A most charming regular correspondent and LES SENTEURS competition winner has kindly written in for advice on the glitches that may occur in the wearing of perfume during the winter months.
Here are my own thoughts on the matter, by return and with my warmest thanks and wishes. I hope these will help to enhance the pleasures and minimise the problems.
1. Personally I always feel slightly grubby from November to March. There are too many layers of clothes to maintain, too much padding against rain, damp, snow and wind. Unlike the summer months when you can chuck everything in the wash at night and have it dry by morning there is the perennial problem of laundry. Perfume sprayed on garments can be effective and delicious, but in winter a confused miasma may build up on garments especially if you enjoy wearing a varied wardrobe of fragrances. At the festive season – in and out of parties, pubs and restaurants – food smells have an unfortunate tendency to linger. Lack of fresh air, overheated houses and shops tend to distort or exaggerate scents of all kinds and in a variety of ways.
So, first of all, keep everything you wear scrupulously clean: anything with a DRY CLEAN ONLY label I no longer buy. Don’t forget to include gloves, hats and scarves in the regular wash. If a warm kitchen is the only place to get things dry, then afterwards air the clothes at a window before wearing or storing.
2. Remember that when you are trying a new scent the most obvious place to spray it is on your wrist. In wintertime this may be the meeting point for as many as 4 or 5 layers of clothes, plus gloves, bracelets, watches etc. All these naturally accumulate and emanate their own scents: bear this in mind & remove as much as you can before applying. The palms of your hands retain fragrance well too and if you’re the type who makes a lot of gestures they will disseminate perfume beguilingly as you speak, like lilies swaying in a breeze.
3. Keep your own person immaculate. Never ever wear scent to cover up unwelcome odours. Keep your practice of perfume pure and pristine: don’t use fragrance for anything other than pure pleasure. Fragrance is not functional, nor is it camouflage. It is an expression of imagination and joy.
4. Nourish and pamper your skin & hair. Wind, cold, central heating, air conditioning all starve the skin of water, and perfume abhors a dry base: it has nothing to cling to, no natural oils to work with. When you come out of the bath or shower apply your favourite creams while the skin is still slightly damp. This helps to trap precious moisture. A slightly oily skin is perfume’s perfect partner.
5. ALWAYS wait a while after bathing before spraying perfume: allow your body to stabilise at its natural temperature and for the natural oil balance to return. If you spray scent too soon you may experience a harmless but unwelcome sense of burning – the alcohol, you know; in addition, you will find the perfume may not last as long as it should. It has insufficient foundations to build upon. If your perfume of choice does not come with its own body range you may like to use an unfragranced cream and personalise it with a spritz or droplet of your own favourite. Layering a scent creates a profound sillage: the scent will last longer as your clothes slow down evaporation, and of course a far larger area of skin is perfumed and radiating scent.
6. Use slightly less scent than you would in warmer months. Cold weather makes it much more difficult for our noses to pick up and interpret smells of any kind; so does the tiredness that is concomitant with months of darkness. Therefore the temptation is always to over-apply perfume which is not necessarily attractive and which may add to the overall feeling of dowdy staleness referred to above. If you wish to intensify your aura, why not use that glamorous old trick of flourishing a perfumed silk handkerchief? It will give you something to do with your hands, too, in these non-smoking days.
7. Personally I would recommend against the wearing of overly light floral perfumes in an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the summer months. These can appear vapid and colourless under leaden skies and they sit oddly with winter fabrics and styles. Try something richer, warmer, darker, deeper. Or greener, fresher, full of icy verdance and rising sap. There are a huge range of fragrance types to choose from, including orientals, fougeres, chypres, gourmands and woods. If you are taking a trip through our website have a closer look at scents marked with BLACK, BROWN, GREEN, ORANGE & PURPLE dots in our unique Senteursystem.
8. Remember that your health – often below par at this time of year – can affect both the way perfume works on your skin & the sensitivity of your nose. So can stress and excitement – whether engendered by Christmas or any other event. A gifted aromatherapeutist at Miceline Arcier (SEE LINK) explained to me how mental upheaval can play all kinds of tricks with our sense of smell. A very good reason for not rushing back to exchange perfume gifts in too much of a hurry. Give a new fragrance a chance: it’s like making a delightful and complex new friend. It takes time. Do not judge by one sniff on a hectic Christmas Morning! Hang on, until your nose and brain settle down again.
9. And winter eating habits, too, may play a part in changing a perfume’s reaction. Unusual and abrupt changes in diet, an excess of alcohol, New Year detox regimes or switching to a heavier cold weather menu will all have their effect. Needless to say, spicy & heavily seasoned meals will dramatically alter the smell of our own skins and thus that of our fragrances.
10. Lastly, don’t allow winter to force you into hibernation: experiment, try and explore. Winter may present hazards but the time is also full of unequalled delights – for many of us, this is the best of Seasons. How you wear and choose your fragrance will undoubtedly be influenced by your own reactions and attitudes to winter. We each of us take a perfume – whether the rarest of the niche or the most comfortably commercial – and make it our own. The season merely adds light and shade to the whole.