Monday Question – What Are Your Perfume Application Rituals?

By Tara

What is your typical method of applying perfume?

Does your application technique differ depending on the concentration of the perfume?

Do you spray liberally all over, walk into a cloud of fragrance or dab judiciously?

Do you apply to the pulse points or somewhere less conventional, such as the nape of the neck?

Or do you have a sensitivity that means you only apply perfume to clothing and not to your skin?

My Answer:

I used to just spray copious amounts of perfume in the general direction of my upper body and then smear it around with my wrists. Classy, eh? This all changed when I read the wonderful book “Quintessentially Perfume”. In a chapter about application, Roja Dove advises never to apply fragrance to the neck and décolleté because of the astringent properties of alcohol in perfume which could result in “crepey” skin. Although this makes perfect sense it’s not something I’d ever considered doing anything about it. I’m pretty careful about this now but not overly so.

For the application of eau de toilette or eau de parfum, Roja advocates spraying onto the palm of the hand and then applying to the skin, in order for it to “affix” better. I don’t do this because my hands are prone to eczema but I do follow his application technique for parfum ”which should be applied to the wrist, inside of the elbow and in the small dip between the collarbone under the earlobes”. How fantastically specific is that?

So how and where do you apply yours?


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66 Responses to Monday Question – What Are Your Perfume Application Rituals?

  1. Sally- Anne says:

    A scent=free moisteriser/body lotion…..then spray spray spray spritz with ABANDON

    • Tara says:


      Seriously though Sally-Anne it’s a good point about protecting the skin first with a scentless lotion. Especially if you are going to spray with ABANDON!

  2. Good question!

    I spray my chest, both wrists, my neck and the back of my hand for easy sniffing throughout the day 😀

  3. Olfactoria says:

    I also start with applying unscented lotion on my throat, decolleté and arms and then spray. Depending on the strength of the scent between two and six sprays on wrists, throat and decolleté. The backs of my hands are always reserved for testing/blogging purposes. 😉

    • Tara says:

      B, I’ve recently become a lot more fastidious about my lotion application. As we’ve discussed before, I think it helps with longevity as well as skin irritation.

      After Another Perfume Blog’s Sillage Monster Experiment (recommended read!) I counted the number of sprays I apply. I already knew for parfum strength it was one or two but otherwise it’s mostly 7. You’re also a back-of-the-hand fan!

  4. Alexandra says:

    It is almost automatic now but I do two sprays on my wrists, two on my decollete (thank you – I was searching for the right word!) and one on the nape of my neck. I am constantly playing with my hair, which means this last spray gives me a very nice waft once in a while. I do have the odd sillage monster, Amaranthine especially,(although having said that my skin tends to eat perfume so this is rarely a problem), that I have to spray into the air and then run through the mist.

    I only use the back of my hands when testing, I find it is much more subtle to sniff there than anywhere else!

    • Tara says:

      Alexandra, I love to think of you running through the mist!

      I really like that idea of applying perfume to the nape of the neck. I bet it’s lovely when you swish your hair. I have such dry hair myself that I’m paranoid about perfume coming into contact with it, but it sounds great.

  5. One of my tips is to avoid breathing the first 2 seconds, or move away from the place of application, or both.

    To prevent the nose from being overwhelmed.

    • Tara says:

      Yes, agree with that tip. I often think I look odd at perfume counters because the SA sprays the blotter and I take a long pause or flap it about a bit before sniffing .

  6. rosarita says:

    I’m enjoying reading everyone’s answers! I use lotion first, then a spritz to my decolletage and one to the back of my neck – then I kind of dab my wrists in the spritzed area. Some perfumes I prefer dabbed, not spritzed, and they go on this way: wrists, inner elbow, the hollow of the collarbone, temples, back of the neck. If it’s a warm day and I’m wearing a dress, then back of the knees also. And it depends on the scent; some require another spritz or two. Or a big cloud that I can waft all day (Shalimar, on days spent at home) 🙂

    • Tara says:

      I know rosarita, it’s quite fascinating isn’t it?

      Temples, that’s a new one. Another back of the neck applier too. I hear about the back of the knees so interesting to know you do that in summer. Maybe I’ll give that a go with one of the Atelier Colognes when it gets hot enough.

