The application of an aftershave after your first shave is a rite of passage for any young man. After deftly and cautiously manoeuvring a razor around your face, being careful not to cut the skin, it is inevitable that you may get a few nips here and there. Even the most skilled man can be left with some of these tiny but painful cuts. After patching oneself up (with tiny pieces of tissue) it is then time to apply aftershave. Your mind swooshes back to the blood curdling howl Kevin from Home Alone emits as he applies some to his face. This is going to sting isn’t it, is all you can think. The aftershave that was handed to me by my dad was Brut in its classic green bottle. Yes it stung but I didn’t care, I felt manly and spent the rest of the day strutting confidently around smelling like a 50-year-old business man.
In my early teens, my Mam became a huge fan of Avon skincare and cosmetics. A neighbour from down the road was nicknamed the “Avon lady” and would regularly drop in the little magazine. There was a small section dedicated to us men showcasing the latest male fragrances. While thankful to my dad for lending me his aftershave, discovering that I could smell manly without burning the living daylights out of my skin was a revolution in itself. I have vivid memories of smelling the scratch and sniff scented pages and choosing my favorite. To be honest, I cannot remember the particular scents I used. I say between myself and my three brothers we had the entire collection at one stage. These wondrous scents got me through my teenage years and progressed from one spritz here and there to daily use. By my late teens, I had a job in a local supermarket and having a bit more disposable cash to spend on myself decided to upgrade to a brand name fragrance. I would just like to preface my choices with this. Choosing a scent is a very personal thing and what suits me and my skin may not suit you. Everybody is different, that is the joy of life. The fragrances that I have used consistently since my teens/early twenties are Aqua di Gio and Armani Code by Giorgio Armani.
Gio is my every day, going to work fragrance. It has a light and fresh scent with top notes of jasmine, rosemary and citrus and base notes of cedar, patchouli, white musk and rose*. To me it smells fresh and citrusy, not heavy or overpowering. The bottle is simple in design with frosted transparent glass and a silver lid. It is masculine and to the point with the name Gio clearly written in big grey letters in the centre of the bottle. I would highly recommend this fragrance for day wear due to its light scent and is applicable to all age groups. The price point of a 50 ml bottle will set you back approx €64. It is a decent price for a very appealing scent for day wear.
Armani Code is my go to evening fragrance as it is a heavier and spicier scent than Aqua Di Gio. To me this is a deeper citrusy scent perfect for evening wear. It has top notes of Bergamot and lemon (citrus, I told you it was there) and base notes of Guiac Wood and Tonka Bean*. Ok, I am not even going to pretend to tell you what those last two ingredients are (runs off to google). So guiac wood is a distilled oil that comes from the palo santo tree and was once used as a syphilis remedy. Disclaimer ** Code will not cure your syphilis, just don’t even try**. Tonka beans are strongly fragranced seeds from a flowering tree in Central America. Every day really is a school day. The bottle, once again is simple and sleek but elegant with its dark opaque glass colouring. Everything about this fragrance oozes masculinity and class. A 50 ml bottle will set you back approx €58 which is fantastic value for money.
Both of these fragrances are available in most good department stores and pharmacies. The price point for these are mid-range with prices varying from one store to the next so I would always suggest shopping around. They are also on offer the majority of the time and I usually wait until these times to stock up.
I have recently expanded my collection of male fragrances in both budget and high-end price ranges which i will be reviewing at a later date. As I am getting older and wiser (I hope) my personal taste with regards fragrance is changing. Picking a scent is a very personal thing so I find I have to go and physically spray fragrances on my wrist or a scent card to see how it develops and lasts. I am also delighted that high alcohol content aftershave are loosing their appeal as they can really damage the skin.
* Information taken from www.basenotes.net