Fragrance 101

November 7, 2016

Niven & Joshua Lifestyle & Grooming Editor Lee Kynaston presents his definitive guide to fragrance basics. Learn how to choose your scent and what fragrance options are available to you.


The perfect way to freshen up.

As you might expect, the original cologne - created way back in 1709 - hails from the German city from which it takes its name. Designed to be light and refreshing, the average cologne contains around 2-4% fragrance compounds so isn’t as strong or as long lasting as an eau de toilette. What they lack in longevity, though, they more than make up for in invigorating freshness. Typically a blend of sparkling citrus notes, sometimes teamed with aromatic herbs like rosemary and lavender, colognes are fantastically wearable and have an almost universal appeal.

How to use: A cologne will last a couple of hours on the skin so spray liberally and reapply throughout the day.

N&J Knowledge: A study at Brown University in the US discovered that citrus scents make us feel alert and improve our mood making colognes not only good for your holidays but great for work too.


The old-fashioned favourite.

A staple in men’s bathrooms until a few years ago, the popularity of aftershaves has declined over the years as eau de toilettes have increased in popularity and the use of aftershaves balms has become more widespread. They still have their place though. Since they have a low concentration of aromatic compounds they’re great for when you want to smell good but don’t want your fragrance to be overpowering.

How to use: Instead of using after shaving try using like a body splash, applying to the chest, arms and neck.

N&J Knowledge: Aftershaves have a high alcohol content so if you have sensitive, easily irritated skin opt for an aftershave balm to use on your beard area instead. Not only are these fragranced, they’re hydrating too, helping soothe and repair skin after shaving.

Eau de Toilette

Create your own identity through frarance.

The term eau de toilette actually comes from a product once created by perfumiers by steeping a length of fabric (known as a toile) in perfume over a period of months to create a scented body cloth. It’s the most common strength of modern fragrances, containing up to 15% aromatic compounds. Longer lasting than colognes or aftershaves but not as strong as eau de parfums around 20% of an eau de toilette will remain on your skin at the end of the day and most will last up to eight hours or so.

How to use: Forget spraying your eau de toilette on pulse points behind the ears and wrists. Since body temperature is often elevates on these spots the fragrance will dissipate faster. Try applying to your chest or biceps instead.

N&J Knowledge: A study by Indiana University found that women who sniffed men’s fragrance were more aroused than if they smelled a woman’s perfume or a neutral odour, basically, fragrance works!

Eau de Parfum

Make a lasting impression.

With 10-20% aromatic compounds eau de parfum is the second strongest fragrance concentration available (the strongest is perfume extract). We tend to think of parfum as something associated with women’s fragrances but many men’s fragrances now come in eau de parfum versions and are always worth investing in when the do. About 30% of the fragrance will last you throughout the day and EDPs are great if you like smelling the fragrance you’re wearing.

How to use: Sparingly! Our nasal receptors become used to smells in a matter of seconds which is why we don’t always realise we’ve overdone the fragrance. If you’re not sure how much is too much stick to two-three sprays maximum. Remember, too, that women have a much better sense of smell than men!

N&J Knowledge: Fragrance tends to last longer on oilier or well-hydrated skin so try applying yours after you’ve applied a fragrance-free body moisturiser.

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