Which perfume lasts longest? How to pick a scent that really lasts (2023)

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Asking which perfume lasts longest is a bit like asking which cocktail tastes most delicious. Sure, there are certain qualities that will make one scent linger on the skin longer than another—scientific factors like composition, percentage of fragrance oil, and evaporation rates—but much comes down to your own personal taste too.

It's absolutely worth doing your homework to find the best perfume for women that really lasts. For starters, you can apply it before breakfast and continue enjoying it all day. You won't need to carry a clunky glass bottle around or worry that it's going to explode in your bag (even the prettiest flower fragrances don't make a great dressing on your lunch-break caesar salad). Plus you'll never be that person who fills a confined public space with a throat-burning fog of freshly-spritzed fragrance molecules. No need! The right perfume will keep you smelling sweet sans top-ups.

As with most beauty decision-making, from choosing the best body exfoliators to working out which spring makeup looks to try, it's best to apply a blended approach of facts and feelings. So I've consulted fragrance experts to equip you with a solid knowledge base of notes, styles, and fragrance types. Then, you can filter your new know-how through your personal preferences and select the long-lasting perfume of your dreams.

Which perfume lasts longest: a three-step guide

Step 1. Pick the right perfume concentration

"Longevity is the amount of time a perfume is detectable for, and this is a really important factor for many consumers when purchasing a scent," write Sarah McCartney and Samantha Scriven in The Perfume Companion: The Definitive Guide to Choosing Your Next Scent. "Different concentrations of perfume will last different lengths of time, and bear in mind that most fragrances last longer on clothing than on skin."

With many of us having to learn how to buy perfume online, it's particularly useful to understand these distinctions and find which perfume lasts longest before you click add to basket. "Typically, these concentrations have different styles," explains Nick Gilbert, founder of private fragrance house Olfiction and Boujee Bougies scented candles. Here is Gilbert's handy cheat sheet:

  • Cologne: "Colognes are fresher, based around citrus and herbs, and anywhere between 3-5% of fragrance oil"
  • Eau de toilette: "EDT is also a fresher take, with anywhere between 8-15% fragrance oil."
  • Eau de parfum: "EDP tends to focus more on the heart notes and warmth of a fragrance, with around 12-20% fragrance oil."
  • Pure parfum: "Parfum is concentrated on the heart and base of a fragrance—usually 20-30%, and wears more closely to the skin."

Knowing these definitions will help you to understand which perfume lasts longest, but it isn't the whole story. "The important thing to remember is that it isn’t just the concentration that impacts longevity, but the combination of ingredients used that helps the scent last on the skin," says Gilbert.

Step 2. Look for notes that linger

When it comes to which perfume lasts longest, it pays to understand notes. "The industry has developed the 'Notes Pyramid' as a way of explaining what something smells like," explain McCartney and Scriven. "In shops, when you ask what’s in a perfume, they’ll often list three top notes, three mid notes, and three base notes. Top notes are most volatile and will float away first, perhaps after thirty minutes or so. Mid notes will last up to four hours, and base notes linger the longest, eight hours or more."

(Video) 5 Tips How to Know if Fragrance is LONG LASTING or Not

And which notes should you seek out in this pyramid?

  • Woods: You'll find these in the base of many scents and boast superior lasting power. "Woody notes and musky notes are all made of big molecules that require a lot more energy to warm up off the skin, so they last a lot longer than citrus, which is made of small molecules that zing off the skin. I personally love sandalwood for longevity, as well as iris and resins," says Gilbert.
  • Rich florals: These tend to sit in the middle of the pyramid. With flower-based notes, heady, fleshy notes like jasmine and tuberose tend to have superior longevity to crisp neroli or fresh 'green' notes like lily of the valley.
  • Resins and herbs: The best oud perfumes are a modern-day fragrance phenomenon, made from a resinous wood and popular in the best men's cologne for superior longevity and a distinctive 'notice me' aroma. Anyone who lived through the 1970s can attest, that once there's a whiff of perfumes with patchouli in the air, its sweetly earthy aroma is hard to shake off.

If cross-referencing these elements sounds complicated, don't worry. Good perfumers take the guesswork out by matching long-lasting ingredients with stronger, more concentrated fragrance compositions. "You’re unlikely to find a citrus-based parfum because natural citruses leap up and bounce away quickly no matter how much you use," confirm McCartney and Scriven. "They’re more likely to be found in eau de colognes and as the top notes for stronger blends. Likewise, perfumers would put deep, balsamic labdanum into a stronger blend because it will last."

