Understanding Cologne Terminology


When you are looking for a men’s cologne, it is important that you understand the terms used to describe the different aspects of a fragrance. Until you know what the various terms mean it will be difficult to find the right cologne without spending a lot of time at the perfume counter. Besides, once you show that you are knowledgeable about the different fragrances you will be less likely to get stuck dealing with pushy perfume counter salespeople.

Cologne Terms

Fragrance notes: There are usually three stages or notes that make up a cologne, and the ingredients are divided up according to which ones are smelt first. Top notes are the first aromas that you will smell, followed swiftly by the middle notes. The base or bottom notes are usually the last to be noticed, and often linger the longest. This is why it is important to wait several minutes after trying a cologne sample to get an idea of what its true aroma is.

 Other terms are used to describe the cologne’s scent and can include any of the following,

  • Citrus is used to describe colognes that contain fruity key notes.
  • Floral colognes include lavender, lily, or other flowers.
  • Earthy colognes have base notes of moss, earth or dirt.
  • Fresh is a term that is often used to describe a number of lighter scented men’s colognes.
  • Fruity is similar to citrus, and can include other scents such as cranberry, apples, or strawberries.
  • Green colognes are similar to earthy or woodsy fragrances with a fresher scent.
  • Woody men’s fragrances often have warmer rich scents that can include amber and sandalwood.
  • Spicy scents often include cinnamon, pepper, ginger, and nutmeg. Good for colder weather months, these colognes often have a sensual and mysterious fragrance.
  • Musk is a popular ingredient in many colognes and perfumes and is often used to describe romantic or sensual scents.



 Other Helpful Cologne Terms to Know

  • Accord: This refers to the overall impression of the fragrance.
  • Blend: The mixing of ingredients that complement each other.
  • Body: This is used to describe the general tone and scent of the cologne.
  • Classic: Fragrances that have been popular for 15 years or longer are consider “classic”.
  • Concrete: A solid substance that is produced by extracting the aroma from a material.
  • Dry: Some woodsy colognes can leave your skin feeling dry where it was applied.
  • Extracts: A term used to describe a type of ingredient found in the cologne. Ingredients that are listed as extracts are stronger and more concentrated.
  • Heavy: Some men’s colognes are described as heavy or dark which refers to the strong and very masculine scent.
  • Light: A men’s cologne that is not bitter or spicy, and is often used to describe fragrances that are less complex.
  • Rounding out: This term is used to describe how the different scents blend together without any harsh aromas.
  • Sillage: This French term can also be found spelled “silage” and it refers to how far the cologne will be smelt away from your body. This is also called “projection” and it can help determine if a cologne is worth your money.

Once you understand the main terms associated with men’s fragrances, you will be able to quickly and easily find the right one that fits your personality and lifestyle.


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