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A great men’s fragrance is the most powerful tool in your style arsenal. Though it may go unbeknownst to the naked eye, the right cologne can sharpen your suiting attire, add a signature to your everyday uniform, and can even turn any ordinary outfit into something extraordinary for special occasions. “How?” you might ask. The best colognes can provide an invisible cloak of confidence, one that makes you stand taller and step with charming suavity. Studies have shown that fragrance can improve your mood as well as reduce anxiety and stress, enabling you to project the best version of yourself. And while it might be easy for a person to forget what clothing you wear, scent has the ability to leave a lasting impression in our memory. It’s the finishing touch that empowers you to define yourself through the sense of smell, but it also has the transformative power to allow you to embody a version of yourself that you wish to be — so choose your cologne wisely.
What to Consider When Purchasing Men’s Cologne
The booming fragrance market is showing no signs of slowing down (minus an understandable blip in 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic) with 82 percent year-over-year growth in 2021 and a projected value of 47.6 billion dollars in 2027, so we’re bound to see even more men’s cologne options on the market than ever before. To navigate the sometimes dizzying olfactory landscape of endless options, there are a few factors to consider on your quest to discover the best cologne for your needs.
One Men’s Cologne Might Not Be Enough
Men live multifaceted lives, therefore, one scent might not fit all. While you might want to consider a men’s fragrance that’s a bit more fresh and clean, with citrusy, earthy and green notes for workdays, you might want to opt for something headier for evening with amber, spices, and smoky notes.
“While having a signature or singular favorite scent is common, a personal favorite go-to that works for me is having one or two varying options depending on the occasion,” says Autumne West, National Beauty Director at Nordstrom. “Since scent can often influence a person’s mood, having one designated solely on special occasions can set the tone for the evening, versus one that is used as an everyday routine.”
Consider the idea that the essence that makes you, you, might not be found all in one single bottle, so have fun with your fragrance journey as you discover new scent combinations.
Popular Men’s Colognes
For those on the hunt for a new fragrance, some might turn to a bottle with a well-known fashion designer name attached to it. While we firmly believe you should never let a label sway your decision to purchase a cologne, sometimes those popular brands can be a good place to start, especially since they tend to have scent combinations that have wide appeal among men.
“You will find a lot of the more masculine scents will include note combinations that are woodsy and spicy with sandalwood, cedar, bergamot and leather,” says West. “Scents that continue to be popular are Bleu de Chanel, Dior Sauvage, and YSL Y Man. These colognes have a scent profile that layers nicely and include either woody notes or citrus. This might be the right scent for you if you’re looking for something easy and effortless to add to your routine.”
While some popular men’s fragrances, which are considered some of the best-smelling colognes, will incorporate these typically masculine fragrance notes, it’s important to pay attention to top, middle, and base notes of each cologne you smell, as different fragrances on the market will have variations with unexpected ingredients from different olfactory families — and not all are specifically just for men.
“I recommend picking out a fragrance that makes you feel good, regardless of if it’s intended as a men’s cologne or women’s perfume,” says West. “Brands like Le Labo, Jo Malone London, Maison Francis Kurkdijian and Tom Ford make it easy for the customer to select the scent and notes they’re most attracted to rather than the intended audience.”
With consumers looking beyond fragrance marketing campaigns featuring celebrity ambassadors and aspirational imagery to steer them towards a particular fragrance bottle, gender-neutral scents have become the new norm, especially since some women actually prefer to don traditionally masculine scent notes themselves.
“I think many women — myself included — are drawn to more traditionally ‘masculine’ notes in fragrances, especially ambers, ouds, woods and leathers,” says Kaitlin Clark, WWD’s Beauty and Style Commerce Editor, writer of our best perfumes for women story. “I love these notes because they smell rich, full-bodied and opulent, and also because they have a commanding presence; you simply can’t ignore these notes or the person wearing them. Yet, they never feel stifling or overwhelming.”
Let your nose guide you to the formulas that you find attractive instead of any ol’ cologne that is marketed to attract females.
