Making Scents: Perfumes Specialist Andrea Valdo Explains Fragrance to Guys

Andrea Valdo, fragrance guru and worldwide licensee of CoSTUME NATIONAL scents, shares his wisdom about how to pick a signature cologne. The only rule: there are no rules. Unless you're going out "to look for a fiancé." In that case, he's got a recommendation.

Choosing a scent is very easy and very complicated.

"Easy because there isn't any rule, any trend, or any season you must follow. You spray, you like, you buy. However, looking for the one scent you really like is a bit more difficult. Our sense of olfaction isn't educated at all. While a normal person can recognize 60-100 different kinds of smells—the ones we bump into every day like flowers, food, raw materials, places—a perfumer can remember more like 4000 smells. Meanwhile, big companies sell fragrances with advertising campaigns, not the contents of the bottle. So people buy fragrances to feel more secure, sexy, and strong than they do for the real contents."

Try to understand what’s actually in the bottle.

"You can do this with the help of passionate people you can find in stores or through well-informed bloggers. They can help you understand your preferences in terms of citrusy, woody, ambery, green, etc. or help you figure out what sensation you are looking for in a scent—freshness, warmth, etc. Once you’ve established that you can drive the fragrance tasting process better and find the right one."

Tasting a fragrance is like tasting wine.

"But please be careful—don't drink the perfume! When the alcohol in a scent evaporates, it leaves the essential oil molecules on the skin that bring the smell. In this process, molecules have different evaporation times that make certain ingredients smell immediately after being sprayed (head notes), later (middle notes), and after few hours (base notes)."

Men should have as many fragrances as they have jackets or hats.

"Different moods bring different emotions that are linked to various olfactory experiences. In some cases, fragrances are connected with situations or seasons. For example, in warm weather consumers like fresh and citrus perfumes. If a man goes out for a night with friends to look for a fiancé, he might put a strong woody fragrance. But there isn't any rule. There shouldn’t be one. However, for spring and summer I recommend a citrus-based fresh fragrance with low oil concentration or a mint-based perfume. For autumn and winter, a woody or ambery perfume with a high concentration of essential oil for a really warm feeling."

Smell shouldn't be driven by gender.

"The new trend of perfumery is to not underline if a fragrance is masculine or feminine. The choice of the fragrance should follow just the simple rule: I spray it, I like it, and I buy it. Of course, some specific smells like fruity and floral are mainly liked by woman while the citrus, woody, and ambery ones are loved by men. Again, not a rule. It is more a statistic for consideration. So I must say that the new trend is to find the fragrance that can describe better a consumer’s personality, and avoid any superficial recommendation."

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