The 23 Best Colognes for Men Will Help You Make the Perfect First Impression

best cologne for men
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Whether or not you smell good may be up to the people smelling you — but don’t let that deter you from choosing a signature scent based on what you like. The right fragrance can instantly change your mood, which is why we often reach for the best colognes for men before events, whether they’re at the boardroom, bar or a wedding.

Cologne should act as every sophisticated man’s secret weapon. A spritz before work, a date or a party not only provides an instant boost in attractiveness but also instills extra confidence when wearing it in the company of others. How does the modern gent go about shopping for a great-smelling cologne? It starts with educating oneself in the science of scent. Cologne gift sets can also be an excellent way to discover new scents — and they make some of the best gifts for men.

Pete SI
11 months
I love Creed. To me there is nothing like it. Not all of their products are a...
Mojtaba
2 years
Dear sir/ma'am I hereby inform you that I have read this article and found many good details...
kanak goel
2 years
On your site, I found so many different perfumes that sometimes I get confused about which one...

When browsing through different fragrances for men, you’ll often see scents described in three ways: top, heart and base. Top notes are the initial (and strongest) scents, but they fade before the day is over. Then there are heart notes, which are often floral and balance the whole scent. Finally, the base notes make their presence felt with prominent, lasting smells that define the fragrance.

Pete SI
11 months
I love Creed. To me there is nothing like it. Not all of their products are a…
Mojtaba
2 years
Dear sir/ma’am I hereby inform you that I have read this article and found many good details…
kanak goel
2 years
On your site, I found so many different perfumes that sometimes I get confused about which one…

We’ve been testing cologne for years, so it’s safe to say we have some serious opinions about smelling nice. Find all of the best-smelling cologne to consider below, with the first 13 choices being editor-tested and approved options. These are picks our team of writers wears daily, so we can promise you’ll love at least one of these just as much as we do.

  

1. Yves Saint Laurent Y Eau de Parfum

Top Notes: Aldehydes, bergamot, ginger, mint, lemon

Middle Notes: Apple, violet leaf, sage, pineapple, geranium

Base Notes: Ambergris, musk, cedar, vetiver, balsam fir, incense

We mean it when we say it: Yves Saint Laurent Y Eau de Parfum is the best cologne for men. Why? Because it exudes sexy. This fragrance embodies a sophisticated yet forever young spirit at the same time and gives us a masculine scent. You don’t usually want your cologne to be too bold, but the new Yves Saint Laurent cologne is bold without being overbearing. Best of all, YSL’s newest fragrance ambassador is none other than the iconic Lenny Kravitz. If you trust anyone, it should be him.

We recently named this the best overall cologne in The 2021 Man, our end-of-year men’s product awards. We stand by that selection.

SPY TESTED
Yves Saint Laurent Y Eau de Parfum, best cologne for menCourtesy of Nordstrom

  

2. Fulton & Roark Blue Ridge

Top Notes: Sage, amber

Base Notes: Sandalwood

Until recently, solid cologne was a tiny niche in the men’s fragrance market and little more than a gimmick. Fulton & Roark has singlehandedly changed that with a line of solid wax colognes that are easy to apply. The company makes premium colognes with sophisticated scents, and most of its products are priced at just $60. But don’t let the price tag fool you into thinking this is just another cheap cologne. The brand’s new Blue Ridge cologne has a smooth sandalwood-based fragrance with notes of fresh sage and amber that will remind you of fresh mountain air. Instead of a spray bottle, they come in brushed metal tins that are small enough to slip into your pocket or gym bag.

We love this cologne so much, we named it one of the best products in The 2021 Man, our end-of-year product awards.

