The Ultimate Guide to Men's Cologne
One of the best ways to enhance your image is through the use of scent. The way you smell in public often times say a lot about you, and in this day and age making a strong first impression is a major stepping stone to success. But with so many colognes and fragrances out there, we as men are left bewildered with a plethora of questions.
Which fragrances are worth buying? How should I apply my cologne? What times are appropriate to wear my cologne? Which colognes will make me stand out, and give me the edge I need? and the often asked question: Which fragrances will women love?
I will tackle all these questions and more, and help you find the right fragrances that suit your lifestyle. As a connoisseur with over 4 years of experience, I have a lot of knowledge regarding mens cologne. Whether your looking for that one perfect fragrance, or even interested in building a collection of your own, my lens will help you find what your looking for. As I construct my page, I will continue to post fragrance reviews and give you my personal recommendations. Feel free to comment and post your feedback. God Bless :)
Fragrance 101: The Essentials Part 1
Classes of Fragrance
The fragrance industry is a multi-billion dollar business, that manufactures countless amounts of colognes and perfumes every year. But what exactly is a fragrance? Simply put a fragrance is a mixture of ingredients which produces a scent often times used as a beauty supplement. Colognes and perfumes are essentially a mixture of alcohol, water, and essential aromatic oils. The oils in fragrances are usually synthetic or derived from plants and is what give a fragrance its unique aroma.
The 3 primary fragrances you will find are eau de cologne (EDC), eau de toilette (EDT), and eau de parfum (EDP). The difference between these three categories of fragrances is their concentration of essential oils. EDCs are composed of 2-6% fragrant oils. EDTs are composed of 5-15% fragrant oils, and generally make up the majority of men's fragrances. EDPs are composed of 10-20% fragrant oils and are usually found in very high quality fragrance and most women's perfumes. Some less common types of fragrances also exist: splash/aftershave (1-3%) and perfume extrait (15-40%). In general we will use the colloquial terms cologne and perfume to refer to men's and women's fragrances respectively.
Understanding the classifications of fragrances can give you a sense of how potent a cologne or perfume is before you buy it. Bottles that are EDT or EDP are going to have greater scent strengths than an EDC because the higher the percentage of oils, the more aromatic the fragrance will be.
Fragrance 101: The Essentials Part 2
As you begin to explore the exciting world of fragrances, you will come across a very important concept called fragrance notes. What exactly is a note? Well notes are the ingredients in a cologne which give the fragrance its scent. Notes can either be natural (plant extracts) or synthetic (man-made). Examples of notes include: lemon, leather, sandalwood, and patchouli. Fragrances are usually composed of a mixture of multiple notes, which are further subdivided into 3 categories: Top Notes, Middle (Heart) Notes, and Base Notes. These are kind of like the different layers of the fragrance.
The top notes comprise the scent you get when you first apply your cologne; and they usually last anywhere from a few seconds to even up to 2 hours in rare instances. As the fragrance remains on your skin, the top notes will fade away and you will get another scent made up of the middle notes. This usually lasts a bit longer than the top notes, but will usually fade away within the first few hours of applying the fragrance. Lastly after the top and middle notes fade and the cologne has "dried down", you are left with the base notes which gives an aroma that will last throughout the majority of the fragrance. Some colognes however, stay quite linear and smell pretty much the same from start to finish, while others are more complex and are constantly changing as it remains on your skin.
The term "dry-down" is fragrance slang for the scent you get after the cologne or perfume has settled on you skin for some time; usually referring to the middle and base notes. The reason why notes are important to understand is because it will give you a general idea of how the fragrance will smell like. When you first spray a cologne on paper or on your skin, you will immediately smell the top notes. But don't be fooled, those top notes may not last very long before the scent changes and goes into its dry down.
Fragrance 101: The Essentials Part 3
How to Apply Fragrance
Now that you know a little bit of the chemistry behind fragrances it's time to now answer one of the biggest questions. How do I apply my cologne? Too many men make the mistake of misusing their cologne by not applying it properly. In this third part of Fragrance 101 I will be giving you the Dos and Don'ts when it comes to wearing cologne.
