Men wearing cologne usually get a bad rep and they deserve it. These offenders tend to fall in two categories:
- The bros who douse themselves with Versace Eros before they hit the club;
- The aquatic kings who think that just because they like like Acqua di Gio, everyone in a two-mile radius must smell it.
If you belong to one of these groups, this men's guide to cologne is for you. If you like cologne but have been playing it safe by wearing none, this guide is for you too. The ultimate men's guide to cologne will teach you:
- why wearing perfume is a crucial part of your style,
- how to pick the right fragrance for you, and
- how to put on fragrance, so that it lasts all day without causing a mass exodus.
This men's guide to cologne, also covers other topics about perfume every men should know. They include perfume concentrations, the various fragrance families, and technical terms perfume experts use to judge the performance of a fragrance.
Men + Perfume: Why It Matters
Many style guides I've come across treat cologne as an afterthought. In his otherwise excellent book on style, Russell Smith concludes "I encourage the wearing of cologne, but by no means is it mandatory". This comes from a guy who is otherwise fastidious about the proper shoe lacing.
- don't put too much on;
- don't rub your fragrance in.
This is great advice but not enough, especially for a book dedicated to grooming.
If you consider the two examples above it is no wonder many men have no idea how to buy and wear perfume. Russell Smith accurately points out "...the sad fact is that, unless given perfume as a gift, most men would never think of it, much less wear it".
Unlike women, no one teaches men about perfume. Mothers often take their daughters perfume shopping. It is rare for a father to do the same. Despite the social advances and ambiguation of gender roles in society today, it is still widely accepted that women should care about their appearance and smell, while men are forgiven if they don't.
Put simply: if a woman smells of sweat, she'll be called a dirty slob; if a man smells of sweat, he'll be called - a man.
The social norms that guide the way men approach perfume goes back at least to the Victorian era. The idea that men should exhibit restraint and modesty became the social norm of the time. This is when the simple black suit gained popularity and became the dress code for all urban males (royalties excluded).
Victorian men wore perfume but such indulgences in vanity were never on display. The way men view grooming today is not much different. While men are much more open about grooming, few of them know much or openly discuss scent. It is still a mystery.
Whether this lack of advice is due to some misplaced sense of masculinity or just lack of tradition, the result is that many men don't know much about fragrances. With their unawareness in tow, men face the social preconceptions about perfume by playing it safe and not wearing any.
The lack of knowledge and openness about perfume pushes many men to choose between two bad options. First, play it safe and wear nothing. Second, wear something light and clean, so that you don't offend anyone.
The one piece of advice you need to forget right now is buying perfume just because the someone else likes it.
These two options may help you avoid awkward situations, but they also prevent you from experiencing fully great moments. The renowned perfumer Francis Kurkdjian says that "perfume is the art that makes memory speak".
Smell is the greatest memory trigger we, humans, have. Sniff the shirt you wore last night and memories of the great concert you went to with your boys floods your brain. Roll over to the other side of the bed and smell the pillow where your partner slept and you may catch yourself smiling.
In short, perfume captures memories. It does more than that, however. The cologne you wear communicates to those around you who you are.
Even if there is no solid science behind it, we tend to pick fragrances that reflect our personalities. If you are an ambitious go-getter, you may lean towards fragrances that spell success. You are the thinker kind, you may like better more meditative scents.
When you wear a fragrance you allow people to experience you in 3D: visually - they see how you look; audibly - they hear how you talk; and olfactorily - they smell you. It is your smell that allows people experience your depth. It is the fragrance that stirs their emotions and draws them in.
Two Pieces of Advice: One to Ignore and One to Follow
I'm sure you've already heard tons of advice about cologne. The one I hear most often is that men should wear perfume that girls like. Sales associates often tell me to get this or that juice because it's a best seller or popular with the girls.
The logic here is that men's main objective for wearing cologne is to get laid. It rings true, so wearing a perfume that attracts women and helps you get laid makes sense.
There is, however, a tiny problem: it doesn't work. Here's why:
First no guy has ever gotten laid just because he smells good. A good scent might improve your chances, by say 10%, but that's about it.
Second, reeking of cologne that every other guy rocks smells of desperation. Trying too hard repels any woman faster than you can spritz some more Armani Code on you.
The one piece of advice you need to forget right now is to buy perfume just because the someone else likes it.
