Let’s face the facts: finding a fragrance suitable for you can be insanely difficult, and even that might not describe it best. Whether you prefer something musky, woody, fruity, or flat-out indistinguishable, narrowing down the perfect choice can be hard, and blind-buying a new cologne is even harder. So to help you in your quest to find the perfect scent (or scents), we’ve put together this exhaustive guide laying out the 20 best men’s colognes to buy this year.
The perfect scent can be the ideal accessory to any outfit, serving as a fantastic addition to any ensemble while helping you feel more confident and put together (just don’t overdo it — two to three sprays is plenty). Whether you consider a spritz of cologne to be just another part of a grooming routine or a key element of your wardrobe as a whole, there’s no understating just how much of an added nuance a good fragrance (or a collection of them) provides. With an endless bounty to choose from, we decided to do the hard work for you, as we narrowed down a total of 20 incredible men’s fragrances to spritz on your pulse points throughout the calendar year, split up by season with some all-rounders tossed in, too.
Know Your Strength
EDT Vs. EDP
Fragrances are sold in different formulations, with French terms listed on the bottle giving you an idea of their strength. In the men’s cologne space, the two most frequent you come across are Eau de Toilette (EDT) and Eau de Parfum (EDP). The difference between an EDP and EDT can be significant, but this defining label should never deter you from a scent that’s calling your name. After all, though technically the weaker formulation, there are some very strong EDTs out there, as well as some pretty weak EDPs. It all comes down to the individual formulations. That said, it’s only right to provide a proper rundown regarding what the real contrast is, and you’ll come to learn that it is all a game of percentages.
Eau de Toilette: An EDT serves as the (relatively) less aromatic of the two, typically concocted with between 5 and 15 percent fragrance oil in its overall makeup. More often than not, the average eau de toilette, and many of the bottles we mention in our guide, tend to last anywhere between 3 and 7 hours.
Eau de Parfum: On average, most EDPs consist of anywhere between 10 and 20 percent fragrance oil. This results in a lingering scent that could stick with you for as long as ten hours. An Eau de Parfum’s listing price generally outweighs that of an EDT — especially for scents that offer both formulations — but it’s worth the extra bucks when accounting for longevity.
It’s also worth pointing out that while men’s fragrances are commonly referred to as “colognes” in the U.S., this term technically refers to Eau de Cologne, the classification just below Eau de Toilette that typically contains just 2 to 4 percent fragrance oil. Likewise, Americans refer to female fragrances as perfumes, which, you guessed it, is another classification. Parfums (no Eau) are the strongest category out there, packing in over 20% fragrance oil in their compositions.
All Day, Every Day
We decided to go with an absolute classic to kick this list off. While we could’ve rolled with the iconic French fashion house’s revered, heavily-advertised Sauvage fragrance, we’re stirring the pot a bit and adding a touch of spice. Dior Homme’s spicy flagship scent is a result of its black pepper top notes, which ultimately turn floral due to its light, Turkish iris heart notes, and remains timeless forever. As one of the world’s most popular colognes, there’s no room for error here.
Top Notes: Bergamot, pink pepper, and elemi
Heart Notes: Cashmere wood, atlas cedar, and patchouli
Base Notes: Haitian vetiver and white musk
Chanel Bleu de Chanel
For our second everyday choice, we’re handing it off to another modern classic from a fragrance powerhouse — however, it’s worth noting that Bleu de Chanel has seen a shift in notes over the years. The French luxury brand labels Bleu De Chanel as “the essence of independence and determination,” and while that may be a bit preachy, it’s hard to disagree. With its citrusy take-off leading into an abiding aroma of ginger, cedar, and sandalwood, this fragrance is perfect to wear at any point of the year, and you’re unlikely to offend anyone with it.
