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Fashion Sense with Jywanza:: All about Scent

Scent is one of the most powerful of our five senses. It can warn us of danger and trigger precious memories. According to the consumer market research firm NPD, 80 percent of men use some kind of scented product and 54 percent of men report using a fragrance on a daily basis. It can be overwhelming when purchasing cologne. You can't walk into a department store without being besieged by a barrage of competing scents. Below is some general information about fragrances which should help you when deciding on cologne.

Scent Groups

Generally speaking, fragrances can be categorized into four different scent groups:

Floral scents are created mainly from flowers, such as roses, orange blossoms, gardenias, jasmine and carnations. These are often blended together to produce a distinctive floral bouquet.

Oriental scents are a heady mix of spices, vanilla, amber, balsams and resins. It is suggestive of warmth and exotic sensuality.

Fresh scents are anything from lavender to herbs to citrus and more that smells bright and airy.

Woody scents are reminiscent of moss, fir, tobacco, leather and anything else that smells like a forest.

There are many sub-categories within the above four groups, but if you know the general scent that you want then you can weed out a lot of choices immediately. Fresh and floral scents are light and good for the warmer months, while Oriental and woodsy scents are darker and better suited to cold weather.

Layer of Notes

Cologne works on a time delay. There are three separate layers of notes, top notes, middle notes and base notes.

Top notes are small, light molecules that evaporate quickly and does not lend a great basis for the lasting scent of the fragrance. However, they form a person's initial impression of cologne and thus are very important in the selling of cologne.

Middle or heart notes of the cologne burst out as the top notes dissipate. They are still strong but not quite as strong as the top notes. Middle notes can linger from a couple minutes to an hour after you apply the cologne. The middle notes of men s fragrances are often based on combinations of flowers such as lavender and rose.

Base notes appear close to the departure of the middle notes. They usually are not perceived until at least 30 minutes after the application of the cologne or during the dry-down period. Base and middle notes make up the majority of the perfume s appeal. They consist of large, heavy molecules that evaporate slowly with a richer, deeper scent. They give that lasting memory, that personality at the core of the cologne. They are rich and provide depth and emphasis to your scent.

Because of the different layer of notes, cologne will smell differently as the day progresses. This is important when purchasing cologne. While you can use the cards the department store provides to smell the colognes, you will only smell the top notes and not how it smells on you. The initial smell isn t necessarily the one that lingers for the rest of the day. To try cologne, spray it on your wrist and inner elbow. Walk around the department store and smell the colognes at various intervals (1 minute, 5 minute, 30 minutes, 1 hour, etc. Better yet, ask for a sample vial of cologne and try it.

Types of Colognes

The different type of colognes is related to its strength and lasting power. Colognes consist of a concentration of perfume oils in a solvent (usually alcohol). The more perfume oil in a cologne (and therefore the less alcohol), the more strength the cologne has.

Perfume (Parfum) is the most concentrated or purest form of a fragrance product. It will contain greater than 20 percent of the essential fragrance. This is the most expensive version of any fragrance. This is due to the high concentration of essences. Just a dab is incredibly long-lasting and last normally up to 6 hours.

Eau de Perfume (Parfum) is between 10-20 percent in concentration. Since it is less intense than perfume extract, it is also cheaper and usually lasts 3 to 5 hours.

Eau de Toilette is between 7-12 percent in concentration. The top notes are dominant, making it refreshing when it is applied and it evaporates and fades away quite quickly. It is the most common product on the market and its duration is 2 to 4 hours.

Eau de Cologne is composed of 2-5 percent of the essential scent. This is the most watered-down blend, so you ve have to use more of it and the scent will not last as long.

Applying Cologne

The number one rule for applying cologne is not to bathe in it!! As mentioned above, the better quality the cologne, the less you need to apply. The traditional recommendation has always been that fragrance should be applied to the pulse points, which is anywhere you can find a heartbeat, including the base of the throat, the inside of the wrists and below the earlobes. The body heat generated by pulse points helps intensify fragrance, and can often diffuse, magnify and amplify a scent. Fragrances tend to be stronger and last longer on someone with oily skin than those with drier skin. One last note . Don't drown out your cologne with a lot of scented shampoos, shower gels, deodorant, aftershave, etc. Overall, be smart with your combinations. My shower gels and deodorants are lightly scented and don t clash with the cologne I am wearing.


Wearing cologne can be viewed as a chemistry experiment. A bottle of cologne will contain extracts, oils, alcohol, preservatives and water. The wide variety of colognes comes from the differences in the combination of oils and the ratios of the other ingredients. As the layers give way to one another, the oils will interact with your specific body chemistry, resulting in your own unique scent. Even if you wear the same cologne as your friend, you will both smell slightly different by the end of the day. Who knew smelling good could be so complicated? Please drop your thoughts into the comment section below.

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Displaying 1 comment.
EJFloE Tuesday, 05-May-2015 11:59 PM ET:

I agree with this. There have been people that I've worked with or I have walked by, and they have been drowned in cologne or perfume. And I would sneeze like crazy. I cannot stand vanilla perfume or cologne. That gives me headaches.

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Jywanza Maye is a savvy shopper born and raised in New York City. His friends regularly come to him seeking advice about beauty products and where to find the latest clothing deals. He graduated Magna Cum La from Baruch College with a degree in Business Administration. He is a tea enthusiast and an avid reader.

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