Why I Don’t Write About Masculine Fragrances

It’s not because I’m a shrieking harpy feminist who believes that writing about masculine fragrances perpetuates the patriarchy. I mean, I am a shrieking harpy feminist, but that’s not why I don’t write about masculine fragrances. My actual reasons are far more pragmatic. First, masculine fragrances are boring. Much like men’s fashion, the vast majority of masculine fragrances are unadventurous and conservative. (Poor, poor men. I guess you’ll just have to console yourselves with your extra 23 cents per dollar.)

Dang, maybe it is because I’m a shrieking feminist harpy. I’ll have to give this some thought.

Anyway, the lack of interesting masculine fragrances is not actually my main issue. I love writing about boring perfumes! That’s when I get my wit on! The real reason that I don’t do reviews of masculine fragrances is because nobody reads them.

Several prominent perfume blogs, including Now Smell This, Perfume Smellin’ Things, and Perfume Posse, do have male writers who review masculine fragrances. Their reviews are just as funny and interesting as the reviews of feminine or unisex fragrances, but they consistently receive the fewest comments. There are successful male perfume bloggers- The Candy Perfume Boy, Persolaise, and Memory of Scent come to mind- but they wisely stick to covering feminine or unisex fragrances.

I’m sorry. I really am. I know that the men who read perfume blogs have a lot to contribute, and I don’t want to ignore or alienate them. If I made even a cent off this blog, and therefore had a legitimate excuse to spend more than half an hour a day on it, I would write about masculine fragrances. But until the day that a fragrant Daddy Warbucks finances and/or adopts me, I can’t.

That’s my excuse. What’s yours? Why aren’t y’all reading about masculine fragrances?

50 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Write About Masculine Fragrances

  1. Actually, I do read reviews of men’s fragrances. I don’t read all of them, but then again I don’t read all reviews of women’s fragrances either. Actually I feel sorry for guys because, if they stick to the fragrances categorized as “masculine”, they have very little choice. There are a lot of men’s fragrances, but so many smell the same. Too bad more men aren’t fearless enough to try wearing perfumes marketed to women. There are a lot of “feminines” that would smell great on a man. Personally, I’d love to smell a man wearing Fracas or Shalimar!

    1. Very true, Patty. Fragrance and fashion are two of the very few areas in which men have fewer options than women! Shalimar would be amazing on a man. I’m actually surprised that more men haven’t already figured that out, considering how popular Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur seems to be among the menfolk.

      1. I should clarify, as the comments that many masculines are boring and too much alike seems to have raised hackles. I do actually smell masculines, and have discovered some excellent ones, classics for a reason: Caron’s 3me Homme, Yatagan, and the Caron colognes; YSL Kouros; Dior’s Eau Sauvage (of course); Hermes’ Terre d’Hermes and Eau d’Orange Verte; also the more recent John Varvatos Artisan. And I have to admit, I’m a sucker for good ol’ Old Spice. Unfortunately it seems like many of the masculines aimed at the middle market are either dull or nose-searingly awful. These I have smelled on the men I work with, and guys sitting near me on the train. If I had unlimited funds, I’d gift them all with something really good!

  2. I don’t read about them as I don’t wear ‘masculine’. I am femme, gourmand, vanille, oriental, powdery and many things, but I am not masculine. I prefer men in the same. I love men in pink shirts. I am loving Cuir Beluga, spritzed my husband, and he had to swat me away as I just wanted to snuggle and sniff him!

    1. Same here, Judith. I ended up having to sell my beloved Bond New Haarlem because it always smelled just a little too manly to me. I’m sure that your husband smells amazing in Cuir Beluga!

  3. I do not read about any fragrances, well, almost do not read. I read posts written by my blogo-friends and blogo-acquaintances whatever topics they choose. I might not comment if I’m not familiar with the topic (be that any gender-designated perfume, poetry or, let’s say, Star Trek characters) but I will read it.

    So, I think, most readers are like me: we read what is written but comment only when it touches us in one way or the other. Birgit’s recent review for Amouage Interlude Man got more responses than her review for Amouage Interlude Woman. Go figure.

    I agree that there are less masculine perfumes released than feminine ones. But I’m not sure that it’s such a bad thing: there are a lot of great perfumes in any category to serve any wearer a lifetime. So if we’re talking about choosing a scent or two to wear for a regular man, he has a better chance to end up with a descent cologne than his female counterpart. As to those men who are “into perfumes”, even if they don’t want to venture into the strictly feminine branch there is more then enough offerings from the other two categories for them to explore.

