Articles

    Men's Fragrance FAQ.

    by Grant Osborne, 01 August 2000

    Men's Fragrance FAQ.
    • What is the difference between an Aftershave and an Eau de Toilette? (ask)
    • What is the difference between an Eau de Toilette and an Eau de Cologne? (ask)
    • What other strengths of Men's fragrance are there? (ask)
    • Which is best? A fragrance with a spray, or a splash-on fragrance? (ask)
    • What makes a fragrance a 'Male' Fragrance. Can I wear Ladies fragrance? (ask)
    • Why should I wear fragrance? (ask)
    • How long should a fragrance last? (on the skin) (ask)
    • How long should a fragrance last? (In the bottle, before if goes off) (ask)
    • Fragrances seem to lose their smell quickly on me. How can I make them last? (ask)
    • Why are some fragrances so expensive? (ask)
    • What are Headnotes, Heartnotes and Basenotes? (ask)
    • What is a fragrance family? (ask)
    • What fragrance *REALLY* gets the ladies (and some men) going wild? (ask)
    • I've been looking for (A Fragrance) all over the place. Where can I find it? (ask)
    • If I use 'Brand X' Soap, 'Brand Y' deodorant and 'Brand Z' cologne, will I just smell bizarre? (ask)
    • When should I wear fragrance? (ask)
    • Where should I put fragrance on the body? (ask)
    • Where should I store my fragrances to make them last? (ask)
    • Why does one fragrance smell really good on my friend, but smells disgusting on me? (ask)
    • Where can I find information on collecting fragrances and fragrance bottles? (ask)

    Do you have a fragrance based question? let us know.



    What is the difference between an Aftershave and an Eau de Toilette?

    They are two completely different things, although many men, unknowingly use them interchangeably.

    An Aftershave contains less perfume oil (around (1%-3%), therefore the scent isn't as long lasting as an Eau de Toilette.
    Many aftershaves contain soothing and cooling ingredients, such as Aloe Vera. This helps soothe the skin after a shave . The alcohol contained will also close skin pores opened by the hot water from your shave. Aftershave will only last for about 2-3 hours so, it isn't effective if you want your fragrance to last all evening.

    An Eau de Toilette contains more perfume oil than the Aftershave, typically around 4%-8%. However EDT's contain too much oil to be put on the face, especially after shaving. You will probably come up all red and blotchy as a result, and there's no way you'll pull like that.
    Eau de Toilette should be put on the 'pulse points'. These are the area's where the veins are near the skins surface and you can feel a pulse (ie. Neck, Wrist, Chest... ). As fragrances react with heat, everytime the blood rushes pass you send out another waft!
    Coco Chanel once said, put your perfume where you expect to be kissed, so I'll leave that one up to you.
    Because of the higher perfume content, Eau de Toilette lasts much longer than an Aftershave (around 6-8 hours) so its ideal if you want your fragrance to last all evening. (provided you start at 8PM and finish at around 2AM!)

    It is a common misconception that an Eau de Toilette is weaker than an Aftershave. I can only think that maybe the 'Eau' part of the name makes people think it is watered down Aftershave. Or it could be that people are used to the fact that an Eau de toilette is generally the weakest strength in Ladies Fragrance.

    As EDT contains more perfume than the Aftershave, you will find that they are more expensive.

    Some people will ask "Which shall I buy? EDT or Aftershave?". It depends on your needs. If you are wanting a lasting fragrance, I would go for the EDT everytime. I could buy a matching Aftershave to put on after I have shaved but I prefer a fragrance-free Aftershave Balm.

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    What is the difference between an Eau de Toilette and a Cologne?

    Officially they are fragrances with different strengths. Eau De Toilette will contain 4%-8% of the perfume oil, where as an Eau de Cologne will contain 2%-5%. Therefore, an Eau de Cologne should be a lighter and not so longer lasting fragrance. Traditionally, An EDC will have a citrus scent.
    However in the world of Men's Fragrance, the definitions have become slightly blurred. A lot of the time, a fragrance house will call an Eau de Toilette strength fragrance, a Cologne. Nine times out of ten, in men's fragrance a Cologne will be of EDT strength. There are a few houses which use the correct term (Guerlain for example)

    Incidentally, mainly US houses call their EDT's Colognes. eg Tommy Hilfiger, However, as Basenotes is based in Europe, we'll be calling them Eau de Toilettes.