When it comes to wearing cologne you always want to make sure you apply your fragrance directly onto your skin. Not in the air, not on your hair, and not on your clothes. Colognes are meant to mix with your pheromones and your skin chemistry giving it a unique aroma. Spraying cologne anywhere other than your skin is not recommended for several reasons.
One being that colognes were never designed to be sprayed else wear because it will change its intended smell. Secondly, your hair and clothes tend to trap other scents in your environment much easier than your skin, which can foul up the scent of a fragrance if it you're surrounded by bad odor. The human skin is slightly oily and organic and will not trap scents from the environment unless it is applied in the form of a liquid. Your clothes on the other hand will hold onto aromas such as food which can cause your fragrance to smell strange if you apply it onto your clothes.
And the final reason is because clothes retain scents for a very long time. This may sound great but if your spray your fragrance directly onto your clothes chances are the scent will linger for days sometimes weeks after application (trust me I've tried it before). If you use different scents you'll find that your fragrances are going to be mixing with the old fragrance on your clothes; again this will not produce the intended scent.
Next we have to talk about where on the body should we apply our fragrance. You want to apply your fragrance on areas where there is a lot of blood flow. These areas are warm and moist, which will increase the strength and longevity of your fragrance. The best places of apply cologne is on your neck and wrists, more specifically on your carotid and radial arteries (the locations where you take your pulse). In addition to this, you can apply cologne behind your ears, Adam's apple, chest, inside of elbows and knees, or anywhere near your neck. These are the areas where there is a lot of blood flow and will ensure your fragrance lasts longer. When I do my individual fragrance reviews I will talk more specifically about how I apply each cologne.
The general rule of thumb is the 3 spray rule. With most fragrances, 3 sprays will suffice with at least one of the sprays being on the neck. This will ensure your cologne won't gas people out, but at the same time others will be able to smell it. If your fragrance is weak or strong you could apply a little more or a little less respectively; I would say use 5-7 sprays maximum. If your cologne doesn't have an atomizer (sprayer), you can just dab a little bit on the tip of your finger or cotton swab and apply it onto your skin. The picture on this module shows the correct location to apply cologne.
The last tip about wearing cologne is to never rub your fragrances after application. Don't rub your wrists together, don't rub you neck, or anyplace else. This will drastically weaken the scent and destroy your fragrance. If you want to spread the cologne to both wrists just put them together. NEVER RUB YOUR COLOGNE!!!
Fragrance 101: The Essentials Part 4
Not all fragrances are the same and I'm not just talking about their unique scents. Some fragrances will last longer on your skin than others; this is known as longevity. On average a cologne's longevity is about 6 hours.
The next term to be familiar with is sillage. Sillage refers to how potent the fragrance is and how well the scent projects off the skin. The better the sillage the more likely others are going to be able to detect your cologne.
Sillage and longevity are determined by various factors. The most obvious one being the fragrance's composition. Colognes with greater concentrations of essential oils will be more potent than those with lesser concentrations of essential oils. Also certain notes in a cologne such as patchouli and pepper can enhance the sillage/longevity.
Another very important factor that determines sillage/longevity is temperature. The warmer and more humid the temperature, the greater the longevity/sillage of your fragrance. For this reason, it is better to use lighter fragrances during the warmer days and stronger fragrances during the colder ones. The increased heat and humidity in the air can improve the strength of the fragrance and how well others can smell it. In the summer for example its better to use lighter colognes to prevent gassing out others with your scent. And in the winter its better to use stronger scents to combat against the dryness of the air.
This same concept applies to your skin as well. People with oily skin will be able to retain their cologne better than those with drier skin. A great way to strengthen your cologne is to moisturize the areas where you spray cologne with Vaseline, aftershave balm, or cream. Skin that is moist will result in better longevity and projection; and who wouldn't want that.
