Why Perfume Doesn’t Last On You – A Detailed Guide

We all love our perfumes; it’s the epitome of perfection and the best way to round off our outfit for the day or evening. We line our dresser with our favorite scents and are always on the hunt for something new to complete our collection. However, sometimes our fragrances don’t last very long, or they smell better on other people, so it makes you wonder; why it doesn’t last on you?

How long a perfume lasts depends upon your skin type, the ingredients, the concentration of oils, and other external factors. Any one of these can cause a fragrance to fade prematurely or have a different impact when worn by other people.

It’s amazing to think your skin and ingredients used in the perfume can have such an impact on how long it lasts. There are a few bizarre factors that cause the scent to fade, too, some of which may surprise you!

Does Your Skin Affect Your Perfume?

As you’ll come to see, there are many reasons why perfume can fade quickly, and they come under two main sections: your skin and the perfume itself. We’ll start with our skin… why does it have such an impact on the smell and longevity of our scent?

Your skin type, acidity, and moisture levels are all reasons for the poor performance of your perfume. Factors like diet and hormones will also cause skin changes resulting in a discrepancy in the scent, changing the longevity of your fragrance.

Let’s take a look at these in more detail.

Skin Type

Your skin type is arguably the most important reason your perfume isn’t lasting very long. The molecules in perfume bind with the oils in your skin, meaning if your skin is dry, it’s likely to fade much faster. If you have naturally dry skin, it might make you think there’s nothing you can do… but that’s not quite true!

If you moisturize your skin fully every day and eat foods higher in natural oils, this can help your perfume last longer. In the short term, you can simply moisturize the areas where you’ll spray your perfume, which will cause it to hold better and last longer. Just make sure it’s an unscented moisturizer, so it doesn’t mess with the fragrance itself!


Although hormones aren’t technically to do with your skin, natural fluctuations throughout the month will have an impact on your skin. When your estrogen levels drop, it can cause a rise in body temperature leading to excess sweating, which causes the perfume to evaporate and fade much faster.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – hormones wreak havoc with everything else; why shouldn’t they affect your perfume.

Other Factors

Other factors such as diet and your environment can have an impact on your skin. If you’re sitting in direct sunlight or a hot room, your body temperature will increase, causing the perfume to fade faster.

Overall, we can see how much of an impact your skin has, and we know there are a few things we can do to help it stay on for longer. Let’s now take a look at perfumes themselves.

What About The Perfume Itself?

We know your skin type, diet, pH level, and all sorts of external factors can cause your perfume not to be as intense as you had hoped. But skin isn’t the only reason your perfume is fading disappointingly fast. Another has everything to do with the perfume itself.  

The concentration of oils, type of perfume, how it’s applied and stored, and the ingredients all have a huge effect.

Perfume Ingredients Dictate The Longevity

Certain ingredients are known to linger on your skin for much longer than others. Perfumes are generally divided into three sections: the base, middle and top notes. Each section has any number of ingredients, and the ingredients included within certain sections will dictate how your fragrance smells.

Top notes are noticeable straight away, whereas the middle notes may take some time to develop. The perfume then reveals the base notes, which become apparent once the perfume has dried.

Perfumers generally mix longer-lasting ingredients with ones that fade faster to ensure a well-rounded and full-bodied scent.

  • Oriental fragrances are known for lasting significantly longer as they have a heavy and robust makeup. Oriental ingredients such as vanilla, tonka bean, patchouli, musk, incense and myrrh are long-lasting ingredients.
  • Woody fragrances also last a long time; ingredients such as cedarwood, sandalwood and oak are robust enough to ensure a strong longevity.
  • Lighter notes like fruits, citrus, florals and green notes generally fade much faster. They are almost always included in fragrances due to their gorgeous scent but are often in the top and middle sections due to their quick evaporation.

You ideally want a combination with light notes at the top and heart of the fragrance, which will evaporate faster to make way for rich base notes. This will help to keep your fragrance alive for hours after that initial spray.

There Are Different Types Of Perfumes

You may not realize the significance Eau de Toilette’s and Eau de Parfum’s have when buying them, but these are different types of perfumes with different strengths. This is because they have different concentrations of oils, which determines how impactful and strong a fragrance is. So, when you buy your next perfume, bear this in mind when choosing.

So, what are the different types, and which is the strongest?


Parfum is also known as pure perfume – it’s the strongest and most expensive of all perfume types. The concentration sits between 20% and 40%, making it very high in oils giving it a long-lasting and powerful scent.

Unfortunately, they carry a hefty price tag, and they don’t generally pop up in your typical department store. It’s usually not a spray perfume because it has such a high concentration; you would dab very small amounts onto your skin.

