How To Apply Cologne & Make Fragrance Last Longer


man with a bottle of cologne

Most guys are applying cologne incorrectly.

Here’s the deal: if you’re spraying a $250 fragrance into the air and walking through the mist, you may as well be pouring it down the drain.

The same goes for you guys who spray it on their wrists and then rub them together.

The fact is, most guys aren’t taught the best method of applying fragrance. They fall into bad habits and waste their hard-earned money as a result.

I don’t want that for you guys. So, I’m here to set the record straight once and for all. In today’s article, we’re covering the RIGHT way to apply cologne and how you can get the most out of your signature scent:

  1. How Do You Apply Cologne So It Lasts Longer?
  2. What Type Of Colognes Last Longer?
  3. Can You Improve The Strength Of Cologne?

#1 How Do You Apply Cologne So It Lasts Longer?

signature men's scent

Here’s the deal: the way you apply cologne has just as much of an effect on its longevity as its strength and formulation.

That means two things:

  1. You have a much bigger influence on your colognes performance than you think
  2. Knowing the correct application technique is essential style knowledge for any fragrance fan

Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. Once you know the facts, it’s actually really easy to get an extra 2, 3, and many 4 hours out of your daily cologne.

Basic Rules For Applying Cologne Correctly

Spray perfume on dry skin, preferably right after a shower. Hold the spray nozzle 3-6 inches from your skin and focus on these rules for applying perfume:

  1. Pulse points – Your body heat will push the scent throughout the day, creating a nice scent trail commonly called sillage. Start with the warm parts of your body – chest, neck, lower jaw, wrist, forearm, inner elbow, and shoulder.
  2. Re-spray only when required – You can add more sprays to your wrists or take sprays away depending on how long the scent lasts.
  3. Don’t kill the note – Rubbing the perfume into the skin seems a sensible thing to do. In reality – it breaks the molecular bond, making the scent weaker.
  4. Don’t spray and walk – Spraying a fragrance in the air and walking through the mist is worthless. Most of the fragrance drops straight to the floor.
  5. Don’t spray fragrance on your clothes – The fragrance isn’t allowed to mix with your oils, and hence it can’t naturally go through the stages of notes as it should. The oils in a fragrance will stain many fabrics.
  6. Don’t splash too much – If you are applying cologne from a regular bottle, take one finger and press it against the opening of your bottle, and then tip it over gently.
  7. Less Is More – Fragrance should be discovered, not announced”. People should be able to smell the perfume but not overpowered by it.

Where To Apply Cologne For Long-Lasting Performance?

fragrance body heat map

When considering where to apply cologne, it’s important to pay close attention to your pulse points.

What are pulse points, you ask? In short, pulse points are the areas of your body where you can feel your heartbeat. Typically, these points are some of the warmest areas of your skin.

We’re talking about the neck, inner wrists, and behind the ears. The logic behind this is that the body heat created at these pulse points will project the fragrance more effectively.

For me, the following spraying routine works best:

  1. A spray on the inside of each forearm
  2. A spray on the inside of each wrist (DO NOT RUB YOUR WRISTS TOGETHER!)
  3. Several sprays on the chest across the collarbone area
man wearing fragrance

Should You Apply Cologne To Your Hair?

Spraying cologne on your hair can be a great way to get your cologne to last longer.

Hair absorbs liquid and retains it for longer – meaning that a cologne sprayed conservatively in your hair could help extend the longevity of your signature fragrance.

However, be mindful that all colognes contain alcohol which can dry out hair and cause hair loss. If you’ve got a full head of thick hair, you probably don’t have to worry. However, if you’re already balding and hair loss is a big problem in your life, stick to applying cologne to your skin.

Like I mentioned earlier, don’t bother spraying fragrance in the air and walking through the mist. I’m not sure where this practice originated, but I can tell you it’s a useless practice and only stands to waste your cologne.

The same can be said for applying cologne to the wrists and rubbing them together. When you rub your scented wrists together, you damage the top notes of the fragrance and make them less potent. This will warp the scent and make your cologne smell strange as it mixes with the natural oils of your skin.

Instead, apply your cologne conservatively and leave it to dry on your skin.

Pro Tip: Apply fragrances soon after showering. The hot steam of a shower opens up the pores on your skin, allowing your cologne to soak into the skin and last longer.

Should You Apply Cologne To Your Clothes Or Skin?

cologne stains on shirt

I would say it depends.

Perfumers design and formulate colognes and perfumes for use on human skin. They are not specifically designed to be used on clothing and doing so could cause stains and damage.

After all, cologne contains alcohol and oils. Both of these agents can permanently stain clothing – especially the white collar of a tailored dress shirt.

That being said, as long as you hold the bottle 4-6 inches away from your clothing so that the liquid sprays across a wider area of your clothing, most colognes shouldn’t be concentrated enough when they read the surface of your shirt to cause a huge amount of damage.

Spray your favorite cologne an inch away from your shirt cuff, and it’ll be a different story entirely.

My advice? Be very careful when spraying cologne on your clothing and ensure the atomizer is at a safe distance from the fabric.

