Cologne & The Single Man: Is Less More?


too much cologne for men

I’d written before about the power of scent, particularly when dating; but didn’t quite cover everything, particularly about the specific issue of men and scent.

Fragrance on men is an oft-discussed topic in the CatholicMatch forums and with good reason. It seems that many men might not even consider wearing a scent if they didn’t have the goal of attracting someone. If that is the case, then, some further clarification might be in order.  

 When I was in college, a dear friend would experiment with cologne using what he called “the hallway test.” He’d put on a bit of a scent he was thinking of buying and then go to the girls’ dorm. He rated its appeal by the number of room doors that would open after he’d walk down the hallway. According to him, the more girls who ran to their doors to see who passed, the better he smelled. At that time, I thought he was a genius, but looking back, I’d say he had it all wrong.

[The Power Of Perfume: 5 Secrets For Single Women]

I think many of the guidelines I presented before can certainly apply to men, particularly about not using too much. As I said before, if someone can smell you before you enter a room, it’s too much. The same applies to hallways in girls’ dorms!

This brings to mind the subtlety of sillage, the lingering scent that’s left after the wearer leaves the room. This does not mean the fragrance should hang heavy in the air. It just needs to be a faint, distant reminder. Think of it as a passing glance rather than a fixed stare. I think we could all agree that fixed stares can be downright creepy, while a passing glance is almost never a bad thing.

While I can think of many women who wear too much fragrance, I can easily think of many more men who seemed to have bathed in their cologne or aftershave. And if it’s cheap cologne or if the scent doesn’t mix nicely with a particular man’s pheromones, it can be downright uncomfortable to be around. For whatever reason, too, I hear more people complain about being allergic to men’s colognes than to women’s fragrances. 

So less is indeed more; on that we can all agree. But what I think is worth pondering there is whether or not any fragrance is necessary. Whenever the topic of men and scent comes up, many women say they prefer no fragrance at all. A fair amount of women have mentioned in the forums that they really like nothing beyond a faint reminder of soap, perhaps a bit of aftershave but nothing more.

What I wonder, though, is why: Is it because of too many men from the past who, because they overdid it, or wore an allergenic cologne, ruined it for women? Or is it because there’s something unnatural to women about a man who wears a manufactured fragrance? 

I am particularly fascinated with the idea of pheromone parties, wherein people seek out a potential mate based on signals from their olfactory sense. One of the guidelines that party goers need to be mindful of is avoiding fragranced products while prepping for the party. This would stand to reason, of course; a fragrance mixes with our pheromones and alters the experience for the receiving nose. 

I wonder if women who don’t like fragrance on men are more sensitive to pheromones and want an unobstructed scent pathway when they’re around a potential mate. I also wonder if  traditional gender roles lead us to think that fragrance and women is a package deal; whereas with men, it’s just not very masculine. Either of these possibilities could explain why many women prefer men to wear very little manufactured fragrance, if any at all. 

What say you, good people of CatholicMatch? What’s your scent preference for men? Do you, like many others, think fragrance on a man is less masculine? Do you think fragrance on women is more feminine? And what about pheromone parties: Are they a silly trend or are they a smart way to find a potential mate?




  1. Jerome-922898 April 6, 2013 Reply

    If you are clean, well shaved, fairly fresh out of the shower,use some under arm, then no cologne should be necessary. If you continue seeing each other and she likes a certain cologne may be she will give you a little bottle of what she likes.

  2. Josephine-586127 January 6, 2013 Reply

    Less is more and none is best. Nothing personal to anyone here, but I don’t think everyone realizes that many people cannot tolerate cologne. I am one of them, and I see that it is more prevalent than people know. I don’t feel I, or anyone, should have to move away from someone else just to breathe fresh air. Try being trapped in a room, subway car or elevator and not being able to breathe without feeling ill.

  3. Karen-854278 July 14, 2012 Reply

    I love a man that wears a fine, gorgeous cologne, applied with the right touch, not too heavy. I’m one of those people who is acutely in touch with her sense of smell, I love a clean smelling room for example, scents of the season (holiday, summertime lemons, etc.) If a man is doused with an unpleasant cologne, that’s another story, but all in all, I love fragrance on a man.

  4. Katie-866844 July 1, 2012 Reply

    If he’s wearing Bleu de Chanel, I’m sold! Jk…but it seriously smells divine. A man has a right to smell delightful too.