SPY TESTED
best men's colognes, fulton and roark blue ridge cologneCourtesy of Fulton & Roark

  

3. Hugo Boss BOSS Bottled Eau de Toilette

Top Notes: Apple, citrus fruits

Middle Notes: Geranium, cinnamon, cloves

Base Notes: Sandalwood, vetiver, cedarwood, vanilla

Warm, woody and citrus-filled? It’s going to be a yes from us. Hugo Boss BOSS Bottled Eau de Toilette is the perfect seasonal switch-up from summer into fall. It transcends seasonality by morphing summery scents with fall-forward moments. It has a classic yet exceptionally modern feel. Think of this as the modern male must-have for summer into fall.

best men's cologne, Hugo Boss BOSS Bottled Eau de ToiletteCourtesy of Ulta

  

4. Chanel Bleu

Top Notes: Grapefruit, lemon, mint, pink pepper

Middle Notes: Ginger, nutmeg, jasmine, iso e super

Base Notes: Incense, vetiver, cedar, sandalwood, patchouli, labdanum, white musk

A classic cologne is instantly recognizable in a crowd, stands out as the centerpiece on your dresser and has stood the test of time. And in our testing, we’ve found that Chanel Bleu has set the bar for both modern and vintage scents. Here, users get a mix of aquatic and woody scents that men find empowering and women find irresistible. Chanel makes this in various intensities, but the Eau de Parfum version provides a long-lasting scent that’s not overpowering. Twelve hours after applying it, you’ll still notice subtle hints of vanilla and sandalwood.

SPY TESTED
Chanel Bleu - Best Mens Cologne 2022Courtesy of Nordstrom

  

5. Tom Ford Oud Wood Eau de Parfum

Top Notes: Pepper, cardamom seed, rose-bay

Middle Notes: Sandalwood, vetiver, oud

Base Notes: Vanilla, tonka bean, amber

Just like the brand’s refined clothing, Tom Ford’s fragrances are distinctive and crafted from the most expensive ingredients, but they’re not so in-your-face or gaudy. This special formulation is made using a resinous wood called agarwood — the most expensive wood in the world — to create a fragrance that smells, quite frankly, phenomenal. It’s for the artisanal man with exquisite taste.

SPY TESTED
best mens cologne, Tom Ford Oud Wood Eau de ParfumCourtesy of Sephora

  

6. Dior Sauvage

Top Notes: Bergamot

Middle Notes: Sichuan pepper, lavender, star anise, nutmeg

Base Notes: Ambroxan, vanilla

The Benjamin mark is where you’ll usually find some top sellers and performers in the men’s fragrance market. So if you’re looking for a top-tier cologne that still comes in under $100, reach for Dior Sauvage. Complex in composition yet raw in scent, Dior Sauvage evokes grandeur and summons compliments no matter the gathering. Powerful notes of Italian bergamot and spicy Sichuan pepper give this universally loved fragrance its aromatic moxie.

SPY TESTED
best men's cologne - dior sauvageCourtesy of Nordstrom

  

7. Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum

Top Notes: Violet accord, cardamom

Middle Notes: Iris, ambrox

Base Notes: Cedarwood, leather, sandalwood

Unisex fragrances are becoming increasingly popular. Treat yourself to the genderless fragrance of your dreams with Le Labo Santal 33. If you’re looking for a scent that combines an almost confusingly delicate and brut fusion, you’ll find it in Santal 33. This is something you genuinely just have to give a shot on your own to know.

SPY TESTED
Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum, best cologne for menCourtesy of Nordstrom

  

8. Jimmy Choo Man

Top Notes: Mandarin, lavender, honeydew melon

Middle Notes: Geranium, rose and pink pepper, pineapple leaves

Base Notes: Patchouli, suede, woody accord, amber notes

Jimmy Choo Man proves that delicious-smelling men’s fragrances don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Just one or two spritzes will leave you ready for the day, no matter what it entails. Made with fresh citrus notes at the top, vibrant floral and fruity notes in the middle and based with warm undertones, this loosely luscious scented cologne is great for guys who like to rock a brighter spritz on the daily. It starts off light and eventually leads into a heavier scent, so don’t be too afraid after your initial spray. This is really as manly as it gets. Stay dapper, my friend.