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    What other strengths of Men's fragrance are there?

    As well as Aftershaves, Eau de Toilettes and Eau de Colognes, there are two other main fragrance strength categories. These are Eau de Parfum and Parfum (or Perfume)

    A Parfum or Perfume is quite rare in Men's fragrance. A perfume contains 15%-30% Perfume Oil (the rest is alcohol). You'll only need a very tiny amount at the pulse points but it lasts for ages. Very expensive though.

    An Eau de Parfum is 'The next one up' from an Eau de Toilette. They are useful for men, who find that their fragrance doesn't last or just would like a stronger strength. They contain 8%-15% of the perfume oil, and these can last pretty much all day.
    The Eau de Parfum is fairly rare in Men's fragrance, but not as rare as the pure perfume. Givenchy do one in their Pi range as do Yves Saint Laurent in the Opium Homme range.

    You can also get Men's body splashes and sprays, in which the strength can vary wildly. Typically 1%-4% though.

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    Which is best? A fragrance with a spray, or a splash-on fragrance?

    Its personal preference really. Most Aftershaves come as a splash, so that you can easily put in on to your hands to transfer to your face. Most Eau de Toilettes come with a spray which is easier to get the stuff on to your body.

    Basenotes prefers sprays, mainly because (a) It's a lot less messy and you don't end up accidentally pouring half the bottle on your foot. and (b) Each time you open a splash bottle you are letting lots of oxygen in, lessening the longevity of the fragrance. Spray bottles are less 'Open' and will keep for longer.

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    What makes a fragrance a 'Male' Fragrance. Can I wear Ladies fragrance?

    Of course you can, If you like a fragrance then wear it. Many men's fragrances tend to be citrus and woody, while ladies tend to be more floral. You won't actually turn into a girl if you spray on a bit of Chanel No.5. honest!

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    Why should I wear fragrance?

    Wearing fragrance is a personal choice, no-one should feel they have to wear a fragrance! However many people enjoy wearing fragrances as they enjoy smelling good and it makes them feel good.

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    How long should a fragrance last? (on the skin)

    It varies. An Eau de Toilette will, on average, last 6-8 hours. If you have oily skin, then the oil "traps" the fragrance, making it last longer. If you have dryer skin, the fragrance will not last as long. If you have very dry skin, it may be worth using a moisturiser to add some moisture.

    Some fragrances do not last as long due to their composure, light citrus fragrances may not last as long as a heavy woody fragrance.

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    How long should a fragrance last? (In the bottle, before if goes off)

    Spray, or Vaporisateur bottle fragrances last longer as the fragrance isn't as exposed to the air. Provided that you store your fragrances in a cool, dry place then you should get 2-3 years out of them (Some fragrances can last for many more years.). Of course, this depends on how long the fragrance has been sitting on the shelf in the store before you bought it!

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    Fragrances seem to lose their smell quickly on me. How can I make them last?

    Firstly, remember that after a while your nose "loses interest" in your fragrance, so although you can't smell it, others around you may find it really strong. A good way of illustrating this is by imagining you have some road diggers outside you house, making a bit of a racket with their equipment. At the beginning you may find it really annoying, but most of the time your brain can block it out so that after a while it goes to the back of your mind and you can get on with other things.

    The reason this happens goes back to our built in survival instinct. If the brain feels that one of it's senses is detecting something your brain feels is no longer of any use or unlikely to be of any threat, then the brain switches itself 'off' to it, allowing you to concentrate on other potential dangers.

    If you find that your fragrance is still not lasting, you could try "Building" a fragrance. "Building" a fragrance is the process of using several products from a range to make the fragrance last.

    Here's an example..
    (In this example we will use products from the Clinique Happy for Men range)

    (1) First of all we use the Happy for Men shower gel. As we shower, our pores open up, due to the heat, allowing the Happy for Men fragrance to seep in to our pores. As we cool off after the shower, the fragrance get's trapped as the skin's pores close. As we heat up throughout the day, the pores will open, allowing the fragrance to escape.

    (2) After the shower we then use the Happy for Men deodorant, so that it doesn't clash with the shower gel.

    (3) We can finish of with the Happy for Men cologne.

