07/22/2008 at 05:25 PM EDT
may be primetime TV's hottest doctor, but during his teen years, McDreamy admits to PEOPLE that he was more like McStinky.
"I remember wearing my first cologne, and it was Polo by Ralph Lauren – and I put the entire bottle on my body," the Grey's Anatomy
star, 42, said Monday at Avon's launch party in New York City to unveil the Patrick Dempsey Unscripted cologne due out in November.
"I was one of those young men that thought more is better," he says, "and everybody looked at me and thought that I was a freak because I smelled so strong of cologne."
Now, Dempsey's makeup artist wife Jillian likes what her nose is sensing.
"I love the smell on him," she says of her husband's fragrance. "If he wears it for a full day and it's on his clothes, it literally becomes his scent. I feel it's a part of him now, and it makes him even more sexy to me."
And what scents can't the actor resist? "During Christmas and the fall is the smells that I like. There's something really wonderful about it, and it puts you in a good mood."