Walk into any department store and you’ll be inundated with a plethora of scents, but choosing the best cologne that’s right for you and your skin can often be easier said than done. In order to find the best of the best men’s fragrance, you would need to spend a good few hours testing every single one, but eventually, your nose will become immune to the smells and you won’t be able to take full advantage of the choice on offer.
Instead, wouldn’t it be nice if a reputable publication recommended some men’s fragrances you should be pointing your compass straight toward? Well, you’re in luck because that’s just what we’ve done. These carefully curated men’s perfumes are literally some of the best on the market, produced using a mix of rare and original ingredients, so that you stand out for all the right reasons – and don’t smell like every other bloke in the street.
How one smells says a lot about who one is, especially in a world where first impressions mean everything. Some people will choose a different scent every time they purchase a new bottle, some may like to stick to a particular label, and there are even those who choose one fragrance forever – a scent they feel defines them as a person.
So, either way, if you’re after a truly unique scent that will have people u-turning just to grab another pleasurable whiff, then check out our best men’s fragrances guide.
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A Brief History On Men’s Cologne
Once upon a time, pleasantly scented potions were a matter of necessity. One’s nose was constantly assaulted by the unpleasant odours of smoke, rotting food, and open sewers. And that was just the people – imagine what the actual sewers smelled like.
Long before modern perfumery began in the late 19th century, perfumes existed in some of the earliest human civilisations. The art of crafting scents began in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, then was further refined by the Romans and Persians.
Knowledge of perfumery came to Europe as early as the 14th century, due in part to developments in the Middle East. Islamic cultures perfected the extraction of fragrances through steam distillation and introduced new raw materials to the industry. With that, fragrances were ready to move west.
Today’s colognes come in a wide variety of scents and aromas, with labels and brands creating signature scents that are reconisable a mile away. Having a well-stocked collection of colgones is essential nowadays: you’ll want at least two, one for the day and one of the night, and these can change depending on the season.
How To Apply Cologne
It may seem like a simple enough task, but some guys still get it wrong when it comes to how to apply their cologne. Some will spray theirs on their clothes, others will spray into the air and walk through it. Both are big no-nos. There are, in fact, several rules to follow if you want to be smelling your best. And this video from The Style OG sums them up perfectly.
The best men’s cologne must be thoughtfully paired with the specific situations and occasions in which it will be worn. Seductive dark, tobacco and woody smell suit evening events, while fresher or citrus fragrances work better for everyday wear and the office.
The last thing you want to do is be known as the ‘too much men cologne’ guy at work, so choose appropriately and apply sparingly.
Most of the best men’s cologne and fragrances can be purchased online, however, we recommend trying them on in-store first. Spray some on in the shop, then go for a walk and see how it smells after 15 minutes. Most men’s colognes smell different on everyone. Your skin and pheromones react with the potion to personalise the scent, meaning you don’t have to drop thousands on a custom cologne to get something unique.
Cologne & Fragrances FAQ
What kind of cologne should I wear for a night out?
The best style of cologne for a night out is something with a seductive dark tobacco and woody scent. Fresher fragrances are better for use during the day.
Which lasts longer, cologne or perfume?
Perfume lasts about three times longer than cologne. This is because perfumes contain higher concentration of oils, around 20 to 30 percent, compared to cologne’s two to four percent.
How do I apply cologne?
Oils are designed to be absorbed by your skin. Combined with the skin’s natural oils skin, they can create a scent unique to you. For this reason, you should never apply cologne to your clothes. Instead, apply them to what are known as 'pulse points', including the neck, wrist, jawline and chest. These areas will heat up during the day to help 'push' your scent out into the world.
Le Labo first came to everyone’s attention in New York back in 2006, with the notion that there were too many bottles of perfume being produced without soul and character. Now a fully established luxury fragrance producer, they have a large selection of fantastic scents, including this one: The Noir 29.
Using black tea as a source of inspiration, it’s a herby, leafy scent with notes of bergamot for a truly beautiful and natural smell. It’s also presented in a range of sizes with a minimalist laboratory label that looks great alongside other bathroom essentials.
What happens when two of the world’s most stylish cities collide through the creations of a self-taught master designer? Comme Des Garcons, that’s what. Rei Kawakubo studied fine art instead of fashion in her native Tokyo before opening boutiques in swanky Parisian quartiers. Inspiration from both cities run through everything her label produces, like this 2 Eau De Parfum. It’s a unisex scent (a hugely popular concept today) and is said to be the brand’s ethos in fragrance form - which to you and us means it is complex, with hints of magnolia, mandarin and tea.
Pretty much everything celebrated designer Tom Ford touches turns to gold. He’s a modern leader in the world of fashion, design and even the Hollywood movies which are as stunning visually as his garments. But it is this Fucking Fabulous fragrance of his that we are going to wax lyrical about here, which is pretty much summed up by its no-nonsense name. It’s a deep and sensual aroma that lasts, with nice oriental undercurrents. Mr Ford has only gone and bloody done it again!
Not just content with producing one of the most famous women's fragrances, Chanel has an absolute beauty for men too. Bleu de Chanel is available as an EDT, EDP and a Parfum (we recommend the latter), and all provide a delightfully fresh and clean scent that also exhibits woody aromas. It's hard to describe just how good this cologne is, we implore you to try it.
Redefining the high-end, ready-to-wear sector since 1997, Zadig and Voltaire have become renowned for concepts and products that stand head and shoulders above their competitors. This Is Him! is one of their standout fragrances, incorporating natural spices that represent the brand’s sense of wild freedom whilst remaining masculine in its tones, which are a mix of black pepper and vanilla, along with a sandalwood base, somewhat of a Zadig & Voltaire signature. For such a unique fragrance, from a French fashion powerhouse, it’s great value for money.
