Here Are Some Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Out of Your Favorite Fragrance
Do you think you know everything about how to apply and wear cologne? Spray on as much as you can right before you walk out of the door? Well, that’s one way of doing it — but it’s not necessarily the correct way, or at least the most effective.
Choosing and applying a fragrance — or fragrances — should actually take a little more thought than most people assume. A lot of time, effort and expertise goes into making a single scent, so from notes and accords to sillage and dry down, there is more than meets the eye in that bottle of cologne, parfum or eau de toilette you’re so fond of.
Whether it’s how to choose the fragrance that’s right for you, how to apply cologne so it lasts all day or mixing scents together to create a unique scent that others will compliment you on, we’ve got you covered here. Both experts and beginners will benefit from the following tips on how to choose, apply and wear colognes. Starting with the basics, what is a cologne (or EDT or EDP or perfume) and which scent family do you like?
Cologne or EDT or EDP?
- Cologne: Typically contains the lowest concentration of oil which makes this very light and perfect for summer, however the word cologne has become a genericized term for all men’s fragrance — even among some perfumers.
- EDT: Stands for Eau de Toilette and is more concentrated than cologne, yet still light.
- EDP: Stands for Eau de Parfum and is more concentrated than both cologne and EDT. Most people prefer this due to the longevity of the fragrance.
- Perfume: The most fragrant with the longest sillage and a little goes a long way. Not limited to a women’s fragrance as many think given it’s now the genericized term for women’s fragrance.
5 Basic Fragrance Families
- Citrus/Fresh: Consists of essential oils obtained by the cold expression of a peel from refreshing fruits such as bergamot, lemon, orange, lime, tangerine and pomelo. It’s found in most of the old eau de colognes and usually in sporty versions of fragrances.
- Floral: Combines all delicate and subtle scents that have a flower as a centerpiece: rose, jasmine, muguet, violet, tuberose, gardenia, orange flower and iris. It delivers the feel of absolute masculine addiction with elegance.
- Fougère: “Fern” in French, it’s built on a base of lavender, oakmoss and coumarin. It’s often used in men’s scents to create a fragrance with a clean, cooling and hygienic feel.
- Oriental/Spicy: Albeit an outdated term, it remains that of this particular fragrance family. It includes all raw materials coming from the Middle East or Far Eastern countries such as the sweet notes of vanilla, tonka bean, cistus labdanum, amber and resins. The results are a very warm, opulent, sensual, velvety and typically an ultra-strong scent.
- Woody: Usually makes up the base of a fragrance and can be divided into subfamilies that are characteristics of their qualities such as dry, humid, mossy, etc. From cedar to vetiver, many of its scents are full-bodied, racy and stately and therefore are found in most über-masculine fragrances.
Fragrance Terms to Know
- Notes: Descriptors of scents in a fragrance.
- Top Notes: The first olfactory impression of a fragrance and typically the most volatile and ingredients in a perfume. Usually bright, fresh or citrusy.
- Heart Notes: Also referred to as middle notes, these are the second phase of a fragrances evaporation, which gives the scent its character after the top notes fade. Usually floral or spicy.
- Base Notes: The third and final phase of a fragrances evaporation, or life on the skin. Almost always woody or leathery notes.
- Absolute: The strongest aromatic material that can be extracted from a plant or flower.
- Accord: A blend of two or more ingredients that blend together to form a distinct fragrance. Typically used to create scents that cannot otherwise be extracted from nature.
- Dry Down: The final phase of a fragrance, which emerges several hours after application. Often this is a scent dominated by a fragrances base notes.
- Sillage: The trail of scent left behind by a perfume — simply put, the strength or intensity of a fragrance.
How to Apply Cologne
So once you know which type of scent you like and how strong you like it, let’s move onto actually applying your cologne. As mentioned, it’s not as simple as showering yourself with squirts all over your clothes or walking through a fragrance cloud as you walk towards the door. Sure, those methods might get the job done, but you will have better success if you put a little more effort into your approach.
The best places to apply cologne are areas of the body that produce heat, such as behind the ears, the base of the neck, the center of the chest and the inside of the wrist. The subtle heat provided by the body will increase the intensity of the fragrance throughout the day.