Top Notes: Grapefruit, mint, and pink pepper
Heart Notes: Ginger, nutmeg, and jasmine
Base Notes: Incense, sandalwood, and labdanum
Arquiste’s flagship scent has garnered the respect of many, including The Fragrance Foundation itself. Based on the pompous decadence of late-1800s France, this provocative scent was developed alongside perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux, a biology major who ultimately nose-dived into the world of fine perfumes (no pun intended). And so, MISFIT is a flawless embodiment of what came to shape, boasting a blend of top notes of bergamot and carrot seed, followed by earthy heart notes of akigalawood and ambrette seed. If you’re on the lookout for an enigmatic scent that no one can pin down, then Arquiste’s award-winning fragrance is an incredible choice.
Top Notes: Calabrian bergamot, carrot seed, and lavender root
Heart Notes: Bulgarian rose, Akigalawood, and ambrette seed
Base Notes: Patchouli, Venezuelan tonka bean, and tolu balsam
Tom Ford Lost Cherry
While it’s up for debate, Tom Ford is arguably the greatest fashion house to look toward when it comes to fragrances, and its endless collection to choose from would convince most that that’s true. As one of the more recent additions to the designer’s aromatic portfolio, Lost Cherry is enigmatic in a similar vein to the aforementioned MISFIT, serving as an aphrodisiac unto itself. With inviting notes of black cherry and almond followed up by Arabian Jasmine and a hint of liquor, Lost Cherry will find its way, be it in your cabinet or on your skin.
Top Notes: Sour cherry, bitter almond, and liquor
Heart Notes: Turkish rose, plum, and jasmine sambac
Base Notes: Tonka bean, vanilla, and sandalwood
Fresh & Clean
Prada Luna Rossa Ocean
Springtime calls for scents that work across a range of temperatures, and Prada’s ocean-inspired concept provides just the right blend of cool aquatic notes and warm woodiness for the transitional season. Luna Rossa Ocean is a product of revered perfumers Anne Filpo and Carlos Benaim. Perfect for the daytime, its blend of bergamot essence and vetiver join one another to provide a breezy, earthy scent. Aroma aside, the cologne’s sporty blue bottle classes this choice up even more.
Top Notes: Bergamot, pink pepper, and artemesia
Heart Notes: Iris notes, lavender, and saffron accord
Base Notes: Vetiver, musks, and patchouli
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris L’Homme à la Rose
Francis Kurdijan is the master perfumer behind famous fragrances for Lanvin, Kenzo, Dior, and much more. However, the majority of his portfolio comes courtesy of his eponymous brand, and this lighthearted, floral choice is ideal for springtime. While it revolves around the essence of Centifolia and Damask rose, these flowery notes are accentuated by the earthy scent of cistus and amber woods. There are countless choices to choose from the brand, but this is as good as it gets.
Top Notes: Centifolia rose and grapefruit accord
Heart Notes: Damask rose and cistus
Base Notes: French sage and amber woods
Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze Florentine Iris
Another one of our favorite spring-appropriate fragrances is a sumptuous selection from Ermenegildo Zegna’s wide catalog. Woody and floral all at the same time, this deeply concentrated choice is a perfect evening time choice thanks to its strong sense of musk and a glistening touch of jasmine and violet. Packaged in a luxurious bottle crafted from smoked glass, everything about this option screams opulence, and you haven’t even smelled it yet.
Top Notes: Bergamot
Heart Notes: Iris, jasmine, violet
Base Notes: White musk
Creed Green Irish Tweed
Creed’s trendy collection of traditional fragrances may have been all the rage for the past two decades or so, used by the likes of celebrities like Jay-Z and David Beckham, but the fragrance house is no new kid on the block: it’s been putting scents together since 1760. Introduced in 1985, Green Irish Tweed is one of the French label’s best-sellers, and it’s safe to assume many of those purchases came around this time of year. As one of the list’s most sophisticated choices, it’s highlighted by brisk top notes of iris and lemon verbena, which paves the way for floral violet middle notes, and is rounded out by the ever-so-musky scent of ambergris.
