Perfume Q&A


Questions and Answers


 Perfume Questions & Answers


Allergies to Perfume

It is common with people who have skin allergies, to wear their favourite perfume on their clothing or hair.  If you suffer from skin allergies, I recommend you apply the perfume to a handkerchief or your clothes.  But please make sure you test the perfume on a discreet part of the clothing first to ensure it will not mark the fabric.

Perfume Questions & Answers

Ann Southern (1909 – 2001) was an American film and television actress who “sprayed perfume on her petticoats so the fragrance floated about her as she walked.”

– Cox, C., (2009) How to be Adored, 2009:213).  Image source.

Perfume allergies are usually reactions to just one or some of the ingredients used in the manufacture of the perfume.

With several perfume allergies, they usually start comparatively small but over time they will get more distressing when the person suffering is continually exposed to the substance causing the allergic reaction.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, please cease using that perfume on your skin:

  • An itchy or sore red rash on your skin at the areas you have sprayed your perfume.  If you love that fragrance, you should instead spray the perfume on a handkerchief and place it in your open pocket, purse or handbag. You could also spray your scarf, clothing (testing a discreat part of the material first) or the ends of your hair avoiding your scalp.
  • If you have similar pains to sinus, where you sneeze, have a blocked or runny nose, your eyes may also become watery, red and become itchy.
  • A feeling of nauseous or perhaps a dreadful headache.

If you have a friend or work colleague who wears the perfume you think might be triggering these symptoms, kindly say to them that while their perfume is beautiful, you think it is the trigger of your specific symptoms which is causing you some distress.  Explain to them that if they continue wearing the perfume your symptoms may worsen.  Maybe do a test run of a week without them wearing the perfume and if your symptoms calm down or stop, then you have the answer.

To determine which ingredient you may be allergic to, I recommend you ask your doctor or dermatologist for an allergy test.


Some medicines may change the scent of our perfume on our skin. Antibiotics can either kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria in our bodies to destroy infections. Our skin is our body’s largest organ, which holds a large number of good bacteria. As we tend to spray perfume on our skin, which holds a large number of bacterium, the antibiotics may change the scent of our favourite perfume. If you find a significant change in the scent of your perfume, I suggest wearing very light perfume, such as Eau de Toilette or Eau de Cologne, or not to wear any perfume at all while on antibiotics – until you are feeling better. Eau de Toilette and Eau de Cologne both have low percentages of essential oils so the fragrance is light on your skin.

Perfume Questions & Answers

“You always know when Danny D’Angelo is coming.  You hear him first (because of the Tic Tacs in his pocket), and then you smell him (because he uses way too much cologne!).”

– John McNerney.  Image source.

Don’t be a Danny D’Angelo.

Applying Perfume

The worst thing you can do is marinate in your perfume before heading to your small open plan office, the cinema, business meeting or visiting a pregnant woman who will have a heightened sensitivity of smell and may suffer from nausea.

Why are we advised not to rub our wrists together when we apply perfume?  “It is no trouble to lightly spread the fragrance evenly about on your wrists. What’s not good is to go grinding away because you will heat up the fragrance so that much of the scent will evaporate away before its time and you will certainly miss the top notes” (Tania Sanchez Perfumes the A-Z Guide, 2009:49).

I recommend applying the fragrance to any of the following:

  • on the left and right side of your neck just under your ears (not behind them),
  • on your collar bones,
  • your chest,
  • your naval,
  • your wrists and inside your elbows; or/and
  • behind your knees.

Perfume Questions & Answers

There are different variations to Gabrielle Chanel’s famous quote which went something like, “Wear perfume where you would like to be kissed”.

Image source

Except the lips. Don’t spray your perfume on your lips or any other part which might cause irritation!

Becoming Immune to the Smell of your Favourite Perfume

This may happen to people who wear the same perfume every day and have done for many years.  If you love the perfume, I recommend you experiment with it a little.  Perhaps try a different scented body lotion or a different light perfume with your signature scent. Maybe a solid perfume rubbed onto the parts of your body you have just sprayed with your favourite perfume.  If you love a main ingredient of your perfume, for example gardenias, why don’t you try a different perfume brand also with gardenias as a main ingredient?  You may be surprised at how wonderfully different you feel when you try on another perfume.  You may even find a new signature scent!  There is a perfume for every mood possible, so try something new. 

Perfume Questions & Answers

“My grandmother (Estée Lauder) said ‘you wouldn’t wear the same dress to play tennis and to dinner, so why would you wear the same fragrance?”

– Aerin Lauder. Image source.

Exactly why we recommend regular Perfume Profiling Consultations, because there is a fragrance for every mood possible.

Choosing the Perfect Perfume

Have you ever noticed that you do not get the same compliments on the same perfume that your friend is wearing?  Not to say that you smell bad at all, but a perfume on one person will smell differently on another person.  Perfumes react differently to each individual due to our different lifestyles, diet, age, profession, body chemistry, location, etc.

I recommend you test the perfume first before you purchase the larger bottle. Make sure you enjoy the journey the fragrance takes you on.




Notes of a Perfume

Generally, perfumes have three stages (called notes) it goes through to tell its story.  The first stage is the top (head) notes, the second stage is the middle (heart) notes and the third stage is the base (bottom) notes.

