Buying Guide for Cologne
Why buy cologne?
While some men assume that the only reason to buy cologne is to attract others, this is simply not true. The right cologne can improve your confidence, elevate your mood, and give you the perfect fragrant backdrop for whatever the day might bring. And, of course, a stellar cologne may just be able to attract your type of people.
What should you look for in a cologne?
- Concentration: First and foremost, it is important to note that while some colognes may contain the same ingredients, they will not smell the same after a period of time if their fragrance concentration is different. Concentration refers to the pureness or dilution of a spray. There is the eau fraiche, a 1 to 3% perfume oil choice that lasts only for an hour or so at a time. Followed by eau de toilette options, these are the most popular as they last up to three hours a time and contain up to 15% perfume oil. Parfum sprays contain up to 30% perfume and are the purest scents you can buy. It’s a hierarchy of smell and cost, so consider a balance between the two.
- Scents: Finding the perfect cologne is also about personal preference and context. What kind of smell do you or your significant other gravitate toward? Moreover, think about your scent in regard to the seasons and what time of day you’re likely to wear the spray. Also, consider how the scent might mix with your deodorant if you have a strong-smelling deodorant.
- Capacity: Finally, don’t forget to take into account the amount of cologne per bottle you’re dealing with. Cologne sours within a few short years, so if you buy a large bottle, then you need to be the type of person who wears it often. Infrequent users who reserve cologne for special occasions should limit themselves to three-ounce bottles and smaller.
What are a cologne’s top, heart, and base notes?
Understanding how a cologne’s fragrance evolves after it’s applied can be a little confusing, especially if you’re new to the world of cologne. However, when broken down into top, heart, and base notes, your favorite fragrances may start to make more sense. A fragrance’s top notes are the strong and fleeting aromas that first tantalize your senses after putting on cologne. However, these quickly give way to more robust notes (the “heart” of the fragrance) that last much longer and often represent the signature fragrances of the product. Finally, base notes are the alluring smells that linger after the dominant fragrance has dissipated. These are often lost to those without a keen sense of smell but can be truly attention-grabbing for those with refined senses.
Our Picks for the Best Colognes
Nautica Voyage Eau De Toilette
This light, alluring scent combines fruity top notes with a rustic base to deliver an unforgettable fragrance.
Pros: While this cologne initially stands out for its fresh and fruity top notes of apple and green leaves, its more masculine and refined base scents of cedarwood and amber make it an unforgettable fragrance that won’t empty your bank account. Additionally, this fragrance has long been known to have many admirers, making it a safe choice if you’re seeking a fragrance that’s unlikely to offend. If you’re looking for a stellar fragrance to complement your sunglasses and beach hat as you enjoy the sunny weather, this one is worth the price.
Cons: The main mark against this fragrance lies in its ephemerality, as its base and heart notes are fairly short-lived compared to other popular colognes. However, for the price, this cologne offers more than enough in the way of legs to make it a sound investment for most men.
Bottom Line: Here, Nautica clearly strove to encapsulate everything one loves about the sunny season into a bottle–the adventure, the sweetness, and the liveliness in the air—and it can be said that they did an amazing job.
Paco Rabanne 1 Million Fragrance For Men
This is a luxury designer scent that's perfect for the modern man.
Pros: 1 Million is a popular scent from the luxury design house Paco Rabanne. This is a fruity scent that features notes of rose, cinnamon, blond leather, and blond wood. You’ll also get notes of blood mandarin. This is the perfect pick for a signature scent. The bottle holds 200 milliliters or 6.8 ounces of eau de toilette spray.
Cons: While a popular scent with an iconic commercial associated with it, this is also quite pricey for many people.
Bottom Line: Create a signature scent with this elevated pick from Paco Rabanne, which combines citrus, spice, and leather for a heady experience.
Versace Eros Men's Mini EDT
This is the perfect scent to take with you whether prepping for date night after work or when you're breezing through TSA.
Pros: Large bottles of perfume are nice. But if you like to cycle through scents frequently or prefer to be a carry-on-only traveler, those oversized bottles are impractical. Instead, the travel sizes can let you sample different scents to find your signature style and also stay within the TSA’s strict size allowances. This Versace Eros Men’s mini is the perfect size at just 0.17 ounces or five milliliters. You’ll get notes of tonic bean, geranium, atlas cedar, vetiver, and oak moss.
Cons: While convenient for travel or testing scents, this size might not be practical for other uses.
Bottom Line: Test out a scent before you commit to a larger size by opting for this travel-friendly version of the iconic Versace Eros Men’s scent.
Curve Spicy Wood Men's Cologne
This bold, youthful fragrance has been a staple cologne for many men for over a decade.
Pros: Seeking a bold fragrance that will help you stand out from the crowd? In that case, the Curve Spicy Wood Men’s Cologne is an excellent choice. Sporting notes of cardamom and sandalwood that become stronger over time, this cologne’s fragrant crescendo is something to behold. However, despite this fragrance’s masculine, woodsy aroma, this cologne also possesses an understated gentleness that many find alluring. While this product is tailor-made for the young and bold, men of any age can benefit from a fragrance like this.
Cons: This cologne has been around for a long time, and over the years, it has gained a reputation for being somewhat inconsistent from bottle to bottle in terms of its strength and dominant notes. As such, if you enjoyed this a decade ago, set your expectations accordingly before you venture back into the woods.
Bottom Line: This is an everyday cologne that’s as versatile as your favorite pair of Levi’s jeans and bold enough to make a statement without overpowering the senses. Overall, it’s a stellar cologne by just about every metric.
Lucky Brand Men's Cologne Fragrance Spray
This is a great everyday scent that easily transitions from work to casual settings.
Pros: Awaken your senses with a perfume that contains notes of tamarind, cardamom, and bamboo stem. This Eau de cologne is 100 milliliters or 3.4 ounces by volume and is the perfect blend of grass, florals, and woods to help you create a signature scent that easily transitions from the office to after-hours and the weekend.
Cons: Some may find that the scent doesn’t last as long as they would have liked.
Bottom Line: If you’re in the market for a light scent that easily transitions from day to night, this is a great option from Lucky Brand.
The right cologne can elevate your mood and outlook while attracting the best types of people to your unique aura. Check out these top picks for men’s cologne to find the perfect fragrance for your personality and presence.