The cologne in this picture is called Angel Men and is by the house of Thierry Mugler. It is very well known for being one of the best fragrances when it comes to sillage and longevity. Many people even claim that this fragrance lasts over 24 hours on their skin. This is one of the colognes I'll be reviewing for you guys later on.
Fragrance 101: The Essentials Part 5
Designer vs. Niche
The penultimate essential I'd like to impart to you is the distinction between designer and niche fragrances. This is one of the fundamentals of fragrances and knowing this information will assist you as you purchase fragrances.
Designer fragrances are released by companies that are more mainstream and can usually be found at department stores like Macys and Sephora. These designer companies are usually more well-known for their fashion items outside the realm of fragrances. Examples of designer houses include Versace, Armani, and Salvatore Ferragamo. Versace and Armani are more known for their clothing line, especially their expertly crafted suits. And Salvatore Ferragamo is known primarily for their luxury shoes and handbags.
Designer colognes generally come in a variety of bottle sizes, the main ones being 1.7 oz and 3.4 oz. At most department stores you'll be looking to pay around $50-60 for a 1.7 oz and $70-80 for a 3.4 oz. Prices and bottle sizes will vary with different fragrances but this is the standard for most men's cologne.
Niche fragrances on the other hand are rarer and more expensive than their designer counterparts. Niche fragrances are made by companies that usually specialize in only fragrances. Examples of niche houses include Creed, Amouage, and Nasomatto. These types of colognes usually come in the EDT (eau de toilette) and EDP (eau de parfum) concentrations.
Niche colognes use more natural higher quality notes than designer fragrances and are thus more costly. If you see terms like private collection or private blend associated with the fragrance it may be niche. More notably, you can identify a niche cologne if you see an exorbitant price tag on it. The prices of niche cologne will usually exceed $100 for about a 2 oz bottle. Some niche fragrances like Creed cost over $300 for a 4 oz bottle. And to get your hands on a 1.6 oz bottle of Clive Christian's No. 1 you'll be looking to pay close to $900, making this the world's most expensive perfume.
Both designer and niche fragrances make great scents. Although niche quality is very high, it doesn't mean all designer colognes are cheap and uninspiring. In fact the only bottles I own as of now are designer fragrances. I've gotten the chance to smell a couple of niche fragrances and will be doing reviews on them later. Many fragrances in the niche line smell similar to designer ones and thus it's not a big deal if you don't want to go bankrupt buying niche fragrances.
Fragrance 101: The Essentials Part 6
Generally a cologne will be good for 3-5 years after that it may become a little stale. But don't worry if you take care of your fragrances and store them in a cool dark environment they will last you for many years. A good place to store them would be in a closet or drawer, anywhere away from sun exposure or excessive light. Optimal temperature for a fragrance would be 50-70 degree Fahrenheit. You don't want to leave your cologne next your window or in your car, which can accumulate sunlight and heat. You also should avoid keeping fragrances in the bathroom which can be very hot and humid. Also just to be thorough, don't keep your fragrances in a fridge or freezer either. Having them frozen wouldn't be very wise (you probably already knew that).
Some fragrances will list their expiration times on the base of the bottle. You'll see a small logo that looks like an opened container with a number on it. It will usually say 36m or 24m or some number followed by an "m" (see picture on the module). This tells you how long the fragrance will be good for in months. So 36m means the fragrance is good for 36 months, so 3 years. Your colognes though will last longer than their written expiration date if you keep them in a dark cool environment. The first bottle of cologne that got me interested in fragrances was Drakkar Noir, an old cologne that my father used years ago. It was ancient, easily over 12 years in age. Yet when I used it, it smelled like it supposed to (maybe a bit stale) and lasted a good while on my skin.
If you have already purchased a bottle, a great resource you can use to find the manufacture date and shelf life of the fragrance is website below:
Once you arrive here, choose the brand of your fragrance and input in the batch code (PS: Some brands may not be available). The batch code is the identification code used by manufacturers and is usually located on the bottom or side of the bottle.