Here's the piece of advice you need to remember: the only person you wear perfume for is you. Your perfume has to tell your story. This is why, you wear something you like, just for you.
You may say "I get it but what if no one else like it on me"?
When someone tells you they don't like your fragrance, they may mean any of these three things:
- They may not like a certain note in it. If someone doesn't like the smell of roses, they won't like any rose perfume, not just yours. It's not that it is a bad perfume, it is just that they don't like that note.
- They may not like it on you. This is usually the case when your perfume doesn't match any or all of the three: your style, age, or the occasion. If you are a hardened biker dude, wearing a light floral scent would make the butt of countless jokes. It's not that the perfume is bad, it just doesn't fit the image of a tough guy.
You won't be spared the criticism if your cologne doesn't match the occasion. Going to the office smelling like you are single and ready to mingle won't get you any favours. Just like clothes, every cologne doesn't fit every occasion.
People tend to see light and fresh colognes appropriate for most situations. The downside is that these type of scents also tend to be pretty boring.
- You put too much of it. This is probably the main reason why people tell you they don't like your juice. Putting on perfume is like putting spices in your food. You want to put just enough to give it a nice flavour but not too much to overtake the dish.
Cologne is the same way: you want to put just enough to enhance your image, not to overtake it. You want people to notice you, not your cologne.
How Not to Smell Like a Geezer
Often people don't like your cologne because it is not appropriate for your age. If you are 17 years old and wear the original Equipage (Hermes), you may get quite a few turned up noses. Equipage is a classic cologne for the refined gentleman in his 60s. A teenager wearing it will be age inappropriate.
Age appropriateness for fragrances does exist but it tends to disappear once you get into your thirties. It also usually works in one direction: a cologne may be too mature for a young person, but it is rarely too young for an old person.
What's Inside the Bottle
99% of all commercial fragrances contain 3 ingredients: essential oils, alcohol and water. The proportion in which they are mixed depends on the nature of the essential oils and what the perfumer wants to achieve.
You must have guessed already, the essential oils is what makes your fragrance a fragrance. Take those out and you're left with a high concentration vodka.
Natural vs. Synthetic Aromachemicals
A perfumer creates a fragrance by mixing different essential oils. One way to categorize essential oils is by their source: natural and synthetic.
There has been a big debate in the fragrance community which ones are better: the natural essential oils or the synthetic aroma-chemicals. Many people have the natural inclination to think that the naturally sourced fragrant molecules are better. The argument goes that they come from nature and therefore must be better for us than the synthetic ones.
[pullquote align=”normal”]The quality of a fragrance has nothing to do with its concentration. [/pullquote]
This thinking is common but not necessarily correct. Aroma-chemicals are the isolated molecules that occur in nature. Jasmine smells the way it does because of certain molecules in the plant. A chemist can take one of those molecules and reproduce it in a lab for a fraction of the cost of the naturally sourced jasmine.
As you might have guessed already, aroma-chemicals are cheaper to get. In addition to that, they don't have environmental impact like the harvesting of the natural sources of certain aromatic oils.
More importantly, however, aroma-chemicals are easier to use by perfumers. A naturally-sourced essential oil includes several (sometimes hundreds) of aromatic molecules. In combination these molecules create a complex aroma.
If you smell a grapefruit essential oil, you will notice that the scent has different facets. It is fresh but at the same time a little bit tarty. If you smell it long enough, you will notice that it has a slight fecal or rotting smell. This is because of naturally occurring molecules called indoles. If you are a perfumer and want to create a fresh citrus scent, the indoles are not your friend. In this case you have two options: be creative with your composition of natural oils, or use synthetics.
Eau de Cologne vs. Eau de Toilette vs. Eau de Parfum
Fragrances come in different concentrations. The concentration is the percentage of essential oils as part of the total composition. For marketing purposes, perfume companies put different labels on their fragrances depending on the concentration:
The concentration percentages are approximate numbers and in many cases the concentration can deviate from the standard by quite a bit.
The perfumer determines the concentration of a fragrance based on the note composition and how it performs. The scent of the same fragrance can change at different concentrations.
Most modern fragrances for men usually come in concentrations of eau de toilette or eau de parfum. You can also come across eau de cologne, especially if you are looking for an aftershave.
