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Top Tips for Men's Fragrances

Updated on March 25, 2012
Docmo profile image

Mohan is a family physician, film and TV aficionado, a keen bibliophile and an eclectic scribbler.


Some men don’t wear any fragrance apart from simple soap. Some douse themselves in deodorants and are happy with the end product. Some go for the popular high street brands, guided by Christmas campaigns and settling for whatever floats on the TV.

Believe me, it is worth investing some time in figuring out what fragrance suits you most. A good men's fragrance is like a best friend, always by your side, standing up for your cause and putting in a good word for you with the girls!

Picking a perfume can be a baffling exercise for both men and women and I thought perhaps a primer in the terminology and a little bit of the aromatic science would help your purchase. Hope you don't mind. I always believe that rather than just give you the top ten list after top ten list it is better to let you in on the background so you can also make your own choices.

What makes you the expert?

While I am no expert, I do love trying different men’s fragrances and see what concoctions suit me the best.

As I frequently travel by air I visit the duty free shops, or pop into shopping malls while on holiday, to give me an opportunity to try out new men's perfumes.

I also find the sheer number of fragrances developed by fashion houses mind boggling. From the classic houses of Chanel, YSL, Boss to the new upstarts like Jimmy Choo and Juicy Couture every fashion designer wants to be in on the perfume game.

There is a lot of crap out there, many 'me too' imitators like the terrible chemical napalm of fake 'perfumes’.

This , you may be shocked to know, ain't me!
This , you may be shocked to know, ain't me!

It's Personal

Perfume is such an individual taste, based on our olfactory sensitivity. Women generally have a much sensitive nose than men so men’s fragrances should be worn sparingly depending on the setting and activity, of course.

Each cologne or perfume smells differently on different people. Just because our friend smells good wearing a cologne doesn’t mean we will too

It's a good to note the basic ingredients in a fragrance so you can build a profile of what smells good on you. There are a lot of fragrances that have similar base notes but smell completely different, but this gives you a profile. Just like when you know some colours look better than others, while wearing clothes. You can build a fragrance ‘wardrobe’ by noting the baseline notes and essential ingredients and also try out new notes.

A fragrance wheel represents the various 'notes' or aromatic families used in combination to produce a perfume.

The Fragrance Wheel
The Fragrance Wheel

The Fragrance Wheel

Throughout the review of various men's fragrances I will be using terminology that will probably sound Greek and Latin ( in fact some of them may actually be Greek or Latin!). To assist us in this journey through the perfumiers lingo, I have put the fragrance wheel for your delectation. This wheel represents the four groups of notes that form the basline palette for the perfumiers art.

Like the sweet, sour, salt, spice and umami are the five tastes that underpin cooking, these are the notes that pleasantly stimulate our olfactory nerves. As you can see they are subdivided into Fresh notes, Floral notes, oriental notes and woody notes. Each ;note' has further subdivisions that may overlap between the families but can also be purely in its class.

What are 'notes'?

If you read perfume reviews they talk about top, middle and base notes. The top notes refer to the initial burst of smells experienced soon after applying the perfume; the middle notes are what follows and the base notes are the scents that linger on the skin for hours afterwards ( 3-8 hours) depending on the class of perfume.

And what on earth is Sillage?

Whenever I research subjects I always come across a word so elegant, so beautiful that it gets imprinted in my memory like a beautiful painting. Sillage is a french word that means the wake that follows boats in water. 

This is used by the perfumiers to note the lingering scent after the wearer leaves the space. Literally the aromatic trail that follows the wearer and lingers in their wake!

Whats the difference?

You may have noticed that various brands are named as Eau de parfum, Eau de cologne, after shave etc. They are also priced differently. Some brands may also be available in various formulations.

The names actually indicate the percentage 'proof' of perfume oils to the ethanol/water solvent that makes the bulk of the perfume. The stronger fragrances of course have a higher percentage and need to be worn sparingly and the weker once can be 'splashed' on.

