The Right Way to Wear Cologne

Have you ever been minding your own business when suddenly a perfume or cologne wafts through the air and completely captures your attention? Maybe it was a scent that reminded you of that old girlfriend you had back in college. Maybe it reminded you of that guy at the office that smells like he bathes himself in cologne before coming to work every morning. Whatever it was, smell is one of the most powerful senses when it comes to triggering old memories and creating new ones.

Make sure you’re making the right impression with your scent, gentlemen.

My roommate in college was a nice guy, but one that sprayed himself with Axe deodorant for 5 whole minutes, and followed it up with at least 8 pumps of Acqua di Gio before leaving the apartment. He left a lasting impression with everyone – whether they liked it or not. Not only is this amateur, it’s offensive if you’re within 10 feet of someone that does this.

Most men learn the err of their ways when they get a little older and look back. Thankfully, my roommate did as well. This got me thinking about how many men are still out there wearing cologne with reckless abandon. In order to help prevent the spread of more guys drenched in Cool Water, there are a few rules that every man should know when it comes to enhancing his scent. Consider this your crash course in the right way to wear cologne. [remember to Subscribe Here]

1. Easy does it

the right way to wear cologneWhen it comes to cologne and sprayable deodorants the “less is more” rule applies. The best way to keep you from making an over-scent mistake is the remember the phrase: two sprays or two places. If you’re using a pump spray, stand in your bathroom and spray the cologne into the air in front of you and walk into it. Turn and repeat. You’re done.

Another way to apply it is in two places: the wrists and the neck. Spray or apply cologne onto one wrist and then rub your wrists together to spread the scent. The second place to apply is on your neck, so spray or apply a couple of drops to your hands and rub them into the sides and back of your neck. That’s really all you need. Some gentlemen will also apply a little at the top of their chest where the collarbones meet. Anything else is unnecessary, trust me.

Quick note: men with oily skin hold onto cologne scents longer than those with dry skin. If your skin is more on the dry side, feel free to reapply just after lunch (or whenever midday is for you).

2. Apply when clean

the right way to wear cologneAt some point in time, many men change definition of cologne from character-enhancing scent to filth cover-up solution. This is a terrible idea. Cologne isn’t Febreze, people. The best time to apply cologne is right out of the shower when your skin is clean and fresh. Your pores are open and will capture the scent so you’ll keep smelling great all day.

If you apply cologne to dirty skin or clothes, you run the risk of smelling more like a gym locker room. Yeah, there’s a hint of cologne in there, but it’s mostly funk when you do it this way. A great example of this is men that use cologne after smoking. You’re not fooling anyone. Instead, you’re mixing the cigarette smell with the chemicals in your cologne and, more often than not, it turns into some other scent that does more harm than good.

3. Change your scent with the seasons

the right way to wear cologneMany men find a cologne they like and decide it’s their signature scent. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this idea, but with all the different smells to choose from these days, they’re doing themselves a disservice. The fact is, some scents don’t belong in certain seasons and temperatures. A light, crisp, citrusy scent won’t be well received during the cold months of winter. It’s better to let it thrive in the warm, sunny months.

Likewise, a bold, spicy, or woodsy cologne most appropriate for cooler months, would be too heavy and overpowering during the dog days of summer. You know this to be true because you’ve no doubt caught wind of a bold, musky cologne at a summer barbecue and immediately found it too strong. We’ve all been there.

I like to take it a step further and have different scents for different functions on the warm and cold side of the seasonal spectrum. Remember, the scent you wear to a barbecue may not necessarily be the best choice for a late night event. My current love is John Varvatos Vintage as we head into the cooler months. It’s a great scent for chilly evenings, including those I find myself all dressed up.

4. Mix with caution

the right way to wear cologneOne of the newest trends is mixing or layering colognes, but I’m talking about inadvertent mixing. You have to take stock in all the different smells you’re applying throughout your day – especially during your morning routine. Your shower gel is most likely “fresh” scented and formulated to keep you”fresh” all day long. The deodorant you apply after that is probably just as powerful, isn’t it? Yes. Did you shave as well? What’s the scent and strength of your aftershave?

All these other scents need to be considered when you’re selecting your cologne. For example, any sport deodorant will carry with it a fresh linen and mild citrus scent, which helps to make you smell clean, but interacts quite poorly with cold-weather colognes. Instead, I suggest moving to an unscented deodorant and let the cologne do the work. You’ll still smell fresh, but it won’t be the Right Guard everyone is talking about.

5. Clean inside-out for best results

the right way to wear cologneThe skin is the largest organ on the body, and also the most telling when it comes to your health. A long night of beer and garlic pizza will give you quite a ripe smell the following day – no matter how much cologne you apply. What you put into your body will find its way out. Many times, the easiest way out is through the pores in your skin.

If you’ve got a hot date coming up, it’s not a good idea to have hot wings and beers with the guys earlier in the day. As you perspire that night, your food choices will mix with your cologne and you might find yourself in a “what the heck is that smell?” moment. Don’t run the risk of ruining your chances at a second date. Eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, and keep your skin clean. Knock ’em dead, Stud.

Bonus: try before you buy

It’s too hard to know exactly what cologne is going to work with your personal style and character without trying a few on for size. Rather than dropping $50+ on a scent you’re not totally sold on, head to the fragrance counter at the department store and ask for samples of whatever they have. Try different scents at the counter, and wear a sample for a few days. Once you’ve chosen the winners, go back and make your official purchase.

There are thousands of different colognes and millions of combinations out there. Now that you know the right way to wear cologne, you’re ready to get out there and find the few that make you smell simply irresistible. Go get ’em, Tiger.

Did I miss anything? Is there a cologne tip or trick you want to share?
Leave a comment below so we can connect!

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The Author

Blake Hammerton

Blake Hammerton

Blake Hammerton is the founder and coach at The Sharp Gentleman, and helps men earn more respect while gaining confidence in who they are. He is a certified relationship coach and loves writing about men's fashion, style, character-building, relationships, travel, adventure, and more.