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CNA Lifestyle

A man's guide to smelling good – it starts with not attacking our senses

Here's how to artfully create a signature scent that turns heads for the right reason. And it doesn't involve dousing yourself in cologne.

When it comes to first impressions, perhaps nothing leaves a mark quite like an olfactive one. In Singapore’s humid climate, it is common to smell a person before we see them.

As men tend to sweat more than women, they are more likely to give off a certain, well, pong. And women – trust us on this – do not react well to this, regardless of how handsome the suit is.

The mistake some men make is to mask the underlying aromas by simply fogging themselves with a thick cloud of perfume. Stop doing that now.  It is more effective to layer scents for a more long-lasting effect.

Scent-layering at its most basic simply means using a variety of different grooming products from head to toe to ensure every part of you smells heavenly. The trick, however, is in doing it right.

You don't want to smell like gym bag full of perfume samples. You want to create a one-of-a-kind scent that will have heads turning for all the right reasons.

Here is CNA Lifestyle’s no-brainer guide to layering scents with minimal fuss.

(Photo: Bigstock)


Multi-dimensional perfumes already have a blend of top, mid and base notes, which make it complicated for beginners to combine. Instead, Jason Lee, founder and creator of artisanal Singapore fragrance brand Six suggests using single-note or unidirectional perfumes such as Tom Ford’s Oud Wood or Vanilla Fatale, Le Labo’s Santal 33, Ultra Blue by Ralph Lauren or L’Homme Ideal Intense Guerlain.

“It is easier for beginners to perceive the distinctive scent notes of unidirectional perfumes,” he said, which helps take the guesswork out of sniffing out what works and what does not.


Have a basic knowledge of how perfumes are structured. The base notes, which are heavier, woodier and muskier should be spritzed on first. “Go easy and try not to overdose on them as these are usually ‘stronger’ and might overwhelm the other notes,” said Lee. 

Then add a light spritz of mid-notes which are typically fougere, marine notes, such as Cool Water by Davidoff. Finally, the top notes are ‘lighter’ on the nose and comprise citrusy scents like bergamot and grapefruit.

Once you classify the fragrances you have according to these layers, it becomes a lot easier to figure out how you can layer them.


You can even layer your grooming products to create a unique scent. Hector Esquinca, P&G’s associate director of flavours and fragrances said, “Even if you prefer not to invest in a fine fragrance, you can try scented grooming products that are inspired by fine fragrances such as Old Spice and Gillette deodorants.”


Stick to scents that belong to the same fragrance family, such as woody or citrus when layering.

Not sure how combining two perfumes together will turn out? Esquinca has a hack: “Layer subtler scented body washes or deodorant with similar scent types with your fragrance. You might first decide on your preferred fine fragrance, and then purchase other body care and beauty products with similar scent types.”

(Photo: Unsplash)


Remember that there is no male/female dichotomy with scent notes. “For example, rose, which is common in female fragrances, can also be incorporated into scents for men,” said Tomoka Y Nguyen, a spa consultant, certified aromatherapist and author of the book Beauty Confidential. Let your nose be the judge of what fragrances work for you.

Esquinca, who has 25 years of experience in the fragrance industry, shares short cuts to doing it right.

(Photo: Bigstock)

Wash your hair daily to help remove sebum as that is a key cause of bad-smelling locks. For long-lasting fragrance on hair, use both shampoo and conditioner.

Build a collection of a few different fragrances so you can choose different scents for different moods and occasions. For example, an eau de cologne is suitable for day wear as are fresh, aquatic scents.

After work, you may want to switch to a richer perfume with woody or aromatic notes for a date or a night out.

Use body care products such as body washes, deodorants and body lotions that have a similar scent to create an overall harmonious effect, even on days when you don’t use perfume.

(Photo: Bigstock)

Before investing in a fragrance, try it on your skin and wait for a few hours before you make your decision. Perfumes change over time and smells different from person to person so don’t just rely on sniffing a scent strip.

Don’t think that spritzing perfume after a gym session is enough. Take a shower, as sweat and perfume is a potently bad combination. Leave that splash of perfume – cologne, citrus or marine scents are particularly energising – for after your shower.

Source: CNA/yy