Many sales people will try to sell you a fragrance as higher quality because it has higher concentration. This is not true. The quality of a fragrance has nothing to do with its concentration. If a fragrance is made with cheap synthetics, putting more of them in a bottle doesn't make it any better.
Concentration has also nothing to do with how long the fragrance lasts on you. Logically, it makes sense that the more perfume you have in the fragrance, the longer it will last on your skin. This may be true in some cases but it is the nature of the fragrance notes that determines the longevity of a fragrance.
When you smell a perfume, you may notice that the scent changes over time. It may start off smelling fresh and in an hour it may turn more floral and in yet another hour it may become sweet or woody.
A fragrance changes its scent when you wear it by design. In general, perfumes are composed following a pyramid structure. On top, you have the top notes. They are usually light and fresh, and last only a short time. In men's fragrances citruses are the most popular top notes.
When the top notes dissipate, the heart notes emerge. Perfumers can use various floral or woody notes for the middle of the perfume composition. Popular middle notes include various flowers (e.g. rose, lavender, jasmine), some spices (e.g. cardamom, nutmeg), or some woods (e.g. oud, cedar, pine).
The middle notes of a fragrance could last several hours but eventually they give way to the base notes. They take stage in the dry-down of a fragrance. The base notes are usually resins, musks, woods, and spices. These are the notes you smell on your skin after you've worn a fragrance for six or seven hours.
How well the perfumer has blended the notes an how smoothly the fragrance transitions through each stage determines the quality of the fragrance.
Think of it as a DJ mix. A good mix seamlessly transitions from one song to another. A bad one is choppy and with clear breaks between the songs.
Not all fragrances follow the classic pyramid structure. Whether intended or not, there are many linear perfumes. They smell the same from the start to the end. Linear perfumes are not necessarily bad but they tend to be less interesting. If you love the main accord, however, a linear scent may work great for you.
Occasionally, I've come across jagged structures. Such fragrances start out strong, then disappear and reappear again after some time. This behaviour may be by design or it may be due to my inability to pick up certain notes.
Fragrance Families and Classification
Based on their main accord fragrances can be grouped together into families. In 1983, one of the most respected industry experts, Michael Edwards, created the Fragrance Wheel. It classifies fragrances into 14 different fragrance families based on their main accord.
Since its creation, the Fragrance Wheel has gone through numerous updates and has become the industry's go-to guide.
The Fragrance Wheel doesn't come alone. Michael Edwards publishes a book (updated annually) of all fragrances on the market classified by fragrance families.
The Fragrance Wheel and the Fragrances of the World book come in handy in three major ways:
- They help you easily find similar fragrances to the ones you like. Let's say love Terre d'Hermes. You look it up in the book and you find out it is classified as Aromatic Woods. Other fragrances in the same family will have similar characteristics and you are will probably like them too.
- Knowing the major fragrance families will help you explain what you are looking when buying a fragrance. At least in theory, when you go to the fragrance counter and you ask for an oriental spicy fragrance, the attendant should know right away what to show you.
- Once you start forming a taste for perfume, you will notice that you tend to lean towards one or two families. Knowing to what families your fragrances belong would make it much easier for you to find similar perfumes that you haven't tried.
The Fragrance Wheel divides all fragrance families into four broad categories based on the character of the main notes:
Looking at the general category gives you a general idea what a fragrance would smell like. The Woody Notes category, for example, suggests that the fragrances in there smell of woods. As you may have experienced first-hand, however, there is a big difference between one woody fragrance and another. This is why the Fragrance Wheel splits the four fragrance notes categories into fourteen families.
Let's look at each one of them:
- Floral Oriental
It is a combination of soft florals and spices. Fragrances in this category tend to lean more feminine.
- Soft Oriental
If you take the floral oriental and you dial down the floral aspect and add some incense and soft resin, you will get soft oriental. These are generally sweeter, spicier fragrances.
They amp up the resins (amber, opoponax, labdanum) and the heavy florals (e.g. vanilla) and you get an oriental fragrance. These are the heavy-hitter you'd associate with classic evening perfume.
- Woody Orientals
Woods and resins play very well together. Take an oriental fragrance and add some heavier woods to it (e.g. sandalwood) and you get a woody-oriental fragrance. These are heavier fragrances you'd usually wear in the winter.