Splashing while looks cool in TV ads, may make you stink like a nervous skunk. so always try to buy one with a nozzle as an aerosol spray is much gentler dispersed than pouring it to your hand and 'patting' on the cheeks.

Fragrance Varieties

Stength of aromatic compounds
Common use
Perfume Extract ( Extrait de parfum)
upto 40%
rare - used more in industry
Esprit the Parfum
upto 30%
rare - ditto
Eau de parfum (EdP)
10- 20% ( usually 15%)
common- expensive
Eau de Toilette (EdT)
5-15% ( usually 10%)
Eau de Cologne (EdC)
common -usually citrus scents
Perfume Mist
base can be non alcoholic
After shave /splashes
Deodrant sprays

Fragrance wearing Tips

  • Always wear perfume on moisturised skin. This makes it last longer. Dry skin absorbs aromatic compounds very quickly and the longevity is lost.

  • There are various theories about best way to wear perfume and fragrances. Traditionally for women it is better to spray on the pulse-points like wrist and neck where there is maximum blood flow and the warmth generates more aromatic molecules into the air. Men probably only need a spray around the neck & chest.

  • The ‘spray –in – the –air- and-walk-though’ technique allows wider dispersal of the fragrance.

  • Hold the nozzle at least 4-6 inches away from you to allow dispersal and avoiding heavy concentration on one spot

  • It is okay to wear perfume on clothes but the oilier scents may leave a mark that doesn't evaporate easily.

My Top Picks for This year

 My top picks for 2011 include some old classics as well as some brand new contenders. The base note of the season seems to be tobacco leaves as everyone is rushing to produce tobacco and coffee based men's perfumes combined with other ingredients and all sorts of spicy interludes. The tobacco leaf smell, is not the stale smell of cigarette smoke but the classy freshness of honeyed fresh tobacco leaves intermingled with spicy ginger and musk.

The list combines many citrusy smells as well as amber and musk making it eclectic for wearing at different occasions and different seasons.



My number one choice currently ( When I was young and brash, I used to love Eternity by Calvin Klein and although I still do, its gone mainstream and very common!) maybe this shows I’ve matured.

I love its smell of rain on dry earth, soaked with orange blossoms that take you by hand into a pleasant opening and into the woody after note and impressive sillage. I ‘ve had so many comments and compliments about Terre d’hermes that I am a confirmed fan for the way it feels on me and the positive buzz it generates around me!

I stopped caring about its breakdown components as it is a classic blend of freshness, woodiness and something much much more. Its pure magic. For once, believe the hype. But then I don’t want everybody wearing this and stealing my thunder. So perhaps I should delete this...

Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza
Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza


I love the classy freshness of Acqua Di parma. It has always maintained its uncompromising quality of caressing your olfactory nerves like an expert masseuse.

This new version colonia essenza is bursting with crisp freshness , leaps with the citrusy benevolence of orange blossom and grapefruit and then allures with a floral middle note of jasmine and Rose . this definitely has the unisex quality to be worn by both men and women perhaps lending a different shade to each gender.

The jasmine, rose and neroli will certainly compliment the feminine skin while the vetiver, bergamot, patchouli and white musk will enhance the masculine aroma. It is much smoother and gentler than its predecessors and seems to combine the ingeredients in a seamless elegance like a renaissance painter.


Gucci improve on their classic Pour Homme with a splendid addition to their collection. The Pour Homme II is a versatile fragrance to be worn for any season, summer day or winters evening,as it cleverly blends the freshness of green tea with the notes of subtle tobacco and olive wood.

It bursts open with bergamot and violet leaves and lets the black tea and cinnamon take centre stage. Like a nice warm drink it lingers on the skin with the calm assurance yet sprightly freshness. There is hint of pimento that enriches the masculine spiciness yet never tires and goes stale. A classic all rounder.


A decent, sensitive and caring fragrance that is very subtle and delicate. Great for daytime and office wear. It has a masculine freshness lent by bergamot and violet leaves, undercut by Cypriol and vetiver.

