Mohan is a family physician, film and TV aficionado, a keen bibliophile and an eclectic scribbler.
Some men don’t wear any fragrance apart from simple soap. Some douse themselves in deodorants and are happy with the end product. Some go for the popular high street brands, guided by Christmas campaigns and settling for whatever floats on the TV.
Believe me, it is worth investing some time in figuring out what fragrance suits you most. A good men's fragrance is like a best friend, always by your side, standing up for your cause and putting in a good word for you with the girls!
Picking a perfume can be a baffling exercise for both men and women and I thought perhaps a primer in the terminology and a little bit of the aromatic science would help your purchase. Hope you don't mind. I always believe that rather than just give you the top ten list after top ten list it is better to let you in on the background so you can also make your own choices.
What makes you the expert?
While I am no expert, I do love trying different men’s fragrances and see what concoctions suit me the best.
As I frequently travel by air I visit the duty free shops, or pop into shopping malls while on holiday, to give me an opportunity to try out new men's perfumes.
I also find the sheer number of fragrances developed by fashion houses mind boggling. From the classic houses of Chanel, YSL, Boss to the new upstarts like Jimmy Choo and Juicy Couture every fashion designer wants to be in on the perfume game.
There is a lot of crap out there, many 'me too' imitators like the terrible chemical napalm of fake 'perfumes’.
Perfume is such an individual taste, based on our olfactory sensitivity. Women generally have a much sensitive nose than men so men’s fragrances should be worn sparingly depending on the setting and activity, of course.
Each cologne or perfume smells differently on different people. Just because our friend smells good wearing a cologne doesn’t mean we will too
It's a good to note the basic ingredients in a fragrance so you can build a profile of what smells good on you. There are a lot of fragrances that have similar base notes but smell completely different, but this gives you a profile. Just like when you know some colours look better than others, while wearing clothes. You can build a fragrance ‘wardrobe’ by noting the baseline notes and essential ingredients and also try out new notes.
A fragrance wheel represents the various 'notes' or aromatic families used in combination to produce a perfume.
The Fragrance Wheel
Throughout the review of various men's fragrances I will be using terminology that will probably sound Greek and Latin ( in fact some of them may actually be Greek or Latin!). To assist us in this journey through the perfumiers lingo, I have put the fragrance wheel for your delectation. This wheel represents the four groups of notes that form the basline palette for the perfumiers art.
Like the sweet, sour, salt, spice and umami are the five tastes that underpin cooking, these are the notes that pleasantly stimulate our olfactory nerves. As you can see they are subdivided into Fresh notes, Floral notes, oriental notes and woody notes. Each ;note' has further subdivisions that may overlap between the families but can also be purely in its class.
What are 'notes'?
If you read perfume reviews they talk about top, middle and base notes. The top notes refer to the initial burst of smells experienced soon after applying the perfume; the middle notes are what follows and the base notes are the scents that linger on the skin for hours afterwards ( 3-8 hours) depending on the class of perfume.
And what on earth is Sillage?
Whenever I research subjects I always come across a word so elegant, so beautiful that it gets imprinted in my memory like a beautiful painting. Sillage is a french word that means the wake that follows boats in water.
This is used by the perfumiers to note the lingering scent after the wearer leaves the space. Literally the aromatic trail that follows the wearer and lingers in their wake!
Whats the difference?
You may have noticed that various brands are named as Eau de parfum, Eau de cologne, after shave etc. They are also priced differently. Some brands may also be available in various formulations.
The names actually indicate the percentage 'proof' of perfume oils to the ethanol/water solvent that makes the bulk of the perfume. The stronger fragrances of course have a higher percentage and need to be worn sparingly and the weker once can be 'splashed' on.
Splashing while looks cool in TV ads, may make you stink like a nervous skunk. so always try to buy one with a nozzle as an aerosol spray is much gentler dispersed than pouring it to your hand and 'patting' on the cheeks.
|Name||Stength of aromatic compounds||Common use|
Perfume Extract ( Extrait de parfum)
rare - used more in industry
Esprit the Parfum
rare - ditto
Eau de parfum (EdP)
10- 20% ( usually 15%)
Eau de Toilette (EdT)
5-15% ( usually 10%)
Eau de Cologne (EdC)
common -usually citrus scents
base can be non alcoholic
After shave /splashes
Fragrance wearing Tips
- Always wear perfume on moisturised skin. This makes it last longer. Dry skin absorbs aromatic compounds very quickly and the longevity is lost.
