Should Perfume be Sprayed on Skin or Clothes? Do THIS!

One of the most common question that goes through my head every single time I use perfume is – should I spray the perfume on my clothes or directly on my skin? Which one would make it more effective? So, I reached out to the experts, and here’s what I found out!

It is better to spray perfume directly on the skin rather than clothing. Perfume sprayed on the skin lasts longer as it binds well with the skin’s natural oils creating a longer-lasting fragrance. It also helps to project the perfume in a stronger manner as the skin’s heat acts as a natural diffuser.

I know this sounds so straightforward! But trust me, there are a few more ninja tips that I learned along the way which you definitely don’t want to miss! So, let’s get straight to it.

Is it Better to Spray Perfume on Skin or Clothing?

To understand the appropriate answer to this question, we perhaps need to understand the science behind how perfumes work.

Perfumes are made of fragrance oils. These oils usually work best when they are aided with a diffuser that mixes with the perfume molecule to create a unique fragrance. This is why alcohol is used in perfume as it acts as a great diffuser. Likewise, water is another form of a diffuser used with perfumes.

On the other hand, human skin produces oils on its layer. Incidentally, this oil produced by human skin also functions as a natural diffuser and works really well with perfumes! Thus, as compared to clothing, oils produced from our skin bind well with the compounds in the perfume, and enable the fragrance to smell stronger and last longer!

An exception would be if you are in an intensely hot and humid environment. If you know you will be perspiring profusely then it might be better to apply perfume on clothes as the sweat from your skin will wipe away the effect of perfume much faster than when sprayed on clothes.

That said, there is no hard and fast rule to stick with spraying perfume on clothing. For most people, choosing to spray perfume on skin over clothes really boils down to personal opinion.

Of course, if you are applying perfume on clothes then you should aware of the following:

  1. Applying perfume on clothing might cause the threads of the fabric, especially cotton, to overtime bunch up into little tangled balls of fibre. 
  2. Perfume can make clothing to start wearing thin and abrase faster.
  3. Clothes that have perfume applied to them will start to fade in color far faster than usual.

These are just some of the harmful effects of perfume that were concluded in a study published in the International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, 2015. 

Due to these harmful effects of perfume on clothes, researchers have been busy creating biocompatible nanocapsules for slow release of fragrances on the human skin! This will basically help to ensure that perfume can last even longer on the skin.

Is it Harmful to Use Perfume on Skin?

Perfume is usually not harmful to the skin. Perfumes are tested for toxicity and allergic components before being sold to the market to ensure safe use by consumers. However, certain skin types may react differently to perfumes in which case a patch test is recommended.

In fact, many perfumers recommend you test the perfume on your skin for up to 2 hours before you even select a new perfume. However, be careful not to apply it on broken skin or skin that has eczema. It will cause an intense burning sensation.

A woman applying perfume on her skin
A woman applying perfume on her skin (Image Credit)

When applying perfume on the skin, you may notice how after a few hours the perfume notes settle and mix with the skin. Once the top notes evaporate, the remaining perfume concentrate and natural skin oils react to create a truly unique fragrance due to your personal body chemistry. 

This is also why the same perfume also smells differently on different people. Your skin lends to the creation of your own personal blend.

That said, not all essential oils are safe. Some fragrance ingredients used in more amounts than needed can produce foul-smelling odors and even can be poisonous. It can even cause adverse reactions in animals or, sometimes, even on your own skin. Something to remember especially if trying to make a homemade perfume!

If, however, your skin does react to the perfume, visit a dermatologist immediately.

Perfume manufacturers, therefore, work to ensure the health and regulatory standards are met. There are agencies, such as the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials, that are employed to test if the fragrance ingredients are safe and not have any potential negative impact on health and the environment.

In fact, there is an entire study dedicated to the subject of how skin reacts to the application of fragrances. So, advances in the subject are being made to make perfumes safe to apply.

How Long Does Perfume Last on Clothes?

On average, perfumes can last from 2 hours to 36 hours on clothes. Perfumes with high alcohol content like Eau de Colognes can last even longer because the fragrance molecules remain on the clothes as the alcohol does not wash off easily.

Perfumes bind really well with the oil present on the surface of the skin. This definitely helps project the perfume really well. That said, sweating profusely can make the effect of perfume disappear!

So, though the projection of the perfume is best on the skin, it can last better on clothes if you sweat a lot or if you stay in a humid climate.

Perfumes, especially those with high alcohol content like Eau de Colognes, last even longer on clothes as the alcohol content does not wash off or evaporate easily.

Let me explain it a bit – Perfumes are made of volatile fragrant compounds that neither last long in the air nor do they stay long when mixed with water. 

Today, the perfume industry is investing in various new devices and mechanisms to prolong the release of scent. This includes creating new synthetic or captive fragrance molecules that are resistant to water i.e. hydrophobic, using pro-fragrances, even microencapsulation techniques that are methods to capture and bind perfume as nanoparticles, among others. 

In a recent research published in the Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, March 2020, we see that scientists are creating perfumed silk fabric. The fragrance will last longer on the fabric by using nanocapsules that will capture fragrances and release them slowly over time.

In fact, there are other studies where this aqueous nature of fragrance is being researched to improve how best perfumed fabric softeners perform when used on various fabrics.

Does Perfume Stain Clothes?

Perfume can stain clothes as it includes fragrance oil, alcohol, and sometimes color dyes. Each of these materials is known to leave a stain on clothing. The stain may not be visible immediately but can darken over time showing up as an oily spot.

Hence, it is best to let the perfume lightly dry on your skin before you wear your expensive shirts or blouses.

Quick Tip:
If you see a perfume stain on your clothes, then do the following:

  1. Do not panic! 🙂
  2. Get a big bowl of plain water, add a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, a large table spoon of white vinegar – mix it all together and softly – with a soft cotton cloth or sponge – dab on the perfume stain. 
  3. Leave this solution on the stain for around 10 minutes 
  4. Use an absorbent paper towel to dry it
  5. If the white vinegar-water solution does not work, you can even dab some 3% Hydrogen Peroxide – which is usually used as a first aid antiseptic. It can help cut the perfume stain.
  6. Lastly, if it is a tough, old stain then you might need to buy a stain remover liquid and use it in a similar fashion.

Note: Do not ever use hot water and soap – this will cause it to set further and darken!

How to Get Rid of Perfume Smell On Clothes?

Sometimes the cuffs of shirts or collars with repeated use of perfumes trap these smells. 

If you want to get rid of the perfume smell from clothes then, just add white vinegar – one cup – during the final rinse cycle to the clothes. Let it sit for 30 min to an hour. Then wash it without cold water. Like with stains, the vinegar will help cut the smell out as well.

How to Make Perfume Last Longer?

The best way to make a perfume last longer is to apply it directly on the skin’s pulse points i.e. behind the ears, inner wrists, inside elbows, base of your neck and behind the knees. Hydrated skin absorbs the perfume molecules the best, therefore, apply the perfume after a shower. 

If you have dry skin then apply an unscented moisturizer and then apply perfume to enable long-lasting fragrances.  

Another point would be to buy a perfume with a heavier base note such as oakmoss or sandalwood that lasts up to even 8 hours after the lighter top and middle notes have faded.

Here is a link to a complete list of ways you can get your perfume to last longer, including how to layer perfume with basic creams and free samples to improve wearability!

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