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How to apply cologne

When you were a kid, wearing cologne probably seemed like one of those cool, grown-up things gentlemen get to do. Well, the day has arrived; you are now a gentleman and you need to know how to apply cologne. Why? Because it’s considered elegant and polite to smell nice and social etiquette calls for it in certain situations. Of course, it’s not absolutely necessary, so the rules aren’t set in stone, but if you are interested in how to apply cologne, keep reading for some tips.

How much do you need?

The short answer is “much less than you think you need”. A lot of people – men, especially – seem to treat scent application like a second shower, or a fragrant baptism. It should be neither of those things. Less is always more, and while the absence of cologne is inoffensive (unless you smell bad), too much fragrance can quickly become obnoxious; it will even give some people a headache. It’s polite to consider other people’s sensibilities and not douse yourself in perfume before you leave the house. Remember, if people can still smell your cologne long after you’ve passed them, you’re doing it wrong.

Where should you apply it?

Another mistake people make is just going to town and applying perfume all over. That is definitely not the way to do it. When learning how to apply cologne, keep in mind that fragrance needs to be applied strategically and conservatively. Typically, it is applied to key pulse points on the body: below the ear, inside the elbows, on the wrists, and (this one’s mostly for the ladies) behind the knees. The reason for this is that your pulse “refreshes” the scent and disperses it. Another typical spot for fragrance application for men is in the dip of your collar bone. This way, it has space to settle and linger for much longer than if you applied it in a more exposed area.

There are also some things you should know before application:

  • Make sure to moisturize – Cologne won’t be absorbed by dry skin, so the scent won’t last as long. Take care of yourself and properly moisturize your body, in order for everything to go smoothly on the surface of the skin. You should also exfoliate your skin, so that you get rid of the top layer of dead skin cells and the cologne can linger on fresh layer of skin underneath.
  • Apply after a shower – Fragrance should be applied right when you jump out of the shower. Why? Because your pores are open and the perfume molecules will seep into the skin and last all day, instead of wearing off after a couple of hours.
  • Don’t rub the areas where you applied cologne – Remember not to make the classic mistake of rubbing your wrists together. That disturbs the fragrance and breaks down the chemical structure of the scent, which results in an altered smell and a shorter lasting power.

When and where should you wear it?

While some places state clearly that employees are not allowed to wear fragrances, so as to not trigger anyone’s allergies, there is no general etiquette rule forbidding you from wearing it at work or in most other places. The only rule is related to the amount you should wear (hint: not much), but that’s already been covered. Traditionally speaking, cologne should be worn at special events, particularly at night time. So you get a green light for weddings, baptisms, graduation parties, dates, etc.

How do you pick the right one?

The right one will depend on your preferences and lifestyle. You should know it’s not as simple as it seems; there are daytime and night time fragrances, as well as summer and winter fragrances. You need to know when and where to spray each one and how much of it. The night time and winter scents will usually be heavier, muskier, and oily. There’s a good chance there’s musk in them, as well as tobacco, vanilla, and cinnamon.

Daytime and summer fragrances, on the other hand, are lighter, fresher, and more versatile. Unless you’re passionate about fragrance and you don’t mind owning multiple bottles for different occasions, you should pick something that you can wear anywhere, so it should be fairly neutral. Something fresh, maybe sporty; something that won’t draw attention, but will still have you smelling great.

How do you make it last?

You already know about moisturizing and avoiding rubbing, so I’m going to bring up proper storage. You see, a cologne bottle needs to be kept somewhere dark, dry, and cool, in order to preserve the contents intact for as long as possible. Otherwise, the formula will be altered and it won’t smell the same anymore. Not only that, but it will also lose its lasting power.

But how do you make it last on your body? A good method is layering fragrances or a body lotion and a cologne in the same scent. This doubles the lasting power and acts as a nice base for your scent. You’ll be able to find gift sets that include an array of different products that share the same scent, so keep your eyes peeled around the holidays.

What NOT to do

  • Don’t layer perfumes that clash with each other – I mentioned fragrance layering earlier, but I didn’t touch upon clashing fragrances. Be very careful when choosing two different types of cologne to wear together; they should be different, but complimentary, meaning they should share some notes and meld together seamlessly to create a personalized signature scent.
  • Don’t use heavily fragranced soap, shower gel, or deodorant – Keeping with the scent layering talk, be careful not to inadvertently create a clashing, unpleasant scent by using multiple scented products at once. If you’re planning on using cologne that day, remember to switch to unscented bath products.
  • Don’t use cologne if you smell bad – Cologne does not replace deodorant. They are completely different products, they do different things, and using cologne to mask bad smells never produces good results. The smells mix together to create an unpleasant one that is less than impressive.

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