How To: Chandler Burr on Wearing Cologne

GQ‘s scent critic Chandler Burr (who also writes for the New York Times) had ten bits of cologne-wearing advice in the September issue. Here they are, in truncated form, with my commentary in italics.

1. Do not–no matter what anyone says–spray your scent in the air and walk through it.

Burr claims this is The Man–or fragrance marketers–trying to get you to waste cologne so you can buy more. Bullshit. Most colognes are strong, and most bottles have big spray patterns. Walking through a spray is the only way to meter your application. Use your own judgment.

2. Get in close. Spray the scent on your arm as a distance of about a half an inch.

3. And it’s not just for your skin.

Burr advocates spraying your clothes, and talks about “creat[ing] your scent space.” Don’t do this. Why? First, if you ever want to wear a different scent, you’ll have trouble getting the previous scent out of your jackets, sometimes even after dry cleaning. Second, do you want to be one of those guys whose “scent space” leaves a vapor trail?

4. Never put your scent where her tongue could land.

Good advice. And I’d extend that further to say use caution when applying your scent too close to your own nose—in other words, don’t put it anywhere above your neck. It will smell strong to you and dull your sensitivity to it.

5. Never, ever use your scent as a replacement for a shower.

6. No, you don’t need to change your scent with the seasons.

True, and this may be a real case of marketers telling us we need to do something in order to boost their sales. But how many American guys are guilty of changing their colognes too often? And why is that bad?

7. Adjust the dose by scent.

I completely agree, which is why I say, go ahead and walk through the spray if the cologne is too powerful for a direct application.

8. Yes, that cheap deodorant you’re wearing is killing your cologne.

He’s right: either wear a neutral deodorant or wear the deodorant version of your cologne.

9. Nix the aftershave. What the hell is aftershave, anyway? It runs out to be scents our dads wore in the late Pleistocene.Today, drugstores sell them. Enough said.

10. You know how they breathlessly tell you to put your scent on your “pulse points”? At these places, your blood heats the skin and supposedly blasts out your scent. Yeah, that doesn’t happen.


Overall, decent advice. But I can’t help thinking that some of the more pointless bits (like numbers 1 and 2 and the harmless myth that is number 10) are an effort to reach a full ten pieces of advice.

I would add these:

11. Take note of how much of a certain scent you usually apply. You’ll want to spray on that same amount even when you have a cold and when your nose becomes accustomed to that amount.

12. “Going out” is a good reason to try a bolder scent, but not to wear so much of that bold scent that your friends taste your cologne in their drinks. Don’t overdo it for the clubs.

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One Response to How To: Chandler Burr on Wearing Cologne

  1. Pingback: On Aftershave |

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