  5. Myriam-344031 June 26, 2012 Reply

    I like to wear cologne, perfume from Bath and Body, Victoria Secret and other brands, and men to wear their favorite cologne, perfume too. We can all fall in the error of using too much but if someone explains it to us in a good manner we can fix it.

  6. Francisco-687803 June 24, 2012 Reply

    I like using cologne because it gives you a fresh scent. If the ladies or others think is too much, then that’s their problem. 🙂

  7. Jason-581074 June 24, 2012 Reply

    Less really is more, and at times I believe that none is the most. And this doesn’t apply just to men. A dear friend of mine in college she and I would attend Mass at 630AM and frequently sat behind each other, and on many occasions I could smell her through Mass but it was never pungent or unpleasant. On a few occasions I even asked her if she had put on perfume that morning and she had said she hadn’t even had a chance to shower.

    A friend of mine is the same way, since we usually hang out in the early evenings we at times have both already showered for the night. And yet when we are together I just about always sense a very subtle sent, and have also asked her and she also says she hadn’t put anything on.

    So in my conclusion less is more and at times none is the most. And whilst I have never been to pheromone party there has to be something behind it.

    • Marita-847688 June 25, 2012 Reply

      Maybe she uses a soap with a scent like the ones at Bath and Body works or she uses a hand lotion that has a smell. I know at least one of these scents actually attracts bees! Ha.ha.

  8. David-364112 June 23, 2012 Reply

    Just my two scents . . .

  9. Brian-144650 June 23, 2012 Reply

    Just an FYI Vickie Thorn, pronounced biological theologist, has stated that people choose their fragrance that they like because it matches their pheromones anyway so it doesn’t matter about choosing the ‘wrong scent’ nor will it confuse your pheromones, the scent you like matches it.

  10. Tony-705734 June 22, 2012 Reply

    Isn’t deoderant good enough? 😛

    • John L. June 23, 2012 Reply

      Soap, Shampoo and toothpaste should be good enough, tony!!! dont let anyone tell you differently, God made you to be loved, not to be smelled lol

  11. David-364112 June 22, 2012 Reply

    Why no the schwarma man next?

  12. David-364112 June 22, 2012 Reply

    What are you, dating taxi drivers?

  13. John L. June 22, 2012 Reply

    Fine, you all win. just another thing for guys to be self-concious about for dates……..

  14. Amber-413562 June 21, 2012 Reply

    Less is more, in my opinion. If you brush your teeth, bathe, put some deodorant on, where clean clothes…then you’re good. LoL Although there’s nothing wrong with a bit of perfume/cologne once in a while as long as it’s not over powering. =-)

  15. Lynne-612533 June 21, 2012 Reply

    Looks matter in so far as the people getting together judge their importance. I’m simply stating I like cologne on a man. I wear my favorite fragrance in layers, from my body wash to exfoliant to creme, lotion, powder,perfume, powder…..get the picture? Only commenting on the subject. Period. 🙂

  16. Maggie-811643 June 20, 2012 Reply

    I don’t think anything in this article implied that looks don’t matter, nor did it imply that to “judge” someone based on their smells, is “sensible and smart.”. If someone smells gross, I won’t want to hang out with them. If I don’t find someone remotely attractive, I’m probably not going to end up in a romantic relationship with them. Looks do matter… it’s not necessarily shallow.

  17. Lynne-612533 June 20, 2012 Reply

    I like faint scent, not heavy, on a man. I grew up around men who wore cologne or aftershave (father, brothers, boyfriends)and I like it! John L.: don’t read so much into this topic, keep it light, it’s not a deep philosophical question …

    • John L. June 20, 2012 Reply

      I know that, Lynne. Yet How come smells DO matter on a date, yet looks DONT?

      • John L. June 20, 2012 Reply

        How come if you judge someone on a date on their looks, youre shallow and lustful, yet if you judge them on their smells, youre sensible and smart?

  18. John L. June 19, 2012 Reply

    I…….I ummmmmmm…..What I……… how is this even a topic of discussion?! “Just so they can detect a faint smell of soap”, first of all, if youre that close to someone that you can smell the soap resudue on skin, you got bigger fish to fry!! Seriously, how hard is it that you wear what you wanna wear, in moderation and the woman BE HONEST with you if she likes it or not! Why must there be battleplans and fragrance police for Catholic Dating? It shouldnt even be a discussion, since people seem so dead set against counting looks, money and physical affection as having any worth on catholicmatch, why should smell make a difference?

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