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How to shop for men’s fragrances

Can your father still wear, with no shame, the same jeans he was wearing aged 17? We’re hardly ones to judge, but we’re betting most could not – and even if they could, that it would be really quite inadvisable for them to do so. With this in mind, why, then, do some poor chaps keep getting given the same old scent they’ve been using since they were first shaving?

We’ll be live un-boxing a brand new, specially curated selection of fragrances aimed at men today at 3pm GMT on Instagram. Join us for all sorts of ideas, tips and scented discussion, or catch-up later by watching our Insta Stories, saved for the next 24 hours. Until then (or afterwards, of course), read on for our guide to shopping for men’s fragrances…

It’s entirely wrong to stereotype, of course, and we happen to know many men voraciously read-up on and try all the latest launches, and are comfortable with owning a wardrobe of scent choices for every olfactory whim. But we’re not talking about them. We’re reaching out to the partners and loved ones of gentlemen who are firmly stuck in a fragrance rut. How do you drag [sorry, ease…] them out of it?

If you’re a bit lost and don’t know where to begin, follow our handy tips when fragrance shopping for a man (who perhaps doesn’t even know he needs to be fragrance-shopped-for).

First of all, what type of a chap are you buying for? Age, character, hobbies and career are all pointers, but can never be an absolute guarantee of what he’ll prefer – he might just surprise you (and himself!) Masculine fragrances have moved on somewhat since the ‘splash it all over’ one-size-fits-all sporty-fresh-or-nothing days. Now there are ‘masculine’ and ‘gender fluid’ fragrances that fit all the fragrance family categories, and so men are offered opulent orientals along with sophisticated fougéres; addictive gourmands, bigger, bolder Colognes and even floral-forward scents that smell utterly incredible on a man’s skin.

But where to begin?

We have put together the ideal starting point with a selection of Discovery Boxes, specially curated with a range of masculine fragrances. Our latest, The New Man Discovery Box, is a mere £19 (VIP price £15) for the biggest bumper-load yet: thirteen new, niche, designer and classic-house fragrance samples, PLUS a full-size scented shower gel (worth £20 alone!) and a generous fragranced shave gel.

So, why not get him The New Man Discovery Box as an initial gift, and offer to buy the full-size fragrance he most likes? You could even make an afternoon of it, going through the steps, below, with him (or point him at this page) until he finds that new favourite…

And if you’re a chap who wants to delve into the world of fragrance more deeply, why leave it to chance? Treat yourself!

– Try the fragrance on a blotter (also known as a perfume ‘spill’); these should be available on perfume counters – and when you buy a Discovery Box from this site, you’ll find a handy pack of blotters already inside.

– Write the name of the fragrance on the blotter, otherwise you’ll definitely forget it, later (and chances are, that one’s bound to be the best!)

– Wait a few minutes for the initial alcohol and the top notes to subside – a lot of people take huge whiffs immediately and then complain ‘it smells of alcohol/hairspray!’ Let it dry a little, first. At this stage you may be able to eliminate one or more, if they don’t appeal – but it is really the heart notes and the lingering base notes which you will live with, and which are crucial.

– You really need to smell a scent on your skin! Remember: blotters are a useful way of eliminating no-hopers and lining up possibilities, but they’re not really enough to base a perfume purchase on. We’ve lost count of the number of scents that didn’t particularly appeal at first-sniff, but which a few minutes/hours later we realised we adored. Fragrances are made to be worn on and warmed by skin, not paper…

– Ideally, try no more than two at a time on the skin – one on each wrist. We don’t believe fragrance-shopping should be rushed, but we all live busy lives. You can try one more, on the inside of an elbow – the elbows also happen to be good pulse-points.

– Try to live with a fragrance for several hours, or better still, a whole day/evening) before you part with your cash. That might mean getting a sample, if it’s available in store (or exploring the Fragrance Discovery Boxes). Try to wear the scent more than once if you’re properly testing it: mood, weather and what you’ve eaten can all seriously change how a fragrance works on your skin, and how you feel about it.

– Spray a darker-coloured scarf or inside of a jacket lining, too, and sniff it later. That way, it still warms with your body heat, but you’re not everwhelmed by it. And you can take it off!

Book a fragrance consultation if you’d really like to make a special occasion of it. Many fragrance houses and department stores now offer this service, some of them are completely free and others you have to pay for (but it’s usually redeemable against purchase). Have a look at our round-up of some of these services; we originally wrote it for people wanting wedding fragrance consultations, but it applies whatever the occasion!

When you’ve fallen in love, only then go back and make your purchase – or flag-up to loved ones which ones you liked most, so they know for future gift-worthy occasions…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

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