Jasmine award-winning freelance writer Suzy Nightingale is a fragrance expert and industry insider. Senior Writer for The Perfume Society and fragrance trend reporter at Stylus.com, Suzy also works as a columnist for Rakes Progress and features writer for Harrods Magazine, among other publications. Offering consultation to fragrance brands too, Suzy definitely knows a thing or two about scent.
Exploring the art of perfume layering, which is designed to increase how long perfume lasts on the skin, it’s also a bespoke way of building scent. Finding out all about creating said perfume layers and the best long lasting perfume combination, we spoke to Suzy, grabbing her intuitive insight. If you’ve ever wondered how long does perfume last, or where are the best places to apply perfume, look no further…
Suzy Nightingale, Fragrance Expert & Industry Insider
Where did your passion for perfume begin?
Very early, and without wanting to get all psychologist’s couch about it, it’s my mother’s fault. I always remember her smelling incredible, wafting around in Estee Lauder fragrances, and then Clinique Aromatics Elixir. We’d go on holidays to Jersey specifically to shop for (duty-free) perfume, spending hours in the boutiques, and their De Gruchys department store. I’d be allowed to choose miniatures, at first, and for my first full size bottle I chose Coco Chanel. Completely inappropriate for a 10-year-old, but I knew I’d grow into it.
What are the best tips for ensuring long-lasting fragrance?
Moisturising your skin beforehand always helps- preferably with an un-perfumed body oil or matching body lotion. The drier your skin, the more quickly a fragrance will evaporate. Colognes and many citrus-dominant scents tend to disappear rapidly anyway, but half the pleasure is re-applying those lavishly on steaming hot days. If everything vanishes quickly on you, I always recommend spraying on your hair and clothing (having tested it’s not a heavily coloured fragrance first, by spraying on a tissue). Because hair and clothing aren’t as hot as your skin, the fragrance can last far longer.
We’re always given different information about the ideal place to apply perfume, can you offer us some expert insight?
I don’t really think there’s any ‘magic spot’ to make perfume suddenly emanate 100 times better from your body. Pulse points are usually mentioned, as is the quote (supposedly by Marilyn Monroe, but equally attributed to Chanel and Elizabeth Taylor et al) of spraying it wherever you want to be kissed. I’m afraid I’m rather of the ‘more is more’ school, so I go for it all over. I once read that Jane Birkin liked to spray perfume behind her knees, so that she left a fragrant trail behind her. I don’t know if that’s true, but rather liked the idea, so have done that ever since.
Perfume Layering Combinations
How should we navigate building perfume layers? Are there any specific scents which work well together or is it a case of trial and error with our favourite fragrance notes?
Some brands specifically market scents to be layered together. But you know what? There’s no Perfume Police, so just try layering a couple of scents you like and see how you get on. It’s only perfume, you can wash it off if you hate it. And if you like it, well then those perfumes go together, for you, don’t they? I would say that it’s best not to just mix everything you love together and hope for the best. It’s a bit like stirring together all your favourite paint colours as a child: you thought you’d get a rainbow, but you ended up with sludge brown.
When it comes to perfume layering, I like layering fragrances that don’t particularly work for me on their own – if something is too bland, I might add a couple of squirts of something saucy. Or if it’s a bit dark and foreboding, even for me, I might add a few sprays of a fresher scent. I must say, I tend to be layered with about five or six by the end of the day, on different areas, because I’m always testing so many. And because I’m naturally greedy and can’t wait. As I say, more is more…
Find Suzy Nightingale over on Instagram at @beyondpale
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Images: Suzy Nightingale, Getty Images, Chanel