Smiling man spraying aftershave

Smell of success: What you don't know about choosing the right aftershave

Published 13th October 2022
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They say the best aftershave will help you smell like you, only better... But how do you find the best one for you in the first place?

The secret's in the science, but with this guide, you don't need to be an expert to discover your new signature scent! Read on to find out everything you need to know, then head to our full range of men's aftershave to explore great deals on your favourite brands. 

A collection of fragrance bottles

What's the difference between aftershave and Eau de Toilette?

Aftershave and Eau de Toilette are two of the six different types of men's fragrances, each made with a slightly different concentration of oil. This is important to know, as concentration affects a fragrance in three key ways: 

  • Projection (how far away from your body it reaches)
  • Sillage (how long it hangs around in the air once you've left)
  • Longevity (how long it lasts on your skin)

The higher the concentration, the stronger the fragrance and the longer it will last.

To find out how aftershave and Eau de Toilette compare with the others, check out our strength guide below:

  • Parfum:
    - Oil concentration: 20-30%
    - Lasts for: 8-12 hours
    - Best for: Special occasions
  • Eau de Parfum (EDP):
    - Oil concentration: 15-20%
    - Lasts for: 4-5 hours
    - Best for: Date nights, nightclubbing
  • Eau de Toilette (EDT):
    - Oil concentration: 5-15%
    - Lasts for: 2-3 hours
    - Best for: Daywear, casual events
  • Eau de Cologne (EDC):
    - Oil concentration: 2-4%
    - Lasts for: 2 hours 
    - Best for: Office, top-ups
  • Aftershave:
    - Oil concentration: 1-2%
    - Lasts for: 1-2 hours
    - Best for: Layering with other scents
Perfume bottles surrounded by ingredient examples

What makes up an aftershave?

Like all other fragrances, aftershave is made up of notes, which slowly melt down to reveal new 'layers' of a scent. This is why your aftershave smells a little different as the day goes on!

Notes are divided into three key groups:

  1. Top Notes

    The first thing you smell after spraying. Bursting with zingy, uplifting aromas, they make a bold but fleeting first impression, usually melting down within 15-30 minutes.
  2. Heart Notes

    The middle layer that revs-up the aftershave's energy, showcasing the fragrance's unique personality. Lasting about an hour, they set the tone for the rest of the scent.
  3. Base Notes

    Deep and rich, base notes leave the final, lasting impression. They complement and intensify the heart notes, leaving a scent that lingers on your clothes and skin for hours.

As an example, these are the notes that make up the legendary One Million by Paco Rabanne:

  • Top notes: Blood orange and peppermint
  • Heart notes: Rose absolute and cinnamon
  • Base notes: Leather and amber
Two aftershave bottles on palm tree leaves

What aftershave should I buy?

When choosing a new aftershave, think about the smells you already love. If they're pretty similar (like pine, cedar and sandalwood, for example), you're probably drawn to one specific category (or 'fragrance family'). Knowing your favourite fragrance family is the key to unlocking your signature scent!

There are six main fragrance families to choose from:

  1. Fresh

    Sharp and uplifting, fresh fragrances are usually bursting with citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges. They may also include aquatic, ocean and grass notes, which give off a clean and subtle smell.
  2. Fougére

    Classically masculine, these scents are named after the French word for 'fern' (pronounced 'foo-jair', if you want to impress!). They have a sweet yet sharp smell of moss and pine needles at their core.
  3. Amber/Oriental

    Amber (also called 'Oriental') fragrances are sweet, spicy, rich and exotic. Packed with deep, powerful notes like cinnamon, star anise and vanilla, they're attention-grabbing and addictive.
  4. Woody

    One of the most popular choices, woody fragrances are warm and dry, often based around sandalwood, cedar, or oud. Often accented with smoky notes and subtle spices like cardamom, they're intense, masculine and head-turning.
  5. Chypre

    Chypre scents are named after the island of Cyprus, and have an appropriately Mediterranean flavour! They mix the balsamic notes of fougéres with the warmth of woody fragrances, creating a unique scent that's impossible to miss.
  6. Floral

    You might think florals are only found in women's perfumes, but they're used in a variety of popular men's aftershave, too! Unlike the more delicate female fragrances, they often blend fuller-bodied florals like geranium with richer families like amber, making a deeper, longer-lasting scent.
Knowing your notes from your fragrance families is one thing; choosing the right one for the occasion is the tricky part! From work to date nights, check out our top tips for choosing the right scent for the event to find your perfect match.
Man spraying perfume onto wrist

Where to apply aftershave

When it comes to spraying aftershave, it's all about location, location, location - specifically, pulse points! These are the areas of your skin that are naturally warmer, which help the scent to travel further. 

The best places to spray your aftershave are: 

  • Your wrists
  • The crooks of your elbows
  • Behind your ears
  • Around your neck
Man holding button in open palm


  • What is aftershave?
    While you might think of aftershave as a catch-all term for men's fragrances, it's actually one of six different types you can find. It has the lowest oil concentration of 1-2% and lasts for up to 2 hours. 
  • Does aftershave go off?
    It can take anywhere between 1-10 years, but aftershave will eventually go off. Don't worry, though - to make yours last longer, store it in a cool, dark place, and don’t forget to put the lid back on!

  • Will aftershave stain my clothes?
    Aftershave doesn't usually stain clothes, but they sometimes contain ingredients that can cause discolouration. For peace of mind, it’s a good idea to do a patch test in a hidden area before spraying all over.
  • How much aftershave should I use?
    This depends on the concentration of your aftershave, as the stronger it is, the fewer sprays you'll need. As a general rule, though, two spritzes should do the trick!
  • Is aftershave a good gift?
    Absolutely! Provided you choose the right one, of course! Sneak a peek at their existing collection and find similar scents by looking at its fragrance family.

Pssst... Looking for a perfume to wow that special someone in your life? Make sure you get it right with our perfume guide! Packed with our favourite fragrances for every personality, it's never been easier to find a gift she'll love!

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