Why Does Perfume Fade So Quickly (And How To Fix It)

It’s always a disappointment when you apply a newly bought perfume and you notice that it just doesn’t last long. But why does that happen? Why does perfume fade so quickly?

There are multiple reasons why perfume fades so quickly; the perfume itself could have a low concentration of scented oils, could be made with subtle ingredients, could be that the perfume is old and evaporated, or that the perfume doesn’t work well with your skin.

But how does all of this affect the strength of a perfume? In this article, we’ll be covering how each of these things affects the strength and duration of your perfume and how you can make it last longer!

Why Does My Perfume Fade So Quickly?

Fragrances are not eternally lasting (luckily), but some just seem to fade away much quicker than we would want. It often has us wondering; why does my perfume fade so quickly?

This, however, isn’t an easy question to answer. There are many different reasons why a perfume fades so quickly. It could have to do with the perfume itself; maybe it isn’t as strong as you thought it was, maybe your nose is starting to filter out the scent, or maybe the perfume is just very soft and subtle of nature.

On the other hand, how long a perfume lasts can also have to do with your skin. Some people have very dry skin, and others have more oily skin. Both work and react differently to fragrances. The same goes for where you apply your scent, and even the weather can influence how long your scents last!

We’ve briefly mentioned a few factors that influence the longevity of your perfume, but let’s take a closer look at each of them!

The Ingredients Of The Perfume

The ingredients with which perfume is made are the core foundation of the scent. And with the many different perfumes out there, it should come as no surprise that many different ingredients are used. These ingredients are called ‘notes’, and these notes can range from florals to citruses to woods to musks.

All of these different notes have their own qualities and scents, and they all work together to create the perfume we know and love. However, not every fragrance is created equally, and it’s important to remember that. There are many different types of perfumes, ranging from crisp and fresh to rich and sweet. These are all made differently, using different ingredients.

Perfumes made with light and fresh notes tend to fade away faster than perfumes made with rich and sweet notes. Rich and sweet notes tend to be base notes, which are the strongest in a perfume, while fresh notes tend to be top and middle notes; notes introduced in the opening that will fade away quicker.

Fragrances are usually made in a pyramid-like style. You have top notes, middle notes, and base notes. The top notes are the first to appear, but they are also the most volatile. Top notes are usually citrusy or floral notes, and these don’t last nearly as long as the dense base notes, which are usually woods, vanilla, and musks.

If you have a perfume that’s primarily focused on citrusy notes, your note breakdown primarily consists of more volatile ingredients. This, in turn, results in a perfume that may not last as long as you want. On the other hand, a perfume based on woods, vanilla, or musks will last much longer simply because its molecular structure is denser.

And aside from the notes/ingredients used to make perfumes, most perfumes also contain fixatives. Fixatives slow down the evaporation process of the notes, ensuring they last longer. Now, musky notes serve as fixatives, but musky notes can’t be used too much if you want to create a highly refreshing citrus-based scent. However, when it comes to sweeter perfumes, musky notes are used more often.

Your Skin Type

Our skin actually has more influence on the longevity of perfumes than we might think. Our skin is usually categorized into two categories; dry and oily. Whether your skin is dry or oily actually influences how it works with perfume.

Dry skin lacks oils to absorb the scented oils of perfume. This leads to quicker evaporation of the scented oils, causing the fragrance to fade away quicker. It is recommended to moisturize your skin before applying perfume to make the scent last longer and avoid drying your skin out.

Dry skin doesn’t absorb perfume as well as oily skin. Luckily, we live in a world with moisturizers, so if you know you have dry skin, make sure to moisturize it before applying perfume. Not only will a moisturizer ensure that the scent lasts longer, as the moisturizer captures it, but it will also make sure your skin doesn’t dry out.

Perfumes are primarily made up of alcohol, and alcohol is notorious for drying out your skin. Most cosmetic products contain alcohol (or perfume that contains alcohol), and all these products can damage your skin over time. If you moisturize your skin before applying, you’ll make sure the alcohol won’t dry out your skin.