I know, I know – a lot of people say that spraying cologne on clothing can make it last longer. After all, cotton absorbs liquid faster than skin does.

Sure – but that isn’t a always good thing! Cologne-soaked clothing might retain the scent for days – but do you really want to mix the smell of old cologne with whatever you choose to apply the next day? Who knows what you could end up smelling like?

What Types Of Cologne Lasts Longer?

When it comes to knowing how to apply men’s cologne, it’s essential to understand which concentration and scents will have a higher chance of smelling great for longer.

Cologne Strengths

fragrance concentration chart

The higher the oil concentration; the longer it should last on the skin:

  • Eau Fraiche: Only 1%-3% of perfume oil. It only lasts an hour – two if you’re lucky.
  • Eau De Cologne: Consists of 2%-4% concentrations. It lasts for about two hours.
  • Eau de Toilette (EDT): 5%-15% concentrations dissolved in alcohol. Many daytime fragrances fall within this category, with 3-4 hours of longevity.
  • Eau de Parfum (EDP): The category with the highest concentrations of oil at 15%-20%. This can take up to 8 hours to dissipate.
  • Perfume: The longest-lasting category with 20-30% pure essence. This will easily last 24 hours.

Fragrance Notes & Life Cycle

It’s also important to understand the different types of fragrances when learning how to apply men’s cologne. The fact is, some fragrance notes and categories will last longer than others.

fragrance notes explained
Fragrance notes breakdown – Top, Middle and Base notes.

Each of the three sections of a fragrance’s life cycle contains individual scents or ‘notes,’ that are belted together into what you end up smelling.

These are the individual building blocks of scent. There are three different kinds of notes that comprise a scent – top, medium, and base notes.

  • Top notes – The top or basic note is the initial, lighter smell of the fragrance that hits the nose first. The top note lasts around 15 minutes – 2 hours.
    Typical top and middle notes are various floral scents, fruity scents, marine/aquatic notes, and spices such as cinnamon. Examples of these notes include citruses, powdery scents, and light florals.
  • Medium notes – Also referred to as the middle or heart notes – showcase the main elements of the fragrance. These notes develop after the top note clears – around 30 minutes and can last 3-5 hours after being sprayed.
    Heart notes most often include heavier floral scents. The middle and base notes are the extra layers of scents that give the fragrance its distinctive smell.
  • Base notes – The last to develop and helps fix the fragrance to the skin. This is where you will smell the bolder notes of the scent, which become more noticeable when the fragrance has been on the skin for a while. Base notes lay the foundation for the fragrance and will determine how long the fragrance lasts on your skin. Base notes tend to last from 5 to 10 hours. Typical base notes are sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla, tar, leather, smoke, tobacco, and musk

Depending on the ingredients within each layer of a fragrance, they can also be subcategorized into either summer or winter scents.

  • Summer fragrances are made up of lighter notes such as citrus and floral notes and last, on average 5-7 hours.
  • Winter fragrances commonly utilize intense base notes such as wood and tobacco and last at least 10 hours.

When it comes to applying these different types of fragrances, I’d say it comes down to a mixture of personal preference and practice.

Typically, you shouldn’t apply woody winter scents as intensely as summery floral scents. After all, if a fragrance is made of notes that naturally last longer on the skin, then you can get away with applying less of it at any one time.

Can You Improve The Strength Of Men’s Cologne?

man testing fragrance

I’ll be honest – there’s very little you can do to increase the longevity and projection of your scent outside of what I’ve already discussed in this article.

That being said, there are ways you can prevent a fragrance from becoming less potent over time. After all, nothing lasts forever, and a fragrance’s strength and projection can become weaker as time passes if not cared for correctly.

How Long Does A Bottle Of Cologne Last?

The shelf life of the average bottle of perfume is 3-5 years from the date of manufacture. As your cologne ages, it becomes less potent and loses its kick.

It is next to impossible to specify the accurate number of applications from a bottle of fragrance. You can roughly expect the following lifespan from your bottle of perfume:

  • A 100ml dispenses 1000 to 1500 sprays and should last for 14-16 months.
  • The average number of sprays in a 50 ml bottle is 735, which should last 7-8 months.

How To Extend The Lifespan Of Your Men’s Cologne

Extend the lifespan of your perfume by storing it in cool, dark, and dry environments – such as your bedroom. Rapid heat fluctuations (like those found in a bathroom) will cause the molecules in a fragrance to break apart. Sunlight does the same thing as well. Ensure the bottle cap is secure, to prevent the fragrance from evaporating.

man choosing a best cologne for him

This is where opaque bottles have the advantage because they do not let any light in, meaning you can leave it out of the packaging at your leisure. The darker the bottle, the longer the liquid inside will last.

Storing colognes in the bathroom seems natural, but it can damage the quality of the fragrance as well. Steam from hot showers can destroy the particles inside the bottle.

Always keep your bottles stored at room temperature, preferably in places where light isn’t a concern. Cupboards and drawers are ideal.

When it comes to learning how to apply men’s cologne, there’s always more to learn. Click here to discover more about the importance of fragrance notes when choosing a signature scent.


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