A Hipster Girl's Beginner's Guide to Perfume

To some, it's a frivolous, overpriced accessory. To others, it's an essential daily routine. While it may seem wearing perfume is a simple process of spray and walk away, fragrance is a fickle beast. Too many spritzes will have those around you holding their nose as fiercely as during a drive through Cowschwitz off I-5 in the summer. But if you can't smell the damn thing, you're wasting your money. Since hipster girls are discovering the beauty of perfume, here's a quick guide to wade them through the world of fragrances.


The ideal places to spritz your scent on your skin (though not all at once, please) are the neck, forearm, nape of neck and calve. Spray it about 5 inches away from your body to allow the liquid to mist on. However, for stronger scents, spray the air in front of you and walk through the mist. Do your best Charlize Theron J'Adore drama walk.


Fragrances have a variety of complementary products that will help lengthen the stay of your perfume. Many brands have a lotion or body wash, though some also offer hair mist, body powder and deodorant. The oils in your hair are perfect for holding fragrance when you need an extra boost. Use this method sparingly because it may dry out your locks; spray the nape of your neck instead. Or place the fragrance low on your body, such as your calves, hips or skirt hem; as the scent evaporates, it will rise, allowing you to smell it all day.


There are several strengths of perfume—most a combination of perfume oil with alcohol. The three most common types are parfum (15 percent to 40 percent perfume oil), eau de parfum (10 percent to 15 percent) and eau de toilette (5 percent to 15 percent). Price will rise, of course, with the concentration level.


• Don't overspray. Anything more than two or three spritzes can't help but be offensive to those around you. Your nose will get used to the scent quickly, but remember, everyone else will smell it quite clearly.

• It's wise to not let the salesperson make your mind up for you. Many people behind the fragrance counter are vendors directly paid by a perfume company or a store employee given incentives to sell certain bottles. You can listen to their advice, but feel free to smell around on your own. Perfume is expensive—don't buy it because the salesgirl tells it comes with a free, crappy tote bag.

• Don't leave your fragrance in a bathroom with a shower or in direct light. Heat and light will make the scent go bad, and suddenly, the contents of that $80 bottle you just had to have smells like last week's leftovers.


This column appeared in print as "A Hipster Girl's Guide to Perfume."


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