Groom for Improvement: Matt Farquharson talks the highs and lows of fragrance

Our grooming columnist, author, podcaster and Insta-star, @matt.farquharson, reflects back on his fragrant past
Photography: Advertising Archive

Through my teens, when I suddenly started to smell very bad, I would hose myself down in body spray every morning. Even now, a whiff of Lynx Africa can make me feel like I’ve forgotten my homework. And I’m not alone in feeling the memory-jolting effect of a reasonably priced deodorant. Earlier this year, a 13-year-old lad from Cumbria was woken from a three-week coma by his mum spraying the stuff around his hospital bed. That’s not to be sniffed at.

But masking the bad smells is one thing: how do you know which is the best new smell for you? At uni, a fellow fresher told me that a tiny dab of early-morning urine behind the ear would make you irresistible to women. I never tried it, but I can be sure he was single for a very long time. When I was 20, Davidoff Cool Water was the ultimate musk of masculinity, mostly because the ad campaigns (see right) included a man with pecs as pronounced as a cat’s upper lip. I bet he’s popular, I thought. Then came Issey Miyake, because it was the noughties and all things Japanese were very cool.

So what now? I stopped using aftershave when I stopped being single, and several years on, I mostly smell of nappy cream, or whatever crisp I’ve eaten.

My wife told me recently that she liked the smell of aftershave, which feels like information she should have shared many years ago. So it’s time for me to hit the men’s fragrance aisle. I’m 42 now, and the light smell of cheese and onion just won’t cut it any more.

Matt’s modern-day dabs


Lacoste L12.12 French Panache † A sporty scent combining zesty mandarin with spicy cardamom.


Hugo Boss BOSS The Scent Absolute For Him The mix of spicy ginger and vetiver makes this smooth and warming.

Dolce Gabanna K

NEW K By Dolce & Gabbana With notes of blood orange and geranium, this is musky and fresh at once.

†Available on and in selected stores. ††On and in selected stores from 28 October.