Top Colognes for Men 2022
- Gucci Guilty Parfum Pour Homme
- Dior Sport Homme
- Santa Maria Novella Tabacco Toscano Firenze 1221 Edition Eau de Cologne
- Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur
- Tom Ford Ombré Leather Parfum
- Gucci The Alchemist’s Garden Love at Your Darkest Eau de Parfum
- Byredo Vanille Antique
- Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 Eau de Parfum
- Hims Small Batch Scent
- Burberry Hero
- Ralph Lauren Polo Earth
- Guess Uomo
- Tom Ford Ebene Fume
- Diptyque Orphéon Eau de Parfum
- D.S. & Durga Italian Citrus
- Le Labo Another 13
- YSL Y Eau de Parfum Set
- Jo Malone London Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne
- Louis Vuitton Imagination
- CK One Summer Daze
Tips for Gifting the Best Cologne
Fragrance selection can be a highly personal experience, so there’s no sure way to know what is the best fragrance gift for the men in your life, unless you are familiar with specific scents or notes they already like or use. However, this can be a fun way for your giftee to experience a new cologne they might not necessarily have thought to try themselves.
“Gifting should be fun and personalized,” says West. “But if you aren’t sure where to start, I’d recommend looking into a few classic brands. An easy way to begin is by selecting an eau de toilettes as opposed to an eau de parfum or cologne, as these can be a little more forgiving.”
Though the term “cologne” is generally used to refer to fragrances for men, the real meaning of the term relates to the potency of the fragrance. Eau de parfums have a strong concentration of fragrance oil and tend to last for more hours on the skin, whereas eau de toilettes and eau de colognes have a much lower concentration of fragrance, which dissipates quickly. With a less intense scent and a more affordable price tag over parfums, this makes colognes more ideal to give your boyfriend for his birthday or your dad for Father’s Day.
Now, with all of this in mind, let’s get to the men’s fragrances worthy of your attention, including some of the most popular colognes of all time and best-smelling new releases of 2022. We tested all of the best colognes that you see featured to help guide you on your scent journey.
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Gucci Guilty Pour Homme Parfum
Made for the modern-day Gatsby, the latest addition to the Gucci Guilty line provides a long-lasting olfactory journey that begins with a gin-soaked lemony delight that develops into a woody and earthy aromatic mystery with a musky finish. Though this new classic might seem ideal to pair with crisp linen suiting in a garden party setting, it’s also equally fitting for the refined urbanite to take in the summer sun for an outdoor business lunch.
YSL Y Eau de Parfum Set
One of the most popular men’s colognes right now, YSL Y eau de parfum is an aromatic, woody fragrance with a seductive underbelly. Bold, but not overpowering, this option is an example of a great cologne to gift the men in your life.
“What I love about this gift set is that it includes a mini travel-size to take your fragrance on the go,” says West. “The mix of lavender and cedarwood feels bold, yet fresh and universal.”
Santa Maria Novella Tabacco Toscano Firenze 1221 Edition Eau de Cologne
Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella’s Tabacco Toscano is for gentlemen seeking a cologne that adds an aura of mystery with a warm vanilla wood heart, that holds within itself the mystery of velvet.
The tobacco-forward scent opens with bergamot, followed by a dark and brooding woody-amber and leather heart, which then dries down into a creamy, vanilla base. Consider this cologne the ideal finishing touch to your sharpest attire.
Dior Homme Sport Eau de Toilette
The new Dior Sport Homme fragrance has the revitalizing citrus punch you might expect with a sport scent, but it’s grounded with warm woody and amber notes, along with a kick of spice that take it beyond the gym for everyday, everywhere wear.
Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur Parfum
Described by some as provocative, sensual, and even hypnotic, Frederic Malle has bottled sex appeal in this fragrant masterpiece by master perfumer Maurice Roucel, Musc Ravageur. This head-turning, ambery, animalic creation features top notes of lavender and bergamot for a sweet opening that dries down into a rousing vanilla-heavy aroma that’s spicy and musky.
Editor’s Note: Try Frederic Malle’s recently launched perfume finder service to discover your perfect scent match. This writer was perfectly matched with Musc Ravageur, even after repeating the questionnaire with slightly varying answers.
