Cologne is every suave guy’s secret weapon. A spray before work, a date or a party gives an instant boost in attractiveness — largely thanks to the fragrance and partially thanks to that extra confidence you get from wearing a cologne.
Both girls and guys can reap the benefits of a great fragrance, but sadly, many guys pass on the opportunity (or they completely overdo it). If you’re finally coming around to getting a signature scent, read on. We’ve got some tips for picking the right cologne, and a roundup of some of the best to wear right now.
When shopping for a fragrance you’ll often see scent described in three notes: top, heart and base. Top notes are the initial scent. They’ll be strongest when you first apply but will fade before the day is over. Then there are heart notes, which are often floral and help to balance the whole scent. Finally, you get to the base notes: prominent, lasting smells that really define the fragrance.
You also have several scent families to choose from, including woody, oriental, herbal, floral and so on. These really depend on your preference, but woody and oriental are slightly better during the winter months.
Lastly, there’s the most important part of the whole equation: your own nose. That part is pretty self-explanatory.
Below are some best-selling men’s colognes that come from designers who know how to craft an attractive scent.
1. Mr. Burberry Eau de Parfum
This Eau de Parfum from Burberry proves that the iconic brand isn’t just a master of trench coats. The fragrance is great year-round but is even more effective in the cold months thanks to a rich woody scent with some spicy top notes that make it more exciting. You can wear it to work under your Burberry trench or while traveling for the holidays, but Burberry stresses the sensuality of the scent — and we have to agree — making it a go-to for date night or parties.
2. Prada Luna Rossa Carbon Eau de Toilette
BEST FOR YOUNG MEN
If you’re a younger dude looking for a scent that matches your age, you might be having trouble. Many fragrances (even from hot brands) are angled toward older gentlemen, but we’ve finally found one for the lads: this Prada Luna Rossa. It has a masculine, dark scent that mixes lavender and wood, resulting in something that’s mature yet still playful. Wear it to work if you want to feel and smell like the CEO, or on date night for a real confidence boost.
3. Chanel Eau de Parfum Homme Travel Set
BEST FOR TRAVEL
The colder months typically mean holiday trips and hopefully an escape (or two) from the cold. If you want to take your trusty fragrance on the plane, you’ll need a travel set like this one from Chanel. Instead of one large bottle, it comes in three 0.7-oz containers that won’t shatter in your suitcase. Happy reviewers say it’s a huge relief not being stopped by TSA, and others smartly recommend the set as a premium stocking stuffer.
4. Cartier ‘Pasha’ Eau de Toilette
BEST FOR THE GENTLEMAN
Like all things Cartier, this Pasha Eau de Toilette is highly sophisticated with a grown-up scent that has a nice balance of masculinity and femininity. It works for fall and winter with a touch of woody patchouli plant, although its lead notes are more floral. Plus, it comes in a handsome bottle that looks great on your bathroom counter, or in a gift box for someone special.
5. MALIN+GOETZ Dark Rum Eau de Parfum
BEST NEW BRAND
MALIN+GOETZ might not be that young (founded in 2004), but compared to most cologne providers, it’s still in its adolescence. That might be a good thing, however, as you can get a fresh, boundary-pushing fragrance such as this Dark Rum. The unisex scent doesn’t totally follow the rules of winter fragrances, but we think it’s a worthy option to consider. It’s inspired by long days in the Carribean sun and nights at the beach — which might be greatly appreciated during the cold months.
6. Guilty By Gucci
Gucci is one of the hottest designers right now, so any of their products are a good bet. This Guilty By Gucci cologne is a good way to sport the brand (in scent-form) because unlike Gucci’s clothing, you don’t have to shell out thousands — or even hundreds — to rock it. Right now you can order Guilty by Gucci on Amazon for just $66, where it boasts over 1,400 reviews and 4.3 stars. It features an aromatic scent with notes of lavender, lemon, and orange flower that make it highly versatile, so you can wear it anytime — whether at the airport, the office or the bar.
7. Nautica Voyage Eau de Toilette
Great colognes don’t have to break the bank. This Nautica eau de toilette comes in at just $12.50, but according to the rave reviews on Amazon, it smells much more expensive. The water-inspired theme of Nautica is upheld in the fragrance with a scent that one reviewer calls “a bowl of honeydew and cantaloupe at a Jamaican all-inclusive resort.” When applying this cologne, be sure to use it sparingly as it’s quite powerful (i.e. a quick spritz that you walk through instead of spraying directly onto your neck).
8. Fresh Cannabis Santal
FOR THE STONER
No, this cannabis perfume doesn’t just smell like a college dorm room. It masterfully utilizes the musk of cannabis in unison with fruits, magnolia, chocolate and other scents to create a woodsy, earthy fragrance. Although it’s formulated as a men’s product, many of the happy reviewers on Sephora are women who love the scent too. And if women love the scent, it follows that they’ll like it on you too.
9. Versace Eros
FOR A NIGHT OUT
This bottle of Eau de Toilette from Versace uses a harmony of sweet and salty to create a unique, masculine scent. It features notes of seawater, with a hint of “sunny warmth” on your skin. It’s a statement-making fragrance (like anything from Versace) making it perfect for events or special occasions.
10. L’Homme by YSL
Yves Saint Laurent has always given a lot of attention to their men’s cologne, L’Homme, and it shows. The Cologne provides a faint but decidedly masculine scent that smells good on any guy. Right now you can score a 3.3oz bottle on Amazon for just $65, which is a pretty great deal for a coveted premium brand like YSL.
11. Polo Black by Ralph Lauren
BEST CLASSIC SCENT
With all the streetwear, sneakers and hypebeast brands in fashion right now, there’s an underground movement towards the classics. Think grandpa chic. If that sounds up your alley (or you just want a great, classic scent) go for this bottle of Polo Black by Ralph Lauren. It’s a grown-up, woodsy aromatic fragrance with a mix of mango, silver armoise and patchouli noir. Although it can be a daily scent, Ralph Lauren suggests saving it for special occasions such as dates, parties or dressy events.
12. Armani Code
FOR THE BUSINESSMAN
Armani has a reputation for sleek suits worn by powerful people. Their fragrances are no different. Lemon, bergamot, and orange tree blossom are a few of the notes that make up the fresh, woody scent of this Armani Eau de Toilette. It also comes in a sleek, unique bottle that looks good on anyone’s bathroom counter.
13. John Varvatos Artisan
FOR THE ROCKSTAR
This Artisan fragrance from John Varvatos is a standout because it’s more rugged and casual than most colognes. And in 2019, rugged and casual is a compliment. The primary scent is citrus, followed by some masculine woodsiness that brings it down to earth. It’s not very strong, which is actually a good thing for a daily fragrance.
14. Dior Homme Eau de Toilette Spray
FOR THE FASHION LOVER
Dior’s latest fragrance for men is another hit from the French brand. It combines masculine scents like leather and iris with elegant fragrances including lavender and sage. Dior has always been a favorite of fashion lovers because it’s never front-and-center like Gucci, but always subtly cool. In other words, it’ll make a great addition to your grooming arsenal.
15. Tom Ford Oud Wood Eau de Parfum
If you can swing an expensive cologne, Tom Ford is the way to go. No question. Just like the brand’s god-level clothing, Tom Ford’s fragrances are distinctive and crafted from the most expensive ingredients around, but they’re not in-your-face or gaudy. This Eau de Parfum is made using a resinous wood called agarwood — the most expensive wood in the world — to create a fragrance that smells, quite frankly, the best. Like the brand and the head designer himself, this cologne is exactly what a men’s fragrance should be: utterly sophisticated.