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Cologne vs Deodorant: What’s The Difference?

Have you ever felt baffled and adrift in the personal care aisle trying to figure out the difference between cologne vs deodorant? You’re not alone.

Both are designed to make you smell good, but each has its own place in your daily grooming routine. If you’re a guy who wants to be more confident, mature, and commanding this is something you’ll want to know more about.

In this guide, we’re going to get into a bit about what cologne and deodorant are, the differences between them, as well as how and when to use each to your full advantage.

Table of Contents

Is Cologne The Same As Deodorant?

No, they’re two different products for two different uses.

Colognes are used to add fragrance to your skin. They’re basically composed of aromatic oils suspended in an alcohol base. As the alcohol warms to your skin, the oils give off their rich bouquet for anywhere between a few hours to an entire day.

A spritz of cologne can provide a quick spruce for an important meeting or invigorate your senses before an intimate dinner date.

Deodorants are a different story…

The main reason to wear deodorant is to mask and reduce body odor

More specifically, they’re designed to dry your skin and kill or inhibit the growth of odor causing bacteria with ingredients like alcohol and baking soda. Many also include antiperspirants that suppress your skin’s ability to produce sweat to double down on heading off body odor before it develops.

Is Cologne Better Than Deodorant?

Even in a 1 v 1 battle between cologne vs deodorant, we can’t claim cologne is necessarily better than deodorant — and that’s because cologne and deodorant have very different uses, and each product is better at different tasks and for different occasions. So when is it better to use a cologne, and when is a deodorant more appropriate?

Since cologne is awesome at adding fragrance and attitude, here are a few situations in which cologne may be your best bet:

  • Social engagements
  • Romantic rendezvous
  • Throughout the day as desired

And capitalizing on deodorant’s odor preventing capacity, here are a few times that likely call for deodorant over cologne:

  • Physical activities
  • Warm weather
  • As part of your morning routine

Should I Wear Cologne And Deodorant?

We know it’s tempting to save a little extra cash by choosing just one of the two, but we think it’s absolutely worth it to use both if you want to smell your best.

In an ideal situation, you’ll have both a cologne and a deodorant that work together well. That way you can smell amazing while minimizing body odor at the same time. Spread on a bit of deodorant in the morning to stay fresh and dry throughout the day, and add a splash of cologne every so often to keep smelling great all day long.

When choosing a cologne and deodorant at the same time, consider the strength of the scents and how they mingle. Try adding a small amount of each to your skin during some down time to test out how they interact (getting some free cologne samples might help with this process a bit). That way you can fine tune the amounts of each and avoid overpowering your cab driver or co-worker.

When Should You Wear Cologne vs Deodorant?

It may not seem like a big deal to use either one interchangeably, but using the wrong one at the wrong time can lead to serious fragrance faux pas.

Colognes have the amazing ability to interact with your body chemistry and bring out a wide array of aromatics as you wear them. Just apply some to your neck, chest, and wrists to smell manlier than ever. Hence why these are some of the best times to wear cologne:

  • Going clubbing/parties
  • Meeting potential clients
  • Impressing on the first date

Unfortunately, cologne doesn’t do anything for sweat or body odor. It’s also a bit hard to travel with, so you might want to try solid cologne if that’s a big issue for you.

Enter deodorant.

While it won’t give you a distinct smell, it will keep you smelling fresh. That’s why we recommend you wear deodorant before sweat-inducing activities such as…

  • Going to the gym
  • Heading out for the night
  • Business meetings

Basically, you should wear deodorant whenever you go out so you don’t embarrass yourself with any accidental “BO” since almost any activity can make you sweaty.

Can You Spray Cologne On Your Armpits?


You can spray cologne on your armpits. In fact, besides your eyes, you can put cologne on any part of your body. However, it’s not really necessary. Cologne’s fragrance oils are most aromatic and effective when placed on your pulse points.

Even a strong cologne in the armpits won’t replace a deodorant, though. While great for covering up some odor, colognes don’t have the sweat stopping power that deodorants do. Cologne can add a burst of scent to make a great impression on a first date, but it won’t help you avoid sweating through your nice shirt.

Can You Use Deodorant As Cologne?

While technically you can just use deodorant instead of cologne, we don’t recommend it.

You may think it will save you time & money to dispense with cologne altogether and liberally apply your favorite deodorant. And yeah, it’s better to use deodorant to head off sweat and BO than not to. But deodorant is no substitution for a nice cologne.

Think about it like this: the right scent product for the job is like the right pair of shoes. Your perfectly broken-in sneakers may be great for tossing the frisbee for your dog, but would you really want to wear them on a first date?

Cologne is the equivalent of your Chelsea boots — stylish and attention grabbing. Like your favorite dress shoes, the right cologne can make you feel as dashing as Idris Elba.

Additionally, deodorant shouldn’t take the place of cologne in how it is applied. Many deodorants contain antiperspirants that block your pores to control sweating. Slathering antiperspirants on sensitive skin can lead to nasty rashes and irritation.

So, like your old reliable sneakers, let deodorant do its thing where and when you need it. Use your deodorant to prevent body odor and excessive sweating, and don’t try to hack your grooming routine.

Eau De Toilette vs Deodorant

Eau de toilette is a French designation of perfume. The “eau de” types are separated by their alcohol to fragrance ratio. Eau de toilette falls solidly in the middle of these at a 5-15% fragrance concentration.

Solid deodorants, or sticks, have a wax or cream base that also contains alcohol to dry moisture and prevent or kill odor causing bacteria. The concentration of fragrance in deodorants is higher, between 15-30%, but there is no agreed upon standard. Spray deodorants are a bit similar to the French perfumes in that they are mostly just alcohol and fragrance oils.

Here’s a quick look at common fragrance types from strongest to weakest concentration of scent:

  • Perfume (20% fragrance, very low alcohol content)
  • Eau de perfume (15-20% fragrance)
  • Eau de toilette (5-15% fragrance)
  • Eau de cologne (2-4% fragrance, high alcohol content)
  • Eau fraiche (1-3% fragrance, low alcohol content)
  • Deodorant (15-30%, high alcohol content) 

The main difference besides the ratio of alcohol to fragrance between eau de toilette vs deodorant is that deodorants usually contain antiperspirants which block pores from producing sweat. No perfumes, eau de toilette or otherwise, contain antiperspirants. Just make sure to double check it isn’t a fake a cologne.

This is a huge difference between cologne vs deodorant and why you can’t use one to replace the other.