Your cologne can be as important to your image as your clothes or your grooming. Finding the right cologne (or colognes) and knowing when to use them can make a huge difference in your personal and professional life. Below are a few easy steps to assure that you leave a positive impression long after your cologne has faded away.


Ditch the cheap stuff


Cologne doesn't need to be super expensive to be good, but price is a reflection of quality. There's a reason why a decent bottle of cologne costs 30-50 dollars and body spray at the supermarket is only a few bucks. Body spray may cut it for after the gym, but its simply unacceptable in a work or social situation once you're out of high school. The same goes for the bottle of Brut or Old Spice that has been hanging around your bathroom for years. A good cologne is subtle and nuanced, these scents are overpowering and one dimensional. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and toss them all in the garbage.


Start with an every day cologne


Your first cologne purchase should be something that is suitable for any occasion. Your first step in getting this should be to head down to your local mall or department store and checking out the cologne counter. You can either ask for advice from the clerk, or start smelling on your own. Start with the familiar labels, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Burberry and see what catches your interest. You want a scent that is fairly light, but still noticeable.

Once you've decided on something ask for a sample and apply it to your wrists. Let is sit a few minutes while you browse and smell it again. If it still smells appealing that means its a good match with your body chemistry. If the smell has changed or become unappealing go back to the counter and ask for another sample you liked. If you apply a second sample make sure its on the other wrist so that the smells don’t interfere with each other. Once you've made your decision buy your new cologne and head home to apply it.


Apply It Properly


How you apply your cologne can be as important as which one you pick. A properly applied cologne should be noticeable, but not overpowering and last 4-6 hours depending on the brand. Start by applying a spray or a dab to each wrist. The wrist is the perfect spot for cologne because it is a pulse point, the blood flows through it near the surface which will keep releasing the scents in the cologne throughout the day. You may also want to put some cologne on your neck or chest. This is a matter of personal preference, but remember that you only want your cologne to be noticeable from a few feet away. Wearing too much of any scent will make your overpowering and unappealing. Don't apply cologne to your clothes. It will dissipate much quicker than if applied to the skin and wont have a chance to blend with your body chemistry.

Once you've applied your cologne for the first time make a note of how much you’ve applied and where. When a person wears the same scent every day they notice it less and it becomes tempting to put on more each day. We've all worked with a person who smells like they bathe in cologne, simply because they've gotten so used to the smell. By putting the same amount on each day you assure that you keep your cologne at an appropriate level. You may not smell it as much, but the people around you do and that is what matters.


Start Branching Out


Now that you've found a basic cologne and wear it right every day it's time to start exploring different colognes for different occasions. Your first purchase will probably be something appropriate for a date. This most likely means a cologne that is heavier than your everyday cologne with more “masculine” heavy scents like leather or wood. If you've chosen a popular brand for your everyday cologne see if they have other scents you might like. As before, try it on your skin before buying to make sure its compatible with your body chemistry.

You may also want to change colognes based on the seasons. A cologne with rich smells that's good in the winter may be overpowering in the summer. Many cologne lines make a summer brand cologne that is usually light, but still retains much of the scent signatures of their regular brand.


Re-apply as needed.


Often an overlooked step, reapplying your cologne throughout your day can make a big difference in how you smell. Most colognes only last for a few hours before the scent starts to fade. For the first few days you wear a new cologne smell yourself every hour and note how powerful the scent remains. If it disappears halfway through the work day keep a bottle in your desk drawer and apply a small spray to the wrists, about half of what you put on in the mornings. This will assure you keep smelling great throughout the day without being overpowering.


By now you should have a small but versatile collection of colognes for any occasion. It may be tempting to go out and get more, but try and limit yourself to no more than half a dozen colognes at any time. This assures that your smell is versatile but consistent and that you smell great for any occasion.