Published on January 14th, 2014 | by The Perfume Expert
Expert Advice for Men on How to Pick out a Cologne
Wearing a beautiful fragrance isn’t just for the ladies! Donning a gorgeous scent is crucial for men, not only for first impressions both personally AND professionally but also for representing yourself and who you are. But finding a scent can be a daunting process, especially for men. Most don’t know where to even start! So here I am to help give expert advice on how to pick out a new cologne; a signature scent!
First, I would start by exploring your own style, taste, personality, and lifestyle.
Ask yourself a few questions like:
1. What is my personality? Are you shy? Are you serious? Are you the life of the party? Are you a joker?
These answers can begin to point you in the right direction with scent. For example, if you are a shy or serious person, you probably gravitate to more traditional scents with Musk, Woods, and warm spicy notes. Think “manly” smells but with a sweeter/softer side! Guerlain does an exquisite male scent called Habitat Rouge. It’s classic, warm, and spicy but smooth with a multitude of notes like rich Leather, smoky Incense (church-like), sweet Vanilla, warm Amber (think of a glowing candle), and deep Woods, but also fresh Citrus and romantic Rose (think deep floral not girly)! Guerlain is exceptional at making sophisticated and classic scents that are timeless and Habitat Rouge is one such scent. It’s an ideal scent for professionals and businessmen. Or for those who are strong willed and more serious; perhaps a bit more studious and contemplative. It’s masculine but not sharp and overpowering, instead it’s rich and smooth!
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Contrary to that, if you are the life of the party or are a joker you might gravitate to more bold, trendy fragrances with peppery and vibrant notes. A bold and bright scent like Victor & Rolf Spicebomb will definitely get everyone’s attention. It’s fireworks in a bottle with a unique mix of hot Chili and Saffron (smoky sweet), gutsy Leather and Tobacco (deep smokiness), and vibrant Orange zest, Grapefruit, and Vetiver (sharp earthy green)! Think of a nose-tickling peppery jolt to the senses!
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Similarly, Jo Loves Green Orange & Coriander (read the full review here) is a perfect scent for those who think outside the box, or are adventurous and playful. It’s a unique scent filled with fresh green and bitter Orange mixed with citrus Coriander, hot Black Pepper, and earthy Oak Moss. Think of walking through an orange grove with the hints of citrus fruit, moss on the bark and leaves on the grass! It’s masculine but in a vibrant and bright youthful way!
2. What activities do I enjoy most? Are you outdoorsy? Do you like to travel? Are you artistic? Are you an avid reader? Or are you a Sporty person?
This is very important to get a hold on, because as you might find scents can drastically affect the ambiance of the environment and if you wear a scent that is in keeping with what you do most, you will be able to sense a congruence. For example, think of how well the smell of Cinnamon, or Incense goes along with Christmas! You couldn’t imagine it being the same putting up the Christmas tree while smelling Spring-like blossoms!
If you like to travel, scents with spices, florals, and herbs from far-off places may interest you, such as the Aqua di Parma colognes from the Blu Mediterraneo collection which feature flowers, herbs, woods and greens and citrus fruits from Italy and Sicily. These scents are clean, fresh, and timeless wherever you go.
The Aqua di Parma scent called Mirto di Panarea is one example from the collection that features a captivating mixture of herbal Myrtle & Italian Basil (think pizza spices) together with vibrant Lemon and Bergamot, sailing away in an Aqua note of sea breeze and romantic Jasmine & Rose (seductive floral), warming into intense deep green Lentiscus (like Pine) & Juniper, rich Cedar Wood and glowing Amber (warm). Imagine sitting in a sun-lit paved stone garden in a villa on the coast of Italy, sipping on a limoncello, starring out at the sea, and smelling the faint hint of native evergreen trees swirling around with salt water in the breeze!
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Or for more exotic adventures, try the scent called John Varatos which is rich in Oriental spices and exotic notes! Think sexy, sultry, exotic fruits and hot spices from far-away lands! A sexy mixture of ripe lush Indian Fig, sweet Tamarind and dark juicy Plum, lightened by tropical Lime & Coriander, and deepened with rich Leather, smooth Sandalwood, warm Amber, and earthy Sage and Cedar. Then spiked with spicy Cinnamon and Pepper! Smells like walking through a market in the Orient! This scent is not only almost edible, it’s intoxicating! Perfect for a globetrotter!
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If you are an artist, you may appreciate Paul Smith’s newest scent, Portrait, which is unique with creative ingredients like refreshing Green Tea, nose-tickling Pink Pepper, and dreamy Lavender. Think of shower-fresh scents that are minimal, clean, and simplistic. This scent is unique because it’s almost a cologne for men who don’t wear cologne! It’s not overpowering or overtly masculine.
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Or Dior Homme by Dior which is more romantic and soft with masculine florals and warm Cocoa and Sandalwood. This scent is extra special because it is a rare example of how floral notes can be used in a cologne without it smelling “girly”. It’s floral notes have depth and a serious weight when mixed with more masculine notes. Dior Homme is comforting, warm, inviting, soft, and romantic! Think of reciting poetry to the one you love under the glowing lights of the Eiffel Tower!
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If you enjoy the outdoors, you will probably like scents with a lot of woods, greens, and herbal notes. Think of forrest-like smells and scents that are very earthy, green, vegetal, and herbal! Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver is a complex earthy perfection and truly unique in its combination of warm Woods, cool Vetiver (grassy green), fresh herbs and earthy Oak Moss.
