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How to Put on Cologne Properly: Expert Guide

Statistics say sixty-three percent of adult men from the ages of 18-64 wear cologne at least occasionally. And what’s not to love from a couple of dabs that will boost any man’s personal presentation — so long as it’s a quality scent that hasn’t been over applied, that is.

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So how would one apply the perfect cologne for the desired effect, lasting throughout the day without being overpowering at any one time? Here’s our take on, first of all, selecting a scent but also how to put on cologne so it emanates a unique scent (yes, that’s right) continuously.


Selecting the Right Cologne

Determining what you want your fragrance to express about you can go a long way in helping you decide on a scent. 

Personality and Mood

The fragrance of a good men’s cologne always seems to signal an individual who is well put together, maybe professional, maybe masculine, but certainly confident.

At times you might fancy being a man of mystery, others maybe clean and sharp.

Scents can also set the mood for a romantic date or get you prepared for an important meeting at work. The right one can put other people at ease and make the wearer seem more relatable. 


The point is that perfumes can benefit an individual in either a professional or personal environment and knowing which of your many good qualities you want to highlight is the first step in choosing the right cologne.

Where and When

One of the simplest ways of coming to a decision on a scent is figuring out whether you’d like it for casual daily wear or special evening occasions.

There are colognes that are barely there and colognes that make a big statement — read: there are those best for daytime office wear and others best left for a night out

Some Things You Just Can’t Buy

While higher quality products typically last longer and have more subtle complexity, taste is king. A high-end, expensive fragrance isn’t necessarily going to smell better to you than a budget, mass-produced bottle.

How to Pick and Apply Cologne Properly

Easy Sampling

Remember that choosing a fragrance is an intensely personal experience. If you are really uncertain, many fragrance brands have coffrets that allow you to sample several of their best-sellers. These are typically small sample or travel size bottles that will allow you a few tries.

How to Put on Cologne

What's behind how to put on cologne correctly is science. A good time to do so is when your pores are open — this works to absorb the fragrance and, once your skin begins to cool, your closing pores trap the scent in.

The absolute best time to apply is right after a shower and on dry skin. Not only are your pores open but you’ve just scrubbed other scents off of yourself and your skin clean. But be sure to let your fragrance dry before layering yourself with clothes.

Where to Apply Cologne

Again, heat is key when thinking of the best spots for your cologne to relax. Your main heat points are the right areas when you're concerned with how to put on cologne correctly - mainly since they’re so efficient at releasing them in combination with your unique scent. 

The main heat points of the body are called pulse points — areas where you can feel your pulse due to your blood vessels being closest to the surface of the skin. Concentrate on pulse points such as your wrists, neck, chest, and inner elbow joints.


Behind the knees and inner ankles among others are pulse points also, but unless someone’s nose will be close enough to take a good whiff — maybe focus on the others mentioned earlier instead. 

Use it Sparingly

The golden rule with smelling just right and wearing fragrances with style is to use your cologne sparingly. 

Dousing on cologne will not make it last longer and, in fact, will have the opposite effect on magnetizing and charming those around you. There’s nothing worse than a guy with an overpowering cologne is there? 

Fragrances should be a subtle compliment to the impression you would like to make so make sure you use it carefully.

How much is enough?

The amount you spray on depends on the quality of the product and your body chemistry but typically 1-2 sprays or a light dab should do the trick. 

How to Pick and Apply Cologne Properly

If you’re heading out for the night and fear your scent might fade then bring it along with you to reapply halfway through the night.

To avoid an overpowering smell that leaves people wincing as soon as you turn your back remember that less is more and if in doubt err towards a light application.

How many sprays of cologne?

If you have a spray bottle a good rule of thumb is to hold the spray bottle 3–6 inches from the body. Any closer and you may risk over-applying.

The nozzle should create a fine mist and not a spurt-like-stream. Grab a new nozzle if yours is having trouble.

Applying Cologne for Maximum Effect

How Long Does Cologne Last

There is an endless variety of fragrances available — each with a range of scent notes combined to create a unique product. 

These notes can last anywhere from less than an hour to 24 hours. Narrow enough for you? No? Okay well, another slice of information which might help is that higher quality products typically last longer and have a subtler complexity. 

So as with most things in life, you’ll find longevity in quality fragrances for men. 

How to Pick and Apply Cologne Properly

Cologne & Skin Chemistry

Cologne smells slightly different on different individuals. This is one reason that experimenting with different scents is so important. 

Fragrances interact with your natural and unique body scents, body temperature, and the oils in your skin. Not only does it mingle with your own personal and natural fragrance, but it breaks down in stages revealing top, mid and base notes progressively. 

In fact, sometimes the same cologne can smell slightly different on the same person at different times of the year or before versus after a shower. 

This chemistry is the basis for why I wouldn’t recommend spraying cologne on your clothes. Not only are you preventing it from mixing with your natural unique fragrance but it also won’t break down in that beautiful complex way. How to put on cologne the right way doesn't involve applying it to your clothes. This is the best way to waste your scent, plus some have also been known to damage fabrics.

Walking Through Mist

Some believe this is the best way to avoid over-application but spraying the air and walking through mist means the scent ends up either on your clothes or the furniture. Best to stick to the pulse points.

How to Pick and Apply Cologne Properly

Rubbing or Splashing

Don’t be tempted to rub or splash cologne on your skin. If your bottle doesn’t have a nozzle then dab it on. This is how to put on cologne the right way — not rubbing it or splashing it on.

Why? Well, splashing can also cause many to apply too much. And, as explained above, fragrances are best when they have contact with a greater surface area of the skin, plus rubbing breaks the scent down and so speeds up its expiration on the body.

So, there’s nothing to fear in wearing cologne. If you pick out a cologne that matches your body chemistry, suits the occasion, and when you're well versed on how to put on cologne the right way then there's nothing to fear.


Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.