Please Explain: Men’s Fragrances

Some of my favorite commercials are done by the body spray products like Axe and Tag. During these commercials young men spray onto their skin the cheap scents found in these canned products, and voila, they are swimming in hot babes. The ultimate ad done by these products has a Tag wearer getting his girlfriend’s mother coming on to him, from just taking one whiff. Pretty amazing that a major company like Proctor and Gamble (Tag maker) would produce an ad playing on the MILF theme like something right out of NSFW My Friend’s Hot Mom at Naughty America.

Men are such a desperate animal that even the most rationale will purchase anything that promises to make women find us sexually desirable. From Ron Jeremy pitching pills that will Extenze our manhood to khaki pants that cause women to ask “are those bugle boy you are wearing?”, it doesn’t take much for advertisers to get men to lose their grip on reality.

By the time that I had gotten to college, my experience with fragrance had basically consisted of a few spilled moments each year out of an Avon cologne car I had received for Christmas. Wait a minute, I just remembered that I did spend most of my 10th year wearing Hai Karate that I had bought hoping that it would help attract a Charlie’s Angels look-alike. Since neither of these scents seemed to elicit anything from women I was seeking, I went au naturel. That is until I met my dorm roommate.

Sean slathered himself in expensive designer colognes like Paco Rabanne and Ralph Lauren Polo. Since my roommate had a girlfriend and had no problem approaching women more confidently than myself, I figured his smell must be the determining factor why he had the skillz. I decided to join him, adding an expensive smell to my arsenal. For the next couple of years, I would douse myself in Drakkar Noir and Calvin Klein, whenever I left my room. Looking for an edge, I would read GQ, which offered up the best way to put cologne on and which brands women liked best. Considering that a major element of the bottom line for GQ is expensive, full-page ads featuring scratch and sniff samples by these same designer cologne manufacturers, maybe GQ wasn’t the most unbiased source. Using cologne seemed to make me more confident like liquid cocaine, as it provided me hope to conquer. The hope that a cologne could help sexy women look past my more obvious faults.

Guess what, on the surface, these scents seemed to work, as I was able to hook up with some foxy ladies. Now, in hindsight, I realize that almost all of my success had to do with the ultimate aphrodisiac in a bottle, alcoholic beverages, but at the time it was more of a don’t change what is working attitude I was following. Thus, the Drakkar continued to flow. Then I met a girl who told me that she liked my own natural scent and was turned off by cologne. I’ve been with her ever since.

Now I’m not saying that cologne is worthless and that some women don’t prefer a nice manufactured scent on their man. I am just saying look at the facts. According to a recent survey done by Esquire asking women’s magazines staffers from Cosmo, O, Harper’s Bazaar, and Marie Claire what they like a man to smell like., below are the results

4. I like it when he smells like:

A. Nothing 58.1%

B. A sweaty fireman 6.5%

C. Citrusy cologne 16%

D. Scotch 19.4%

Like many other Please Explain subjects, I understand why the item in question exists, but where I’m confused is by the magnitude that men will continue to pour huge sums into something that as often as not will repel them to the people they are trying to impress. Please Explain, Men’s Fragrances.

31 thoughts on “Please Explain: Men’s Fragrances

  1. 1.  I’m surprised at “Scotch 19.4%” given its generally strong, earthy fragrences, unless that is a euphemism for money.

    I’ve only worn cologne that women have given me and asked me to wear. My wife prefers for me to use unscented anti-perspirant and a light amount of a cologne of her choosing.

    Some women have told me that an all-too-obvious amount of cologne simply reeks of desperation, which ties into what you already wrote. Essentially, men are often dumb and desperate.

  2. 2.  I get the feeling that most college guys arent so much using cologne to smell good as much as to cover up their natural stink.

    Really, I think the biggest benefit is that it makes guys ‘think’ that it helps, thereby giving them more confidence – which, IMHO, is what matters most (unless you can figure out a way to spray a six-figure income or brad pitt looks).

    If it really takes these scents to get women excited, why are hippies having so much sex?

  3. 4.  One night when my wife and I were dating, I had a ton of Puig products on me because I thought the night was going to be kinda special. I thought I smelled great, my neighbors thought I smelled great and the woman I was rapidly falling in love with cancelled the date because she couldn’t breathe. I’ve hated colognes and perfumes ever since.

  4. 5.  I want to apologize for the lousy quality of my first post. It stunk like Brut. I had written it in 3 places, while using a wireless connection that twice kicked me off line, losing all that I a had composed.

    I actually proofed it again on my sidekick, which is not easy, but I hope this has less mistakes.

    Now back to more important matters like why a bottle of perfumed water can cost 60 bucks a bottle.

  5. 6.  Am I uncool if I have never even considered the possibility of wearing cologne? Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever given it a thought.

    Cologne-wearing has always seemed to me like it belonged to a subculture that I was not, and had no interest in being, a part of, so I’ve always just ignored it. To me, it’s not much different from wearing earrings or tattoos or St. Louis Cardinals gear. It’s something other people do in their subcultures, not something I do in mine.

