As an Iranian-American, I’ve long been aware of the “Persian shower,” or the stereotype that Middle-Eastern men wear way, way, way too much cologne. There’s plenty of ugliness behind this to be sure — the insinuation being that Persians cloak their inability to bathe properly with an entire bottle of Drakkar Noir — but it’s also true that Persians love cologne, and sometimes apply it at eye-watering levels.
For my part, I’ve always tried to toe the line between smelling good without smelling like the inside of an Abercrombie & Fitch. That means erring on the side of caution and using one or two sprays at most. But similar to a 31-year-old who recently posted to Reddit, I’ve often wondered if there’s a perfect number of puffs. A number that will keep me smelling good for hours at a time without seeming as though I’d just crawled out of a cologne bottle.
The answer is much more variable dependent than I expected (though, in hindsight, I probably should have known better). As one redditor writes, it depends on the “type of fragrance, how you plan to use it and where you plan to use it.” “A powerful woody fragrance that projects well and lasts all day and you plan to wear it to an office, maybe 1 spray,” he continues. “That same fragrance you plan to wear out on a cold afternoon as you run errands, maybe 2-3 sprays.”
On the flip side, lighter, more floral fragrances aren’t as potent and typically don’t last as long. As such, they require more like “four sprays.”
Another frag head tells me that you should test your cologne around someone who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth. They’ll be able to give you a good sense of how the scent wanes after an hour, which is something you can’t do yourself because of “olfactory fatigue” — i.e., the numbing of your sense of smell after prolonged exposure to the same scent.
The final factor to consider is the environment you’re going to be in. On that count, another r/Fragrance subscriber advises, “if it’s cold and you’re outside,” you’re likely going to need more sprays than usual (they recommend roughly four to five). But again, if you’re inside an office where you’ll be in close quarters with other human beings, you’re safer with three or less.
Unless, of course, you’re looking to leave behind a vapor trail. In that case, as a r/Fragrance commenter jokes, “Get in an elevator or on a bus. If every single person starts coughing and gagging uncontrollably, the elevator malfunctions or the bus driver crashes, you’re good.”