The Unbelievably Weird Thing About Men’s Fragrance

I was a heavy user once, but not anymore

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD
4 min readSep 9, 2022


Photo courtesy of author

Puberty can be stressful. The hormones. The insecurities. The confusion.

And when you get older, you also realize it can be one of the funniest periods of your life. Insignificant things become your most significant worries.

One of my obsessions was facial hair.

The first “hairs” on my upper lip stressed me out completely.

“Why me! What should I do? To shave or not to shave?”

Personal crisis elevated to Shakespearean dilemma.

I wasn’t happy with my early facial hair. My friends started to make fun of me. I wanted to stay a kid forever.

Shaving wasn’t an option either. There was this myth that using a razor too early would make your hair grow faster and thicker — the last thing I wanted as a young teen. Eventually, the fluff under my nose looked — with some imagination — cool. And every cool person had a Tom Selleck/Magnum P.I. mustache back then.

But the stress became too much for me when the first hairs appeared on my chin when I was about sixteen. Then I knew there was no escape. It wouldn’t take long before I had to shave for the first time. Before that, scissors only worked as an ineffective line of defense.

Is that Teen Spirit?

But with shaving, another issue appeared. Which fragrance should I use? Perfume wasn’t for royalty and elites anymore. A fine smell was democratized. It was for the everyday man that believed in adventure and wanted to push boundaries. A healthy dose of fragrance would give you that special feeling at the start of the day. In the eighties, men didn’t wear perfume to just smell fresh. The heavy and spicy scent of men’s fragrance made you a real man.

And there were so many options. Aftershave. Eau de Cologne, Eau de Toilette. Eau de Parfum.

So, what should I use?

I decided to go all in. From one day to the other, I didn’t consider myself a kid anymore. I wanted to show “Miami Vice” masculinity, and a “personal” scent was a crucial component (or at least I thought it was). This will make me more attractive…



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (Law) | Sci-fi | Sociological storytelling