SPY TESTED
Jimmy Choo Man, best men's cologneCourtesy of Sephora

  

9. Henry Rose Fog Eau de Parfum

Top Notes: Muguet, fresh citrus

Middle Notes: White woods, magnolia

Base Notes: Vetiver, sandalwood, amber woods, musk

Henry Rose is far from a celebrity fragrance cash grab. Actor and climate activist Michelle Pfeiffer created this unisex fragrance line with “100% ingredient transparency,” creating non-toxic scents made from safe synthetics and natural ingredients. Of their options, we love Fog’s fresh and musky aroma, which calls back to the light, breezy fall days. Effervescent notes of vanilla and vetiver will serve as an open invitation for those around you to take a closer whiff.

SPY TESTED
Best Colognes for Men - henry roseCourtesy of Henry Rose

  

10. Byredo Bibliothèque Eau de Parfum

Top Notes: Peach, plum

Middle Notes: Violet, peony

Base Notes: Patchouli, leather, vanilla

If the fall season could sit in a scent, this would be it. Byredo’s Bibliothèque Eau de Parfum uses light and dark fruits for a heavy top honed by classically autumnal scents like vanilla and leather. Like many of today’s top fragrances for men, it has a very multi-gender scent that definitely rides more masculine. If you want to smell like your dad and your ex-girlfriend at the same time, this is the scent you should go for.

SPY TESTED
best men's cologne, Byredo Bibliothèque Eau de ParfumCourtesy of Neiman Marcus

  

11. Calvin Klein Eternity for Men

Top Notes: Sage, apple, ozonic

Middle Notes: Lavender, cypress, geranium, nutmeg

Base Notes: Suede, ambergris, cypriol oil, orris root

Calvin Klein’s Eternity is an absolute powerhouse of a cologne that dudes have been rocking all over the globe for years. It has an OG-centric aesthetic, making it a must-have for any guy’s cologne collection. Eternity is sensitive yet masculine, strong yet well-mannered. It has a back and forth-ness that feels balanced with even the subtlest spritzes.

SPY TESTED
Calvin Klein Eternity for MenCourtesy of Amazon

  

12. COACH For Men Eau de Toilette

Top Notes: Pear, kumquat, bergamot, lavender, grapefruit

Middle Notes: Cardamom, geranium, coriander

Base Notes: Ambergris, suede, amber wood, Haitian vetiver

Who says you can’t find cheap cologne from designer labels? You don’t always have to trust us, so in this case, you can trust The Fragrance Foundation, which named the COACH For Men Eau de Toilette the winner of the company’s 2018 Fragrance Awards. By combining fresh-smelling, electric, zingy top notes with a woody, suede, amber base, this scent is deeply masculine yet refreshing in nature. It’s no wonder why COACH is considered a luxury because spraying this on will make you feel as high-end as possible.

SPY TESTED
COACH For Men Eau de ToiletteCourtesy of Nordstrom

  

13. Fulton & Roark Palmetto Solid Cologne

Top Notes: Citrus

Middle Notes: Pink pepper spice, magnolia flower

Base Notes: Incense, cedar

Fragrance in wax form sounds odd at first, but the best solid cologne is a more practical and discreet option for guys. Fulton & Roark Palmetto Solid Cologne lets you have your James Bond moment. Palmetto features a complex layer of scents that culminate in a refreshing, clean aroma that takes you back to your morning shower. The tiny metal tin also makes it an ideal EDC item to keep in your work desk drawer or gym bag.

SPY TESTED
Fulton & Roark Palmetto Solid Cologne - Best Mens Cologne Courtesy of Fulton & Roark

  

14. Gucci The Alchemist’s Garden The Last Day of Summer Eau de Parfum

Top Notes: Cedarwoods

Middle Notes: Cypress, nutmeg

Base Notes: Patchouli, vetiver

One of Gucci’s unisex fragrances celebrates none other than the dog days of summer. Keep it hot and steamy even if fall is just around the corner with this cologne featuring a mix of cedarwood, cyoressm, nutmeg, patchouli and vetiver. It’s a must-try, for sure. Not sure about trying a unisex cologne? This Gucci fragrance has plenty of masculine woodsy notes but is also light and airy.

