Grooming

Men, Everything You Need to Know About Shopping for Scents

Plus a few other facts about smells.
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Know what you like Say you like spaghetti, and there are eight Italian joints in the neighborhood. You nosh around until you find your favorite, right? The same applies to scents. You have to know your genre. Are you a floral, oriental, woody, or fresh kind of guy? Then, if you really, really care about how you smell, you'll do the leg—or nose—work, and brave the perfume floor.

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Smell your shirt After every whiff, the shop girl will encourage you to smell coffee beans. These cleanse your nasal palate, she says, but what they really do is introduce a new scent, which only muddles your judgment. Smell your shirt instead. It's something you're accustomed to. It's neutral. Then, smell something else.

Walk away If the pushy perfume guys have their way, you’ll be leaving with bottles of cologne in your arms. Don't get pressured into buying whatever. But do ask them to recommend scents in the genre you like. Spray it on your skin and walk away. Live with it for a day. And come back if you like it.

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Be faithful You can wear different scents for different occasions, but here’s a strong case for consistency: A scent forms part of your presence, and being faithful to one strengthens this. A tip: Use unscented deodorant and mild detergents, so that your perfume doesn't have to compete with other smells. This strengthens your olfactory identity even more.

And now, a few curious questions about smells

Why do old people like spicy scents? Your sense of smell gets duller as you age, so more powerful (sometimes dizzying) scents become very appealing. This is also the reason why your perfume preferences change over time.

Why do women like that powdery smell so much? That’s probably vanilla, which is described by scent experts as both soothing and seductive, comforting and enchanting, which is really what women are like.

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Do women find in-your-face-scents appealing? They don't. Strong masculine scents like tobacco, leather, and pepper could be nice as part of the whole, but if these are the focal point of a bouquet, it can be too much. But there are rare exceptions. Some women are attracted to guys that don’t bathe. Don’t ask us why.

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Is it okay for a guy to wear women's perfume? If that's what makes you your charming self, go ahead. There are guys who wear their ex-girlfriend’s perfume, because, aside from being masochists, they find comfort in the scent. The trick is to own it, so that no one questions your choice. But if people keep expecting to find a sexy lady whenever you're around them, you should probably drop it.

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Clifford Olanday
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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