Figuring out the signature scent that you want to be recognized by is a really intimidating process. In fact, it kind of feels like a long-term commitment that’s scarier than marriage. Picking the right cologne means figuring out what you want and buying it for a long time.
The catch here is that if you don’t like the smell after a couple of weeks, then you’ve got a couple more months to possibly even a year left of cologne to finish.
What Cologne Should You Wear?
So what cologne should you wear and how do you go about picking the right one for you? Well, there are a lot of different types of cologne that you can choose from. Furthermore, colognes have different classes and scents that add an extra level of variety to easily help you find your signature scent.
As we proceed, we’ll also be listing down a couple of key tips that you can use to make your cologne last longer as well as many other useful lifehacks at the end of the article.
The Many Misconceptions And Labels In Perfumery
You might have encountered a lot of the labels that are going to be mentioned below. While these are the general terms that are used to categorize perfumes, unfortunately, in the 20th century this has somewhat turned into a blur.
Eau de Cologne, de Toilette, de Parfum, and Parfum are all terms that, despite having some type of regulation, are carelessly tossed around here and there. Originally, fragrances were separated by oil concentration, which increases how long these scents last.
However, with the complacency of simply having ‘Eau de Parfum’ easier to print than ‘Eau de Toilette’ much of the meaning has been lost. Despite that, we can still try to guide you through what these words should mean to provide you an, unfortunately blurry, but general road.
Knowing Your History And Jargon
Before we guide you through the types of scents and fragrances, let’s decipher some of the ancient Greek that we see when we read about perfumes.
To be fair the commonly used language in perfumes or cologne names is French and not Greek. Listed below are a ton of jargon that gets tossed around in the perfume industry, jargon meaning terms that are specific to a certain industry that most people don’t understand.
We’ll be clarifying all these terms to help guide you through the difference between each type of cologne as well as to familiarize yourself with the types of products. Don’t worry, we aren’t trying to condense a degree in French perfumery here, the terms are relatively simple to understand.
The French And Their Perfume
The most famous distributors and makers in the perfume industry are all pretty much French. In the 1800s during a brief period when the French were afraid of water being infectious, they had to cover the odorous smells of people who wouldn’t take a bath.
Quite humorously, that’s how the beautiful history of French perfumery began. Since then, the French have been known for perfecting the art of making fragrances and have found their language as the staple for the sign of good perfume.
Contrary to a lot of misconceptions, cologne is not exclusively designed for men. It is in fact simply just a subcategory of a type of fragrance. On the other hand, pour homme is the French equivalent of ‘for men’ which is a better indication as to whether or not that fragrance is for men.
Eau de Cologne
The name that most men are familiar with as well as the category that has the most misconception. Cologne or water from Germany—Eau de literally means ‘water of’ and Cologne is just a place in Germany—is not a type of scent that’s designed solely for men. Instead, it is a category of fragrances that have only 2 to 7 percent oil mixed in. These fragrances last up to 3 hours and have the shortest lifespan among the bunch.
Eau de Toilette
A mix between the parfum and cologne, the Eau de Toilette—literally toilet water—is meant to be a grooming cologne. For special occasions where the scent needs to last longer than the cologne but is generally cheaper than the parfum. These ‘jacks of all trades’ contain about 8 to 12 percent oil and can last up to 4 hours.
Eau de Parfum
Watered down versions of the parfum, Eau de Parfum was initially made to circumvent a French tax that involved parfums. These generally have about 10 to 20 percent oil mixed in them and can last up to 5 hours.
Literally means ‘perfume’ in English. Parfum has the most concentrated amount of oils with up and over 20 percent of oils present in the mix. Oil helps the scent retain on your skin, guaranteeing that it lasts longer and sometimes smells better.
How To Pick A Cologne
Now that we’ve gone over some of the technicalities of reading perfumes, it’s time to finally get into the meat and find your signature scent. Here are a couple of pro tips to help you pick the right cologne for yourself.
Smell Your Inner Elbow
What!? Yes, smell your inner elbow. While you may have heard about using the coffee beans in a perfume shop to reset your nose so that aromas don’t clash when choosing, smelling your inner elbow actually does a better job at this than you’d think.
Apparently, the PH levels and natural odor of your skin do a better job at resetting your olfactory (sense of smell) senses than coffee beans. You can do this with other warm places in your body, but your elbow already does a pretty good job.
As you go through a selection of colognes to see which you prefer, reset your olfactory senses by smelling your elbow before giving the other scent a sniff. This will help you judge the smell of fragrances without having them mix in your nose.
Let Cologne Sit On Your Skin For A Couple Of Minutes
Due to the chemical reactions that occur with our skin and the cologne, the smell and aroma can change in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, other colognes—especially expensive ones—are covered in layers of scents from base to top notes.
Spray either of your wrists and leave the cologne on your skin for about 10 to 15 minutes before taking a sniff. You’ll usually find that the scent does change a while after the initial spray.
If this feels like a hassle, you can do this while walking around the mall or before grabbing a bite to eat. Remember, if you’re thinking about finding that signature scent for you then you’ll have to be a little bit patient to find the right one for yourself.
