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An Introduction to Colognes

Written by Alexandra, Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 in Dating Columns, Doing it Right, Fashion

aqua_di_gioMany men find choosing the right cologne to be an intimidating and overwhelming task. If you’re new to it, no doubt you have some feelings of confusion and stress; even those with experience must navigate the new scents and new challenge each season brings. With these 10 key points, including the help of a professional beauty advisor, WellCultured.com has the advice you need.

#1. Personality

Have an idea in your mind of what kind of impression you want to give off.  Your scent should reflect your personality, first and foremost; if you’re a rugged outdoorsy type, you probably wouldn’t fare so well with a light floral.

#2. Night vs. Day

Having one single scent to carry you through your day is perfectly fine. But on important nights like when you have a date, it’s good to switch things up; would you wear the same clothes on a nice date as you wore earlier that day to school or work? No. A day scent should be lighter and understated whereas a night scent should be a bit sexier and dark.

#3. Seasons

Winter, spring, summer and fall all are linked to different sorts of scents. Sure, there are some you can wear year-round, but it’s sometimes best to just give in and have colognes designated for different times so they complement the weather better.
Winter – dark, heavy, musk
Spring* – clean, floral, green
Summer – citrus, fresh, water
Fall – oriental, woodsy, spicy

*=Use the spring months to experiment a little; the transition between the cold and the hot make it more acceptable for funkier fragrances.

#4. Plan your spray

Everyone has their own natural smell as it is. When choosing a cologne, keep in mind not only that, but the way your body smell mixes with your deodorant, soap, hair products, everything. Ultimately, it’s the way you smell with all of those combined that you’re basing your cologne to work with. Needless to say, if you switch hygiene products, be sure to test your cologne out on your updated odor.

#5. Try the scent on your skin

Fragrance ads in magazines show what their product smells like against paper, not you. Department stores, such as Macy’s, have counters that allow you to test products out for free, so take advantage of the opportunity. When first starting out, it’s helpful to bring along someone with experience in buying fragrances, or just someone whose general judgment you trust and value; be careful not to ask the salesperson for their opinion, since most of them work on commission.

#6. Samples

When you think you’ve found a scent you like, it’s sometimes hard facing the price tag. That’s why samples are so wonderful. Not only are they extremely affordable, but the small size allows you to try them out without making a full commitment. Discount department stores, such as Target, commonly offer good selections of samples.

#7. Where to spray

According to Theresa, Sephora.com beauty advisor, apply 2-3 sprays to your pulse points. The major points are your neck, the back of your knees, your elbows, your wrists, and your stomach. “Men tend to spray only above the belt area,” she says. “The thing is, the places on your body that create the most heat will give off the most of the smell, so feel free to go all the way to your feet.”

#8. How you apply is everything

So you’ve gone out and tested out different colognes and have found one you love. You bought it. You know where on your body to apply it, but how? Depending on your personal preference, application process will vary man-by-man. Some men who are looking for a lighter impression may choose to spray the air and walk through it, whereas men wanting a lasting fragrance would need an alternative in order to make more of a statement.

Spray. Do not rub. I repeat: DO NOT RUB. “One common mistake is to press the wrists together after spraying on a scent,” warns Theresa. “This actually ‘crushes the bouquet’ of your fragrance, altering the scent, though it may intensify it initially. There is no need to do this and for the truest sense of your scent, just let the wrists dry naturally.”
Another thing to keep in mind is to spray directly on your skin, not your clothing. The alcohol comes into play in this, due to it possibly eating away at the clothing, as does the fact that your shirt has a faint smell of detergent that will affect your overall odor.

The first sprays should be in the morning, but don’t forget to reapply it about 8 hours later in order to stay fresh.

#9. What type of scent to get

Perfume is the most intense form of fragrance at 15%-30% fragrance compound, followed by eau de parfum at 8%-15%, eau de toilette at 4%-8%, and eau de cologne at 2%-5%. The more fragrance oils, the longer the scent will last.
Some men even enjoy having an after-shave from the same line as their perfume. After-shave calms the skin after shaving and leaves the scent there in an understated way. Though not all retailers, offer after-shave for all their fragrances, some do, so be sure to take advantage when possible.

#10. Don’t let the cost scare you

If you’re going for quality colognes, you’re probably facing anywhere from $45-$100. Initially it may seem like a high price, but keep in mind how long it will take you to go through a whole bottle (roughly a year, if applying multiple times daily). There’s also the alcohol content and the fact that alcohol will allow you to have the same scent for a few years. My grandmother has had Chanel No. 5 since the early 1970s and it still smells almost as good as new bottles!

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6 Responses to An Introduction to Colognes

  1. Jenx says:

    What about those of us who can’t stand (I mean it literally) the smell of cologne and deodorants? I have this weird half-allergic thing going where when I smell (even on someone else) a very strong cologne or deodorant my nose starts to itch from the inside. I do use a dry impact roll on deodorant (if that’s what you call em) since their smell isn’t so intense, but on a warm day it wears off in just a few hours or so. So – what the hell do I do? I don’t really smell that bad when sweaty, but still…

    • Alexandra says:

      Fragrance-wise, I’d suggest essential oils. They’re concentrated forms of different plants so there’s no irritation (if there is, you’re likely allergic). You can find them at healthfood stores or online. I’ve heard great things about Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Generally speaking, expect a price range of $2-$50, depending on what you want. The application process is fundamentally the same for essential oils as it is with standard colognes; dab directly on skin at pulse points.
      As for deodorants, perhaps try out brands that use no chemicals, such as Tom’s of Maine.
      Hope this helps!

  2. Bo says:

    A question left unanswered is “When do I apply?”, do I apply after or before clothing? Since I’m not allowed to rub the cologne, putting on clothing would lead to the same effect…

    • Alexandra says:

      When applying, make sure it goes directly on the skin and never on the clothing. That being said, it’s easiest to apply before you dress. Give yourself a few minutes before putting on your clothing so the fragrance has time to sink into your skin and begin blending with your natural odor.

  3. everett says:

    Most girls will tell you they love the smell of men’s deodorant more than anything else, and the smell of your skin when you’re clean is naturally attractive to the opposite sex. Don’t over do it! If you do go with a cologne, choosing something unique (not just brand name) will make you memorable.

  4. Vendrette says:

    When it comes to Essential Oils, there are numerous guides online to brewing your own. Personally, I’d suggest brewing up a nice Mint oil. Sweet, but not overly powerful.

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