Cologne Conundrums 101

5 min read
02 Jul 2017
5 min read
1145 words
Cologne conundrums 101: Why doesn’t it smell as good as it’s supposed to?

Finding a cologne that’s just right—one that your partner likes, isn’t too strong or weak, and definitely doesn’t smell like what your dad or your grandpa used to—isn’t easy. And once you’ve managed to find the right scent that’s every bit a part of you and who you are, you stay loyal to it—or at least that’s what most fellas do. But what happens when your old standby starts to smell just a little bit...umm, off? Here are some of the possible causes for your cologne’s not smelling its best and how you can fix it/them.

1. You keep it in your hot and steamy bathroom

First things first. Heat, humidity, bright lights, and just the potent combination of all three will break down cologne pretty fast, usually making the top notes mustier and changing the overall composition of the scent through oxidation. So store your cologne in its original box in a cool and dry place, like your bedside drawer or your wardrobe closet, instead of your medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

2. You’ve had it since your high school days

It’s simple, fellas. If your much-celebrated bottle of Obsession or Eternity is about to celebrate its decade-long anniversary, it’s probably time you bade your goodbyes to the archaic flanker. Truth be told, your cologne can last, if stored properly, for about a maximum of five or six years, or sometimes even less. You’ll know it when it changes colour (usually turns darker), when it smells sour, or when you need to apply twice as much in order to achieve the right amount of sillage and longevity.

3. You’re wearing it the wrong time of the year

A heavy winter cologne might feel cloying during a hot summer night, while a refreshing summer scent might not mingle nicely with winter’s heady aromas, like that roaring fireplace and the smoke of embers. Just remember that while you don’t have to be strict about switching your cologne every season, keep at least two in rotation so you have some sort of flexibility with what you’re spraying onto yourself.

4. Your skin’s just dry

Dry skin won’t turn your cologne as much as it will strip it of its top notes immediately. Elsewhere, it’ll also cause the scent to wear off more quickly. To get around this, simply apply your cologne right after you get out of the shower or after applying unscented lotion, in order to protect the integrity of the scent and lock in the aroma for longer. 

5. You’re Layering It With Another Competing Scent

Mixing a citrus bodywash with an amber cologne and finishing it off with some of your dad’s Old Spice or Denim deodorant and a whole bunch of Vaseline body lotion is a formula for olfactory disasters. Thus, try to streamline your scented products by buying unscented versions or those infused with the same scent as your cologne. Gift sets, fellas?  

 6. Your skin chemistry is totally screwing up things

Your skin is made up of a unique combination of water, acids, fats, proteins and sugars that can subtly change the way your cologne smells on you. Stress, diet, medication and even age can affect how a scent interacts with your skin. If your cologne isn’t sitting well with you anymore, it simply might be time to try something new. 

7. You’ve got a bad taste in colognes

And finally, no amount of care or consideration can save a fake, even if it’s kept under lock and key. If you get the sense that your cheap cologne is rubbing people the wrong way, maybe it’s time you got an upgrade. So do check out our suggestions of some investment-worthy classic blends, made out of fresh and familiar notes for the season ahead, as listed below:


Despite the combination of classic Prada ingredients like amber and iris, L’Homme is one of the house’s most modern creations. It embraces Prada’s characteristically feminine aromas, but strikes the balance with a blend of masculine favourites like fougère, neroli, geranium and patchouli.

Fragrance group: Woody Chypre
Main accords: Powdery, floral, woody
Nose: Daniela Roche Andrier
Top notes: Neroli and pepper
Middle notes: Amber, geranium, iris and violet
Base notes: Cedar and patchouli


Belonging to Mr Ford’s ‘Private Blend’ collection of curated flankers, Venetian Bergamot, presented as a unisex edition, is the designer’s only interpretation of the popular ingredient known as the ‘prince of citrus’.

Fragrance group: Woody Spicy
Main accords: Woody, fresh spicy, citrusy
Nose: Tom Ford
Top notes: Bergamot, black pepper, ginger and pink pepper
Middle notes: Cedar, gardenia, magnolia, pepperwood and ylang ylang
Base notes: Amber, cashmeran, sandalwood and tonka bean


Created in 1916 in the city of Parma by the prestigious, niche perfume house Acqua Di Parma, Colonia is considered the first ever true Italian cologne. The floral blend of lavender, rosemary, verbena and damask rose, followed by woody notes of vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli, results in its fresh and light composition, staying true to the symbol of the Italian chic and glamour.

Fragrance group: Citrus
Main accords: Citrusy, aromatic, fresh spicy
Notes: Amber, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, lavender, lemon verbena, patchouli, rosemary, sandalwood, Sicilian citruses, vetiver and white musk 


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