    As a result of this build up, the fragrance lasts much longer. We also do not need to use as much of the cologne as normal as we already have some of the scent on us.

    If you don't believe me, try it. Or alternatively go into your local department store, and get them to spray something on one wrist, and then on the other wrist put on some body lotion and then some fragrance. Check out your wrists throughout the day, and you'll find one will be longer lasting than the other! (I'm sure you can work out which one!)

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    Why are some fragrances so expensive?

    Creating a new fragrance is a very lengthy process. Anyone can create a fragrance, but only master perfumers can produce a truly great one. Its not just a case of sticking a few crushed up things you found in the woods with some water and alcohol. Creating a new fragrance is a big risk, and no-one knows how popular it will be once it's let loose on the public. We all remember the greats: Eau Sauvage, Cool Water, Le Male. But what about the ones we can't remember? (Well we can't remember them, otherwise I'd have listed them!)

    The ingredients used in some of the more expensive fragrances don't come cheap either. Sandalwood is one of the most common ingredients in men's fragrance, however for a Sandalwood tree to be suitable for a fragrance it must be over 30 years old! Another ingredient often used is Iris roots. These have to be stored for five years to get the best quality for creating perfume.

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    What are Headnotes, Heartnotes and Basenotes?

    Fragrances are made up of individual 'notes'. These are the different ingredients such as cinnamon or vanilla.

    When you first apply a fragrance to a skin, your first impression will be of the 'Headnotes' or 'Topnotes'. These notes are there to get you interested in the fragrance, a bit like the opening chords to a song. They also help mask the scent of the alcohol which is used to carry the fragrance.

    The Headnotes will only last a few minutes before completely evaporating, leaving behind..

    ....The Heartnotes or Middle notes. These appear as the top notes fade away, these can last for several hours and are considered the true scent of a fragrance. This is why, when trying a fragrance for the first time you should wait a few minutes after applying to decide whether you actually like it or not.

    The Basenotes (Now you know where the site name came from!) Is the final phase and last for another few hours.

    The fragrance notes are often represents in the form of a triangle, with the notes listed from top to bottom. Here's an example of an 'olfactory pyramid':

    Here, we can see that initially you will be able to smell the notes of Jasmin and Rose. The fragrance develops onto Cedar, Red Pepper and Tarragon and goes on eventually to the 'dry-down' of Sandalwood, Vetiver, Vanilla and Musk. Simple eh?

    Fragrances can contain hundreds of notes. Only the most dominant notes are normally listed.

    Different ingredients evaporate at different speeds and this is why you can smell the fragrance develop. Citrus notes evaporate quickly, so these tend to be in the topnotes. Mossy ingredients take a long while to evaporate, so these tend to be basenotes.

    Here is a rough 'Order' of evaporating speeds, starting from the fastest..

    (1) Citrus Notes: eg. Grapefruit, Bergamot, Lemon
    (2) Herbaceous Notes: eg. Mint, Rosemary
    (3) Green Notes: Leaves. a fresh cut grass type scent.
    (4) Aldehydic Notes: A synthetic soft floral scent. More common in feminine fragrances.
    (5) Fruity Notes: eg. Apple, Pineapple, Melon
    (6) Floral Notes:eg. Lavender, Blossom, Rose
    (7) Spicy Notes: eg. Pepper, Cinnamon, Cumin
    (8) Woody Notes: eg. Sandalwood, Cedarwood
    (9) Balsamic Notes: Sap from trees.
    (10) Sweet Notes: eg. Vanilla, Tonka Bean
    (11) Mossy Notes: eg. Oakmoss
    (12) Animalistic Notes: eg. Musk.

    Tell me more about fragrance ingredients.
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    What is a fragrance family?

    Visit our Fragrance family page for more information.

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    What fragrance *REALLY* gets the ladies (and some men) going wild?

    Everybody has different fragrance preferences and people of different backgrounds and ages all prefer different scents so it's not an easy question to answer. We did a bit of research and found that one comment that was often heard went along the lines of..

    "I don't care what fragrance he wears as long as he has showered recently!"

    So remember guys, keep clean! And don't think you can get away with not washing and trying to cover it up with a ton of 'Issey'. This don't work! What will happen is that your dirty bacteria will react badly with the fragrance and make an unpleasant smell. Doh!

