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Managing Expectations Around the Lasting Power of Natural Perfumes

Posted by Vanessa Megan on

If you are new to the world of natural perfumes you will be thrilled to find some of the most complex and desirable blends that not only smell incredible, but can have a positive effect on your mind and mood.

With this in mind, it is important to understand what exactly a natural perfume is, in order to accurately set expectations of the lasting power on your skin.

Vanessa Megan™ natural perfumes are a healthy, toxin-free and alcohol-free alternative to traditional perfumes, so they do not include any of the nasties that synthetic perfumes use to make them last for weeks [or even months] on clothing. Ever wonder how the jumpers you stored last winter come out of the box still smelling like the perfume you sprayed a year ago?

This is because of an ingredient contained in synthetic perfumes known as a fixative, which is a chemical used to make the scents last longer. The most common fixatives are alcohol [which can cause skin dehydration and pigmentation to the spritzed area] and phthalates [which are endocrine and hormone disruptors and are linked to breast cancer, decreased sperm count, liver and kidney damage].

In addition to using toxic chemicals to make the scent last longer, the actual scents themselves are commonly toxic ingredients. Listed in the ingredients simply as “Fragrance,” this catchall term can contain virtually anything and is often loaded with synthetic chemicals that have been linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, respiratory problems allergies, and more.

The growing demand for natural perfumes and the desire for alcohol-free alternatives has given rise to water-based perfumes, which provide the purest and most natural expression of a scent possible.

The catch is that you may find that your natural, water-based perfume doesn’t last quite like your synthetic perfume did. The lasting ability of all perfume- even synthetic- varies from person to person, from ingredient profile to where it is sprayed. (Ever worn the same perfume as a friend and they ALWAYS get comments on it, but you don’t?)

Well, the same goes for natural perfume. Your natural aroma, how you apply and where you apply will all affect how the fragrance performs on your skin. This is one of the inherent beauties of natural perfume, but can understandably be a little frustrating if you feel like you just can’t get it to stick.


Here are a few tips we’ve found to help our natural perfumes linger a little bit longer:

  1. Perfumes with deeper, heavier notes, such as the woody profiles are known to last longer than the top note citrus or florals. For this reason, we have included strong base notes in all our complex blends.
  2. Spraying a perfume on your skin before you dress or at the base of your neck under your hair will keep the scent much longer [up to 3-4 hours]
  3. The heat of the body activates the oils, so as you move throughout the day, your body will reactivate the fragrance.
  4. Your hair is also a great carrier for scent, so don’t be afraid to give it a little spritz as well.


“Why can’t I smell my own natural perfume, but others comment on how I smell?”

The reason for this is a biological process called olfactory adaptation. Olfactory fatigue is a sensory adaptation that enables us to get used to smells so that our nervous system doesn't become overloaded. Odour receptors stop sending messages to the brain about a lingering smell after a few minutes to allow us to be ready to respond to new smells.

It’s a protective adaptation (imagine there’s a gas leak but you can’t smell it because you’re so lost in the abundance of florals in your perfume- not ideal!), but it can definitely be frustrating when you’ve purchased a scent you love and biological mechanisms keep you from being able to smell it when everyone else can.

The good news is that the aromatherapy elements are still benefiting you, but if you want to combat this olfactory adaptation, we recommend simply reapplying throughout the day. Just a couple spritzes every 3 hours or so should keep your perfume fresh and fragrant all day.


Why are your perfumes water-based instead of alcohol or oil based?

Our fragrances are alcohol-free because even natural alcohols can have drying effects and lead to other problems that weaken the epidermal barrier, which can quicken the ageing process. (Ever notice pigmentation on Mum or Nanna’s neck under their ears or on their décolletage area? This could be the result of years of synthetic perfume spritzing.)

We have always used a water-base for our fragrance instead of an oil-base because we found during our formulation phase that simply applying oil onto the skin doesn’t provide the same experience as when water is used to help diffuse and deliver the essential oils into the skin. We love the ritual of the spritz and cloaking ourselves in the fragrant rain of our chosen scent.

Making the switch to natural perfume definitely takes some adjustment around expectations, but the payoff for your body, mind and soul are well worth it.  

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