Although, some of you may prefer to be more active while outside and consider yourselves “sportsmen”, where you will probably like fragrances that have more aqua and water notes which are clean and fresh. Not only do sporty scents usually smell very clean and fresh but they also use a lot of watery notes to add to their “wide-awake” brightness. Bleu de Chanel is a sporty yet sophisticated cologne and has a great mix of uplifting Citrus and Mint (refreshing), bold spices like Pink Pepper and Nutmeg, but also the warming depth of Incense (smokey), Sandalwood (warm), and Cedar (woody and green). Again, bold and lively yet classy! This scent is great because it’s sporty-fresh and clean yet fades into a rich masculine base!
Or Bvlgari Aqva Pour Homme is another sporty scent which is the quintessential sporty watery sophistication! With notes of Salt Water, Citrus, Cedar, and herbs like Lavender, Rosemary and Sage, Bvlgari Aqva in particular is sporty yet still classy! This scent, as opposed to Bleu de Chanel, remains fresh and vibrant and does not fade into any warmth. Because of this, Aqva Pour Homme is a great sporty cool day-time scent while you’re on the go and active!
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Instead of being a sportsman, you may be an avid reader or just like chilling out, and if so, you will probably gravitate to softer, warmer scents with Amber, Musk, and perhaps some spices such as scents like the above Guerlain Habitat Rouge or another superb scent from Guerlain called L’Instant de Guerlain pour Homme Eau Extreme. Think of colognes that smell warm, inviting, cosy, like a hug or cuddling by a roaring fire! L’instant de Guerlain pour Homme cologne is well worth checking out as it is smooth, warm, rich, deep and utterly intoxicating with warm and inviting chocolate and Licorice spices!
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3. What is my dress style? Do you wear classic things like suits and crisp white t-shirts? Are you sporty and always in a hoodie or Polo? Or are cosy and casual and like jeans and flannel shirts or khakis?
Knowing your sense of style can help you easily pick out a scent. This may sound funny, but perfume houses spend a great deal of time getting the right marketing/packaging/advertising out that best represents a particular fragrance. So, if the guy in the cologne advert suits your style, or is pictured doing a similar activity to what you enjoy doing, than chances are the scent will reflect that. Think of Ralf Lauren Polo for example, their scents are very sporty, fresh, and clean; hence the adverts, posters, and packaging is also geared towards a sporty person usually involving a man in sports attire sailing or playing polo.
If you find yourself frequently donning polos, flip-flops, or hoodies, CHANEL Allure Homme Sport is a gorgeous clean aqua fresh sporty cologne that is also classy and sophisticated. It centers around Watery Sea notes, crisp greens, zingy Orange and picante Pepper and Vetiver (green) but also warms to a sophisticated Tonka Bean (nutty and sweet), Vanilla, and Musk. This is an excellent mixture of both clean sporty notes but yet also rich masculine notes.
If you gravitate to worn-in jeans and cosy sweaters, then you might like something soft and warm and inviting like the above mentioned Dior Homme by Dior. It’s soft & powdery and slightly floral but in a masculine way and it’s also warm and inviting with notes of Cocoa and glowing Amber.
Then again, if you find yourself dressing very classy, in suits or polished boots and crisp white tees, you will probably gravitate to traditional masculine scents with Musk, Vetiver, and spices. Think powerful, sophisticated, classy and manly! Again, Guerlain’s Habitat Rouge is a classic, or Bottega Veneta Pour Homme is also a great scent with classic sweet Patchouli and rich Leather with refreshing Pine and zingy Bergamot. Think of this scent as forest-like smells mixed with rich leather!
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4. What scents do I enjoy or already gravitate to? What fragrances do you already like? And which do you dislike?
Finding out what you like AND dislike is crucial to finding a new scent. Try and find out what it is about these fragrances that you like/dislike? Do some research! Google the name of the scent plus the word NOTES and find a listing of what notes (smells) are included in this fragrance. Then you can get a sense of which scent notes to look for in other fragrances. For example, you may really like the smell of Cedar, so look for Cedar in a new fragrance. Try simply Googling “Men’s Cologne with Cedar in it” or go to your local fragrance counter at a department store and tell them which smells/notes you like.
In addition, try and figure out if there are any particular smells that are meaningful to you. Perhaps you always loved the smell of your grandpa’s leather jacket, or the scent of fresh herbs from the garden of your first home. Maybe you love the smell of salt water as it reminds you of a romantic trip to the ocean, or the smell of the spices of your mom’s home cooking.
Scent is a powerful tool for memory formation and memory recall, so scents that have a positive memory to us are also ones we tend to gravitate towards when picking out a fragrance. So again, try and recall scents that you have enjoyed in the past or that illicit positive emotions and memories. Write these scents down and research colognes that use these notes by searching “Colognes with Leather as a note” , “Colognes that smell like the ocean”, “Colognes with Cinnamon”, or “Forest-like Colognes” etc.
Lastly, always try before you buy! Go to your local department store or beauty store like Sephora in the US and try on some fragrances or ask for a sample to take home and try, that way you can begin to get a sense of what you like and don’t like. Think of it like test driving a car. You wouldn’t buy a car without first taking it for a spin, so do the same with fragrances!
Above all, have fun researching colognes and finding a signature scent. A personal fragrance not only can represent who you are, but can also inspire you to be who you want to be! A powerful tool to evoke confidence within yourself and allow you to put your best foot forward both professionally AND personally.