Gentlemen, let’s first state the obvious. We live in a very smelly city, and that is never fun. With that in mind, men make a big mistake of showering themselves with cologne or body spray. Remember, one spray behind each ear, another spray where your throat meets your chest, and finally one spray for the wrist. Applying a fragrance is one thing, but to actually understand what you’re putting on yourself is a completely different lesson. Educating yourself in the world of fragrances will bring more benefits than not. Getting to know the main ingredients will determine your likes and dislikes, and when to apply a certain scent on a given occasion.
Whether it’s something you are familiar and comfortable with or something new you’d like to try, let’s get to know the driving force behind the most popular men’s fragrances from around the world.
Found in fragrances like Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme, Paco Rabanne 1 Million and Hugo Boss The Collection Cashmere Patchouli.
Known scientifically as the Pogostemon cablin, Patchouli is actually a species of herb from the mint family. A native of exotic, tropical areas of Asia, the name derives from two very old Tamil words “patchai” and “ellai”. The former means green, and the latter means leaf. This herb grows up to two to three feet with leaves which grow upward and smells more woody than herbal.
The distinctive oil it produces from the leaves is quite unusual because it gets better with age, similar to wine. The more time passes, the fragrance will come out to be richer and deeper. This extraction is so incredibly fine that it was valued the highest in ancient times. You might know an Egyptian pharaoh by the name of Tutankhamun (King Tut), who was buried with up to 40 liters of patchouli oil back in 1323BC. Fast-forward a little, and you will find out to know that early European traders valued this oil as high as gold. Today this scent is found in the heart of what is called the Chypre family of fragrances; it is often described as warm and mossy or woody.
Found in fragrances like Vétiver de Christian Dior, Creed Original Vetiver and Tom Ford Grey Vetiver.
Unlike the other mentioned scents, this ingredient is a tropical grass that is native to India. Like the Patchouli, its name is also derived from Tamil. The interesting bit, however, is that 80% of this oil commercially comes from Haiti. The oil itself is extracted from the roots of the grass, while the top of the grass is used to feed animals. Believe it or not, these are also used to make blinds in India.
The comparisons between the vetiver and patchouli continues, as the former has also been a favoured scent since ancient times. In today’s world, vetiver is the fifth most important ingredient in male fragrances. There is a woody, earthiness in its tones, wrapped in smokiness masculinity; it’s been likened to incense or cigars. Its one-of-a-kind chemical make-up makes it very difficult to copy or imitate. In turn, there are no synthetic substitution in the world.
Found in fragrances like Noir by Tom Ford, Dior Homme by Dior and Les Infusions De Prada Iris Cèdre by Prada.
One of the most expensive materials on earth, the orris is the root of the sweet iris flower that is almost exclusively made out of a perfumery in Tuscany, Italy. The root (rhizome) is left to dry after it has been harvested. While it dries, there are natural isolates that form inside called irone. The more time it takes, the more irone is produced. The wait can take about six years to complete the process, and one ton of this rich material only makes about two kilos of the oil needed to make a fragrance. Now you know why something like this may cost three and a half times the price of gold.
Often listed in notes of butter or resin, in its complete raw from, it looks like a dried wood. The orris gives off a warm, creamy and earthy quality that brings a powder-like effect to a scent.
Found in fragrances like Armani Code by Giorgio Armani, Le Male by Jean Paul Gaultier and A *Men by Thierry Mugler.
Sure it may not sound as exotic and sophisticated as the other scents we’ve mentioned, but this South and Central American ingredient can provide a very sweet kick in a fragrance. A Tonka bean is actually a seed of the catchily tree. The use of this scent dates back to the 19th century, and nowadays, produced mainly in Nigeria and Venezuela. Unlike the other ingredients, these black beans are edible that is a beautiful sweet aroma that will remind you of almond or vanilla, with slight undertones of tobacco. This is why some fragrances can smell creamy and warm.
The sweetness is actually balanced out most of the time with fresh or green elements like bergamot, lavender, vetiver or mint.
Tonka beans are an essential part of both fougère and oriental style fragrances. And apart from traditional citrus based colognes, most likely it’s in almost every men’s fragrances in the market.