Fragrance 101: How to get the most out of your expensive bottles

Last week I discovered a Tory Burch perfume sample in the backseat of my car….that I had gotten a month ago. I sprayed it and *cough*cough*……it smells like chemical and plastic, that’s it, NOTHING like the actual perfume. Turns out, if a fragrance is baked under the sun for a month, it goes bad, which led me to other things to remember when it comes to fragrance. There are a ton of very detailed articles about fragrance out there, but here are some tips to get maximum enjoyment out of your fragrances and make them last longer, especially if you paid (many) a pretty penny for it.


The types:  The different type/category of fragrance usually refer to the amount of perfume/aromatic compound to alcohol and other things that dilute it. From the lowest concentration to the highest, you have mist/spray, Eau de Toilette, and Eau de Parfum. There are also pure perfume oil and essential oil, which are synthetic and natural respectively. Essential oil are usually plant extract, and can be made into perfume oil by mixing with a carrier and other chemical stuff (very technical term, har har). But back to the intensity! It’s not just 5 sprays of Toilette = 1 spray of Parfum since the concentration also affect how long the fragrance last as well as how intense it is. And that difference might bring out certain notes more than the others, which brings us to the next point….

 Fragrance notes:

  • Top note: this is what you smell immediately when the perfume is applied. It evaporates/breakdown quickly, leaving you with the middle/base note for the most/rest of the time, which is why you should ALWAYS wait a hour or so before deciding if you like a fragrance. For example, I love the crisp, fresh and citrus scent of Light Blue by D&G when I first sprayed it. However, it turned very very musky on me within an hour and becomes something completely different.
  • Middle note/heart note: this is the heart or body of the fragrance and what you consistently smell when wearing it. It usually consist some type/combination of flowers.
  • Base note: it brings depth and makes the perfume more heavy or rich. It usually involves some sort of wood, musk, patroulli, amber etc. It’s usually not prominent until 30 minutes or an hour after the perfume is sprayed, which is why the fragrances usually becomes more musky, woodsy, or powdery after the initial spray.


  • Dry skin doesn’t hold onto scent as well as oily or moisturized skin, which is why layer a fragrance over a lotion will make it last longer.
  • If you apply at pulse point (behind the ear, nape of neck, inside of wrist, elbow and knee), it will warm the perfume and release the scent continuously. throughout the day.  With that said, I never apply in the back of the knee because, I mean, if the scent rises it will go in my skirt or behind me, neither of which I care about.
  • Don’t rub/press your wrist together! “You will crush the molecules!” It will then cause a butterfly effect and the world will be forever changed…not. It’s true that you shouldn’t rub/press your wrist together, but that’s only because it may upset the delicate balance between different notes, especially since top notes are more fragile and evaporates quickly (it’s kind of like how chugging a glass of wine will “ruin” it. Not really, it’s just better if you are gentle and enjoy it slowly). Basically, if you like the way it smells, don’t worry about it.
  • It’s true that fragrance will smell slightly different depending on the person, due to diet/body odor etc. However, if you don’t want it to change you can spray it on your clothe instead of skin. There is a myth of spraying fragrance on clothe might ruin it, if it’s a perfume oil or very dark colored then maybe, otherwise probably not. I’ve always enjoyed liberally spraying perfume samples on the scarf I wear and nothing has happened so far. *knocks on wood*


  • When the perfume bottles are so pretty, it’s especially tempting to display it in its full glory, basking it under the sun. That’s exactly what you shouldn’t do. Light and humidity will degrade fragrance. That’s why they should also be stored in a cool, dry and shaded place.
  • Do you know that oxygen will also degrade fragrances? from the first application/dab/spray, you expose the liquid to oxygen and it starts degrading from there. That’s why dabbers and roller balls don’t keep as well as spray bottles, not to mention the dust/skin contact involved for dabbers and roller balls.
  • Most people know that extreme heat will ruin a fragrance, but do you know extreme cold will do that, too? Extreme temperature on both end may upset the delicate balance between the different notes/scent and change the fragrance. Even if you store it in the fridge, frequent drastic temperature change (especially in the summer) may also alter the scent. When I was reading articles, some have different temperature range (37–45 °F or  55-72 °F) due to the different concentration of perfume oil to alcohol etc. Basically, a cool room temperature is the best.

If you are really enjoying this and wants to read way more about fragrances than I care to, lol, here are some resources I used:



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