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Office Etiquette & Perfumes

While a small spritz of scent may brighten your day, it may be an assault on an office mate’s sense of smell. A personal scent might be in bad taste within the confined space of an office.

Before partaking in your favorite signature perfume, cologne or aftershave, take a moment to consider office etiquette and perfume use.


Office Etiquette & Perfumes



Not only can perfume become a distraction, it can also be a health risk. Sara Williams of Colorado Biz Magazine wrote, “Fragrances have been the direct cause of afflictions such as asthma attacks, migraines, and in extreme cases, anaphylaxes, or extreme allergic reactions.”

There’s also the chance of making the wrong type of impression. Rather than leaving co-workers and visitors with memories of your work, they may remember the perfume instead.



Of course, some personal scents are acceptable, as long as the odor isn’t too pungent or remarkable. According to the Beauty and the Bath grooming website, rather than using a perfume, a woman may find that a shower gel gives a more subtle scent.

For men, try a matching deodorant rather than an aftershave splash; these products are available in gift and grooming sets sold in drugstores and department stores. Gravitate toward the lighter end of the scent spectrum.


Expert Insight

Most etiquette teachers recommend a minimal amount of high-quality scent in the workplace if one must be worn at all. Manners International states, “Perfume, cologne or aftershave should be applied sparingly, evoking a subtle scent.

Strong fragrances, as well as inexpensive or “cheap” fragrances are often offensive…and therefore inappropriate in a professional venue.”



Some environments may be more suitable to perfume and scent wear than others. A highly corporate environment like a bank or law office is less amenable to perfume use than a marketing firm, entertainment agency, or fashion magazine office.

If in doubt, look to your boss or management personnel to get a feel for what’s acceptable in that office.


Perfume and Cologne Application

If using an eau de toilette perfume or cologne product, apply the thinnest possible amount to the skin. Spray the perfume in the air above your head and simply walk through the cloud, letting the scent shower on you and your clothing.

Don’t reapply during the day, as your nose tires of the scent faster than a bystander’s will. Lastly, if using a full-strength perfume that must be daubed on the pulse points, only put it on one or two areas.


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