Fragrance concentration is the primary determining factor for how long a fragrance lasts on your skin and clothes.
In general, a fragrance will last longer when sprayed on clothes rather than skin. But you won’t experience the fragrance’s nuances because it won’t mingle with your body chemistry as much. More specifically, highly concentrated fragrances, like an extrait or eau de parfum have been known to last for 24 hours or more whether applied to your skin or clothes.
Read on to understand your fragrance better and how to manage your expectations about its longevity.
How Long Does Perfume Last on Skin and Clothes?
A clear indication of fragrance quality is its longevity. How long you can smell the scent speaks volumes about the fragrance, regardless of whether it’s close to the skin or has strong projection.
Since perfume can be used as a generic term to describe almost any fragrance, I’ll remind you of the different fragrance strengths along the way to help you distinguish between them when examining your own fragrances.
How Long Does Extrait de Parfum Last on Skin and Clothes?
Extrait de parfum, also called parfum, is the highest concentration of fragrance available commercially. Its range of fragrance oils is between 20 and 30 percent. This represents how much of the liquid is actually fragrance versus alcohol, water, and other ingredients.
In terms of longevity, the least amount of time parfum will last on your clothes or skin is 8 hours. But usually, a scent of this fragrance strength will last much longer.
It’s more difficult to remove highly concentrated parfum from the skin but the scent will still begin to fade as you go about your day, and definitely after showering or bathing.
But when it comes to clothes, it’s a different story. It’s possible for parfum fragrance to last on clothes for a week or more.
How Long Does Eau de Parfum Last on Skin and Clothes?
The second most highly concentrated fragrance is eau de parfum, containing 15% to 20% of fragrance oils. On your skin, these scents can last at least 6 hours, but can be noticeable up to 12 hours or more.
If an eau de parfum lasts for less than 8 hours, then that’s an indication of an inferior fragrance that’s likely made with low quality ingredients. Regardless of the fragrance category (fresh, floral, spicy, etc.) an eau de parfum should give you at least 6 hours of skin fragrance based on concentration alone.
On clothing, an eau de parfum can last for 24 hours or more.
How Long Does Eau de Toilette Last on Skin and Clothes?
Eau de toilettes have a decent amount of fragrance oil at 5% to 15%. At this amount, you can expect the scent to last between 2 and 4 hours on your skin.
I’ve seen customers complain about scents “only” lasting three hours on their skin. But I’ve noticed that many times, they’re reviewing a fragrance with a low concentration of fragrance oils, so it wasn’t formulated to last as long as the customer was expecting.
If you’re ever disappointed about your fragrance’s performance, check to see if it’s an eau de toilette. If you understand that it’s only meant to last up to half a workday, then that can help you adjust your expectations about its performance when wearing it.
Understanding this can also help you prepare for when the scent begins to fade. You can carry an atomizer or travel-sized container of the fragrance with you for midday reapplication.
Eau de toilette fragrances might last up to 8 hours on your clothing.
How Long Does Cologne Last on Skin and Clothes?
Fragrance strength of an eau de cologne varies between 2% and 4%. At this rate, the scent lasts on your skin for at least 2 hours but can last longer, depending on the quality and category of fragrance.
And this is one reason why colognes are less expensive than eau de parfums and parfums. There’s much less fragrance oil, and you’ll have to purchase more cologne to account for the need to reapply the scent if you want to smell it throughout the day.
On your clothes, colognes might last 4 hours.
How Long Does Eau Fraiche Last on Skin and Clothes?
As the least concentrated of the bunch, an eau fraiche contains 1% to 3% of fragrance oils and will last about 2 hours on your skin, sometimes less. In terms of clothing, the scent may last for an additional hour.
An eau fraiche can come in the form of body sprays that you pick up at Bath & Body Works and similar stores. Performance expectations are low, but the scents are fun and familiar, so they’re often used to simply freshen up from time to time.
