Everybody knows that guy who doesn’t know how to apply cologne. The one who douses himself in cologne until he’s walking around in a cloud of fragrance like the perfume-y version of Pig-Pen from Peanuts. Or the douchebro who may literally take his morning showers in Axe Body Spray instead of water (before gelling his hair and donning his Ed Hardy t-shirt, of course).
Those stunts were barely cute when you were a teenager discovering cologne for the first time, and they’re sure as hell not cute now that you’ve entered adulthood. Amateur hour is over. It’s time you learned to handle, keep and care for your colognes like the man you are. With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips on how to maximise the impact and lifetime of your signature scent so that you and it always smell fantastic.
Let’s start with the basics, gentlemen. This is how you avoid Pig-Pen syndrome:
Choose your location wisely
Traditionally, we’re told to apply fragrance to the wrists and behind the ears because they’re pulse points. However, for that very same reason, your fragrance may burn off faster when applied to those places. Your chest, your biceps and the hollow of your collarbone are better bets.
Perfect your technique
Should you spray or splash? The spray is the safest way to apply your scent. Not only does it prevent spillage, it gives you greater control over the application process and protects your cologne from exposure to air and containments from your hands.
Maintain a healthy distance
That’s not just good relationship advice, it’s also good fragrance etiquette. If you hold the bottle too close to your skin when spraying, you’ll end up with a concentrated puddle instead of a pleasant, diffuse scent. Hold the bottle 6-7 inches away from your body and then spray.
Do. Not. Over. Do. It. Your smell shouldn’t enter a room before you do and it shouldn’t linger after you’ve left. Unless someone is within arm’s length, they shouldn’t be able to smell it at all. In case of an over-application accident, dilute the fragrance by patting your skin with a warm, damp towel.
Think your fragrance begins and ends with your cologne? Think again.
Assuming you shower – and if you don’t, you have way bigger problems than your cologne – you’re adding layer after layer of scented product. Your shampoo, your conditioner, your shaving cream and your shower gel all contribute to your overall scent. And that’s before you’ve even gotten to your deodorant and hair care products. The body sprays, lotions and antiperspirants you use are most likely to clash with your cologne, so make your best effort to purchase fragrance-free products.
On the other hand, not all extra products are bad. The better hydrated your skin, the longer a fragrance will last on it. To increase the longevity of a scent, use a moisturiser (again, fragrance-free or minimally scented) a few minutes before applying your cologne.
You can also combine products from a fragrance’s body range to really maximise a scent’s potential. Plenty of big-name colognes now come with a supporting cast of characters that includes shower products, deodorants and aftershave balms. Layer them all for a powerful, longer-lasting, all-over scent that doesn’t clash.
Your cologne must be properly stored or it will lose its “spirit,” and if you’ve invested a chunk of change into your signature scent, you’re going to want it to be around for a while. The compounds that make up your cologne are degraded by heat and light, which can change both its scent and the way it reacts with your skin. Lighter and less concentrated scents are most susceptible to this kind of damage.
To keep your cologne in its prime, store it at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Cool, dry and dark conditions are best. A scent should stay in its original bottle; don’t decant it into another bottle or spray atomizer.
Another storage option (though this is debated) is to keep a fragrance in the refrigerator, where it will be protected from heat and humidity and can be stored for extended periods.