Where It Is Applied

Where you apply your perfume is of great influence on how long it will last. Perfumes project much better when they’re warmed up. It’s one reason why wearing sweet perfumes during the summer isn’t the way to go; they would project way too much and appear too strong. But it also means that it’s much better to apply perfume on certain spots on our bodies.

Perfume is best applied to your heat points (behind the ear, neck, and wrists). Here, your veins run close to your skin, warming up the skin and warming up the perfume. Perfume thrives when it heats up; it will be projected further, smell stronger, and last longer.

Some of the most popular heat points to apply perfume are the neck, behind the ears, and on the wrists. These spots will warm up the scent molecules, activate them, and make sure they’re projected in the air around you.

If you apply on any other spot on the body, your body will still warm up your scent, and you will still be able to smell it, but it will disappear much quicker.

Aside from applying on the correct heat points, it would be best to make sure that clothes or accessories don’t cover the spots you apply your perfume to. If you cover these points, your clothes will rub over the perfume, causing friction that will break down the scent molecules, resulting in a shorter-lasting perfume. To learn more about correctly applying perfume for optimal use, you can read this article here!

What Type Of Perfume It Is

The strength and longevity of your perfume also depend on what type of perfume you have. There are five different types of perfume; Eau Fraiche, Eau De Toilette, Eau De Cologne, Eau De Parfum, and Parfum. All of these types have a different scented oil to alcohol ratio, resulting in different strengths.

The more scented oils a perfume contains, the longer it will last. The scented oils give off the scent, so the more scented oils there are, the stronger the perfume. Scented oils also evaporate much slower, so if there is a higher volume of scented oils, the perfume will stick around much longer.

The most popular versions of perfume are Eau De Toilette and Eau de Parfum. These typically last 4-8 hours before fading away, so they usually last you throughout the day. Eau Fraiche and Eau De Cologne are the weaker counterparts, lasting about 1-4 hours, and Parfum is the strongest, easily lasting 8+ hours. To learn more about all the different perfume types, make sure to read this article here!

Before you start freaking out about your perfume fading away quickly, make sure you have one that actually lasts long. Now, these different types of perfume are not the only factor in how long your scent lasts, but they do give a solid indication of how long your perfume will last.

Note Fatigue

Nose fatigue is something that happens every now and then. What it comes down to is your brains are getting tired of registering the same scent all day long, so they start to filter out the scent. When this happens, you no longer actually smell your perfume, but it still lingers around. Others will still smell your fragrance.

Nose fatigue happens every now and then. Maybe you have noticed it a few times, but it could also be the case that it hasn’t happened to you at all. It differs from person to person, but it could be one of the reasons why you think your perfume has faded away. And unlike the other factors we discuss in this article, here, the scent isn’t actually gone!

Weather Conditions

We briefly touched on the fact that perfumes thrive when they’re warmed up. This circles back to the weather conditions you find yourself in. Most people know that sweet perfumes are best for the winter and fresh perfumes are best for the summer, but why is that?

Warm temperatures can enhance the projection of perfumes. During the warmer months, you don’t want to wear an already sweet and offensive perfume, as it will be enhanced even further. Fresher scents work much better as they’re softer of nature. During the winter, you’ll need more powerful scents as the lower temperatures have an opposite effect.

With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that fresh and citrusy scents just aren’t that noticeable during the winter. Citrus-based perfumes are already much softer and made with more volatile notes, but wearing them in the winter subdues the scent even more. And that basically goes for every perfume; low temperatures subdues their scents.

On the other hand, during the summer, we sweat more. And when you sweat more, there’s a higher chance that you almost wash away some of the scents. Both seasons have drawbacks, but luckily, the perfumers make it easy for us by creating winter-focused and summer-focused fragrances!

You can read more about the impact that the weather has on perfume in this article here!

The Age Of Your Perfume

One more factor in the longevity of a perfume is the age of the perfume. Despite being made primarily with alcohol, perfume can actually go bad. It’s a prolonged process, but it does happen. However, before a perfume actually goes bad, the scented oils and alcohol will slowly evaporate.

When perfume ages, the scented oils evaporate. The top notes are the first to go, but the scent will evaporate and break itself down when left long enough. When the scented molecules unbind, they can rebind with other molecules, leading to weird scents.

