A Man’s Guide to Perfume 101: How to Choose a Cologne?

I think this is probably the first article, Men Glow Up Team write about perfume. And yet, the subject is important when you know that most of us wear it.

I was rather reluctant to become a lifestyle blog and start talking about anything and everything.

That’s why I usually focus on men’s grooming experiences. Except that, the elegance of a gentleman is not limited only to shirts and shoes, it is generally a way of life, which perfume is a part.

Personally, I am a fan of perfume (especially niche brands) and I have been able to experience the advantages it brings (especially in terms of seduction).

So I decided to open the topic and to address the basics so that everyone can easily understand what it is.

This guide is an introduction to perfume, how to choose a cologne, and apply it properly, which will be completed by others in the future to go further.

Your Perfume is Your Signature

How to Choose, Apply and Wear Cologne - Your Perfume is Your Signature

Just like many other elements (your style, your pace, your charisma, your language …), your perfume is part of your identity.

For the very simple reason that they monopolize one of our senses: smell. A primordial sense, determining in our relations with others.

Indeed, everyone will agree that it is very difficult to appreciate someone whose smell we don’t like, and conversely, we are always happy to be in the presence of someone whose smell seduces us.

I must admit that I began to be interested in the subject only 3 years ago, thanks to one of my teachers, passionate about the subject.

In the following lessons, I realized that the man wear perfume could become an essential component of the pace, and more generally of our personality. A considerable asset that deserved interest.

The Fragrance Reflects Your Personality, So Choose It Carefully

As you can see, perfume can become an essential component that represents you and identifies you with others.

The problem is that brands have understood it too. I realize very quickly that the offer is very (too) vast. Some brands are ready to spend huge amounts of money on marketing to convince you to buy theirs.

In addition to that, they don’t hesitate to use all the levers possible and imaginable to tempt you.

I think in particular Paco Rabanne ads that are very touting. There are dozens of references to sexuality, to masculinity in one image.

Honestly, it borders the abuse and it becomes embarrassing for the consumer, as it lacks subtlety.

Even luxury brands offer their own fragrances at very low prices (often less than 100 dollars), with an advertising scheme that uses the same codes, but in a more subtle way, while injecting their own codes and their own worlds.

I am thinking in particular of a commercial of Dior Homme with Jude Law that I personally find fantastic.

This being said, it is better to preserve oneself from this kind of product. Because despite the prestigious names displayed, they are very often perfumes to industrial components and whose manufacturing process is mediocre.

In other words, I end up with products that smell very strong for 30 minutes and then faint.

Now, the real perfume must remain present all day, at least. We must pay attention to the scent that we wear, but also to the brand that makes it.

As I said, each brand offers a different universe, and depending on your personality and tastes, some are more in tune than others.

Fragrance 101: The Basics Of Understanding Perfume And Fragrance

Now that the subject is well and truly underway, let’s get down to business: a technicality.

I don’t manufacture perfumes anyhow, there is a whole structure to be respected by the profession.

This part is much more important than the one mentioned earlier, concerning the world of brands. Because this will allow you to understand the product descriptions, to identify the perfumes you will find.

The Olfactory Pyramid


The olfactory pyramid represents the structure of the perfume.

It is adopted by all serious perfumers. It balances the recipe so that it is harmonious while allowing the perfume to evolve throughout the day.

It also makes it possible to control its evaporation, in order to make it gradual (otherwise the perfume would not smell anything after half an hour). This architecture is very important to keep. Especially when using natural raw materials.

On the other hand, for the synthetic perfumes, (which I strongly advise against) it is a little different because their formula is more malleable.

The olfactory pyramid consists of three parts, which are called notes. We thus find a top note, a heart note, and a base note.


It’s the very first smell you’ll smell after spraying the perfume.

This is the part of the perfume that is the most volatile, indeed the scents released by this note are felt from 30 minutes to 2 hours, great maximum.

There are usually rather fresh notes of citrus fruits, green, fresh, or aromatic scents. We can find many things like orange, lavender, rosemary, or Bergamot Orange.


The note of heart as for it unfolds for several hours, it constitutes the main character of the perfume.

It gradually takes over when the top note dissipates after half an hour and lasts about 4 hours. It is less intense than the top note, allowing it to anchor longer on your skin and clothes.

To make it up, we use spicy, floral, or fruity scents. We can recognize cinnamon, neroli, or Ylang Ylang.


As you can imagine, the bottom note is the longest of all, it easily lasts a day or even days depending on the weight it occupies in the recipe.

Its role is to fix the perfume on your skin or on your clothing, so it is often heavy, woody, leathery, or suave.

It is often this note that marks us and that we associate with a loved one because it remains on the clothes that we feel. We find for example Vetiver, patchouli, Atlas cedar …

Although the architecture is the same, some perfumes focus on base notes so that it lasts longer, others on the top note so that it is cooler.

