If you are new to the world of fragrances, you might not know the difference between aftershave and cologne. If this is the case, this article breaks down the info on this matter and it can help you understand the difference between various types of fragrances. 


What is aftershave?

As its name suggests, aftershave is a fragrance-based product that is applied after one shaves. The main function of the aftershave is to refresh, tone, and, on top of everything, disinfect the skin. Because it contains some aromatic compounds, the aftershave will leave behind a faint scent that will, on average, go away after one hour.

Given that aftershave is meant to disinfect your skin, it should come as no surprise that many products of this sort contain alcohol that can kill surface bacteria. However, if you happen to cut yourself while shaving and you use an alcohol-based aftershave, there is a high chance that you will experience some discomfort. There are numerous aftershave products manufactured by known perfume brands.

From a historical point of view, it should be said that aftershaves were first formulated and used by barbers. In the beginning, these products contained no less than 90% alcohol and they were used primarily as antiseptics. They were very popular because they minimized the risk of the barber transmitting bacteria from one client to another. 

This old tradition eventually evolved and it has now become something that all men do after shaving. However, because of the high concentration of alcohol that old aftershaves featured, men started suffering from skin conditions such as dry skin, ingrown hairs, and irritation. 

Around the 1980s, men started to become more and more aware of how important it is to have a healthy skin routine that does not cause any discomfort and that does not damage the skin. This is the starting point for the development of aftershaves that were made using skin-friendly ingredients with moisturizing effects.

Today, there are three types of moisturizers that men can opt from: balms/creams, lotions, and gels. While some aftershaves are scented, there are also plenty of unscented alternatives that men with sensitive skin can utilize. Similarly, now there are many alcohol-free aftershaves as well. 

You should use an aftershave to moisturize, nourish and soothe your skin after you shave, or before you go to bed. When it comes to applying the aftershave, it is recommended that you use gentle motions and that you pat the lotion/cream/ gel all over your face, as well as your neck. After you apply it, make sure that you allow it to air-dry.

Substances similar to today’s aftershaves were used by Ancient Egyptians to clean as well as to deodorize dead bodies. 



Cologne or eau de cologne is meant to be applied daily to keep you smelling fresh. The name, cologne, is German. In fact, the cologne was invented in Köln, a city in Germany, in 1709 by Johann Maria Farina. 

Farina named this product Kölnisch Wasser, a term that translates as water from Cologne. As time passed, however, the term cologne started to be used with the meaning of perfume. 

If aftershave contains a concentration of aromatic compounds of one to three percent, cologne is much more fragrant as it contains around seven percent of aromatic compounds. Therefore, when compared to aftershave, eau de cologne is much more fragrant. 


What are the main differences between aftershave and cologne?

First things first, aftershave should be used after shaving, while cologne can be utilized whenever you consider it necessary. Cologne is much more concentrated than aftershave and it should never be applied to the face. Instead, one has to use cologne on his pulse points so that the scent remains strong throughout the day.

Apart from their refreshing scent, aftershaves are also used to soothe and nurture the skin. However, cologne is simply used to make the users smell a certain way. 

Finally, it should be noted that, when compared, cologne is more expensive than aftershave. The main reason why this is so has a lot to do with the fact that cologne contains essential oils that do not come cheap.   


Eau de toilette

Another term that you should familiarize yourself with is eau de toilette. In French, eau de toilette means toilet water or grooming water. In a way, this product is a slightly more scented type of eau de cologne that people use regularly. 

Eau de toilette has a concentration of around 10% of aromatic compounds, a higher concentration than eau de cologne or aftershave.

There is no consensus on when eau de toilette was first used. However, according to historians, Queen Elisabeth of Hungary is known to have used a combination of oils and alcohol as perfume. Traditionally, all grooming waters were called by the main ingredient used in their formulation – such as violet water, lavender water, or geranium water.

Nowadays, the concept of eau de toilette is used to refer to all types of perfumes, for both men and women. On average, if you use eau de toilette, the fragrance will still be noticeable after 8 hours and, in some cases, even longer. 

You should apply eau de toilette to your pulse points, meaning your wrists, behind the back of your ears as well as on your lower neck and upper chest. Doing so will guarantee that the scent will last longer.

It is not recommended that you apply toilet water on your face, because, due to its concentration of fragrances and oils, it will, most likely, cause you rashes. Similarly, you should not apply it on your clothes as the scent will go away when you change into a new outfit.


Eau de parfum and parfum. 

Eau de perfume is the second strongest fragrance you could opt for as it contains around 15% of essential fragrance compounds. Parfum is the strongest, as it contains between 15 to 30% of perfume oils. 


Rules for applying fragrances

The main rule that you should keep in mind before applying any type of fragrance is the fact that less is more. If you do not want to have a smell that is too poignant, it is recommended that you refrain from using too much fragrance. So, one to two sprays should suffice.

Moreover, you should only apply EDT, EDP, and perfume to your skin, and not to your clothes. Even though it might look cool, you should not try to create a spray cloud and walk into it, as this will only cause you to waste product. To avoid irritations, you should try to avoid spraying the fragrance too close to your skin.


Natural vs. synthetic scents

Fragrances are developed using two types of materials, natural and synthetic ones. As expected, products made using natural ingredients are more expensive as they are sourced from the wild. In the case of synthetic scents, these fragrances are easier available and they do not cost as much. 

According to statistics, around 99.9% of all the perfumes that you can buy today are made of a combination of synthetic and natural ingredients.


Why buy and wear fragrance?

The main reason why you should wear fragrance is that it can make you feel confident and it can make you seem more attractive to women. From a scientific point of view, the smell is one of the most important factors that women consider when choosing a partner. 

Moreover, fragrance can deepen the emotional connections that you form with others. Smells can trigger memories. The more powerful the smell, the deeper the emotional connection that you create with others. This is one of the main reasons why, if your dad used to wear cologne when you were a child, you can probably still remember it to this day.

Finally, wearing a fragrance that suits you can help you make a great first impression, and it can help you look and feel like a well-put-together person.


How to choose a fragrance

One of the easiest ways to select a new fragrance is by testing numerous products until you find one that perfectly complements your body odor. To ensure that you really like the perfume, it is recommended that you wear it for an entire day.

Even though it might help to ask others for recommendations or for their opinion of the fragrance that you like, you should never allow them to make this decision for you. After all, the fragrance that you select should be a representation of you, and buying it should be a decision that you make by yourself. 

If you are new to buying fragrances, it is best that you first opt for a smaller bottle of your desired perfume. This way, if you decide that you no longer like it, you can opt for a new one without feeling bad that you’ve wasted your money.

Moreover, some recommend that you get more than one fragrance – so that you can switch between them when you get tired of one or the other.