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Does skin chemistry affect the way your perfume smells?

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Does skin chemistry affect the way your perfume smells?

Skin chemistry and environment are major factors that explain why perfume smells different from person to person.

It almost seems like fragrance comes to life when you apply it to the skin. My perfume smells infinitely different on me than it does on my sister, and we have very similar genetics!

So what gives? Why do perfumes differ so much when applied on different people?

To answer that question we’d have to take a time machine back to 8th grade biology class. The skin is a complex organ made up of water, fat, salts, sugars (mine especially!), proteins, fibers, and hairs. Add perfume to any of these components and it’s easy to see why perfumes animate differently from person to person.

And that’s not where it stops. The environment also affects how a perfume smells. At a basic level, humidity plays a role in scent expression. That means if you’re in humid Miami, your perfume will smell different than in brisk Milwaukee. Background smells can also affect how your nose responds to perfume. For example, are you wearing your perfume at a barbecue, wedding, cinema?

So what’s the best environment to test a new perfume?

Test a new perfume in the state that you’ll usually be in. Do you typically shower in the morning and then apply perfume? Or do you shower at night, leaving perfuming in the morning? Apply your sample around the same time and in the same place that you’ll apply it on a daily basis. Then set a timer and see how it changes in 5 minutes, 10 minutes, an hour, and so on. As the top notes dry up, you’ll still be able to detect the base note on the skin, which might smell completely different than when you first applied it.

Interested in discovering a new fragrance for yourself? Try our Fragrance Personality Quiz for some recommendations based on your personality. 

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  • Julia Kahlig-Garuba
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