So we find several different formulas with concentration rates specific to each. The end result is called odorant concentration (this is important for the future).

What Is The Difference Between Eau Fraiche, Cologne, Toilette, Eau de Parfum, and Perfume?


Be careful not to confuse everything!

Formerly the perfume was traditionally made in the form of oil (we can always find but it is rarer). Except that since the 18th century is now preferred alcohol.

In this case, it is ethyl alcohol, and it is preferred because it is a neutral substance that doesn’t affect the scent of the materials used.

In addition, it allows us to keep it easy and sticks well to the skin, while being nice to spray.

You’ll understand, alcohol is a kind of diluent (it’s a bit funny to say that) that allows the odor concentration to express itself on the body and clothing.

It occupies at least 70% of the solution, the rest being taken by the odorant solution. There are different scales, which determine if the solution is an Eau de toilette or an Eau de parfum, here they are:

  • Eau Fraiche (also known as Aftershave): contains a maximum of 1-3% concentrate, the rest of the solution being alcohol. It is the lightest of all, it is very ephemeral.
  • Cologne (Eau de Cologne): contain between 2 and 4% of odorous concentration. It’s slightly stronger
  • Toilette (Eau de Toilette): contain 5 to 15% concentration depending on the products/manufacturers. It is therefore much more expensive than the two previous ones and lasts longer.
  • Perfume (Eau de Parfume) (the real name): is a solution that contains 15% – 20% pure perfume. The smell is able to stay long on the skin
  • Parfum: This is the Rolls Royce perfume, whose solution contains 20 to 30% (for the most prestigious brands) of fragrant concentration. Simple drops are enough to spread the smell.

Although we usually use the word perfume for all categories, this is a mistake. Only a small part of the market products “deserve” such a name.

Most of the products we see are colognes or perfumes. A perfume of quality is recognized mainly on two criteria: its concentration rate and the raw materials used.

Hot Or Cold Flaking

Last important technical point, which intervenes during the manufacturing process of the odor concentration.

Traditionally specialists practice cold enfleurage, a method that requires more time but offers a much more satisfactory result than hot enfleurage used by manufacturers.

This is a small detail, but if you have a doubt about a brand, do not hesitate to ask the question to know a little more. I will not go deeper into the manufacturing process because it is more technical than anything else, and the rest will not give you any particularly relevant information.

How To Choose a Cologne?

Now that you know all the theoretical part about perfumes. I will give you some more tips that will allow you to choose what cologne suits you best.

And especially to avoid disappointments (and there are many in this environment).

While talking to a specialist in the field, she explained to me that there were 3 ways to choose a perfume:

  • Those who want their scent to be felt only for those who are physically close when we kiss or touch you. The scents are rather fresh and light.
  • Those who want their scent to be there once you are close enough to talk to the person.
  • Those who want to leave a wake behind them, the scent is powerful and acts as an aura. The scents are heavier and more loaded.

Base note for the last category: the concentrates are often stronger and therefore more expensive than the first two categories. So you have to think a bit before you start looking.

Pro Tip: Choosing The Right Perfume For The Right Occasion

  • Perfume for a summer wedding: We seek light and lemony notes. Softly on the doses, it’s the bride and the groom.
  • Perfume for a job interview: In most cases, in maintenance, we avoid to put a perfume too marked, not to put at all. If you audition for a communication agency or for a creative job, OK you can play this card. Just make sure you’re comfortable and let your skills speak, not the scent.
  • Perfume for a first date: There is no good or bad choice. You want the person to see you as you are and therefore with the scent that suits you.
  • Perfume for an Evening / Club: I will choose some things of spicy, rather heavy. Especially since the hot environment of clubs will make you sweat so your pores will open and the scent will continue to spread longer (and cover any unwanted odors).

Common Mistakes When Trying Scents

It seems to me to have said it above, but the chosen perfume can sometimes prove to be a beautiful disappointment.

Very often because we didn’t take into account 2 or 3 small tricks, that I give you (after having experienced some failures).

Rule #1: The scent on the skin feels differently from the perfume on the clothes

A scent that you smell on a sample will not be the same as on your skin. Depending on your preferences, it must be taken into account during your fitting.

Rule #2: Never try more than a few perfumes as a result

One can smell one, two, or three perfumes in a row but then the nose makes no difference. It is therefore necessary to limit the tests in time.

Rule #3: Identify what you like

Taking into account the first two rules, it’s time to take a little tour in the shops to try some scents.

I advise you to avoid taking your wallet with you (to avoid being embarked on a sale), just do a little tour to identify different families smelling.

Once we have spotted some ideas, we then go on the internet to find the best distributors that offer a good price/quality ratio.

Rule #4: Avoid licensed marks

Just like sunglasses, half of the brands on the market know absolutely nothing about perfume and have theirs produced by wholesalers in the sector.

