This story is happening every single day at a mall near you. A gent is excited to buy his new signature fragrance so he goes to his favorite department store at the mall (okay, maybe that statement is a bit fluffy). He sprays on a cologne he has heard good things about on the internet and his first reaction is, “WOW, this stuff smells amazing!" But, a few hours later he gets home and takes a whiff of his pulse point wrists, and he’s like, “this stuff doesn’t even smell like it did before at all? What the $%# happened? I hate this cologne and just wasted $200!”
Just another dude getting bamboozled by the fragrance gods and we don't want you to be one of them.
See gents, colognes are tricky. There is a method to their madness and a bit of knowledge to understanding men’s cologne's wily ways will get you a lot closer to grooming martyrdom. And, having a signature fragrance is not only important for your own confidence, but your spicy senorita’s approval too. Women sense of smell on a guy is critically important to them, they can literally smell confidence.
So, let’s dive in and break down all the 411 for colognes and fragrance for men.
Eau de What?
All scents are classified by their concentration percentage. This is the ratio of oils to water/alcohol present in the solution. Understanding this concentration allows you to not only choose a scent but also gives you an idea of how much to apply. Let’s break down the four concentrations.
Eau de Parfum (EDP) – EDP’s are concentrations of 15-20%, typically around 15%. These are the strongest scents generally for men (perfume for woman is even higher) with shelf lives of up to six hours after application. Most will last a solid 4+ hours. The idea that cologne will last an entire day is a pipe dream for nearly every fragrance, sometimes you have to just respray. Our signature scent Rebel is an EDP.
Eau de Toilette (EDT) – EDT’s are concentrations of 10-15%, typically 10%. These are subtler scents with shelf lives of up to 4 hours after application, typically 2-3 hours. We wouldn't go lower than an EDT for buying a men's cologne.
Eau de Cologne (EDC) – EDC’s are concentrations of 3-8%, typically 5%. These scents are weaker, but still should get their fragrance across, just not for a long time. If you want your fragrance to last you through an entire date, this option is probably not the right call, but the fragrance can still smell amazing for that short time.
Splash/Aftershave – these have concentrations of 1-3%. These scents are the weakest with shelf lives of less than an hour after application. You will find these most often in splashes that just want to enhance your scent really quickly after getting ready like after a shave.
Learn your concentration gentleman when figuring out which fragrance to purchase. This is the first crucial step, but in general go with the top two if you're buying a cologne in our humble opinion.
So Many Options!
Keep in mind that your scent is a “presence.” When paired with your overall appearance and demeanor it gives people perceptions of who you are. So, think about how you’d like to be perceived. What’s the vibe you want to give off? Manly? Clean? Laid back? Sexy? Choosing the right scent goes a long way in adding to these perceptions.
There are four basic scent groups for fragrance. Now you can dive into all the subcategories; we recommend you don’t just yet. Just knowing these basic four will give you a base knowledge to help you move forward. The basic four are floral, oriental, fresh, and woodsy.
Floral – This one is pretty self-explanatory, it smells like flowers. But don’t be turned away, floral scents can be very manly.
Oriental – Mixtures of spices and vanilla give these scents a resin-like aroma that is warm and spicy… and seductive!
Fresh – From lavender, to herbs, to citrus, these scents are bright and airy giving you a “fresh out of the shower” scent. Many top notes (see below) start with fresh then work their way down to more darker scents.
Woodsy – Moss, fir, and forest aromas, these scents give you that “man’s man” darker aroma. Dang they smell good!
If you’re committed to going down the rabbit hole of subcategories, check out the Scent Wheel. Make some coffee, you’ll be at it awhile. For now, we suggest you memorize these four basic groups. Knowing which one of these groups you’re more drawn to will narrow down all of your options significantly. Keep your seasons in mind. Fresh and floral scents are light and good for warmer months, while oriental and woodsy scents are darker making them ideal for colder months. However, don’t be afraid to break the mold. These are merely guidelines. Ultimately the decision is up to you.
How Colognes Work
Remember the story we started this post with. Well, the gent didn’t get bamboozled, but what did happen was the fragrance was working its way thru its own chemistry. Colognes are typically made up of three notes: top notes, middle notes (also known as heart), and base notes.
Top Notes – These are the scents present immediately upon application (when you go to the mall). They are usually very strong, even overpowering at times. There’s a purpose however. These scents are meant to win you over with mass appeal – it’s hard not to like them. But, they don’t last long, as the transition usually takes about 30 minutes for these to dissipate to proper levels.
Middle Notes (Heart) – These notes emerge just prior to the dissipation of top notes. They mask any unpleasant initial impressions of top notes which settle over time and help transition to the almighty base notes.
Lasting Base Notes – These notes are reflective of the main theme of the scent. These are considered the most important notes when choosing a scent. They will be the most dominate oils, and therefore the most noticeable. When you get home from the mall, or you’ve been out for a few hours and smell yourself, these are the notes you are smelling. So, when deciding on cologne, don’t get “suckered” just from the top notes, you got to give it time to see how these base notes settle in and how well they work with your schnoz.
As an example, here's REBEL's Note Pyramid.
The Pulse Points
Apply your cologne fresh out of the shower. This helps the scent to interact with your natural oils as accurately as possible. More importantly spray it on your pulse points. These are the areas of your body which allow for the most even distribution of scent since your skin their is warmer. For men these points are the neck, armpits, knees, wrists, and behind the ears. You don’t need to spray the fragrance on all your pulse points. This would be overkill. Pick just a few and see what works best for you. We recommend starting with just the neck and wrists. For most of us, this will be more than enough to get the job done.
Everyone makes mistakes!
It’s true. Everyone makes mistakes. But if you’re going to make them, just make then once. Hopefully you read this article in advance. Here's our top mistakes not to make:
Not A Fan – Wearing cologne calms you, gives you confidence, and most women love it. If your only reason for wearing it is the last one, we think that’s more than enough to do a few spritzes before going out. If that's all you use it for the cologne should last you a loooong time.
Less Is More – We could make the case that this point could be number 1. You don’t want to be the guy everyone can smell from a mile away. It’s just not the point of cologne and too much is a total turn-off.
Keep A Few Handy – It’s cool to have a signature scent, but if you want to do fragrance right you should have a few in your repertoire. Have one for spring/summer, one for winter/fall, one for office/formal gatherings, and one for going out at night. No one wants to smell the same exact scent on you every single time… variety is the spice of life.
Improper Application – Make sure you are applying the cologne to your skin and not your clothing. It needs to react with the natural oils in your skin to work most effectively. Can you just spray it in the air and walk through it? No… no you cannot. And, of course aim for the pulse points of course.
Improper Storage – Treat your cologne right and it will last a long time. Find a cool, dark spot for storage. Exposure to sunlight and a wide range of temperatures not only shortens the shelf life, but can even alter the scent. Also, when you travel, don’t bring the entire expensive bottle with you! Nightmare move. Bring a cologne refillable travel sprayer that makes taking your favorite fragrance with you anywhere a breeze.
This cologne info should be more than enough to get you started to smelling success. Buying colognes is tricky business and since they aren’t cheap doing a little research beforehand can save you a lot of dough and trips to the mall… and we know dudes definitely don’t want to do that too often!