Why do women wear perfume and men wear cologne?

Why do women wear perfume and men wear cologne?


Go ahead and take a deep whiff of yourself.
No really. Go ahead. Do you smell more like a boy or a girl or is there even any difference?
Smells like a dog because I’ve been petting my dog. There are all sorts of factors that influence
our individual body odor such as diet, metabolism and even our biological sex. Scientists have
determined that women’s underarms tend to smell more like onions and grapefruit while
men tend to reek like stinky cheese. Further studies have found that we tend to choose
perfumes and colognes that smell the closest to our own natural scents which makes sense
since the whole purpose of wearing this stuff is to project attractiveness through olfactory
signaling. There could perhaps be some science to perfume for women tending to smell a bit
sweeter while cologne for men is a bit more pungent but hopefully not pungent as in stinky
cheese pungent. But of course there’s also gender at play in the perfume aisle because
if you look at the history of perfume which first arrived in Europe in the 14th century,
if we fast-forward from the Renaissance to the late 19th century, wearing perfume and
also the scent of those perfumes was gender neutral. Everybody who could afford perfume
simply wore perfume. Whether they were a man or a woman, there was no Calvin Klein for
him and Calvin Klein for her, everybody back in the day was essentially wearing CK1. Metaphorically
speaking of course. But then once we get to the late 19th century it is actually science
that causes us to drop the perfume in favor of deodorizing. This is when we were really
starting to understand germ theory, personal hygiene and maybe the idea that covering up
the scent of filth isn’t so healthy. Deodorizing becomes more the rule of the day and perfume-wearing
becomes highly gendered. Proper women of the day might wear a dab of sweet floral perfume
but not too much. If you were a woman wearing a noticeable amount of perfume you would be
assumed to be a prostitute. Ha ha. Meanwhile for gentlemen of the day perfume wearing was
no longer considered masculine. But it was then replaced by less over-powering fragrances
that were a bit sharper and woodsier, scents of pine and cedar, a little bit of leather
and tobacco, the kinds of scents that we associate with men’s cologne today. For one final bit
of science it’s worth remembering that when you squirt on perfume or cologne what you
smell is that fragrance interacting with and amplifying the bacterial alchemy of your own
skin. Not the scent of your gender.

79 Replies to “Why do women wear perfume and men wear cologne?”

  1. Is that why whenever your armpits stink and in an attempt to cover up the smell, you drench them in deo, and makes them smell even worse.

  2. My boyfriend got a bottle of Chanel Homme something something for Christmas for a relative. He came home, spritzed one pump on himself and the instant I smelled it, I ran to the bathroom and vomited. He never wore it again.

  3. I only smell like Old Spice and Cheer (from washing clothes) and like how I smell.

    The only times I really use the cologne I was given is select occasions where I'm in a suit. And then I still manage to get the amount spritzed wrong >.< 

  4. Personally I hate the smell of  cologne and aftershave. I find it stings  in my nose, almost like petrol.
    I'm not too fond of perfume either. I feel it smells too strong, even if you just wear a tiny amount.
    Having a shampoo that smells nice and some deodorant is good enough for me.

  5. I'm not an expert but In Europe (at least where I live) most fragrance for men are "eau de toilette" which are more concentrated than "eau de cologne". Eau de toilette is also the most sold fragrance for both gender. Eau de parfum or parfum are usually more found in women section but there are some for man too. The difference between al of them is the concentration of the fragrance and how long it last. This whole thing might be a difference of labels between the US an Europe or just an american difference.

  6. Where I live (Central Europe), everyone just wears perfume. I don't recall 'eau de cologne' sold in many places. I associate cologne with the 'after shave' type of scent. Is that only Switzerland or is that a European thing?

  7. Can't stand perfume/cologne but I don't mind deodorant scent. People that wear too much scent give me a headache and I will get off of an elevator with my nose held when people do this.  Both men and women do, but it seems that women are more often guilty of it.

  8. Things smell different to different people, but there might be tendencies in what we find to be attractive smells in terms of the opposite sex (hetero-normatively speaking here, then, ofcourse).
    But these scents are being made and advertised to attract the buyer: for example (hetero-normative assumptions again here, im sorry) perfume is intended to attract men, but instead they're being made and advertised in a way that will attract women because that's likely who is going and testing them and buying them. So if you're a lady you might wanna bring a guy along with you to go perfume shopping, and if you're a bro-dude then might wanna bring a smooth-thighs along with you to go cologne-hunting.

  9. I was told by several friends like I smell sweet like a flower. I've only ever used to wear non scented deodorant if I knew I was going to be sweaty so I hardly ever used it and all of the compliments came when I wasn't wearing it so I guess I just smell really good. 😀

  10. Women just stink. Perfume is used instead of bathing.  Stop using it please. 
    It is gross smelling and very irritating.  I do not want to breath in your stinking perfume.