  6. 7.  I used to take my brother’s Hai Karate out into the garage along with a metal pie tin and some matches and light little cologne fires as a kid. I’m not sure if Hai Karate made you sexy but I can say from experience it makes you flammable.

    Check out this Hai Karate advertisement. It’s almost exactly the same theme as Axxe.

  7. 8.  I wear cologne because I like the way it smells and so does my fiance. I wore cologne when I was single. There’s something very nice about hugging a woman and hearing her whisper in your ear “you smell nice,” that gets me every time.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way or has this experience.

    There, I explained it. šŸ™‚

  8. 9.  Never wore cologne, never wanted to. Glad that the majority of women prefer the au naturale scent (with a decent shower). Nice that scotch makes it there too. That gives me 58.1 + 19.4 = 76.5% of the women.

  9. 10.  Some women have told me that an all-too-obvious amount of cologne simply reeks of desperation

    the only way you can get away with that is if your in your very early teens 13 to 17 I say that because I was guilty of wearing to much Paco Rabanne in my very early youth, I’m all natural these days, but I do use “Red Zone” body wash 8 hour scent technology.

  10. 11.  Scott, you probably felt the same way about watching your dorm roommate hitting on chicks as bonds did watching sosa and mcgwire hitting home runs back in ’98. Envious. At least cologne won’t make your balls shrivel up.

  11. 12.  I tried to clean a base pipe once with a bottle of Brut. I was desperate and out of rubbing alcohol. I was also out of any good God d&%ned sense at the time. But a base pipe’ll do that to ya.
    I was in the Navy then. Think I woulda gone Old Spice, huh?

  12. 13.  Not only do I shun men’s fragrances, I’m not all that fond of women’s fragrances either. Perhaps for intimate moments, as an accompaniment to sexy lingerie, a small touch of some spicy scent is exciting. But at the office? In an elevator? At a restaurant? On the subway? Please don’t!

    Perfume is like ketchup for the body. If the meat isn’t rotten, you don’t need ketchup, and if the body is recently bathed, you don’t need fragrance.

  13. 14.  I knew an attractive girl in college who claimed to have an allergy to most colognes (I think it was psychosomatic). She used to lament all the time that all the hot guys wore colognes that would inevitably make her sneeze uncontrollably. From a distance, it was quite funny to watch as a guy would start dancing with her and she’d start sneezing until he’d back off.

    Personally, I have three bottles of cologne–two were gifts–and they’re all just about full. If I go out, I may put a very small amount on, just enough so one might smell it if they leaned in close. I’ve actually been complimented on my smell more when I’m wearing nothing.

    I do think some women like cologne, although I do believe there are more who don’t. I really believe that it’s advertising that causes so many men to believe that all women want their men to have a masked scent. That, and the fact that men are really only conscious of their own natural scent when they’re smelling especially bad.

  14. 15.  Cologne, perfume, makeup….Take it all. I can’t stand cologne, but I can’t stand tons of perfume or makeup either

    That’s why it’s imperative to bed a gal ASAP. You’ve got to see what kind of morning face she’s got going on.

  15. 16.  you know what though Brock you can tell if there good looking or not by there facial structure, a lot of times they were plenty of make up because of there insecurities (some real some not)

  16. 19.  I think Schteeve hits it with #8.

    In an added note, the Calvin Klein OBSESSION for women gave me a literal instant headache whenever I smelled it in it 80’s heyday. And to make matters even more surreal, the girl to whom I lost my virginity wore it.

  17. 20.  A few observations here:

    1) Geographic variance. I’ve noticed that cologne seems more popular, more frequently used, on the East Coast. Jewelry too, on men.

    2) Generational variance, with two caveats. I’ve noticed that it seems more men of my father’s generation (though not my own father) use(d) cologne. I hypothesize that in California, the general lack of humidity reduces the need to cover-over the sweaty odor one cultivates of the East Coast’s humidoric splendor. Caveat one: see note #1, since many people in California came from places East of California. Caveat two: the products Scott is referring to is targeting a new generation.

    3) Quantity. For men and women, there is absolutely nothing worth than any scent that overpowers. If you step into an elevator and notice a strong scent, that’s way, way, way too much. Now, this can be applied to any scent: cologne, perfume, body odor, a bouquet of flowers, a particularly stinky cheese, post-exercise sweat, post-other-things-sweat, hair-spray/gel/foam. My wife will sometimes wear perfume, and I only really notice if when I get really close to her, so she’s probably doing it right, because it is subtle. 8 Schteeve is clearly doing this right because when a woman hugs him, she notices.

    4) Scotch, really? I wish my wife were one of those. I have to choose between the pleasure of scotch and the pleasure of kissing my wife.