Cologne Review - Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme EDT (2007)
Top Notes: Sicilian mandarin, Juniper, Grapefruit, Bergamot
Heart Notes: Rosemary, Brazilian Rosewood, Szechuan Pepper
Base Notes: Muskwood, Oakmoss, Incense
Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme is a fresh aquatic mens fragrance, ideal for the hot summer months. The words Pour Homme mean "for men", as there is also a women's version of Light Blue. And the term aquatic refers to fresher fragrances which often contain bright citrus notes. Light Blue comes in 3 bottle sizes: 1.3 oz, 2.5 oz, 4.2 oz, and the price can range from $50-80 in department stores, but shop around online and you can probably find it for a bit cheaper. The bottle design is the same as that of Dolce and Gabbana Pour Homme (1994) but with just different colors. The atomizer is pretty decent and sprays out a good amount of juice.
The note breakdown of this cologne seems very fancy, but don't let that fool you because this fragrance isn't as complex as it looks. When you first spray it on you'll get a very fresh citrus scent which becomes spicier as it drys on your skin. The top notes like the mandarin orange, grapefruit, and bergamot (another member of the citrus family) give this cologne its citrus scent. The top notes become weaker but linger throughout the whole duration of this fragrance.
As for the middle and base notes I primarily just smell the Szechuan pepper and a little bit of musk with a hint of rosemary. I don't smell any incense and am not very well acquainted with the smell of rosewood and oakmoss (sorry guys I'm not perfect). But realistically speaking, what I get out of this fragrance is a spicy citrus scent.
Many of the aquatic fragrances on the market are very generic and smell almost the same year after year. What makes this fresh fragrance slightly unique compared to its competition is that it is slightly spicy. The spiciness comes from the Szechuan pepper note which will also stay on your skin for quite a long time. I love the combination of the citrus notes and pepper because it gives the cologne more character, and also makes the fragrance more noticeable since the pepper note is quite pungent.
Now as for longevity/sillage. On my skin, because it is rather oily, I get 8 or more hours consistently. In terms of sillage, I get good projection out of this fragrance considering that is an aquatic. For about the first 3 hours, this fragrance will leave a scent trail and people maybe a foot or two away from you will be able to get whiffs of it when they are around you. After about 3 hours though, the fragrance stays closer to the skin and people will have to be nearer to you to smell it.
For some people, especially those with dry skin, I hear complaints that this fragrance doesn't last very long and they only get a few hours, which is why I recommend trying this one out before you purchase. Although, from my experience with this fragrance it performs well on me and also friends of mine who have used this. Another thing worth noting is that when you wear a fragrance your nose will eventually become used to the smell and though you may not be able to detect it, others will.
This fragrance is made for the summer and can be used on both casual and formal occasions, and in the daytime or evening. You could use this scent all year, but it would be fairly weak during the colder months. Other than that Light Blue can be used in any situation from the office/school to date/special occasion.
To apply this fragrance I use 4-5 sprays since its not too strong or offensive. I spray one each wrist, one on each side of the neck, and then either one on the chest or one towards the center of the neck.
So all in all I do enjoy this fragrance very much and do recommend giving it a try.
-Scent: 7/10 (spicy-freshness, very pleasing)
-Uniqueness: 4/10 (though it is a bit spicy, it overall has the generic fresh cologne smell)
-Sillage: 6/10 (pretty good projection for a fresh cologne)
-Longevity: 8/10 (I get 8+ hours)
-Versatility: 7/10 (can be used on all occasions in warm weather, but may be a bit too weak in colder weather)
-Price: 8/10 (for $50-60 you can get a 2.5 oz bottle as opposed to a typical 1.7 oz, you get a lot more bang for your buck, 47% more to be precise)
Cologne Review - Diesel Only the Brave EDT (2009)
Top Notes: Amalfi Lemon, Mandarin Orange
Heart Notes: Coriander, Violet, Virginia Cedar
Base Notes: Labdanum, Amber, Leather, Styrax, Benzoin
Diesel Only the Brave personally is a very special cologne because it was the first bottle I purchased when I became interested in fragrances. It comes in two main sizes a 1.7 oz and 2.5 oz ranging from $60-70 respectively if your at a department store (i.e Macys, Sephora). If you shop around online you can find a 1 oz bottle for around $40, but as for the 1.7 oz and 2.5 oz, your not going to find too much of a discount.
