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How to Apply Cologne Properly - You’re Probably Doing It Wrong

Posted on May 22 2018

Raymond Truong

Bottles of cologne

Let’s talk about a part of style that’s often overlooked by many men. It’s usually an afterthought; the last thing you put on before you head out. Cologne. For centuries, men have used fragrance as a means to attract the opposite sex. We use it to increase our attractiveness and as a way to subtly (or not) express ourselves to others.

While wearing cologne can be a great way to make sure you're smelling fresh, I oftentimes see many guys breaking some major rules when it comes to fragrance – and the proof is in the nauseating smell as they walk by. My old man is one of the worst offenders, which has in-part inspired me to write on this topic. There’s an on-going joke in my family that my dad’s cologne always enters the room before he does. Maybe it’s because he’s French, but my dad loves to layer on his cologne like a fat kid loves cake.

Golden rule: Fragrance should be discovered, not announced. Before we go into more about how to properly apply fragrance, let’s talk about the different strength levels and what they mean.

Fragrance Strengths

Not all fragrances are created equal. Most of us use the word “cologne” as an umbrella term to refer to scents for men, however, the proper unisex term is fragrance. Cologne is a type of fragrance. French words such as Eau de Toilette or Eau de Cologne are not gibberish put on the bottle to confuse us. They are very important terms that denote the strength of the fragrance.

Fragrance concentration guide

The above guide shows the different fragrance types by strength, strongest to weakest, left to right. Ones with high concentrations of fragrance oil such as Perfume and Eau De Parfum will generally last a lot longer than those on the right side of the spectrum. Using this guide will tell you what types to apply less of, and which types you can apply more of because of the lower concentration. This will help you avoid over-application and guide you on how long the scent will last throughout the day.

Applying Fragrance 101


The idea with fragrance is that it should be used to entice, and not to bombard everyone around you. Any scent can ruin the vibe when you put on too much of it. You should apply just enough to pique someone’s curiosity, but not too much as to sicken those nearby.

Evaluate the situation you’re going to be in and you should apply accordingly. For example, if you know you’re going to be indoors at a friend’s house party the whole night, opt to put on less fragrance. You don’t need that much in this situation. If you’re going to be outdoors, then you can apply a little more.


You should be spraying your fragrance on dry skin, 3-6 inches away from your body. This will help the oils cover a larger surface area as opposed to being too concentrated in certain spots.

Never spray your cologne on your clothes. Not only could it stain your clothing, but fragrance is meant to mix with your own natural scent to create something that’s truly unique to you. I always find that my cologne smells different on my skin than on one of those pieces of paper at the perfume stand.


Heat areas AKA “pulse points” are spots on your body that generate the most heat. Examples are your chest, neck, wrists, and behind the ears. You want to apply your cologne to these areas. The natural heat from these hot spots will activate your cologne and help it steadily permeate throughout the day.

A good tip that I discovered that works well is spraying a little scent on your shoulders. Not only is it a heat area, but you’re creating an opportunity where women will naturally want to lean into your shoulder to find out why you smell so good. #scenthacks


If you’re spraying and walking through the cloud of scent, you’re wasting it bro. Some of the fragrances we buy are so expensive that doing this is akin to wasting money. I don’t know about you, but I like saving my money… and spending it on shoes that I don't need.


I used to have a habit of “rubbing the scent in”. Turns out, this actually bruises the fragrance notes and effectively makes the scent weaker. If you sprayed too much in one spot and want to spread it elsewhere, try lighting dabbing it instead.


Using fragrances should be fun and experimental! How boring would life be if we woke up and wore the same outfit everyday? We usually dress for the occasion, whether it be work, school, or a night out. Same thing applies to scents – switch it up! Go for a nice light citrusy scent during the day and switch to a deep, woody masculine fragrance at night. Most fragrances aren’t meant to be used in every situation 365 days a year. The fun part is being able to tailor your scent and trying something new.

Fragrance is just another way to express to others who you are - and just like how you use your wardrobe to say “I’m laidback” or “Look at me, I’m an edgy risk taker”, it ultimately leaves an impression and creates memories just as much as everything we do to impress others. It’s the icing on the cake and when used correctly, can have a magnetic force that goes beyond just looks. Now go out and wear your scent with confidence now that you know how to do it right, you dapper thing, you.