Which perfume lasts the longest? We explain the different factors at play
Wondering which perfume lasts the longest, or why others seem to disappear within seconds? Experts break down the variables affecting your signature scent
We'd venture that we all want our signature scent to linger rather than waft away within minutes of wear. But when it comes to which perfume lasts the longest, there are several factors at play if you want a scent that'll go the distance.
The way in which a fragrance is constructed and the ingredients used both play a big part in its longevity. Put simply, even some of the very best perfumes for women are not actually designed to last for hours and hours.
The beauty of perfume is that it evolves on your skin through the course of a day or an evening, developing from the initial light, breezy top notes that create its first impression, through to floral middle notes, before drying down to heavier base notes of musks and woods—which add lasting depth until the end of the day.
If having to re-spritz isn't your thing, and instead you want to know what it is that makes the best long-lasting perfumes actually last, we spoke to some of the industry's leading fragrance experts to get their insights.
Meet the experts on perfume longevity
- Roja Dove is a master perfumer and the founder of Roja Parfums. He has given some insight into why some perfume notes last longer than others.
- Michelle Feeney is the founder of Floral Street. She has explained how the concentration of perfume ingredients affects a scent's longevity.
Which perfume lasts the longest? A guide to the different factors at play
The first indication of how long a perfume will last is the strength of ingredients included in the fragrance formula, which you can tell by its name. This can vary a little from brand to brand, but generally speaking, the below list ranks the types of fragrance from lowest to highest concentration of perfume ingredients.
- Eau Fraîche
- Eau de Cologne
- Eau de Toilette
- Eau de Parfum
- Extrait de Parfum—often simply called "Parfum"
"For maximum strength and longevity, choose a fragrance that has a high perfume oil level," says Michelle Feeney, founder of fragrance brand Floral Street. "Eau de Parfums can boast as much as 20%—which is the concentration used in all our Floral Street fragrances—while Eau de Toilettes only contain about 5-10%."
A higher concentration of perfume ingredients often goes hand in hand with a higher price tag—which is why body mists tend to be far pricier than Eau de Parfum. That said, it's worth noting that you probably won't feel the need to "top up" longer-lasting fragrances as often and may therefore go through your signature scent less quickly. This viral TikTok hack shows you how to prolong the last few drops of your perfume and get more out of it.
Do some perfume notes last longer than others?
In short, yes. Some perfume notes are by their very nature richer and longer-lasting, while others don't hang around that often. For example, it's no coincidence that many fragrances contain citrus as their top notes; they'll be very noticeable initially, hitting your nose at first spritz, but evaporate within a matter of minutes.
"Citrus scents are hugely volatile, so their burst of energy is intense but short-lived," explains perfumer Roja Dove. "When you wear them, you experience the movement of lemon and orange molecules evaporating on your skin. That's what makes them so stimulating."
So it follows that if your fragrance is heavily citrus-based, you'll need more than a modest spritz or two for it to hang around. A fragrance featuring predominantly woods, musks, vanilla, and resin ingredients like amber, however, will usually last upwards of six hours.
Does perfume last longer on some people than others?
It's well-known that a fragrance can smell completely different on two different people, but how long it lasts on your skin is also affected by your unique makeup. "Skin type, sebum production, hormones, and the pH balance of your skin can all affect the way a scent smells," explains Feeney. "These factors also play a part in how long the fragrance lasts."
Does layering perfume make it last longer? What about where you spray?
Where you spray your perfume, as well as whether or not you layer it up, will also play a role in preventing it from being a fleeting experience.
The heat from your pulse points—such as your wrists and neck—helps a scent to radiant upwards, surrounding you in a fragrant haze all day. But the soft skin at the back of the knees is also a prime spot to spritz, as this area is warmer than elsewhere on the body and is therefore able to capture a strong scent. Meanwhile, this is why you should avoid spraying perfume on your clothes.
Finally, dry skin struggles to hold on to perfume molecules, so it's worth layering more than one form of your scent-of-choice. If your favorite fragrance is also available in ancillaries such as a body cream or shower gel, for example, seize the opportunity to treat yourself and use them to really anchor your scent.
Fiona Embleton is a multi-award-winning beauty editor who has tested over 10,000 products in her 10 years + of writing and shooting beauty stories. For the past four years, she was the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, having previously worked in the role of Beauty Editor at both Stylist and Cosmopolitan. She has recently gone freelance and alongside My Imperfect Life, she has written for titles including ELLE UK, ELLE Canada, Buro 247, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Vogue Scandinavia, and ES Magazine. Beauty journalism allowed her to marry up her first-class degree in English Literature and Language (she’s a stickler for grammar and a self-confessed ingredients geek) with a passion for make-up and skincare, photography, and catwalk trends. She loves jumping on the latest internet-breaking beauty news, dissecting the best red carpet looks, and having the crème de la crème of dermatologists, make-up artists, and hairstylists on speed dial so she can tap them for the best advice. She’s a discerning beauty shopper and knows it can be confusing trying to navigate what’s hype and what really works. So if she really likes something, you can trust that she has reached that opinion by vetting it against everything else she’s ever tried. Her career highs? Interviewing Cate Blanchett and winning a Jasmine Award for the deeply personal feature Cancer Stole My Mother’s Scent.
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