Essentially, that friction helps evaporate the fragrance even faster: “It just makes the top notes burn off a little quicker,” notes Johnston. Those top notes—think floral and citrus scents—already have a shortened lifespan, as you tend to smell them right away but they’re gone the quickest, and rubbing your wrists only speeds up the process. Cat Chen, founder of clean fragrance brand Skylar, seconds the advice: “When you rub, it doesn’t help in terms of longevity. It helps the perfume lose its power quicker,” she tells mbg.

So where did this wrist-rubbing notion even come from? “I think it’s instinctual,” says Johnston. “When you put something on, especially on your wrists, there’s a dampness there.” So you might rub your wrists together to blot away the extra juice—totally makes sense!

And if you’re testing a new scent for the first time or trying your hand at fragrance layering, Chen explains, you might want to diffuse a scent you aren’t exactly enamored with; in that case, it’s far easier to rub your wrists together than, say, scrub at your neck. Over time, people may believe this wrist-rubbing technique helps blend the perfume into your skin—but it actually makes it wear off faster. 

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