      A big cloud of Shalimar on a day at home sounds heavenly.

  7. Portia says:

    I sometimes use a smear of vaseline or after shave balm to grab my perfume because my body eats it. what other stuff can I use please?

  8. Olfacta says:

    I’ve found that Neutrogena’s Body Oil (unscented of course) helps to “grab” perfume on dry winter skin — you put it on all over while still slightly wet after showering.

    My own perfume application depends on where I’m going. To a movie, a dab of extrait on the sternum. To a party, EDP on neck, etc — the usual places, backed up by the perfume if I have it. If working alone, no limits of any kind!

    • Tara says:

      Olfacta, you had me at “sternum” 🙂 It’s great hearing about all these very specific places where people apply their perfume.

      Thanks for the tip about Neutrogena’s Body OIl. I have that at home so will give it a go as you suggest.

      Isn’t it great when we can perfume with no limits?

  9. andrea says:

    Spray, spray then spray again, I want to smell the perfume I am wearing (preferably all day) so I spray across my chest (I know, I am sure I will pay the price when I am old but I figure I will be old and past caring and wearing roll necks every day) behind my ears, on my wrists and on my forearms. I am quite tame compared to the BF who sprays like he is spraying a cheap body spray, a cloud of his fume wafts behind him where ever we go.:-)

    • Tara says:

      That’s it Andrea, live for today!

      You know Roja Dove says not to apply perfume behind your ears because the natural oils there can turn it (or something like that). I wouldn’t have thought it could do that in a day but he’s the expert.

      I just hope your BF isn’t borrowing your perfume. Keep him away from La Femme Bleue!

  10. lady jane grey says:

    There is some serious spraying going on here ! Reading it all I realized how tame I am : with just one spritz on the left wrist, blended with the right one and then a second spritz for fixation. In case of a very light scent (mostly Jo Malone, or some colognes) I’d exceptionally spritz on the decollete as well (but will never do so anymore – creepy decollete is a serious threat !)

    • Tara says:

      I know! As soon as I read that about the décolleté, that was it!

      It’s funny, I never realised I was a relatively heavy applier (albeit of quiet perfumes) until I read the comments on Another Perfume Blog. It’s interesting to compare notes.

  11. arline says:

    This is yet another reason I like this blog so much. It is interactive and fun!!!

    I dab on each wrist, the inner elbow, collar bone, behind the ears, and when it is nice, behind the knees. As for spray, I am not a huge sprayer. I spray wrists and forearms, but rarely a whole pump, and I also like to spray and run through the mist (holding breath of course).

    I like to reapply, but I have just learned, that that messes up the process of unfolding. Some perfumes don’t need to be reapplied, as they last long, but others fade fast. I am a perfume or eau de parfum girl because they smell better to me, and are stronger.

    My skin can be pretty dry, so I always apply oil to my skin after bating. I have said here before, that I use sesame oil (expeller pressed, as it has no scent), or coconut oil. I use fractionated coconut oil for the same reason. It helps with perfume longevity.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks to you for taking part, arline!

      “…the process of unfolding” is so beautifully put and quite true. I’ve always thought I should take decants of light perfumes to work to re-apply at lunch-time but you’re right, with stronger perfumes you’d be interfering with the development .

      It seems oils are a popular choice as a barrier which is nice as they are lovely to apply. I sometimes put coconut oil on my hair for a while before washing, it’s really moisturising. Thanks for the sesame oil tip too.

  12. What a fun topic and educational as well….decolletage! I had never heard the word before. As a man, I guess I don’t have the lotion ritual that it appears many others have. I probably should since I am always complaining of dry skin especially in the winter. However, it always seems that I’m in a rush to get ready and I barely have time to brush my teeth (don’t worry, I always do). But I had no idea that lotion could extend longevity in the scent. I guess I need to get up earlier. As for application; a spritz on wrists, a spritz on the neck and on the top of my head (unforunately covered in skin only) and depending on if it’s a date night, other applications are sometime applied 🙂

    • Tara says:

      LOL Love it! We are learning so much about each other today 🙂

      I do think when you have the time it would be worth applying a bit of lotion as you have dry skin, but I know what it’s like when you’re rushing to get out of the house in the morning.

