Fragrance is one area where the beauty industry has a long history of targeting men — for the majority, in fact, fragrance is one of the first “beauty” products a man will buy.

Statistics show the average Canadian guy has three fragrances in his bathroom. Given the sheer number of fragrances available though — traditional scent staples, seasonal and limited editions, not to mention the range of smell strengths found in different products from the same line — it’s not at all surprising that choosing one can be a daunting task.

Choosing a new fragrance though is a task that might be worth undertaking, particularly if your scent is more than a few years old. (Provided you store fragrances in a cool, dry place, they should be good for at least two to three years. Some can last even longer, depending on the quality of ingredients used).

It is commonly known that fragrances can smell different, depending on who wears the smell. Many don’t know, however, that there are more than nine different scent families that colognes and sprays typically come from.

Where one might be more aromatic, another could be a floral citrus blend while a third smells more like tobacco or leather.

“Remember what you’ve worn in the past, what you’ve liked and what you’ve disliked,” says Tammy Smitham, director of communications and corporate affairs at Shoppers Drug Mart.

For women interested in purchasing a perfume for a man, she says it’s also a good idea to start with smells you’ve liked in the past, even if you haven’t smelled them on the person for whom the gift or purchase is intended for.

“Go with what you like,” she says. “That’s probably my number one advice. It’s something you’re going to be smelling, probably every day, so make sure you like it.”

If sampling in-store is a problem, it’s worth knowing that nearly all cosmeticians stock alcohol wipes that can be used to remove scents that don’t jive with your plans for later in the day.

How to choose a fragrance

When choosing a new scent, there are a number of suggestions to keep in mind:
• Remember what you’ve worn in the past. This will help the cosmetician make recommendations.
• Spray the smell on your inner wrist. The top of your hand is a dry area that won’t give the truest smell later on.
• Wait until the smell dries. “When you spray it right out of the bottle, you’re getting more of the top notes and the alcohol concentration,” says director of communications and corporate affairs at Shoppers Drug Mart. “Once it dries up, that’s what the scent will really smell like.”
• Never try more than three in one visit — this overwhelms the senses. “You’re not going to be able to distinguish any longer between the scents.”
• Know your price range.
• Think about where you will wear the smell. Will a woodsy scent work during the hot summer months? How about at the office? In one context a smell can be offensive. In others, at night or at a club, it can be barely noticeable.