When was the last time you were overwhelmed by a man? No, I don’t mean the strong, silent type. I’m talking about a dude who smells good enough to want the same fragrance ? In an age where athletes’ armpits are on parade, and masculine fragrance categories have been reduced to little more than variations of musk and wood, it’s hard to find a man who smells like anything other than his deodorant, and even harder to find one who wants to.

But it wasn’t always this way. Fragrance has been considered integral to male grooming since the ancients began bathing more than 2,000 years ago. And while the modern metrosexual may not know much about shaving, he is very au fait with moisturizers and exfoliants. Consequently, men colognes are experiencing a renaissance, even if the vast majority remain unaware of this fact.

The ideal man cologne will enhance rather than mask your personal scent. A good analogy would be putting on clothes. It’s not about changing who you fundamentally are, but rather accenting and highlighting your best features. This is particularly important when wearing the same cologne every day.

My reluctance, however, hasn’t stopped me from experimenting over the years with various scents that I’ve smelled on other people, including Bleu de Chanel or Santal 33 from Le Labo. I would spray it on my wrist at the department store and then sit in traffic to see how long it lasted. The problem was that most fragrances are designed to be detected by others rather than you.

If you’re removed from the situation, sitting in a car with the windows rolled up, it’s very difficult to get an accurate impression of how a man cologne smells on you right?

My problem was compounded by the fact that most fragrances are marketed using broad categories rather than individual scents. And if you ask ten people what they think of when they hear the term “fresh,” you’ll get at least ten different answers.

This is why it’s crucial to try a cologne before you buy if possible, and why I am writing a guide on how to choose and wear cologne for men.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a male or a female, perfumes and cologne have enhanced beauty for the men and women who wear them. The use of fragrances has evoked nostalgic memories and lifted moods through overpowering scents.

However, selecting the right fragrance has been a great challenge for most men, considering that the market has over a million perfumes. This is how to make the right pick !

Men's Guide fragrance© Can Stock Photo / Artofphoto

What Are Fragrances?

Fragrances are a blend of a “fixative” base note and a variety of other ingredients designed to enhance the fixative. The fixative is the part of the men cologne that remains detectable throughout its lifespan. This will be either the heaviest molecule in the mixture or one that evaporates very slowly, such as vanilla or patchouli.

Fragrances that are marketed as “notes” (i.e., “top” or “heart notes”) aren’t describing individual scents; rather, they’re identifying which ingredients play a secondary role in the fragrance.

The top note is the first thing you smell when you apply it to your skin, and the heart note is the main ingredient that you will detect throughout its lifespan. The base note, on the other hand, is not always detectable. In fact, it’s what remains after the top and middle notes have dissipated from your skin.

There are thousands of fragrances to choose from — everything from designer brands such as Chanel, Giorgio Armani, and Creed to celebrity fragrances such as Rogue by Rihanna or Usher for Men — so narrowing your selection down to a manageable number requires some research.

Originally, fragrances were made from flowers and herbs. But over time, they evolved to include realistic odors (such as leather) and abstract concepts (such as freshness). Today’s fragrances are based on a variety of natural substances, including lavender, jasmine, bergamot, musk, amber, and sandalwood.

The Life Cycle Of Fragrances

The first component of a fragrance to evaporate is the top note, which is usually citrus. The middle or “heart” note emerges after about 15 minutes and lingers until the base notes appear after an hour or so. The base notes tend to last longest, which explains why it’s difficult to smell most fragrances on yourself after several hours.

The fragrances you choose should depend on the occasion, your personality, and how you want to be perceived. One common misconception is that fragrances project; in truth, they travel about an inch from your skin to the nose of another person.

So if you’re looking for a fragrance that will last all day at work or through a date, you might need a different level of potency than if you’re attending a funeral or going to the beach.

The top note is the first impression of your fragrances and generally lasts 15 minutes. This scent should be a fresh, light, and invigorating scent that can often be a fruity or floral blend. It’s important to select a top note you’ll enjoy because it will draw others in for a closer sniff.

If you have a strong personality, you’re better off choosing a top note that is more powerful. However, if you’re not very outgoing or enjoy quieter activities, then choose something lighter that won’t overpower others.

The heart of your fragrances will emerge after about 15 minutes and should be the main focus for the remainder of the day. Heart notes express your personal style and are often the most noticeable scent.

At this point, your fragrance is competing with all of the other scents around you (i.e., perfumes, deodorants, hair products), so it’s important to be mindful of how powerful your man cologne is before applying it. If need be, you can always apply your perfume again at a later time in the day.

The great news is that fragrances have improved tremendously in recent years, so you no longer have to choose between projection and longevity. If your men cologne isn’t as potent as you would like, just apply it more frequently during the day.

About the perfume wheel

The perfume wheel is an excellent way to choose fragrances. It classifies fragrances by their dominant notes, allowing you to match your personality with the appropriate scent. Just pick a letter on the outside of the wheel that best describes your mood or personality, and then follow the path until you find a man cologne that intrigues you.

It’s important to note that the fragrances wheel is merely a guide. If you don’t like floral scents, there’s no reason why you should force yourself to buy an oriental-floral perfume, even if it appears on your favorite path on the circle.

You can also use the perfume guide to find out more about different types of fragrances :

the perfume wheel

Credit: MedejaJa / iStock Photos

What is the Difference Between Perfume, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, and Cologne and Fragrances?

  • Perfum is the most concentrated of all fragrances, with an alcohol concentration of at least 20 percent.
  • Eau de parfum has an alcohol content of 15-20 percent, and eau de toilette contains just 8-15 percent.
  • The weakest fragrances are known as colognes or splashes, which have a 5 percent concentration of perfume oils.