  13. Dionne says:

    I’m admitting my ignorance here that I always thought decolletage was simply a classier way of saying cleavage, and was wondering how to describe where I spray on my chest – just below the collarbones and above cleavage. It turns out that that IS decolletage.

    It turns out I’m not a big sprayer, which became very obvious after APB’s sillage experiment. Normally I spray three times: once to a wrist, which is then dabbed on the other wrist, once on the back of a hand, which is touched to the other hand, and once on the decolletage. I don’t spray on the back of my neck (I have short hair) or behind my ears since I always assumed I wouldn’t be able to smell perfume applied there.

    I’m willing to sacrifice future crepey-ness so I can smell my perfume wafting up from below. To me it’s worth it.

    • Tara says:

      Dionne, if I think if we’ve learned anything today it’s that decolletage is a great word!

      It’s so interesting to read the methodical way you and others apply your perfume. I’ve never been like that. I didn’t even know how much I was spraying till of late!

      Crepey skin or not being able to smell your perfume as well seems like a rotten choice but we make so many trade-offs for this hobby of ours don’t we? Paying the bills or buying a vintage Guerlain on ebay springs to mind 🙂

  14. bloody frida says:

    Another back of the neck sprayer here!

  15. Suzanne says:

    I usually apply a spritz to the back of my wrist (back of my hand), and rub my wrists together, then another spritz to the nape of my neck. I find that I can’t wear almost any kind of perfume on the front of my neck because the skin there will almost always break out if I d. (I don’t have to worry about my neck becoming crepey, because my skin is so gosh darn oily, and I’m always wondering if that’s the reason for the breakout if I apply fragrance there. The nape of my neck doesn’t seem to have the problematic skin that the front of my neck does.)

    By the way, Tara, after Natalie’s post on the sillage monster experiment, I applied six spritzes of Frapin 1697 last week, going up and down each arm (3 sprays each arm) and one on the back of my neck. I smelled divine and didn’t put anyone’s eye out (or lock up their sinuses). I won’t ever do this with Carnal Flower, but I have seen the beauty of applying more than my usual. 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Hello lovely Suzanne!

      One of the great benefits of oily skin is staying youthful! I don’t spray perfume on my neck for the opposite reason – because the skin there is way too dry. Now, I may try a spray on the nape of the neck when I wear my hair up tomorrow.

      I’m glad you took part in the sillage monster experiment and it was a success. I think sometimes we over-estimate how much other people can notice our perfume. Especially if it’s not the kind of perfume to enter the room before we do!

  16. Anita T. Monroe says:

    Lotion applied first is a must in cold, dry weather. Spraying is not my favorite way to apply fragrance. I prefer perfumes for that reason and apply very small amounts directly under my breasts and on my stomach as well as wrists and the back of my neck. With something really strong like “Bal a Versailles”, only one or two applications is enough. When I lived near a perfume store in Key West and could find “Eau de Patou”, I would walk through a cloud of that and found it wonderful on a hot and humid day. It’s very hard to find “Jicky” in the perfume form, so I have to spray. Sometimes I spray on a cotton ball and then apply as if it were perfume.

    • Tara says:

      Anita, that’s so interesting that you prefer to dab than spray because I’m the other way around. With parfum I only dab a little on my wrist and feel like I can’t smell it, so maybe I need to up it and apply to more “locations” the way you do. You make it sound wonderful.

      I hope you find Jicky in parfum form, I’m sure it’s still around.

  17. Amy Bella says:

    After showering and lubing up with whatever body oil or lotion compliments my scent of the day, I spritz or dab the back of my left wrist. I used to dab the wet wrist to my neck, but my husband has begged my to stop. (He absolutely hates going in to kiss and nuzzle my neck and getting a mouthful of perfume – even if he likes the fragrance) I am very conservative with application. Usually 2 sprays max unless I am wearing a very light scent.

    For some reason, I always spray Shalimar into the air and walk through. It took a minute to remember why – a high school friend told me that was the best way to wear perfume without having it be too overwhelming to those around you. 🙂 I guess I have been wearing Shalimar for a long time!!!

