Joan V says….I have a few questions about perfumes and fragrances that I think you Brains would do a good job of answering. I get so sneezy when a perfume is sprayed and then usually get a headache. However, I don’t have this problem with roll-ons as long as I use a light hand. I just discovered Lush’s Lust perfume, which I love for its jasmine scent, but bought in the form of a waxy roll-on because of the sneeze factor and the price point – it was only $12 or so compared to the perfume, which actually wasn’t too expensive compared to “real” perfumes like Chanel. However it doesn’t last very long and I would love to have that sexy, soft smell on me all day instead of for just an hour or 2!
The Beauty Brains respond:
Here are Joan’s fragrance-related questions along with our answers.
Question 1: How long do “real” perfumes last once you open them? How long do they last if you DON’T open them for years? (my grandma has a ton of super expensive perfumes from the 1990s never opened and wants to regift them! I think they’re prime time for the trash can!)
Answer: As a rule of thumb, fragrances will last up to about 2 years before their scent changes significantly. Fragrances contain reactive chemicals that won’t stay stable for dozens of years. Most perfumes are sealed in glass spray bottles so they’re not “opened” in the sense that a jar of cream is opened because the product is not typically exposed to the air or contamination from your fingers. But, exposure to light and high temperature can shorten the time they will last. So if by “open” you mean removing the perfume bottle from the outer packaging that’s protecting it from light, then yes it will make a difference.
Question 2: Can you buy a few essential oils (like jasmine or gardenia) and dab them on yourself? Or do they need a carrier agent to stick on you and last? How long do essential oils last once opened?
Answer: You certainly can buy pure essential oils and use them on your skin (just make sure you don’t choose one that you’re allergic to.) But fragrances are much more complex than a few simple notes. They are designed in three parts: top notes which evaporate quickly and give you an initial burst of fragrance; middle notes which last up to an hour or so; and then the base notes which sort of anchor the fragrance to your skin and hopefully last all day. Depending on which essential oils you choose you may only be getting one of these three types of notes. While you might like the smell of essential oils you certainly won’t get the well-rounded long-lasting performance that you will from a properly compounded perfume.
Question 3: Can you dab on a perfume that’s meant to be sprayed by unscrewing the cap or do perfume dabs need to be in an oily carrier to stick?
Answer: Dabbing is a great solution for your sneezing problem. That’s because the sneeze attacks are likely caused by the aerosolized alcohol that you’re inhaling. That triggers vasodilation in the nose which in turn makes you sneeze. (The technical term is “vasomotor rhinitis.” If you apply the perfume directly to your skin the alcohol will still evaporate but it won’t be aerosolized into tiny particles that are more likely to constrict the blood vessels in your nose. If the perfume is sealed in a spray bottle you might be able to “smother” the spray into a cotton ball before dabbing it on your skin.
Question 4: Can you add perfume to plain lotion? Rubbing something on seems to not trigger the sneezing attacks like spraying something does – I think I’m just a klutz when it comes to doing anything beauty-related – someday I’ll figure out how to use a hair straightening iron without burning myself, but that’s a lesson for another day!
Answer: I’d advise against trying to add perfume oil to a lotion. Fragrances have to be carefully selected for the products they’re put into to ensure they are compatible. The fragrance you add could affect the preservative system or impact the stability of the lotion by changing the viscosity or color.