The Best Colognes for Men
A cologne is essential to any well-rounded gentleman who wants to make a lasting impression. Having a signature scent can help distinguish you from the crowd, and give others something that they can remember you fondly by.
However, with an overwhelming array of options to choose from, how are you supposed to make the right scent choice? There are an endless number of cologne brands, as well as numerous individual fragrances that combine notes from different scent families.
Don’t worry, we have you covered. You can start with this list of the best colognes for men all released within the last 12 months, as you’re certain to find one among its ranks that will appeal to you.
The Bottle: Black, matte, and sleek. That’s all you need to know about Blu Atlas Atlantis’ packaging. The bottle is simple, classic, and straightforward, letting the scent speak for itself. You’ll want to display this on your desk or shelf, as it impresses with its understated grandeur. Plus, opening it upon first purchase is such a thrill!
The Scent: Blu Atlas asserts that the coastal jungles of Bali inspired Atlantis, and the scent more than lives up to that claim. The top notes catch you off guard, welcoming you to a lively, intriguing new world with fresh bergamot, lemon, and blackcurrant. The fragrance’s heart is unexpectedly sweet and dynamic, with peach and apricot balanced out by earthy, grounding clary sage and lavender. Stay tuned for the magnificent base, a combination of musky ambrette seed, oakmoss, and orris. The entire Blu Atlas Atlantis experience, from start to finish, is one unforgettable adventure.
The Brand: Blu Atlas is a New-York based brand focusing on clean, vegan formulas and premium ingredients, and they’ve quickly made a name for themselves in the world of men’s grooming. Atlantis is their flagship fragrance and is a clear contender for best cologne for men.
The Reviews: Blu Atlas Atlantis consistently pulls in five-star reviews, with one user claiming the cologne stole his allegiance from Dior Sauvage. This customer calls the fragrance “a very clean scent yet complex at the same time. It’s my new go-to cologne.” Another customer claims it has “solid lasting power.”
The Bottle: This bottle is a classic Givenchy look, providing that iconic French charm the brand is known for. It’s simple yet elegant, with the amber color cluing you in to the core of the fragrance. Plus, the bottle is small enough that it can be thrown into a work or gym bag for use on the go.
The Scent: This blend is warm and sensual, with a fresh whiff of bergamot at the top followed by the alluring combination of iris and chestnut, which gives way to the resounding notes of whiskey, woods, and amber for a quintessentially masculine fragrance.
The Brand: If you know anything about fashion, you’ll have heard of Givenchy, a French haute couture label founded in the 1950s. The brand’s designs have been worn by icons like Audrey Hepburn, Naomi Campbell, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Bradley Cooper. You can always trust Givenchy to deliver French elegance in accessible ways.
The Reviews: Since its debut earlier this year, Givenchy Gentleman Reserve Privee has received rave reviews, with users saying “the perfect date night fragrance that would please just about anyone.” Another user labels it “dark richness in a bottle.”
The Bottle: The bottle that encases this rich eau de parfum is another example of simple elegance ala French style. Maybe that’s because it’s the product of a Maison Francis Kurkdijan and Baccarat partnership! This bottle catches the light no matter how you position it, making it a diamond of sorts in the cologne world.
The Scent: Baccarat Rouge 540 is intense in all the best ways, providing a sensory experience that sweeps you up in its majesty. Rich oriental notes like hedione, ambroxan, saffron, and cedar wrap you in aromatic pleasure, bringing to mind the sensual yet delicate scent of jasmine and amber woods, a combination the brand rightfully labels “luminous.”
The Brand: Baccarat has established itself as somewhat of a legend in the generations since it was founded. The brand specializes in the finer things in life, and is known for their collection of crystals along with their numerous luxury fragrances.
The Reviews: One user says there is “an airy and crystalline quality to this, and it never feels heavy.” Another claims, “I have been in court during an active hearing and had a defendant risk contempt charges to ask me what I was wearing! That alone speaks volumes!”
The Bottle: The bottle for Emporio Armani’s Stronger With You Exhibits an Italian sense of style, with rounded edges and a sensual amber color to the cologne. It’s also simple and classic, the mark of a brand that needs no introduction. Another great bottle for your collection!
The Scent: The top notes are spicy and exciting, waking you up with pink peppercorn, cardamom, and violet leaves–a combination you won’t soon forget. Its aromatic heart delivers a laid-back charm and provides all the cool confidence you could need, thanks to clary sage. The heart then dissolves into a warm, strong base of vanilla and sugar-coated chestnut. Choose this scent for date night, as it is truly swoon-worthy.
The Brand: Emporio Armani is an upscale Italian fashion house based in Milan, and the brand focuses on elegant perfumes, iconic watches, and lots of leather. In the past, the brand has turned to icons like David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Rafael Nadal to be the face of their fragrance campaigns, so follow in the stars’ footsteps and opt for this cologne.
