Should you spray perfume on your clothes? Try to look for advice on the topic online—and some people will tell you that putting perfume on your clothes is totally fine, while others will try to convince you fiercely against it.
As with many other things in the polarizing world of fragrances, this is a gray area where everyone has an opinion, yet drawing the line between who’s right and who’s wrong can be an excruciatingly hard thing to do.
Happily, that won’t be the case by the time you’re done reading this article.
Perfume is best applied to the body, but it can also be used on clothes. The juice may stain white or brightly colored garments and should be sprayed from a distance of at least 6 inches (15 cm) on easy-to-clean fabrics.
In other words, you could spray perfume on your clothes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do it. Especially if you see that the juice is oily or has a saturated color that differs from the color of your outfit of the day.
Some fragrances contain natural ingredients, like resins, absolutes, and essential oils, which can easily stain delicate fabrics. This is particularly true when it comes to niche fragrances and a few limited-edition, designer-brand blends (see “Niche vs. Designer Fragrances”).
Other fragrances get their color from coloring agents called “dyes” or “colorants,” whose use in cosmetics is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States and the European Commission in Europe. They’re safe to use on your skin but think twice before spraying them on your clothes.
Not all scents are created equal—some can stain your clothes more than others.
For example, M. Micaleff’s Ylang in Gold leaves a pearly veil of gold that looks glamorous on your skin but isn’t something you want on your little black dress. And Mon Parfum Crystal coats you with an oily, jam-like juice that could ruin your white silk scarf.
Your clothes’ fabrics also matter. Some absorb more moisture than others, which makes them more susceptible to staining. And not all materials are easy to clean.
Cashmere, satin, and silk stain too easily and are harder to clean than cotton, jersey, polyester, tweed, and wool. So, as tempting as it may be, don’t walk through a spray cloud of perfume with your beloved silk dress on, or you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Never spray perfume on a leather jacket. Fragrances contain alcohol, and alcohol can damage the leather by causing it to dry out and crack open. If you insist on scenting a leather jacket, try spraying it on the inner lining.
There are two considerations to make before doing so:
First, how distinct and intense is this scent? It’s going to linger there for a while, so you probably don’t want something too exotic.
Second, what fabric is the inner lining made from? The inner lining on some jackets is made of satin, which stains easily and can be hard to clean. On others, it’s made of polyester, which is pretty much the opposite.
More often than not, you’re better off wearing perfume on your body and letting your clothes be your clothes.
It’s Called Wearing Perfume for a Reason
Wear perfume just like you’d do when wearing a piece of clothing that you want to stand out: if you cover it up completely, the chances are that nobody else (apart from the person undressing you) will notice it.
When it comes to putting perfume on, one of the best pieces of advice we have for our readers is to do so in areas that won’t get covered by your hair, clothes, or accessories.
This is the only way to let your scent shine.
What Are the Best Places to Spray Perfume?
The best places to apply perfume on your body are the pulse points behind the ears, the nape of the neck, wrists, as well as inner elbows. Preferably on well-moisturized skin after a warm shower or bath on the day you plan to wear it.
Some also like to spray perfume into the air, walk through the mist, and let it settle on their skin before putting clothes on. However, the jury’s out on how well this works—and others see it as nothing but a waste of juice.
When asked about this, the members of the Sterlish editorial team unanimously agreed on the latter.
“It’s just not something you need to do,” says Simona S, Editor, Fragrances. “If you want to do it nevertheless, do it with your clothes on—as long as you’re not worried about staining them. Fabrics hold on to scents better than your skin does.”
Perfume bonds better to oily skin types than it does to dry ones. This affects its sillage, the trail you leave behind when walking into or leaving a room, and its longevity, the amount of time the scent lasts on your skin.
While this is one of the rare occasions where having oily skin is a blessing, readers with dry skin types may need to add an extra step or two to their morning routines to get the most out of their favorite fragrance.
To make perfume last longer on your skin when you have dry skin type, apply fragrance-free moisturizer or unscented body lotion to the areas of your body where you plan to wear it. Scent locks better onto well-hydrated skin.