  11. These videos may be informative, but I just can't perceive the host as a feminine woman.(and yes believe it or not I do like feminine women) She sounds loud, aggressive, impulsive and I would even say angry. As if she fights with somebody while talking. Also, her language is artificially complicated. She probably wants to hide behind these dry and cold speech to prove something. So just to summarize: the information in the videos may be valuable, but the way it is delivered is repugnant.

  12. So really perfume and cologne are the same thing.
    The hardest part about marketing these items is that the consumer can't smell it through the ad or the TV. This is why the perfume and cologne ads are so bizarre.

  13. Fun fact: The reason why humans are so diverse in appearance is directly related to our loss in odor sensitivity. Most animals identify each other by scent alone because if animals look too different, they could stand out to predators. But early humans were less concerned with blending in since they had largely worked around needing camouflage so our appearance was allowed to radiate far more rapidly than is observed in other animals. Combine that with the founder's effect (which is where you have a small population migrating over a large distance, which further speeds up genetic drift and produces a somewhat distinct population) and you have what we try to approximate with the label "race". We look different simply because we can.

  14. I don't wear cologne nor after-shave because I really dislike the scent, as I've seen many other people say in this comments section. I'll only use deodorant if I'm going to a fancy location of some sort.

    But I saw a SourceFed video where one of the hosts, Meg Turney, said she was wearing a deodorant for men, namely Old Spice, because she really REALLY liked the smell and another female host, Trisha Hershberger, commented that Meg, indeed, smells like a boy. So I guess some deodorants work as intended?

  15. To me, very neutral smells are the most pleasant. Not smelling gross or covering up gross with a different pungent smell, just clean.

  16. People wear too much of that crap either way and it literally burns my nose outdoors! I had to walk up a block because this guy in the crosswalk who I was standing downwind of, was going to make me pass out.

    That said, If I had to wear some, I like Hugo Boss cologne, but I like cheap fruity smells like Body Fantasies over cologne. For the most part I'm one of those not so weird people who actually like their own natural scent. I wonder if some of Scwabb's work where he worked on gay and trans people and pheromones, if I actually am attracting myself! Yay science…?

  17. I wear men's deodorant (Old Spice!) because I got a case of it for super cheap a couple years back and still haven't gone through it all. The more I use it though, the more I've started gravitating towards mannish scents like lime or vetiver to compliment it whee I used to prefer vanillas and jasmines and things like that. Maybe it I weren't such a cheapskate I'd still smell like a lady.

  18. I have allergies to perfume/cologne and strong deodorant, so I can't wear(is that even the right word for it?) anything. But still interesting.

  19. Perfumes I can smell so strongly I can taste them, even light layers of them, and I hate them on myself and others. But I've never had that problem with cologne and have it less often with body sprays. I will note I smell cologne way less often than perfumes; guess most men don't know how sexy it can be whereas many women don't know when to stop spritzing.

  20. I have noticed that I often like the scent of a body spray/perfume in a bottle, but not on my own skin. I also feel like my bo does smell a bit more masculine than other women I know. Would that be correlation or causation?

  21. Parfume was worn in ancient Egypt, put in a different form.They put a mixture of oils and wax on their wigs (they shaved their hair for hygiene purposes) and let the sun and heat melt it releasing the aroma.They later developed what we know as perfume today and were the first people to actually write a recipe for it.

  22. Fun fact: The word "perfume" only references the scent that one puts on, while "cologne" originally referenced a perfume with alcohol added (to disperse the scent more efficiently). Since colognes might irritate sensitive skin, they were only designed for men. However, check your labels, most "women's" scents today have alcohol in them (to disperse the scent better), while most "men's" scents don't (to avoid over-spreading the scent), meaning that women actually wear cologne and men simply wear perfume.

  23. I used to work in a perfume shop and it was so funny when someone would pick up a tester and decided they liked it for themselves, but as soon as they heard it was marketed towards the other gender, they would immediately put it down. Women and men alike were almost repulsed by the idea of accidentally wearing a fragrance that was made for the other gender. It's silly. 

  24. In all the years I taught HS…I agree on your points but there is a period of experimentation where both genders try different scents AND amounts. While some teens get it "right' quickly others take longer. Also a factor is how much can  student in high school afford. You can't ignore fads in scents too.
    There was a running gag in The Big Band Theory how "Howard" was in the "more is better" school of scent applications. Even truer for some teen in both genders.
     

  25. My fiancé is Turkish and calls his fragrance perfume, because in Turkey, kolonya is something to put on your hands after you eat, on cuts, and even on mosquito bites. Parfüm is the word used for the personal fragrance that you spritz on.

