Charlize Theron doesn’t believe in applying perfume directly on the skin

Pre-strike, Charlize Theron gave several interviews to promote her Dior contract. I don’t actually think it would have been in violation of strike promotional guidelines if she gave the interviews during the strike, but whatever, I just thought I’d mention that this InStyle piece was done months ago. Charlize has been the face of Dior’s J’adore perfume for nearly two decades, and now she’s the face of Dior’s latest fragrance, L’Or de J’adore. Charlize chatted with InStyle about sense memory, how she applies perfume and the ‘90s trend she hated the most. Some highlights:

The “cloud mist” strategy for applying perfume: Her spritzing method allows her to enjoy all the facets of a scent without overwhelming her nose and — most importantly — her skin. “I find direct [contact] on the skin becomes, for me, a little aggressive, and then I miss the subtle tones to it. Whereas when I do the cloud mist, I feel like I get more of the depth of field. I get a better sense of the other dimensions of the scent, especially since it’s constantly changing as your day goes by.”

Sense memory from her childhood in South Africa. “There was always something about rain hitting dust — it creates this smell that’s just so unique. I get very excited when I see rain because then I look for some dust, some dirt, and I try to recreate it. I’ve never been able to. But that is a very nostalgic smell for me. When I go back and we have our rains in South Africa, it’s everywhere. You can smell it everywhere. Man, it just fills my soul. I’m like, ‘This is home.'”

Fragrance mastermind Francis Kurkdjian created L’Or: He’s infused classic J’adore notes of rose, jasmine, and ylang-ylang with orange blossom, lily of the valley, and violet for a rich floral scent that’s warm and rounded — perfect for a sweet fall scent. “It’s beautiful,” says Theron. “The floral tones are just so layered.”

She doesn’t incorporate scent into character-building: “I sometimes go as far as just eliminating even scent in my soap. Because I am very sensitive to smell, any kind of smell can just really take me out of it. So it’s become more about elimination than about adding.”

Her beauty regret: “Hands down, the thin eyebrows in the ’90s. I’m still recovering from that.”

[From InStyle]

Unpopular opinion, but I think the bushy-eyebrow trend will come back to haunt people years from now, moreso than the thin eyebrows from the ‘90s. While overplucking never looks good, neither does the big, dark, caterpillar-brow trend. As for applying perfume… I find it depends on the perfume. If I’m wearing something cheap (like a body spray) or I just want a light scent, I do the cloud mist thing too, and I walk into the perfume cloud. If I actually want to smell the perfume on my skin, I spray it directly on my throat and wrists.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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23 Responses to “Charlize Theron doesn’t believe in applying perfume directly on the skin”

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  1. Jan90067 says:

    I agree with you both. I’ll usually put a drop on my wrist, and then lightly rub my wrists together, but then I spray a “mist” that I walk through. For “certain” times (wink wink nudge nudge!), I’ll put a dot btwn my breasts (and a tiny dot on another intimate area lol), behind my knees. But that’s not often lol, and only if I remember to!

    As for eyebrows, 90’s over plucking, and age has taken care of that for me. Now, my Anastasia eyebrow pencils are my best friend! lol

  2. SarahCS says:

    I get why trends are a thing but to sound very old man shouting at clouds for a minute, why does everything have to be extremes? Plucking to oblivion looked ridiculous and the giant over the top solid black caterpillars are also too much. I wish people would just find a shape that suits their face and roll with it. But then where would the beauty industry make its money?

    Don’t mind me, I’ll go and put myself to bed with a cup of cocoa.

    On a lighter note, Charlize is one of those women who always amazes me with just how beautiful she is and I love to watch her on screen.

    • VoominVava says:

      Agree, agree, agree! I loved Charlize from the moment I saw her in That Thing You Do. SO breathtaking and then she is smart and seemingly down to earth too.

      • JEB says:

        Love Charlize, agree with the cloud method of applying perfume (although I rarely wear it-I’m a Chanel No. 5 girl), but is that her current hairstyle?! Is it a mullet?! Yikes. She’s so gorgeous but the hair in the lead picture? No.

  3. B says:

    The Environmental Working Group puts out some pretty depressing stuff connecting fragrances and cancer…..

    • Mochi says:

      That’s why I use natural stuff from the health store only and I usually spray on my clothing only (unless I’m getting it on; LOL).

      My last mainstream perfume was Baby Doll, YSL, back in 2008. Gave the last half of the cute little pink bottle away. Miss the smell but not the nasty chemicals!

