Your Ultimate Fragrance Guide

Let us admit it; the sense of smell is one of the most powerful senses in our body. Smell triggers a chain reaction that sends a message to our brains, which in turn causes us to either hold our noses or salvage in a scent.

Masking Body Odors with Fragrance

Body odor is one of those scents that is personal; everyone has it, some very strong and some not. Most times when body odors are not masked, they are repulsive. Some make you want to choke, vomit or even run away from a person.

However, thank heavens for the manufactured body scents that help hide these repulsive body odors. It’s no secret a lot of us love the smell of something wonderful, something fresh, energetic, floral, spicy, woody, or musky. That is why day in day out a myriad of fragrances are being created to cater for different preferences.

Colognes, perfumes, body lotions, splash among other scented products have become part of our daily grooming routine. Some of us cannot live without them, we even have our signature scents so that when we walk into a room someone can just tell ‘that is so and so.’

The Main Difference between Cologne & Perfume

For most of us, when we talk about a perfume we refer to a woman’s scent while cologne, we refer to a male scent. Nevertheless, to a perfumer what differentiates cologne from a perfume is not the wearer, but the concentration of a scent. It is, therefore, important to understand the basics of a cologne or perfume in order to find a fragrance that appeals to you and wear it right.

The Basics of a Scent

All fragrances whether a perfume or cologne consists of three levels known as NOTES namely; top note, middle note, and base note. These notes describe the ingredients that make a fragrance and how they exude themselves when worn.

Top Note as its name suggests introduces a scent. It usually displays aromatic launch of a perfume/cologne. Mostly floral scents are used as top notes and they normally fade away 5 – 10 minutes after a fragrance has been applied.

Middle note emanates gradually as the top note begins to fade. It is the body of a fragrance also referred to as a heart of a cologne/perfume. It gives a scent its character or that which makes a fragrance a signature that is felt throughout the day.

Base note, taking its literal meaning is the ‘bottom’ of a fragrance. It is the richest and deepest part of a fragrance and comes about 30 minutes after a cologne/perfume has been worn. As one goes about his/her activity, this note merges with the individual’s body scent and evolves throughout the day.

Some fragrances have their notes well described on their containers while for others you have to visit a manufacturer’s or a reviewer’s website.

The ingredients that create the above notes are as follows;

  • Spices; examples include cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, mace anise among others. Spices add tenderness and luxury to a scent.
  • Woods; mostly used in men’s scent and common ones include rosewood, cedar, pine, agarwood, sandalwood, fir, and balsam.
  • Musks; most are base notes in men’s colognes and they depict earthy scents while others are sourced from animals.
  • Orientals; include ingredients from the Far East such as sandalwood, blossom, amber among other components.
  • Florals; as the name suggests, ingredients are from flowers, blossoms among other plants. In most circumstances, florals are used in women’s fragrances. However, some florals like black orchid and opiate flowers are common top notes in men’s fragrances.
  • Citruses; include citrus fruits like lemon, orange, grapefruit used mostly in men’s cologne. They add zest and crispiness to a scent. Also added to this group is lemongrass.

Most base notes include woods, spices, and musks while top notes utilize florals and citruses.

Therefore, as an individual, you first need to find out what appeals to you, whether it is an earthy scent, something floral, oriental, woody, spicy, or citrusy.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Cologne/Perfume

Other than the ingredients of a cologne/perfume, there are other factors to consider when selecting a fragrance.


Alcohol and pure oils are the basis of all perfumes, colognes and other scented products. On their own, perfume oils can be quite intense, hence the dilution with alcohol. Fragrances that have a higher concentration of perfume oil tend to be pricey. In addition, designer fragrances may be costlier than the normal products.

Staying power

This refers to the longevity of a fragrance after it has been sprayed on the body. I know many of us wonder why some of the products we buy from the shelves once sprayed the scent disappears faster and after an hour or so it’s like you never sprayed yourself. It forces you to keep on re-applying the fragrance. The reason for this is these scents have less oil and evaporate faster from the skin.

Colognes/perfumes with more oils tend to be felt longer after the alcohol base evaporates as compared to those with less oil hence are felt throughout the day. You just need to apply a little and it goes a long way. Therefore, even though such fragrances would be costlier, they offer value for money.

How Would You Know the Strength of a Fragrance?

I am sure most of us have come across a writing – ‘’Eau de Parfum’’ or ‘’Eau de toilette’’ or ‘’Eau de Cologne’’ on a perfume bottle. I for one never really cared to know what it meant until recently I learned that those writings normally indicate the strength of a fragrance.

Fragrance potency is categorized in five different groups.

PERFUME; a fragrance indicated as perfume on the bottle is the strongest scent concentrated product with about 20-50 percent perfume compound. Such fragrances last for long and if applied too much they can be overwhelming.

Eau de Parfum – EDPs; such fragrances come second in terms of their strength. They contain about 10 – 15 percent of perfume matter. They are also strong and long lasting and offer value for money.

Eau de Toilette – EDTs; contain about 5 – 8 percent perfume matter and they are usually lighter than EDPs and Perfumes. They also offer value for money as they are comparatively long lasting.

Eau de cologne- EDCs; have about 3-8 percent perfume compound. They are therefore light scented and some may not have a long-lasting wear.

Scented products; these include body splash/mists, lotions, aftershaves, soaps among other products. Their perfume compound is between 1 -3 percent hence their scent is not long lasting. Some aftershaves or body mists with about 3 percent perfume compound are usually stronger and their scent may last for a while.

Selecting an Ideal Fragrance for all Occasions

As I mentioned above, for some of us, a fragrance is part of our daily grooming routine, so we would wear it daily before we leave the house. However, it is important to understand which fragrances are ideal for what occasions. That is part of fragrance etiquette.

People wear fragrances going to work, traveling, during interviews, during road trips, for dinner or in any other event. Just know when going for an interview, or working in a small enclosed area with other people, put on a light fragrance but if you have a powerful one, use it lightly.

For outdoor events, you need a fragrance that will smell fresh and clean throughout yet not overbearing. Citrusy or florals are ideal and should be applied correctly of course.

When going on for a romantic date, spicy-based fragrances are ideal. In order to avoid overpowering your date’s fragrance of choice, apply in moderation 30 minutes before leaving.

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