How much is too much when it comes to cologne?

Man putting on cologne.
Cologne can make you smell manlier, but there's a fine line between sexy and stinky.
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Wearing cologne or aftershave can help you feel more masculine, but there's an art to applying it. Mastering that art means knowing that "wearing cologne" doesn't equal "bathing in it." While ladies are attracted to a good-smelling man, someone who's doused himself in cologne can be a turn-off, no matter how good looking he is. Too much fragrance can also be irritating in other ways: Co-workers will start avoiding the person they can smell from the hallway, and your buddies won't want to be stuck in a car with you on road trips. Sometimes it's actually harmful to people's health as well: Excessive amounts of fragrance can even trigger migraines or cause asthma attacks and allergic reactions in some people.

Whatever you do, don't try to use it as a substitute for soap. Nothing can mask bad hygiene, and people will quickly smell the funk you're trying to cover up. Cologne should also complement the scents in your soap and shampoo.


Compared to perfume, cologne is one of the lighter types of fragrances in terms of the concentration and strength of the aromatic oils it contains. However, colognes can still have heavier, long-lasting scents. When applying, dab a little onto your neck, just above your collarbone and the pulse points on your wrist. Let your body heat trigger the scent. If you're really afraid of overdoing it, spray one spritz in the air above you and walk through the mist it creates so that the scent is more evenly distributed. If you can't smell it on you right after you put it on, don't just add more. It can take a good 15 minutes for the scent to really sink in and react with your chemical makeup.

Also be aware of the type of scent you're wearing for the type of day. During the day, it's better to wear a lighter, more citrus-smelling fragrance. In the evening, you can bring out a heavier, muskier cologne. Be careful when applying spicier fragrances though, because they can get stronger the longer you wear them. A little can truly go a long way.

If you're still figuring out how much is enough, and you've accidentally erred on the side of too much, you can tone down the scent. Take some baking soda and add enough water to turn it into a paste. Then rub it over the area where you put on the cologne and rinse. You should smell a little better -- and hopefully will have learned a lesson as well.


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  • Bourne, Leah. "Should You Wear Perfume To Work?" Forbes. Feb. 7, 2012. (Aug. 24, 2012)
  • Cutler, Rodney. "Rodney's Rules for Wearing Cologne." Esquire. Dec. 1, 2005. (Aug. 24, 2012)
  • Keen, Judy. "Wearing perfume? You're not allowed in here." USA Today. July 3, 2012. (Aug. 24, 2012)
  • Mangalindan, JP. "How to Buy (and Apply) Fragrance." GQ. Apr. 2008. (Aug. 24, 2012)
  • O'Brien, Glenn. "Wearing cologne without ruining my clothes." GQ. (Aug. 24, 2012)
  • Rainear, Amanda. "Are You Wearing Too Much Cologne?" Male Standard. July 20, 2012. (Aug. 24, 2012)
  • Schaefer, Kayleen. "The Ultimate Guide to Buying Cologne." Details. (Aug. 24, 2012)