You hear Tonka you think toy truck – not the secret ingredient found in some of the world’s most popular fragrances. But why know about the tonka bean, or any particular scent source, for that matter? Because every whiff tells a story – and the message you send on date night should be different from the one you give off during a job interview. The variation between fragrances often comes down to a few key ingredients – five, to be exact –sandalwood, bergamot, vetiver, tonka and leather. “These are traditionally used in men’s fragrances,” says fragrance developer Dimitri Weber, of Cosmax Prestige Brands. “They contain a powerful dose of testosterone and create a masculine and sexy trail.” Remember, scent is very personal, so it’s best to try it on the skin before buying a fragrance, adds Weber. Now relax, inhale and remember – five key ingredients. Use this guide to choose your next fragrance wisely.
This earthy, spicy wood is a safe, versatile ingredient because it plays well with nearly any vibe you’re trying to pull off, from adventurous to sophisticated.
OFFICE: Issey Miyake L’eau D’Issey Pour Homme Eau de Toilette Fraiche, $85
Uncomplicated and refined – this clean scent is a natural choice for your weekday go-to.
WEEKEND: Michael Kors for Men, $120
Spicy notes over creamy sandalwood suits an intimate morning-after brunch.
DATE: Dries Van Noten Par Frederic Malle, $225
You can share this sensual, unisex fragrance of soft sandalwood and vanilla.
The peel of this green citrus fruit is invigorating and clean, says Weber. It won’t overwhelm and is perfect for a casual meet-up.
OFFICE: Montblanc Legend Spirit, $82/50ml
Sharpen up with a spritz of this powerful scent with bergamot and grapefruit – cardamom and aquatic notes linger till late.
WEEKEND: Tom Ford Neroli Portofina Acqua Eau de Toilette, $210/50ml
A lighter version of the original Neroli Portofino, this fresh cologne is pure Italian stallion with aquatic notes and bergamot.
DATE: Gucci Guilty Eau EDT, $115/90ml
Guaranteed to leave a bold impression’ say hello with lemony bergamot, end with a hint of patchouli.
Derived from an East Asian grass that smells both sweet and smoky, vetiver has a rich, elegant aroma that exudes a James Bond feeling of refinement, says Weber.
OFFICE: Korres Vetiver, $56
Big day ahead? This tranquil, aromatic scent is grounding for stressful days, the vetiver combining with woody notes and green tea.
WEEKEND: Sunday Cologne by Byredo, $235
Your Sunday brunch go-to. “Clean and aromatic, this scent is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional men’s cologne,” says Martin.
DATE: Dior Sauvage, $140/100ml
Dior’s complex, spicy scent will add an element of intrigue to date night. A few drops can complement a leather jacket or fine suit.
Taken from the bean or leaf, tonka can add spicy vanilla or smoky florals – warm notes that help you exude an easy confidence.
OFFICE: Calvin Klein Eternity Now, $89/100ml
What starts light and fruity turns soft and musky over time. Dab it on before a meeting and take your colleagues by surprise.
WEEKEND: Chanel Allure Homme Sport, $170
Sheer and fresh with aqua and tonka accords, this exudes a masculine, sporty vibe.
DATE: Giorgio Armani Eau de Nuit, $145/100ml
Opulent and velvety – dab this on before heading out at night. This is a scent to lure people in.
“Dry, masculine and heady, leather-based scents are great when you’re seeking a statement fragrance,” says Martin.
OFFICE: Balmain Homme EDT, $125/100ml
When you want to close that deal, this spice-packed scent will heighten first impressions.
WEEKEND: Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Blanc, $89/100ml
You can’t go wrong with this energising, elegant classic – fresh grapefruit and cedar leaf fade to a rich leather finish.
DATE: Yves Saint Laurent Noble Leather, $130
This smoky, sensual scent is perfect for staying out past closing time. A fusion of your fave leather jacket, tobacco and vanilla.