Don’t go crazy with spraying your cologne multiple times in the same spot either. One or two sprays should be enough and if you’re unsure of a cologne sillage, ask a friend to help you out. If they can smell you from a few feet away, it’s safe to say it’s too much.
Spraying cologne on your clothing is acceptable, but should be done with caution. A little goes a long way and if you have a heavy hand, you run the risk of turning people off as you walk into the room. Cologne on clothing isn’t really a bad thing, but spraying it on your direct skin is better since this allows the fragrance to mix with the oils of your body and successfully project its notes in order.
Do you prefer a splash cologne? Well, think twice before you splash. Instead, gently tip the bottle on your finger then press your finger on the pulse points where you want to apply. That’s how you use splash cologne the right way, getting the perfect subtle scent that anyone who gets close enough to smell will enjoy.
How to Layer Cologne
Thought you could wear only one cologne at a time? Well, get ready to have your mind blown. Multiple colognes can be strategically layered together to create your own one-of-a-kind signature scent, and It’s much easier to layer existing scents than to create one.
Start with a your pulse point scent — behind your ears, the base of your neck and your wrists. Use something simple, yet strong. This is when a fragrance oil is a perfect choice. Something that will work well with your body’s natural chemistry — think a soft musk or warm sandalwood. This layer shouldn’t compete with your fragrances of choice, it should act as an additional layer to your own personal pheromone aroma you naturally produce all day, every day.
Your next layer should be applied to those places on your body that may require a little extra odor protection. Places such as your armpits, your chest and even your lower back. These areas benefit from fresh, clean notes. Eucalyptus and bergamot are great additions here and that’s because they help combat late day B.O. You can even use a spray deodorant of your choice here, as long as it doesn’t compete with or overpower your final fragrance.
Last, but certainly not least, is the main event, the pièce de résistance — your final fragrance. Consider this your olfactory handshake. This is the first impression your scent will make on all of those people you’ll meet. The base layers of fragrances we discuss shouldn’t conflict with this, but instead, they should compliment it. Apply this final flourish to your shirt, your hair or to the air as you walk through. A simple single spray later in the day can be enough to reignite your scent story, but only if you need it.
Proper Cologne Etiquette
If you haven’t noticed, we encourage safe scent practices. It’s OK to search for your favorite cologne, have a few top choices or prefer to wear no cologne at all. However, once you find the right cologne, figure out the best way to wear it. You can apply a cologne much more generously and often than a perfume or EDP. Remember, you may love the smell, but that crowded train, plane or boardroom you’re in might be full of people less enthusiastic about your choices. Be respectful.
If possible, try before you buy. It’s hard to buy a cologne based on a bunch of blogs or a magazine editors hyperbole. There are more and more scent subscription services that allow you to take a scent on a test drive which helps you decide if it works for you during the day, on a date, out to dinner, on the weekend — since even during different times of the day, we can react differently to certain scents. A lot of brands also offer trial kits with a combination of favorites or even better, the ability to create your own selection of scents to try.
However, if you can’t find that one sample you’re looking for, and you just have to buy the bottle sight — or smell — unseen, purchase the smallest size bottle you can. You may love the fragrance at first, and by the time you reach the end of that 25 mL bottle, you may have decided it’s not the one for you. Now, you won’t have half a bottle sitting taking up space until you suck it up and throw it — and in effect, the money it cost you — in the trash.
Next, make sure you know what you’re buying. Don’t purchase cheap, poorly made colognes since they are often full of alcohol and water and won’t last very long on the skin and be weary of buying cologne from untrustworthy sources such as sketchy sellers online or tourist-trap stores that sell your favorite expensive scent at a price that’s too good to be true. Invest in a well-made, long-lasting fragrance you’re sure will make it throughout the day. You’ll wear less daily and therefore spend less overtime.
Lastly, don’t hang on to that fragrance for years and expect it to still smell as good as it did on day one. Fragrances don’t “go bad” per se, but they do breakdown and oxidize as they age, which can leave them smelling less than their former selves or worse, just smelling bad. It’s not likely, but an expired cologne applied to your skin might even cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction. From the time a fragrance is manufactured, it will typically have an average shelf life of three to five years.