No man’s look is complete, whether formal, dress or casual, without the necessary application of proper fragrance.
To discuss fragrances properly, let’s examine the history of men’s fragrance, the different scent families, importance in choosing the right fragrance and how to properly apply it.
The right fragrance, properly applied, undoubtedly turns every man into someone special.
An Abridged History of Fragrance
The creation of scents has a long, long history. In Mesopotamia, flowers were mixed with aromatics and water. Then the Egyptians added ingredients like rose petals and peppermint to newly created glass “perfume bottles”. The Romans and Persians then refined the concoctions and peaked when Napoleon rose to power in 1700 France.
The word Perfumery refers to the art of making perfumes. Perfume was refined by the Romans, the Persians and the Arabs.
The concept of men first using a fragrance can be traced back to 1709 when Giovanni Maria Farina released a men’s fragrance composed of botanicals and herbs and termed it “cologne” to honor his hometown of Cologne, Germany.
This newly created fragrance soon spread quickly throughout Europe and through centuries and decades the term cologne has grown into a mass produced billion dollar industry enjoyed world wide.
In today’s world there are hundreds, if not thousands of men’s fragrances to choose from, but the first elementary lesson in choosing a fragrance is to identify the types of fragrances.
Fragrances are defined by their concentration which is determined by their ratio of oil to alcohol; the greater the ratio, the stronger the scent.
Types of Fragrances
There are five basic fragrances to choose from:
1. Eau Fraiche
Eau Fraiche is the lightest ratio and will last only an hour or two on the skin.
2. Eau de Cologne
Eau de Cologne has the second lowest ratio and will stay fragrant for 2-4 hours.
3. Eau de Toilette
Eau de Toilette is next with a ratio that will last through the day but dissipate by evening.
4. Eau de Parfum
Eau de Parfum will have a stronger fragrance and last longer and smell longer.
Parfum has the greatest ratio of oil to alcohol and will linger a room long AFTER its wearer has departed.
A quick caveat: The stronger the fragrance the higher the price tag!
» Related: How to Be a Modern-Day Gentleman (Rules & Etiquette to Know)
The Scent Families
Besides the concentration, the next area of fragrance identification occurs in the KIND of fragrance, aka the scent family. There are also five basic choices, (a sixth choice—Oriental is usually too expensive and made from rare Middle Eastern ingredients to discuss at this point).
Here are the 5 kinds of scents:
Aromatic is basically herbal with musky notes that are commonly related to as strictly Masculine, so to speak. A common aromatic is Musk Oil.
Citrus is zesty and fruit-like with aromas of orange, lemon and grapefruit and are the most popular every season fragrances to wear.
Florals are considered the most feminine of the fragrances as they are derived by flowers such as jasmine and rose.
Leather is very masculine with deep smoky qualities like wood, tobacco and honey, Best way to describe this is to ask a salesperson at the men’s fragrance department to let you try a sample.
Woody is an example of wood shavings and being outdoors. The best example I can think of is sandalwood or cedar. Again asking a salesperson is the best way to discover this scent.
How to Choose the Right Cologne for You
So how does one choose which scent is best for him? Besides a personal liking to the smell of the fragrance, the best way to choose a good scent is by following the changing of the seasons and knowing what to wear by what activity one is participating in.
» Related: Summer Fragrances for Men (What I’m Wearing)
In the spring and summer the lighter fragrances go best where the heavier scents are more suitable for the fall and winter months. Also heat can affect the strength of the scent so woody and leather scents can be overpowering in the heat.
A daily fragrance in the office shouldn’t announce your presence from several feet away, but a strong sensual scent can be perfect for a romantic dinner.
How to Apply Cologne the Right Way
Once the proper fragrance is chosen, then its proper application is the most important thing to remember. There are four steps to take when applying the right fragrance the right way.
1. Always apply a fragrance to dry, clean skin, preferably after showering. This allows the scent to permeate the skin for maximum penetration without compromising the scent from any previous aromas.
2. A fragrance should be applied directly to the skin and not to clothing. Spying on clothing wastes the scent and could stain the garment.
3. Apply to warm areas like the wrists, neck or behind the ears. These areas mix naturally with the body’s chemistry and bring out the maximum aroma of the scent.
4. Always remember that LESS IS MORE! A man should smell alluring and not overwhelming. If spaying only 2 or 3 times from 3 to 6 inches from the area or always dab with an index finger on the desired areas. Never splash from the palm of the hand.
Always keep in mind that each fragrance smells differently on each man. When choosing a fragrance it is always a good thing to ask somebody who knows you if they like the smell or consult the salesperson at the counter.
They will always try to steer you right because they want your return business or a complement to their supervisor.
There you have it gents, GW’s quick primer on Fragrances: the history, types of fragrances, the scent families, how to choose the right fragrance for you and finally how to properly apply it.
Some parting words: Dress well. Stay well. And most of all… Smell good while you’re doing it!
Joe Asumendi is, a host, producer and writer at RVNTV in Mount Laurel, NJ. He currently hosts Coffee With Joe and co-hosts Friday MorningCoffee, Let’s Talk, and CEO Chat. Joe is also an Independent Ambassador for The Boisset Collection and an avid watch collector.
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