How to Choose and Wear Cologne

There are many different scents of cologne and it can feel overwhelming which one to choose and how to apply it correctly. Whether you are trying to impress a date, be more put together, have a signature scent, or you just want to experiment with something new, cologne is easy and fun to use and can improve your confidence and overall impression on others.


EditChoosing a Type of Cologne

  1. Wear cologne with oriental or wood notes in the fall and winter. You can choose to wear cologne with the seasons by avoiding light and floral scents in the cold months and instead wearing earthy colognes like sandalwood, cedar, and vetiver to complement the weather.[1]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 1 Version 2.jpg
  2. Choose a cologne with floral and fresh notes in the spring and summer. As the weather gets warmer, wear cologne that enhances the season. Floral, fruity, green, water, and citrus scented colognes are great for the warmer months. [2]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 2 Version 2.jpg
  3. Select a cologne with musky and spicy scents for nighttime. Whether you are going to a dinner date, out to a party, or are getting dressed up for a work event, cologne is a great way to enhance your evening appearance. Choose colognes with musky, woody, oriental, spicy, and mossy notes for night.[3]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 3 Version 2.jpg
  4. Wear cologne with citrus and floral scents for daytime. You don’t want to wear an overpowering strong scent during the day. For everyday use at work or school you can choose to wear fragrances that are lighter and softer, such as citrus, floral, fresh, and sweet scents.[4]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 4 Version 2.jpg
  5. Test different colognes until you find your signature scent. Instead of changing your cologne with the seasons or for the time of day, consider having one fragrance that is your signature scent. Try a variety of different colognes until you find one that you feel represents you and that you want to wear on a daily basis. Consider asking others what they think of your signature scent when deciding.[5]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 5 Version 2.jpg
  6. Choose a cologne that is long lasting if you don’t want to re-apply throughout the day. Choose a cologne with a high oil content if you want the cologne to last for many hours. Select a cologne with a low oil content if you are worried about it being too strong and overpowering.[6]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 6.jpg

EditTesting the Cologne

  1. Go to department and makeup stores to search for cologne. You can find cologne for sale at many stores such as Sephora, Ulta, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and CVS. Going to a store in person is important so you can test the different options and find what works best for you. Buying cologne online is good if you already know what cologne you want, but otherwise it does not work because you can’t test it.[7]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 7.jpg
  2. Smell coffee or tea in between testing each cologne to refresh your palate. If you do not do this the smell of the previous cologne will get in the way of and cloud your judgement of the new scent.[8]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 8.jpg
  3. Spray the cologne on your wrist to test it. You can also spray it on each inner elbow if you want a stronger scent. Avoid testing the cologne on the paper cards at the store because you cannot get the full scent this way and you will not know how it smells on you.[9]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 9.jpg
  4. Wait before purchasing anything to get a full sense of the smell. You should wait at least an hour before purchasing the cologne you like. The scent can change over time as it mixes with your skin. You can even ask for sample vials of your favorite scent if you want to test a few throughout the week before committing to a scent you really like. [10]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 10.jpg
  5. Ask other people’s opinions. The opinions of other people (friends, family, significant others) can help you decide if you want to purchase a cologne. If multiple people tell you a certain scent is not a good choice, consider purchasing a different scent.
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 11.jpg
    • If someone recommends a cologne, don’t purchase it without testing it.[11]
    • If you want someone’s opinion on the spot, take someone you trust shopping with you.[12]
  6. Follow your own gut when deciding what to buy. Although the thoughts of other people can help you make a decision, it is also important to choose something that you like and to trust your own views. Don’t let someone else choose the cologne for you.[13]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 12.jpg
  7. Buy a small bottle if you are new to using cologne. You might realize after you buy it that you don’t want to wear it very often or that your taste is different than you thought. Most cologne comes in bottles ranging from 1 oz (29 ml) to 3.4 oz (100 ml). If you know you love a cologne and will use it often, you can purchase a large bottle.[14]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 13.jpg
  8. Search around for the best price of the cologne you want. Although you can purchase the cologne at the store you found it in, once you found the cologne you like you can search at other stores to see if you can find it for a lower price. You can also see if you can find the cologne available online. Discount websites often sell cologne that was an unused tester at a store and Ebay often has unopened colognes that someone received as a gift or changed their minds about.[15]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 14.jpg

EditApplying the Cologne

  1. Apply the cologne to your wrists, chest, and elbows. Choose 2-3 of the warmest places on your body (chest, neck, lower jaw, wrist, forearm, inner elbow, and shoulder) to apply the cologne. If it is your first time wearing cologne, just apply one spray at first to one area then branch out after you get more comfortable and used to wearing cologne.[16]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 15.jpg
  2. Apply the cologne after a shower. In order to maximize the effects of the fragrance, apply it after a long, warm shower. Your pores will open in the shower, making the scent stronger. Mixing cologne with body odor will make an unpleasant scent, so make sure you are clean before applying.
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 16.jpg
    • Choose fragrance-free or light scented soap and deodorant. Mixing cologne with strong scented body soaps and deodorant covers up or alters the smell of the cologne.[17]
  3. Spray the perfume 3-6 inches away from you on dry skin. After spraying the cologne onto your skin, do not rub it in. It might seem like this will help put the scent into your pores, but it will actually break the molecular bond of the cologne. This can weaken the scent and strength of the fragrance.
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 17.jpg
    • Make sure to apply non-spray cologne carefully without splashing. Take a finger and press it on the opening of the bottle, tip it over gently, and apply it to your skin.[18]
  4. Only apply the fragrance to your skin and not to your clothes or in the air. Spraying cologne onto your clothes does not allow it to mix with your natural oils, causing you to lose notes of scent. It might also stain the fabric of your clothes. If you spray the cologne in the air and walk through it, most of the cologne will end up falling to the floor and not onto you.[19]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 18.jpg
  5. Be careful not to apply too much cologne. Using too much cologne is overwhelming and can make you repulsive.[20] The type of skin you have can make you more or less susceptible to fragrances clinging to your skin. People with oily skin should be extra careful when applying cologne, but men with dry skin can apply a little extra without it being too strong.[21]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 19.jpg
  6. Store the cologne in a cool and dark room. Cologne should be stored properly in order to make sure you get the most out of your purchase. In order to make sure your bottle does not go bad, keep it away from heat, light, and oxygen. Optionally, you can even store your bottle of cologne in a refrigerator.[22]
    Choose and Wear Cologne Step 20.jpg



  • Go into the store to test the cologne on you – different people react differently to colognes.
  • Consider having a “signature scent” or change the cologne you use based on the seasons or time of day.
  • Get a sample bottle to take home so you can have several times to test the cologne to see if it is the one you want.
  • You can often find the same colognes online as in the store for a cheaper price.


  • Make sure not wear too much cologne. It can make you unappealing, give other people headaches, and give people a bad impression of you.

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