Monday, April 25, 2011

Manners Monday: Perfume Etiquette

We’ve all been there-sitting next to someone at a restaurant or stuck working next to a colleague who has sprayed far too much perfume. We’re all aware of how obnoxious it can be and yet there are still so many fragrance offenders that leave perfect strangers in a cloud of scent that they cannot escape!

We generally think of our perfume as enhancing our overall appearance and others will enjoy the olfactory experience as much as we do, but it’s not always the case. What if we’re in close proximity to others who dislike or are allergic to the perfume or cologne we are wearing?

Like everything else a classy woman puts on, a perfume should also be carefully selected to fit the lady wearing it.

Perfume Etiquette Tips

1. Choose the Right Perfume- Fragrances are similar to clothing in that what works well for one person may not suit another. Applying perfume or cologne should be done so that it allows the scent to interact with one’s body chemistry, resulting in a personalized version of the scent which allows your perfume to complement you.

2. Less is More- Use restraint when applying perfume, a small spritz goes a long way. An overwhelming amount of perfume can not only distract others from their work but also be responsible for headaches or nausea. Remember that while you may become used to the scent of your own perfume, it can be very obvious to others. The smell of perfume is magnified in enclosed or crowded areas, as well as in the sun or under warm lights. Follow the old adage of less is more and refrain from re-applying more than once a day.

3. Pair your Perfume with the Venue - A fragrance should also suit the occasion. In general, heavy perfumes are best reserved for a night out. Choose a lighter scent for daytime wear. Certain occasions in life call for discretion and modesty and should not be burdened by overbearing odors. These include hospitals, funerals and when around babies or young children with developing lungs. It is best to keep your scent very light for interviews where your experience should be on display, not your chosen scent.

4. Apply it in Private – As with all other aspects of personal grooming, the application of perfume should take place in a private area such as your home or, if need be, in your workplace washroom. It is impolite to subject others to a toxic cloud of scent, so rethink the idea of spritzing if you're going to be in close proximity to others or in an enclosed space.

5. Resist the urge to Compete – Similar to the notion of eliminating the use of scented candles at the table during a wonderful meal, if you're attending an event where aroma is an important part of the experience such as dining out or wine tasting, avoid competing with anything edible.

6. Perfume is not Body Spray - While it has the ability to mask odors immediately, spaying perfume as if it were body spray, in an attempt to cover up an unpleasant scent, such as body odor, alcohol or cigarettes will only create a toxic bomb of scents that negatively interact with one another to create something unbearable.

7. Fragrances have an Expiry Date- After about a year or two, fragrances start to turn rancid and their once beautiful notes can become harsh, musky or very overpowering. No matter how much you’ve invested into the perfume or how much you love it, it’s time to replace it. There’s no sense keeping something that doesn’t help you put your best foot forward.

Perhaps the most important thing for a classy woman to remember is that, like many of her other attributes, her perfume should be an intimate experience and is something she shares with those whom she has close contact with or plans to have. These select people should have to lean in to breathe in her intoxicating fragrance. The lingering of her scent should be subtle and intriguing.

What is your favorite perfume and how do you ensure that your perfume is ‘just right’ before leaving the house?

*image (1), (2), (3)


  1. Thanks, Karla, I love Manners Monday posts! I work near some ladies who are sensitive to scents but, to me, perfume is one of life's simple pleasures. I think we've reached a good compromise. I always spray perfume on at home (never at work) and I spray it in the air and walk through, rather than spraying it directly on my skin. Sometimes when I feel I may have put too much on, I always ask them if it is bothering them, and they usually can't smell it on me. I think it's always a good idea to check with others around you to be sure your perfume isn't affecting them. Great post!

  2. Great post as always Karla
    My favorite perfume this Spring is called Green Jade by Bulgari, and I try to do the "spray in the air and walk through it" method. I also just put a little on my pulse points, and resist "topping-up" during the day.

  3. @Sherry-How considerate of you to ask your colleagues! :) Scents really evoke certain emotions and bring you back to certain places in time. Whenever I smell someone wearing my mom's perfume Tresor, I think of her and smile!

    @Vanessa-Sounds pretty, I haven't heard of that one so I'll have to check it out. Yes, the walk through is perfect!! I just do a little spritz on my wrist and tap the other wrist and then dab it on the back of my neck but since it's a natural perfume it doesn't have the same strong potency as a regular perfume which is perfect. :)

  4. My favorite scent is Romance by Ralph Lauren. I put it on pulse points in the privacy of my own home, or if I'm running late in the car or washroom. NEVER out in public. I'll spray once in my hair, on my neck (evenly) and on my inner elbows.

  5. I am allergic to perfume, even to inhale makes me cough. Less is definitely more.

  6. @ Karen-I hear you Karen, fragrances make me cough too. I can't get near a glade plug-in while in someone else's home!

    My hubby is allergic to most perfumes/colognes and any scented hand soaps and air fresheners etc. Since we switched to natural products only, he's been good.

    I use a natural perfume by the brand Pacifica and I find without the BHT, other preservatives and artificial fragrances that other perfumes all have, that I don't sneeze when I wear it and it's not overpowering like most perfumes. For a while I wore absolutely no perfume at all and eventually opted for pure orange essential oil which was extremely faint until I found Pacifica.

  7. And as always, I'm sure you've heard, do not keep perfume in direct sunlight or harsh indoor lighting as this will diminish the scent more quickly.

  8. Where's the common sense rules?
    1) A scent should linger momentarily after you pass, not enter the room ten feet before you
    2) The ideal is to tantalize those lucky few, not blanket bomb a city
    3) No where on the bottle does it say 'bathe in it'
    4) If I can taste it, it's too much


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