This gesture was done when we were extracting very high-concentration perfume, old perfume. Now it’s not really true – now we have sprays, [before] there was no spray, you took the cap off the bottle and applied it [directly]. Now it’s a spray, the dilution is much lighter, so really it doesn’t matter.
The friction created by rubbing, he continues, “heats up the skin, which produces natural enzymes that change the course of the scent.” Most impacted are the top and middle notes, along with the dry-down, or the last and longest period of your fragrance’s unfolding.
— Top quote from perfumer Nathalie Lorson, in From scenting your clothes to avoiding garlic: 7 things a perfumer wants you to know about fragrance at Xposé. Bottom quote from Francis Kurkdjian, in You're Probably Applying, Storing And Wearing Your Perfume Wrong at Vogue UK.