Archive | February 2014

Dab or spray? Perfume and pigmentation.

Perfume bottle

We have all grown up watching our mothers, sisters and other female relatives preparing for special nights out. The very last thing they did was to apply their favourite perfume – usually behind their ears. This was fine when older style perfume bottles with stoppers under the cap were used. These bottles were tipped upside-down so that only a few drops of perfume coated the stopper. The perfume was then dabbed behind the ears using the bottle stopper as an applicator. Perfume was an expensive luxury item and used sparingly. Nowadays even the most expensive brands of perfume are sold in spray bottles. The problem with using a spray bottle is that it is difficult to control how much perfume is sprayed behind the ears. As a result, excess perfume drips down the sides of the neck and into the skin. When the skin is exposed to sunlight (particularly harsh sunlight in warmer climates) hyperpigmentation or darkening of the skin can occur. This is particularly an issue for people with medium to dark complexions. Men should also be aware of this as they splash cologne or aftershave over their cheeks, under their chins and over their necks. Hyperpigmentation is difficult to treat successfully so it makes sense to avoid developing the problem in the first place.  Treatment for hyperpigmentation may also result in light patches on the skin which can be equally distressing. So why did our mothers apply perfume behind their ears? Because there is a pulse point behind the ear. Traditionally perfume is applied at pulse points where you can feel the pulse beating. There is more heat in these areas as the blood vessels are close to the surface of the skin. The heat and the beating of the pulse releases and refreshes the perfume. The good news is that there are many other pulse points to choose from that will have less exposure to the sun – such as under the wrists, inside the elbows, behind the knees or even the ankles. If after reading this you still want to apply perfume behind your eyes, spray your index finger, shake off the excess perfume then dab.