A monumental meeting of different cultures is responsible for producing this scent. We've already spoken about Commes des Garçons, but collaborator for this eau de toilette is Gosha Rubchinskiy. The Russian fashion designers takes inspiration from Russia's streetwear and youth culture, as well as the dissolution of the USSR.
This unisex scent has been designed to reflect that, with notes of rubber and tar, yet with fresh hints of mandarin and blue chamomile. This is certainly a fragrance for casual weekend looks.
Originally a tailoring house in London – with a history dating all the way back to 1760 – Creed is now a niche perfume house with boutiques in Paris, New York, Dubai and Milan. They source only the purest elements from around the world to make their fragrances and take an approach to production more similar to producing fine wines. One of their most sought-after perfumes is this Original Santal blend, which is inspired by Asia, and in particular, Royal Sandalwood trees.
Christian Dior may not have been around long enough to truly witness the impact his self-titled brand would have on contemporary fashion, but if he is looking down it will be with a proud smile. Dior is one of the biggest high-end luxury fashion houses in the world, and the envy of countless others. They’re also dab hands in cologne, such as this Dior Homme, with its masculine, rugged scent inspired by an Atlas Cedar tree base. Dior Homme is an ode to what it means to be a modern man.
Ben Gorham, the founder of ByRedo, is a Swede who spent a lot of his youth growing up in the US and Canada. Inspired by memories, emotions and experiences of these three countries, he set up ByRedo, a luxury brand specialising in fragrances and candles. The brand’s Sunday cologne has become somewhat of a classic since its release, with its crisp and citrusy tones for those less formal, relaxing days when the mind is free and in creative mode.
Joanne Lesley Malone’s story, from a dyslexic early school leaver who cared for her sick mother, to one of the most successful fragrance producers on the planet is well documented. Although probably better known for scented candles, this Velvet Rose & Oud Cologne shows that her company is highly skilled in bringing the right notes together regardless of the end product. This rich fragrance has a sandalwood base, with notes of Indonesian cloves and praline, a French confectionary, to form something that genuinely dazzles the nose.
Parisian maison de luxe Hermes has been specialising in high Lifestyle, whether it be leather accessories, home furnishings or delightful perfumes and fragrances, since 1837. Their Terre D’Hermes takes inspiration from land and the great outdoors. It’s a warm, yet dense scent with hints of benzoin and shiso. The fragrance itself sits in a wonderfully crafted glass bottle that can be refilled and is inspired by contemporary architecture. For such a renowned label and end product, the price is lower than you’d expect for an added bonus.
Albert Fouquet, the creator and brains behind Eight and Bob, was the son of a Parisian aristocrat. When a chance meeting with a certain John. F. Kennedy took place in south-east France, the future US president was so blown away by his cologne that he begged the Frenchmen for a sample of his unique scent. Their base ingredients used by Eight and Bob are a closely guarded secret, such as those used to produce this Eau De Parfum for men. What we do know is that Andrea is used, an incredibly rare plant that grows at altitude in Chile, and can only be farmed over a two month period each year.
Viktor and Rolf have been bringing their distorted yet playful designs to the fashion world since 1995, but 10 years later they set up a store in Sant’Andrea, Rome for their experiments in perfumes. Their Spicebomb collection comes in four distinctly different sents for different occasions. Each fragrance is held in a grenade shapes bottle, to exemplify the explosive characters of their contents. Regardless of whether you’re into the gimmicky look of the bottles or not, the scents are quite remarkable.
Formerly known as Maison Martin Margiela, this luxury French maison haute couture was founded in Paris back in 1988. The brand’s designers are very fond of that deconstructive, avant-garde ethos, magnified in products such as this gender anonymous Across Sands Perfum. Launched in 2016 using ingredients such as agarwood, dates and range of spices, it carries captivating tones that suggest the wearer is forward-thinking and creative. It comes in a nice, minimalistic bottle with silver laboratory label, and although its sits at the higher end of the price spectrum, it’s worth every penny!
Whether you’re talking about the creative culinary genius of El Bulli or the otherworldly soccer skills of Lionel Messi, Barcelona and creative flair seemingly go hand in hand. Carner set up shop in the city in 2009 with the aim of creating scents that provoke emotions, experiences and the image of landscapes. Their Cuirs unisex fragrance is the liquified proof of their manifesto, a leather fragrance with hints of guaiac wood and violet, a symbolic message from the Mediterranean shores of Barcelona.
Only a formidable scent could make a brand have two colognes on this list, but we wouldn’t be doing you guys justice if we didn’t mention Dior’s, Eau Sauvage. It’s incredible to think that this fragrance first appeared all the way back in 1966 and was Dior’s first-ever for men, created by French master perfumer Edmond Roudnitska. To advertise the release of the perfume Dior enlisted the skills of French actor Alain Delon, which in a way started a whole genre of perfume ads that still confuse the hell out of us today!
London’s IIUVO is a relative newcomer on the block, a fragrance brand started by two friends with a passion for scents and zero experience within the sector. They use an altogether more modern approach to producing their fragrances, such as using imagery and music to make their scents more rounded, opening all of our senses. Their Soigné EDP fragrance uses spicey cinnamon notes alongside nutmeg to create an element of warmth, over a sandalwood base. An excellent cologne that’s also great value.
Italian luxury lifestyle brand is no stranger to helping men smell better. The company specialises in candles and fragrances, and has been at the forefront of luxurious cologne ever since 1916. Colonia Oud is an evolution of Colonia, the very first fragrance Acqua di Parma produced. This latest edition has more of a woody aroma, hence the Oud naming. If you're unfamiliar with Oud or are keen to jump into the world of woody aromas, Acqua di Parma's bottle is the perfect entry point.
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