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Don't stink up a room with your perfume

By Al Varela

Dear Al: I love wearing perfume, but I never thought about its effect on others, until I attended a recent party. One woman's perfume was so overpowering that it gave me a headache. Can you give me tips on applying perfume and how weather or skin type change a scent?

Understanding the basics of perfume, how it is made and how it is applied should help you attract people and not repel them.

Classic fragrances are timeless. And in fact, the great European houses date back to the 1700s. While these perfume houses have made perfumes for royalty and the world's elite for centuries, American perfume makers seem to be more caught up in fads and selling famous names. I prefer the European scents, because of their long history and their approach to using perfume. The European companies make perfume to be one part of a layered approach to smelling good.

Regardless of which scent you pick, you should start with its bath oil, then apply its lotion and finally top it off with the perfume.

Scents come in various degrees, with perfume having the highest degree of perfume oil, which can be 10 to 25 percent. Eau de toilette or toilet water has up to 8 percent, while colognes have as low as 2 percent perfume oil. Splashes and after shaves for men can be anywhere from 0.5 to 2 percent.

Floral, spicy, mossy, woody and green are the kinds of fragrances available. A floral would be made up of rose, lily of the valley or gardenias. Spicy perfumes would contain scents from cloves, cinnamon or nutmeg, while sandalwood, cedarwood and vetiver would be representative of the woody or grass scents. Orientals could be woody , mossy, spicy or any combination of these things.

Some don'ts to remember are not to apply perfume to your wrist and then rub both wrists together, as this breaks down the molecules and dissolves the oil faster, and never apply to your clothes as it will stain.

Do, however, try out a new fragrance in the morning as this is the time of day where you have less oil on your body and then you can see how the climate will effect the smell of your fragrance by the end of the day.

The perfect application is on the balls of your feet or back of the knees to let the fragrance waft up your body.

The purpose of wearing a fragrance is to make you alluring, so use scents correctly if you want to be a big hit instead of a little stinker.

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