Gucci The Alchemist's Garden The Last Day of Summer Eau de ParfumCourtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

  

15. Versace Eros

Top Notes: Mint, green apple, lemon

Middle Notes: Tonka bean, ambroxan, geranium

Base Notes: Madagascar vanilla, Virginian cedar, atlas cedar, vetiver, oakmoss

For the man who requires only one bottle of cologne in his grooming cabinet (or Dopp kit), Versace Eros is calling your name. Named after the god of love, this fragrance boasts a unique, masculine scent that falls right between sweet and salty. While this cologne is great for everyday use all year long, it’s a great cologne for warmer weather in particular. It features notes of seawater and leaves a hint of “sunny warmth” on your skin. The eye-catching bottle also speaks to the fragrance’s divinity, highlighted by a bold design created by the fashion icon Donatella Versace.

Versace ErosCourtesy of Sephora

  

16. Creed Aventus Eau De Parfum

Top Notes: Bergamot, blackcurrant leaves, apple, pineapple

Middle Notes: Pinkberries, birch, patchouli, jasmine

Base Notes: Musk, oakmoss, ambergris, vanilla

Creed cologne is synonymous with exclusivity, top-grade performance and wealth. If you can swing an expensive cologne, you’ll find Aventus to be well worth the price tag it carries. This luxury cologne is built for strong, confident men who know what they want and almost always get it. The name is derived from the words “from” and “the wind,” and Aventus inspires men to live a life of power wherever the wind takes them. Having this high-end bottle sitting on your grooming shelf also stands as a declaration of your taste in upscale scents.

Creed Aventus Eau De ParfumCourtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

    

17. Byredo Lil Fleur

Top Notes: Saffron, cassis, tangerine

Middle Notes: Damascena rose, leather accord

Base Notes: Blonde woods, amber

Ben Gorham founded the Swedish company Byredo in 2006 to express emotions and memories in products. It’s no coincidence that fragrance is linked to memory, and Byredo’s fragrances are especially great at triggering specific moments in time. Their latest unisex floral offering, Lil Fleur, was inspired by teenage emotions — a way that brings a bit of youth into each sophisticated bottle. We also highly recommend the Byredo Night Veils collection, a line of highly concentrated perfume extracts with complex fragrance profiles. In addition to Lil Fluer, check out the Tobacco Mandarin Eau de parfum from the Night Veils line.

Byredo Lil Fleur Eau De Parfum Courtesy of Nordstrom

    

18. Gucci Guilty Pour Homme

Top Notes: Juniper, lemon, lavender

Middle Notes: Orange blossom, nutmeg, Spanish labdanum

Base Notes: Patchouli, musk, dry wood

Guilty by Gucci is an excellent way to sport the brand (in scent form) because, unlike the fashion house’s clothing, you don’t have to shell out thousands — or even hundreds — to rock it. Right now, you can order Guilty by Gucci for just $80. It features an aromatic scent with notes of lavender, lemon and orange flower, making it highly versatile so that you can wear it anytime.

Pro Tip: If you go looking, you can find great deals on Gucci Guilty cologne. However, buyer beware. This is a commonly counterfeited cologne, and there are a lot of fake Gucci colognes for sale online. We strongly recommend purchasing this scent from official retailers like Sephora or Nordstrom.

GUCCI Guilty Pour HommeCourtesy of Ulta

      

19. Jo Malone Silver Birch & Lavender Cologne

Top Notes: Grapefruit

Middle Notes: English lavender

Base Notes: Silver birch

Fall and spring. Two seasons that know nothing about the other. Seasons that never come in contact. Seasons that don’t even make sense in the same sentence — aside from now. Jo Malone’s newest Silver Birch & Lavender cologne has a weird way of simultaneously honing in on life and death. It’s topped with a crisp coolness drained slightly with a woodier birch. It’s like smelling fresh lavender in the middle of a dying forest in the middle of October, making this cologne seasonless — yet so seasonable at the same time.

