It’s a common question. Journalists ask perfumers and brand owners about it all the time. Every novice to the perfume forums asks experienced perfumistas about it. Probably the most important question of perfumery, which pops out at any perfume-devoted meeting, as perfume users ask, “How does one apply and wear perfume properly?” This question was answered by Serge Lutens and Roja Dove, Tom Ford and Jean-Paul Guerlain. Each lucky perfume collection owner answered it, too—from the point of view of the single fragrance owner, any cologne collector is an authority. Insecure people are looking for rules. “Red with meat, white with fish,” “E = mc2,” “when speaking French, put an accent on the last syllable.” Confidence comes with experience over time. Confident people are ready for any experiments, perceiving the fragrance as an invisible body decoration. And if it is totally invisible … is there any difference as to where exactly to put it? The most traditional advice is to apply perfume on the pulse points of your body, in places where the blood in the arteries can be felt. Like the wrists, in the elbow and under the knees, both sides of the neck and behind the ears. Justification is given as follows: in these places the skin is better warmed by the blood and therefore “perfumes have better projection.” One can imagine that the scent was kind of broken before and therefore is now a capricious thing that works by its own rules. No! It was designed to have enough projection and longevity—scientists were working on it.


Any fragrance that was built to develop in time will show all its beauty eventually, sooner or later. When fragrance is created in the form of an almost monolithic chord, it will stay almost the same, whatever the temperature is on your pulse points. And I wonder why nobody recommend to spray our underarms? It’s the hottest point on our bodies! Air temperature and humidity, any special diets, the day of the cycle and the endocrine system’s functioning (not to mention the memory of the smells and the ability to distinguish between them)—so many different factors to consider even before a couple of Celsius grades that pulse points could give us. The new style was embodied in the form of a couple sprays into the air and a walk through that cloud of fragrance, eyes pre-closed. In this case the hair and upper body are covered by a light fragrance mist and after the mist ceremony you can get dressed. But for some reason it seems to me that most people pass through the fragrance cloud already in their clothes … On the other hand, cologne washing, barbarously a treat for the face skin, too, was the wrong complement to the great anachronism of rubbing cologne on your body. Anyway, it’s better to take a shower and apply the fragrance on the clean body than while wearing a suit and smelling the remnants of month’s worth of colognes and the smoking room. Another method of applying fragrance on the body: under a blouse or shirt.


The farther from the collar or cleavage, the less it shows. So you could put the perfume there just for yourself (and to heighten attention to the cleavage). The stronger the perfume, the deeper (or less) it can be applied. Why is it good to wear fragrance on the body? Skin and its sebaceous oils can add additional background to any flavor. This makes perfumes smell more individual and even unique (but still,hygiene is the most important part of the ritual). Perfume may be completed with eau de toilette or by layering with the other products— fragrant body cream or soap. Skin can be washed right away (in the case of a wrong perfume, wet wipes and soap will help). Why are skin and hair not the perfect base for fragrances? An allergy or sensitivity to the perfume, for example, will kill all the pleasure and beauty. Also, perfumes can dry up your skin, if they’re alcohol-based. On the other hand, scents like Mouchoir de Monsieur and Guerlain Voilette de Madame hinted to us withtheir names that the perfumes were built for fabric, too: gentlemen wore them on handkerchiefs in the breast pocket, the ladies wore them on their veils and scarves. Perfumers still use paper blotters to smell perfumes, and I was amused to find out how the quality of Soviet perfumes was tested.


The best quality fragrances should be perceptible and characteristic on clean gauze after 24 hours. All that indirectly hints that the human body is not the only carrier for fragrances. Egyptian pharaohs that wore heavily scented beards and wigs—were they wearing perfume oils on their clothing or their skin? In the past, colored fans were another way to try perfume and even wear it. It would be interesting to know the origin of this method. Maybe it came from the East? It’s believed that in Japan not so long ago, perfumes were considered as a pollution to the body. It’s much preferred to smell perfume as a fragrant smoke. The scent of clothes or the perfumed fan were much more appropriate. There is a similar custom in the South: to fumigate clothes by smoke of amber, oud and other mixtures-bakhoors. Also we can recall the modern perfumed clothes: perfumed leather gloves, raspberry-perfumed jeans and bacon-scented t-shirts … In India, I often encountered another interesting way to wear fragrance: they put Attar-soaked cotton wool into the crease of the ear, just to smell it every now and then for their own pleasure. All of these methods allow us to change the fragrance quickly along with clothes and accessories—and this is a definite plus. But to put perfume on a jacket or coat seems strange, especially given our modern appetites for perfume collections.


Signature perfumes are just not enough for our pleasure. Some time ago, I was surprised by Serge Lutens’ way to wear his perfumes, which he mentioned in interview. The luxurious way (as he said) to wear his own scents is to apply perfume on the lining of his jacket. Well, by this method, the richly colored Serge Lutens perfumes would stain white shirts. (By the way, Roja Dove invented a special colorless Roja Dove Aoud perfume which does not stain white shirts!) On fabrics, perfumes tend to live longer than on the skin. Once people wore perfumes on fabric more often, as natural and light fragrances were too volatile to wear them on the skin. This method is not necessary now, as a lot of high-power and long-lasting synthetic materials have been discovered. The last contemporary way to wear perfumes I encountered a month ago. One of the perfumistas used an ultrasonic steam generator with a couple of drops of his favorite perfume. He really enjoys his scented working office and house. Stylish, modern and a non-contact way, right? It seems that each of us have our favorite ways to wear our favorite aromas. For example, I almost always put my favorite leather and amber fragrances on my beard and chest. But iris fragrance I wear only on fabric: a shirt, jacket, sweater … And what are your ways to wear perfumes in order to enjoy them better? ( By Serguey Borisov from ) Note: Serguey Borisov has been known in the Internet world of perfume under the nickname moon_fish for more than 10 years. Now he writes about perfumes for and, and contributes on the subject for glossy magazines.