Short-Lived Perfume Is the Worst—Here's How to Make It Last

If you ask me, fragrance is by far the most emotive part of a beauty routine. Not only is scent intrinsically tied to our memory, but the right perfume can set the tone for the day ahead. Whether it's a meeting where you want to feel your most confident self, an evening scent where you want to make a statement, or when you just want to smell damn expensive, fragrance gives us the power to try on a different mood or allow different facets of our personality to beam. From fresh citrus summer scents through to moody autumnal fragrances, there is something for every season and taste.

However, one of the most common questions I get asked as a beauty editor is "How can I make my perfume last longer?" It's a common fragrance bugbear, and it's particularly frustrating when you find a scent you love, but it doesn't last throughout the day.


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The good news is that there are some handy tips and tricks to make your perfume last longer. I asked Mathilde Laurent, Cartier's in-house perfumer and Iember Gordon, fragrance expert at The Fragrance Shop, for their tips on how to make your scent go the distance. Trust me, you'll be smelling great all day long.

1. Apply perfume straight after your shower


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While we might be accustomed to spraying on perfume as a final step before heading out of the door, Gordon recommends applying immediately after your shower if you can. "The best time to spray perfume on your skin is right after your shower," she says. "This is because moisture gives your scent something to hold on to, so spraying your signature scent on after your skin has been freshly washed boosts its staying power."

2. Moisturise your skin before applying perfume


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Like above, moisture helps fragrance cling better, so if you're not showering before your apply your fragrance, moisturise your body instead before applying your scent. "For situations where you can't have a shower before going out, use an unscented moisturiser on your skin before you apply perfume," says Gordon. "This will help lock the fragrance in better as it gives a moist skin impression." No need to buy the matching fragranced body lotion to your perfume; an unscented one will do the job.

3. Spray your clothes with perfume


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It feels instinctive to spray our pulse points, but if you want to add extra longevity to your perfume, then spray your clothes, too. "If you want to get the best of your perfume I would perfume your clothes because as the skin is warmer, the perfume will always evaporate quicker," says Laurent. "Perfuming your clothes is a good way to smell it and to keep it on for longer."

4. Don't rub your wrists together


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Hands up if you're guilty of this one? Rubbing your wrists together after applying perfume can alter its smell and projection. "Rubbing your wrists together after applying fragrance breaks down the chemicals and causes top notes to break down faster than they would have otherwise," says Gordon. Instead, you should spray the scent and allow it to dry, or gently dab it on to your skin. Choosing to apply to pulse points like the wrists and neck can also help the scent to go further. "Fragrance reacts to heat and applying to your pulse points can help release scent throughout the day," Gordon says. "Try spritzing the nape of your neck, insides of your elbows, wrists, and the back of your knees."

5. Apply Vaseline before applying perfume


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This might quite possibly be the most inexpensive and easiest tip to make your perfume last for longer. "If you need some extra life out of your fragrance, rub a small amount of Vaseline onto your pulse points before application," says Gordon. "The balm will act as an additional moisturising lock for the scent, helping it last even longer." Time to dig out the tub from the bathroom cupboard.

6. Store your perfumes correctly


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Many of us store our perfumes in our bathroom or out on display, but this can alter the scent and reduce the lifespan of your fragrance. "Fragrance can break down in fluctuating temperatures or humidity. Instead of storing your scents in the bathroom or on your desks, bedside tables, etc., keep it in a cool drawer away from direct sunlight," says Gordon. And avoid shaking your perfumes, too. "Shaking the perfume bottle can allow air to saturate and infuse your fragrance, which can also alter its chemical makeup and shorten its lifespan," she adds.

7. Choose the right perfume intensity


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If your favourite scent is an eau de toilette rather than an eau de parfum, you might find it disappears faster. "Some fragrances naturally last longer than others, both on the skin and in the bottle," says Gordon. "Perfume is sold in different concentrations meaning there are different ratios of fragrance oil to alcohol. The more concentrated forms, like pure parfum, will cost the most and last the longest, whilst the less concentrated versions like an eau de toilette, will cost less and the spritz won't last as long," she says.

8. Top up with an eau de toilette


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"If you don’t smell your perfume very well—everyone gets used to their perfume—then I would advise to buy it also in the eau de toilette version and spray sometimes, just one spray, to refresh during the day," says Laurent, which avoids the risk of overwhelming your own nose—and the ones around you. "This can be for your own personal pleasure and to feel confident, you can spray it on a handkerchief or a little on the wrist to smell it for yourself so you’re sure you’re not bothering other people around you." 

She also recommends choosing a single-note perfume to give your fragrance a boost during the day. "These are very pure, simple and fresh scents, and you can add them on any perfume you wear," she says, recommending both Cartier's L'Heure Brillante (£250) and Eau de Toilette Pur Kinkan Les Epures de Parfum (£250). "It creates something very pleasant, and you feel fresh and confident for the afternoon or evening," she says.

9. Choose long-lasting fragrance notes


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Sometimes it comes down to the notes in our perfume that will indicate whether it will last for hours or end or slow disappear throughout the day. "Perfumes with more prominent base notes will also have a longer scent life than those with prominent top notes," says Gordon. "Base notes such as vanilla, amber, musk, patchouli, moss, sandalwood and cedarwood sink into your skin so the scent lingers the longest," she says. Meanwhile, perfumes with lighter base notes are more volatile. "The more volatile your scent, the quicker it is likely to expire. This includes citrus, floral, and green scents," she adds.

10. Use hair perfume


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Our hair clings on to fragrance much more so than our skin. Plus, it's usually the area we smell most when we hug someone. "Try spraying your favourite fragrance on your hairbrush and brushing it through dry hair, creating a more encompassing fragrance that lasts longer," says Gordon. "Don't spritz directly onto your hair as the alcohol can cause damage to the hair." Alternatively, try a dedicated hair perfume. The bonus of these are that they are often a more affordable way to buy into luxury fragrances, too.

11. Line your drawers and scent your wardrobe with perfume


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To really make your fragrance go the distance, you can go one extra step and scent your entire wardrobe. "If you have a signature scent, you can get your clothing to smell like it as well," says Gordon. "Line your drawers with tissue paper that has been spritzed a few times and allow the scent to permeate the fabrics."

Up Next, Short-Lived Perfume Is the Worst, so I Found 18 That Will Last All Day

Eleanor Vousden
Beauty Editor, Who What Wear UK

Eleanor Vousden is the beauty editor for Who What Wear UK. She was previously deputy editor at Hairdressers Journal, health writer at Woman & Home and junior beauty editor at beauty website Powder. She has also contributed to Wallpaper and Elle Collections with written and styling work.Working as a beauty journalist since 2015 after graduating in fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion, she has been highly commended at the BSME Talent Awards for her work on Powder and also contributed to the title winning Website of the Year at the PPA Awards.Eleanor’s journalistic focus is to provide readers with honest and helpful beauty content. Through words, video and live broadcast, she has interviewed several celebrity makeup artists, hairstylists and top dermatologists throughout her career, as well as celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Scarlett Johansson. She has a particular interest in finding solutions for acne and eczema, which she has experienced firsthand. She has also amassed a large collection of fragrances and can never say no to a new candle.When she’s not writing or testing the latest beauty product or treatments, she’s on the seafront in her hometown of Brighton and Hove, where she lives with her partner and her miniature dachshund.