How to Pick the Right Cologne

—Urban Beardsman
How to Pick the Right Cologne

Most men own a bottle of cologne or two, but have no idea how intricate fragrance is. The next time you wear your favorite cologne, try this. Take a sniff before you spray it. Take a sniff immediately once it’s on your skin. Take a sniff 15 minutes later. And finally, take a sniff an hour later. You’ll notice that the scent smells different every time.

Why? It’s because cologne smells different on everyone based on your unique body chemistry. This is why you should never buy cologne if you’ve only smelled the scent off a piece of paper or out of the bottle. The scent transforms as the top, middle, and base notes are revealed. Proper sampling is crucial if you want to find the perfect scents that suit your personality or style.

Understand this, and you’ll truly be able to experience fragrance.


What are Notes?

A note is a descriptor for a scent that can be sensed upon application of a fragrance. There are four main notes: floral, oriental, fresh, and woodsy. Your cologne is just a mixture of ingredients that contain these 4 main notes, in different quantities.

In addition, notes can be broken down into top, middle, and base notes. These denote the groups of scents within a fragrance that can be sensed with respect to the time after the application of a fragrance. For example, a fresh note could be a top note in one fragrance, but a middle note in another fragrance. This is why different fragrances are so unique from one another.

Top Notes:

The top notes are the lightest of all notes. They break down quickly and are picked up by the nose first. These notes are meant to make a good first impression. You want to have top notes that are very pleasant to draw others in, and to have a smooth transition to the middle notes. The top notes are short lasting, so they are meant purely to get attention. Common top notes include citrus, light fruits, and herbs.

Middle Notes:

The middle notes make an appearance once the top notes evaporate, and they are considered the heart of the fragrance. They can last anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour and are a teaser for the base notes to come. If the top notes invoke curiosity, the middle notes seduce and engage the people who smell it. Fruits and spices are common middle notes.

Base Notes:

The base notes make an appearance once the middle notes evaporate. This is the harmony of the fragrance and it provides the most staying power. The base notes are typically mellow and provide a settling, relaxing experience. Common base notes include woodsy scents.

It is common to choose a fragrance at a store purely from the top notes based on the first sniff. This can be a huge mistake, because the majority of the fragrance is actually exposed after the top notes disappear. This is why it is extremely important to sample and wear a fragrance to its full extent before making a choice. I suggest choosing a fragrance based on whether you love the base notes, that’s what leaves the lasting impression.

For questions regarding colognes, contact me directly here.

About the Author:

William Yin is the CEO and founder of Scent Trunk, a tailored fragrance subscription for men.

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