It is very clean and crisp without being too soapy, and reminds me of freshly ironed white shirts and Father’s colognes. It has nice basenotes of white musk and sandalwood that remain lingering for long and gives a confident base note and sillage. A classic addition ot the house of Bulgari.

It smells of class and etiquette, cleanliness and attention to detail. A nice daytime wear for meetings and office as well as for a quick lunch with your beloved.


Tom Ford loves a controversy and his sexy ads have already stirred up a storm in the perfume business. This may not be for everybody with its heady arrogance of myrrh, leather, with a rambunctious opening of lemony citrus. As is the vogue this season, there is a hint of tobacco for the base note, with the signature Tom Ford hedonism of amber and patchouli. It smells like a lingering after-aroma of an opium den.

It is classy, decadent but can be overpowering if sprayed on a bit too liberally and can give the very headache you will trying to avoid as an excuse! Controversial, in your face, yet classy. Try it if you dare.


Thierry Mugler's series of special edition fragrances have been a success. I already own the Angel for men pure coffee fragrance that is fantastic for work when I am surrounded by caffeine addicted workmates.

This is a reworking of the pure malt and has the top note of spicy fresh tobacco leaves. The middle note has hints of vanilla and honeyed tobacco while the end note the lasciviously lingering patchouli and bitter cacao.

Who would resist that vanilla essence, chocolatey hint and fresh tobacco. It is essentially masculine and has the honeyed texture of matured malt. It rests easy on the skin and has the subtle longevity that is quietly confident. It is also very different from the florals and citruses that it stands apart with the rich cognac and cigar ambience. 


YSL gives the discrete spiciness and citrus freshness in a retro theme. It is versatile – to be worn night or day, it is and yet has a warm spiciness finished off by a base note of tonka bean.

This versatile fragrance is really fresh and has a subtle longevity and a fantastic sillage.

It is very grown up, skipping the brashness of the younger perfumes for a gentler, classier aroma and will appeal to the more mature man/woman.

It has notes of citrus peel that opens well and fresh and settles down to exude the ginger spiciness and herbal essences of Basil.


I discovered John Varvatos fragrances during a trip to the mall while shopping in Florida - it is not freely available in UK. I picked the rollicking cheekiness of the Rock On volume one and skipped the Artisan. On second thoughts I should have bought the Artisan.

Now it is one of my favourites. This absolutely brims with fragrance notes that linger and tease starting with orange blossom and herbal essence of thyme but expands wildly with lemony citrus, jasmine and tones the citrus down with some spicy ginger.

The end notes bring it back down to earth with musk and amber and what starts out as a sharp and sweet freshness settles down as a masculine freshness. A brilliant fragrance for men.


This new contender tries to mimic some of the Hermes goodness of Terre with an orangey opening and a nice frankincense mid note. I tried this after a week of wearing Terre and the reviews were not as good perhaps by comparison!

However, it does stand on its own as a better class of Boss. It has a nice fruity/citrusy opening and the frankincense is toned down and subtle fo the longevity. It is easy on the nose, nothing too dramatic but lasts long and is pleasant. It has a fresh opening note that is cheery, like a chilled blast of orange juice in the morning!


Amouage have a mixed pedigree producing scents.

This wonderfully aromatic scent from Amouage is reminiscent of summer skies and floral scented breeze. It is gentle fragrance that is the smell of clear summer nights, the ozone of sea breeze scented with forest flowers but with the right hint of woodsmoke and spices to make it masculine.

It is a brave combination of lavender and wild rose that is unusual for a masculine fragrance but the combination makes it a heady trip.

It has the top notes of bergamot,lavender and spices with a middle note of wild roses. Wear it and feel like you are lying on a beach on a summer night, with your lady love. You can hear the waves, the warm sand on your bare back, the chill breeze, the woodsmoke from a fire down the beach, the floral notes from the lush greenery surrounding your beach house.

