An olfactory arms race has been raging in the grooming aisle lately. The combatants? Body washes, deodorants, and soaps rigged with microscopic scent capsules designed to detonate throughout the day. Your shampoo smells of mint, your moisturiser reeks of who-knows-what, and the first casualty is you.
When multiple scent bombs go off on top of the signature smells of your shampoo, cologne, and other products, the result is olfactory overload.
That’s why everything you use needs to be in balance. Since the ingredients listed on many body washes and deodorants probably won’t mean much, you’ll need to look for hints, says Barney Bishop of the men’s blog Fragrant Moments.
“If you notice a familiar scent or the name gives you a clue, seek out fragrances that contain those specific components and then layer them,” he says. Another strategy: Complement them. Use our breakdown below as a guide.
FRESH AND CITRUSY
These scents typically contain energizing notes of fruits like orange, lemon, lime, and bergamot. The end result is light and refreshing.
Verbena and lemongrass in the body wash play well with citrus and the herbal signature of the deodorant. Lime and bergamot from the cologne join the party for a total effect that’s light and crisp. Clean citrus scents like these are office-friendly, says Bishop. Spicy, musky scents are riskier.
Jack Black Epic Moisture Clean Cream body wash (getjackblack.com)
Baxter of California deodorant (baxterofcalifornia.com)
The Motley Bergamo cologne (themotley.com)
EARTHY AND WOODY
These rich aromas are built around fragrances of freshly cut or dry wood, like cedar and cypress, or roots, such as sandalwood.
Sandalwood and spruce scents in the soap build a woody foundation that’s softened by vanilla in the antiperspirant. Lavender and geranium smooth out the cologne’s woody edges.
“Strong scents can be polarizing,” says fragrance consultant Ann Gottlieb, who helped develop the cologne.
Lafco Feu de Bois True Liquid body soap (lafco.com)
BOLD AND SPICY
Like a well-stocked spice cabinet, this robust scent category might include notes of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and pepper.
Black pepper in the body wash creates a spike of spice, while the deodorant stick’s sagey profile adds an aromatic herbal note that won’t foil the ginger in the cologne.
“Aromatic scents are safe across the board because they don’t add to the heaviness of a cologne,” says Gottlieb.
Grooming Lounge Our Best Smeller body wash (groominglounge.com)
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health