Hugo Boss, Diesel, Prada … whose perfumes are composed of synthetic materials without flavor and which smell fades quickly.

All that sold very expensive (brand image requires) for a result without interest.

How To Apply a Cologne Properly?

I have 4 powerful tips to show you how to wear Cologne in the right way. Let get started.

Tip #1: Apply in the right place

Do you still apply Cologne on your wrists? There are better places. Choose a place where the blood circulation is particularly sensitive and where the skin is hot.

I recommend that you apply your scent on your ankles, the back of your knees, on your neck, and near your elbows.

Tip #2: Apply at the right time

What’s the best time to apply for your Cologne? Right out of the shower, after your body lotion.

Your pores are then opened, allowing your lotion and perfume to penetrate well. In addition, a well-hydrated skin allows you to extend the fragrance of your fragrance.

Tip #3: Apply the right amount

Want to do well? Do not be too excited about your Cologne. Do not have your hand too heavy.

I don’t recommend applying it in circles: its delicious fragrance may evaporate in the air. Also, avoid applying it on your clothes or jewelry: they may change color. Apply a maximum of 2 to 3 sprays at the locations listed above.

Tip # 4: Match your Cologne to your skincare products

To do this, match the fragrances of your Cologne with those of your shower gel and lotion. Make sure their scents are “getting married”.

If the fragrances get bad or are too many, they may be too oppressive. Choose a lightly scented shower gel and body lotion or products from the same range as your Cologne or aftershave.

Best Cologne For Men – My Top 3 Picks To Get You Started

Now you know everything except that, lack of luck the offer is bloated.

Between the specialists of the trade, those who work under license and those who maintain the blur … difficult to know what to choose.

Here is my selection of brands that offer quality products, specialized expertise, and an authentic universe.

We start with accessible brands, I reserve the most pointed brands for a future article (we also find on news sites dedicated to perfume as https://www.perfume.com )

As for the very first perfume, I strongly advise you to buy it in the shop. Once you have found the rare pearl, just restocking on the internet then, it is much simpler and you save time and money.

#1 Molinard Cologne

Molinard Cologne - Patchouli
Molinard Cologne – Patchouli

Founded in 1849 in Grasses by Hyacinthe Molinard, the very first boutique offers its Provencal flowers. Soon the success takes and the store counts among its customer’s many celebrities including Queen Victoria in person.

The house is illustrated in 1921 with the creation of its perfume “habanita”, a feminine oriental scent containing vetiver (until then rather dedicated to male perfumes) which is a sensation with the boys of the roaring twenties.

The house continues to shine, especially by working the shape of its flasks with master glassmakers like Baccarat, Lallique, and Viard. The company is now recognized as living heritage, it offers expertise in the field particularly sharp.

I found you a Molinard Eau de Toilette with Patchouli, at an affordable price that has a lot of character, with an imposing presence in terms of scent for 25 euros (containing 30 ml). This is a small bottle, ideal for those who want to learn a flavor of character at a low price.

 #2 Serges Lutens: A self-taught genius

Fleurs D'oranger Cologne
Fleurs D’oranger Cologne

Here is a man with an unusual career. He goes to Paris to make a fortune and begins by working in a hairdressing salon. He quickly builds a solid reputation, especially for his art of makeup (which he develops in total self-taught).

Culotte, he sends the first pictures (he takes himself) of his creations to Vogue magazine, which is quick to publish them and then collaborate with him.

Very quickly he became the darling of cosmetic brands and developed his first fragrance at Shisheido: Black Number.

He will launch in his own name from the 2000s with his own perfume collections. Always alive, he continues to develop each year his own fragrances, very inspired by Morocco (a country he loves).

Serge Luten is one of the first brands selected because it allows us to offer a first Eau de parfum developed at less than $80.

#3 Aqua Di Parma: An Italian Elegance of Character

Acqua Di Parma Colonia Intensa Oud Cologne
Acqua Di Parma Colonia Intensa Oud Cologne

A well-known brand in the perfume industry, which offers Eau de toilette, Cologne and perfume.

The brand is sourced from natural raw materials and remains relatively affordable for those who want to learn about fresh and light fragrances (including toilet water).

I personally wear a cologne from Aqua Di Parma, especially because the concentration is a little more generous than usual.

I had a real love at first sight after having been advised by a friend who worked in the sector (Laurence if you read me, it’s a dedication).

We start at $35 for Acqua di Parma Eau de Toilette and we go up to $170 for a concentrated cologne. For the more muscular budgets, one can also afford beautiful waters of perfumes.

About Austin Green

Austin Green is the co-founder of Men Glow Up. This guy is obsessed with Men's Grooming and Fashion. I mostly publish tutorials, advice, and buying guides on Beard Care Products. Follow me on my channel Twitter. (No Spam, please :))

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