    1. I wonder why this comment went into moderation! You didn’t even insult my mother or anything! Amouage is one of the few lines from which fumies have come to expect great masculines, I think. I can’t wait to try that new Interlude, with its coffee notes.

      So Undina, you read every post that a given blogger writes? You’re not more or less likely to read a review based on the perfume being reviewed??

      1. Yep. I read every post by those bloggers on my Reading List. I might not comment if I’m completely out of time or have absolutely nothing to say about the topic but I do read all of them. And all the replies to my comments.

        As to the moderation – it’s easy: there is a setting that says to hold a post “with N links or more” for moderation. Default setting is, if I’m not mistaken, 2. You didn’t change it, I posted 2 links – voilà!

        1. Wow, you are the kind of dedicated reader that perfume bloggers can only dream of! Thank you for explaining the moderation link issue to me, I’ll go have a look at it.

      2. Just popping in to say that I am the same – I read pretty much all the posts on the blogs that I read, but since I don’t really care for or wear masculine fragrances, I don’t have anything to comment about!

  4. Well, I will usually read reviews written by my favorite bloggers, even if I’m not particularly interested in what they’re reviewing. But I’ll often go looking outside my usual suspects for other reviews if I’m interested in a particular fragrance. I may or may not comment… very often I would like to comment but can’t. (Portia’s video review of SM the other day cracked me up, but I got hung up in all the antispam stuff so after 18 minutes I just gave up. GRRRR.)

    The short answer to the question is, of course, that I don’t tend to WEAR masculines so I don’t tend to READ about them. Go ahead, call me sexist… I don’t care. It’s one of the few ways I have to narrow down the wiiiiiiiide world of possibilities: I don’t bother with anything I’d have to sell my firstborn to afford, and I don’t bother with masculines.

    1. I think that your short answer is true for most female perfume blog readers, Mals. And your adorable firstborn is worth waaaaay more than even a Christian Clive!

      1. Well, she is definitely worth more (wouldn’t trade her for a cool trillion bucks). I was going for the hyperbole. 🙂

        It occurs to me to add that I don’t have anything against masculines per se, and have even read more about them recently since I now have a kid of scent-wearing age. (OMG GAZE IS A TEENAGER PANICPANIC!) I have worn Eau Sauvage, Dior Homme, 3me Homme, Midnight in Paris, Jubilation XXV, and Encre Noire – but while I enjoyed them, they weren’t very “me.” For one thing, you know I love me my florals, and there aren’t a lot of guy-oriented florals. For another, I have no free sniffery beyond the drugstore and my pitiful Belk counter, and everything I get samples of I have to either buy or swap for, and with those limitations, the masculines fall by the wayside for me.

        That said, I admit to being pretty intrigued by the description of Amouage Interlude Man…

  5. I think its a generalisation to state that men’s fragrances are boring and that nobody reads them. As a male blogger myself I can state with some experience that I write about what interests me, with very little gender bias, at least I think so. There are plenty of masculine fragrances out there that are very good indeed. I would ask you if you’ve actually tried them? I do agree that there are also plenty of generic masculine fragrances too, but if you look at feminine perfumes critically, I think you’ll find there are plenty that are generic and frankly boring too. For example, think of all the fruity florals and fruitchoulis that have been released in the last five years.

    Undina has a point – historically there have been far more feminine perfumes released, so the pool to choose from is much greater.
    My other observation would be – do you post solely to be read, as you say the real reason you don’t write about masculine fragrances is that nobody reads them?

    1. Michael, first, I freely admit that I post to be read and to have conversations with my readers. You’ll find it more difficult than you seem to think to make me feel any guilt over that fact. If I didn’t want to be read, I would write in a diary, not on the Internet.

      In the post’s third paragraph, I clearly acknowledge that there are many boring feminine and unisex fragrances.

      You seem to be looking for a fight, Michael. You won’t find it here. I’ve already admitted to everything you’re accusing me of.

  6. There may not be many fragrance bloggers reviewing masculine fragrances, but you can find well thought out and well written reviews/discussions on a few websites. Basenotes, of course, but also the Badger & Blade forum. I am a longtime member and frequent poster. It took a while, but the fragrance discussion there is as good as I read anywhere else. And many of the members have the same philosophy I do, which is a willingness to wear whatever smells good- no matter what side of the counter you find it. The discussion on B&B goes a long way toward satisfying my interest in fragrances men wear. Just thought I would mention this in case anyone might be interested in looking there.