 

Jo Malone Silver Birch & Lavender CologneCourtesy of Nordstrom

  

20. Prada Luna Rossa Carbon Eau de Toilette

Top Notes: Italian bergamot, lavender

Middle Notes: geranium, patchouli

Base Notes: heliotrope, ambroxan

Just leave it to Prada to create one of the most distinctively mischievous blended colognes that the world has yet to see. This sensually delicious masterpiece is great for wearing just about anywhere, but we love this cologne for date night and bedroom play. By combining notes of lavender, green bergamot from Italy, patchouli and amber, this is the type of cologne that will keep partners smelling their own clothes again and again after hugging up on you. It’s seductively masculine in its creation. Trust us. You’ll want nothing more.

Prada Luna Rossa Carbon Eau de ToiletteCourtesy of Nordstrom

  

21. Polo Ralph Lauren Deep Blue

Top Notes: Green mango, grapefruit, bergamot

Middle Notes: Cypress, clary sage, geranium

Base Notes: Sea notes, ambroxan, fir resin, musk, patchouli

Ralph Lauren is literally making waves with its newest fragrance by looking at the power of the ocean. Pro surfer and two-time world champion Gabriel Medina is the brand partner of the scent, which might be the closest thing to a trip to Hawaii these days. In fact, Hawaiian green mango is the note that pops in the blend that evokes salty seawater and fresh fruits, with cypress oil and deep ocean accord rounding out the mix.

Polo Ralph Lauren Deep BlueCourtesy of Sephora 

  

22. Viktor&Rolf Spicebomb Eau de Toilette

Top Notes: Bergamot, grapefruit, pink pepper, elemi

Middle Notes: Cinnamon, chili pepper, saffron

Base Notes: Leather, vetiver, tobacco

If you’re shopping for the best gifts for women, then you can’t go wrong with a perfume such as Flowerbomb from Viktor&Rolf. However, this Dutch fragrance company also makes an excellent cologne for men, and we can’t hate on a cool-shaped bottle. Viktor&Rolf’s aptly named “Spicebomb” Eau de Toilette is a grenade you’ll want to get your hands on. This all-masculine cologne is an explosively scented fragrance that gives notes of chili and saffron with the heavy-bodied roundness provided by leather and tobacco. You’ll leave the house feeling indestructible.

Viktor&Rolf Spicebomb Eau de ToiletteCourtesy of Nordstrom

          

23. Paco Rabanne Invictus Legend

Top Notes: Geranium metal, green laurel, salty grapefruit

Middle Notes: Red amber, mead accord

Base Notes: Guaiacwood

There is something about Paco Rabanne’s fragrances that exude spirit and vitality. Invictus Legend is a manly, energetic scent that opens up with sweet tones of grapefruit, then leads into floral notes of geranium and soft spices, culminating in a mature blend for coming-of-age and playful types. Wear it to work if you want to feel and smell like the CEO or at fancy lounges to outshine every seasoned bachelor at the bar. For college-aged men, this scent will instantly set you apart from your peers wearing Nautica cologne or, god forbid, Axe body spray.

Best Colognes for Men - Paco Rabanne Invictus LegendCourtesy of Sephora

  

How to Choose Cologne for Men

When shopping for cologne, you’ll find that the biggest differentiator is the price. The top cologne from designer brands like Tom Ford and Gucci will usually cost between $100 and $150. Mid-tier options from Calvin Klein and Dior can usually be purchased for under $100. However, even if you don’t want to spend more than $100, many colognes come in smaller sizes that are more affordable. If you want to save or test a new fragrance, go with a 1.70 oz bottle instead of a 3.40 oz.

In addition, there are several scent families to choose from, including woody, oriental, herbal, floral and earthy. Many experts recommend floral for all-season use, whereas herbal scents are the perfect colognes to wear for summer. Usually, woody and oriental fragrances serve better during the winter months. That being said, woody scents like cedar, sandalwood and madras wood are especially on-trend in 2022, and these scents are now used all year long. We’ve also seen more colognes and grooming products incorporate traditionally masculine fragrances such as tobacco, leather, and bourbon.

best cologneCourtesy of Nordstrom

The Difference Between Perfume and Cologne for Men

When shopping for cologne, you may notice that some men’s fragrances are called perfume instead of cologne. So is there a difference between the best perfume for men and cologne?