    I particularly like to apply samples to the bottom joint of my thumb. Then I can put my elbow on my desk, lean on my hand and surreptitiously sniff all day!

    • Tara says:

      Amy Bella I love your leaning-on-your-hand technique for testing samples! I shall investigate that further. I always think how weird I must look with that repeated hand to nose action!

      I can totally understand your husband’s point as perfume tastes disgusting. I don’t agree with that “apply perfume where you want to be kissed” thing (from Coco Chanel?).

    • OK.
      A) The joint of the thumb = GENIUS.
      B) Can you spray the back of your neck like a lot of the other ladies? You’ll get your extra spritz, but hubby can still smooch. 😀

  18. Julie says:

    I wear unscented lotion all over every day, so hopefully that will save me from the crepey neck! I am a light spritzer, and prefer spraying to dabbing. I spritz once on my wrists and rub together and once in the neck/chest area

    • Tara says:

      Julie, I know – save us all from the crepey neck! Sounds like you are very light applier though, so nothing to fear.

      Years ago I used to rub my wrists together until someone told me that old rubbish about “bruising the molecules”. Not anymore though. Maybe the heat develops the fragrance a little quicker but it’s not worth worrying about.

  19. dee says:

    Yay, a Monday question hosted by Tara! Fun 🙂
    I always spray at the base of my hairline, so that when my hair swings, a waft is generated! Also, scents seem to last a long time in my hair. Of course, I also spray wrists and my middle area too— usually a three spray process, unless I’m going for more sillage. Scarves get in on the action, when weather permits!

    • Tara says:

      Thanks, dee! I had no idea that the hairline thing was so popular. You have such gorgeous long swishy hair I can see that really working well.

      You are the first to mention scarves. I don’t own that many so don’t tend to do it often but I did spray one with 31RC and that worked really well. I guess there will be less scarf action now you’re in Texas!

      • deeHowe says:

        Texas + Scarves = not often!!! We’ve had some cold days that I’ve taken full advantage of, and interestingly, the bookstore it often very cold inside, so that adds to the wearability… but I don’t anticipate getting much use out of them in the coming months!

        I think I learned the nape/hairline trick from Katie Puckrik… and it’s great. There are actually people that smell my hair (I know them, not strangers, lol), and I kind of love it 🙂

        It will be interesting to see how perfumes fare through an Austin summer… hope it doesn’t ruin any of my favorites!

        • Tara says:

          That’s funny, in summer I spray perfume along my arms which I got from KP!

          I really wouldn’t be surprised if strangers wanted to smell your hair. Keeping my fingers crossed the Austin heat doesn’t change any of your favourites.

  20. Eva S says:

    I spray perhaps two to four spritzes to the jugulum (the hollow between the clavicels above the breastbone-I love that word!) and then apply to the inside of my wrists. I’ve never tried applying to the back of my neck, maybe I should since I have hair reaching the waist (well, derriere actually…) so I could certainly swing it! Always unscented lotion first, but that is a necessity because of dry skin, not to make the scent last longer.

    • Tara says:

      Eva, many thanks for “jugulum”, that’s great. I spray perfume there but never knew what it was called. It is very handy to have your medical knowledge!

      I am very jealous of your long, swingy hair. You should definitely make use of it’s perfume wafting capability 🙂

  21. Alexis says:

    I’m also eczema proned and I discovered that some scents dry my skin and irritate so I avoid those areas (side of my neck not to far from my earlobe). Other than that, I apply unscented lotion and apply at the nape of my neck, spray or dab on the inner wrists and forearms and I apply to my chest but it looks like I won’t be doing that anymore. Thanks for the tips!!

    • Tara says:

      You’re vey welcome Alexis! Unless something has an immediate negative effect (like skin irritation) we don’t tend to think about the long term implications. A lot of us are scared of crepey skin now though!

  22. Vanessa says:

    I am glad I came late to this thread to enjoy the diversity of responses, body parts, and new vocabulary for said body parts. Isn’t it handy to have a doctor on hand in Eva S! I too spray on my (newly acquired!) jugulum and on either side of my neck – or if I miss the neck (my aim isn’t great), I may catch my salt cellars either side of the jugulum. These may technically be clavicles – “salt cellars” was my mum’s word. So that is three sprays in total, partly or wholly on the decolletage depending on my spraying angles. I tend to spray my left wrist once or twice and blend with my right. Occasionally the right gets a spray in its own right!