The Reviews: Customers focus on this cologne’s versatility, with one user claiming it’s “very alluring for day or evening wear and any age.” Some describe it as “sensational,” and all agree that it is very masculine and attractive for men of any age.
The Bottle: The packaging of Thameen’s Blue Heart is one of the simplest on the list but provides its own personal style with that deep shade of blue. This cologne is the namesake of the world’s largest heart-shaped diamond, a luxurious piece with an aura of fantasy about it. That same fantastical sense and glamorous lifestyle are represented both by the bottle and the fragrance it holds.
The Scent: The top notes consist of an exotic blend of saffron and coconut, which fade into a lush heart of vanilla, orris root, and tonka beans. Although these notes are warm and soulful, they are expertly blended to make this cologne a scent that can be worn year-round, not only in the coldest months. At the base of the fragrance, you’ll find amber, white musk, and nagarmotha, which gives off a rich, woodsy aroma that oozes opulence.
The Brand: Thameen is a London-based fragrance brand, and its scents are all inspired by the most luminous precious jewels of the world. The brand is known for creating luxurious scents that outlast the competition, sticking around for around nine hours after application on average.
The Reviews: Reviewers are drawn in by the fragrance hype but are impressed by its performance, calling it “unique” and “addictive.” One user calls it “an absolute stunner.” Both men and women swear by Blue Heart.
The Bottle: You’d be hard-pressed to find a more fun packaging and bottle than the one that accompanies Berdoues’ Dolce Amalfi. It’s covered with sunbathers to remind you of romantic Italian beaches and glorious summer days and is sure to add a pop of personal style to your room.
The Scent: Berdoues has managed to compress an Italian beach getaway into a sprayable scent with a simple and energizing blend of notes that will liven up your days. Upon spraying, you’ll immediately be greeted with Italian lemon, a bright and zesty note that transports you to the Amalfi coast. Next, the perfume softens to provide a dose of intoxicating Indonesia-sourced patchouli, then dries down to reveal spicy Virginian cedar.
The Brand: Berdoues is the product of generations of the same French family, who have run the perfume house since the early 20th century. Since 2015 the first female head of the fragrance company has continued to build the brand’s legacy and recently released the Grand Crus collection, inspired by special vacation destinations worldwide.
The Reviews: Reviewers call this fragrance “perfect for summer” and “lots of fun,” meaning it will certainly be your summer party go-to!
7. CK1 Palace
The Bottle: With CK1 Palace, you can expect the typical apothecary-style bottle we’ve come to know and love over the years. Calvin Klein’s fragrances are iconic, and CK1 Palace will surely join the ranks as one of the best colognes for men.
The Scent: This cologne features both woodsy and citrusy notes, making for a unique fragrance best suited to men who walk to the beat of their own drums. Mandarin, lemon, and sweet pea appear off the bat, followed by herbaceous violet leaf combined with plum and apple at the fragrance’s core, slowly revealing a cozy base of oakmoss, sandalwood, and cashmere over time.
The Brand: Calvin Klein certainly needs no introduction, as the brand has produced classic fashion pieces and timeless fragrances over the last decades. The fashion house’s perfumery made a name for itself with scents like CKone, a favorite among A-listers. This particular fragrance is the result of a partnership with Palace, the hipster skateboarding shop.
The Reviews: The release of CK1 Palace was met by much fanfare, and reviewers consistently prize this cologne as a mellow and cool fragrance. One customer claims, “it’s fresh and cool in the CK way, but it has a unique, earthy edge.” Another said this is ideal to be “dressed up or down,” and another calls it a “crowd-pleaser.”
8. D by Diesel
The Bottle: The D by Diesel comes with style all its own, as the bottle looks like it has been grasped in someone’s hand. This look makes it a great conversation starter, so keep it out where everyone can see it!
The Scent: Expect an interesting and complex aromatic fragrance experience from D by Diesel. It begins with a revitalizing combination of ginger and bergamot, followed by a luscious blend of a denim cotton accord (is there anything better than the smell of fresh jeans?) with lavender, which dries down to a warm base of vanilla and amber woods. The perfect pairing with a classic T-shirt and jeans combo, or to dress down a full suit.
The Brand: You probably know Diesel by its most popular product: denim. The Italian brand has been a forerunner in the distressed chic look and often takes on politically charged streetwear campaigns that take a stand against issues like social media bullying. A brand with high style and a message you can get behind!
The Reviews: Reviewers call this an ideal everyday scent, with one claiming “the dry down is exquisite and grows on you if you give it a chance.” Another claims it is “nostalgic and feels strangely cozy and comforting.”
How to Choose the Best Cologne
Found a cologne on the list above that sounds right up your alley, one that expresses your personal style? Or are you still undecided after looking through them?
If your answer is the latter, that’s no problem at all. Continue reading to learn more about how to discern and choose the best colognes for men.
What is Actually in Cologne?
Typically, you buy a scent and spritz it, not considering what might be inside. But what makes up cologne, and how do they fit a bunch of different scent notes into a bottle?
