How Many Times Should You Spritz Your Cologne? A Definitive Guide
Illustration by Mr Luke Brookes
You can learn a lot about a man by the way he gets ready. Few put as much thought into the process as model and content creator Mr Ali Gordon, whose taste in fine linens, Cartier timepieces and Italian shoes has earned him a strong following on Instagram and TikTok. It’s not the contents of his wardrobe that caught our attention, though, but his serious addiction to scent. While watching one of the style influencer’s recent TikTok videos, which showed him getting ready for an outing to the Genesis Scottish Open, we learnt that it’s possible to discharge half a bottle of eau de toilette in a single sitting.
Initially we scoffed at the idea of using personal scent like bug spray, even if the technique was no doubt effective against the native midge clouds. But then the doubts began creeping in. What actually is the correct number of times to spritz a fragrance? Should we spritz more or less depending on the weather, the occasion or the type of fragrance we’re wearing? And is there such a thing as too much?
We could happily present a series of answers to these questions based on our own experience, but we decided instead that it would be far better to pose them to a handful of well-scented perfumiers and experts. While their answers broadly support a more liberal approach to spritzing – suggesting that perhaps Mr Ali Gordon is onto something – there is one thing that they all agree on…
It’s a matter of personal taste
When asked how many times to spritz, Mr David Moltz of D.S. & Durga goes in high at 439. He is, thankfully, not being serious. “Just kidding,” he says. “It’s up to you. In my twenties, I was a strictly two-to-three-pump man. The older I get, the more I like to douse myself.”
Mr Timothy Han of TIMOTHY HAN/EDITION says that you should, “spritz as many times as you want. I think people need to own how they wear a fragrance. Some people want it subtle, and others want it so strong their neighbours know what they’re wearing.”
Dousing yourself with perfume is an expensive habit and, of course, some of us like to wear more than one scent at a time, so should one approach layering with a specific ratio in mind? “We have a mantra that there are no rules, only thrilling discoveries,” says Ms Emma South, fragrance and lifestyle expert at Jo Malone London. “The method is very personal, too – you may choose to wear two colognes, or have a base layer of scent from a body wash or lotion and then spritz a different fragrance over the top. The result will always be an expression of your individuality and tastes.”
Spritz more on colder and warmer days
With autumn fast approaching, it’s worth considering how the changing seasons can affect the power of a scent. “When it’s cold, fragrance doesn’t project as well, while hot weather tends to make fragrances more intense, probably a good thing,” Han says.
Late summer heat wave? “Hot and humid conditions can make us more trigger happy,” South says. “Reapplying zesty, refreshing scents is certainly gratifying in close, sticky weather and reasonable given that it causes scent to evaporate quicker.”
Adjust for style, concentration and even the brand
“Colognes tend to have the lightest concentration of fragrance oil and therefore can be applied most liberally, whereas parfum may only require the smallest amount for the same projection,” South says. “At Jo Malone London, we use a higher concentration of fragrance oils in our colognes.”
Han adds that, “less concentrated fragrances often need to be topped up more frequently during the day. Eau de parfum should only need to be put on twice; once in the morning and once in the evening.”
How many spritzes are too many? Ask your friends
“Olfactory fatigue” is real and sets in after wearing a certain scent for a while, where it becomes much harder to discern on your person. This development makes it easier to overdo it, so why does it happen? “Your brain adjusts to your personal scent, and effectively no longer ‘tunes in’ to it, so that it can continue to pick up on other smells, such as warning signals or even food,” says Mr Edward Bodenham, perfumery director at Floris London.
To prevent your sillage from engulfing every unsuspecting soul in your wake, Han suggests it is “always better to start light and then judge from the comments if you are wearing too much or too little.”
Where to spritz – on the body, the hair or in the air?
“Where to spritz is highly individual,” Han says. “Some will spray a cloud and walk into it, others a spritz on pulse points. Personally, I put it on my wrist and neck behind the ear. It’s also nice to put it on a scarf if you’re the type to wear one.”
Bodenham is a fan of spritzing the chest, as “these areas will steadily release heat from the body which will allow the fragrance to radiate and disperse well.”
What’s the occasion?
The other variables determining your spritz strategy are the time of day and type of event. Han keeps it simple: “Do you want the scent to be more subtle so only a lover smells it, or do you want to shout to the world?” Moltz offers approximate numbers, to be taken with a grain of salt: “spritz depending upon your discretion, or two to four for day, three to five for evening, five to 10 if you’re getting married.”
Consider those around you
“I have an Indian aunt who once casually sprayed her whole being, clothes and all, with 14 sprays in a store,” Moltz recalls. While we’re confident she smelled wonderful, not everyone appreciates fragrance in the same way. Pregnant women have an acute sense of smell, so your most intoxicating scent could be someone else’s headache.
Take the temperature where you are. In Japan, for example, wearing strong scent is considered a bit rude so keep the spritzing to a minimum, whereas other countries, especially in the Middle East, like to bathe in the stuff.
“I have heard that about Japan and I find it so interesting,” says Mr Roja Dove, perfumer behind the eponymous brand. “I spent three years working in the Middle East where I became fascinated with the scents I encountered. I think it is always polite to be respectful of places you visit. We are ambassadors of where we come from, and first impressions can have a lasting impact.”