Ask For Test Samples
Finally, before we elaborate on the types of fragrances out there, try and ask for test samples before buying a full bottle. More often than not, most stores would happily provide a test sample that you could conservatively use for two weeks to help you make up your mind.
If you’re worried about the recent pandemic and cannot go out, you can also directly email most websites and ask if you can inquire about test samples. In most cases, these stores would be happy to give you a test sample as a potential customer.
Picking The Right Fragrance
Moving on, we can conclusively start expounding on the different types of fragrances that you can buy and peruse through. Each of these fragrances will have a different vibe and atmosphere, so be meticulous about finding the right one.
Manly Burly Wood
Arguably the manliest smell, woody colognes are rich and serene to the nose. These fragrances remind you of the outdoors or take you somewhere, like a cabin in the woods, and make you long for a hike or camp.
Woody colognes are great for adventurous men who prefer living the outdoor lifestyle. At the same time, if you’re fashion is largely old-school and vintage, oak or cedar are great fragrances to top off your aesthetic.
Spicy Sexy Oriental
Oriental colognes are known for their spicy and enticing aromas that get your brain going. Fragrances made in this style are usually combined with vanilla, cinnamon, and a bunch of other spices mixed together to create this unique aromatic scent.
Definitely the perfect choice for men who want to come off mysterious or exciting. Spicy oriental colognes usually come in lots of tones that make each sniff a different experience.
Elegant And Caring Floral
For the more gentle, friendly, and easily-approachable men reading this article, floral fragrances are inviting and relaxing scents that help ease the atmosphere of a personal conversation. Although these fragrances are generally connected to women, there are flowers that produce manly scents.
The balance between elegant and masculine is the play here, and it’s not entirely uncommon for women to appreciate men who express a caring side. Floral colognes are perfect for setting the tone of a warm and cozy experience together with your company.
Fresh And Fruity
Citrus and fruity fragrances are the variety to look out for. While this might feel like an odd choice, having the right fresh cologne will work wonders in a bustling city that’s full of work, pollution, and generic office aromas.
Fruit scents are a great way to stand out in a sea of otherwise artificial and man-made scents like aircon fresheners or cold winter streets. Definitely a seasonal aroma that works wonders when applied properly at the right time.
What You Want To Have
Above all else here, the most important thing to consider is finding one that works well for you. Find something special, distinct, and unique to yourself. Other people will deliberately choose fruity and fresh cologne so people who are near these fruits are reminded of them.
Figure out what you want and how you want people to remember you. It always helps to think about your fashion style, aesthetic, and personality when it comes to choosing your cologne.
Additional Pro Tips For Cologne
Now that you know how to choose between colognes, here are a couple of extra tips to elevate the attention you put in the details. If you’re someone who’s particular about details or just wants to impress his date, definitely read through the short but important segments below.
Moisturize For Longer Lasting Scents
Dry skin will dissipate the smell of your cologne much quicker than wet or moisturized skin. Apply moisturizer on your wrists, neck, and the crook of your elbows before applying the cologne on your skin. This will make the cologne potentially last several hours longer, depending on how effective your moisturizer is.
Cologne Is Discovered And Not Announced
The biggest mistake that rookies make when putting on cologne is spraying too much on themselves. Don’t apply too much on your body, two sprays for both your wrists then dab each wrist on the respective side of your neck.
Your cologne should be discovered within a foot close to you, any more than that is generally considered too strong and may even bother people.
Alternate Between The Seasons
Oriental or woody aromas are best used in the winter when the cold takes away most of what reminds us of spring. Additionally, it’s best to use fresh fragrances during the hot summer days to further expound on the beach season.
Dr. Acula Cologne
Avoid storing your cologne in a hot place that’s near sunlight. Cologne first and foremost is a chemical that will undergo significant changes when under the heat and light of the sun. Store this in a cool shaded place, ideally inside your drawer.
Change Your Cologne Whenever You Travel
Lastly, here’s a pro tip for whenever you travel somewhere, buy yourself a new cologne. Each day on that trip, spray the cologne on yourself and enjoy your day. Once you fly back home, every time you think about traveling back to that place you can simply spray yourself with the cologne and remember the scene much more vividly.
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Frequently Asked Questions About What Cologne Should I Wear?
How do I choose the right cologne?
First, you have to figure out what you want to smell like and what scent you want people to associate yourself with. After that, read about the different types of cologne and what kind of cologne lasts longer or smells a certain way.
It’s a process that you can learn, but just like other important purchases, you need to read about it for a bit to make an informed decision.
Are you supposed to put cologne on your body or clothes?
Cologne and perfume are mixed with oils to explicitly be absorbed by your skin. The fragrance mixes with your body’s natural odor and creates a unique smell that’s special to your musk. Clothes will not retain nor absorb this as well as your skin so you should only apply cologne on your wrists, crook of your elbows, and your neck.
A Final Word From The Trending Man
It can be quite intimidating to figure out what kind of cologne you want to get. But don’t let the pressure of finding one quickly get to you. Take your time, especially when testing and leaving sample fragrances on your skin since it takes a while for your skin to properly absorb the cologne.
At the end of the day, other than finding a unique fragrance, the most important thing you can do is to not apply too much cologne on your body.
Now that you know how to pick a cologne, be sure to check out our detailed cologne reviews which were written to help you pick the best for your situation:
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