Top Notes: Lemon, Indian verbana, peppermint
Heart Notes: Violet
Base Notes: Sandalwood, florentine iris, ambergris
Acqua di Parma Colonia
Acqua di Parma’s iconic Colonia evokes the essence of Italy through each of its notes. This Eau de Cologne touches on the citrusy scent of Sicily with lemon and sweet orange, then stops by the floral countryside with notes of lavender, verbena, and rosemary, before finishing things off with a black-tie worthy touch thanks to a lingering scent of sandalwood and vetiver. This fragrance has stood the test of time for good reason, having launched in 1916 as the original Italian cologne and serving as a quintessential favorite for the average dapper man (including Cary Grant, back in the day).
Top Notes: Lemon, sweet orange, and Calabrian bergamot
Heart Notes: Lavender, Bulgarian rose, and rosemary
Base Notes: Vetiver, sandalwood, and patchouli
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Beau
As a leader in menswear, Jean-Paul Gaultier also knows his way around accessories. Perfumers Quentin Bisch and Sonia Constant came together to connect a dizzyingly sweet scent perfect for a tropical getaway — or perfect enough to make up for the fact that you’re not on one. With notes of bursting bergamot, sweet coconut, and lush tonka bean, Le Beau is the perfect choice for tiki enthusiasts and island goers.
Top Notes: Bergamot
Heart Notes: Tonka bean
Base Notes: Coconut
Byredo Open Sky
Byredo’s minimalist approach to packaging allows the elixir inside each bottle to speak for itself. It’s hard to go wrong with any scent from the niche Swedish perfumer, but its limited Open Sky is a perfect choice for the summertime. Boasting notes of pomelo, black pepper, and hemp leaves, this unique fragrance is robust, sweet, and has the perfect hint of spice to keep you on your toes. Inspired by the experience of travel, this scent was concocted at some point in the pandemic, deeming it a choice we can all relate to a bit. Plus, with countless others to choose from, it is bound to serve as a great gateway to the rest of Byredo’s enticing catalog.
Top Notes: Black pepper and pomelo
Heart Notes: Hemp leaves
Base Notes: Vetiver and palo santo
Louis Vuitton City of Stars
In an homage to the glitzy aura of Los Angeles, Louis Vuitton crafted a sweet, citrus-based nighttime scent perfect to take on the city’s brightest lights. With citrusy top notes of lime, blood orange, blood mandarin, lemon, and bergamot, you’re probably assuming there’s no room for any other scents to come out of that — but you’d be wrong. This citrus overdose is mellowed out by notes of tiara flower, musk, and sandalwood, rounding it out to make for an incredible choice for a warm night out. In addition to that, it is packaged in a gorgeous bottle, similar to the rest of LV’s fragrances.
Top Notes: Lime, blood orange, lemon, bergamot, and blood mandarin
Heart Notes: Tiare flower
Base Notes: Musk and sandalwood
YSL La Nuit De L’Homme
Following suit with this guide’s trend of high-end names, it doesn’t get any more runway-appropriate than Saint Laurent. you should consider ending the summer and kicking this autumn off with YSL’s La Nuit De L’Homme. French for “The Night of the Man,” this fan-favorite serves as the ideal cool-weather fragrance, with notes of lavender and cedarwood keeping things ultra-cozy.
Top Notes: Cardamom and grapefruit
Heart Notes: Leather, lavender, and clary sage
Base Notes: Tonka bean, sandalwood, and patchouli
With its earthy, woody aroma, Rōzu is a perfect choice for when the leaves start to crisp up and also serves as Aesop’s most popular fragrance. Aimed toward pioneers and modernists, this enriching fragrance instills the notion of outdoor adventure and indoor comfort, falling in line with the remainder of the eco-cognizant grooming label’s envious catalog.