These are pretty straight-forward but no yawners by any means. The classic woody fragrances would feature cedar, pine, sandalwood or vetiver. They are not as heavy as the woody orientals.
- Mossy Woods
The fragrances in this family usually feature oak moss. Think of the smell of forest and Mediterranean spices and you'll get a good idea of what they smell like.
- Dry Woods
Think burned wood, tobacco and leather. As these accords can be heavy and overwhelming, they are often balanced with citrus notes. Some of the most interesting masculines fall into this category.
- Aromatic Fougere
These are fragrances that go from cold to hot. They usually open with some citrus and lavender and transform into warm spices and oriental woods. The fragrances in this category tend to be masculine and with a strong presence of lavender.
These need no introduction. The fragrances in this family feature mostly citrus notes (e.g. bergamot, lemon, neroli) and light woods (e.g. cedar). Some of them have more pronounced floral accord or soft spices (e.g. pink pepper), which makes them citrus-aromatic.
This family didn't exist unti the 1990s when the aroma-chemical calone became popular. The fragrances in this category feature strong marine, or watery-citrus notes. Their popularity has declined since their apex in the 1990s but you can still find them around.
If you like the smell of grass, violets or iris, you will like the scents in this family. They are fresh but may feature some delicate floral notes.
The fragrances in this family tend to be feminine. They feature notes like strawberries, peaches and any variety of tropical fruits. They are usually light and easy to wear.
Think of fragrances built around rose, jasmine, iris or any other flower. Traditionally, the fragrances in this family were considered feminine. In the last couple of years, however, floral fragrances have become popular among men too.
- Soft Floral
Aldehydes + light floral accords = soft floral. These are light fragrances that may appear powdery and cozy. Just like the florals, they are not very popular among men but that should stop you from trying them.
The key thing to remember about the fragrance families is that it's very subjective. Some fragrances will fall squarely into a category, while others may fall into more than one category depending on how you classify them.
Take Aventus - one of the most popular men's fragrances. It has a strong pineapple note, a dominant birch note and some oak moss. The pineapple would put it into the Fruity family but the oak moss and birch belongs to the Mossy Woods. To me, the woody notes are more dominant than the pineapple but someone else might argue the opposite.
In addition to Michael Edwards' classification of fragrances, the industry also classifies fragrances by their genre. These fragrance genres are not necessarily a replacement of the Fragrance Wheel classification but an addition to it. It's a different way to describe the character of a fragrance.
Here are some of the popular genres that the Fragrance Wheel doesn't cover.
This is the French name for the island of Cyrpus. Back in the day Coty created a popular perfume using spices native to Cyprus and the Mediterranean. Coty was trying to make fragrance that is cold and hot at the same time.
The fragrance became so popular that a whole genre was named after it. Chypre fragrances became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. They are usually built around three main notes: bergamot, oak moss, and labdanum.
It means fern in French and is the name of the most classic masculine genre. In 1882, the perfumer Paul Parquet created a fragrance called Fougere Royale for the French fragrance company Houbigant. Parquet built Fougere Royale around lavender, coumarin and oak moss. The perfume became so popular that it started a genre on its own.
The Fougere fragrances usually feature lavender, woody notes and oka moss. The modern fougeres tend to be lighter than its traditional ancestors but still maintain similar character.
They have gained huge popularity in the last several years. The fragrances in the gourmand genre feature strong edible notes (e.g. caramel, chocolate, latte). They tend to be sweet and more feminine than masculine.
Gourmand fragrances are a great fun to wear, especially in cold weather.
Fragrance Performance: Projection, Sillage, and Longevity
If you watch fragrance reviews online, you'll hear people talking about the performance of a fragrance. If you think of perfume as art, as many fragrance enthusiasts do, then it's a little odd to talk about fragrance performance. It's similar to talking about the performance of a painting or a sculpture.
Unlike the comparison above, however, fragrances nowadays have a technical side, which affects how we experience them. When it comes to performance, experts usually refer to three features of a fragrance: projection, sillage and longevity. Let's look at each one of them.
The projection of a fragrance refers to how far someone has to be from you and still be able to smell your cologne. Think of it as an aura, or a bubble of scent that surrounds you. The bigger the radius of that bubble, the bigger the projection of a fragrance.
Projection matters because it determines how much of a certain perfume you can put on. If you put too much of a perfume with strong projection, you are likely to choke out or at least offend those around you.