When you buy a bottle of perfume, smell it as soon as you open it and as soon as you apply it.  This is the top note you can smell which is predominately citrus notes that give a sharp smell. Perfumeries spend most of their time and money on this top note because it is the first impression of the perfume.  You should smell each of the top, middle and base notes of the perfume to experience the journey the story of the perfume is taking you on.  So once you apply it, smell it every hour.  The top notes last about 15 minutes, middle notes then appear and last about two to four hours and finally the base notes make an appearance which can last all day.  Each note should work together linking each section of the perfume and develop on your skin perfectly.

It is always a good idea to test more than one (but no more than five) of your favourite perfumes at a time so you can compare the fragrances.  Remember which perfume you sprayed where.

Perfume Questions & Answers

“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally.”

– Patrick Süskind.  Image source.

It is important to sample a fragrance on your skin.  But don’t apply it like Grenouille does (above) in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.  You will just look crazy and the Police may be called.

Apply it when your day starts so you can experience it for the full journey.  Smell the fragrance every hour and notice how the notes of the fragrance change with your body chemistry.

Pregnancy and Perfume

First of all, if you are pregnant, congratulations!  Your body will be going through hormonal changes which will affect your sense of smell.  I recommend you wear no fragrance, or the lightest perfume, Eau de Toilette, Cologne or solid perfume.  Ask your Doctor for more information and advice.

Perfume Questions & Answers

Image source.

Pregnancy can bring on a heightened sense of smell.  Perfume is worn for pleasing the sense of smell, not the taste nor hearing (because it may be loud).  Please be mindful of this if you wear perfume around women who are expecting.

Reawaken your Olfactory Senses

What is the best thing to smell between smelling and testing perfumes?  Through questioning many perfumers, sales assistants, and perfume bloggers, there are different things that help different people.  Some include coffee beans (although there is no scientific evidence to suggest this works), fresh air, smoking a cigarette, woollen fabric, your own body under your shirt or nothing at all.  What we recommend is for you not to take up smoking, but to take a tea break between smelling five to ten perfumes. Sit down, have a cuppa, relax for 10 minutes. Then start smelling your scents again.

Perfume Questions & Answers

Image source.

David Beckham is an avid tea drinker, which may help his olfactory senses between his and Mrs Beckham’s many fragrances.

Solutions in Perfume

  • Solid perfumes are the lightest but could contain up to 8% essential oils.  It will only be smelt on you by you or someone who is up close and personal with you.  They make you feel very sensual and seductive when applied and throughout the day when you smell your wrist. They are more intimate and your lover will think it is your natural scent.  Now that is sexy. Solid perfumes can come in a small pot or kept on the body in a small pendant and will not spill.  A great book I recommend on solid perfumes, is Scents & Sensibilities by Mandy Aftel.
  • Eau de Cologne or ‘Cologne’ (EDC) holds a concentration of 2-5% essential oils.
  • Eau de Toilette (EDT) is around 10% essential oils.
  • Eau de Parfum (EDP) somewhere around 15-18% essential oils.
  • Parfum, also known as ‘Extrait’ or ‘Concentrate’ holds at least 25% essential oils, hence their expense and long lasting on the skin.


Storing your Perfume

Just like wine, many perfumes get better with age.  However, they do have a shelf life.  The best place to store your perfume is in the box it came in, out of direct sunlight and heat.  But, some perfume flacons are just too beautiful to hide away right?  As long as you keep them out of your bathroom or kitchen, away from any extreme temperatures, including the refrigerator, or direct sunlight and keep the bottle securely closed, your perfume should last years.

“Very old fragrances, even when well kept, tend to darken and develop a nail-varnish smell, which fortunately fades minutes after you put it on skin” (Turin, L. and Sanchez, T. Perfumes the A-Z Guide, 2009).

Perfume Questions & Answers

Eva Gabor (1919 – 1995) was an Hungarian-born socialite and actress who “sprayed cologne inside her lampshades so the heat of the light bulbs diffused the fragrance subtly throughout the room.”

– (Cox, C., (2009) How to be AdoredImage source.

Sunburn from Perfume

Certain chemicals, which are photosensitive may cause your skin to burn faster in the sun.

Sourced from The International Fragrance Association website:  The International Fragrance Association, together with the industry’s scientific centre RIFM (the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials), the IFRA team endeavors to make sure that the usage standards for fragrance materials are put into practice according to the available scientific recommendations and that member companies comply with those standards.  IFRA’s Safety Program establishes safe use for fragrance materials. The IFRA Code of Practice and the IFRA Standards are based on risk assessments and may prohibit or restrict the use of fragrance materials in consumer goods if there is concern for human health or the environment.

The reality is, anything may contain photosensitive chemicals, such as prescription drugs, pain killers, and skin care products.  When you are out in the sun, you should always look after your skin and wear SPF 50+ sunscreen and a hat, then apply your perfume.

Grace Kelly

“Our life dictates a certain kind of wardrobe.”

– Grace Kelly.   Image source.

New to Perfume

If you are brand spanking new to the world of perfumery, I recommend you start lightly with a low solution perfume, like Eau de Toilette.  This is so you can get use to the application, the scent on your skin and also not be so overwhelmed by stronger solutions. Just start light and slowly build your perfume wardrobe.  Remember, the perfect fragrance could change your life, so have fun!