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How to shop for men’s fragrances? Spread the love this Valentine’s Day (and beyond)

Are you looking to treat the man in your life with a new fragrance for Valentine’s Day, or a chap who’s just exploring the fragrant world for himself, those endless shelves of scented posibilities can seem daunting. Follow our guide of how to start sniffing out a brave new world…

If you’re buying a scented present:

Don’t leave it to random chance – that could go wrong. Better to tell him that something exciting’s on the way and treat him to a selection box of new scents – take a look at some of the suggestions, below. And first, ask yourself this:

Can the man in your life 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.

Why, then, do some poor chaps keep getting given the same old scent they’ve been using since they were first shaving?

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 ‘gender fluid’ fragrances categories, and 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.

Where to begin?

We have put together the ideal starting point with a selection of Discovery Boxes, specially curated with a range of fragrances to suit all tastes – from classic and designer names to cult, niche houses they’ll love to explore.

The Men’s Edit Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIPs)

A new season is approaching – and this is time for any man to switch heavier winter scents to a new fragrance wardrobe. We curated this selection especially for chaps looking to find something new, so there’s something for every man (and plenty of ‘borrowable’ finds) – including Bentley, Parfums de MarlyCristiano Ronaldo and TWO duos from cult brands – Escentric Molecule and Clive Christian – among others. This is a thrilling collection to sniff your way through, and with two added extras from Penhaligon’s and Aromatherapy Associates, this box is worth over £40 to begin with, and is priceless when you discover that new favourite…

 

Niche Collection II Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIPs)

Our first Niche Collection sold out in record time, so we’ve chosen even more scents this time, including a 7.5ml of Anima Vinci Neroli Wisdom. Alongside treasured houses such as Amouage and Atkinsons we’ve included exciting newness from Parterre, Stories by Eliza Grace, Memoize, The Modernist, Tom Daxon. But it doesn’t stop there… We added skin-loving treats for chaps who know that pampering is self-love they can take part in, too. Keep your face glowing with the recent GOLD AWARD winning skinSense Overnight Leave on Mask (WORTH £8.50) – and ensure your hands smell and feel wonderful with the bestselling Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream (WORTH £10).

Miller Harris La Collection Voyage Pour Lui – was £70 NOW £35!

A versatile selection of Miller Harris’ best selling male scents, what an opportunity to try something from this always wonderful British fragrance house. Inspired by dreamy journeys conjured with every spritz, each of the three fragrances come in luxurious 14ml travel sizes, and are presented in precious miniature versions of their full size bottles. Miller Harris Étui Noir – suede-like leather is supported by the woods and powder of iris. Miller Harris Vetiver Insolent – bergamot and cardamom is balanced against black pepper and balsamic elemi. Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac – an addictive blend of rich woods, honeyed tobacco leaves and hot spices.

If you’re treating yourself:

It’s best to try a whole range of differing fragrances – that way you can narrow down exactly what it is your nose is loving best. With each of our boxes, some of which you can explore above, we’ve created Smelling Notes to guide you through the process, but here are some handy tips to keep in mind:

– 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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