“Someone smells really good in here.” These six words can make a man’s day. They don’t even need to be directed his way. Just knowing your signature scent was a talking point for the day will have him feeling great.
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 1-3% perfume oil choice that lasts only for an hour or so at a time, followed by eau de toilette options, which are the most popular as they last up to three hours a time and contain up to 15% perfume oil, and then parfum sprays, which 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: Of course, 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 large bottles, 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 3-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.
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. While this isn’t the most complex fragrance for men, it’s a versatile option that will turn away very few.
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. And, for many men, it’s a scent that welcomed them into the world of men’s fragrances over a decade ago. Overall, it’s a stellar cologne by just about every metric.
Cremo Bourbon & Oak Cologne
A sophisticated but welcoming blend of bourbon and oak that's great for those looking to get their footing in the fragrance game.
Pros: A classic choice for men who are new to cologne, this Cremo Bourbon & Oak Cologne matches any occasion with plenty of finesse. It’s a versatile blend layered with three dominant notes: an intoxicating bourbon, a crisp oak, and an earthy vetiver to tie it all together. Such a fragrance has all of the markings of a bottle you’d see on the top shelf of a high-end boutique, but this one is yours for less than a meal at your favorite restaurant.
Cons: This is a scent that really comes on hard and fast and takes a little while to show its overall quality, not to mention its more complex notes. As such, it’s better to use it at home before going out than to keep it in your vehicle or locker.
Bottom Line: This fragrance’s low cost and great versatility will make it a hit for men from all walks of life. As such, it’s easy to see why it’s a popular started fragrance for those dipping their toes into the world of cologne. That said, don’t be surprised if it becomes your go-to scent!
Pros: Looking to get more out of your cologne than a few spritzes before you head out the door? This Perry Ellis 360° Gift Set contains not just one personal cologne but a travel-friendly version of the same scent, as well as a deodorizing spray and a shower gel. For normal occasions in which you’d like to feel semi-presentable, you have the deodorizing spray. Big night in or out of town? Spray on some cologne. Want to smell even better before bed? Your shower gel awaits. It’s a bundle that will point you in the right direction for any occasion, with notes of mandarin orange, cloves, and lavender guiding the way.
Cons: This isn’t exactly the most adventurous fragrance option in this guide, which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your personality and preferences. That being said, if you’re seeking something bold and unique, you might not be altogether satisfied with this set.
Bottom Line: If you’ve been long seeking a clean, energizing fragrance that’s versatile and mild, then the Perry Ellis 360° Gift Set includes a product for just about any situation you can find yourself in. While this might not end up being your signature scent, it offers everyday versatility for an incredibly fair price.
Pilestone Designer Fragrance Sampler
If you're on the hunt for a new signature scent, this 12-count variety collection has a trusted selection and optimal bang for your buck.
Pros: An ideal choice for those who have yet to find their scent, this Pilestone Designer Fragrance Sampler for Men includes 12 high-end sample colognes that will help any man zero in on their go-to choice. From the spiced aroma of Versace and Drakkar to the woodsy hints of Lacoste and Le Fou 21, you’re getting a variety pack that touches every corner of men’s fragrance.
Cons: Some reviewers received half-full vials of sample cologne or products that had been discontinued. As such, it’s important to set your expectations accordingly and use this product as a tool to learn about what types of cologne strike your fancy.
Bottom Line: Let’s face it: men who are new to the realm of men’s cologne sometimes end up spending hundreds of dollars before they can find a product that truly works for them. This sampler set is a great way to save yourself some money while trying out some of the best fragrances on the market.
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.