Turkish Cologne (Kolonya) and 12 Things to Know


Turkish Kolonya and its simple, beautiful, and refreshing smell can be addictive. As a Turkish local, I can tell you all about Turkish Kolonya, the best brands, and its place in culture.

Today you can find Turkish Kolonya in every home and office. When writing this post, I already found three bottles in my office.

In this post, I will tell you all about Turkish Kolonya and my favorite brands, but first, what is a Turkish Kolonya? 

Turkish Cologne (Kolonya) is made with ethyl alcohol (between 60-80%), water, and fragrance. Unlike Eau De Cologne, different odors are not mixed in its production, Kolonya usually has only one aroma (oil). The most common aromas are lemon, tobacco, rose, orange, and jasmine.

Here are the Turkish Kolonya I use in the office. Duru’s Lemon scent and Selin’s Juniper scent.

Quick History of Cologne

Cologne was first produced in the German city of Cologne.  For this reason, Cologne is also called Eau de Cologne which means water of Cologne.

In 1709, Cologne became increasingly widespread in Europe after the University of Cologne approved Cologne as a medicinal product.  

Cologne was mostly used for medical purposes until 1799. Besides being an antiseptic or sterilizer,  at that time, cologne was produced as a drinkable solution, and it could be consumed mixing with wine. 

In the 18th century, cologne spread rapidly among the bourgeoisie because it was seen as a symbol of purity and cleanliness.

Bourgeoisie started using Cologne as a perfume because the fragrance of the cologne was lighter and refreshing unlike the heavy smelling perfumes of the aristocracy. 

The oldest cologne brand still produced globally is the “4711” brand, which has been produced since 1799 in Cologne.

The Turkish Kolonya 

The arrival of Cologne in the Ottoman Empire’s capital Istanbul is around the last quarter of the 19th century.

Cologne was an absolute hit among Turkish people, because of its pleasant smell and refreshing effect. 

The domestic production of cologne started in Turkey, just after it was imported for the first time. The first Turkish Cologne was produced by Ahmet Faruki in 1882. 

Up until that time, rose water was offered to the guests to clean their hands, or rose water was served with Turkish Delight, Turkish Coffee and rose water had a prominent place in our culture.

Because of its disinfection properties, the use of cologne spread rapidly in the last century of the Ottoman Empire, replacing the rose water.

Today we still use Turkish Kolonya very commonly, yet the use of rose water is nearly forgotten.

Turks reinvented Cologne, made modifications to it. For this reason, Turkish Kolonya is not similar to Eau de Cologne.

Turkish Limon Kolonyasi

Lemon cologne (Limon Kolonyasi) is the most consumed type of cologne in Turkey.  Lemon cologne contains lemon essence, water, and alcohol. 

It is possible to come across lemon cologne in homes, barbershops, restaurants where you eat, in short, everywhere.

Turkish Kolonya scents are very diverse. Lavanta is the perfect one for summer as a mosquito repellent. Fig scent is my favorite in winter, making me remember summer.

Aromas of Turkish Kolonya

The aromas of Turkish Kolonya are very eclectic, reflecting the richness of the Turkish climate and its culture. 

Here are some aromas that just came to my mind.

FigsBlossomsRose
LemonJasmineCitrus
TobaccoJuniperLavender
Green TeaLimeMandarine
HoneysuckleCherry FlowerBlue Spruce
HazelnutLiliumLily
LemongrassMagnoliaVerbena
GingerAppleOlive Flower
The different scents of Turkish Kolonyas

Most of the aromas are very hard to find outside of Turkey. For these reasons, they can be excellent souvenirs.

What is Turkish cologne used for? 

Turkish Cologne is not drinkable as it used to be in its early days.

It is customary to serve Turkish Kolonya to our guests and has many uses in Turkish culture.

Traditionally, Turkish Kolonya (usually Limon Kolonyasi) is served in bus rides, restaurants, and at family gatherings and funerals.

Also, we use Turkish Cologne as a hand sanitizer, refresher, mosquito repellent, and many more uses in our daily lives.

What are the best Turkish Cologne brands? 

Duru, Selin or Rebul, or Eyüp Sabri Tuncer Colognes are the best brands. They are the most selling and top quality Turkish Kolonya Brands.

You can see one or two of these brands on my work table every time because I love to use them as a refresher.

