Masculinity and Scent – A Re-Imagination

Michael Kühn
Latest posts by Michael Kühn (see all)

Photo by Ebi Zandi 

I love perfume. For me it is part of a daily routine and without it my day would certainly be missing something. If I am not wearing any perfume I make sure I have my good old grey scarf with me, because the scent always lingers on it.

For many women perfume is part of a beauty routine, as it is for me, but what about your average man? How do men use perfume and scent if they use it at all? How much does the use of perfume change in the world of men?

First things first: With the exception of medieval and renaissance aristocracy, men have only been wearing perfume for a very short period of time. Only within the last 50 years have men started to wear perfume, whilst women have been making use of the art of scent for over 3000 years.

Before that men often argued that perfume was a uniquely feminine thing, and surprisingly many women did not want their men to smell of perfume at all. First perfumes for men were not scents by our definition, rather deodorants and aftershaves. Their scent was composed of fresh and citron flavours, which smelt almost clinical. Only within the last 10 to 12 years has there been a shift in opinion and a re-imagination of masculinity and scents.

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Photo by Felipe P. Lima Rizo

For instance, look at Lynx. Lynx, as a scented body spray, was the first brand to design a masculine yet sweet scent. One product smelt like chocolate. Even though the reasons to do so, such as getting women’s attention, might be questionable (particularly the adverts), the basic idea of sweet notes in men’s perfume was firmly brought into the mass market.

The stereotypical link between sweet, floral or even candy like scent notes and femininity had been broken, and the stereotype of men’s perfume was blurred. These sweet notes added more layers to what perfume can actually do character wise and opened up more possibilities beyond citron, wood and musk.

Different smell spectrums were available and the possibility of pyramidal scent change in men’s perfume arrived. Experts spoke of the feminisation of male perfume, which hardens the argument that due to sweet notes the definition of the masculine smell had to be widened.

After widening your flavour pallet of scent knowledge there is only one thing left to do: a quick guide to five good, everyday scents of which every man (yes, homos and straights) should at least try one.

Paco Rabanne – 1 Million Intense

Top Notes: Cadermon, Pepper, Saffron, Blood Mandarin

Middle Notes: Rose, Neroli, Cinnamon

Base Notes: Leather, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Iris


Starting off with the sweetest one in the bunch makes the transition pretty clear. In its gold bar like flacon this treasure is a great mixture of heavy sweet smells with an intense herb note to them. This fragrance definitely says: “Here I am!” – Nothing for identity shifters as it very quickly turns into your signature fragrance.

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Yves Saint Laurent – L’Homme Libre

Top Notes: Basil, Violet Leaf

Middle Notes: Pink Pepper, Nutmeg

Base Notes: Patchouli, Vetiver

l'homme libre yves saint laurent

This one is fresh and modern. It features the perfect combination of some good wooden smells as the carrying part with a charming sweet note of patchouli. An energy sparkling scent with subtle lightness and a touch of elegance. It definitely expresses a certain confidence with a side note of young ferocity. Possibly worn by young and successful businessmen.

Tommy Hilfiger – Freedom

Top Notes: Green Leaves, Basil

Middle Notes: Ginger, Coriander, Orange Blossom

Base Notes: Sandalwood, Vetiver

tommy hilfger freedom

Fresh and spicy with a hint of big adventure. This perfume smells of freedom on the ocean, the last hiking trip or the stylish new young go-getter. Definitely featuring some sweet notes but rounded with some nautical inspirations and aromatic turns. All very maritime, as is the Tommy Hilfiger style. The scent is very grounded and is perfect for adventurous men with a taste for elegance and extravagance.

La Martina – Cuero

Top Notes: Begamot, Lemon, Lavander

Middle Notes: Patchouli, Cedar, Styrax

Base Notes: Cinnamon, Coumarin, Leather

la martina cuero

A very masculine perfume in the stereotypical way. Cuero being the Spanish word for leather, this hits the nail on the head. The scent is one of opposites as delicious wood and leather smells combine and collide with the sweet deliciousness of patchouli and the fresh note of lemon. Wearable not only for hunks and muscle men but also for gigolos and feel good summer boys. This one will definitely turn heads as it is very distinctive.

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Hugo Boss – Boss Bottled

Top Notes: Jasmine, Lavender, Geranium, Patchouli

Middle Notes: Grapefruit, Green Apple, Bergamot, Mint

Base Notes: Musk, Pine Needle, Sandalwood


Think of wooden smell meets the juicy and sweet delicious smell of fresh fruits and mint. A perfectly light but constant scent that manages to mix fresh fruitiness with wooden heavy accents. The scent is very natural and gives you the feeling of a second skin. Definitely a satisfying scent for almost everyone. A classic.

Photo by Ebi Zandi 

About Michael Kühn

Just one of those people with too much to say, too many opinions, too many stories to tell and a hell of a lot of attitude. Student, blogger, LGBT activist, fangurrl & scene queen. Sometimes mean funny. Setting the divas free. @IconArtMarilyn +