The projection of a fragrance depends mostly on two things: the perfume notes and time.
Fragrances with light notes (e.g. citrus, light florals) have smaller and lighter molecules, which makes them project far. The fragrant molecule that makes up the smell of lemon is light and fleeting. It doesn't stick around for very long but while it does, everyone around you can smell it.
Many modern fragrances usually open with citrus notes. Therefore, you can smell them the farthest when you first spray them on. As they dry down and the heavier notes in the perfume take over, the projection of the fragrance usually decreases.
This leads us to the second factor contributing to projection: time.
Since the light molecules are the ones with the strongest projection, once they fly away, we are left with the heavier molecules. They last longer on our skin and don't project as much. As time passes, the fragrance quiets down even more and eventually it turns into a skin scent. Skin scent is the term a lot of fragrance experts use to refer to a very soft fragrance, which you can only smell by bearing your nose in your skin.
Sillage is the French word for wake, as in the ripples a stone leaves when you throw it in a pond. When it comes to fragrance, sillage refers to the scented trail a perfume leaves behind.
Sillage and projection are closely related to each other. Usually, perfumes with strong sillage, have strong projection.
The difference between sillage and projection is more a matter of technicality than practicality but here it is. Think of projection as the distance from which someone can detect your scent if you are standing still.
Sillage on the other hand is the scent trail someone can detect in a space where you have been. For example, if you have entered an elevator and have smelled the perfume of the person riding it before you, that smell is the sillage.
Again, sillage isn't particularly practical when it comes to wearing a perfume but it is something you may hear fragrance experts use. This is why I'm including it here.
When talking about the longevity of a fragrance, we talk about how long it lasts on your skin.
Most modern fragrances last anywhere between three and eight hours. Of course, there are fragrances with longevity outside of these boundaries. Most commercial fragrances, however, fall within this range.
The longevity of a fragrance seems pretty straight forward but there a couple of myths about it that many people believe.
The first myth is that the higher the concentration of a fragrance, the longer it will last. The truth is fragrance concentration has little to do with longevity. What make a fragrance last longer is the chemical nature of the aroma ingredients in it. If the majority of the ingredients have small molecules, the fragrance won't last very long (e.g. citrus, green notes). If the molecules are larger, they take longer to evaporate (e.g. resins, musks, woods).
The second myth is that if you put more perfume on, the longer it will last. Just like concentration doesn't improve longevity, putting more of the same weak juice won't make it last any longer. You might get a more intense blast and projection by putting more fragrance on but it will last more or less the same time.
So what makes a fragrance last longer? Two main things: molecule and skin composition.
Perfumes contain fragrant ingredients (natural or synthetic), which are made of aromatic molecules. The smaller these molecules, the faster they bind bind with the air molecules and the faster they evaporate. The larger the molecules, the longer it takes them to break down when exposed to air and evaporate.
Citrus scents usually have small molecules. This is why, fresh, green fragrances don't last very long. Oriental fragrances that feature resins and heavy woods last longer because the fragrant molecules are larger and it takes them longer to break down and evaporate.
In modern perfumery perfumers add certain chemicals called fixatives, which prolong the longevity of the fragrances. Fixatives help but they won't make a citrus fragrance last longer than a musk perfume.
The second factor that improves longevity is the nature of your skin. The fragrant oils in your perfume bind with the oils of your skin. Hence, the oiler your skin, the more likely it is for fragrances to last longer. Drier skin doesn't retain fragrances as long.
There isn't much you can do about the molecular composition of your fragrance but you can do something about how your skin retain fragrances. Read on to learn how to make your fragrance last longer.
How Much is Too Much?
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to perfume is over-spraying. You know a guy, or worse you are the guy, who announces his presence with his perfume. He enters a building and everyone knows he's arrived.
Even if your perfume smells great, you don't want everyone to smell it. It's tacky and shows ignorance about perfume, style and social manners in general.
The culprit of over-spraying is projection. Dealing with projection, however, is tough because it is hard for you, as the wearer, to tell whether you've put on too much cologne. Here's what you can do:
Get someone else to wear your fragrance. Ask him to put on two or three sprays and see from what distance you can smell him. Projection may vary depending on your skin and the weather but this method will give you a pretty accurate picture.
If you can't borrow a friend for this experience, try doing the same thing by using a piece of paper or fabric.
