What to consider when choosing a male perfume

Young African man spraying on cologne in his bathroom. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Most men hardly pay much attention to aspects of grooming beyond their facial hair. Gentlemen on the other hand know that scent, like style, has a significant influence on social encounters.

Someone once told me that in a social setting, people judge others from three standpoints. How you look from 12 feet away, this includes your style, posture, and gait.

From 12 inches away they will analyse your scent, grooming and sartorial choices that are apparent from close examination of your clothes. Finally, and perhaps more importantly, your perceptual and cognitive intellect which is revealed from the first 12 words you speak.

Today we will focus on the olfactory aspect of grooming and the importance of carefully choosing your scent. While this article will not turn you into an expert, it will hopefully inspire you to do more research on the subject.

Your main consideration when choosing a scent should be what impression you want to make; to which environment you will wear it; and how long you would like it to last? A good scent will however do more for us.

It can boost confidence, enhance moods, improve attraction and as aromatherapy, sooth the mind and help us sleep. Someone once accurately described perfume as music to the nose.

We normally consider scents for social reasons. An evening out with friends, impress someone at the office, or one that will serve us throughout the day. When choosing a fragrance, think about your activities of daily living.

Male Perfumes. FILE PHOTO | NMG

This means considering where you will spend most time and social interactions therein. The thing to remember about scent is that your nose is only the guide when you first encounter the fragrance. After using it a few times your nose will be blind to it. This is dangerous as you might be tempted to over-apply and might offend those around you.

A good fragrance needs to accentuate and complement your body’s natural scent and musk any unwanted odour. Odours are created when bacteria on your skin makes contact with sweat.

Don’t worry if you sweat a lot because it is not the presence of sweat that causes pungent odour, but the type of bacteria and how it reacts to your sweat. Gentlemen have a higher chance of body odour than women because they have more body hair.

Choosing fragrances starts by first, knowing the four broad categories. Floral, oriental, fresh, and woody. Michael Edwards developed the fragrance wheel which splits 4 categories even further. His work breaks down and it describes the various ingredients used to create fragrances and their notes.

Second, you need to know that fragrance strength ranges from 1 percent which lasts about 2 hours to about 30 percent which last about 8-12 hours. The percentage refers to the amount of perfume and essential oils used to make the composition.

Eau Fraiche has the least at between 1-3 percent, followed by Eau de Cologne at 2-4 percent, then Eau de Toilette (EDT) at between 5-15 percent and the top of the charts is Eau de Parfum (EDP) with between 10-20 percent strength.

If money is no hindrance then you should consider Extract de Parfum (Parfum) with between 20-30 percent concentration of essential oils. Better fragrances are based on the quality of the essential oils that have been aged and matured for years before being added to the perfume. Expect to pay more for higher oil content.

If you are looking for a signature scent, go for something artisanal rather than settling for the common and cheaper commercial fragrances. Their visibility is based more on their brand endorsement and advertising spend rather than quality.

Research your scents and the perfumer behind them. For example, Frank Voelkl created Bois for Commodity and the famous Santal 33 that has a cult following for Le Labo’s.

Other big names in scent creation are Rodrigo Flores-Roux who has worked on top brands for Tom Ford, Bruno Jonanovic who created Bad Boy Le Parfum for Carolina Herrera, Sophie Labbe who created Boss Bottled Marine for Hugo Boss, and Caroline Sabas who created Oud Orange Intense by Fragrance Du Bois.

Two top institutions that have been creating ingredients for the perfumers for over 100 years are Firmenich and International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF).

Knowing how to apply your fragrance is as important as choosing your scent. As described earlier, the strength determines the amount you need and will guide you on how long it will last. As a rule of thumb, apply it to your skin and not your clothes.

Aim for the warmer parts of your body, like the neck (sides and behind the ear), elbows and chest. One burst a couple of inches from your skin should be sufficient for each location if you have a good quality and strong fragrance. Always apply the fragrance before you dress, do not rub your skin and avoid your wrists.

Evelyne Mbogo, Commercial Lead and Buyer at Lintons Beauty in Kenya, says most men do not know the difference between fragrances or the work that goes into producing them. The few that do the research are willing to pay for better quality artisanal fragrances like Tom Ford’s Black Orchid and Ombre leather.

Finally, remember your fragrance has three levels called notes. The top (head or opening) notes, which creates the first impression of the fragrance. The middle (heart) note is the heart of the fragrance and reveals its true character. The bottom (base) notes are the base or foundation and could last up to two days.

Michael Mwai is a lifestyle consultant at Dmiguel Style

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