    Never knew the thing about going crepey – I just thought scent was bad for silver jewellery and pearls, but if it tarnishes metal, it does make you think what it might do to skin…but never mind. My moisturising routine rarely gets above my knees or below my chin, even in winter!
    Also, I am so late coming to perfume I think I will just chance it, but at the first sign of crepeyness I may desist. I have been fairly lucky in that area, though I do have an incipiently crepey stomach which never sees any perfume, haha!

    • Tara says:

      Hi V!

      Haven’t the responses been fascinating? I love jugulum too, although I am now rather fond of “salt cellars”. I wonder where your mum got that from? I’m glad that some people like you and Andrea refuse to live in fear of the dreaded crepey-ness 🙂

  23. Vanessa says:

    But then nor does it see any stomach crunches, to be truthful…

  24. Meg (olenska) says:

    I lift my hair, generously spray the nape of my neck, scrumble my hair around to scent it, spray one wrist and press it quickly against the inner elbow on the opposite arm, repeat with the other wrist/elbow, rub both wrists against my temples, and am invariably late for work. 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Hi Meg!

      I was rapt by your scenting routine. You are another sophisticated nape sprayer, I see. I tried this technique this morning but wanted to rub it wilth my wrist afterwards and found that I am not nearly flexible enough for that!

  25. I use my face cream and anti-aging product on my décolleté. I’ve been using Bobbi Brown’s Intensive Skin Supplement and a moisturizer, and I’ve actually firmed up the few wrinkly bits I already had and it’s even evened the freckling out. I am pretty confident that I can spritz away there. Then again, as someone else pointed out, there’s always turtlenecks. 😉

    I think I’m a shy sprayer. I should spritz more heavily! And once my hair grows out, I’m 100% going for the back of the neck/hair.


    • Tara says:

      Wow, Jen that’s a good result from using Bobbi Brown. I must admit I don’t have much faith in products reversing the signs of aging and don’t spend much on them. If the worst comes to the worst, turtlenecks and scarves (scented of course) will be our friends 🙂

      I think a lot of us are going to adjust our spraying habits after reading others’ comments!

  26. Undina says:

    All year round I use a body lotion/cream after every shower so I do not do an extra moisturising before a perfume application – unless I’m using a matching body lotion (which I do just several times a year).

    With most of my perfumes I apply one spray to my left wrist (to the back of my hand) holding my hand against my body so that whatever goes around my wrist lands on my clothes. Then dependent on the sillage of a specific perfume I can do two sprays – one on each side of the neck and/or one spray inside my blouse/top (so partially it lends on my skin, partially inside my clothes – but all below the open neck line. This is an “office” routine.

    For parties, going out, etc. I also use perfume on my neck under hair (I love getting a whiff of the perfume when my hair moves) – and then – wherewhere I decide to add it.

    • Tara says:

      This is probably TMI but I always apply my perfume before putting my outer clothes on. Maybe this is why I appy so much?

      It’s a good idea to hold your hand against your body becuase I always think a lot of perfume gets wasted when you spray your wrist.

  27. Hedonist222 says:

    I spray about 15 sprays distributed between my neck and shoulders.
    Mostly on my neck. I want to be able to smell my perfume the whole time.
    I want to sit in a cloud of my perfume.

    Some perfumes (a lot of L’Artisans) require up of 20 sprays.

    I’m from the UAE. Perfumes here are commonplace.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Hedonist222!

      You do need to spray more than a few times to be able to smell the perfume you’re wearing. Otherwise, you’re missing out!

      It must be so nice to live somewhere like the UAE where being strongly scented is just a way of life and presumably there’s less chance of offending people because of your strong perfume as a result, too.

      Oh, I can imagine those L’Artisans needing a bit of extra “oomph”.

      • Debbie Payne says:

        At last! someone who sprays as liberally as me. I start at the right side of my neck and work round to the left, rubbing it into my shoulders and chest for an all over body scent.

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