    Alternatively you may want to check out Realm by Erox corp. This fragrance contains pheromones which apparently create feelings of self confidence, attractiveness and romance. Read our article on pheremone based fragrances.

    Please remember though, a fragrance alone isn't enough to build a relationship with anyone. There's all that business of having a good personality, a sense of humour, a rapport, trust... You know, the stuff that actually matters! I've never heard of anyone splitting up a relationship because the guy stopped wearing Jovan Musk or something! More on this...

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    I've been looking for (A Fragrance) all over the place. Where can I find it?

    Chances are, it's been discontinued or put onto limited distribution. A fragrance house may often stop producing a fragrance line if the demand isn't there. If a fragrance has been only recently discontinued then you may be able to still find stocks available. A fragrance can still be on shop shelves years after discontinuation.

    Often, houses may just have discontinued their product in your country. Sometimes what's hot on continental Europe may go down like a lead balloon in the UK for example. One example is Laura Biagiotti's Roma (for Women). This was originally launched in the UK in 1994, but proved unsuccessful, However, in Europe it was very popular.
    It was relaunched in the UK in 1999, as an exclusive to one of the UK's leading perfume retailers (Boots), along with the rest of the Laura Biagiotti range, and has been successful. A lot of the time it's down to how the product is marketed.

    Sometimes a fragrance is put onto limited distribution, so that it is not widely available in every Boots, Sephora, Macy's, Debenhams and your local department store. You may have to go to a high profile store in your countries capital city, to get hold of it.

    This is often done to (a) maintain a level of exclusivity to the fragrance or (b) to ensure remaining stocks last a reasonably long time.

    The Internet has opened up several avenues to people looking for elusive scents. Doing a search on 'Google' may bring up a cybershop with plentiful stock. Also check out the internet auction site, eBay, you will often find discontinued fragrances there. Be prepared to pay a price for the rarer ones.

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    If I use Brand X Soap, Brand Y deodorant and Brand Z cologne, will I just smell bizarre?

    You could do! However most 'Own Brand' soaps and shower gels aren't particularly high perfumed so they will wear off fairly quickly anyway. Deodorants, on the other hand, tend to be fairly strong, so either use the matching one to your cologne, or use a fragrance free deodorant. (Lab Series do a good one)

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    When should I wear fragrance?

    Whenever you like. Many people save them for special occasions though. If you would like to wear a fragrance more often, but cannot afford it. Why not have a 'special', higher priced fragrance for special occasions and a lower priced one for everyday use. Benetton Sport is an example of a good lower priced fragrance.

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    Where should I put fragrance on the body?

    Fragrance should put on the 'pulse points'. These are the area's where the veins are near the skins surface and you can feel a pulse (ie. Neck, Wrist, Chest... ). As fragrances react with heat, everytime the blood rushes pass you send out another waft! Coco Chanel once said, put your perfume where you expect to be kissed, so I'll leave that one up to you.

    When spraying the fragrance, make sure you spray from a reasonable distance. If it forms a 'puddle' on your skin, it's too close. Let the fragrance dry naturally as rubbing it with your hand can distort the fragrance.

    Don't apply too much! If you can still smell it on yourself strongly five minutes after application, go a bit easier on it next time. Wearing too much aftershave is a big social no-no!

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    Where should I store my fragrances to make them last?

    Storing your fragrances in a cool, dark, dry place is best. Maybe in a wardrobe drawer. Avoid keeping them on a bathroom window ledge: The light, heat and moisture won't do any good. Keeping the fragrance in the boxes is good too. Some swear by storing them in a fridge.

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    Why does one fragrance smell really good on my friend, but smells disgusting on me?

    Everybody's skin is different: we all have different genes, lead different lifestyles, have different diets. Some skins are oilier. Some skins have different pH (Alkaline and Acidity) levels too. Each of these has a different effect on the fragrance. This is why it is always recommended to try a fragrance on your skin, before you make a purchase.

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    Where can I find information on collecting fragrances and fragrance bottles?

    Check out Javaslublu Perfume Encyclopedia for lots of information

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    This FAQ is © copyright 1999-2005 Basenotes. reproduction of any kind, in part or in full is strictly forbidden without prior permission of Basenotes.end of article







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