SEDUCTION IN THE AIR
YOUR PERSONAL SCENT IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT BUT LEAST UNDERSTOOD ASPECTS OF MEN’S GROOMING. GETTING IT RIGHT TAKES TIME, SAYS WILL FENNELL, BUT THE END RESULT CAN BE EXTREMELY SATISFYING!
Personal scent is one of the most important but least understood aspects of men’s grooming. Will Fennell helps you choose the right one for you.
If you ask me what my favourite fragrance is, in all honesty, I’d have to say it’s the smell of fresh horse manure, perhaps because my first true love was a horse. While brainstorming this feature with my friend Susan, she suggested I should keep this information private, or at least not make it the central point of the article.
So I asked her to provide me with a list of questions about fragrances to make sure I don’t diverge off topic. Here’s what she suggested…
1. When going on a date, do you choose a fragrance you love or that he loves?
I’m lucky because The Frog (my boyfriend) loves both my fragrances (the now-deleted Safari by Ralph Lauren, and Fico di Almafi by Acqua di Parma). Come to think of it, I may have first seduced him while wearing Safari. Or did he seduce me? I don’t remember, but I do know that if I put Safari on I am guaranteed of a bit of French oh-la-la-loving! Obviously, I have tried other fragrances (for DNA research) over the years. Some I have liked and most I have not. If I were honest, if The Frog didn’t like one that I liked, I would not wear it. Does that make me his bitch?
2. Is it okay to tell a date you don’t like his fragrance or that he has been a bit heavy handed with it? Absolutely! But keep in mind that fragrance is a very personal thing. He may have history with that particular fragrance that you don’t know about, so instead of saying you loathe it, suggest that you like another one he wears more. As for wearing too much, ask him how many times he spritzes? Then bring up in the conversation that grooming guru, Will Fennell says most men wear too much and suggest you both reduce. Like when The Frog tells me we should “both” go on a diet.
3. When at a friend’s home, do you sneak a look in his bathroom cabinet to check out the fragrances?
I have never done this! I am also lying. I have been doing this since I was tall enough to reach into my sister’s bathroom vanity cabinet. My parents even threatened to put a lock on it to keep my lip-gloss loving fingers out. Nothing has changed. When I leave the table at dinner parties you can normally hear the hosts yelling at me to stay out of their cupboards. The Frog has suggested I have a problem; I tend to agree.
4. Hypothetically, if you opened the cabinet by accident, would you sample?
Sample fragrance, no! It’s too easy to get caught. Only an amateur snooper would sample fragrance. However, moisturisers, body creams, lip plumpers, these are all fair game. Actually, steer clear of lip plumpers. I once snuck a little test drive of a girlfriend’s bee sting lip gloss. Bad idea. I reacted badly. The boyfriend was fuuuurious but the house party thought it was hilaaaarious!
5. Are you influenced by the bottle and packaging when purchasing fragrance? Like boyfriends, I need to love what’s on the inside. But, when I’m just out browsing, I may occasionally be seduced by great packaging, just like shopping for boyfriends.
6. So many new fragrances are released each year, do you think it’s okay to never try a new one; meaning, should someone wear the same fragrance at 50 they wore at 20?
I don’t think it’s okay to never try a new one. You should always be open to new experiences, but, finding a good fragrance is like finding the Holy Grail. My philosophy is: have your favorite, your signature; then each season try something new.
Unfortunately, it’s been a long time since a commercial fragrance has stood the test of time. Houses like Calvin Klein seem to simply release new underwhelming fragrances with each passing season. My advice would be to explore the lessor known houses or boutique fragrances and steer clear of anything associated with a celebrity. We use Kylie Minogue’s Inverse as toilet spray.
THE NOSE KNOWS!
The Proust Phenomenon is that unexpected moment when a particular and unexpected smell throws you back in time and you re-experience a long-forgotten memory.
Rather than the smell of tea-soaked cakes and the eerie childhood memories it evoked for Marcel Proust in In Search of Lost Time, my memories are triggered by a fragrance that was popular some 20 years ago. Okay, more like 25.
For me, the slightest hint of Drakkar Noir initiates flashbacks so strong that for a moment I am out of time, taken some 20(ish) years back to the arms of my first lover, my entire being intoxicated on love, arousal and excitement.
Because our sense of smell is processed in the part of the brain linked to memory and emotions, it is the only sense capable of making us re-experience such intense events.
When you apply fragrances, spray them onto pulse points such as the crook of your elbow, the wrist, neck and chest – don’t rub these areas together as this crushes the scent. Spraying a little into the air and walking straight into the mist diffuses it nicely over the body.
Keep bottles tightly closed. Some perfumes come in coloured or opaque bottles to help preserve them but still keep them away from direct heat and sunlight. You will know when they have gone off – they change colour (if you can see inside) and you won’t get that lovely boost of heavenly scent when you spray.
Everyone’s smell is very individual. Don’t make the mistake of wearing a perfume because it smells great on someone else – it may not smell the same on you. Test a scent in a store and then walk around for a minimum of ten minutes. Some perfumes take between half-an-hour to an hour to truly develop, so take the time if you’re not sure. If you’re still not convinced ask if they have sample bottles to take away and try wearing for a few days.
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING
Don’t drench your body in fragrance; it should never enter the room before you do. Everyone has a personal “scent circle”: approximately an arm’s length from the body. No one should be aware of your fragrance unless he or she steps inside your circle. Fragrance should be the subtlest personal message you send. Apply two or three sprays only.
DID YOU KNOW?
Diet affects the way a fragrance smells and lasts on the skin. A high fat, spicy diet, for example, makes fragrances more intense. A dramatic change in diet can alter skin chemistry, causing fragrances to smell differently.
Skin type will also affect the way a fragrance smells. People with oilier skin should remember that fragrances interact with the oils in their skin to create a more intense scent. Dry skin does not retain fragrance for as long as oily skin does, requiring the wearer to re-apply the fragrance more often. If you do have dry skin, applying a neutral skin cream will make the scent last longer.
FRAGRANCE – FRIEND OR FOE?
Fragrance in skin care products has always been a hot topic of debate. I asked Chris and Anthony from LQD Skin Care why they don’t use artificial fragrance in their products. Here’s what they said…
“Fragrance is the single biggest irritant in skin care products. Skin irritation causes the skin to age prematurely, so overly fragrant skin care products are causing your skin to age faster. Melbourne University research found that over 30 per cent of Australians are currently suffering from healthrelated issues due to fragrance exposure.
“Our mantra is to not add fragrance to our products so we’ve developed our Body Wash to have a scent without adding a fragrance. We’ve used Coffee Seed Oil and extracts, which is a stronger anti-oxidant than Green Tea and has the unique ability to make the product smell like a freshly brewed Café Latte.”