Can the Heat Change the Scent Of a Perfume?

Now that the weather is warming up, you may switch up your day-to-day scent and go for something that’s a little lighter and suggestive of summer. But, just because you swap musks for citrus notes or don green and watery scents instead of heavy vanilla fragrances doesn’t mean that the chemical reaction that happens once your skin meets a scent are void. In fact, Carlos Vinals, Senior Perfumer at Syrmise and the creator of Clean Summer Sun fragrance says that all fragrances naturally change over time as you wear them. “The main reason is due to the evaporation of the alcohol carrier followed by the evaporation of the fragrance notes used to create the scent.” Come summer, it’s even more likely for your scent to change because the warmth in the air accelerates these changes.

“Your fragrance can become altered due to the body’s reaction to warmer climates and temperatures,” says Theo Spilka, Global Vice President of Licensing and Business Development for Firmenich, a fragrance company. “As the body heats up, the body’s natural mechanisms trigger a need to cool down—the pores open and sweat ensures. Whatever perfume is on the skin gets a ‘boost’ and the fragrance can become more noticeable,” explains Spilka. Vinals adds that, “The change may also be a faster transition of what the fragrance would smell like hours later.” Because fragrances can become altered in scent, Spilka says this is why consumers are advised to apply perfume to pulse points like the wrist and neck. “The warmth tends to ‘buoy’ certain raw materials, aiding in diffusion and performance.”

While this isn’t necessarily the case with every note, you can expect it to happen more with scents that that are lighter simply because of the fragrances we tend to wear in warmer weather versus cooler weather. “Citrus fruits like apple, lemon and bergamot and spring flowers like freesia and magnolia evaporate faster because they are lighter. Something that’s more full bodied, like tuberose and jasmine, a spice such as clove or a warm wood are less effected by heat,” says Vinals.

So, is there anything that can be done to keep your favorite summer scents staying true to their intended smell all day. “There are some additives, like food preservatives, that can slow down the transformation of a fragrance but eventually time and heat take their toll and the scent changes,” says Vianls.

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