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Combining your aftershave with a fragrance

Introduction

This page is intended to provide people new to the world of fragrances some guidance when it comes to complementing aftershaves with colognes, or EdTs and other fragrances.

Principles

There are no wrong answers. Well, maybe don't enthusiastically experiment with different scents right before an important work or social event...

Other than that, though, you can feel confident exploring combinations to work out what works best for you.

Some considerations:
  • Aftershave is intended to be applied to the face, after a shave. Colognes, EdT/Ps are not to be sprayed on the face: hit your chest, neck, or arms with those. See Aftershave vs Cologne for more detail.
  • Aftershaves will not have much in the way of longevity: a couple of hours for most, so there will be a period where the two are coexisting, and then the fragrance will supersede the aftershave.
  • When in doubt, look at the descriptions of the notes on the respective bottles and consider how much overlap, or complementary notes there are. The more overlap, the more likely the two will co-exist happily.

Approaches

There are multiple ways to approach this, but they can be summarized thusly:

Conservative

Take no risks. Only match aftershaves with colognes in the same branded family, eg., Proraso Red aftershave with Proraso Wood and Spice cologne. This leaves all the guesswork to the industrial chemists and "noses" employed by the company to make sure that any of their customers combining their two products will not trigger a continental bio-hazard alert. The downside of this approach is that shaving companies make excellent aftershaves, but their colognes tend to struggle to make weight against perfume houses. Expect some underperformance in terms of longevity and sillage.

Another zero risk approach is to pair an unscented, or very lightly scented, aftershave with your cologne. This way you are guaranteed to not experience any unintented and adverse chemical reactions that could leave you smelling like a discount air freshener.

Notes and Accords

Select afteshaves and colognes or perfumes that share similar notes and accords. If, for example, you're aftershave features lime, then seek out a Eau de Toilette that has a lime or bergamot opening. That way, whilst the aftershave is still perceptible, it will blend with the opening notes of the EdT, rather than clash. Understanding Fragrance Groups will provide some basic pointers should you wish to go down this path.

Gonzo

Wear what you like, when you like. It's likely that it will only be the first hour (maybe two) that you--and everyone around you--is forced to live with fallout.

References

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