How to Pick a Cologne and Find Your Signature Scent

Written By: Ahmed Farah
Reviewed By: Lisa Basso
Updated On:

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I still remember the feeling of turning up to a recent family gathering in London and being complimented by all of my favorite aunties on how nice I smelled.

Finding your very own great-smelling signature cologne is an amazing feeling with so many benefits, and most of all, an insane confidence booster.

However, the road to finding that specific scent can sometimes be quite long and confusing for fragrance beginners.

In this article, I will give you guides and tips on how to make this process so much easier, helping you pick the right cologne, and leave you smelling sensational.

Know Your Notes

Understanding the different fragrance notes is, in my experience, the most important part of picking the right cologne.

Having a good understanding of the different note categories will allow you to search for a new fragrance with a lot more confidence. 

Your cologne notes should reflect the character and image you are trying to portray. Are you aiming for a casual, laid-back kind of vibe, or that ultra-masculine Gymbro impression at a late-night event? Consider the occasions you’ll be wearing the cologne and tailor your fragrance notes accordingly to match your mood and personality.

Here are the main note categories, some examples, as well as the mood and personalities best suited to them;


Note examples: Lemon, Bergamot, Grapefruit

Mood: Fresh and invigorating, perfect for uplifting your spirits.

Personality: Lively, Vibrant, and Optimistic.

Popular Fragrance Examples:

Acqua di Gio, by Giorgio Armani

Dior, Homme Cologne

Tom Ford, Neroli Portofino


Notes examples: Cardamom, Ginger, Cinnamon

Mood: Warm, Mysterious, Sensual

Personality: Confident, charismatic, and magnetic.

Popular Fragrance Examples:

Yves Saint Laurent MYSLF

Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men

Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb


Notes: White Musk, Amber, Patchouli

Mood: Powdery, Sweet, Masculine, Alluring

Personality: Confident, Sophisticated, Dark

Popular Fragrance Examples:

Calvin Klein Eternity for Men

Narciso Rodriguez for Him

Byredo Bal d’Afrique


Notes: Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Vetiver

Mood: Strong, Mature, Earthy

Personality: Composed, Confident, Sophisticated.

Popular Fragrance Examples:

Creed Aventus

Guerlain L’Homme Idéal

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540


Notes: Green Apple, Blackcurrant, Grapefruit

Mood: Playful, Youthful, Enthusiastic.

Personality: Cheerful, Outgoing, Carefree.

Popular Fragrance Examples:

Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male Le Parfum

Versace Eros

Montblanc Legend Spirit


Notes: Jasmine, Rose, Lavender

Mood: Elegant and romantic, conveying femininity and grace.

Personality: Refined, Feminine, Graceful.

Popular Fragrance Examples:

Chanel Bleu de Chanel

Prada Luna Rossa Carbon

Bvlgari Man in Black

To get a better idea of the type of scents that could be suited to your personality, you could always free some of the free scent quizzes across the internet.

To learn more about notes in colognes, check out this previous article we wrote here!

Know the Big Boys

Like in all other industries, the world of male colognes definitely has its more dominant players.

Familiarizing yourself with these prominent fragrances can be incredibly beneficial, as they often serve as reference points when speaking to people about your preferences.

Here are the big five releases, you should familiarize yourself with;

  • Sauvage by Dior
  • Eros by Versace
  • Creed Aventus
  • Blue de Chanel
  • Dior Homme

Visit Cosmetic Stores

Now, when I first started out in fragrances, I would quite often visit so many major cosmetic stores in oxford street, London, just to go in, try out the new releases and speak to some of the experts that worked there.

Stores like Sephora in the US, Boots in the UK, and many independent fragrance boutiques can be really generous with their samples and advice, making them really good places to explore a wide range of scents.

And don’t feel too much pressure to buy anything either, just go in casually, be super polite to all the staff members, and you can leave these stores with a few samples and a really cool education.

Mass Vs Niche

a big decision you need to take early on when picking a cologne, and that is whether to go with a mainstream cologne or an independent niche cologne.

Both have their pros and cons, which we have discussed in-depth in this article here.

But to simplify,


Niche fragrances are released by independent brands and offer more exclusive scents, meaning you can have a rare signature scent very few people even know about. Niche colognes are usually more expensive though, due to their exclusivity, and are a lot harder to find.


Mainstream colognes are those released by major fashion houses like Dior and Chanel. Buying a good mainstream fragrance is a pretty safe bet, meaning there is a good chance that you and the people around you will like it.

And although they are often cheaper, the scent is a lot more common, meaning bumping into people who smell exactly like you. And due to their mass production, mainstream fragrances also use lower-quality ingredients as well.

If you’re interested, we wrote an entire article on this topic here.


Sampling a whole range of colognes before making any purchase is a really cheap way of not just experimenting and refining what you like, but it also saves you from making a big investment in a cologne that you might not resonate with.

Here are 20 different ways I use to find free or cheap cologne samples.


Another major thing you also need to consider is concentration. If you have never heard of this before, be sure to check out our article here.

But essentially, Colognes come in varying concentrations, from the light Eau de Toilette to the stronger Parfum.

Eau de Toilette is ideal for that casual everyday wear, while Parfum offers a more intense and longer-lasting scent. Consider every other concentration in between, as well as the occasion and how long you want the scent to last when selecting the right concentration.

Consider the Season

Different seasons definitely call for different scents. 

The spring and summer will require lighter and fresher scents, while spice, musky or woody aromas are just perfect for the winter.

While there are a few very versatile fragrances that can work well for the entire year, most people will need to switch their signature scent, for a new season.

Read Reviews

When you are a beginner in the world of fragrances, there is no reason not to take up the opinion of other people.

Whenever I’m uncertain about a specific fragrance, I often read reviews from sites like ours, or listen to the opinions of cologne users across social media.

If it was great for others, there’s little reason why it can’t be great for you as well!

Bottle Size

It might be tempting to go for a larger bottle, thinking it offers better value for money.

But in my experience, it’s a lot better to get less of a great scent than more of an average one. So don’t be too worried about going for a smaller size, since a 50 ml bottle will still last you a few months at the very least.

Ask Around

We have all been there. In the gym, in the office, on our way to the grocers. You walk past someone and smell just the most magnificent scent.

In this circumstance, don’t be afraid to go up to the person and simply ask what they are wearing.

They will most likely feel complimented by the question, and you’ve just taken a massive step in finding your dream cologne.


My last piece of advice is a very particular one, but Fragrantica is a site I have used for many years to pick out great colognes and find a lot of hidden gems.

The site offers a vast database of fragrances, including user reviews and detailed descriptions, and so many cool features, such as cheaper alternatives, and searching for fragrances by your favorite notes.


Discovering a new scent, and picking a new cologne is a great experience and adventure, especially as you learn the ropes more and become more precise in what you are looking for.

And remember, a signature scent is never permanent. As your mood, life, and circumstances change, so will your ideal scent. So pick a cologne right for you now, and leave the future for later!

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About The Author

A cologne lover and reviewer, Ahmed has reviewed over 45 colognes on the site. Finding the best perfumes and colognes for our audience, review and ranking them as well as looking at all types of data, from price, longevity, silage to uniqueness.

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