Cologne – or Eau de Cologne, as it was originally known – has been around since the early 1700s when an Italian perfumier brought his latest fragrance to Cologne, Germany and named it after his new hometown. In its original form, cologne was a blend of ethanol with citrus oils. Today colognes are made from a variety of oils, including wood, smoke and earth scents.
Scent is a personal thing. The sense of smell is the sense most closely related to memory. Think apple pie in your mother’s kitchen, for example. When choosing a cologne, a man wants to be remembered, but positively. He doesn’t want his scent to evoke bad thoughts and feelings in the people around him.
Four Things to Consider When Selecting a Cologne
1. Who are you? Are you a kid in school or a man in his 50s? Do you work in construction or are you a corporate executive?
2. Where will you be wearing this?
3. What is the season/temperature?
If you are young, fresher scents are more appropriate than heavy, musky ones. If you work outdoors or doing heavy labor, you will want not only a scent that will last, but one that reacts well to your body’s natural sweat and odor.
In close quarters, you won’t want a cologne that is too overpowering. A man never wants to be the one that people hold their noses around. You don’t want your cologne to announce your presence ten minutes before you arrive!
Heat affects the subtle blend of a cologne. The best places to apply the cologne are at pulse points, like neck, wrist and/or chest where the blood makes the cologne warm and spreads the scent. However in hot weather, it can prove to be too much. Try a lighter scent for summer, and save the heavy fragrances for winter’s cooler days.
There are suitable colognes out there for just about any budget. Less expensive fragrances will have a higher ethanol content, and less natural essential oil. Colognes made with a lot of ethanol or synthetic oils will have less staying power and may not be suitable for all skin types as they may cause irritation. Higher priced colognes will use more essential oil and have more holding power over the course of a man’s day. A man will need to use less of a high priced cologne in order to achieve the concentration of scent he desires.
That doesn’t mean you can’t buy a good cologne for little money. These are merely factors to consider.
How to Select a Cologne
Choosing a new cologne can be overwhelming. Department stores and drugstores are packed with an overpowering variety of fragrances, each canceling out the others. Buying the right one takes time and patience. A knowledgeable salesperson at the fragrance counter can help describe the scents to you before you begin the sniff-test. This will make sure you are only testing scents in the category you are interested in, for example woody, musky or aquatic.
Set aside the ones that sound appealing to you. Have the salesperson spray some on a perfume blotter card for you to sniff. Inhale the scent as soon as it’s sprayed. Then put the card down. Wait a few moments for the ethanol to evaporate a little and smell it again. This will give you an idea of how long it will take for the scent to settle onto your skin.
Do this for each of your choices, using a separate blotting paper for each one. Eliminate the fragrances that don’t appeal to you. Then leave. Go do something else. Take a walk outside to clear your head or go grab some lunch (don’t eat anything too spicy or with a lot of garlic). When you return to the store, repeat the process, narrowing it down to one or two colognes that you like.
Now try one on each wrist. Walk around for a while wearing them. Make your final decision based on how it lasts, how intense it is, and how it reacts to your body’s own chemistry.
Tips for Wearing Cologne
* Apply cologne when you are fresh out of the shower
* Wear unscented deodorant and/or aftershave (unless you choose an aftershave that matches your scent – many perfumes have entire fragrance lines including body powder, lotion and aftershave)
* Less is more
* Humidity will change the scent slightly
* Drinking lots of alcohol will change the way the cologne smells on your body; so will eating spicy food
* Being ill, running a fever or taking certain types of medications will also change the way the cologne smells; anything that changes your body chemistry will affect the scent
Lead with your nose and you will certainly find the right cologne to suit your style, your life and your budget!