    1. Thank you for mentioning Basenotes, James! It’s no doubt the best place on the web to read reviews of masculine fragrances. If only it didn’t break down quite so often! I hadn’t heard of Badger & Blade before, and will have to check it out.

      1. You’re welcome, Ari 🙂 True about it breaking down often. B&B is primarily about wetshaving. But there has been a lot of good fragrance discussion within the last year or two there.

  7. As an addition to Michael’s thoughts, just because there are fewer comments on reviews of male fragrances it might not necessarily be that they are less read (unless you’ve observed that in your statistics). Maybe it’s just that feminine and unisex fragrances are what your commenters know best.

    1. Very true, James! We have no way to access the actual page view stats for those posts. And don’t worry, I didn’t get even a hint of argumentativeness from your post. I probably overreacted to poor Michael, but I do get a bit annoyed when people imply that there’s something wrong with wanting one’s writing to be read. I do sometimes write for myself alone- in a physical notebook, far away from the internet!

      1. Ari, you did overreacted to Michael’s comment.

        I’ve been reading his blog for, probably, a year now and for me it looks like he’s writing first for himself and then for whatever readers he might have – maybe that’s why for him your approach was a surprise – especially since you stated that you weren’t making money from your writing.

        On a separate note, do you really think that percent-wise there are more boring/generic/bad masculine perfumes than feminine perfumes?

        1. Thank you for soothing and explaining, Undina. Would you mind sharing the link to Michael’s blog? His comment doesn’t link to it.

          I’m really not sure if there are proportionately more boring masculines than feminines! And it’s all a question of boring to who, of course. I will say that most bad feminine fragrances are merely mediocre, but there are some EGREGIOUS masculine fragrances out right now. The kind that literally choke you in the elevator! I have yet to be elevator-choked by a feminine fragrance, but it happens all the time with certain colognes.

  8. Tee hee! I even WRITE about fragrances marketed for men (as little as I write at all). But I only write about the ones I love, are they marketed as men, women or unisex. I stumbled into most of them as a surprise — through a BN blind sniff, through a sample pass when we tried the entire line, men’s and women’s fragrances alike, because a knowledgeable SA insisted that I try it on the skin… it was just a matter of chance at first, but now I know that I will try men’s fragrances too. And will write about them if I love them.

    1. A wise and fair policy, Warum! You must have met some extraordinary SAs- I’ve encountered quite a few who won’t even let women try on men’s fragrances!

      1. Now, if I ever encounter one like THAT, I will unleash my inner feminist harpy on that SA. They should beware.
        That SA was wonderful. She truly made sure I found one of my true fragrant loves.

  9. Hey Ari,
    As always a delicious can of worms. I like to write about masculines. Although the comments are less there is no dip in the readership on those days. I love a bunch of the men’s stuff and like to introduce some of my readers and mates to new for them stuff.
    Portia xx

    1. Thank you very much for sharing this bit of information that I would otherwise have no access to, Portia! I hope that is the case for Kevin and Tom’s reviews as well. I loved your last Perfume Posse post about finding a new fragrance for your Cool Water-wearing friend!

  10. I only comment on things that I feel like I have an opinion on – as my husband only has perfumes I have bought for him (Dzing, Rance and a SL) I have no exposure to masculines. But that is not to say I won’t. Part of my raving feminist self would expressly enjoy trying masculines for the gendered boundary pushing that wearing them would entail. Imagine someone saying that they loved your perfume, and it was a homme!

    1. Dang, your husband smells amazing! I’ve worn a few masculines in my time (mostly the first Prada masculine), and sadly never got to give that deliciously transgressive response, as no one ever commented on it 😦

  11. I’m sure if you found a masculine fragrance that excites you, you would write about it!
    I read most posts of my favorite perfume bloggers – if it’s clear there’s a perfume review in the post. Otherwise it depends.
    I comment if I wish to “participate” AND if I have time to do so.
    I might skip reading a review for several reasons: I can’t stand the author or the fragrance is completely out my range of interests. I tend to suspect that a masculine scent reviewd by a male blogger might be biased by the Y chromosomes – even if I am NOT a girly girl, quite the opposite. Pink and curls and sweet dresses give me THE itch! But I trust the opinion of a lady on the “masculine fragrance” subject, while I instinctively challenge a gentleman’s take. Unless it’s LT.
    Now, I urge you, for your own sake, to try l’instant pour homme extreme (extreme=edp). You, l’heure bleue and anprès l’ondée lover, should try that fragrance ASAP. And review it! 😛

    1. Thank you so much for the recommendation, Zazie! I will have to make a special trip down to Neiman’s or Saks to find L’Instant Pour Homme. Is it much like the feminine L’Instant? I would love to smell that enormous magnolia note in a masculine frag!