You turn over and kiss her, mingling the his and her Amouage Ciel - which literally means sky.. blue sky.

Sheer bliss.


So Long Smell-Well!

That was a trip through the masculine fragrances. I am sure you would like to visit the one on Womens fragrances- the link is to your right ...............>

Hope you enjoyed this hub and don't forget to leave your comments and feedback below.

If you liked what you read and saw do share with your friends and family on Facebook/Twitter or similar using the buttons below.

I do appreciate your time and attention.

See you soon, don't be a stranger.. I'll promise to wear my best Eau de Docmo..



Copyright © Mohan Kumar 2011



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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Bleu de Chanel! My favourite fragrance to have come out of recent years i this gem. It is fresh enough for me to wear in summer, but heavy enough for going out. It is also a nice change from the old school classic fragrances that remind me far too much of my principal from primary school, yuck. It also has an interesting mix of notes - pink peppercorn, nutmeg, ginger and citrus make the fragrance well balanced. It also wears very well and last a long while on the skin. I especially love the magnetic cap of the bottle, a nice Chanel touch.

      Bottle look:

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I got Graduated after reading this .

      Thanks Buddy !

    • Lady_E profile image


      7 years ago from London, UK

      Very interesting to know. Sometimes, I dab on a bit of Male perfume cos I like the smell. (Weird me) but after reading your Hub, I think it's because some of them have some of the essences in women perfumes....However, I do stick to mine - La Femme Hugo Boss.

      Great Hub.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      What a totally awesome hub about men's perfume! So much to learn. I do know one thing I do not like it when anyone's Spillage lasts long after they're gone or when you can smell someone coming a mile away!

      Great facts and as always excellent information!

      Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting. Shared with followers as I know there are lots of guys out there that could learn from this ;)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Well researched Docmo! I'm not a fan of anyone male or female dousing themselves in cologne, but a spritz is pleasant. I was hoping for a shout out to Cool Water's a light scent that isn't overpowering. Fab hub!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Amazing hub and article too. I'm using TERRE D'HERMES and it is amazing. I'm using it for spring and autumn.

      But still looking for some gorgeous perfume (like Hermes) for summer days. I used Armani Acqua di Gio, but it is much commercial in this time yet. Does anyone some tip for fresh sexy (but not so prevalent) summer perfume?

    • Docmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Mohan Kumar 

      7 years ago from UK

      @dr reddy and dev- appreciate your visits and comments- glad this hub has shared some new info.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A very good read indeed. I have purchased a few fragrances for myself in the past 2 yrs. I have four fragrances at present- Angel Men (I simply love this one), Boss Bottled, CK Eternity and L'Eau D'Issey by Issey Miyake. Honestly, I never liked Issey Miyake. Bought it blindly based on so many positive reviews. It reminds me of a cheap deo I bought during my teens (and never used). To me, it smells like lemon and watermelon.

    • profile image

      Dr Reddy 

      7 years ago

      nice to know so much more to just wearing sumthin tat u;r senses feel but cant express and there u got it in words so well said. Bravo !!!Docmo!

    • Docmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      @ Twilight Lawns- I agree - one never strays far from one's roots.. literally and figuratively!

      @ J as far as I know there has been no new update this is the fragrance released in 2006 but has been very popular- As I said in the hub I've included older classics and newer contenders. Thanks for dropping by.

    • profile image

      8 years ago

      Is the Terre D Hermes the updated 2010 version or the older one?

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      8 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Wonderful hub. I love your use of words. i read your profile and see that you love words... Bergamot and vetiver, I have always liked, but didn't realise that vetiver was a South Indian word... We never stray far from out roots, do we.

    • Docmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      Thank you Erin. I 'll say the same about the scent of a woman.... glad you found this helpful!

    • Erin LeFey profile image

      Erin LeFey 

      8 years ago from Maryland

      Awesome hub...ahhh the scent of a man, can just drive me wild I know why. thanks for the into. Voted you up and awesome.

    • Docmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      I agree, drbj. Gentle lingering scents in the elevator ( or better still) in the crook of someone's neck.. mmm) is what I like. I can't believe you found me out. My eyes are so smoky I need sunglasses to avoid the pied piper effect! And as for my abs... modesty prevents me to say any more.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      I like the light fragrances but hate to enter an elevator where the scent of someone's overpowering fragrance still lingers.

      And I knew that the photo of the second handsome dude in the black jacket wasn't you, Docmo. You're the guy in the Artisan ad with the smoky eyes and the abs. Right?

    • katiem2 profile image

      Katie McMurray 

      8 years ago from Westerville

      What a beautifully designed hub, WOW, lots and lots of WOW factor. I love the tip tips for Mens Fragrances 2011. I will be keeping this great wealth of facts, tips and faves list on hand for Mens number one scent, and fragrances.

      :) Katie

    • Eric Prado profile image

      Eric Prado 

      8 years ago from Webster, Texas

      Thanks for posting this. I have such a hard time trying to find the right fragrance, I found this hub very useful. I vote up. =)

    • Docmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      Thank you Pamela, for your visit and comments. Glad you enjoyed the hub on men's fragrances...

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Beautiful presentation for men's colognes. I really enjoyed reading all the information and I love to smell nice cologne on a man. Excellent hub.

    • Docmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      Fay, thank you - I also prefer the light lingering 'sillage' to the heavy overpowering blasts.

      Amy, Angel is a good one always attracts compliments, there is also Alien which has a strange name but a highly delectable fragrance- I am working on one for women's fragrances. Vetiver is a fragrant grass native to India ( the name is a Tamil name!) allied to lemongrass and others. highly aromatic and used in perfumery as a fixative.

      Genna, glad this makes shopping for your man that much easier. thanks!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I always find it difficult to shop for my husband, but this hub is a gem that will help me in accomplishing what I thought was impossible. Thank you.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      With Angel by Thierry Muglar for women, given to me as a gift, in it's beautiful "fallen angel" bottle, I have been hard pressed to even sample anything else. You are not exaggerating one iota when you talk about the "buzz" that follows the perfect choice of a particular scent on a particular person. I had people "coming out of the woodwork" to inquire as to what I was wearing. One particular gentleman, and I use that word lightly, who doused himself in mostly overwhelming but expensive clouds of obnoxious scent, showed up at my desk everyday I indulged in Angel. I had a difficult time getting him to go back to his office and was embarrassed when he was so effusive in front of whoever else happened to be standing at my desk. I found it somewhat disturbing that a liquid in a bottle bought at the mall, having little to do with the essence of "me", could have such a profound effect on those around me. But, as the effect is positive, as long as I have the cash or agility to acquire this beautiful perfume, I will do my part in pleasing the olfactories of those in my vicinity. It's the least I can do to make the world a more delightful place! Great article, Docmo, on the science of scent. My last trip to the mall was a cornucopia of choices that seems to grow by the day. I always get a sample on a card before investing in this costly adornment as I have had allergic reactions to a few perfumes. By the way, Docmo, what is vetiver? I always think 'velvet' when I see this ingredient in certain fragrances.

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 

      8 years ago

      You hit a home run with this one! I don't personally like the overpowering scents. I prefer a fragrance that lightly lingers and makes you wonder...ah, who was that?


    • Docmo profile imageAUTHOR

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      Thank Shalini- I am this hub helps in someway to ease the difficulty of buying fragrances for men!

      Peter, Thank you for dropping by. most of these will be discounted and it is worth shopping online to look for bargains... perfumes in general are priced quite high but they last a long long time than the splashes and deodorants.

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 

      8 years ago from South East Asia

      Fascinating. Thank you I learned a lot. Most outside of my normal spending, but who knows perhaps one day.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      8 years ago from India

      Wow Docmo - that's a very comprehensive hub! Men are such difficult creatures to buy gifts for - and perfumes really are a great option - thanks for the perfume lesson and the choices!


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