Wearing cologne can give you a signature scent. You should choose a blend of fragrance notes compatible with your natural odor and preferences. Find out what makes the best cologne for men so popular and learn how to pick the right one.
In this article:
- How the Best Cologne is Made
- Why Some Colognes are More Popular
- How Fragrance Notes Work
- What Makes Scents Compatible
- How to Select the Right Scent
How the Best Cologne for Men Is Made
Personal fragrances combine natural essential oils or synthetic aroma compounds with fixatives and solvents. Cologne is actually a technical term to describe a fragrance with a relatively low concentration of aromatic compounds. Perfumers often refer to the following categories:
- Parfum consists of between 10% and 40% aromatic compounds
- Eau de parfum has between 10% and 20% aromatic compounds
- Eau de toilette contains about 10% aromatic compounds
- Eau de cologne includes less than 10% aromatic compounds
The colloquial definition of the term “cologne” has changed over time. The term was originally used to describe a fresh, citrus-based fragrance produced in Cologne, Germany, in the early 18th century. In the 20th century, cologne referred to less concentrated versions of perfume.
Over time, the term has become an overarching term for fragrances worn by men. “Perfume,” which technically indicates the highest concentration of aromatic compounds, is the corresponding term for feminine fragrances regardless of strength. The best cologne for men is often actually eau de toilette.
Why Certain Types of Cologne Are Popular
Well-blended cologne can be a good choice for almost any wearer. The most popular men’s scents tend to be designer offerings that combine fragrance notes that have positive associations with masculine traits.
Some of the best cologne for men features distinctive citrus, amber, green, leather-like or woody notes. The oldest scents for freshening feature citrus, though synthetic scent compounds are often used today as these compounds last longer than natural citrus essences. Other conventionally masculine scents include fresh green smells, camphorous notes of eucalyptus or patchouli and woody aromas.
Some of the most iconic fragrances of the 1980s and 1990s combined natural essences and synthetic aromas. Calone, an aroma compound discovered in 1966, and other synthetic fragrance notes revolutionized the best cologne for men during this era and remain popular ingredients today.
How Fragrance Notes Work
A single fragrance may contain as many as 800 different ingredients. The specialist who crafts a blend is called a nose, and this person chooses from a wide variety of natural and synthetic notes. Many fragrances today mix natural essences and synthetic aromatic compounds for consistency, stability and performance.
Only about 2,000 of the 250,000 known flowering plant species in the world are sources of essential oils used in perfume. The use of synthetic aroma compounds in perfume grew out of organic chemistry research. During the 1880s, Houbigant Parfum and Guerlain became the first perfume houses to use synthetic aroma compounds in personal fragrances.
Most of the best cologne for men specifies a general profile or characteristic accords and may also list top, middle and bottom notes. The top or head notes are immediately apparent upon application and fade relatively quickly as the heart notes emerge and lead into long-lasting base scents.
What Makes a Scent Compatible
Some fragrance specialists bring up body chemistry when discussing scents. While your diet and some medication can affect your own natural odor, no chemical reactions take place between the compounds in a fragrance and your skin. Look for a fragrance that corresponds to your self-perception and style.
If you are drawn toward the ocean, you may appreciate a cologne with aquatic characteristics. Outdoorsmen who prefer to stay closer to land may prefer green, mossy or woody fragrances. Floral bouquets are more common in feminine fragrances, though select floral notes are included in the best cologne for men.
Scents can behave differently on different wearers, primarily based on skin type. Cologne evaporates off dry skin very quickly and lasts longest on oily skin. For a longer lasting scent, apply cologne immediately after showering and applying moisturizer. Over time, you may find that some fragrance notes are more or less compatible with your body’s natural odor, your diet and your lifestyle.
How To Select the Right Scent
It is a good idea to do a little research and actually smell the best cologne for men in person. If you go to a perfume counter, you can spray a scent on a blotter card to smell at regular intervals. The only way to get a sense of whether a scent really suits you is to apply it to your skin in a hand test.
Wash your hands thoroughly before applying a single scent to the back of one hand. Many fragrance experts discourage applying cologne to your wrists and rubbing them together, as this can crush fragrance notes and keep you from experiencing the development of a scent.
If you decide to test different scents on blotter cards, you may find the scent of coffee beans useful as a palette cleanser. Try not to layer on scents during testing, as this can make it more difficult to decide which one is right for you.
Try the Best Cologne for Men
Blotter cards or hand tests can only tell you so much about the experience of wearing a scent. Most cologne brands make sample sizes, which are the best way to determine whether a scent is right for you. Fragrance samples are often free or available at a low cost as promotions.
Most fragrance samples contain enough product to wear a scent for a few days or on several occasions. The more you wear it, you may observe that certain notes become more prominent or fade away. If you enjoy the sample, you can confidently invest in a new bottle of cologne.
When you find a fragrance that smells great on you, stick with it. As you learn more about gear for personal care, your taste in the best cologne for men is likely to continue to develop. Check out Rugged Standard for fresh content for every guy navigating life. Our articles have more tips for smelling good and looking better.