Step 3. Apply your scent so it lasts

Finally, the way you treat your scent will also help to maximize its properties. Many experts recommend fragrance layering by scenting your clothes and hair as well as on the skin for extra longevity. You can also try rubbing a little Vaseline into the skin and spraying your perfume onto that, as the occlusive (moisture blocking) qualities of petroleum jelly will 'trap' the fragrance molecules.

"If you find a fragrance doesn’t last on you, It’s usually the result of dry skin," says Gilbert. "Try using a moisturizer to help increase longevity. An unscented moisturizer can be used with absolutely any fragrance, but if your perfume has a matching body lotion it is worth using that alongside the perfume, as you’ll have more of the scent on and some of it is locked into the moisturizer too."

The way you store fragrance counts, too. "Light and heat make perfume degrade, so for a favorite that you save for best and only use occasionally, keep it in the dark, in its box for example," say McCartney and Scriven. "Then, as you get towards the end of the bottle, speed up and empty it; there’s no point hanging on to the last few milliliters of a sad, dark, sticky liquid. If it’s an everyday fragrance that’s only going to be around for a few months, free it from the box and keep it on your shelf."

9 perfumes that last, chosen by our beauty editor

Which perfume lasts longest? How to pick a scent that really lasts (1) (opens in new tab)

YSL Black Opium EDP | RRP: $89.99/£80 for 50ml

What is it about coffee? It must be one of the most distinctive, well-loved, and long-lasting aromas around. This modern classic combines an addictive roasted black coffee heart with jasmine, vanilla, and woods to excellent effect.

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Jo Malone London Sea Daffodil Cologne | RRP: $150/£112 for 100ml
Like all of the best Jo Malone fragrance, this is a cologne so it won't last as long as, say, pure parfum. However, this gorgeous Italian-inspired blend does have surprising longevity for a fragrance of its kind thanks to the inclusion of fleshier floral ylang ylang and a warm vanilla and sandalwood base.

(Video) 10 Fragrances That Can Last OVER 24 Hours - Longest Lasting Fragrances

Which perfume lasts longest? How to pick a scent that really lasts (3) (opens in new tab)

Sana Jardin Tiger by Her Side EDP | $145/£95 for 50ml

Warm and womanly, this unique scent from a chic socially-conscious brand is a real confidence booster. Spices on the top mix with a rose and patchouli heart then settle into vanilla and resins. The resulting scent is powerful, albeit more of an enduring purr than an overpowering roar.

Which perfume lasts longest? How to pick a scent that really lasts (4) (opens in new tab)

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower EDP | RRP $205/£172 for 50ml
An overdose of fleshy tuberose helps this fine fragrance linger. Many fans of this distinctive scent find it more of a sexy, nighttime vibe than an easy everyday one. We say mist it on before noon and prepare to be asked what you're wearing all day long.

Which perfume lasts longest? How to pick a scent that really lasts (5) (opens in new tab)

Narciso Rodriguez for her EDP | RRP $96/£68 for 50ml
Proving that long-lasting perfumes don't have to be big, knock you-around-the-chops styles, this is a soft, skin-like scent that keeps on delivering the goods in a low-key way. The secret? Musk. Lots of it in the heart which melts away into a sweet patchouli and smoky sandalwood base.

(Video) Top 10 LONG LASTING Fragrances

Which perfume lasts longest? How to pick a scent that really lasts (6) (opens in new tab)

Byredo Flowerhead EDP | RRP $170/£122 for 50ml
Founder Ben Gorham's homage to the floral displays at a family member's Indian wedding. This is a juicy explosion of exotic jasmine and tuberose that fills your senses and just won't quit. It's uniquely un-spicy for such a long-lasting scent, and will put a smile on your face from dusk till dawn.

Which perfume lasts longest? How to pick a scent that really lasts (7) (opens in new tab)

Atelier Cologne Clémentine California Cologne Absolue | RRP $71.50/£55 for 30ml

An unusual proposition—a sunshiney, fresh perfume that lasts. The secret is in the name. In perfumery, absolue refers to highly concentrated oil-extracted notes and this brand specializes in adapting fresh citrus this way for a luxe take on traditional cologne.

