Everyone's had the experience of the woman with too much perfume standing next to us, on an elevator, in the office, in a restaurant, or elsewhere. Why does she do it? Can't she smell that overpowering scent that seems to linger even after she's left the area? Chances are, she can't. Experts tell us that no more than 3 to 4 squirts of any scent is adequate.
Scent and Aging
According to the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, our sense of smell diminishes starting at the age of 35. As a result, women tend to use more complex smells that are more potent, eschewing the light, vanilla-tinged perfumes of their youth. This is because the nose has problems processing those lighter scents, while heavy, musk and spice-oriented perfumes are much clearer to the older nose.
Dry Skin and Scent
Another source that causes a change in the chemistry of scent and how it is perceived comes in the form of dry skin. Scent tends to fade faster on drier skin types. So if you have dry skin, you should consider using an oil-based fragrance or one that is free of alcohol. Why? Alcohol is a drying agent, and can leave your skin even drier. Laying your scent with a lotion in the same fragrance line is one way to create a more durable scentl
Scent and Hot Weather
Another influence on fragrance that can alter its chemistry is heat. In hot weather or for those women experiencing menopause (hot flashes), it's recommended selecting a fragrance that is lighter (like a citrus or floral-based perfume). When combined with heat, a perfumes lighter notes tend to evaporate more quickly, leaving behind a potentially stronger base note-heavy smell.
To avoid that heaviness in your scent, stick with fresher smells or use a less intense version of your normal perfume. That is, a body cream, solid, or splash will be lighter than the normal eau de parfum or eau de toilette of the same fragrance. These lighter versions will not last as long as a full-strength perfume and will likely require re-application, but they will also help you avoid the heavy, cloying scent of overdone scent.
Choosing a Scent
It seems obvious that you should try before you buy. However, one spritz in a store is really not enough to decide whether the fragrance works for you. If possible, request a sample and try the perfume for a few days. Live with it, and see if it really works with your skin chemistry. Hormonal changes can also affect how a perfume smells on you. Something that worked in your 20s may be long outdated (for you) 10 years later.
Branch out, and find something that works with you, which (like hairstyles) likely means different scents at different ages. Similarly, women often use different scents for different occasions. What works at the office (more subtle) can be vamped up for an evening out on the town. What seems perfect for a summer vacation at the beach may be different than ski weekends during the winter. Having 3 or 4 standards and rotating them (as well as trying a new scent every year) can make a big difference in finding the scent that truly reflects who you are, including its interaction with your unique skin chemistry.
Finally, to avoid that overpowering perfume lady smell, remember to use no more than 3 to 3 spritzes of your favorite perfume. No one more than an arm's length from you should be able to smell your perfume at any given time. That's good chemistry!