    Personally, the closest I’ve come to this is after-shave, but I never understood the alcohol-based ones that burn your face when you slap it on. I’ve settled on a gel that helps soothe my skin and leaves behind, perhaps, a tiny scent that no one in an elevator would notice, unless she were licking my face. Hm. Maybe I should wear a sign…

  18. 21.  Every woman that I’d been with one way or another has told me that they had an inexplicable attraction to my scent, even when I’ve missed a shower. Don’t understand it, don’t need to. And as such, I only wear a deoderant that A.) is given to me by a female where there is mutual respect/attraction, and B.) won’t cause me to go to the hospital.

    It’s just so much better to just wash your clothes, take a bath or shower (but do so, no questions asked) and look as clean as you can. I do, however, indulge in scented oils every now and then for the nice little “high” you get.

    I’m surprised chocolate or cocoa wasn’t listed as a scent that she would like; how many hits do you think that would get?

    20 One thing that annoys me even further in regard to Quantity; more often than not, people will dump a lot of perfume or cologne on them to cover their body odor. I’ve encountered this so much that now whenever I smell people approaching before I see them, I dodge them for fear of getting hit with that double-whammy. Yikes!

  19. 22.  I remember reading somewhere that the most erotic smell to men is a cinnamon roll. I know a Cinnabon is orgasmic for me to whiff, though I don’t recall ever getting wood while walking by one.

    My Grandpa used to slather on the Brut or Musk and it was really bad. I do think he showered less than preferable.

    I agree with the whole jewelry and cologne being more east coast. Let’s be honest, it’s more Italian behavior, even when Irish or Hispanic types do it. Trying to be Mafia-style. I swear when they wear too much cologne, they should be forced to scrub it off. I guess that I’m proposing a form of ethnic cleansing. Maybe I should rethink this.

  20. 23.  Chyll Will. Just wanted to mention that even your comment had a nice aroma to it. It is inexplicable.

  21. 24.  22 Re: East Coast.

    I guess I’m trying to come up with a reason beyond a cultural typology, though now that you mention it, those observations seem true enough. If you’ve met Jews from Florida, same deal (having some relatives of that kind)…

    Do you think the humidity logic holds up? Sure, after multiple generations, it may become cultural, but to start with, perhaps in the age before omnipresent air conditioning, you might imagine summertimes where people just stunk to high heaven because of the constant moisture building up on them in their clothes. Hence, a need for men to compensate and become better smelling?

    Contrast with the whole 1930s open-air living movement that drove many to Los Angeles, and you might see people adopting new and different personal hygene standards… ?

  22. 25.  I seriously doubt that the “survey” where 1/5 of women said they liked their men to smell like scotch was anything but a self-conscious, snarky/cutesy, New Yorky, fasion industry kind of thing. Or the whole thing is fiction.

    Regarding cinnabon et al., according to studies, the combo of lavender and pumpkin pie are the boner inducers. Or something like that:
    http://www.scienceofsmell.com/scienceofsmell/index.cfm?action=completedsexual

    Or just google “lavender and pumpkin pie”.

  23. 26.  Also–while the food smells increased men’s arousal by 30-40+% on the top end, women’s arousal was much less:

    Increase in vaginal blood flow. Notable odors: “good and plenty” + cucumber: +13%, baby powder +13%, lavender and pumpkin pie +11%, baby powder and chocolate +4%, perfume +1%, men’s cologne -1%, charcoal bbq meat -14%, cherry -19%. (Hirsch & Gruss)

  24. 27.  Was trying to figure out the good and plenty plus cucumber connection, then it dawned on me. The good and plenty cucumber must be a marketing tool to sell cucumbers as dildos.

    Always bringing the class to the Toaster.

  25. 28.  Scott:

    Hispanics using cologne is not Italian-wannabe behavior. If you lived in the tropics, you wouldn’t need someone to explain men’s fragrances to you–in a country where it’s almost always hot and humid, and most people don’t have air conditioning, there are only so many times a day you can shower. You go to the Caribbean and cologne’s everywhere, and among some circles it’s practically considered rude to go without it.

    As for Cinnabon, they employ some homely people, at least on the East Coast. The scent of cinnamon can only take you so far.

  26. 29.  26 That’s because they didn’t use the scent of $$ or shoes. šŸ™‚

    28 Don’t forget in the poorer areas, it’s not uncommon to wear the same outfit over and over again.

  27. 30.  I stand corrected on the Hispanic use. My experience on the east coast, there are a lot more guys who wear gold chains and cologne, which has nothing to do with hot weather, but more to do with Saturday night fever/sopranos influenced behavior. This just doesn’t go for italians, but guys that are half Irish like myself. Even Jewish cats like Andrew Dice Clay.

    Please let me reinforce that I’m not saying it’s a majority of guys on the east coast, just a bigger percentage follow this behavior than any other place in the country. Part of the culture.

  28. 31.  Why? Because men are patsies. And we will do almost anything if it means we think we have even a slightly better chance of getting laid by a hottie.

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