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Learn How to Apply Cologne and Make a Great First Impression

Oct 6, 2022
Feb 23, 2024

For most men, getting ready for a night out involves some combination of showering, shaving, and choosing a scent. Sometimes this musk is simply a combo of aftershave and deodorant — but using cologne is a great way to take it up a notch. 

Your company will greatly appreciate that extra notch — a Scentbird poll found that 97% of women think cologne is sexy (and we like to think this would translate to men). So, wearing cologne may improve your chances of making a great impression. 

Smell is also the sense most closely tied to memory. If you wear a certain scent often, your friends and acquaintances think of you when they smell it. And of course, liking the way you smell and feeling put-together are excellent confidence boosters. But you’ll only enjoy these benefits if you know how to apply cologne correctly.

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Man wearing a suit putting cologne before an event
Table of Contents

How to apply cologne 

First things first: Always apply cologne after showering and moisturizing. 

Showering first removes dirt, sweat, oil, and anything else that might conflict with the scent. Warm water also opens your pores, allowing your skin to absorb the cologne better. 

Moisturizing is important because fragrances have an easier time lingering on moisturized skin. We recommend using an unscented lotion to avoid mixing scents. 

Now for the application. If your cologne bottle has a spray nozzle, hold the cologne 3–6 inches from your body and spray cologne on one or two pulse points (we’ll discuss those in a minute). This distance is the sweet spot — any farther and you won’t smell anything; any closer and you’ll smell stronger than a middle school kid with a can of Axe body spray. 

If your bottle doesn’t have a spray nozzle, simply cover the opening with one finger and gently tip it upside down, lightly dabbing a couple drops onto 1–2 pulse points (more on that later).

Your cologne shouldn’t typically need re-application during the day. If you think refreshing is necessary (for example, after hitting the gym between work and going out), re-apply your cologne using the same steps we’ve just listed. 

Where to apply cologne

Applying scents to your pulse points is the key to making them last. 

Pulse points are areas where blood vessels are closest to the skin’s surface. These areas tend to heat up faster than other parts of the body, so they’re the quickest to react to fluctuations in your body temperature. Heat activates the molecules used in perfumes and colognes. As your body temperature changes, this heat activates more molecules, keeping your scent active all day long. 

So, where should you spray cologne? These are the best pulse points for application:

  • Lower jaw
  • Neck
  • Chest
  • Elbow crease
  • Wrists
  • Forearm

We recommend applying cologne to 1–2 pulse points — no need to overdo it and apply to them all.

How to make the smell last

No one wants their favorite fragrance to fade soon after application. Applying cologne in the right places and knowing how much cologne to use is a great start for a long-lasting scent — but the type of fragrance you use also determines its longevity. When shopping for cologne, look for scents labeled Parfum or Eau de Parfum. These tend to be stronger, including approximately 15–30% perfume oil, meaning they’ll last longer than a more “watered down” potion.

Proper cologne storage is also essential. Never store your cologne bottle in a hot place, as this causes perfume molecules and fragrance oils to evaporate. Improper storage makes your cologne functionally useless, so keep the bottle away from windows and out of reach from shower steam.

Mistakes worth avoiding

Here are a few more tips to help you make the most of your favorite scent:

  • Don’t spray cologne on your clothes. Not only does this keep the scent from lasting through a wardrobe change, but it prevents your cologne from mixing with your natural musk and evolving into a unique scent all your own (plus, it’s not great for certain fabrics).
  • Don’t spray cologne in the air. This method doesn’t get enough cologne where you need it (your pulse points) and leaves too much of your designer fragrance on your bedroom floor. 
  • Don’t rub it in. Massaging cologne into your skin breaks the molecular bond in the fragrance and makes it fade faster. Spritz or dab, but never rub. 
  • Read the room before applying. Small or crowded spaces aren’t ideal for stronger scents, and some places are fragrance-free, so it’s worth checking before spraying.

Types of cologne

Here are the most common fragrance types and their differences:

  • Parfum. This is the most potent kind of cologne, containing 15–30% perfume oil. This cologne rubs off on people when you hug them, with base notes (the fragrance notes that stick around the longest) that linger in the air when you leave.
  • Eau du Parfum. This type contains 15–20% perfume oil and should last all day.
  • Eau de Toilette. This is typically considered “daytime wear” and contains 5–15% perfume oil. 
  • Eau de Cologne. This light scent contains 2–4% perfume oil and lasts a few hours.
  • Eau Fraîche. This type contains very little perfume oil (around 1–3%) and is cut with water instead of alcohol, making it a nice “refresher” fragrance rather than an all-day scent.

How to choose cologne

Now that you know the best way to apply cologne, it’s time to choose one. Here are a few simple rules to help you select your new go-to scent: 

  1. Start with smells you already like. Sure, you want to impress others — but you should enjoy the scent as well. This will also contribute to that confidence boost we promised at the start. 
  2. Consider the fragrance strength. Before buying, decide how long you’d like your scent to last, if you’re okay with re-applying, and if you’d like it to linger or transfer to others. 
  3. Find one that works with your other products. Choose a fragrance that complements things like your deodorant, moisturizer, and natural body chemistry. While research will help, this will likely involve some trial and error. 

Here’s a little nudge to kick off your search — Alfred Lane makes great, versatile men’s scents. We love Enigma Men’s Cologne and Bravado Men’s Solid Cologne because both have smoky, woodsy top notes (the fragrance notes that are most immediately noticeable) that pair really well with most men-dedicated products.

For more recommendations, check out product reviews on Flip. Our community is constantly trying out and reviewing trending products so you can feel well-informed and confident about your next purchase. Curious about Flip? Check reviews of Flip on Google Play!

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