The Grooming Manual
How to Use Cologne for Dates, Work, and Events
Have you ever caught a whiff of a great cologne and looked around to see who it was coming from? Or noticed an overpowering, horrible cologne smell and high-tailed it away from the perpetrator?
The answer to both questions is probably yes. The point? Cologne matters.
Get it right, and it can make a powerful, positive first impression, and - like a good suit or great self-care - it can set the tone for an engaging interaction. Plus, cologne boosts confidence and helps get you in the right headspace for a successful day.
On the flip side, over-applying or choosing the wrong scent makes a bad first impression and accomplishes the opposite of what you want from your cologne.
Here’s how to avoid common mistakes and use cologne like a pro.
Common Cologne Mistakes
There’s a lot that can go wrong when it comes to cologne. Here are some of the most notorious mistakes guys make. And if you see yourself represented in this list, no worries. Just be determined to up your game in the future.
- Picking the wrong scent for your body. Cologne ingredients interact with your unique body oils. That means the same cologne will smell slightly different on different men. You might pick something that smelled fantastic on your friend - or in the store - only to find that it just doesn’t work for you.
- Over-applying. It can be hard to tell how much cologne is too much, and a lot of guys go for a heavy cloud of spritzes just to make sure they’re covered. But when it comes to cologne, less is always more.
- Under-applying. On the other end of the spectrum, some men apply their cologne one time and then forget about it for the rest of the day. But a 7 AM application simply won’t last until your 5 PM meeting, date, or event. If yo don't reapply, you'll miss out on making that great impression.
- Misapplying. Certain application points allow for a pleasant scent that doesn't become overpowering. Plus, there’s such a thing as proper technique. If you don’t know any of this, it’s easy to get things wrong and wind up with a compromised scent.
How to Get Cologne Right
Understand Your Scent
Men’s cologne is a combination of raw scent ingredients. They include:
- Top notes: The initial, temporary smell of a fragrance
- Middle notes: Heavier floral or spice scents
- Base notes: Longer-lasting, bolder scents that become noticeable after application
While every scent is different, most last several hours and slowly progress from the top notes (apparent right when you spray the cologne) through the middle notes, and finally into the base notes. This progression happens over time and as the cologne interacts with your natural oils and body heat.
Now, some colognes will tell you exactly what top notes, middle notes, and base notes to expect right on the bottle - but most give you a general scent profile without detailing exactly what progression to expect.
That's why you should remember this truth of all colognes: You can't know if a scent works for you just by smelling it in the bottle. And a cologne that smells great on someone else may not be the best choice for you.
It’s important to test some scents out directly on your skin and see how they interact with your unique body chemistry over time.
If you don’t know where to start, we recommend that you begin with a light, fresh scented cologne and explore from there.
Apply at the Right Spots
Keep it simple. Start with just one spray to the chest right when you get out of the shower and dry off.
If you notice that the cologne isn’t too overpowering with one spray, there are other key locations that work great, like pulse points on the wrists or on the side of the neck. These warm the fragrance up so it continues to emit scent throughout the day.
Refine Your Technique
Always spray cologne directly on your skin, not on your clothes. Some guys rub cologne on their wrists or walk into a cologne cloud.
But rubbing can mess with the top note molecules and dull them away so you never get that part of the scent. And with a misty cloud, the cologne usually lands in all the wrong places - like on your clothes and in your hair - so you wind up wasting it.
How often you should reapply depends on the cologne formula and your personal preference. But no cologne lasts 24 hours. So if you apply in the morning and you have an event in the evening that you want to smell great for, go ahead and reapply.
How to Remove Cologne Fast
Sometimes things go wrong. You may apply a scent that doesn’t work for your body or accidentally over-apply one of your favorites. And this can be tricky to resolve since cologne is usually the last thing you apply before you head out the door.
You don't have to take a shower and change your clothes. Instead, dab rubbing alcohol, non-scented lotion, or baby wipes directly where you over-applied and it will tone down the fragrance right away.
Remember - less is more, start light, apply cologne to your chest right out of the shower, and reapply as needed. That way, you’ll be sure to make an amazing impression for your date, work meeting, or event.