Scent of a Man

LIKE A CRISP white shirt, the right smell is every guy's finishing touch. But not to smell like my cousin once said to a friend, 'You smell like a whore's handbag'. On any given day, my gym's men's changing room is a fog of Lynx body spray. It is the most successful male fragrance on the planet; there is no dabbing behind the ears for the gym Lynx man – instead, it's a full-body fog of the stuff, thick enough to smoke a fish.

Women love the smell of a man – but don't ask a woman how a man should smell. I took a straw poll of the women I know and asked how women want a man to smell? Half the women I asked said they didn't want men to smell like anything, especially not of 'fragrance'. At the same time, the other half went on for hours: natural, earthy, engine oil, sandalwood, citrus, soap, cigars and sex.

According to, statistics show the estimated market value of male fragrances in Great Britain from 2010 to 2020 by acceptable and mass fragrance types. In December 2013, mass male fragrances were worth approximately 69 million British pounds in sales. This number increased significantly over the next three years, reaching 106 million British pounds in 2015. Since then, market values have dropped slightly, measuring at 86.4 million British pounds in 2020.

But how much should you use? The quick answer is not too much of it. I use the less-is-more approach, not a shower of the stuff. Scents should be sprayed lightly and close to the skin so only nearby ones can detect them. You want to wear the shirt, not let it wear you; the same goes for your cologne.

There's an art to applying it; no matter how good-looking you are, dousing yourself in it is a turn-off. Women like a good-smelling man, which can help you feel more manly. It can also irritate co-workers, who will start avoiding the person they can smell a mile away.

Remember, nothing can mask lousy hygiene; I remember a fellow student at Uni who regularly tried to cover up funk by dowsing himself in cologne instead of just having a shower each day.

"The evolution we saw in women's fashion, women's fragrance, is happening now with men's."

 Malle, London

So, what's the difference between cologne, eau de toilette, Eau de parfum and aftershave?

Many people unknowingly get it wrong and use the terms interchangeably, but they refer to different things. Cologne is lighter but can still have a heavier, long-lasting scent. Aftershave contains around one to eight per cent of perfume oil and includes ingredients that soothe the skin, such as aloe vera – perfect for post-shaving. The trouble is that the scent only lasts a few hours because of its low oil level.

An eau de toilette is more robust and contains more perfume oil, so you wouldn't use it straight after shaving, as it is likely to irritate your skin. The good news is that its scent can last around six to eight hours.

If you want something that will last the whole day, use an Eau de parfum. With its high percentage of perfume oil (eight to 15 per cent), these are the most aromatic fragrances - with a price to reflect that.

A social experiment showed that colognes significantly improve middle-aged men's mood, reducing mood disturbances such as tension, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion. This personal sense of well-being, good humour, and confidence will inevitably be reflected in behaviour, helping attract potential partners.

Whichever you use, when applying, dab a little onto your neck, just above your collarbone and the pulse points on your wrist. Let your body heat trigger the scent. If you're terrified of overdoing it, spray one spritz in the air and walk through the mist it creates. If you can't smell it immediately, don't just add more because it can take 10-15 minutes for the scent to sink in and react with your chemical makeup.

Ultimately a fragrance is designed to answer a woman's desire. It says: "I am strong, confident and clean". So let your scent do the talking but take note. In some cultures, it is not seen as a masculine product – whereas a crisp white shirt is always accepted.

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