How Good Should A Man Smell?

It’s no secret that more men are smelling better than ever. In the U.S. alone, sales of prestigious men’s fragrances are approaching $1 billion a year. But is it possible for a man to smell too good or too much?

With so many men wearing cologne at the workplace and on the town, scent becomes something of a social and environmental issue. Men need to be aware not only of how they smell, but of how those around them are affected by it. Of course, you want to make sure that you smell good to begin with.

The experience of wearing a scent should start with pleasing yourself – find a scent you identify with. With thousands of men’s colognes on the market, this can be daunting. That’s why men tend to either stick to just one, or have an array to choose from. The first category could prove less than ideal if it’s the same cologne you first received for your high school graduation. Or perhaps you’re still wearing a cologne your old girlfriend loved, but she’s long gone and no one else has the heart to tell you it’s awful. Ideally, you choose a scent that you feel mirrors your personality – not one that overpowers it. It should blend into you, becoming a pleasing component of your personality and registering subtly in your overall impression on others.

Assuming you’ve found your ideal scent, how much do you put on where and when? After showering is best for applying scent because it easily settles into warm, slightly damp skin. The neck and chest are prime areas, but consider as well anyplace where you can feel your heartbeat – your wrists, neck. The heat and circulation therein helps activate the scent, stimulating your senses like aromatherapy. Then of course, there are those more personal spots that you perhaps would like a certain someone to discover: behind your ears, the lower part of your back - and beyond. There are no limits, so long as you don’t douse. A dab or gentle spritz will do. For an even subtler effect, you can simply spray a bit of cologne inside the lining of your jacket. Again, your body heat will activate and diffuse it nicely.  

If you yourself are constantly aware of your fragrance, you're using too much, and others are likely thinking the same. No one outside of your arms’ width should even notice. But anyone who comes close enough to kiss you should think or say you smell nice. Also, be careful not to clash scents. You can as easily overkill by wearing every variation on a brand fragrance—cologne, aftershave, body wash, deodorant, etc., as you can by mixing products with different scents. If you use more than one such product from either category, make sure you’re not applying them on areas where they will overlap and potentially clash. Strong deodorants and antiperspirants are potentially the biggest culprits. Go easy on these – even if it’s in your signature scent - or choose an unscented variety. Another simple alternative is to simply use your favorite cologne in lieu of deodorant – a splash here, a splash there, and you’re good to go.

You may have noticed that the fragrance industry is designing more seasonal men’s scents. Darker, warmer aromas, such as wood, amber and spice actually intensify in summer temperatures when the body sweats more, and so can be a bit much. Citrus, herbal, or Mediterranean-infused scents have a lighter, more refreshing quality for summer wear. Traditionally, cologne has long been used to invigorate, and a quick splash in the afternoon can act as a quick, refreshing way to perk up your day year-round.

Asides from not wanting to be that guy who wears too much cologne, there are times it’s safest to forego it altogether, for example: funerals, air travel, first dates, the gym, job interviews, doctor or dentist appointments, and even Michelin-star dining. If the reasons why aren’t obvious to you, then chances are you need to rethink your scent strategy. Always remember that no matter how good you may think you smell, you’re not the one who has to sit next to you.