Another way to gauge projection is to start with one spray and see for how long you can smell it on yourself. If you can barely detect it within 30 minutes, then you can allow yourself to put some more.
Ideally, on the following day put on two sprays. If you can smell it comfortably (i.e. it doesn't make you choke or feel uncomfortable) within 30 minutes, then this may be the right amount to put on.
Remember that you, as the wearer, can smell your cologne less than other people can. The reason is that you are more used to smelling your perfume than other people. This is why they can detect it at much smaller amounts.
If, within half an hour of putting it on, you can smell your perfume by moving around without it overwhelming you, you've put on the right amount.
How to Make Your Fragrance Last Longer
There are three things you can do to make your fragrance last longer.
- step 1
- Step 2
- step 3
Spray it on right after you shower.
A hot shower will open up your pores and allow the fragrant molecules penetrate your skin better and bind with your natural oils.
Moisturize and then spray in on.
The aromatic oils in your fragrance will stick around longer if they bind with another oily surface. Oilier skin tends to retain fragrances better. This is why, it makes sense to moisturize your skin before applying cologne. Your body lotion will do just fine but if you want to go the extra mile, you can dab some vaseline on the spots where you apply your fragrance.When I was obsessed with fragrance longevity, I used to put vaseline on my wrists and collar bone - the places where I'd put on cologne. I did notice improvement but the down side was that my shirts' sleeves and collars always ended up with oily stains.
Layer your fragrance.
This is probably the most common advice for increasing fragrance longevity. It usually comes from sales associates who are keen to sell you the full set of fragrance products. The theory behind this advice is that if your body soap and your body lotion smell like your cologne, then you should be able to smell the fragrance longer. I've tried layering my fragrances before but I can't report noticeable difference in their longevity. The marginal results are definitely not worth the price companies sell their complementing fragrant products.
These three tips are worth trying (the last one is for desparate situation) but don't expect great improvements. Keep in mind these two things when it comes to fragrance longevity:
- Don't obsess over it. Some perfumes are just not meant to last all day. An aftershave splash is meant to pick you up in the morning and get you going. It's not made to keep you company all day.
- Just because you don't smell your cologne, it doesn't mean it's not there. Our noses are programmed to register smells that are different than our immediate environment. When you walk into a Starbucks the aroma of freshly ground coffee hits your nose. After a while, however, you can't smell the coffee anymore. The aroma is still there but your nose has gotten used to it.
The same is true with perfume - once your nose gets used to the scent, you won't be able to smell it and you may think it's not there. Chances are your fragrance is still present, it's just that you can't smell it.
How to Apply Cologne
Applying cologne is simple but people have made it complicated. If you google how to apply cologne, you'll get as many different answer as search results. Some are evidently silly but others have a ring of truth to them.
Let's start with some of the more popular bad pieces of advice on how to apply cologne.
1. Walk Through the Mist
In theory, applying fragrance this way works. You spray your perfume in the air and you walk through the mist. The fragrance mist will stick to your body, clothes and hair distributed evenly.
The only problem with this advice of applying fragrance is that it doesn't work. Just for kicks, I tried the mist walking several times and every time I ended up smelling of nothing.
2. The Smelly Handshake
This approach to applying cologne is an extension of the way you apply aftershave. You pour a small amount in your palm and you slap it on your cheeks and neck.
For unknown reasons, some maven of masculinity must have figured out that the most manly way to apply perfume is by slapping it on your face.
Unlike walking through the mist, slapping cologne on your face and neck works but it has some adverse unintended consequences.
First, since perfume is usually a lot stronger than any aftershave, your palm ends up reeking of your cologne. That on its own is not a bad thing... until you have to shake someone's hand. As a recipient of several smelly handshakes, I can assure you they are never fun.
Having my fingers smell of another guy's cologne, no matter how good it is, makes me wonder what else he has transferred over. Did he wash his hands when he went to the washroom? How many times has he washed his hands since he applied this cologne that his palm still smells?
The other problem with the smelly handshake approach is that the cologne usually goes on your neck or cheeks. Ideally, you would want to apply perfume on your hot spots (pulse points). If you manage to slap the liquid on your jugular vain, then great, but if you aimed for your cheeks, well, they are not exactly a hot spot.