On its most basic level, cologne is “perfume essence,” and other ingredients are added to dilute the essence, which would be too strong and strange smelling on its own. Typically the perfume essence is made up of essential oils, animal extracts, and synthetic fragrances. Then, alcohol and water are added to dilute the strong smell and make it sprayable.
What Makes a Cologne Great?
A great cologne is expertly blended to achieve an alluring combination of fragrance notes and an overall vibe that evokes emotions in the wearer and the person he is around. You want to reach for your cologne and know that it will give you the boost you need to find success in all of life’s arenas. A great cologne ensures this.
The other aspect of the best cologne? How does it look on your shelf? You want the bottle and packaging to reflect the classy and sophisticated scent. The scents that made our list have impressive packaging to match.
A Quick Guide to Understanding Cologne Fragrance Notes
As you read the descriptions of colognes below, you’ll see a lot of mention of things like top notes and accords. But what does it all mean? Here is a quick guide to understanding fragrance notes.
The best fragrances are dynamic, with layers of intriguing scents that blend in unexpected ways. That’s why the concept of fragrance notes, or the individual scents that together make up a cologne, is so important.
Top notes are the first ones you smell when you spray cologne. These are usually bright and fresh and introduce you to the scent, and they only last up to about 15 minutes after application. Think of scent notes like notes in a musical chord played together. Alone they are powerful and beautiful, but together they create magic!
The fragrance’s heart makes up the most significant percentage of a cologne, so make sure to purchase scents with heart notes you adore. These are also called mid notes, lasting up to around four hours depending on the strength and quality of the cologne.
Last comes the base, which lasts for up to about six hours. This last period of the cologne experience is called the “dry down” and usually encompasses rich and sweet notes that pull you in. Expect irresistible scents like vanilla, musk, and tobacco in the base.
Fragrance accords are combinations of raw scents blended to create a particular effect. For example, a “tea” accord would include raw scents like jasmine, bergamot, and violet to create the effect of a tea-like smell. Marine accords evoke the ocean and may contain sea-sourced ingredients like algae to evoke seaside charm.
Strengths of Colognes
There are a few different strengths of colognes that have different lasting power, so choose the one that fits your needs:
- Eau Fraiche. While eau fraiche will only last up to an hour, it’s by far the most affordable type of fragrance and also a great option when you’re sampling a new scent. This type of cologne typically comes with light scent notes and is fairly discrete.
- Mist or Splash. Mists, splashes, and aftershaves are the weakest of the bunch and are only good for a pick-me-up that lasts a couple of hours. Opt for this as a quick refresher out of the shower, but don’t expect it to stick around all day.
- Eau de Cologne. This type of cologne includes a 2-4% concentration of scent and lasts about the same as the category above, so use sparingly and in situations where you want the scent to peak after an hour or so.
- Eau de Toilette. Eau de toilette is one of the more common fragrance concentrations, with 5-15% lasting somewhere between 3-8 hours. This is a great option for work or date night, but may require additional application.
- Eau de Parfum. Opt for eau de parfum when looking for a strong scent that will last all day or night without needing to reapply. These fragrances often last upwards of six or eight hours, so they’ll have your back through all the day’s ups and downs.
- Parfum is the highest concentration of scent you’ll find because, unlike the others, it isn’t diluted. When choosing a parfum, just be aware of its staying power and choose a scent that you love since it will stick around.
How to Apply Cologne to Last
Suppose you’ve had the frustrating experience of dousing yourself in cologne only to have it fade after a couple of hours. In that case, you should understand how important it is to apply cologne correctly, so it lasts. To get the most out of a fragrance, follow these steps.
- Apply after you shower. Turn your daily cologne application into a ritual, and hop in the shower first. A shower will allow you to cleanse your body of any other competing scents and the warm water and steam will open your pores and allow the cologne to penetrate.
- Moisturize first. Moisturizing before applying cologne is about more than just treating your skin to hydration! This step helps a fragrance soak into your skin and promotes a long-lasting scent, so don’t skip it.
- Spray from a few inches away. To avoid over-applying cologne, spray it from 3-6 inches away from your body. This is the optimal distance for getting the amount of fragrance just right.
- Target pulse points. Pulse points are the places on your body where you can find your pulse, and applying fragrance to these places helps diffuse the scent efficiently. Stick to pulse points in your upper body like your neck, behind your ears, wrists, and chest.
- Don’t rub it in. You may have been taught to apply cologne and then rub it in, but this can change the way the fragrance works. Instead, just give it a few seconds to dry and diffuse on its own.
- Avoid spraying clothes. You probably also have learned to spray your clothes or the air and walk through the cloud of scent. However, some fragrances can stain clothes, so you’re better off just applying small amounts to your pulse points and skipping the clothes spray altogether. If you follow these steps, you won’t need it!
- Reapply if necessary. Depending on your needs and the type of fragrance you’re using, you may have to reapply throughout the day or night.