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Know Your Fragrances
While we've done articles in the past about the different types of cologne you can buy (cologne vs parfum, for example) as well as why how you smell matters, we haven't discussed the major categories of fragrance profile upon which the majority of men's colognes are built. In this article we'll talk about these categories which can help give you better insights the next time you go shopping for a new cologne for yourself.
Just as the name indicates, you're going to see a lot of lemon, orange, and grapefruit in this profile, but also other ingredients that hit the citrus note that you may not be as familiar with, namely verbena, lemongrass, pomelo, and yuzu. Bergamot can often be used to finish these fragrances, either in its orange or herb form.
This profile is rich in benzene, which is something found often in organic matter. It's characterized by a fresh and herbal smell, and will feature other ingredients that you can just as easily cook with as use in cologne, like rosemary, thyme, mint, tarragon, and sage.
One of the newest members of the fragrance family, and one that can be used by either sex, is called Ozonic. Often people will say it smells a bit like an oncoming thunderstorm. Think of those sharp, fresh smell that heralds rain. That's what this profile evokes. It's also called aquatic, as it seems to have a sense of lightness and weakness behind it. Some of a certain age might remember fragrances like Cool Water or Acqua di Gio that became enormous international hits behind such notes.
This category was created by a Frenchman and hence is naturally named after the French word for "cypress" (pronounced sheep-ra). You're going to find bergamot, oakmoss, and labdanum in this profile, sometimes finished with a bit of patchouli (a type of leaf). This will lead to fragrances that are warm, mossy, and woody, but can also have citrus and bitter notes.
As much as some of us may "love" the smell of leather, we often don't realize that's not the "natural" smell. Animal skins don't smell pleasant in their natural state. They are almost always conditioned with oils, musk, and ambergris, all of which interact naturally with the leather and produce that smell we all know and love. Additionally you're likely to find notes of birch, juniper oil, and myrtle, as well as more exotic and difficult to obtain ingredients via labwork.
Straightforward, and one of the most popular fragrance profiles in recent years, prominently features the smells of sandalwood, cedar, and oakmoss, as well as finishing touches like vetiver (a grass) and patchouli (as we said above, a leaf). It's a bit of the "whole tree" experience.
A fragrance profile that is starting to get more prominence in the West is the Oriental profile. You'll find scents like amber, musk, and vanilla, in addition to more exotic additions like the tonka bean and orchid. There's also a subcategory related to food in this profile called "gourmand" which features caramel, dark bitter chocolate, and aromatic coffee.
Do you have a go-to fragrance that you've used for years or one that you've liked in the past? Share in the comments below to get a 20% coupon to apply towards a fragrance purchase the next time you're in one of our clubs!
About Ben Davis
A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.
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