Dab, Spray or Roll-on?

As I was writing about Guerlain Chamade extrait, I realized that as much as I love the bottle it comes in, I never use perfume directly from it: I transfer a couple of milliliters at a time into a small sample bottle and spray it. That made me thinking about how I normally use perfumes and the reasoning behind that.

Dabbing is good for applying a discreet amount of perfume without creating a serious projection. It is also a more sensual and “lady-like” ritual – a stereotype created by decades of ads and perfume-featuring movie scenes; though in recent years the industry was working hard on changing that.

A couple of years ago Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) shared her feelings about applying a special perfume:

The application alone feels terribly luxurious and sophisticated. It is almost an anointment, the ritual of application is very important here. It is certainly not a spritz and go thing. Applying Amytis needs time, respect and love for what you are doing and you are rewarded with the feeling of having done something special, of being part of age-old rites and not least of all – you smell divine.

It was a powerful image and I remembered it better than I remembered the name of that perfume (I had to look through the list of reviews to find it). Reading it makes you want if not to go for that super-exclusive perfume with a 24K gold-plated applicator, then to have at least a similar ritual with one of your own perfumes.

The disadvantage of that approach is that a stopper transfers oils and skin particles into the perfume, which leads to it getting clouded and going off faster than with a spray application. I think that using a stopper (or, for tiny bottles, your own finger, which is even more intimate) made sense for perfumes that were meant to be used up and replaced with a new flacon within a short period of time. But with a collection of perfumes…

Guerlain Chamade and Chanel No 19

Spraying is good for applying perfumes that you like when you are not afraid to overdo it. It also keeps both your fingers perfume-free and perfumes fresh(er). But it’s harder to control the amount, especially for bottles that you do not use too often and do not remember how their sprayers work: more than once I managed to gas co-workers in a small meeting room with just a couple of sprays – completely unexpected for me. And it feels not as glamorous as applying perfume from a splash bottle – unless, of course, you have one of those old-fashion bulb atomizers, though after I read in one of the Fragrantica’s threads about those atomizers being blamed for perfume evaporation, I keep mine safely tucked away in the dark closet. Separately from perfumes. But, in general, spraying is my preferred application method for perfume wearing.

Guerlain Cruel Gardenia

Using roll-on bottles is also good for the “portion control” and minimizing the projection, but, in addition to the same “contamination” issue as with the dab applicator, it seems even less romantic and more functional than spraying. I use those for air traveling but usually I do not consider roll-on perfumes for my collection.

Pacifica FrenchLilac and Arquiste No 57

Solid perfumes are one more option that didn’t even make it into the title since I do not own a single solid perfume, and I completely forgot about that choice until I was half through the post. Since other than Diptyque and Teo Cabanel’s, I don’t remember any other real brands that make solid perfumes, and I rarely use indie perfumes, this form isn’t much of a choice for me anyway, but even if there were more offerings, I don’t think I’d gone for those and mostly for the same reason: I do not like touching my perfumes.

What about you? What application method do you prefer when you wear perfumes and why?


Images: my own