Is Your Perfume Too Strong?

Prevent the ultimate fragrance faux pas

If you wear perfume, you walk the fine line all the time '- between overdoing it and underdoing it. The goal is to wear enough fragrance to feel good and make the right impression. But how do you prevent yourself from smelling like you just shopped the fragrance floor at Bloomingdale's? Experts tell us it's a combination of using common sense, knowing your body chemistry and adhering to the rules in fragrance-free zones. Here's what they say.


The cardinal rule is don't use too much.

It may seem obvious, but sometimes we absent-mindedly spritz our pulse points, our garments, our hair, our necks, without thinking. That's overkill. "French perfumer Annick Goutal always said a great fragrance is the secret between one's self and one's self," says Tom Crutchfield, business manager for Etro Fragrances at Bergdorf Goodman and a 20-year perfume-world veteran. Think of it this way, he says: You want your fragrance to please you most of all, or those who get closest to you. "Once it goes beyond your two-foot to three-foot personal space, perhaps you put on a bit more than you want to."

Also keep in mind that you may not be able to smell your Chanel No. 5 anymore, he says, because it's been your favorite brand for years. "We get used to our fragrance, and people think, Oh, my gosh, I've got to wear more of it. But less is more." Crutchfield generally recommends applying one spritz per pulse point: at the nape of your neck (great when you swing your hair), behind your knee (if wearing a dress or skirt), on your cleavage, behind your wrist, in the crook of your elbow and behind your ears. How many pulse points is up to you '- but don't use so little fragrance that it's not detectable. "A lot of people spray the air and walk through it, but that doesn't really work," Crutchfield adds. "They're just walking through air."


Choose the right fragrance.

During the day, lighten your scent, suggests Rochelle Bloom, president of the Fragrance Foundation. Often, more glamorous fragrances that are appropriate for evenings are just too heavy for cubicle quarters and subway rides. Look for light floral, green or citrus notes for the office. Casting agent Karen Dubin, who sponsors fragrance-buying trips in New York City that she calls Sniffapalooza, has an extensive fragrance "wardrobe," which includes favorite "office-neutral and board-meeting scents," as well as richer scents for evening. Her favorite way to keep fragrance unobtrusive at the office? She buys small, inexpensive roll-on bottles to fill with scents to take to work. "It's far less intrusive than spraying, because you're just touching the ball to your skin," she says.


Be conscious of fragrance-free zones.

Some situations call for complete fragrance restraint, in consideration of others. Wine-tasting events and yoga classes are no-no's. While Curves International, the fitness franchise, does not have a policy concerning fragrance, some of the independently owned outlets post signs requesting that women refrain from wearing scents when they work out, since some members have allergies and the workout stations are close to one another.


Have fun!

Now that you know not to overdo it, don't worry too much about how to do it. A favorite fragrance is unique to each person. So it's essential to follow your heart when selecting one. What do you wear for your wedding, or on a first date, or for a special anniversary? Bergdorf's Crutchfield says simply, "Wear something you love."

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