From Middle School Scent to Masculine Musk: One Man’s Rediscovery of Fragrance

Confession: despite being a Birchbox Man editor (and, ostensibly, an expert on all things grooming), I’ve never really been a “scent guy.”

The last time I applied a fragrance with any regularity was in middle school; it was Polo Sport, and by “applied,” I mean soaked myself in. Much to my surprise at the time, girls weren’t flocking to be close to me (perhaps because their eyes starting stinging when they got within 15 feet), so I retired the bottle to the depths of my medicine cabinet and went scent-free for years.

That changed last week, when I was given Cartier Déclaration Essence to test out. Between the sleek teal bottle and the fact that it was from Cartier, a trustworthy heritage brand, I was intrigued enough to try it for a day. Just a few hours were enough to make me rethink my strict no-fragrance policy. Unlike the aggressively citrusy, harsh-toned cologne of my youth, the Cartier Essence had layers of warm wood and spice. It smelled like a cross between James Bond and Paul Bunyan—a real man’s cologne. I was hooked—and the instant approval from my girlfriend later that day certainly didn’t hurt, either.

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