Wednesday 19 August 2015


It's time to admit it, we've all done it. At one point or another you've spritzed yourself with room spray instead of your favourite "perfume". Sometimes this has been accidentally, and sometimes very much on purpose, but unless it was made by Glade nobody probably noticed. So what exactly IS the difference between your room spray and the worlds finest perfumes? Well, brace yourselves because you might be surprised at the answer.

A very quick lesson ... In the same way that perfume strengths vary between companies, so do room sprays. Anything from 3-8% is usual, although 5% is normal. What this means is 5% fragrant ingredients, 5-10% water and 85-90% alcohol. So, the first revelation, a room spray is actually the same strength as a cologne.

In terms of ingredients the only major difference, until this year, was that you could use some things in greater quantities than were allowed in perfumes, and also a few things that you couldn't. The reason was because the product wasn't designed to be sprayed onto the skin. However, IFRA (the Headteachers of the perfume world) have now decided that "indirect exposure" could happen and tiny droplets may fall onto your skin. That's why they've introduced a new set of instructions to manufacturers. Whether you agree with the restrictions in perfumes or not, having similar rules for all "scented products" is pretty sensible.

So, back to the actual scent. As a rule of thumb, if a room spray is based on a perfume then it will be simplified. You would take out the really expensive ingredients and replace them with something similar, or just lose them completely. Remember, you want the smell of the room spray to be the fragrance that comes out of the bottle on the first pump. It doesn't need to develop in the same way as a perfume ... it is much more immediate.

Room sprays, or Vaporisateur d'Ambiance (sounds posh), always used to be fresh or fruity because of that instant scent, but then tastes changed and fashion demanded that they mirror perfume families. The most obvious of these is L'Occitane "Amber", which is the base of a typical Oriental fragrance. Now, this is currently the smell of my sitting room (it sounds grander than it is!) and is also the smell of my coat because, you've guessed it, I wear it on clothes. If I gave you Guerlain's "Mitsouko" cologne, which also used to be 5% fragrant material, then you would wear it. So why not a quality room spray?

A lot of companies have been cautious over ingredients since perfume regulations first came in, but it's now just the rule book that everyone has to adhere to. I'm not suggesting that you desert your favourite perfume for the equivalent room spray but, but if you find a scent that you love, just don't tell anyone ... spray it on your clothes ... it can be our secret.

[Photo of Ambre by L'Occitane © Tom Duke/Perfume Society]


  1. I waer Amouage room sprays on my clothes.

    1. Hello Angie, I've only just seen your message. I hope you're still enjoying the Amouage. Best, Stephan