Science has uncovered an unspoken etiquette about women and their perfume

Guests celebrate the launch of Regime des Fleurs perfume at Kelly Wearstler Flagship Boutique in Los Angeles. John Sciulli/Getty Images for Kelly Wearstler, Inc.

Researchers have found out by accident that women don’t buy perfume for other women and they won’t share the one they use themselves.

Bryan Howell, an industrial design professor at Brigham Young University, came across what he thought was an odd finding when conducting a study into perfume packaging.

“Women treasure fragrances as a vital pillar of their personal identity,” says Howell. “They may use the same fragrance for many years, and some women keep their fragrance choice a secret so their friends won’t wear it.”

According to the study, published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, women who do buy or share fragrances with other women choose ones they don’t like themselves, or no longer value.

Women in the study said giving a friend perfume might suggest they need to address a negative smell so they choose safer gifts instead.

The study investigated fragrance-buying intentions of 146 women from the US and the Netherlands.

Howell says the original statistical analysis appeared to say that women like to sabotage their best female friends when it comes scents.

“When women like a fragrances, they will purchase it for themselves or a male friend, but not for a female friend,” Howell says.

“When they dislike a scent, they won’t purchase it for themselves or their boyfriend, but they will buy it for a female friend. It was a very strange finding so I had to go back and dig deeper.”

So the researchers interviewed 12 women in depth to find out that women don’t buy perfume for other women but they will buy fragrances for men.

“While women hold fragrances as personally intimate and respect other women’s intimate choices, they happily want to influence what fragrances men wear,” Howell says. “Assuming it is for a spouse or boyfriend, they want to pick fragrances they also like since they’ll be around that person often.”

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