Choosing, applying and storing cologne is probably some of the most exact science most guys will ever have to carry out on a day to day basis, with the obvious exceptions of sporting analysis and mental blood alcohol mathematics.
Nonetheless, it’s an art that, when practised and perfected, will help mark your final transition into manhood. Everyone wants to be the guy who carries his scents the best, and despite all the old wives tales you may read, it has nothing to do with having a certain type of skin or applying cologne in a secret way.
It’s all in good old-fashioned technique.
Buying The Right Cologne
Buying the right cologne is the first step in making sure you’re not buying a scent that will seem to fall straight off of your skin 10 minutes after you apply it.
Unfortunately, the only way you can really test this in the first place is by navigating the vulture’s nest that is your local department store’s cosmetics section.
While many guys think that having one bottle of cologne (a signature scent if you will) is the way to go, we’d recommend having a fresher fragrance to use in summer, leaving the woodier, spicier colognes for the cooler months.
Use the sample cards to get an idea of the scents you like initially, then go back and sneak a spritz or two on your wrists to get an idea of how the scent matures over time.
Never buy a scent without properly analysing the way it develops and changes after a few hours on your skin, and never spray cologne directly onto the card. Spray from a distance and waft the card through the cloud.
Alternatively, check out our selection of the best men’s fragrances ever.
TIP: Never Go For The Cheapest Scent
Keep in mind exactly what it is you’re buying too. Most guys will automatically opt for the cheaper, more common Eau de Toilette in whatever scent they like, but if you’re after something that will last you a good chunk of time, doing this is setting yourself up for failure.
Eau de Toilette is typically a dilution of 5-15% perfume in water, designed to last for a few hours at most. Eau de Parfum is much stronger, hence why it’s generally more expensive, but it will last you longer if you only want to apply it in the morning and have it last you until 5pm.
Properly Applying Cologne
Once you’ve chosen the right smelly, applying it properly is, in its own way a form of chemistry. Cologne is made of molecules that break down over time, meaning you want to set the cologne up to break down over as long a time as possible.
In doing so, the cologne will then evaporate in layers, revealing first its top notes, then its mid-notes, and finally, its base notes.
The better you are at this, the better sillage (the trail of scent left behind you) you’ll get, the more complex and layered your cologne will smell throughout the day, and ultimately, the more you’ll get out of every bottle.
Here’s a non-fuss, step by step guide to perfect cologne application, every time.
- Ensure your skin is dried properly, preferably straight out of the shower, when your skin’s pores are opened the most. This will allow the skin to trap the most cologne possible, leading to less wastage.
- Identify your main heat points. While most people go for the simple neck and wrists routine, your shoulders, inner elbows, and armpits are also very warm areas.
- Spray onto these areas from a distance. Generally a distance of 3-6 inches is recommended. Make sure the bottle has worked as intended and properly dispersed the cologne into the air. If it’s simply squirting the fragrance onto your skin like a cheap water gun, you need to find a new nozzle.
Apply lightly around the body on the heat points we mentioned before. Don’t douse your wrists and neck in fragrance.
If you have a high-quality scent and you’ve applied it right, 1 spray per area will do much better. Also, don’t fall into the trap of spraying onto your clothes, spraying into the air and walking through it, or spraying in one place and rubbing it over the rest of your heat areas.
Cologne needs maximum contact with the skin to be the most effective, and it will be worth the extra sprays.
A Lasting Effect
A cologne’s ability to provide you with long, effective service depends largely on how well you keep it. The key to this is simple diligence and discipline.
While many get sloppy and eventually leave their cologne on the top of their bedside table, doing so will expose the cologne to much more rapid changes in temperature, which in turn causes the fragrance to break down much faster.
Keep your cologne in a cool, dark place where it’s unlikely to be disturbed. Those who have to smell you will thank you in the long run.