Top Notes: Rose, shiso, and bitter orange
Heart Notes: Guaiac wood, jasmine, and ylang-ylang
Base Notes: Vetiver, patchouli, and myrrh
Le Labo Santal 33
Santal 33 is the fragrance that put Le Labo on the map in 2011, and the premier New York-bred fragrance hasn’t looked back since. Though it’s grown somewhat commonplace, you can’t go wrong with this instant classic. Its floral blend is rounded out with absolute ruggedness, which comes courtesy of a wide variety of notes, starting with violet cord and cardamom, leading into an interesting blend of musky ambrox and floral iris, then finished off with a jagged fusion of leather and a hefty dose of sandalwood.
Top Notes: Violet accord and cardamom
Heart Notes: Iris and ambrox
Base Notes: Cedarwood, leather, and sandalwood
Tom Ford Tuscan Leather
Tom Ford is the only name that you will notice appears on this list twice, and for good reason. Ford introduced this decadent fragrance in 2007, and through the years, Tuscan Leather has garnered reverence from countless consumers (along with some world-famous rappers). On paper, this is a bit of an odd duck, with raspberry, saffron, and thyme top notes that are finished off by a lingering carnal blend of leather, suede, and amber, but trust us, it doesn’t get much more alluring than this. And just to be clear, this is, by all means, a nighttime fragrance.
Top Notes: Raspberry, saffron, and thyme
Heart Notes: Olibanum and jasmine
Base Notes: Leather, suede, and amber
Sugar & Spice
Moncler Pour Homme
Through its sprawling catalog of winter garments, it’s safe to say that no one knows the snow better than Moncler — at least when it comes to any name that appears on this list. That said, its first-ever fragrance hit the scene this past winter and it remains the chic Italian label’s sole offering. It smells like a ski retreat — not the inside of the cabin, mind you, but like the snow-covered mountainside itself. Light and airy with a touch of woodsy pine packed into a sleek, LED-clad package, this is a perfect match for your down puffer.
Top Notes: Alpine green accord and clary sage
Heart Notes: Cypress and cedarwood
Base Notes: Mountain woods accord and vetiver
Viktor&Rolf Spicebomb Extreme
The Dutch perfumers at Viktor&Rolf have been adept at fusing fragrance and design since coming to shape in the early 1990s, with Spicebomb Extreme serving as an incredibly smooth scent that’s perfect for the colder seasons. This grenade-shaped bottle packs an explosion of warm and comforting holiday scents, with its broad olfactory notes of cumin, cinnamon, saffron, vanilla, and, last but not least, bourbon.
Top Notes: Lavender, caraway, and black pepper
Heart Notes: Cumin, cinnamon, and saffron
Base Notes: Vanilla and tobacco
Maison Margiela REPLICA Jazz Club
Maison Margiela’s entire REPLICA line of fragrances is a prime example of why you shouldn’t always select an EDP over an EDT. While any scents from this near-endless collection stand out, the robust Jazz Club EDT is warm, heady, and incredibly inviting, with sweet notes of honey and rum contrasted by the spice of pink pepper and smokiness of cigar boxes. Do yourself a favor by simply spraying this one on, pouring yourself a drink, and playing your favorite records.
Top Notes: Pink pepper, neroli, and lemon
Heart Notes: Rum, java vetiver oil, and clary sage
Base Notes: Tobacco leaf, vanilla bean, and styrax.
D.S. & DURGA Burning Barbershop
Burning Barbershop is an ideal concoction for any frigid winter night, boasting notes of fresh spearmint, soothing lavender, burnt oil, and a touch of lime for added freshness. D.S. & DURGA’s cheeky perfume has quite a backstory, too. Based on a burned-down barbershop in upstate New York in 1891, the fragrance house claims that the one thing left behind was a blend of charred shaving tonics that smelled like this. Whether this is a true story or not, we have no idea, but it’s a worthy origin for a worthwhile choice.
Top Notes: Spearmint, lime, and hemlock spruce
Heart Notes: Lavender and Turkish rose
Base Notes: Burnt oil, vanilla, and hay
20 Best Grooming Essentials for Men
There’s a lot more that goes into a solid grooming routine than a bottle or two of fragrance. To see what else your medicine cabinet needs, have a look at our guide to the 20 best grooming essentials for men.
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