How do you choose a cologne?
Scent may be the least understood of the five senses. It may be the least focused, too. When you look at something, you're looking right at it. When you hear something, you have a good idea of where that sound is coming from. When you smell something, you're, well, smelling it--and all of the scents of everything else around you at the same time. There might be something rotting in the house, but you're still going to have to go searching to find exactly what it might be.
Scent is also one of the most powerful senses. It is very closely tied to the formation of memories, since the processing is done in the same area of the brain. That's why some people will say how the smell of some aftershaves or soaps bring up memories of going with their grandfather to get a haircut at the barbershop while he got a shave, for example. It's the scent that triggers the recall of the memory.
The blend of the aromas around us can be quite diverse. When we smell something, our nose is picking up on the presence of a volatile molecule that has broken off from whatever is emitting the smell and floating around in the air (possibly tens of thousands of different types of "odorants”). A slight change in the molecular structure of the odorant in question can have a significant difference in how the smell is perceived. Add a pair of carbon molecules to butyl acetate, for example, and you can get butyl butyrate, and the scent will change from one that kind of smells like apple to one that kind of smells like pineapple.
Scientists studying scent have been able to come up with models that can predict how well people might like a certain scent based upon its molecular structure.
The Fragrance Wheel
Let's look at how fragrances work. You may be familiar with the concept of the color wheel. The fragrance wheel groups scents that people generally think belong together. Exactly how the fragrance wheel is broken down seems to vary by who you ask. Keep in mind that it was developed as primarily a marketing tool, to allow retailers to suggest perfumes and colognes based upon other scent preferences.
However, the original categories proposed were woody (aromatic, dry woods, mossy woods, woody oriental), oriental (oriental and soft oriental), floral (floral oriental, soft floral, and floral), and fresh (fruity, green, water/marine, citrus), and in the middle of the wheel, fougère, which can be made up of combinations of various categories. Each category gives the user a different scent experience and if we tie that back to memory or experience, it gives us a different scent for a different situation. For example, dependent on the user, a floral or fresh scent might be used more in the summer, while a woody scent might be more applicable for the winter.
The Persistence Of Notes
It’s also important how long the individual scents in a fragrance will last. As mentioned earlier, a smell is detected by volatile compounds which have made their way into the air. These compounds are released into the air at different rates, based upon their relative boiling points. Each individual scent is called a "note".
Top notes or head notes are those which first burst into the air. If you open up a bottle and give it a sniff, it's the top notes you will be smelling initially, due to a relatively low boiling point. They generally last only a few minutes, and are often intended to both entice someone into trying the scent and to mask the smell of the alcohol used to dissolve these compounds. Citrus, herb, fruity and green scents tend to be top notes.
Once the top notes are gone, the next are the middle notes. They last from a few minutes to hours after the fact. Here you'll most often get floral or spicy scents.
And the last to go are base notes, which persist for the entire time (though you might not be able to distinguish them from the top notes until they fade). Base notes are most often woody, sweet, mossy, and musky.
Strength-wise, there are three main types of male fragrances:
- Aftershaves, which have the least fragrance oil (1 - 3%) and generally also contain some ingredients designed to soothe the skin after the shave. (Hence, the name)
- Eau de cologne, which contain more fragrance oil (2 - 5%);
- Eau de toilette, which is the strongest you'll generally be able to find (4 - 8%).
Some fragrance houses don't follow the labelling rules. Some products labelled "cologne" on the market may actually be in the eau de toilette range.
Of course, like anything else, “your mileage may vary” on whether or not you find a cologne overpowering--or even pleasant smelling--at all.
4 Tips To Find The Right Cologne For You
Cologne sets you apart--it creates a unique scent only you possess. Your signature scent. Even if two men are wearing the same cologne, they won’t smell the same. That’s because everyone’s body chemistry reacts to scents in different ways.
