And why would we? Us men often get stuck in our ways; we are creatures of habit. We wear the same aftershave for years (in fact, we swear by it), we apply the exact same number of sprays and, to top it off, we go and spray them in the exact same places. Every time.
So, at what point do we step back and accept that change is overdue? Well, that’s just it: We don’t know. So, to give us a hand – or a nose, as it were – we’ve partnered up with Roja Dove, the expert perfumer, to give us advice on how to go about choosing the right scent and how to wear it, instead of it wearing you.
Roja Dove: Smelling endless aftershaves is most guys’ first port of call when selecting a new bottle. However, smelling perfume on paper, once it has settled a little, is the only sane way to really try a fragrance. The alcohol content found in aftershave works like an anaesthetic and will tire your nose out quickly. Smell the blotters away from the perfumery and compare each one to the next to be able to really appreciate its nuances. Eliminate the one you like least until you have one left. Then go back to the counter and spray it on your skin. It’s as easy as that.
Roja Dove: Most people don’t really smell perfumes, they smell marketing – and that’s why so many bottles go unfinished. Instead of being swayed in-store, take the time to become versed in what is available before your visit. There are many online recourses that allow you to pinpoint what appeals. Make a note of which ones genuinely interest you and head straight for them! This will allow you to purchase something you will truly love.
Roja Dove: Never spray onto wrists and rub, as this will crush the molecules and affect the integrity of the notes. Aim for a light mist – about 6-8 inches – over clean skin, before you’ve even stepped into your clothes. Spray onto pulse points – areas of the body where the blood is very near to the surface of the skin such as wrists, the inside bend of the elbow and the dip of the collar-bone. Your body heat will intensify the notes of the fragrance and make it project handsomely.
Roja Dove: Don’t over-do it! Never drown yourself in fragrance, as it won’t do you any justice. Scent is so subjective that whilst you might like the smell, others might not be as fond. Saturating yourself in a scent can make it stifling and cause people to turn away, which is not the desired effect. Keep everything in good quantity: A perfume shouldn’t announce you… it should be something those that come very near to you catch a gentle hint of and feel compelled to come closer. You should wear it, not it wear you.
Roja Dove: Hailing from Southern Italy, this wrinkly Lemon-Lime-looking hybrid is the king of citrus notes. Much richer and more rounded than the other citrus notes, which smell somewhat one-dimensional in comparison, this material gives a perfume a beautifully refined freshness.
Roja Dove: You would be surprised how much floral materials are used in men’s fragrances. Flowers are considered traditionally feminine, but it’s the way a composition is dressed up with other materials that define it as feminine or masculine. Geranium is widely used in men’s perfumery as it lends a wonderful freshness that extends the complexity of other fresh notes like Citrus materials.
Roja Dove: The essential oil obtained from the root of an Indian grass, Vetiver is arguably the hero of men’s perfumery. Its smell is very varied and nuanced, being dry (the opposite of sweet), earthy, leathery and smoky all at once. It’s a universal crowd-pleaser as it blends incredibly well with other materials. Vetiver is the perfect fixative for fresher materials, giving these styles more depth and maturity.
Roja Dove: The tree needs to be at least 30 years old to display its sweet, warm and smooth odour that has enchanted the world for centuries. It is one of the most expensive materials in perfumery and it’s incredibly difficult to work with, as it has such a lingering quality. Sandalwood has an incomparable balsamic quality that sits close to the skin and lasts for hours.
Roja Dove: Your nose becomes accustomed to a scent over time, so whilst you may feel that your signature scent isn’t lasting as long as it once was, fear not. It most certainly is. We simply get used to the way it smells, so it doesn’t seem as pronounced as it once was when it was new. Don’t over-compensate by dousing yourself in more just so you can smell it on yourself as this can suffocate others. Try alternating your scents between season, function or mood to keep your senses alert.
Roja Dove: This is not, in fact, the case. It is actually a placebo that stores put out there to help you feel you are giving a burst of energy to a tiring nose. The alcohol in the perfumes dulls the sinuses, which is why everything starts to smell the same. This is why you shouldn’t smell anything and everything, and to let the scent settle on the blotter a bit before sniffing.
Roja Dove: Many commercial fragrances are swathed in synthetic materials, making them smell cheap and unrefined. Synthetics are created for the interesting effects they can lend a perfume, so using in small quantity is great. Think of it like a T-shirt: If made entirely of synthetic fibres, it will be uncomfortable and not allow the skin to breathe, whilst made of 100% cotton will be a lovely quality. But if you have a 99% cotton T-shirt with 1% of elastin, it gives it that little something special.
Roja Dove: Whilst there are actually fewer Perfumers in the world than there are Astronauts, it isn’t a special skill you are born with. Having a good sense of smell helps but, really, it’s comparable to the life of an athlete or artist: You may be lucky to be born with a natural skill but it is the constant training and practice of this skill that turns you into a pro. If you want to have a refined sense of smell then simply start by smelling fragrances in comparison to each other. You will be surprised at how easily you are able to spot differences and how quickly you will learn.
Taking Roja Dove’s advice into account, we’ve selected our favourite of his scents: Elysium. This is a fruity scent – packed with top notes of lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, lime, lavender and Thyme – but don’t be fooled into thinking fruity means feminine. This scent is light and sweet whilst being intensely deep with touches of wood. Of all the aftershaves we’ve sniffed in our days (which are a lot, trust us), this one has definitely lingered the longest with an aftereffect of flowing compliments.
What’s your scent?