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‘Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers’ perfume, men's and women's, photographed in studio in Toronto, Nov. 18, 2011.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

The question

I love perfume, but I am self-conscious about wearing it at work, where some people might have sensitivities. What's the proper office protocol?

The answer

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The protocol differs from office to office, so take into consideration that a more corporate environment (law offices, banks) may be less agreeable to liberal spritzing than, say, a fashion magazine or an environment that is slightly more relaxed. The key to this issue: If you are at all in doubt, speak to your boss or HR department to determine what's acceptable. Once that's established, be sure you understand what it is you're applying. I say this because not everyone appreciates the varying degrees of fragrance intensity. An eau de cologne and eau de toilette are alcohol-heavy, meaning their scent will dissipate quickly. An eau de parfum and perfume are a better bet for a higher concentration of essence, which means you don't need to apply nearly as much. Choosing to apply in strategic areas, such as only behind the ears or only at the wrist, is a good way to get the scent across, too. If you're still hesitant, I would suggest a scented body lotion or cream for both women and men. These generally register only with those standing right next to you, thereby reducing the risk of overloading or offending an office full of workmates.

Bahar Niramwalla is a celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert who has appeared on CTV, Global TV and City. Follow her on Twitter: @baharniramwalla. Have a beauty question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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