Q&A: Aftershave and Cologne 101

March 4th, 2008

Q:  How do I pick out an aftershave or cologne for myself? What is the difference between the two? How much is too much, and how do I figure out how much to wear?

Men\'s Fragrance - Polo Ralph Lauren, Bvlgari Aqva Pour Homme, Rochas Man

A: Even though aftershave and cologne can smell the same, they’re two very different products.  Aftershave is meant to condition the skin after shaving, so while it is scented, it contains conditioners to heal your skin after a close shave.  Cologne, on the other hand, is purely for fragrance.  As such, cologne has a much stronger, longer-lasting scent than aftershave.

How much is too much?  While you can splash your face with aftershave, your coworkers will be able to smell you from across the office if you do so with cologne.  Cologne is best applied in small quantities—a dab here and a dab there is enough.

Picking a scent is really a personal process.  We would recommend going scent “window shopping” first to familiarize yourself with the variety of scents out there.    Spray the fragrance on the paper cards provided at the store—that way, you’ll be able to distinguish between the colognes.  (Plus, you’ll keep your wrists and arms scent-free.)  Give your nose a break in between sniffing each fragrance.  And take your time—the process of elimination to find the perfect scent doesn’t need to be done in a day.  

Once you get down to the top three to five fragrances, you’ll need to actually try them on.  Everybody has different personal chemistry, so a fragrance smells different on different people.  Your perfect fragrance will be one whose smell you love—but one that also works for your personal chemistry.

Have a great tip about how to pick a fragrance?  Or would you like to share your favorite scents? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

Polo Ralph Lauren Eau de Toilette | $47.50+ at Sephora, Bvlgari Aqva Pour Homme | $40+ at Sephora, Rochas Eau de Toilette Spray | $44 at Sephora.

Entry Filed under: How To,Men,Men's,Men's,Q&A,Shopping Guide

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brian  |  March 5th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    What exactly do you mean by “splash your face”? Do you mean like get a small puddle on your hand and wipe?

  • 2. Trisha  |  March 5th, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Yup, that’s exactly it. Put a small amount of aftershave on your hands and then work it onto your face to protect your skin after you shave.

  • 3. KingBob  |  March 5th, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    >Your perfect fragrance will be one whose smell you love.

    The perfect fragrance is one that has the ladies chasing after you! Seriously, if the fragrance generates compliments, it’s a winner.

  • 4. Eric  |  March 5th, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Fragrance merchants should have coffee beans on hand. Take a whiff from them every 2-3 scents because the nose doesn’t reset fast enough to take in more than a few different colognes.

  • 5. Kristen C.  |  March 6th, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    I wasn’t sure what scent to get my husband for Christmas (he’d never wore cologne before) so I got Sephora’s Scent Sampler Gift Certificate For Him ($50) which comes with 8 different scents to try and a gift certificate to buy a full size on the one he likes. It’s great because what a fragrance smells like out of the bottle can be very different when mixed with someone own chemistry.

    (They also have a sampler for women.)

  • 6. rob  |  December 16th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    my favorite fregrance is calvin klein
    im using it since im 16 years old never had bad comments from the ladies

  • 7. Greg  |  February 21st, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    My favourite is Lancome Miracle for Men, it’s the best fragrance ever. My sister recently bought be David Beckham’s Instinct and that’s pretty good too!

  • 8. Dan  |  January 20th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Men and women have different interests…. Guys, have you ever noticed a woman douced in perfume which only made her stink? She thinks she smells wonderful ! This is why I let my wife buy the aftershave / cologne that she would like me to wear… and I SUGGEST the perfume I’d like her to wear ( which she won’t )

  • 9. roger  |  March 24th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    some years ago 1960 1970 after shave and a colonge was available called
    “afradesieac” and i can not remember the manufacutre. can you held?

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