With designer fragrances running well into triple-digits, it can be daunting to purchase cologne without a CEO’s wage (not to mention the Herculean task of sorting between hundreds of options in the first place).
Fortunately, a limited budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on scent. A number of brands – including many with A-list pedigree – offer more economical options that will still delight discerning noses.
Below you’ll find 10 of our favourite men’s fragrances under $100, so you can finally ax the Axe once and for all.
Sauvage By Christian Dior
It’s impossible to miss the Johnny Depp-fronted campaign for Dior’s Sauvage. The scent has been absolutely everywhere since its debut in 2015, and has sparked lively debate between haters and admirers. In the former category are those who say the bergamot, Ambroxan, and Sichuan pepper blend is too generic. In the latter category are those looking for exactly that: a versatile scent that can accompany them anywhere, with elite name recognition and an achievable price point.
BUY US$95.00 for 3.4 oz
L’Homme by Yves Saint Laurent
From the house of Saint Laurent comes L’Homme, a woody floral musk created by Anne Flipo, Pierre Wargnye, and Dominique Ropion. Its distinctively aromatic blend is composed of bergamot, ginger, lemon, tonka bean, oak moss, vetiver, and sandalwood. The result is an unobtrusively pleasant aroma, a tad on the safe side but easy to wear at the office and a regular hit on date night. L’Homme is one of YSL’s most successful colognes and has spawned a variety of follow-up fragrances, including La Nuit De L’Homme and L’Homme Ultime.
BUY US$92.00 for 100 mL
Beyond By David Beckham
What does a sports star smell like? According to David Beckham Beyond, the winning formula is mojito, cardamom, grapefruit, black pepper, cedar wood, geranium, patchouli, vanilla, and leather. Beyond arrived on the scene in 2015, courtesy of nose Nelly Hachem Ruiz of IFF. The successful scent has since expanded into an entire range that includes deodorant, hair and body wash, shower gel, and after shave lotion.
BUY US$25.25 for 3 oz
Marrakech Intense By Aesop
In true Aesop fashion, Marrakech Intense is an unorthodox scent for men and women. Perfumer Barnabé Fillion was inspired by the evocative aromas of spices used in Moroccan cuisine, the intense colours characteristic of its souks and surrounding desert, and the warm hospitality integral to Moroccan traditions. His interpretation is a woody oriental blend with fresh florals, a citrusy opening, and an intriguing hint of the animalistic.
BUY US$85.00 for 1.7 oz
Dior Homme by Christian Dior
In the perfumer’s words, “Dior Homme eschews every masculine cliché. It explores a new virility, immediate yet complex.” The original Dior Homme EDT by Olivier Polge was widely hailed as a masterpiece for its deft fusion of lavender, sage, bergamot, iris, amber, cacao, cardamom, patchcouli, leather, and Tahitian vetiver. Dior has since refreshed the scent with a version by François Demachy, but the original remains a superb masculine fragrance for day or night.
BUY US$95.00 for 3.4 oz
Bleu de Chanel by Chanel
Beloved by girlfriends everywhere, Blue de Chanel is an almost painfully popular scent. For that alone, we may have to disagree with the maison that it’s an “unexpected” blend for a man who “defies convention and resists the ordinary every day”, but by no means does that make it a write-off. Blue de Chanel is beloved for a reason. It’s fresh, clean and versatile – not ground-breaking or controversial, but reliable and eminently wearable, with staggering mass appeal.
BUY US$90.00 for 1.7 oz
Spicebomb By Viktor & Rolf
Viktor & Rolf launched its first bomb, a floral women’s fragrance dubbed Flowerbomb, in 2005. Seven years later came its male counterpart, Spicebomb, an extroverted fragrance with sensual undertones. The scent combines an explosive cocktail of two accords – one a merger of zesty, fresh notes with icy cold spices, the other an addictive and fiery combo of leather, tobacco, and vetiver. To top it off, Fabien Baron designed an on-theme flacon in the shape of a hand grenade.
BUY US$92.00 for 1.7 oz
Terre D’Hermes By Hermes
Hermès perfumier Jean Claude Ellena claims his inspiration for Terre d’Hermès was the author Jean Giono, who he calls “a man who loves the richness of nature.” In keeping with that motif, Terre d’Hermès displays notes that are woody, vegetal, and mineral – citrus and cedar, pepper and patchouli, and a base of vetiver and benzoin. This is a cologne that knows its audience: a man with an active, adventurous life and an appreciation for the bounty of nature.
BUY US$86.00 for 1.69 oz
Uomo Intense By Valentino
Not for the shy and retiring, Valentino Uomo Intense is a fragrance for men who wish to command attention. Distinctive top notes of clary sage meet an evocative iris heart, while lashings of leather invigorate the creamy vanilla base. Valentino envisions the Uomo Intense-wearer as a young Italian heir – suave and elegant, refined yet assertive, and charismatic with just a touch of the charming scoundrel.
BUY US$85.00 for 1.7 oz
Work/Play Set by Hawthorne
Meet New York‘s hippest scentrepreneurs, Brian Jeong and Phillip Wong. The duo are the brains behind Hawthorne, a fragrance brand putting a smart spin on work and play with a set of semi-customised colognes. Hawthorne uses a mix of science and a brief survey to deliver two tailored colognes selected from the company’s “fragrance palette”, one dubbed Work and the other dubbed Play. Though not entirely custom, it’s an affordable way for guys to dip their toes in the luxe waters of bespoke perfumery.
BUY US$100 for set of two 1.7 oz bottles