Perfume can go bad over time, but there are several warning signs beforehand. One of those is a weaker scent. As the scented oils start to break down and evaporate, your perfume could start to smell different.

The top notes are always the first to go, as these are the most volatile. And when the top notes have evaporated, you actually have a scent that smells stronger. The top notes usually introduce you to the scent, leading you to the stronger mid and base notes. With the top notes gone, you’re immediately introduced to the mid and base notes.

While the perfume actually smells stronger and denser, it also lasts shorter. The top notes make up for a good portion of the scent experience, but this portion is now evaporated and completely skipped. If your top notes would usually linger around for 2 hours, you now have a scent that lasts 2 hours shorter.

This is also the most common reason why vintage perfumes smell much stronger but last much shorter.

How Can I Make My Perfume Last Longer

Perfume lasts longer when applied to your body’s heat points (on the neck, wrists, and behind the ears). Some perfumes also naturally last longer. Typically, these perfumes contain strong base notes such as vanilla, musks, and woods.

We all want our perfumes to last as long as possible, and although a lot of a perfumes longevity has to do with the ingredients it was made with, we can do a few things to prolong its longevity.

The first and most important thing to do is to apply on the correct spots. We already discussed this briefly above, but it’s paramount to apply it to your heat points. It is proven that applying on heat points will prolong the longevity greatly. I personally tested this out by applying the same perfume on my neck and forearm and testing how long the scent lasts on both spots.

I applied one spray of Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit De l’Homme on my neck and one spray on my arm. Now, this cologne is already famous for not lasting that long, so keep that in mind.

On my arm, the scent was mostly gone after 4 hours. On my neck, I could still smell it after 6 hours. And just to be sure, I asked my friend to verify if she could smell the cologne on both spots. Our results matched.

We also briefly touched on moisturizing your skin before applying perfume. This helps lock in the scent as your skin will have a much easier time absorbing the scented oils. So, the next day I moisturized my arm and neck and applied the same perfume.

The results were pretty interesting; on my arm, the cologne lasted about 5 hours and on my neck about 7 hours. With this, we nearly doubled the longevity when compared to just applying somewhere on your skin.

Forearm4 Hours
Forearm (Moisturized)5 Hours
Neck6 Hours
Neck (Moisturized)7 Hours

Lastly, it should also be noted that you should pay attention to the type of perfume you buy if you want a long-lasting perfume. Go with a fragrance with a higher concentration of scented oils, such as an Eau De Parfum, and go for scents that include denser fragrance notes.

These include woody notes, musks, gourmand notes (vanilla, chocolate, patchouli). These types of notes are much denser and stronger, which causes them to evaporate slowly, resulting in a longer-lasting perfume.

Does Perfume Last Longer On Clothes Or Skin

Perfume lasts longer when applied to clothes. Clothes hold the scented oils much better than our skin, even if our skin is hydrated. When applied to clothes, your scent will have a weaker projection, but it will definitely last longer.

Applying perfume to your clothes has a few benefits. The main one is that your scent will last much longer. Clothing fibers are much better at holding the scented oils than our skin, resulting in a much longer-lasting fragrance. The fragrance will also have a weaker projection, which can be both positive and negative.

If you want to wear a loud fragrance but don’t want to overpower the room, it might be best to apply it to your clothes. This will weaken the scent trail, leading to a slightly softer scent. If, on the other hand, you do want a strong scent trail, make sure to apply it to your skin. You can read more about creating the best scent trail, or sillage, as it’s called, by reading this article here!

One downside to applying it to your clothes is that fragrances can stain. They are scented oils, after all, and some are colored. Just look at the average perfume bottle. If it’s clear glass, chances are the liquid inside isn’t clear. It has some color, and this can result in stains.

In my opinion, your best way to go is to apply it on both your skin and clothes (if your perfume doesn’t stain!)! This leaves you with a long-lasting scent, but also a scent that projects!

Jasper Pieterse

Hi, my name is Jasper and I've been a long time fragrance fan. Ever since 2014, I started to get a huge interest in fragrances and I've had my nose on countless of different fragrances. I'm excited to share my experiences!

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