Yes, it’s getting to that time of year again. The clocks have gone back, the adverts have started on TV, the social invitations are starting to come in. Christmas is around the corner. And that means having to work out what to buy all your loved ones as presents again.
Fortunately, there are always a good few trusty stalwarts that you can fall back on. One of them is aftershave or cologne for the men in your life. As reliable as socks and slippers, only a little more luxurious.
For your dad, brother, nephew, husband, partner, a good quality fragrance can make an excellent Christmas present. But, it is also the kind of gift that can easily backfire if you’re not careful. So don’t take any chances. Know what the common pitfalls are, and make sure you avoid them.
Confusing aftershave with cologne
Let’s start with a classic. If you’re scratching your head because you’ve always thought aftershave and cologne are the same thing, you’re far from alone. But it’s actually not the case. Aftershave is formulated to soothe skin after shaving. A cologne is purely intended to smell good.
The confusion comes from the fact that, traditionally, many (but not all) aftershaves have been alcohol based, as are most fragrances. In aftershave, the alcohol acts as an astringent, closing up pores and drying up tiny cuts caused by a razor. Alcohol also happens to be a perfect solvent for dissolving aromatic volatile oils in, which is why it is widely used in the perfume industry.
It is true that aftershaves are also scented, making use of the dual useful properties of alcohol. But compared to colognes, aftershaves have a light fragrance that wears off quickly.
If your primary purpose is to buy a gift to be used as a fragrance, then choose a cologne (or a perfume, for that matter – cologne and perfume describe the aromatic concentration of a product, not whether it is intended for men or women). They will have much better quality aromatic ingredients, creating better scents that last longer.
If you want to buy a shaving aftercare product, on the other hand, make sure you avoid genuine fragrances. The higher concentrations will most likely cause irritation to the skin rather than relief.
Buying the same fragrance you got him last year
Some people might argue that, if someone has a particular brand they like, buying it for them as a repeat gift is great, they get a timely top up.
But there are a couple of problems with this. One is the question of whether they even need a ‘top up’. If last year’s bottle hasn’t been used, the present fails the test of usefulness. It’s just going to take up shelf space for a while.
Second, there is always that nagging suspicion that duplicating a gift looks like you’ve forgotten what you bought that person last year. Which also looks like you’ve not put very much thought into it.
Underwhelming with a cheap product
It’s easy to assume that a lot of guys aren’t too fussy about the type of fragrance they wear and that one is as good as another when picking out a gift. But that’s a bit of an unfair generalisation. Tastes in fragrances is a very personal thing, and a lot of men take their presentation – how they smell included – very seriously.
So don’t assume that any old cheap splash will do. Low quality fragrances stand out like a sore thumb and scream ‘lack of effort’! If you are going to give a guy cologne and want to make him feel special. do it right. Make the effort to buy him something that will stand out as a treat.
Getting him something you don’t like
For all the wives, girlfriends and partners out there, this is another one to be very, very aware of. Yes, you’re buying a fragrance for your man. But if he wears it, you have to live with it. Picking out something without making sure you like it is a risky business. You could end up being in the odd position of telling him not to wear the gift you gave him…
If you’re not sure what you do and don’t like when it comes to men’s fragrances, or don’t have much experience buying them, here’s a handy tip. Do some research about different types and brands available. Read up about their scent profiles and make a note of any you like the sound of.
Now here’s the clever part. Instead of picking one at random, why not order a selection of samples online? Men’s aftershave samples come in miniature bottles that cost just a few pounds each. Order as many as you want to try and get them delivered straight to your door, ready to test out in the comfort of your own home. That way, when it comes to buying the gift properly, you can be sure you are getting something both you and your partner will enjoy.
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