  26. Hey Cristen I love your videos and I'm a regular viewer. I know that you, like me identify as a feminist. From my understanding it is not okay to use the slur word "pr*stitute" as it has negative connotations and can offend or hurt sex workers. Please avoid using this word and the w-word in the future in the interest of being an intersectional feminist on YouTube.

  27. I have to comment on the part about biological sex.
    In my experience, it isn't so much the chromosomes as the dominant hormones in your body. If your body has a more estrogen based endocrine system, you'll smell different than if your body has more androgens.

    As a trans man who has been on testosterone for over four years, I know first hand that body odor changes depending on your hormones. I would imagine transfeminine people on HRT would notice a change in their body odor, but I can't say first hand. But testosterone will definitely change your BO (and for the first while on T, it's almost certain that you will at least occasionally smell bad. You will smell like a pubescent boy. Please put down the Axe. Seriously. Walk away.).

  28. I dare you to look through the men's fragrances and deodorants, and find a single one named after a thing THAT ACTUALLY HAS A SMELL.  They are all these… ideas… and concepts.  I ran out of deodorant last week, and my wife dug through the bin and presented me with the two options… Apollo and Phoenix.  I gave her the dumbest look.

  29. My boyfriend wears Givenchy Play and it smells sweeter than most colognes like cinnamon and vanilla and I loooove the way it smells. Still trying to find a perfume he likes as much as I like his cologne though ..

  30. When I wear a scent, which is rarely, I use Old Spice. I hate the smells of the "female" body sprays as they give me a headache.

  31. I have never been crazy about perfumes, though I have recently found a bottle of blended essential oils that acts as a very subtle perfume I adore – it makes me feel good, so I wear it 🙂

  32. My Swedish husband calls his cologne perfume. In fact in a lot of Europe perfume is perfume, there is no need to use a more manly work for it. 

  33. Psychology TOday magazine did an article, that in stone age, ancient ,even medievial times
    people often naturally knew who they were attracted to (men and women) by smelling the natural sweaty pheromones.
     ONCE perfumes came into play,  (longstoryshort), people couldn't SMELL, the person that was truly meant for them, the one they would be naturally attracted too, and wind up Confused by the perfume instead and wound up with wrong person, no WONDER strained relationships! so go stanky

  34. I will never wear cologne and I wash with uncented soap and use mineral deodorant. I tend to smell like burning coal,woodshavings,horse shit or smoke( fire not cigaret). when I smell someone with too much Perfume/cologne on em it makes my stomach turn.
     

  35. I am a man that prefers perfume more than cologne. I like to smell sweet and fruity. The good thing is I don't really get weird looks at the clothing store when I am buying perfume because they think I'm buying it for a girlfriend.

  36. I'm a woman and i use mens fragrances… I love that woody/dry/citric and heavier smell…and i get many compliments about it, you have no idea! When someone asks me for the name of the perfume, and i tell then it's ''for men'', I don't care if someone considers it weird…i love it and it make me feel good… what i do really think is weird and obnoxious is to make smells a thing of genders… same with colors.

  37. My guess is that perfume is marketed towards women, and cologne is marketed to men, generally, and the people often conform to this.

  38. products like gucci rush the idea is could be for women. but i want to wear it but worried how others will react.women can wear cologne can i get away with women s fragrance?

  39. But do you know why the french started to wear perfumes? They used to throw their urine out the windows into the gutter in the streets. This was before they had toilets in their houses. They started using perfume to overwhelm the terrible smell in their streets.

  40. I grew up at a time when women wore perfume, and I loved to see a cute girl or lady that smelled good because it was an attraction for me, and I enjoyed being around people who smelled good. If men wear cologne, that is fine with me, its better than smelling earthy or sweaty.

  41. kinda like trying to make sense out of something that doesn't make sense to begin with and then picking a side and saying it  doesn't make sense

  42. In the 1920s Chanel made a perfume for women composed of leather and tobacco. She wore this scent for many years. It is today considered unisex, as many perfumes are. I recently purchased a Clive Christian perfume that is one of his masculine scents (although he says all are unisex) which is composed of ginger and pink peppercorn with a cedar wood base. It has a light spice which to me smells like cardamom. It is very appropriate for a lady who doesn't always want to smell like flowers and fruit. A little spice can be very enchanting, sexy even.

  43. It is still like this in the Middle East, fragrances have no gender, specialy if the perfume is locally produced.

  44. What if there's a man who wants to wear women's perfume like for example bombshell from Victoria's Secret

  45. I naturally smell like Walnut oil more than anything else according to everyone I’ve ever asked, and I use woodsy smelling soaps and deodorants even a pine smelling mustache wax so….

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