- There are various theories about best way to wear perfume and fragrances. Traditionally for women it is better to spray on the pulse-points like wrist and neck where there is maximum blood flow and the warmth generates more aromatic molecules into the air. Men probably only need a spray around the neck & chest.
- The ‘spray –in – the –air- and-walk-though’ technique allows wider dispersal of the fragrance.
- Hold the nozzle at least 4-6 inches away from you to allow dispersal and avoiding heavy concentration on one spot
- It is okay to wear perfume on clothes but the oilier scents may leave a mark that doesn't evaporate easily.
My Top Picks for This year
My top picks for 2011 include some old classics as well as some brand new contenders. The base note of the season seems to be tobacco leaves as everyone is rushing to produce tobacco and coffee based men's perfumes combined with other ingredients and all sorts of spicy interludes. The tobacco leaf smell, is not the stale smell of cigarette smoke but the classy freshness of honeyed fresh tobacco leaves intermingled with spicy ginger and musk.
The list combines many citrusy smells as well as amber and musk making it eclectic for wearing at different occasions and different seasons.
My number one choice currently ( When I was young and brash, I used to love Eternity by Calvin Klein and although I still do, its gone mainstream and very common!) maybe this shows I’ve matured.
I love its smell of rain on dry earth, soaked with orange blossoms that take you by hand into a pleasant opening and into the woody after note and impressive sillage. I ‘ve had so many comments and compliments about Terre d’hermes that I am a confirmed fan for the way it feels on me and the positive buzz it generates around me!
I stopped caring about its breakdown components as it is a classic blend of freshness, woodiness and something much much more. Its pure magic. For once, believe the hype. But then I don’t want everybody wearing this and stealing my thunder. So perhaps I should delete this...
ACQUA Di PARMA COLONIA ESSENZA
I love the classy freshness of Acqua Di parma. It has always maintained its uncompromising quality of caressing your olfactory nerves like an expert masseuse.
This new version colonia essenza is bursting with crisp freshness , leaps with the citrusy benevolence of orange blossom and grapefruit and then allures with a floral middle note of jasmine and Rose . this definitely has the unisex quality to be worn by both men and women perhaps lending a different shade to each gender.
The jasmine, rose and neroli will certainly compliment the feminine skin while the vetiver, bergamot, patchouli and white musk will enhance the masculine aroma. It is much smoother and gentler than its predecessors and seems to combine the ingeredients in a seamless elegance like a renaissance painter.
GUCCI POUR HOMME II
Gucci improve on their classic Pour Homme with a splendid addition to their collection. The Pour Homme II is a versatile fragrance to be worn for any season, summer day or winters evening,as it cleverly blends the freshness of green tea with the notes of subtle tobacco and olive wood.
It bursts open with bergamot and violet leaves and lets the black tea and cinnamon take centre stage. Like a nice warm drink it lingers on the skin with the calm assurance yet sprightly freshness. There is hint of pimento that enriches the masculine spiciness yet never tires and goes stale. A classic all rounder.
MAN by BULGARI FOR MEN
A decent, sensitive and caring fragrance that is very subtle and delicate. Great for daytime and office wear. It has a masculine freshness lent by bergamot and violet leaves, undercut by Cypriol and vetiver.
It is very clean and crisp without being too soapy, and reminds me of freshly ironed white shirts and Father’s colognes. It has nice basenotes of white musk and sandalwood that remain lingering for long and gives a confident base note and sillage. A classic addition ot the house of Bulgari.
It smells of class and etiquette, cleanliness and attention to detail. A nice daytime wear for meetings and office as well as for a quick lunch with your beloved.
TOM FORD FOR MEN
Tom Ford loves a controversy and his sexy ads have already stirred up a storm in the perfume business. This may not be for everybody with its heady arrogance of myrrh, leather, with a rambunctious opening of lemony citrus. As is the vogue this season, there is a hint of tobacco for the base note, with the signature Tom Ford hedonism of amber and patchouli. It smells like a lingering after-aroma of an opium den.
It is classy, decadent but can be overpowering if sprayed on a bit too liberally and can give the very headache you will trying to avoid as an excuse! Controversial, in your face, yet classy. Try it if you dare.
A* MEN PURE HAVANE ( NEW FOR 2011)
Thierry Mugler's series of special edition fragrances have been a success. I already own the Angel for men pure coffee fragrance that is fantastic for work when I am surrounded by caffeine addicted workmates.