      1. Hum, I think l’instant pour homme is not all related to L’instant (pour femme)… at least for my nose! the closest Guerlain would be l’Heure Bleue…
        it starts sprakly with a bit of citrus but then becomes all soft pastel colors: prominent anise and slightly powdery and dark vanilla.
        The edt and the edp (called extreme) smell different (ok, they are still recongnizeable as the same fragrance): the edt leans more masculine and I find the edp more satisfying. 😀

      2. See??? You don’t even know this popular masculine scent! And this is from Guerlain for God’s sake! What I’m saying is shut up your mouth if you don’t REALLY know what you’re talking about!

  12. I read about masculine fragrances because I wear them. If there’s something interesting happening on that side of the aisle, I’m there! And I hope for a day when there will be no “sides of the aisle”. Viva la/le unisex.

    1. We’re already there at some niche stores!! I was very pleased to see that there was no masculine/feminine divide at either Aedes de Venustas or MiN NY- everything was sorted by brand instead.

  13. I love to read about masculine fragrances. In fact i tend to skip over the feminine perfume posts. The simple fact is, more women are passionate about perfume than men, so more women read perfume blogs, so it makes sense to tailor the content of said blogs to women.
    You think mens fragrances are boring and smell the same. It’s funny, from a guys perspective, i think many womens perfumes smell the same. I remember a Monday Mail on NST in which a reader listed more than a dozen rose fragrances with descriptions(wet rose, powdery rose, earthy rose, dirty rose, spicy rose, skanky rose, fruity rose, etc). If i smelled all of these i would probably just say they were “floral”. I dont feel trained to detect all the subtleties of flowers, but i do feel like i can distinguish between minute differences in woody and incense based scents.
    There is still one category of posts that i think still falls behind male fragrance reviews, and that is reviews of Perfume Books!

  14. What an interesting topic, Ari! I love to both read about and wear fragrances intended for men, and most of my very fave scents probably fall under the “unisex” umbrella; I sometimes even seek out reviews of masculine fragrances for this reason. (Er, perhaps I should mention I’m a lady lol, since my name is rather ambiguous). What’s especially interesting to me, however, is that while the blogosphere seems more saturated with female perfume bloggers, the Youtube fragrance community consists almost entirely of male reviewers reviewing male fragrances (save, say, Katie Puckrik, EauMG, and a few other lovely ladies). Funnily enough, I recently watched a video in which a male reviewer talked about why he didn’t often review feminine fragrances, and he made almost the exact same arguments that you’ve made! My memory tells me he went so far as to say he thought men were lucky to have so much more choice and variety than women! Heh. I think some people must assume fragrances intended for women are all florals lol. Regarding readership: that reviewer definitely thought most of the people who watch Youtube frag reviews are men – I wonder if that’s true, and if blogs vs. Youtube videos are inherently more attractive to different reader/viewer genders due to some quality of the medium. (Also, I just scrolled up and it looks like Rick and I are on the same wavelength. Hey there Rick!). My badge of shame is that I am lame and hardly ever comment on any of the blogs I read. *hangs head* Here’s to making up for it now with this insanely long comment! 😛

  15. I loved your post! I write about men’s fragances and have noticed that it is a wide quite place. Kind of like being a male model in the 1970’s. The Women get all the fun stuff to wear and become supermodels! We male models get to be background and nobody knows our names.
    I do venture to wear a fem frag from time to time because like you said. Most men’s frags can be dull. And besides masculine or fem it is only marketing. Wear what you LOVE.

  16. I assure you Ari, they are not all boring. They are as boring as your average, mainstream feminine fruitchuli. As a matter of fact I was just sitting down to right about the first perfume that attracted me after a long scentless I had been through. It is Van Gils Strictly for Men and if you could smell this blind you would be amazed how feminine a powerhouse masculine can feel by today’s standards.

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