Knowing how and wear to apply your fragrance may seem like a no brainer. However, we receive so much conflicting advice over our lifetimes that it eventually becomes a confusing and overwhelming topic. Some people strongly advocate spraying behind the ears whilst others insist on the wrists.
There are so many different methods of application against a plethora of fragrances. The risk is either ending up smelling nothing at all or overwhelming passersby. In both cases, the result is a disappointing fragrance experience.
In the following guide, you will discover how to properly apply a fragrance and where to wear it. We will explore known concepts such as pulse points but also introduce new ones like projection spheres:
- Fragrance & Skin Preparation
- How To Apply Fragrances
- Spray Distances
- Projection Spheres
- Where To Apply Fragrance: Spray Zones
- Fragrance Wear For Every Occasion
Simply scroll down below to continue reading and jump directly to any of the above sections that interest you the most.
Learn To Properly Apply Fragrance In 6 Steps
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How To Prepare For Wearing Your Fragrance
A couple of foolproof steps can be taken before wearing your fragrance for the day ahead. These will ensure that you enjoy your cologne to its full potential whilst avoiding any common pitfalls.
How Much Fragrance Should I Apply?
The age-old question of how much cologne you should wear sadly comes with no straight answer. The secret to not killing someone by over-applying or it fading before you’ve left the house is to understand the fragrance.
Understand The Fragrance Strength
Every fragrance is different due to its composition. They feature compounds and oils with different volatility, which affects how long they last. Fragrances also come in different strengths and concentrations, which also plays an important role in their longevity.
The first thing to do is to verify the strength. This is usually implied with terms such as parfum and eau de toilette. You can explore this in detail through out fragrance concentration guide.
Once you are aware of what to expect from your fragrance, you will need to test it. The best way to establish how strong and how long a fragrance lasts is with a full skin test.
Simply spray the back of your hand twice and test it over a couple of hours. Smell the back of your hand over several intervals to see how it’s getting on. This will help you to understand how much you will need to put on at the beginning of the day. You can learn more about trying perfumes with our handy fragrance testing guide.
At this point you may realise that some weaker fragrances won’t last long enough during the day. You can compensate for this by purchasing a travel atomiser to reapply some during the day. These are usually quite cheap and can inconspicuously slip into your pocket.
Understand The Fragrance Sillage
A fragrance’s sillage is something else to keep in mind. Sillage is French for “wake” or and is pronounced “seeyazh”. In essence, it is the fragrance’s trail left by the wearer when the walk by.
The sillage of a fragrance is usually closely related to its concentration. However, there can be some slight particularities and it’s worth checking in a separate test.
Testing your fragrance’s sillage is quite easy. Simply find a relatively empty and clean room and make sure the windows are properly closed. Spray twice into the room, leave and close the door behind you.
Check back every couple of minutes and you’ll be able to figure smell the sillage’s strength. If you can still smell the fragrance in there after 10 minutes, the fragrance is probably quite strong.
How To Prepare Your Skin For Wearing Cologne
Once upon a time, we wore fragrances cover bad odours because of the long intervals between washing. A lot has changed since then and now fragrances are designed mainly to enhance the way we smell instead.
Fragrances work best on clean skin after bathing. Taking a shower before you apply a fragrance will remove the body of foreign odours. This will prevent it from being corrupted by previous fragrances.
Furthermore, a hot shower will open the skin’s pores, which lets the fragrance’s oils seep in. Make sure that you that moisturise before applying a fragrance. This ensures that the skin doesn’t simply absorb the fragrance rather than letting it radiate off you.
Make sure that you opt for a scentless moisturiser otherwise the fragrances may clash. Similarly, some people advocate rubbing a thin layer of vaseline over the spray zones for an extra barrier.
Finally, consider only reapplying a fragrance once during the day. Over-application can cause the spray zones’ skin to become greasy and the fragrance becomes less effective when mixed with daily grime and pollution.
How Do You Apply A Perfume?
There are several known techniques for applying perfume. Some work whilst some others are ineffective.
A fragrance should be sprayed directly on the skin on the selected zones and left do dry naturally.
Never rub a fragrance into the skin. This will ruin the fragrance as it breaks down the head notes and damages its natural life cycle.
Don’t spray a cloud of fragrance and walk into it. This tends to mostly be a waste of perfume as very little will land on the skin and mostly fall on the floor. The room may smell nice afterwards but it’s unlikely that you will.
How To Apply Fragrance Splash Bottles & Aftershave
Not all fragrance bottles come with an atomiser. Some classic men’s colognes come with a splash bottle whilst more luxurious parfums come with a dab stopper. These are easy to accidentally overdo but also provide more control over where you apply the fragrance.
Applying With A Splash Bottle
- Shake 2-3 drops onto the tips of clean fingers or prepare the dab stopper.
- Gently apply onto the selected fragrance zones on the skin.