This is a reworking of the pure malt and has the top note of spicy fresh tobacco leaves. The middle note has hints of vanilla and honeyed tobacco while the end note the lasciviously lingering patchouli and bitter cacao.
Who would resist that vanilla essence, chocolatey hint and fresh tobacco. It is essentially masculine and has the honeyed texture of matured malt. It rests easy on the skin and has the subtle longevity that is quietly confident. It is also very different from the florals and citruses that it stands apart with the rich cognac and cigar ambience.
YSL gives the discrete spiciness and citrus freshness in a retro theme. It is versatile – to be worn night or day, it is and yet has a warm spiciness finished off by a base note of tonka bean.
This versatile fragrance is really fresh and has a subtle longevity and a fantastic sillage.
It is very grown up, skipping the brashness of the younger perfumes for a gentler, classier aroma and will appeal to the more mature man/woman.
It has notes of citrus peel that opens well and fresh and settles down to exude the ginger spiciness and herbal essences of Basil.
ARTISAN by JOHN VARVATOS
I discovered John Varvatos fragrances during a trip to the mall while shopping in Florida - it is not freely available in UK. I picked the rollicking cheekiness of the Rock On volume one and skipped the Artisan. On second thoughts I should have bought the Artisan.
Now it is one of my favourites. This absolutely brims with fragrance notes that linger and tease starting with orange blossom and herbal essence of thyme but expands wildly with lemony citrus, jasmine and tones the citrus down with some spicy ginger.
The end notes bring it back down to earth with musk and amber and what starts out as a sharp and sweet freshness settles down as a masculine freshness. A brilliant fragrance for men.
BOSS ORANGE FOR MEN (NEW FOR 2011)
This new contender tries to mimic some of the Hermes goodness of Terre with an orangey opening and a nice frankincense mid note. I tried this after a week of wearing Terre and the reviews were not as good perhaps by comparison!
However, it does stand on its own as a better class of Boss. It has a nice fruity/citrusy opening and the frankincense is toned down and subtle fo the longevity. It is easy on the nose, nothing too dramatic but lasts long and is pleasant. It has a fresh opening note that is cheery, like a chilled blast of orange juice in the morning!
Amouage have a mixed pedigree producing scents.
This wonderfully aromatic scent from Amouage is reminiscent of summer skies and floral scented breeze. It is gentle fragrance that is the smell of clear summer nights, the ozone of sea breeze scented with forest flowers but with the right hint of woodsmoke and spices to make it masculine.
It is a brave combination of lavender and wild rose that is unusual for a masculine fragrance but the combination makes it a heady trip.
It has the top notes of bergamot,lavender and spices with a middle note of wild roses. Wear it and feel like you are lying on a beach on a summer night, with your lady love. You can hear the waves, the warm sand on your bare back, the chill breeze, the woodsmoke from a fire down the beach, the floral notes from the lush greenery surrounding your beach house.
You turn over and kiss her, mingling the his and her Amouage Ciel - which literally means sky.. blue sky.
Top Tips for Women's Fragrances
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So Long Smell-Well!
That was a trip through the masculine fragrances. I am sure you would like to visit the one on Womens fragrances- the link is to your right ...............>
Hope you enjoyed this hub and don't forget to leave your comments and feedback below.
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I do appreciate your time and attention.
See you soon, don't be a stranger.. I'll promise to wear my best Eau de Docmo..
Copyright © Mohan Kumar 2011
ENJOY THIS VIDEO BY TEXAS- SUMMER SON
mario on January 09, 2013:
Bleu de Chanel! My favourite fragrance to have come out of recent years i this gem. It is fresh enough for me to wear in summer, but heavy enough for going out. It is also a nice change from the old school classic fragrances that remind me far too much of my principal from primary school, yuck. It also has an interesting mix of notes - pink peppercorn, nutmeg, ginger and citrus make the fragrance well balanced. It also wears very well and last a long while on the skin. I especially love the magnetic cap of the bottle, a nice Chanel touch.
Rajesh.K.Panicker on October 26, 2012:
I got Graduated after reading this .
Thanks Buddy !
Elena from London, UK on July 25, 2012:
Very interesting to know. Sometimes, I dab on a bit of Male perfume cos I like the smell. (Weird me) but after reading your Hub, I think it's because some of them have some of the essences in women perfumes....However, I do stick to mine - La Femme Hugo Boss.