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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Fragrance fanatics: trend sparks student interest in cologne

Ryan Burke-Stevenson
More sophisticated colognes are replacing less exclusive deodorants as high-end fragrances become popularized for young men through social media.

Update: A previous version of this story credited the photos to Carter Chang. They were taken by Ryan Burke-Stevenson.

At a young age, Michael Sawaqed developed an interest in various fragrances after having spent quality time with his older brother shopping for cologne. While Michael used to think he was one of the only guys wearing cologne at school, he’s noticed this year that many of his friends have started to do the same.

As cologne reviews and accounts focused specifically on fragrances gain popularity across social media, guys are sniffing out their cans of Axe body spray and replacing them with bottles of high-end cologne.

“More people are interested than you would expect,” Michael, now a senior, said. “Like, some of these accounts have millions of followers, millions of likes.”

Like many of his classmates, sophomore Dominic Vaughn was introduced to the world of fragrances after watching a YouTube video on the topic. 

“I saw a lot of people talking about colognes, and I sort of got into them,” Dominic said. “Then I asked for my first cologne for Christmas a couple years ago and just started shopping for colognes and stuff after that.”

Besides initiating students’ interest in fragrances, social media also helps students, like sophomore Mo Lyi-Ojo, find new colognes. Mo started wearing cologne after his uncle gave him a bottle last year. Now, he relies on TikTok to introduce him to new scents. He even created an album on the app and filled it with colognes he hopes to buy. 

Social media has also influenced sophomore Ty Quiles. While he first sought out cologne in shops because he wanted his own signature scent and to smell good, he now watches many TikTok reviews of scents with different purposes.

“There will be videos like, ‘Oh, this one cologne, you need this cologne to smell good, you need this cologne to talk to people,’” Ty said.

According to Michael, the newfound popularity of cologne has caused brands to begin advertising in different ways.

“A lot of brands are starting to make colognes and advertise colognes that are ‘safe scents,’ like office or school scents,” Michael said. “It’s not really associated by age but more with setting. So, school is a setting where there are going to be a lot of young people and students, so I think that’s where the advertising comes in.”

Other than social media, ninth grader Sulei Sufi believes the increased popularity of cologne is also due to word of mouth.

“If one person gets one idea, it kind of starts to bonfire,” Sulei said. “Everyone starts thinking about that and it becomes more popular.”

Social media accounts reviewing colognes have introduced the world of fragrances to their followers. Businesses have been attracting young men through new ways of advertisement.

Ty said he thinks some teenagers have also developed an interest in colognes because of insecurities. 

“I think it’s just because more people are becoming more self-conscious about themselves and like their image,” Ty said.

 When looking into new colognes, Michael said it’s important to consider personal preferences instead of just listening to social media reviews.

“Definitely don’t blind buy anything just off what you hear online,” Michael said. “Either sample it, because there are a lot of sampling options online that are cheaper, or just go into a store and see what you like, see what smells good on your skin and see how long it lasts on your skin.”

And then start spraying.

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About the Contributors
Sahana Unni, Editor-in-Chief
Sahana Unni is a member of the Class of 2024 and serves as an editor-in-chief. She began journalism as a ninth grader in the 2020-21 school year and has since appreciated the exposure to different ideas and perspectives. Her favorite story she has written is about the Jane Collective, a group of women who provided safe abortions before the procedure was legalized in the early 1970s. Outside of journalism, Sahana enjoys creative writing and reading, while also serving as an editor-in-chief of the Renaissance literary magazine and a captain of the Mock Trial team.
Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, online package 2022 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Cultural feature, certificate of merit, "‘Bridgerton’ effectively represents Indian culture" 2022 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, St. Louis convention: Honorable mention, feature writing 2020 National Scholastic Press Association Fall Best of Show: Sixth Place, Election Reporting (contributor), “As trailblazer for multiple identities, Harris inspires students”
Carter Chang, Photographer
Carter Chang is a member of the Class of 2024 and serves as a photojournalism editor-in-chief. He joined the photo staff in the 2021-22 school year as a sophomore and returned as a senior. His favorite part of photojournalism is being able to capture the raw emotions expressed by people in school life photography. Outside of photojournalism, Carter enjoys all things health and fitness related. His favorite sport to shoot is tennis.  Awards: 2023 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Academic photo, certificate of merit, "Burning up"
Ryan Burke-Stevenson, Photographer
Ryan Burke-Stevenson is a photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is being able to give a visual aspect to stories. Outside of photojournalism, Ryan is interested in cooking and cycling.

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