- Don’t rub in too hard to avoid damaging the fragrance.
- Leave to dry naturally.
Aftershave is an altogether different beast used to complete a shaving regimen. These are usually applied in abundance but with some control.
- Thoroughly rinse your face with cold water to clean your face and close your pores.
- Moisturise your face or apply a post-shave balm beforehand.
- Pour a teaspoon amount of aftershave onto your palm.
- Lightly rub the hands together and separate them to allow the aftershave to cook off.
- In a downward motion, gently stroke the aftershave from your hands onto your face and neck.
- Gently slapping the skin can provide some relief if it stings a little.
Keep in mind that aftershaves work best after moisturising the skin. This prevents unnecessary irritation and allows the fragrance to last longer.
At What Distance Should You Spray A Fragrance?
Every atomiser performs slightly differently. Some are very narrow and liquid whilst others are wide and vaporous.
In either case, the atomiser tends to discharge in a cone shape, which spreads like a shotgun. The objective it to find that sweet spot between spread and concentration. You don’t want to apply a thick narrow layer nor too wide that barely anything lands where you want it.
This balance can typically be found at around 70% of the atomiser’s maximum range as illustrated in the graphic below:
70% of the atomiser’s maximum range can usually be found between 4″ and 6″ (10cm – 15cm). However, this can vary between different atomisers. You can visually test your atomiser’s range by simply spraying in front of you and observing how the cloud dissipates.
What Is A Scent Bubble Or Projection Sphere?
A projection sphere, more commonly known as a “scent bubble”, is the concept of creating a virtual fragrance bubble around you. The technique is to carefully choose your spray locations to ensure that the fragrance’s projection is within a calculated area.
Fragrances are intimate and seductive with an element of surprise. Therefore, you won’t want everyone to smell it before you walk into the room as it would kill any anticipation.
They’re tantalising extensions of ourselves nd the aim should be to create an exciting journey for the people you meet. Furthermore, by controlling your sphere of projection, you can manipulate the way a fragrance works for you.
For example, when speaking face to face with someone, the ideal scenario is to only give off hints of the fragrance and make them want to get closer. When you lean in for a handshake, it enticingly reveals a little bit more. Once you’ve left, only a minimal sillage trail behind you will have people wanting more.
An ideal sphere is carefully balanced between the intimate and discernable. Therefore, the wearer should aim for a projection sphere that is closer to the face and torso.
Projection spheres require planning for every scenario as that level of intimacy varies. Mellow occasions will require a tighter sphere whilst open environments require a wider radius. Fragrance wear for every occasion below will detail guidelines on specific projection spheres.
Where Do I Apply A Fragrance?
You’ve likely heard about pulse points. These are pressure points on the body with veins and arteries that are close to the surface that produce heat. When a fragrance is sprayed above one of these, it slowly radiates off the skin for a more efficient projection.
There are a number of common pulse points that are common spots for spraying fragrances such as the neck, wrists and behind the ears. Some go as far as advocating behind the knees, in the elbows and biceps as other key areas.
Use the graphic below to identify all the ideal and common spray zones for applying a fragrance.
Ideal Spray Zones
In order to maintain a balanced projection sphere, the best spray zones are the following:
- Behind The Ears
- The Jugulars
- Base Of The Throat
- The Nape
- The Chest
- Shoulder Joints
By no means use all of these at the same time. The Sprays zones should be meticulously chosen according to the occasion to create the ideal and balanced projection sphere.
Furthermore, only numbers 1 and 2 are actually true pulse points. At least one of these should be used at all times depending on the others that you have selected. Although the other zones aren’t pulse points, they are ideal locations to radiate the perfect bubble of fragrance.
An Argument Against Applying Fragrance To Wrists
You will see that the wrists, knees and elbows are well outside of the projection sphere. Although they are valid spray zones, they are unfortunately ineffective and can throw off your desired bubble.
Wrists are a particularly popular area for spraying a fragrance. They project efficiently and are easy to access. However, they have considerable drawbacks, which render them less effective.
The hands are regularly manipulated, which makes the wrists prone to breaking down and corrupting a fragrance. They’ll rub against shirt cuffs and dirty your clothes. Fragrance will transfer against desk surfaces and when shaking hands. Furthermore, washing hands will cause the cologne to mix with other scents.
Spraying On Clothes & Hair
Firstly, fragrance oils are designed and optimised for spraying on the skin. You know when you go to a perfume store and test a fragrance on a paper blotter? It never quite smells right, does it? The same thing happens when spraying on clothes and hair.
The fragrance will fail to cycle correctly due to the lack heat to help evaporate it. Badly pulsed fragrance will linger on the clothes and when another perfume is added, they may clash and contaminate one another.
Moreover, textile fibres can be damaged by the oils and alcohol content in a perfume. This will wear down and damage your clothes and could even stain them.
