Men's Cologne

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

When many people think about perfume, their minds immediately turn to women. When people think about cologne, they immediately think about men. After all, perfume is for women, and cologne is made for men right? Wrong.

Women make up about eighty percent of all the sales of men's cologne today, and they can't all be giving it to their boyfriends and husbands, so that must mean that they are wearing it themselves. After all, cologne is just a slightly different blend of ingredients than its illustrious partner the perfume. Women wear men's jeans and men's t-shirts and have been making them look good for decades, so why not cologne as well?

The history of cologne stretches back to the year 1709. The word cologne sounds French, but is actually derived from the German word Koln, which is a German city. The real origins of cologne actually stretch back to Italy.

A man by the name of Gian Paolo Feminis, who was a barber from Val Vigezzo, left his native Italy to seek his fortune in Germany. While in Germany he concocted perfumed water which he named Aqua Admirabilis.

This strange, pleasant smelling water was made of grape spirits, oil of neroli, bergamot, lavender and rosemary. It was released for retail sale in 1709, and it was quickly swept from the shelves by eager customers. In fact, it became so popular that Gian Paolo asked his nephew, Giovanni Maria Farina, to help him with the demand.

In 1732, Giovanni took over the business and began to market cologne as a cure all for everything from stomach aches to bleeding gums.

Word of this miracle water spread during the Seven Years war in the 18th century. During the Seven Years War, Britain fought against the alliance of France, Australia and Russia. Britain ended up winning the war, but not before the soldiers of France and her allies had bought the miracle water and carted it back home with them. This opened a brand new market, and soon became the favourite of Louis XV's mistresses, and the Comtesse du Barry.

During the years 1769 and 1821, Napoleon began to use large quantities of it. Some say he used up to eight litres of the stuff a month, but he certainly used entire bottles of it per day. Word began to spread about Napoleons use of cologne, and it became a ringing endorsement for the product. The Farinas opened a shop in Paris, and soon copy cats began to imitate the strange water. Some even tried to use the Farinas name.

Jean-Marie Farina eventually sold the recipe to Leonce Collas, and retired to Italy. Collas sold the recipe and the rights to Roger et Gallet in 1862 and he still owns the legal rights to the Parisian Eau de Cologne.

A German descendant of the original Farinas and Feminises family, sold the rights (didn't they already sell it? Oh well.)of the aqua formula to German perfumer Wilhelm Mülhens. Mülhens opened a shop at 4711 Glockengasse. Today the traditional fragrance known as eau de cologne is sold under the name 4711 after the address of that shop. It is the world's oldest and most used fragrance to this day.

So what is the difference between cologne and perfume?

Cologne is made out of a blend of extracts, alcohol and water just like Parfum, only with a different ratio of extracts. The only real difference is that cologne only has about five percent essential oil content, compared to perfume having about a twenty percent or higher ratio.

Today you can buy various types of cologne. You can find cologne, which has a heavier scent, eau de cologne which is basically cologne which has a milder but longer lasting scent, and eau de toilet which is cologne the cologne with the lightest but longest lasting scent.

No matter whether a man or a woman wears cologne, you will still achieve the same results. You can find all different fragrances and types of cologne on the market today. From the prestigious 4711 to the cheaper Old Spice or Stetson brands, you can surely find everything your perfumed heart desires.