The presentation of the bottle is a clenched fist with a two-finger ring that says Diesel. The atomizer (sprayer) is good and gives out a generous amount of juice. The bottle is very elaborate, very modern, and very unique. It was an intelligent idea on the part of Diesel to design such a bottle which captures the eyes of the customer upon first notice. Often times when we go to a cologne boutique we are drawn to try a cologne initially by the presentation of the bottle. Even when I'm buying cologne for myself, my decision is still affected by the presentation and look of the bottle; even though it has nothing to do with the scent itself. Psychologically if the bottle has a classy or appealing look, you may feel more inclined to purchase the cologne.
Anyway... lets get to the review of how this smells. So when I first apply this onto my skin, I get a rush of citrus mixed with some violet. The citrus note is not as bright as in Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue, rather it is a darker, heavier, more syrup-like citrus (if that makes any sense). When this is on my skin I can't really distinguish between the top and middle notes because they are blended very well. The orange and lemon of the top notes give this fragrance its freshness while the violet leaves, coriander, and Virginia cedarwood gives it a dark slightly spicy vibe. The top and middle notes of this fragrance will last on your skin for a couple of hours before it enters into the base.
The scent I got from Only the Brave for this first few hours slightly resembles that of Yves Saint Laurent L'homme (I'll be reviewing this one soon). That "syrup-likeness" that I get from Only the Brave is similar to L'homme, and is probably due to the violet and Virginia cedar notes, which both fragrances have.
Only the Brave smells the same for about the first 4-5 hours, but then suddenly changes when the top/middle notes settle down. The base of this fragrance will give you a spicy smoky-leathery scent which reminds me of Gucci by Gucci. Although its not listed on the note breakdown, I detect a tobacco note which is why I find it to be a bit smoky. The citrus note still remains even at the end but is more subtle, and the benzoin and styrax in the base give this fragrance a slightly synthetic vibe.
Diesel Only the Brave smells nice but it often times criticized for being pleasant but boring. I can understand that since this fragrance doesn't stand out too much in term of having a unique scent. However, what distinguishes this fragrance from the rest is its longevity and projection. This cologne is a MONSTER when it comes to longevity/sillage. This lasted on my skin for 8-10+ hours easily, and projected about 1-2 feet off my skin for the first 5 hours. One time I used 4 sprays of this fragrance and a friend told me that I smelled nice but was wearing too much cologne. Even after this fragrance dried-down after around 9 hours there were still people asking me what I was wearing!!
In terms of when to use this you have many choices. You could wear this for casual wear, school, work (just don't use too much), formal occasions, and even all year. This will work well in the summer because of its freshness and also in the winter because of its smokiness.
To apply this fragrance use 2-3 sprays max in the warmer months and 3-4 sprays max in the colder months. For this one I just apply one or two sprays on the neck (the sprayer is very generous so one spray may cover your whole neck) and I should be good. You can apply some on your wrists if you want but careful not to use too much since this cologne is virile.
Only the Brave is a great beginner's cologne that smells nice and lasts long
-Scent: 7/10 (pleasant freshness, very safe smelling)
-Uniqueness: 5/10 (smells similar to other fragrances)
-Sillage: 9/10 (Awesome projection, you will get noticed, just don't spray too much!!!)
-Longevity: 9/10 (Phenomenal, will last you throughout your work/school day)
-Versatility: 8/10 (Can be worn on many occasions, less sprays in summer, more in the winter)
-Price: 6/10 (A bit pricey)
Recommendations from Amazon - Men's Colognes to Purchase
Here are some of the fragrances on my page that you can purchase via Amazon. I do my best to find the most affordable yet reliable sellers for you guys. Enjoy :)
P.S: These sellers have limited quantities, so don't wait too long before it's too late!!!