6 Expert Tips for Buying Cologne

By Jack Prenter / November 22, 2017
How do you pick what cologne to buy?

Picking out a cologne isn’t easy. It can often seem like a pretentious industry, the majority of us can’t pick one note from another and this can leave you feeling disheartened and confused. But it really shouldn’t be this way, smelling good should be a privilege that we can all enjoy.

While there are some expert tips that can help you to make better choices, it often comes down to trial and error.

Follow Your Nose

You’re probably not a scent connoisseur, but you know a good smell when you give it a sniff. Likewise, you’ve almost certainly decided to wash a pair of jeans because they didn’t smell as good as they should have. Maybe you’ve got quite the nose after all!

When it comes to picking a scent, remember that you’re the one who is going to be wearing it everyday. That means that you better like it.

Head down to your local mall and check out each of the fragrances in person. Follow your nose, don't be afraid to look at new brands or colognes that you’ve never heard of before, that’s the best way to find something that you’ll love.

Like with wine or good whiskey, the more you try, the better your pallet. The same is true of fragrances, you need to smell a vast range before you can have an insightful opinion about which you prefer.

Bring a Friend with You

We would highly recommend tricking one of your friends into coming shopping with you. Entice them with free pizza and snatch it away at the last second, replaced with the newest Burberry and Armani fragrance from them to sniff.

You might like a fragrance, but you want other people to love it too.

Two noses are better than one and having a friend to give their opinion is invaluable. If both of you like a fragrance it’s significantly more likely that others will agree too, but that doesn’t mean that you have to follow their whimsy.

Feel free to purchase a fragrance that your friend doesn’t like, but do so in the knowledge that it’s unlikely to have the universal adoration of a Dior Sauvage or an Armani Code.

Explore Smaller Brands

While those two perfumes are delicate, beautiful and powerful in their own way, they certainly aren’t unique. If you need proof, open up your apartment door and you’re sure to catch a smell of one of the millions of other men who are walking around your city wearing those scents.

Why not explore some smaller brands?

Although a small selection of major brands attract the overwhelming amount of attention, there are thousands of cologne brands, many of which only sell a few hundred bottles each year.

Often this is because their scents suck, but that certainly doesn’t mean that there aren’t some mind blowing fragrances that are created by small companies.

The beauty of buying a scent from one of these boutique creators is that you are likely to be the only person in your area wearing that fragrance. In our culture of ubiquity standing out should be the goal, not something to be feared.

A unique scent that people identify you with can be powerful.

Let It Mix with Your Skin

Fragrances are created using a mixture of oils, these oils react with the oils on your skin and alter the scent of the perfume. Therefore, although every bottle of a perfume will smell the same, that fragrance is distorted the moment it hits your skin.

For many of us the difference will be negligible, but that’s certainly not always the case and it’s difficult to predict. It can often seem like certain people are more prone to distorted scents, presumably because of the quantity of oil on their skin and the scent of their sweat.

If In Doubt, Choose a Basic Scent

If after all of this advice you still can’t find a fragrance that you like, pick something extremely basic. The more complex a scent is the lower the chance of it being liked by the majority. Generic scents are usually relatively basic, they often have fresh, citrus notes and not a lot else.

These fragrances certainly aren’t going to win any awards, but they are solid, universal colognes that are going to make you smell better without a lot of thought.

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