Yes, There’s a Right Way to Apply Perfume, and You’re Probably Doing It Wrong

Fashion

If I had two minutes to leave my house, one thing is absolutely certain: I will not go anywhere without putting on my favorite fragrance. I used to think that just a quick spritz would be enough to last me throughout the day, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Even though it seems self-explanatory, there is a correct way to apply perfume, and you might be hampering your perfume’s potential by spraying it wrong. 

“I like two different ways,” says Bee Shapiro, founder of Ellis Brooklyn. “For richer, more intense scents, I apply to freshly moisturized skin on my pulse points. Your pulse points run warmer than other parts of your body, so it disperses scent better. I tend to do my wrists, sides of neck, and décolletage. For lighter scents, I also apply to my pulse points, but then I also do an overall mist on my clothes. This is because the top notes of lighter scents dissipate quickly on skin but oftentimes linger a bit longer on clothes.”

Not only do the places you apply your perfume matter for the longevity of your scent, but the way you apply it also matters. “Hold the bottle between three to five inches from your body to get maximum coverage while still maintaining spray accuracy,” says Camron Collard, head of fragrance discovery at sampling platform MicroPerfumes. For oil perfumes or roll-ons that don’t spray, apply directly to your pulse points. 

Now that you’re well versed in the art of perfume application, it’s time to find your next signature scent. To help you out, I’m giving you a personally curated list to choose from. These are 15 of my absolute favorite scents of all time, and they all have a current spot on my perfume roster.

Key notes: vanilla bean, cashmere wood, ciste, musk, ambrosia. Take everything you thought you knew about vanilla-scented perfume and throw it out the window. This fragrance takes vanilla and twists it into something dark, smoky, and edgy for a truly alluring and mysterious scent. It’s pure, unfiltered vanilla bean (no sugar added), and when I wear it, I can’t stop smelling my wrist. 

Key notes: pear accord, lily of the valley, musks. Wearing this airy, refreshing scent instantly transports you to a blooming garden littered with cherry blossoms. It’s fresh, optimistic, and faintly powdery without making you smell like a grandmother. 

Key notes: fig, jasmine, vanilla. Imagine eating figs on a balcony in Greece on a perfect summer day. If that image could be bottled, it would be found in Ellis Brooklyn’s newest, most vacation-worthy scent yet. 

Key notes: black orchid, black truffle, patchouli. For me, this is a fragrance that needs no introduction. It’s mysterious, sumptuous, and completely intoxicating. Black Orchid is a heady mix of orchids, truffles, and patchouli, and it smells delicious enough to make your head spin. 

Key notes: jasmine, green lemon, vanilla. Meet my perfume for lazy Sunday afternoons. This scent is light enough to spritz on when all you want to wear is an oversize button-down and jean shorts, but it’s refined enough to still have people asking you what that amazing smell is. Many lemon scents lean cloying (think Pledge), but that’s not the case with this one, which is delicate and smells like fresh-squeezed lemonade. 

Key notes: rhubarb, cardamom, pink peppercorn, rose petals, Turkish rose absolute, raspberry blossom, papyrus, agarwood, sandalwood. When I initially tried Boy Smells’ first perfume collection, I thought Rose Load would be my least favorite. (I’m not a rose person.) This is, however, the furthest thing from your typical rose perfume, and it’s now practically my signature scent, as I wear it so often. It’s sharp, spicy, and fresh—like a rose coursing with electricity from petal to stem. 

Key notes: raspberry, strawberry, black currant, violet-leaf absolute, wood, patchouli, musk. It’s tough to not instantly fall in love with this scent, which is bursting with raspberries and black currants on the nose. Once it settles, musky and woodsy notes round it out for a sweet dose of high couture in a bottle. 

Key notes: tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine, marine accord. A refreshing blend of white florals makes this perfume feel like a drink of cool water. Tuberose is the star here, and it shines once it hits your skin. 

Key notes: petitgrain essence, coconut water, coconut milk, bergamot, solar musk, banana, pineapple, pool water, swimsuit Spandex, sea salt. If you want a perfume that smells like what it feels like to jump off of a diving board in mid-July, it doesn’t get closer than this scent. If the lifeguard that Squints kissed in Sandlot had a signature perfume, I imagine this would be it. 

Key notes: dark rum, honey, vanilla bean. Gourmand fragrances are tricky, but this one hits all the right notes. It’s sweet and delectable but doesn’t make your skin smell like cotton candy. Instead, this scent reminds me of a summer night in Brooklyn, golden light cascading everywhere and a noticeable lull in the city’s usual buzz. 

Key notes: lily. This floral scent is an exploration of the entire lily plant. Think of it as the perfume equivalent of the brand’s iconic Love Bracelet—it’s meant to be an expression of love, according to Cartier. 

Key notes: iris, myrrh. The thing I love about this perfume is that it’s so unexpected. I guarantee it’s like nothing you’ve smelled before. Meant to capture the Festa della Luce in Puglia, Italy, it has a sharp, almost numbing scent that you can’t quite put a finger on but don’t want to stop smelling. 

Key notes: caramel, grapefruit, orange. Picture driving with the windows down on windy roads in Capri, sky-blue water sparkling in the sun. I can’t say this scent will take you there, but it will take your mind there, and that’s good enough for the next time you’re sitting at your desk dreaming of a vacation. 

Key notes: bergamot, jasmine flower, lemon. I always find myself reaching for this perfume more than I think I will. It’s a citrusy scent, but it’s extremely clean and crisp and has tons of sparkling dimension to it. 

Key notes: jasmine, saffron, cedar, ambergris. I’m ending on a high note with this widely loved scent. Baccarat Rouge 540 has quickly become iconic and has even found its way into the cultural zeitgeist. Hints of amber and woods help keep this scent subdued while still staying on all day long. It’s a perfume that feels personal no matter who’s wearing it, which is probably how it’s become such a massive success. 

Next up, Salty Fragrances Are Sublime, and These 10 Are “I Can’t Even Handle It” Good

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