Choosing a fragrance you not only like but actually smells good on you is never easy. For one, you can only sniff a handful of different brands when perfume shopping before your head starts spinning with all the different smells, and the varying aromas from your wrists, neck and whatever else all start merging into one. This can often mean the fragrance you take home doesn’t actually smell anything like you thought. Even then, it’s hard to know exactly how you should use your newly purchased perfume and how to ensure it’ll last as long as possible after application.
Well, to make all this perfume stuff a little less taxing, we speak to the Fragrance Shop (opens in new tab)'s Senior Brand Manager, Hollie Race, and founders of virtual perfumery FIOLE (opens in new tab), Samuel Gearing and Josh Carter, who have revealed the most common mistakes men make when buying and wearing a fragrance.
So, whether it’s aftershave, cologne, eau de toilette or perfume that you’re into, you can learn from the mistakes of every other man and be sure not to fall into the same trap.
Here are 9 of the most common blunders the average man makes when it comes to fragrances…
1. Assuming low price equals low quality
Don’t be fooled into thinking a bigger price tag means you’re getting a better scent.
“The cost of the fragrance usually indicates the concentration of perfume oils, which simply means that the scent is stronger or wears heavier, but maybe these aren’t things you value or need in a scent,” explains Race, adding that there are still lts of great low-cost fragrances out there to be found that might be your fragrance match.
2. Worrying about gender
There’s a common misconception that ‘cologne’ is for men and ‘perfume’ is for women, a falsehood that also often applies to the term ‘aftershave’.
“In actual fact, these are simply descriptions of a fragrance’s concentration - for example, how much ‘perfumed oil’ is in the mixture - and have no bearing to ‘who’ it is for,” Gearing and Carter advise.
Instead, when shopping for a new scent, discard gender altogether, suggests Race.
“Fragrance is a form of self-expression and ultimately for everyone, so it comes down to personal preference. Some notes, like floral notes, are often considered feminine when most men’s fragrances have floral notes in them too,” she says.
“We're also seeing a lot more unisex fragrances, so be bold and think outside the box when choosing your scent.”
3. Choosing the same fragrance as friends
Many men wear the same fragrances as their friends.
“To us, fragrance is an extension of our outfits and, if you will, our personalities,” say Gearing and Carter. “You wouldn’t be seen dead wearing the same outfit as your mate on a night out - so why wear the same fragrance? Find a scent that yours, not your mate's.”
There’s also a big chance that the perfume you like of your friend might not smell as good on your skin.
“This is why it’s important to research and check if the perfume that you have liked is actually melding with your pheromones or not,” adds Race. “This is why learning about the fragrance notes is super important.”
Check out our article on perfume notes to learn more about this and how they can help you choose the right fragrance for you.
4. Only wearing gifted fragrances or only having one at a time
Many men only wear fragrances that they’ve been gifted. This is a big no-no, say Gearing and Carter.
“This is such a shame because your taste in scent is so deeply personal, that you should be taking the lead in what you wear,” the founders say. “I wouldn’t let my Mum pick my jeans for me and it’s the same kind of thing. Find a scent that you love first and ask for that.”
The pair are also strong believers in not waiting until your fragrance has run out before buying another and, instead, having a “Fragrance Wardrobe”.
“Much like the wardrobe for your clothes, having a few scents in different styles means that you can adapt based on your mood, the season or for special events,” they say. “It feels liberating and exciting to be able to wear what you feel like in that moment.”
5. Basing choice on branding
Only a fool would base tier entire smell on the vessel or packaging that a fragrance comes in, according to Gearing and Carter.
“The look of the bottle says nothing to the scent inside and that’s the most important part,” the pair advise. “At Fiole, we have a motto of ‘person before product’ and we encourage people to try scents anonymously when using our personalised sample sets.”
While most fragrances have great stories and packaging, a great scent isn’t a visual thing and so it’s always better to follow your nose.
6. Neglecting the other products in their grooming regimen
A scent should be but one product in your entire grooming regimen, but be careful because different products can often compete with one another. So when you find a fragrance you want to be your scent, consider everything else that is part of your grooming routine.
“Almost every product you are using, particularly hair styling products, contains fragrance,” explains Race. “These could interfere with your cologne or fragrance choice. Always apply your fragrance last - especially after any body lotion, and after your body temperature has cooled down from a hot shower.”
The last thing you want is to compromise the scent’s abilities before you even step out the door.
7. Applying it incorrectly
One of the biggest mistakes men make when it comes to aftershave or perfume is straying it incorrectly. Doing so won’t only waste it but it won’t give you that fragrance impact you’re looking for.
“The proper way to apply your favourite scent is to put it directly onto your body, so on your wrists behind your ears, on your neck, and on your chest,” recommends Race.
“These places are known as pulse points. The blood flow at pulse points is very strong. Heat is brought to these points which make them excellent spots for fragrance applications.”
She also advises not to rub your wrists together as you see in the movies, as rubbing perfume on your skin causes the top notes to evaporate before they can settle in. Let it settle in and its smell will develop how it’s meant to and last longer.
But what about spraying it on your clothes? Despite some conflicting advice online, Gearing and Carter don’t see anything wrong with it.
“Not many people spray it on their clothes, but we very much encourage you to,” they say. “Fragrance often lasts even longer on fabric, simply because your clothes don’t sweat!”
8. Not moisturising before applying perfume
To keep your fragrance lasting as long as possible, moisturise your skin before applying it. Why? Because adding a fragrance to dry skin can cause the scent to evaporate into the air quicker, Race says, while moisture can help your skin to better absorb the scent.
“If you don't have time to moisturise fully, apply Vaseline to your pulse points before applying your fragrance,” she suggests. “This has the same effect, holding on to the fragrance for longer."
9. Not properly storing fragrance
The final blunder men make when it comes to fragrance is incorrect storage.
According to Race, perfume will last a few years if it’s stored correctly but without proper storage the scent will break down. Colognes especially can degrade quickly if they are overexposed to sunlight and a wide range of temperatures in a short amount of time.
“Keep them away from any windows and out of the bathroom,” she says. “It’s best to store your fragrance in a dark and room temperature environment to preserve the integrity and potency of the scent.”