Colognes are designed for casual use, while eau de parfum is best reserved for special occasions or evening wear. Women often prefer eau de toilette during the day because it’s lighter than eau de parfum and wears closer to the skin.

Fragrances differ from colognes in that they are made with a higher concentration of oils, making them more expensive to produce. This means that the men cologne will likely last longer on your skin.

The different price ranges of cologne

The price you pay for a cologne is based on a number of several factors today. Quality and brand is the most obvious and objective determinant of the price you will likely pay for a cologne.

So a cologne from a well known designer, such as Versace, will likely be more expensive than one from a lesser known brand.
The first factor that affects the price of a signature scent is the amount of perfume oil it contains. A bottle of men cologne that you buy today can contain perfume oils worth hundreds or thousands of dollars per ounce. The higher the amount of oils, the more expensive it will be to produce and the greater the overall cost.

The second factor that affects cologne price is the packaging. Because a designer’s brand name has value, many designers pay for their product packaging as well as ingredients and labor costs. This can increase the cost of producing a bottle of cologne significantly.

Because the manufacturing cost accounts for only a small percentage of what you pay, don’t expect to buy many designer fragrances at their discounted prices. You could save more by purchasing eau de toilettes or colognes instead because they are less concentrated and contain fewer oils.

If your budget is limited, try starting with a designer product line such as those from Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabbana, or Calvin Klein. You may find some real bargains among their products.

Why Men Wear Fragrances?

Fragrances have grown increasingly popular with men these days, and men appreciate the role in grooming they play in their lives. There are several reasons why a man would want to wear a man cologne today.

One of the chief reasons why men are wearing fragrances and perfumes is to impress. Now, who does not want to impress a woman? The right scent can make you stand out from among a bunch of other men trying to win the favor of the lady.

A fragrance is also an accessory that adds personality to your style. It’s the finishing touch to your outfit and allows you to express your individuality.

Don’t forget that men want to smell good as well as women! Yes, we do care how we smell! It can be a turn-on for some women when they get close enough to catch a whiff of some great cologne or perfume on you. Smelling lovely is a surefire way to get the girl!

Men also wear colognes for hygiene purposes: Body odor is often embarrassing for both the person emitting it and others around him, so wearing a man cologne can mask any unwelcomed scents emanating from your body

In addition, there are many men who wear fragrances and cologne because it makes them feel confident and more pleasant to be around with.

Designer & Niche fragrances: What’s the difference and how to choose?

It’s important to understand the difference between designer and niche fragrances.

Designer colognes and perfumes

They are made by large companies and sold through department stores and upscale perfumeries, while niche fragrances are more exclusive creations that often cost a great deal more than designer colognes.

The biggest difference between the two is distribution. Niche fragrances are sold in smaller numbers than designer perfumes, so they don’t have to adhere to huge production standards or follow mainstream trends.

Niche fragrance brands

They often use rare ingredients for their scents and even pay experts to custom-blend certain colognes, which means the end product can sometimes be radically different from the designer colognes you’re used to.

Another difference between designer and niche fragrances is marketing. Niche brands market themselves as small companies that are innovative and willing to try new things, while big designers need to keep mass-producing their scents each year in order to turn a healthy profit. This means the niche perfumes can be avant-garde and experimental, while designer fragrances have to play it safe.

In short, niche colognes are of a higher quality than their designer counterparts. As a result, they’ll likely last longer on your skin and smell more unique. On the flip side, they’re less common, so many will be very expensive.

Consider the Notes

It’s an aspect that continues to confuse many people, who wonder how fragrances have notes like music. The truth is that each perfume and cologne has a note that determines its extent of scent. The notes are classified in distinct layers called the base, the middle, and the top. The three notes work in tandem to produce a pleasant scent.

Perfumes that are considered as floral contain various scent notes such as geranium, rose, and gardenia. If you choose to explore fruity scents, you’ll most likely encounter undertones of apples and citrus fruits. The market also has exotic perfumes with spices such as cinnamon.

Moreover, with vanilla being a popular scent amongst men, finding the right men’s vanilla cologne brand can be a bit confusing. You, therefore, need to go through a review of the different brands to ensure that you land on a version that matches your fashion, taste, and budget.

Consider the Concentration

Before identifying your ideal taste, your sense of smell can assist in judging the strength, but the verdict could take up to a full-day. It’s because different colognes have distinct concentration levels, making some to smell longer than others. The highly concentrated perfumes usually cost higher than the less-concentrated products.

Here are the four concentrations of perfumes that exists :

  • Perfume, often known as parfum, is the highest concentration available in the market. Its single scent on your wrist is enough to run you for twelve hours, like Bronze Wood & Leather from Jo Malone London.
  • Eau de parfum is the second-most concentrated fragrance that can last for six hours after its application.
  • Eau de toilette is coming in number three and requires its lover to apply it more than once for the best experience. It’s worth noting that this category is usually affordable and available in the market.
  • Eau de cologne is occupying the lowest rank in the concentration contest. It usually lasts for two hours.

Test the Fragrance Before Purchase !

It could be the reason most cosmetic stores offer testers for their customers. The process of testing usually starts at bottle-sniffing before you could proceed to other details. After establishing the scent, you can apply it on your skin to determine if it’s uniquely ideal for your hormones and pheromones.

Identifying the right fragrance of perfume for men is often a tedious process that can claim your money and time. It’s essential to follow steps that would let you select a fragrance that grants you a unique scent. Remember, never purchase a fragrance only because it perfectly suits a person, you know. Our skins respond differently to fragrances.

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