There are those who can make a great mix out of cologne and their body chemistry and there are ones who manage to spoil the whole scent, no matter how luxurious or expensive, because the cologne is not compatible with their natural odor. How do you find a great cologne scent for yourself, especially if you are new at it? Here are 4 easy to act on tips:
#1 Keep It Simple
Simplicity has become a real trend, accelerated by recent events. Scents that contain one to three notes are your way to go!
Also, bear in mind, that when the weather gets hot, cologne may evaporate more quickly. In fact, consider different scents for different seasons.
#2 Find Well-Constructed Scents That You Prefer And Be Assertive
Write down scents that you wouldn't mind being around on a daily basis to help guide yourself through the different options. Also take note of scents that you don't like as well.
If you need some general advice on what personality types go with which scent profiles, consider:
- Vintage scents for the “old school” gentleman are characterized by a slight scent of alcohol and a dominant fragrance that is sweet or spicy.
- Men who show ambition wear leather-scented colognes. There are different leather aromas. Some have floral elements, while others have velvety or smoky characteristics. The characteristics depend on the oils and fragrances mixed into the scent: musk, ambergris, birch, and juniper.
- The Oriental cologne scent is favored by the laidback man who is flexible and ready for anything. A key characteristic of Oriental colognes is their sensual and warm tones. Amber is the base fragrance of most Oriental colognes. The addition of musk as well as other elements like vanilla, spices and woody fragrances give Oriental colognes their distinctive fragrance. The final ingredient of the Oriental cologne is a fruity-floral combination of scents such as orchid and bergamot. Oriental colognes tend to be distinctive as there are so many combinations of scents.
- A musk-based cologne is a wise choice for that guy who wants to exude the air of a manly, red-blooded male.
- Woody colognes suit the man comfortable in his confidence. Woody colognes are made using a variety of wood scents. These include sandalwood, cedar, oakmoss, and rosewood. While technically a wood, vetiver, and patchouli fit into the woody category.
- Fresh scents suit the adventure lover. The smell is reminiscent of the great outdoors without the woodsy smell.
- Seeing the word floral might put a lot of men off from trying this type of cologne. However, the floral aspects in a men’s cologne are very subtle and nothing at all like women’s perfumes. While still creating a masculine effect, a hint of floral fragrance can be very sensual. Examples of floral elements that might be included in men’s cologne are ylang-ylang, jasmine. Combining them with other scents like citruses allows the inclusion of floral scents to round out the overall fragrance.
Now you sort of know what to look for, try going to a store where there is a clerk to assist you in exploring the scents. Tell them what you are looking for, including the scents and the construction, so that they can guide you in the right direction. If the sales person seems to not be getting close to the target of what you want isn’t hitting the mark, don't feel bad if you move on to a different clerk or store. A clean, crisp scent with notes of forest moss, lavender, and white birch A clean, crisp scent with notes of forest moss, lavender, and white birch
#3 Spritz It on Your Skin
Don’t apply cologne from all the bottles that an attractive woman gives you in the shop. Otherwise, your nose will not be able to smell anything for another week. Don’t smell more than four colognes at once.
However, when you have narrowed your choice to three or less, then try it on your skin. The scent really opens up only on your skin - it needs the warmth of your skin and your body odor to show its fullest. to showcase its full scent potential.
Maybe that smell you liked so much in the bottle is not that great after all. Maybe it gets better even when you believe it is not possible? You will never know until you try it!
#4 Decision Is YoursIt does not matter that your friend says that you totally should buy it. It does not matter that your girlfriend says that she wants to spend day and night with you wearing this cologne. It does not matter that it reminds your wife of your honeymoon. If you do not like it, put it back on the shelf and do not try to convince yourself it is good.
- Now that you know how to find that perfect cologne, don’t not forget the basics on how to make it last longer:
- Spray your pulse points
- Keep your cologne in the cool and dark place
- Don’t let the direct sun rays ruin it
- Don’t shake the bottle
- Spray it on your clothing and accessories