      Same goes for everything else in my personal care product collection.

  4. BW says:


  5. Ameerah M says:

    I don’t apply perfume directly to my skin either. 1. I have super sensitive skin. 2. Because your skin’s chemistry can often alter a fragrance. I get a more accurate sense of the scent when I mist it on my clothes. And scents that fade easily tend to last longer when not applied directly to the skin. PS – I don’t think the bushy brow trend will haunt folks like the thin brow trend. Mainly because it didn’t mean altering your natural brows to the point that they no longer grow. Which is the main issue with thin brows. Most of us who had thin brows back in the day and over plucked are STILL dealing with the aftermath.

    • VoominVava says:

      It will haunt them when they look back at photos and say WHAT WAS I THINKING?? The overdrawn, overthick eyebrows that are too perfect are awful imo. I really hope this drag queen layers upon layers of makeup trend dies soon. (NO offense meant to drag queens, but even they’ll admit their makeup technique is not an every day daytime makeup.) The contouring etc along with botox and fillers is making women all look the same and alien like.

    • Satish More says:


      I totally agree. I overplucked in the 90s and I am absolutely still dealing with the consequences. I literally don’t fetch the post unless I’ve done my brows, on which I use at least 3-4 makeup products. The fact is, full, thick brows make one look years younger, whereas no brows ages one’s face. My face is no exception. I’ve heard Latisse works well to regrow brows, but as it’s cosmetic and requires a prescription, I doubt my insurance would cover it.
      The only way I can see thick brows coming back to haunt anyone is by reminding some people of how silly they looked.

  6. Flower says:

    Cardholding member of the spritz a ball of cotton and place in my bra here.

    Lasts all day when the mist I walk into has dissipated.

  7. Lady Esther says:

    I’ve always believed that perfume must interact with your skin in order to work correctly – your personal oils, chemistry etc form a bond with a particular perfume that makes you smell DIVINE. It’s the reason why I’m cherishing my last bottles of Alexander McQueen Kingdom (Pierce My Heart Again!) and Donna Karan original signature perfume/Donna Karan Chaos, because they work so well with my body chemistry. A lot of people hate the McQueen because when it interacts with their skin they apparently smell like cumin BO…I’m fortunate in that with my skin it’s an amazing combination. I also spray perfume in my hair for the same reason. I don’t get the cloud mist at all! Gonna go spray some McQueen on since fall has arrived….

    • Ameerah M says:

      That’s not expressly true. You can actually get a MORE accurate scent by not having it react to the skin- hence why some folks hate the McQueen- because their body chemistry interferes with the scent

      • Lady Esther says:

        But what does “more accurate” mean? More of a pure from the bottle scent? For me it’s the unique interaction with my body chemistry that makes it special and makes everyone ask “WOW YOU SMELL SO GOOD WHAT IS THAT.” I don’t want to smell like it’s right from the bottle….(I get the comments particularly about Donna Karan Chaos, I don’t know what it is about that scent but every single time I’ve worn it in the last 20 years I get positive comments, it’s magic. Boo that it’s discontinued!)

        My usual test is: spray it on myself in a department store or wherever it’s found and then go walking around. If I can’t stop smelling myself with delight after 15-20 minutes, I go back and buy it 🙂

      • VoominVava says:

        I agree, I think it’s the reaction with our own skin that makes it yours. My dad and brother, for example have always used the same musk and it reacts to them both differently but they always smell so good when you snuggle in for a hug. My husband, on the other hand .. I got him to wear it and it just doesn’t work. He uses natural essential oil blended balms and that’s his thing.

    • Jaded says:

      I remember many years ago buying an expensive bottle of Joy because a friend of mine wore it all the time and I LOVED it. Well it reacted badly on my skin and actually smelled like a combination of gasoline and lemon juice. I gave her the bottle.

  8. RoyalCommoner says:

    You probably would smell it less if you rub because that will break the molecules for sure. Perfumes are so expensive, don’t rub! Perfumes are mean to interact with you and your own skin, which is why it makes it personal. See how it uniquely mixes with your own natural smell. Pure scent from perfume doesn’t exist if it’s meant to be on one’s skin. It’s unique on you.

    • Christina says:

      Actually, that’s a pretty common myth, but it’s just that, a myth. Rubbing perfume in doesn’t break the molecules. It may cause top notes to evaporate faster or maybe ruin them for a bit, but only to highly trained noses, not the common perfumer wearer.