Words: Charlie Leeves
You may use fragrance everyday but how much do you actually know about it? Do you have any idea what the difference is between a cologne, Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum? Would you be able to tell a top note from a base note?
Whilst it all seems like a lot to take in, fear not! Here at The Perfume Shop we have put together a beginner’s guide to men’s fragrance to help you choose the right one for you.
Types of cologne
All male fragrances are cologne, right? Well… no, actually they’re not! I bet if you checked the fragrance bottle on your shelf right now you might be surprised to find that it isn’t cologne after all! If it’s not cologne, then what exactly is it?
Fragrances are made up of a combination of fragrance oils and alcohol or water. The ratio between these defines what type of fragrance it is.
Eau de cologne
Eau de Cologne is typically made up of 2-5% fragrance oils mixed with alcohol and water. On average it tends to last up to 3 hours, meaning that the top notes of the fragrance are most prominent. So, if you need to make a memorable impression quickly then this is the one for you. We're big fans of the unmistakable freshness that Eau D'orange Verte by Hermès brings to the table.
Eau de Toilette
Increasing the fragrance oil concentration, Eau de Toilette has between 4-10% oil and will last for around 4 hours. But don’t be fooled by the name, the word toilette actually comes from French meaning “the act of cleaning/grooming yourself”. We recommend using after showering or when you want to enjoy a light fragrance – perhaps for work or a first date. Choose Invictus by Paco Rabanne for a powerful kickstart to your day.
Eau de Parfum
Once again, the concentration of fragrance oil is increased with an Eau de Parfum. An EDP is made up of 8-15% oil and will last between 4-6 hours. Although Eau de Parfums are typically associated with female fragrances there are plenty of EDPs for him, such as Y by Yves Saint Laurent, that pack a punch. Due to the high oil content, heart notes in EDPs are much more prevalent. So if you want a brighter smelling fragrance, an Eau de Parfum is right for you.
Parfums have the highest oil content at 15-30% and will last for more than 6 hours, allowing for a full day’s wear. Although the more expensive option, if you are looking for a bold scent that will traverse through all three fragrance notes then Parfum is the choice for you. Terre D'hermès by Hermès is the perfect Parfum if you want a raw, earthy fragrance.
Aftershave is typically only around 1-2% oil, so it is the weakest of all the scents. This is because aftershave’s main job is to clean and sooth your skin and then as an added bonus it will leave you with a pleasant yet subtle scent. Try Le Male by Jean Paul Gaultier to freshen up your day every time you shave.
WHAT DO THE NOTES MEAN?
You may have heard the phrase ‘top’, ‘heart’ and ‘base' notes being used when describing scents and no, people aren’t just trying to confuse you - these phrases actually have meanings!
1. Top notes
Top notes are the first scents you will notice when smelling a fragrance and will fade after 10 – 15 minutes. Typically, sharp and fruity, top notes will explode onto the scene creating a short but refreshing experience for the wearer.
Top note examples – lemon, orange zest, bergamot, lavender
2. Heart notes
Heart (or middle) notes are what appears after the top note has faded. Like the rainbow after rain, heart notes will breathe new life into your day. Heart notes are typically bold, floral scents – see Dior Homme by Dior – that give the fragrance its distinct scent.
Heart note examples – jasmine, rose, lemongrass, nutmeg
3. Base notes
After everything else has faded away, the base note is what is left. Just like everything in life, fragrances need a strong, stable foundation and this is what the base note provides. Typically, base notes will last between 5-10 hours so this will be the scent that lingers in the mind, planting the seed of a fond memory.
Base note examples – vanilla, amber, sandalwood, cedarwood
Now you know about the different fragrances, the final step is to apply it properly. Did you know that heat activates fragrances? All over your body you have pulse points (areas where the body produces the most heat) and these are therefore the areas that will activate and elevate the fragrance the most.
You can find these points:
On the neck
Behind your ear
On your wrist
The Perfume Shop’s fragrance top tips:
- When it comes to fragrances subtly is key, remember a little goes a long way.
- Don’t rub the fragrance – although heat activates the scent, by rubbing you will wear away the top note shortening the life of the fragrance.
- Finally use The Perfume Shop’s Fragrance Finder to find the perfect fragrance for you!
Now you've learnt about different men's cologne, find the perfect fragrance using our Fragrance Finder.