What Is the Purpose of Cologne?

by Brenda Priddy ; Updated September 28, 2017

bottle of cologne image by Aleksandr Lukin from Fotolia.com

Cologne is a liquid fragrance that has been used for thousands of years. Early colognes were not made like modern colognes. Throughout history cologne has had a similar purpose--smelling better to others.


Cologne was invented thousands of years ago. Some of the first known uses for cologne originated from the Middle East. These first fragrances were not like the colognes of today, but were more like incense scents. Sometimes the scents were mixed with oil and applied to the skin. The crusaders brought some of these colognes to Europe in the middle ages. By the 1600s the establishment of cologne worldwide was assured. The first cologne made with scent, water and alcohol was made in 1709 by Gian Paolo Feminis. Since then the definition of cologne has changed, and in the modern world cologne is any fragrance that has a concentration of 5 percent scent.

Early Uses

Cologne was so popular in ancient history because of the difficulty of bathing. Cologne was used to mask the smell of body odor, mud and feces. Cologne was especially useful for densely populated areas, such as large cities, where people had to live in close proximity constantly. Baths were rarely taken before the 1700s, and cologne helped postpone the need for a bath even longer.

Modern Use

In modern society cologne is not used so much as a mask for stench as it is for making someone’s natural scent appear more pleasant. Cologne is often used in social settings and during dates. Cologne is now targeted mostly for men, with perfumes targeted toward women. Men’s colognes often contain the scents of musk, spices and soap-like smells.


There are many benefits to using cologne. Cologne makes almost any man appear more polished and put together. The use of cologne lets others know that this person cares about his appearance and practices good hygiene. Certain colognes may be more attractive to women, making it easier to meet women.


Usually cologne is very expensive, even though it is mostly water. Some women do not like the smell of cologne, because it gives them headaches or because they think the use of cologne is girly. The use of too much cologne will drive almost anyone away because of the overpowering smell.

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Photo Credits

  • bottle of cologne image by Aleksandr Lukin from Fotolia.com

About the Author

Brenda Priddy has more than 10 years of crafting and design experience, as well as more than six years of professional writing experience. Her work appears in online publications such as Donna Rae at Home, Five Minutes for Going Green and Daily Mayo. Priddy also writes for Archstone Business Solutions and holds an Associate of Arts in English from McLennan Community College.