How to Apply Fragrance, the Right Way

The best places to apply your scent, how to do it properly, and when to reapply throughout the day (if at all).

Chandler Bondurant

Your fragrance is an investment. It’s one of the more expensive things in your grooming arsenal, and it’s also one of the most personal. You’ve chosen this scent to be your essence, and you want the people you work with and the people you date to feel some type of way — ideally, a positive one — when they encounter it.

So, there’s some precious potion inside that bottle, and you’re wise not to waste it. Which begs the question: What is the most effective way to apply fragrance, so as to not waste any of it, and to maximize its potency?

One thing we can assure you is this: The most effective way is not to spray it recklessly into the air in front of you, then walk into the cloud of perfume particles as they float down. That’s a surefire way to waste your top-dollar essence. Instead, read below for the best places to apply your scent, how to do it properly, and when to reapply throughout the day (if at all).

Where to Apply Your Fragrance

Your pulse points are the primary place to spray fragrance. As the name implies, these are the points on your body at which you can feel your blood pulse — such as your neck, wrists, and inner elbows as far as fragrance application is concerned. Spraying cologne on these spots will help to “warm up” the scent and amplify it.

Spraying cologne on your pulse points will help to “warm up” the scent and amplify it.

This also gives your fragrance the chance to mix with your skin’s chemistry, generating a unique reaction that can’t be replicated by any other wearer. And best of all, it helps highlight the middle and base notes of the scent, which take more time to release than those initial top notes you smell upon spritzing. It’s these later notes that linger throughout the day, and that will be more prominent if sprayed on pulse points.

It doesn’t hurt to spray one or two pumps elsewhere, like into longer hair or on the collar of your shirt. These won’t enable the same projection nor a unique reaction, but they will carry the scent longer and more subtly. Your body produces oil and sweat that slowly lessen the potency of the scent, so it can be good to have the fragrance “reinforced” someplace unaffected by body heat. At the very least, it allows you to enjoy your own scent well into the evening, without having to reapply.

How to Apply Your Fragrance

The most important thing to note is the strength and sillage (the projection) of your fragrance. If it’s a more powerful scent, like an Eau de Parfum, with a higher concentration of perfume oils, then you should get by with a few spritzes in total, targeting different pulse points with each one.

Spraying the scent from three to five inches away should be sufficient enough.

If it’s less powerful, like an Eau de Cologne or Eau de Toilette, then you might consider spraying twice in each pulse point. (This is why prices are steeper for EDPs; they have a higher concentration of perfume oils, and thus don’t need to be applied as heavily or as frequently. It’s worth knowing this the next time you shop for fragrance.)

In general, spraying the scent from three to five inches away should be sufficient enough to help “target” the pulse point, while allowing the fragrance molecules to scatter themselves evenly around the area. Anything further away could cause the particles to disperse in unwanted places, and anything closer doesn’t disperse them enough (the result should never be a drop of cologne dripping down your wrist or neck, so pull it back a couple inches).

It’s best to apply right after a shower in the morning when your circulation is in high gear.

When to Reapply Your Fragrance

By midday, you might assume that your fragrance has worn off when really your nose has just adjusted to the scent and isn’t picking it up as prominently. Others will perceive it more easily than you do. Plus, depending on the strength of your scent — mainly, if it’s a stronger concentration like an EDP — then this subtler “finish” of the scent is one of its best moments. This is why it’s nice to also spray something like your shirt collar in the morning if the scent is simply something that you want to enjoy. But in terms of its life cycle, it should last the entire workday.

With just a few sprays, you should be able to get through the workday without re-upping.

Lighter concentrations, like EDTs, might wear off before your afternoon coffee. These concentrations have significantly different recipes from one fragrance to the next, so it’s impossible to offer universal advice. But, if you ever simply want a refresh on any scent, no matter its potency, then do it. Nobody is going to police you on this. But know that you should be able to get through the workday in most cases without requiring it. If you’ve got an after-work date or event, then it’s good to refresh in any case.

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