3. Rub and Dab
The rub and dab is another approach to applying fragrance. You spray some perfume on one of your wrists, rub your two wrists together and then you rub your wrists on your neck or behind your ears.
I'm not sure of the origins of this approach but it has always evoked images of utter ignorance under the mask of pretentious erudition.
The advocates of this method of applying cologne would argue that you spray it first on your wrists because they are hot spots. Then, you dab it behind your ears, which is another hot spot.
This all makes sense if it wasn't for one missing part. Rubbing your perfume "bruises" the fragrant molecules and the scent doesn't develop as it should.
When I first heard about this whole business of molecule bruising, I was skeptical myself. Given the large number of fragrance experts who swear that it's true, I thought the belief in molecule bruising must be some oddity those into fragrances share.
Then, I tested the theory myself. I sprayed perfume on my wrist and rubbed it on my other wrist. I waited to see what happens. For starters, the opening notes didn't smell quite the same. It seemed that my rubbing had chased them away and only the middle notes were present.
Maybe bruising molecules is not just a myth.
The Right Way to Put on Cologne
If you don't follow any of the bad advice on putting cologne, you probably do it the right way. As you may expect, it's quite simple: spray directly on your skin and you are done. It's that simple but there is a trick to it.
The tricky part applying cologne is not how you put it on but where you put it on. The human body has certain areas that are naturally warmer. We call them hot spots. These are usually places where you can feel your pulse (neck, wrists, the inside of your elbow, etc.).
Since warmth helps fragrance develop better, it makes sense to apply your cologne on those areas.
I personally put two sprays on both sides of my neck (just above my collar bone) and one on the chest. If the fragrance is potent and only one spray is necessary, I would put it on my chest.
Through experience I found out that if there is only one spot you want to put on cologne, it is your chest. When you spay there, some of the perfume rubs off on your undershirt and the smell ends up lasting longer.
The chest area is also warm, which helps your cologne bloom more if you were to spray it on your forearm.
I've also noticed that if you spray cologne on your neck, some of it inevitably rubs off on your shirt collar (if you wear a dress shirt). If you want to wear the same shirt again before you wash it, it will inevitably smell of your cologne. It's not a bad thing if you wear the same perfume. If you want to put another fragrance, however, it may not work so well.
Odd Places to Put on Perfume
In the years I've spent reading about fragrances, I've come across some weird places people put on perfume. Some recommend putting perfume on the inside of your knee. I've heard of people spraying their lower back, inner thighs and the back of their necks.
If you follow the advice that you should spray perfume on warm places, these definitely qualify. If you think it's your thing, go right ahead. I've found out for myself, that spraying on my chest and neck works best and spraying other body parts doesn't do much for me.
When to Put On Cologne
The art of wearing cologne is an exercise in timeliness. The best time to spray it on is soon after you shower. Your skin is soft, your pores are open and you have just moisturized your body. In other words, your skin is in its best condition to hold on to those fragrant molecules for hours on end.
Another good reason to put on perfume after you shower is that you've just gotten rid of any residue sweat or odours. Shower wipes the slate clean and you can experience the scent on its own.
If you are getting ready to go out, apply your cologne 20 minutes before you leave. This would be just enough time for the top notes to settle down and not punch in the nose any sensitive people you run into.
How to Store Your Perfume
The fragrance forums have countless threads on tips how to store fragrances. The perfume connoisseurs go berserk discussing the right temperature, humidity and light exposure. Storing your fragrance, however, is quite simple.
You need to keep your fragrances away from two things: direct sunlight and heat.
Nuking your fragrance on the window sill is a guaranteed way to make it turn bad. The essential oils in the composition react to excessive sunlight, which may alter their fragrant properties.
Avoiding direct sunlight doesn't mean that you have to keep it in a Dracula style dungeon. A dark closet or its original box will do just fine. Many fragrances come in dark bottles anyway, so even if you don't keep them in complete darkness they will do just fine.
Of the two evil spirits set out to ruin your fragrance heat is the worse one. Keeping your perfume in a very hot place can cook the molecules and alter the smell. Cool or normal room temperature is usually perfect for fragrance storage.
What causes your fragrance to go bad is not so much the heat itself but the variation in temperature. If it drastically changes from hot to freezing, it's likely that your perfume may get damaged. Most normal storage conditions in your house (except your bathroom) are perfectly fine when it comes to heat and temperature fluctuation.