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Is it OK for women to wear men’s fragrances?


Some women simply prefer the spicier, earthier scents of men's fragrances.
Some women simply prefer the spicier, earthier scents of men's fragrances.
Hans Neleman/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The fragrances we choose send a message to those around us. In fact, that's precisely what perfume designers have in mind when creating scents for women and scents for men. A traditional women's fragrance exudes delicate femininity with soft, sweet aromas, or says sexy and sultry with spicy and musky tones. Men's fragrances typically convey strength and power, or earthy and outdoorsy.

The notes in women's perfumes often tend toward the floral and fruity; men's are more green, leathery and woodsy.

Even though perfumeries design differently for femmes and hommes, can women wear men's fragrances?

The answer is: absolutely yes!

Frequently, there's some level of crossover of the notes incorporated into women's and men's fragrances. Citrus, spice, oriental, oceanic and even floral notes may be found in both, although the formulas may emphasize some notes more than others, resulting in sweeter scents for women and muskier scents for men. Because of body chemistry, women's skin reacts to scents differently and may pick up notes in men's colognes that were intended to be more subtle than predominant. Some women's skin may pick up on, say, a citrus note such as bergamot, even though it's a minor component of the male-targeted mix, or it may pick up on a spicy or floral tone such as cinnamon or lavender. You might be pleasantly surprised by how a cologne smells on your skin compared to your best guy friend's skin, for example. For that reason, giving men's scents a try is well worthwhile.

In fact, many women prefer men's scents over women's. The formulas for women's fragrances can result in scents that are too heavy, sweet, flowery and fruity, if you ask those who opt for men's scents. Men's fragrances, on the other hand, seem to be designed to provide a clean, natural, lasting impression. A number of men's fragrances have become so popular among women that the manufacturers changed their marketing messages and packaging to unisex.

How can you tell which men's fragrances will smell good on you? Next time you take a deep whiff of your date's cologne and it leaves a positive impression, ask him the name of the scent. Or steal a quick spritz from his bathroom and see if it agrees with you. You can also ask the consultant at the men's cologne counter. No doubt she'll know exactly which men's fragrances are popular with women, too.


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