Tom Ford Ombré Leather Parfum
Ombré Leather Parfum takes the original scent to new levels of intensity for a floral take on a leather fragrance. Violet leaf and cedarwood notes provide a fresh and earthy aroma that when combined with animalic leather and a touch of green tobacco, create a smokey and sweet sensual concoction. It’s both charming and thrilling, which is why it’s one of the most popular men’s colognes on the market.
Jo Malone London Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne
Jo Malone London’s best-smelling cologne, Wood Sage & Sea Salt, is a super light, fresh, woody fragrance that recalls seaside memories with cool, salty air blowing in the wind — and it’s perfect for scent layering.
“Scent layering is an easy way to personalize your fragrance to your own chemistry,” says West. “I love the combination of Wood Sage & Sea Salt for richness and Silver Birch & Lavender to give a citrus, crisp twist with the grapefruit top note.”
Le Labo Another 13
The more you smell Another 13 by Le Labo — an enthralling fragrance with notes of ambrox (synthetic animal musk), jasmine, moss, ambrette seeds, and several other ingredients— the more you can envision the type of man who it belongs to. For this writer, this scent provides a snapshot of a well-dressed, well-coiffed man in a classic button-down shirt, seated at a rooftop bar in the summer sun with small beads of sweet sweat on his neck. He’s charming with great taste and zero pretentiousness — just here for a good time. Maybe you will smell something else, but for a fragrance to let the mind wander so far, you know it has to be good.
Gucci The Alchemist’s Garden Love at Your Darkest Eau de Parfum
Love at Your Darkest is a new addition to Gucci’s line of luxury fragrances with notes of black pepper, incense, and sweet balsamic cedar that create a creamy, deeply woody concoction that will intensify in the summer heat. The sensual potion comes packaged in an elegant bottle inspired by vintage apothecary jars that only adds to its allure.
Byredo Vanille Antique Eau de Parfum
Byredo’s Vanille Antique, a new addition to the brand’s Night Veils collection, is a sweet and spicy blend that takes you on an intoxicating adventure. Sweet vanilla dances with dark notes of cashmere wood, amber, and citrus to create a heady, almost dizzying, aroma with the intensity of a passionate evening of endless opportunities. It’s a sexy cologne that’s not for the faint of heart.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 Eau de Parfum
Ah, Baccarat Rouge 540 — an irresistible woody-amber cologne that’s garnered a cult-like following. Notes of jasmine, saffron, cedarwood and ambergis create a sweet (but not too sweet) aromatic symphony for the sophisticated man to claim as his signature scent.
Hims Small Batch Scent
Bright peppercorn with rich tobacco and leather notes strike the perfect balance in Hims’ Small Batch Scent. The coastal California-inspired fragrance comes at a relatively affordable price, making it one of the best colognes for young men to spritz with confidence.
Burberry Hero Eau de Toilette
The angular, minimalist bottle of Burberry Hero, the first fragrance under the creative direction of Riccardo Tisci, is an accurate representation of the powerful scent it holds. The new men’s cologne opens with a top note of effervescent bergamot, followed by a one-two punch of juniper and black pepper at the heart, and is finished with the grounding strength of three types of cedar oil to create a fragrance that matches the complexities of today’s modern man.
Ralph Lauren Polo Earth Eau de Toilette
Ralph Lauren Fragrances’ latest cologne release, Polo Earth, might just be the ultimate green fragrance option on the market — and we’re not just talking about the scent. Besides the vegan formula, the fragrance bottle and packaging features post-consumer recycled materials, and the brand eliminated cellophane wrapping material altogether.
But the real tribute to our beautiful planet comes through in the heavenly aroma that features fresh and citrusy top notes of bergamot, green mandarin, and Diva Lavendar, with a heart of herbaceous sage and floral rose, all grounded with a woody-earthy base of vetiver and bourbon geranium. How sweet it is to celebrate this green planet.
Tom Ford Ebene Fume Eau de Parfum
Tom Ford’s 2021 fragrance release, Ebene Fume, is exactly what we envision to be the bottled essence of the suave designer: the luxurious scent of a well-dressed man with a seductive-yet-calming demeanor. The woody-amber cologne has notes of ebony wood accord, rose, leather, and palo santo, which is a brighter wood that’s believed to cleanse negative energy. It’s a standout choice for the self-assured man with a poised demeanor that comes from years of experience and self-reflection — or any man who wishes to channel that energy.
