Why do some fragrances last longer than others?

What can you do to make a fragrance last longer on your skin?
What can you do to make a fragrance last longer on your skin?
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Fragrance is like the cherry-on-top of a perfect outfit. It adds a sensory layer to your look, conveys an attitude or mood, and reflects your unique personality. Many people select a "signature scent" and wear it all the time, hoping the scent will identify them as soon as they walk into a room. Sometimes people wear that same scent forever; sometimes they change it as the mood strikes. Either way, it comes down to this: Everyone wants to smell good.

Have you ever noticed, though, that some of the fragrances you wear seem to last a long time, and others seem to dissipate almost immediately? You might think you're just not putting on enough fragrance, but that's actually not the case.


There are several reasons why some fragrances last and others don't. You can experiment to find out which one might be your issue and make changes:

Your skin. Believe it or not, your epidermis could be the culprit. If you have dry skin, you probably don't have the necessary oils the perfume needs to absorb into your skin. Therefore, the fragrance will evaporate faster. Try applying unscented moisturizer before applying your fragrance. Or, you can try "layering" scents, if your favorite fragrance also comes in a shower wash or body lotion variety.

Concentration. Perfumes come in various concentrations. The higher the concentration, the more fragrance -- and the longer the scent will last. For example, an eau de parfum will always be more concentrated than an eau de toilette. A body spray would be much less concentrated than an eau de toilette. Remember, though, that concentrations vary among product lines. Generally, the more alcohol in the scent, the faster it will lose its scent.

Notes. Notes are what make up a fragrance. Most fragrances have top, middle and base notes. These notes are scents with different molecular weights that develop at different rates when applied to the skin. Top notes are the first you smell in a perfume. They evaporate more quickly than the rest of the scents. The middle notes are the "body" of the perfume and take longer to develop on the skin than top notes. The base notes are the final scent to develop and last the longest. They're also a fixative that slows down the evaporation of the top and middle notes, making the overall scent last longer. The stronger the base note, the longer the fragrance lasts. Some cheap fragrances don't even bother with base notes -- and, unsurprisingly, they don't last long at all.

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  • FragranceNet. "FAQs." FragranceNet.com. 2012. (Aug. 22, 2012) http://www.fragrancenet.com/f/net/faqs.html
  • Gilded Life. "What is the Difference Between Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette in Perfumes and Colognes?" GildedLife.com. Aug. 8, 2010. (Aug. 22, 2012) http://www.gildedlife.com/2010/08/what-is-the-difference-between-eau-de-parfum-and-eau-de-toilette-in-perfumes-and-colognes/
  • Sparks, Andrea. "FAQs About Perfume." Overstock.com. 2012. (Aug. 22, 2012) http://www.overstock.com/guides/faqs-about-perfume