Today on my desktop, I had Duru’s Lemon Flower and Selin’s Juniper Colognes.

Selin has been produced by Eczacıbaşı (a Turkish pharmaceutical company)  since 1912. I love their Kolonya’s Juniper, Blue Spruce fragrance. 

Duru is famous for its Lemon Cologne. Duru’s Lemon Cologne is the most selling Kolonya in Turkey. 

Rebul is a company that was established in 1895. They are known for their extensive chain stores and products reflecting Turkish tradition and fragrances.

Rebul’s brand, Atelier Rebul, offers cologne in stylish bottles with rare scents such as lemongrass and honey, amber, jasmine, rose, magnolia, fig, lavender, verbena, and ginger.

Eyüp Sabri Tuncer is another Turkish Kolonya producer since the 1920s. This old brand is another quality brand for Turkish Kolonya.

My father is a pharmacist and he only sells Selin in his drugstore. I asked him the reason, he said loves the scents of Selin Kolonya better.

Does cologne kill bacteria? 

Turkish Cologne kills bacteria and germs because Turkish Cologne has a high alcohol content. Turkish Cologne is typically made of %80 also alcohol, and for this reason,  it is a perfect sterilizer and disinfectant. 

Cologne kills bacteria by dissolving their oily membrane and neutralizing their cell structure.

Can you use Cologne as a hand sanitizer? 

Turkish Cologne can be used as a hand sanitizer. In the recent pandemic, Turkish Cologne was one of the most used liquids in Turkey. Even the BBC wrote an article about how Turkish People love to use Turkish Colognes as a hand sanitizer.

Can cologne be used as a mosquito repellent?

Cologne scents will also keep mosquitoes away from you due to the alcohol in them. Some will be most effective, and some will be less effective, depending on their fragrance. 

The most effective cologne that can be used as a mosquito repellent, is Lavender Cologne. The fragrance also plays an important role because lavender essence is a natural insect repellent. The other colognes will not be effective as lavender cologne. Yet, they offer some degree of protection.

Here is a good brand of Lavender Kolonya on Amazon.

Additionally, all Colognes contain isopropyl or ethanol-type alcohols that relieve mosquito itch thanks to the cooling effect they create while evaporating.

Alcohol in Cologne also acts as a disinfectant which helps faster healing mosquito bites. 

One thing to note here is that rubbing alcohol in excess can irritate the skin.

Is Turkish Cologne bad for you?

Turkish Cologne is not bad for you unless you drink it. The methyl alcohol in cologne is harmful to our body if consumed. Otherwise, Turkish Cologne is pretty safe, and I use it many times in life on my wounds, it may give some pain, but it is an excellent sterilizer. 

What do Turkish barbers spray after a haircut? 

Turkish barbers spray Turkish after a haircut or. If you’ve ever been to Turkey and went to a Turkish barber, you must have inhaled the scent of Turkish lemon cologne at least once. 

It is also custom to apply cologne to the customer after shaving. 

In all barbers in Turkey, lemon cologne is applied after shaving to refresh the face. So why is cologne applied after the barber? 

There are two answers to this question, the first is to give a feeling of freshness, and the second is used to disinfect the irritated parts of the body because the razor is used. Additionally, because of its smell, Turkish people find it refreshing. 

Other than cologne, some barbers use aftershave lotion after a haircut.

How do you make Cologne?

I used to make Turkish Kolonya with my dad, who is a pharmacist. Making Turkish Kolonya is very easy. Yet, today branded Cologne is cheaper and has a better smell.

There are many tips for making Kolonya, but the most important one is the fragrance. If you do not have good smelling oil, you will have no chance of making a good Kolonya.

Here is the simple recipe with ingredients for Turkish Kolonya

  • Pure Water
  • Pure Ethyl Alcohol
  • Aromatic oil
  1. Mix 200 ml of pure water with 800 ml ethyl alcohol in a container. Shake the container.
  2. Add drops of aromatic oil, depending on your preference on the strongness of the smell.
  3. Close the container, so alcohol and fragrance won’t evaporate.
  4. Let it rest for 8 hours for the best results.
  5. Voila, your Turkish Kolonya is ready.

Efe Genit

I am a father, a passionate traveler, and a Turkish lawyer. You can enjoy my guides and tips about Turkey that only Turkish locals would know.

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