Finally, fragrance in hair will experience the same evaporation issues and fail to cycle properly. Hair products will contaminate the fragrance and cause the scalp to become greasy and clog up. What’s more is that hair tends to rub against things like pillows and hats, leaving traces everywhere. Think about anyone who may run their hands through your hair – they’ll end up with old fragrance on their fingers!
Wearing Fragrances For Every Occasion
Every environment is different for successfully wearing a fragrance. Before applying, always think of what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be going. It will help you decide where to properly apply your fragrance and avoid any incidents.
Keep in mind also that not all fragrances suit every occasion. Choose the most appropriate fragrance wisely for it to be more effective.
Note that the number of sprays listed is purely indicative based on a strong eau de toilette. Remember that you will have to judge your fragrance’s strength yourself and assess how many sprays will be enough.
Four occasions have been outlined below with handy infographics that indicate the ideal spray zones. Feel free to continue reading or jump straight to the one relevant to you:
How To Wear Cologne For The Office
This is probably the most common occasion for wearing a fragrance. An everyday perfume should be discernable but somewhat subdued.
Fragrances project quite easily indoors as there is less pollution and no wind. You’ll be spending your day near and around people. Therefore, try to respect their own personal space with an non-invasive projection sphere.
For maximum effect, you’ll want to this to be barely noticeable when across someone’s desk. However, there can be a slight presence when you get in closer.
Remember that the art of seduction isn’t always a romantic endeavour. Consider how you’ll want to tantalise colleagues and clients when you lean in for a handshake.
Not sure what to wear in this environment? See our guide to the best workplace and office colognes!
Ideal Office Spray Zones & Amount:
- 1 x behind each ear
- 1 x base of throat
How To Wear A Fragrance For Outdoors
It’s your day off and you’re a man about town! You’re treating yourself to a shopping spree or perhaps you’d like to visit an art gallery. In either case, the world is your oyster.
Wind, pollution, crowds and other environmental factors can wreak havoc on a projection sphere. However, bear in mind that you may spend moments indoors when travelling to your destination or in shops. Therefore, you’ll have to compensate to develop a versatile sphere.
The nape (back of the neck) is a great spray zone when moving around. It leaves a faint trail when moving but radiates on the spot when stationary. Use this as a central point then reinforce it against environmental factors with sprays behind the ears.
Thinking of getting yourself a specific fragrance for casual wear? Head to our guide to the top 5 men’s casual colognes!
Ideal Outdoors Spray Zones & Amount:
- 2 x behind each ear
- 3 x nape
How To Wear Cologne On A Night Out
Lads’ night out or looking for love? Either way, you’re going to run into intense crowds, heat and competing fragrances contrasting against the cold night air outside. Fragrance-wear in a club is a battlefield of desperation and nostril violation.
A typical projection sphere will struggle to be effective. Therefore, the aim is for it to be wide enough to break away from the crowd. However, you’ll want to curb it so that it’s not too intense for those that rub passed or against you.
The model to follow is not unlike outdoor environments but with fragrance on the shoulders to reinforce the sphere’s extremities.
Ideal Nightlife Spray Zones & Amount:
- 2 x behind each ear
- 3 x nape
- 2 x each shoulder joint
How To Wear A Fragrance On A Date
The intimacy of a date means that the sphere of projection should be carefully reduced to be subtle and enticing. Usually, you’ll be sitting close to someone or across a small candle-lit table.
The fragrance should seduce the person and draw them towards you rather than push them away. It’s a fine line and challenging to find the perfect balance. Use fragrance sparingly and aim for a lowered, controlled projection sphere that centres around the base of the neck.
There are two schools of thought in using fragrances on a date. One is to seduce someone romantically whilst the other is seducing passionately.
If the date goes as planned, you may find someone intimately close to you. Romantically, you want the fragrance to be like a comforting blanket that envelops them.
In short, you’ll likely want them to stay rather than leave. A simple spray at the base of the throat should be more than sufficient.
If the more likely outcome are throes of passion then a bolder fragrance choice and sphere are perhaps more desirable. This means keeping the sphere tight but intense. A spray on each jugular followed by applying fragrance on the chest should provide centralised cover.
Choosing the right fragrance for a date can be a stressful experience. See what we suggest as the sexiest men’s fragrances for dating.
Ideal Spray Zones & Amount On A Date:
- 1 x base of throat
- 1 x each jugular
- 1 x solar plexus
Now that you have explored how and wear to apply a fragrance in detail, expand your knowledge further with our guide on fragrance families. Otherwise, perhaps you’d be interested in learning more about fragrance strength and concentrations.
Now that you have read all about applying fragrances, why don’t you check out some more content?
- Best Men’s Fragrances For All Occasions & Seasons
- History Of Men’s Fragrances
- How To Try & Test Fragrances Yourself
- Discover The Bespoke Unit Fragrance Wheel
"Really useful and informative! Thanks for the tips on how to properly put on fragrances. Now I'll be able to use them well!"Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★