Whether you’re new to personal fragrances or have been wearing them for a long time, it can be challenging to determine how much cologne to spray on.
You never want to wear too much cologne. Overapplication is far worse than not applying enough. Up to five times is sufficient. But you might have to reapply your fragrance later on in the day.
Keep reading for more specific instructions about the limitations and benefits of spraying on cologne.
How Many Sprays of Cologne is Too Much?
While there are many different factors at play, the general consensus is that more than five sprays of cologne at once can be too much.
Cologne, also called eau de cologne, is made with a lower concentration of fragrance oils than parfum, which has the highest concentration of fragrance.
Therefore, you can apply more cologne in the morning than you would eau de parfum or parfum.
The downside to that is that because cologne has less fragrance oils in its formula, it requires you to spray more of it in order to get a lasting scent.
Another dilemma is that once sprayed on, your cologne only remains noticeable for two to three hours.
As the day progresses, your scent will fade. Some people take this to mean that they should apply tens of pumps at once. But the fact that the scent will fade is not reason enough to overapply your scent in the morning.
As you can see, wearing cologne is a delicate balance. You have to avoid dousing yourself in it, which can be offensive to others, but you also have to be aware of when to reapply your fragrance throughout the day as it fades.
This is where you can overdo it. So, as a general rule, limit yourself to three to five sprays of cologne while you’re getting dressed. Spraying on more than that would be way too much.
Not only might it irritate you, too much cologne can make those around you nauseous and it can bring on a headache.
Choosing the Right Amount of Cologne Sprays
Before you settle on a number of cologne sprays, it helps to understand all the factors at play. After spraying on a fragrance, there’s so much that’s happening.
Your body temperature, skin type, body chemistry, and environmental conditions are all influencing how your cologne smells and how intensely it smells that way. You can find more details about that in this post.
Additionally, no two colognes are the same. There is variance from brand to brand.
You might try one brand that lasts for two hours, and then another one that lasts twice as long. The type and quality of ingredients used also impacts how strong the scent will be and how your body will respond to it.
And then you have variance between scents. As you know, there are four primary fragrance categories:
Floral – usually romantic, sweet, and light fragrance feel
Oriental – typically spicy, warm, and sensual fragrances
Woody – dry musk-like scents of various wood species
Fresh – herbal, citrus, and refreshing notes that give an airy feel
A fifth category, Gourmand, was invented by Thierry Mugler when the brand released their Angel fragrance in 1992. It’s been in existence for a while, but still isn’t considered one of the core fragrance categories in the industry.
Most men’s colognes incorporate woody and oriental fragrance notes. If there are floral notes, usually orange blossom is used. You can find men’s colognes made with fresh notes when designed to be worn during warmer months.
Typically, fresh notes linger for the shortest amount of time and woody and oriental notes last the longest.
Of course women can wear men’s colognes but generally speaking, colognes are marketed to men.
Beyond the fragrance category, you have concentration levels. Only a range of fragrance concentration is ever offered because detailed scent formulas are not released to the public. This information is protected.
Therefore, in one cologne, 2% of its fragrance formula can be made up of aromatic compounds while another brand might use 4% of fragrance oils. This might seem like a slight difference until you consider how highly concentrated these oils are.
The difference between a cologne made with 2% versus 4% of fragrance is that one can smell twice as strong as the other.
And this is why when suggesting a number of sprays, only a range or general rule is offered. You’ll likely need at least three sprays, but no more than five, depending on the concentration of your cologne.
Usually you can find the percentage on your cologne bottle. But if not, you’ll have to test out the strength of your fragrance through using it.
Sometimes more expensive colognes will have higher fragrance concentrations but this isn’t always true.
Your scent projection will vary as well. How far away a person has to be to smell your cologne depends on how it’s made and the factors mentioned above.
So if your cologne projects far, then you’ll only want to apply two or three sprays. Less projection? You might be able to get away with four to five sprays.
This is the trail that’s left behind you as you walk and move throughout the day. It’s possible to have strong projection but faint sillage, and vice versa.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to accurately test for this without surveying the opinions of others. You can ask friends, family, or coworkers to assess your sillage as you move about at home or in the office.
Alternatively, if you want to test sillage at home, you can walk from one end of your space to the other and retrace your steps to get a sense of the trail that you’re leaving behind.
Depending on your perspective, this is where cologne falls short, in a way. The limited longevity of cologne can be a pro or a con.
If you are wanting to have a nice scent during warmer months, you may not mind using cologne. Fragrances generally don’t last as long when it’s warmer outside. They evaporate more quickly.
When wearing an expensive perfume, you might not want to have to repeatedly reapply it throughout the day, it can feel like a waste.
Since cologne is less expensive than perfume, reapplying it doesn’t feel as much of a rip off. Even in cooler months you have to reapply cologne every few hours if you want it to remain noticeable.
You can’t control your body chemistry or fully control your skin type, but you can monitor the moisture levels of your skin.
Fragrance oils like to cling to moisture molecules. If you moisten your skin before spraying on cologne, this will help extend the longevity of your cologne.
With naturally dry skin, be sure to apply lotion, preferably unscented, before spraying on cologne. This way you can spray on less.
Lastly, you must consider the season. Fragrances project more during warmer months, but they also fade away more quickly. During colder months, the scent doesn’t evaporate as quickly, so the fragrance is sustained for a longer period of time.
During the summer, you can spray on less cologne in the morning, and then reapply every few hours. So try two to three sprays during hotter days in the spring and summer.
During fall and winter, it’s okay to spray four to five pumps of your cologne because the scent will release more slowly and won’t be as strong.
This may seem like a lot of information but all of these points factor into how many times you should spray on your cologne.
Each day you can use this information as a mental checklist before deciding how many pumps of cologne you’ll apply to your skin.
How to Get the Most Out of a Few Cologne Sprays
It can be daunting to go through the process of deciding how many sprays of cologne you should use. You don’t want to be that person who’s remembered for having sprayed on too much cologne. Yet, you want to be memorable at the same time. People can often identify a person by the fragrance they’re wearing.
Moisturize Your Skin
Always be sure to apply an unscented moisturizer to your skin if you want to get the most out of your cologne.
Spray Your Pulse Points
Where you spray your cologne also matters. Limiting sprays to the areas of your body that are the warmers, will aid in scent projection.
This translates into spraying your wrists, lower neck area, inner elbows, or the back of your knees.
Less is Best
My suggestion is to start with two sprays, test out how it feels to you and how it seems to come off to other people, and then add one additional pump if you feel it’s necessary.
Just keep in mind what season it is, and so forth.
So, most importantly, start with a little, and then work yourself up to five, if desired.