Rubbed the Wrong Way
Forgive the Shakespearian allusions (more below), but the question of whether rubbing perfume into your skin alters the fragrance is probably as old as the bard himself. He probably knew a thing or two about fragrance... after all, he did pen the aphorism, "That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet."
So, perhaps it follows that "A scent sprtitzed stays true, no matter what you do"? Hmmm. Perhaps I should leave the quotations to the experts. And in this post, I'm leaving the opinions and research to the experts as well – the leading fragrance bloggers. Let's see what they have to say!
On the question of why people are bound to rub, Lucy at Indie Perfumes observed that “people do it just to get it to ‘dry-down’ a bit quicker, to get it to meld more into the skin more quickly, and to spread it to a larger surface area if too much was put in one place.”
Marie-Helene at the Scented Salamander is a bit more of a purist, and warns that rubbing "will alter the delicate balance of your fragrance; you should resist the temptation to rub the fragrance into your skin as this will result into upsetting the pyramidal structure of the perfume (i.e. top, heart, and base notes; there are other types of fragrance structures but this is the most commonly used)."
What to do if you want the purest scent on your skin? She advises, “the best way to do it is to spray, from a distance of about 8 inches, and let the scent air-dry even if the quantity you spritzed appears a bit excessive. Often people spray from too close a distance which results in this reflex to rub the scent in, for example with both wrists, to disperse the excessive amount of it. Another way to go about it, if you feel your spray nozzle is too quick to respond and difficult to control, is to spray in front of you and walk through the mist; this will allow you to modulate to a certain degree the intensity of the scent.”
THE PERFUME CRITIC
Marlen, a.k.a. The Perfume Critic, took it upon himself to conduct an experiment for us on whether there is a difference in the scent of rubbed and air-dried perfume! Here are his field notes:
“’To rub or not to rub,’ sounds a little kinky, but when talking about perfume, it takes on a new meaning. I've often been told that ‘rubbing’ a fragrance into the skin, specifically alcohol-based fragrances like eaux des toilettes, ‘crushes the molecules’ (oh stop, those aren't my words!) and changes the overall aroma.
Having always been a rubber and crusher by nature, I felt compelled to respond to Beauty Chick's question by actually presenting my scented wrists to neighbors to see if they could determine which was rubbed and which was merely shpritzed. Wearing the new Tom Ford Black Orchid, I tried 2 different experiments. First I rubbed the fragrance into both my wrists and asked a group of three if they could tell any difference. One person reported that the right wrist smelled sweeter while the other two reported no perceivable difference. Again, this first time, both of the wrists had been rubbed. Then, this morning, using the same scent, I sprayed the back of my right hand without rubbing and then sprayed the back of my left hand and rubbed it on my leg (only in perfumeland could I be writing this). I asked the same three people and this time they each reported no perceivable difference.
Now, let it be said that this is a very simple experiment and if you wanna go getting all academic on my ass then of course we would need a larger sample size, a wider range of scents and subjects, and additional trials to prove any kind of point. From my own perspective, I can't really say I subscribe to the "rubbing is bad" theory, and from this experiment it would seem that others can't perceive a difference between rubbed and shpritzed.
THE PERFUME BEE
Christine, who writes Perfume Bee, alerted her readers to rely on a published beauty writer's advice in a post entitled, “Rubbing Wrists Together Does NOT Change Perfume Scent” (which I think makes her position rather clear.) She refers to Linda Wells' new book, ALLURE: Confessions of a Beauty Editor, in which Wells writes: "Finally an astute reader with a doctorate in chemistry wrote in and pointed out that if it were that easy to crush single molecules, her job would be a lot easier. Good point, Maggie Topp from the Netherlands. From now on, we'll rub to our heart's content."
Thanks to all the great fragrance bloggers for weighing in on the debate! Be sure to read their blogs for many more insights. Here’s my take-away: if you can’t stop yourself from rubbing your fragrance in, rest easy - it really shouldn't matter. And if you’re such a fragrance aficionado that you’d rather not take any chances, we admire your dedication and patience in air-drying.
A FINAL NOTE
For those who appreciate Shakespeare and scents, be sure to check out Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's Shakespearean Collection where you can get a scent designed after Juliet herself - or perhaps Ophelia or Desdemona is more to your liking. And since they're perfume oils, you may not have to face the air-drying dilemma at all!