The Old-Fashioned Perfume Rule You Shouldn't Be Following

Retire this fragrance faux pas, once and for all.

The Old-School Perfume Rule You Shouldn’t Be Following
Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Your dress is zipped, lipstick applied, and hair sprayed—now there's just one thing left to do: perfume. Something about spritzing your signature scent gives just the finishing touch needed to grab your purse and whisk away, leaving behind a delicate cloud of airy and fresh, or perhaps robust and spicy, aromas.

Yes, something about that spritz makes you feel just a touch glamorous. Like Audrey Hepburn, donning cat-eye sunnies and strolling down a cobblestone street; or Elizabeth Taylor, dripping in diamonds and clutching a martini. But if that familiar scene includes elegantly spraying your perfume on your wrists, rubbing them together, then instinctually reaching up towards your neck? You're making quite the unintended faux pas.

Though it's an old-school perfume move, rubbing your wrists together actually dulls a fragrance instantaneously. Not only does it speed up evaporation of the scent, but it also degrades the top and middle notes (which are the first and most delicate notes you smell) right from the get-go. Wrists make a great spot for applying perfume because each wrist is a pulse point—where your blood vessels are close to the surface of the skin—that radiates warmth to help enhance and diffuse your fragrance. However, instead of rubbing your wrists together post-spritz, try letting the scent soak into your skin or, if you must, lightly dabbing your wrists together once or twice.

If you're suddenly stressed about wasting any of your precious (and pricey) French parfum, you've got options. For example, the inside of the elbow is a similar pulse point to the wrist, but won't wear off as you wash your hands throughout the day. The side of your neck and behind your ears both offer long-lasting areas, while the back of the knee is an, er, interesting, yet still effective pulse point. And remember: Dry skin doesn't hold and diffuse perfume well, so always moisturize before applying.

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The ultimate secret perfume spot? Your hair. Misting your mane with a spray or two of your signature scent will keep it hanging around longer and subtly diffuse it all day long with its natural movement. Since perfume could be drying on your scalp depending on your hair type, we wouldn't necessarily do this every day. It's certainly a special occasion game-changer, though.

So next time, before you go full-on Marilyn Monroe with the Chanel No. 5 rubbing those wrists together, pull back. Your perfume will thank you.

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