Summary of Potential Fragrance Longevity
|Parfum||Eau de Parfum||Eau de Toilette||Cologne||Eau Fraiche|
|Skin Longevity (Potential)||8+ hours||6-8 hours||2-4 hours||2+ hours||2 hours|
|Clothes Longevity (Potential)||Weeks||24 hours||8 hours||4 hours||3 hours|
What Determines How Long Can You Expect a Fragrance to Last?
Although fragrance concentration strongly contributes to a scent’s longevity, there are additional factors involved.
Scent ingredients influence longevity as well. Some scents are known to be more fleeting than others. For instance, a citrus note won’t last as long as a wood note.
When we smell a fragrance, we’re really inhaling scent molecules. These molecules vary in size and those sizes determine how strong a scent is and how long it lasts.
This is why wood notes are typically in the middle or bottom fragrance layer – they’re larger and last longer. Citrus fragrance molecules are smaller and are rarely if ever added to a base layer because they won’t last as long.
Keep in mind that the information in this article is only a guide. You’ll have to experiment with your fragrance collection for a more accurate read on how long your specific fragrances will last on your skin or clothes.
Should You Spray Fragrances on Clothing?
Although fragrances last longest on clothes, you should proceed with caution. Some fabrics, like silk, can get stained by fragrances.
The more concentrated a fragrance, the more caution you should take when spraying your apparel or accessories directly. This is because the oils contained in the fragrance can leave dark spots on your textiles.
To avoid potential textile discoloration, spray the fragrance in an inconspicuous area of your clothes to determine whether or not the fragrance might leave a stain.
This is something you’ll want to test with every fragrance in your collection before spraying all over your clothes because any of them can react differently to textile fibers.
How Can You Make Fragrance Last Longer on Your Skin?
Regardless of your skin type, there are a couple things you can do to help a fragrance last longer on your skin.
Apply a Moisturizer
Moisturizing your skin with a heavy cream or petroleum jelly gives fragrance molecules something to cling to, and therefore stick around longer.
All about Timing
One of the best times to spray on a fragrance is right after you’ve gotten out of the shower because your skin is moister and therefore more absorbent.
Aim for Your Pulse Points
But don’t just spray the fragrance anywhere on your body, be strategic. There are certain parts of your body that generate more heat than others. These areas are called pulse points. Spraying fragrance on your pulse points heats up and amplifies the fragrance you’re wearing.
Aim for these areas:
- Inner elbow
- Behind your knees
- Behind your ears
Air Dry, Don’t Rub
Lastly, once you spray on the fragrance, allow it to air dry for full effect. Rubbing it into your skin won’t make it last any longer.
How Long Does Perfume Last on Paper
The longevity of perfume on paper can vary widely depending on several factors such as the concentration of the perfume, the type of paper used, and environmental conditions like humidity and temperature.
Generally, eau de parfum or perfume concentrations can last on paper for several weeks to even months if stored in favorable conditions. Eau de toilette or lighter concentrations might last a shorter period, potentially from a few days to a few weeks.
It is common in the fragrance industry to use blotter papers for sampling scents. These are designed to hold the fragrance well and can give a good indication of the perfume’s dry-down over time.
If you are testing a fragrance, you might notice that the initial top notes disappear within the first few minutes to an hour, allowing the heart and base notes to become more prominent as time passes.
How to Choose a Long-Lasting Fragrance
But the most impactful thing that you can do to make sure your fragrance lasts long is select one with a high concentration of fragrance oils.
For at least 8 hours of skinwear, you’ll want to choose a parfum or an eau de parfum.
Secondly, choose a scent with lasting fragrance notes. With layered fragrances, top notes last 15 to 20 minutes, heart notes can last up to 2 hours, and base notes last the longest, for about 5 hours or more.
In order to smell your parfum and eau de parfum, or even an eau de toilette, for an extended period of time, it can help to select scents that incorporate base layer fragrances made with large scent molecules.
Within the fragrance industry, those scents can include:
- Wood notes (sandalwood, cedar, etc.)
- Heady floral notes (jasmine, rose, etc.)
- Resinous notes (amber, patchouli, etc.)
Keeping a look out for these scents in your fragrance product description can offer another clue as to how long you can expect the scent to last.