind each perfume – the perfumer who created the scent. Some of the best-known noses include Francis Kurkdjian, Arturetto Landi, Bertrand Duchaufour, and Olivier Cresp.
This isn’t to say that some indie fragrance brands are of lower quality, of course. It’s just that you can rarely go wrong with one of these big names.
We briefly touched on this, but your skin type affects how long perfume stays on you. Oily skin types tend to hold on to fragrance better because the oils in the skin bind with the oils in the perfume.
You can use this knowledge to your advantage and apply a scent-free oily moisturizer to your skin a few minutes before spraying your perfume on it. You can even use petroleum jelly or vaseline on your pulse points before spraying your perfume. This can extend the longevity of your perfume by a few hours.
You can also try keeping your skin hydrated well by making an effort to drink 8 glasses of water every day. The older you are, the more dehydrated your skin becomes, so you might notice your perfume dissolving quicker as you age.
Lastly, keep in mind that perfumes smell differently on different people. While this doesn’t affect longevity, per se, it can affect how a certain perfume mixes with your own pheromones. This is why we sometimes love a certain scent on others but cannot stand it on ourselves.
We always recommend testing out a perfume before you buy it to see how long it lasts on your skin and how well it mixes with your chemistry.
So many different factors determine how long a fragrance will last on your skin and clothes – from the scent profile to the quality of the maker. But here we shared our best tips and tricks on extending the longevity of your perfume.
Through intelligent placement, proper moisturizing, and a good understanding of fragrance chemistry, you’ll be able to ensure your perfume lasts as long as possible when you wear it.
We hope you find these tips helpful. And remember that nose-blindness is a thing! Perhaps your perfume lasts a lot longer than you think, simply because you stop noticing your own scent after a while.
Many perfumers believe that if you become nose-blind to a certain scent, it means that perfume is a perfect match for you as it blends so seamlessly with your own skin chemistry. When in doubt, ask your friends or loved ones if they can still smell it on you – you might be surprised.
If after all this you’re still looking for the best tips and tricks for lasting perfume, take a look at this video from Yana Irbe on YouTube.