Eau De Parfum

Eau de Parfum (EDP) is the next on the list; although it’s not as strong as Parfum, it isn’t far off as it has a concentration of around 15%. As a general rule, this will last between 6-8 hours on your skin.

Eau De Parfums are some of the most popularly sold versions of fragrance.

Eau De Toilette

Next, we have Eau de Toilette (EDT), which has a concentration of between 5% and 15%. This generally lasts between 4-5 hours and is a much more cost-effective bottle to buy. Many EDP perfumes come in EDT versions, so you can purchase a cheaper bottle to keep the cost down as long as you don’t mind reapplying a few times per day.

Eau De Cologne

This is a really popular type of perfume regardless of its low concentration. It sits around 3% to 5% and lasts around 2-3 hours. This is even cheaper than EDT’s and can be bought in much bigger bottles, which is good as you’ll have to apply these much more frequently.

Eau Fraiche, Aftershave, and Mist

Finally, we have the lowest concentration of all perfumes; these generally have a concentration of around 1% to 3% and can last around 2-3 hours as a general rule. A body mist’s concentration will be on the lower end of that scale, but they are a fantastic cheap and cheerful way of smelling good.

Body mists are perfect for when you may only want to have a noticeable scent on for a short period of time, like a coffee date or interview!

How You Apply Also Impacts The Longevity

How we apply perfume differs slightly for all of us; some spray it on their skin, others on their clothes and skin. Some of us apply a light spray to our wrists and others spritz and spray until they’re covered head to toe. As with everything, there are dos and don’ts when it comes to applying perfume, and proper application will make a difference to the longevity.

Take a look at these dos and don’ts.

Apply On Pulse Points

Pulse points are also called warm points; they are the warmest points on our bodies. These areas are your wrists, both sides of your neck, the back of your knees, your chest, and the inside of your elbows. As these areas are moistest, the perfume will stick better and remain on your skin for longer.

The warmth on these spots also helps the scent disperse stronger and further.

Don’t Rub In Your Scent

I think it’s fairly habitual and common for many of us to spray our perfume on our wrists and rub them together. However, when you rub your wrists together, it can eradicate the top notes entirely and you harshly mix the perfume with your natural oils, which can cause a change in scent. Just spray it onto your wrist and let it air dry… nice and simple!

Spray On Your Skin And Clothes

Spraying your clothes as well will ensure the scent lasts much longer than on your skin alone, as your clothing fibers will absorb the perfume molecules better. Just be careful of different clothing types as some can stain; take a look at this article, which goes into more depth about spraying perfume onto clothes.

Moisturize Before Applying

As we’ve mentioned before, moister skin holds perfume better for longer, so apply a little moisturizer to the places you’re spraying. Make sure it’s unscented, though, so it doesn’t overpower your fragrance!

Try Layering Fragrances

Layering is a great way to ensure your perfume lasts longer while also achieving a unique scent. Many perfumes go well when mixed together. Jo Malone’s products are a great example of this as they are made to be layered.

They are kept simple, specifically so people can customize their scents. Just be mindful of the ingredients within the perfumes so you don’t buy opposing scents.

Don’t Spray And Walk

Just like rubbing your wrists together, spraying in the air and walking through the mist is a no-go. When you do this, all the scented oils will immediately drop to the ground. Of course, you will pick up some of the oils, but only a small percentage.

You’ll mostly pick up the alcohol and not the scented oils. Just apply on certain spots on your body, and do it from a certain distance. This ensures even distribution and you actually pick up the scented oils!

Does Storing Your Perfume Properly Make It Last Longer

I think many of us absent-mindedly pop our perfume onto our dresser or in the bathroom without much care about the storage conditions. Perfumes don’t come with instructions on how to store them, so many of us don’t think about it. But does storage affect how long a perfume will last?

Storing perfumes correctly maintains the integrity of the liquid molecules, which prevents them from oxidizing, evaporating, or changing in any way that may affect the smell or longevity.

So, where should I keep it?

  • Keep it out of direct sunlight or heat as they will both break the chemicals down causing it to fade prematurely or the scent to change. Heat also leads to evaporation of the alcohol and scented oils.
  • Keep it dry and cool – these are just general storage rules as you don’t want wet or warm perfume.
  • Try to limit how many times you decant the perfume into another bottle – whether you want to use a nicer bottle, yours is faulty or are filling up travel-sized sprays. As soon as you expose the liquid to oxygen, the molecules can get inside the bottle causing your perfume to oxidise, which will diminish the strength and change the scent.

There you have it… there are many reasons why your perfume isn’t lasting on you; it could be your skin type or the perfume itself. Now you can pinpoint the root of the problem, resolve it, and hopefully have your perfume lasting much longer as soon as possible. To make sure your next purchase is as successful as possible, research the brand and ingredients in perfumes you like to see which will suit your needs best. Good luck!

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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