Take Your Scent From Day to Night

In the Will Ferrell comedy Anchorman, Paul Rudd’s character proudly proclaims that his cologne -- Sex Panther -- is “illegal in nine countries.” He goes on to brag about its lady-killing qualities: “They’ve done studies, you know. Sixty percent of the time, it works … every time.”

If your cologne has similar powers, you’re a lucky man. But seducing the ladies is probably not uppermost in your mind when you splash your scent on in the morning -- and it shouldn’t be. You’ve got to get through the workday first. The ideal, of course, would be a one-stop cologne solution for day and night. Something that, as Mehdi Lisi -- senior fragrance development manager for International Flavors and Fragrances -- says, would make you “feel fresh and clean in morning, go through the day feeling energized, and then become a machine of seduction at night.”

Unfortunately, chemistry -- both that of our bodies and that of cologne itself -- makes the one-application goal somewhat elusive. Made up largely of alcohol, cologne begins evaporating immediately upon touching your skin. As your body temperature warms, it dissipates even faster. By the end of the workday, chances are it will be long gone. So what’s the man in search of an all-day, all-purpose cologne to do? The experts have a few suggestions.

Most importantly, do not douse yourself with vast quantities of cologne to make it last. “Your office mates will kill you,” says A.J. Jones, an aesthetician at the Nickel Spa for Men in New York City. It’s far better to reapply later in the day than to go too heavy in the morning. And this should go without saying, but if you’ve hit the gym on your lunch break or after work, you’ve got to shower before reapplying cologne. Otherwise, you’re only going to exude a nasty mash-up of sweat and scent. Jones also suggests using multiple products -- such as body wash, deodorant, and aftershave or cologne -- from the same label. This will deliver the same scent to different parts of the body and in different intensities.

And there are ways to give your cologne a fighting chance at making it past the 5 p.m. whistle, says Sarah Horowitz, owner and chief perfumer of custom fragrance company Sarah Horowitz Parfums. For one, if you pour a bit into your hands and clap, it will help burn off the alcohol and reduce the cologne to its signature (and longest-lasting) elements. Another stratagem Horowitz offers is to layer the scent by applying it to places that will retain it longer: “Your skin radiates heat, but hair does not. Put some cologne on your hands and then smooth it into the back of your hair or onto your beard.” You can also dab a little on a jacket or shirt -- providing you’ve rubbed it into your hands first. Whatever you do, don’t spray cologne directly onto your clothing. You might smell good, but that big stain on your shirt will likely mitigate any positive effects.

And what of the holy grail? Is there a cologne that will allow you to strike the right notes at varying times of day? Indeed, there is. Colognes that contain two contrasting scents, such as citrus and wood, can help you create different impressions, says Lisi. Citrus, which has volatile molecules, will express itself early; as your workday wears on, however, the citrus notes will wear out and allow the sexier, more masculine woodsy notes to make their presence known. Consider it a two-tier approach. There are many types of cologne out there that will give you this one-two punch. Lisi recommends Diesel’s Only the Brave, Fierce by Abercrombie & Fitch, I Am King by Sean John and The One by Dolce & Gabbana.

Regardless of the one you choose, know that a signature scent is something by which people will remember you long after you’ve left the room. Choose and apply your cologne wisely: It will serve you well throughout the day and beyond. Overdo it, however, and you might start reminding people of a 1970s TV reporter -- one with a zero-percent chance of impressing anyone.

Track Down Your Scent

How much does your nose know when it comes to how you should smell? Here’s our scents-ible primer.

When it comes to cologne, chances are you fall into one of two categories: You either douse yourself daily with the same brand you’ve used since high school (“It worked for me then, so it has to work for me now, right?”) or you avoid the stuff and prefer to go au naturel (“Chicks really dig my pheromones”).

Whichever one sounds more like you, it’s time to rethink. If you’re the brand-loyal douser, now’s the time to update your scent and tone down your method of application. And if you’re scent-free, consider this before you swear off cologne for good: Scientists at the University of Liverpool have recently discovered that the mere act of applying fragrance boosts a man’s self-confidence to the degree of increasing his sex appeal.

If that isn’t enough to send you running to the nearest duty-free store, well, then, you probably need something a little stronger than cologne to help you out.

Here’s how to find your secret scent weapon of choice and wield it for the most effect. The ladies will never know what hit them.

Pick a Family
Unlike your complex relatives, there are only five different cologne “families” (that’s fragrance industry-speak): Citrus (light and fruity), Oriental (spicy and sweet), Fougere (pronounced foo-JER: mossy and oakey), Chypre (pronounced SHEE-pr; woodsy and floral) and Marine (think fresh, salty sea air).

Each category has its own allure, and even season -- Orientals and Fougeres are more popular in cold winter months because they smell spicy and warm, while Marine and Citrus are more popular in summer because they offer a cool and refreshing contrast to the heat.

If you already know which category you like best, that’s great, skip to the next section. If not, think about how you want to smell as opposed to how you think you should smell. And ask your girlfriend what smells she likes best. After all, that’s why you’re wearing it, right? Many guys assume that women are attracted to “manly” smells like musk and oak, when in fact, your lady may be more inclined to nuzzle up to a whiff of cucumber and licorice. (There was an actual study linking those aromas to increased sexual arousal in women.)

Take a Test Drive

Fragrances smell different on different people due to a number of chemical factors -- skin type, pH levels, sweat glands, etc. -- so just because a certain fragrance smells godly when it mingles with the DNA of David Beckham doesn’t mean it’ll smell good on a mere mortal like you (though we’re dying to know how you got to smell Beckham). This means you’re going to need to take trip to a department store (one with a well-stocked men’s scent counter) and try them out.

Find a few colognes with the general scent profile you think you’ll like, then spray them on those little pieces of paper at the counter. Take a sniff, wave it around, wait a few minutes, repeat (wouldn’t hurt to bring a woman with you, since you might not be able to objectively judge your own scent). Fragrances have what the industry calls top, middle and base notes, which basically means they’ll smell different the longer they’ve been in the air (or on your skin). The “top note” is the first (and strongest) smell your nose picks up, and it will dissipate over time.

Don't Hit the Bottle Too Hard

When it comes to applying cologne, the biggest mistake guys make is to go overboard. If a little bit makes you smell good, then a lot will make you smell even better, right? Wrong. People should be able to detect your smell when they’re within a few inches of you, not when you’re across the room. A few spritzes right after you get out of the shower is plenty.

If you want to make a bottle last even longer, keep it in the fridge. Just don’t reach for it before you’ve had your coffee and accidentally spritz yourself with that bottle of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. (Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.)