How to apply cologne

When you walk into a fragrance department, the array of options and scents can quickly become overwhelming. Particularly with cologne, men don’t have an easy task making a selection. There are so many foreign names and big brands with eye-catching packaging and bottles. The vocabulary is confusing also, with words like “notes” and “eau de toilette.” Take the chaos out of cologne and take a look at the basics of what you should know — not only in selecting a scent but applying it, as well.

Man in a suit spraying cologne on himself
Africa Studio/

Cologne and body chemistry

It may come as a surprise that body chemistry plays a massive role in how long a scent will last on your skin and what scent elements will be most dominant. You’ll need to consider your temperature as well as the heat levels around you. Fragrances actually circulate better where it is warm. The longevity of your cologne also depends on your skincare regimen. Moisturized skin fares better in retaining scented sprays.

As far as where to apply cologne, you’ll want to spray it on the areas where your skin is thinnest and warmest. When you are testing different fragrances at a store, smell them on a sample card and, if you like the initial scent, spray a small amount on your inner wrist. After 20 minutes or so, smell your wrist to see how well the smell will present itself on your body. The main categories of scent are fresh, woody, floral, and Oriental.

The proper application of cologne

Now, a simple guide on how to apply cologne. To start, it helps if your skin is freshly clean, perhaps shortly after a bath or shower. Moisturize your skin well, especially your arms and neck. The ideal locations to spray are areas of skin where a pulse can be easily felt — inside the wrists, elbows, and near the neck. Give some distance between you and the bottle, spritzing from a distance of about 5 inches or so. Absolutely no more than two or three sprays at a point or two on your body are needed. Any more than that will become overpowering.

For the best impact in a social setting or on a date, spray your cologne about 30 minutes before meeting with your group. How you store your cologne will also make a difference. Keep it out of sunlight and consistently at room temperature. A bathroom cabinet or enclosed mirror works perfectly.

Mistakes to avoid with cologne

It is possible for an excess of cologne to ruin your public interactions. You may think that if a scent smells good, more is better. This is not the case at all. Too much of a good thing will prompt others to keep their distance. Always test out a cologne before using it out and about. There is a trend to spray cologne in the air and walk through it. This is actually very ineffective. While you’ll get a quick blast of the spray initially, the oils will have little to grab on to and dissipate quickly. This is almost as bad as spraying too much.

A helpful frame of reference is to know what kind of cologne comes at what level of concentration. The highest scent concentration is in a perfume, or “parfum” labeled bottle, while something labeled “eau fraiche” is scented very lightly. And lastly, bottles labeled “eau de” (parfum, toilette, cologne) are in a middle-ground range.

A little goes a long way

Man spraying cologne on himawlf
Vasyl Nagernyak/

Don’t allow pushy sales representatives to convince you a top-marked price is what you need. There is much more to consider when buying a cologne than just price. Try different scents on sample cards, and test your favorite on your wrist. What you smell after 20 minutes will accurately reflect the cohesion of that cologne with your body chemistry.

A helpful tip is to smell the inside of your elbow between scents, not the coffee beans they may offer you. Your skin’s natural pH is far superior at neutralizing smells. When wearing a scent out and about, spray four inches away from your skin, preferably at pulse points, no more than two times. Don’t store your cologne in warm places or in sunlight. Stick to the age old advise: A little goes a long way.

If you want to know more, read on further to learn about the benefits of natural aromatherapy.

Editors' Recommendations