Each of these terms does have different technical meanings to fragrance makers. Perfume (also known as Parfum or Extrait de Parfum) refers to fragrances that contain 15% to 30% perfume oil, while products categorized as Eau de Parfum contain between 15% and 20% perfume oil. However, an Eau de Cologne product only contains 2% to 4% perfume oil. Because of this, perfumes have a more potent and longer-lasting fragrance.

Cologne should note on the bottle or packaging which category it falls into, with Eau de Parfum at the high end of the intensity scale and Eau de Cologne at the low end. Eau de Toilette falls somewhere in the middle.

However, most people don’t know or care about these technical ratings. Here in the United States, cologne is used to refer to all fragrances for men, whether they’re technically an Eau de Cologne or an Ea de Parfum pour Hommes. As a result, men’s perfume and men’s cologne can be used interchangeably in most contexts.

Signature Manscaped Refined CologneCourtesy of Manscaped

The cologne market is changing fast. New, online-only companies are competing with designer fragrances that have been on the scene for decades. Traditionally, designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford and Calvin Klein produce great-smelling colognes, but there are new entrants into the market worth exploring.

In recent years, one of the biggest trends in the cologne market has been the emergence of new unisex fragrances such as Henry Rose, and you shouldn’t rule out unisex fragrances as a general rule. Gift sets are also a stellar option when unsure about a scent that might look great on paper, but you aren’t too sure you’ll love it 100% after a couple of wears. Finally, solid cologne is a growing category and one that we’re particularly excited about. Solid colognes from brands such as Fulton & Roark have sophisticated, modern fragrances and help avoid the age-old problem of overapplying your cologne, a surefire way to make a bad impression on everyone you meet.

Of course, when it comes to shopping for cologne, it’s all about the smell test for most guys. For guys with discerning taste, your nose will never steer you wrong. Stick to a fragrance that doesn’t clash with other strong scents and isn’t overpowering to your senses (or anyone else’s at that).

The Top Colognes for Men in 2022

Below are some of the best men’s cologne options, as chosen by SPY’s style and grooming experts. These products come from designers who know all about crafting an attractive scent profile.

The colognes we chose are listed per category, price point and lifestyle. Most of these colognes are available in various sizes, with 1.70 oz and 3.40 oz being the most common choices. In general, we’ve listed the price for the 3.40 oz size, and you can usually find a smaller bottle at a cheaper price point.

Once you’ve decided to choose a signature scent, read SPY’s key tips on applying cologne properly.

  

Some FAQs About Cologne

What is the best cologne for men?

The best cologne for men is very dependent on individual taste. Right now, we think Yves Saint Laurent Y Eau de Parfum is the best men's cologne because it hits the nail on the head in numerous ways. It has an attractive scent that isn't overwhelming, it doesn't feel too young or too old and one spritz in this case really goes a long way, saving you money in the long run.

What is the most popular cologne for guys?

It seems that the most popular cologne for guys is Chanel Bleu De Chanel Eau de Parfum. No matter where you go, this cologne is always one of the most top-rated picks you can purchase online. Though it does smell excellent and we do have it listed, we suggest you give something else a whirl — because you're not like other guys.

How to apply cologne?

Cologne application is pretty simple. First and foremost: don't spray cologne and walk through it, all that will do is make the air smell better than you. Apply cologne instead to pulse points around the body, such as your neck, chest, shoulders, wrists and inner elbows. These areas project heat most effectively and will make your scent known to people around you.

What is the best smelling men's cologne?

As mentioned, the best-smelling men's cologne will be determined by what you find most attractive when you're looking at scents. We love each cologne in this list for various reasons, but our top three choices (Yves Saint Laurent Y Eau de Parfum, Tom Ford Black Orchid Parfum and Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum) are the best-smelling men's colognes in our opinion.

Does cologne go bad?

Yes, cologne does eventually expire. It depends on which cologne bottles are sitting in your collection, but for the most part, cologne will expire in around one to three years.