(Video) Make Your Cologne Last Longer (Why Your Fragrance Fades Fast!)

Which perfume lasts longest? How to pick a scent that really lasts (8) (opens in new tab)

Le Labo Santal 33 | RRP $198/£141 for 50ml

Santal 33 is notorious amongst beauty editors—if you wear it, people are going to ask about it. This is because the smoky, sexy, sandalwood-packed scent smells like heaven. But also because it lasts so well you're as likely to be cornered by a fragrance fan on your way home as you are at 9 a.m. You have been warned.

Which perfume lasts longest? How to pick a scent that really lasts (9) (opens in new tab)

Les Eaux De Chanel Paris-Édimbourg EDT | RRP $140/£112 for 125ml
Eau de toilette this may be, but something about the combination of earthy vetiver, smoky cedar, and aromatic juniper beds right into skin and clothes and really sticks around. The citrus top notes give their best within the first couple of hours, but what's underneath is far more interesting and delicious.

woman&home thanks NickGilbert, Sarah McCartney and Samantha Scriven for their time and expertise.

ThePerfumeCompanion: The Definitive Guide to Choosing Your Next Scent By Sarah McCartney and Samantha Scriven (2021 Francis Lincoln) (opens in new tab)


What is the longest lasting type of perfume? ›

What perfumes and fragrances last the longest? In general, eau de parfum scents are heavier (i.e. more concentrated) making them more likely to last all day. They're very different from the lighter, less-concentrated eau de toilette fragrances or body sprays.

How do I choose the best long lasting perfume? ›

Guide on Selecting Signature Scent or Perfume
  1. Find Your Favourite Family.
  2. It's All About The Notes.
  3. Choose Your Concentration.
  4. Always Test On The Skin.
  5. Try Out Samples.
  6. Research. Research. Research.
  7. Think About Your Skin.
Mar 2, 2022

Which fragrance last longer? ›

Choose an eau de parfum.

Chances are you've seen one of the two slapped on perfume labels: ​​eau de toilette and eau de parfum (sometimes written as EDT and EDP). EDPs have a higher concentration of fragrance oil (around 25%), which makes them typically stronger and longer-lasting.

Which perfume fragrance is strongest? ›

“Parfum”, “Parfum Extrait”, “Extrait de Parfum”, “Perfume Extract”, “ pure perfume” or “Elixir” is the strongest concentration of fragrance and can have between 15% and 40% of aromatic compounds.

Which perfume has the strongest smell? ›

Parfum is stronger than all other perfumes. The crème de la crème of the fragrance world, Parfum usually contains around 20% concentrated oils – although they can be as high as 30%.

What makes expensive perfume last longer? ›

A higher oil concentration means a perfume will last longer on your skin and adds a complex, multidimensional quality to the fragrance – but while that's a trait some may enjoy, budget scents provide more straightforward, single-note aromas for those in search of something simpler.

How do you find a perfume that smells good on you? ›

A Guide to Finding Your Signature Scent
  1. Try out only three scents a time. ...
  2. Start with lighter scents first. ...
  3. It's good to rebound with a fragrance. ...
  4. Don't beat yourself up if you don't like oud or other unfamiliar scents. ...
  5. Try to understand what you are smelling. ...
  6. Skip the coffee beans.
Jan 6, 2015

Which lasts longer eau de parfum or toilette? ›

An Eau De Toilette typically contains around 8-15% fragrance oil which lasts around 4-6 hours, in comparison to an Eau De Parfum which typically contains 15-30% and can last up to 8-10 hours.

Which lasts longer parfum or eau de parfum? ›

Perfume (or parfum) has an even higher concentration of perfume oil than eau de parfum — at least 20%. Unsurprisingly, you can expect perfume to last on your skin for a very long time — around six to eight hours. As you'll see, this longevity comes with a higher price tag.

Which perfume lasts longer parfum or toilette? ›

Because of the high perfume oil concentration, Eau de parfums last longer than toilette Eau de. With Eau de parfum, you can get a solid four to five hours of a good scent. That's why it is a more costly purchase and great to wear at night.

What lasts longer eau de parfum or? ›

And how long do parfum and toilette each last? Eau de parfum actually lasts longer than eau de toilette. Toilette can last about three to five hours while parfum lingers for more like five to eight.


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