Editor’s note: This fragrance is fantastic to layer with Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille to build on Ebene Fume’s sweet and creamy notes.
Guess Uomo Eau de Toilette
A great cologne has the power to boost the confidence of any man, and Guess knows that. The new Guess Uomo fragrance for men features top notes of grapefruit, cardamom, and lavender, paired with sage and saffron geranium heart notes for a spicy floral and citrus aroma that’s complimented by a base of amber, dark woods and sweet benzoin. It’s an ideal cologne for young men to live life to the fullest wrapped in a bold, invigorating scent.
Diptyque Orphéon Eau de Parfum
Take an olfactory journey to Paris nightlife in the ’60s with Diptyque’s Orphéon fragrance. A powdery-woody scent with notes of juniper berries, cedar, and tonka bean reflects the creative and enticing atmosphere as it gently lays on the skin, ideal for the man with innovative ideas and a true sense of optimism. And unlike other jazz club-inspired scents, it feels less heavy and more whimsical, making it a great gender-neutral fragrance to gift for someone in need of inspiration.
D.S. & Durga Italian Citrus Eau de Parfum
D.S. & Durga bottled up a citrusy escape to the Amalfi coast in this potent fragrance. The journey begins with an invigorating blast of pressed lemon, chinotto, and tart blood orange top notes, which then introduces a fresh and spicy heart with notes like green mandarin and settles into a clean musky finish with citrus present for the entire ride. It’s a bright, summer holiday in a bottle — no passport required.
Louis Vuitton Imagination
For the creative in need of fresh inspiration, Louis Vuitton’s 2021 release will transport you to a citrus paradise where the mind wanders as your nose picks up notes of amber and black tea, along with touches of neroli, cedar, ginger and Ceylon cinnamon. It’s a uniquely sweet escape in a light summer scent that you’ll want to spray on repeat.
CK One Summer Daze
CK One Summer Daze embodies the rush of living young, wild and free in the summer sun. The vegan formula with notes of kumquat, iced mint tea, vetiver, and white musk creates one juicy fragrance of fruity and citrusy goodness to quench your olfactory thirst for a refreshing jolt of energy.
How to Put on Cologne
“The best way to apply a cologne is right after the shower before getting dressed to allow the scent to calm and settle,” says West. “This also avoids sticking to your clothes. Once in the morning is plenty, but a late day refresh is appropriate should you have plans in the evening after your workday.”
After your shower, apply body lotion or moisturizer before spritzing your cologne so the scent lasts longer (dry skin will make it fade faster). And when you do spritz your cologne, apply directly to the skin and focus on pulse points, because the cologne is meant to work with your warm body. But don’t over do it with the spray — less is more with fragrance and you can always reapply later.
How We Tested the Best Colognes for Men
It wasn’t easy, but we tested each of the 20 men’s colognes in this story, plus over 15 additional scents that were not selected, all after reading customer reviews for over 60 fragrances to bring you the best fragrances for men to wear now. To ensure all colognes were thoroughly tested, each fragrance was sprayed on paper and on skin. For most scents, the writer enlisted additional testing help from his editorial team and peers to smell the full range of how each cologne interacted with both dry and oily skin types. While some fragrances have been tested for months or even years, new 2022 cologne releases were tested over a week-long period. We put our hearts, souls, and nostrils into this product testing to highlight top cologne options for every man at a variety of price points, whether you prefer fresh, woody, amber, or aromatic scents.
Meet the Expert
Autumne West is the National Beauty Director at Nordstrom. At Nordstrom, you can find in-store brand experts, including fragrance-specific experts that can help you select a cologne or perfume.
Meet the Author
Adam Mansuroglu is the Director of Commerce for Fairchild Media Group, overseeing beauty, fashion, and lifestyle content as the editor of WWD’s Shop vertical. Prior to his current role, the Brooklyn native has covered men’s and women’s fashion, beauty, and lifestyle trends for over 10 years. His writing, which includes fragrance reviews and cologne shopping guides, has been featured in a number of publications such as Cosmopolitan Magazine, Men’s Health Magazine, and Out Magazine.