Out on a date or at work, in the countryside or the city, you want to feel and look good.

You also want to smell good, so having a good cologne is a must. Our choice for the best cologne for men from an independent fragrance maker is Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Grand Soir. This alluring and rich cologne has an amber overtone that lasts all day. Our choice for the best cologne for men from a fashion house is Tom Ford’s Tobacco Oud. A rich and rugged scent, Tobacco Oud will definitely get you attention from your significant other!

Best Cologne

Part of getting dressed up to go out on the town – whether with friends, or on a date with your significant other – includes finding the right cologne to complement your outfit. And, let’s be clear: Using cologne is not a new thing. In fact, humankind has been making sweet-smelling perfumes and colognes for a very, very long time.

Today’s fragrance makers evolved the art and science of cologne making to such an extent that they can create layered and sophisticated scents that were simply impossible to make back in the day. With top, middle, and base notes, colognes are sophisticated mechanisms for exuding style and projecting yourself into the world.

Given the sophistication and refined process of making a quality cologne, they can get pretty expensive. And, with literally thousands of fragrances to choose from, how do you find the best one for you? That’s where we come in! We spent hours researching online, consulted numerous experts in the field, and even tried some of the products ourselves to compile this ranking just for you.

The Cologne We RAVE About

Best Independent Fragrance Maker Cologne: Grand Soir

Grand Soir from Maison Francis Kurkdjian is our pick for the best cologne from an independent fragrance maker. Great for wearing out at night, this luxurious amber scent exudes masculine sexuality and confidence.

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Shop Grand Soir

Best Fashion House Cologne: Tobacco Oud

Tom Ford’s Tobacco Oud is our winner for the best fashion house cologne. A very masculine scent, Tobacco Oud will definitely draw the attention of those around you.

Read Full Review

Shop Tobacco Oud

Let’s face it, the human body is beautiful, but also funky. It’s not like modern humanity has only recently figured that out. In fact, humans have been making perfumes or fragrances for thousands of years. 

Ancient aromatics

The earliest known creator of perfume is traced to Mesopotamia, where a certain Tapputi made pleasant-smelling scents from oil, flowers, and other aromatics. She is mentioned on a cuneiform tablet dated to around 1200 BCE, which also describes the science of distillation in writing. That’s right, before we refined alcohol, we needed to get our smell right!  

There is also evidence of the practice of distillation and the creation of perfumes in the Indus River Valley in modern day India and Pakistan that goes back even further, perhaps even to the fourth century BCE.

The practical use of such fragrances was generally limited to religious ceremony or as part of the royal apparatus that often marked local rulers. The significance and presence of perfumes is also evidenced in sacred Hindu texts and the Hebrew scriptures. 

Medieval meddling

In the medieval period, Arab intellectuals began to experiment and refine distillation techniques to create sweet-smelling perfumes. Several manuscripts from this period devoted to the art have survived. One of the most renowned comes from the famous Arab chemist Al-Kindi, titled Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations, which contains over 100 recipes for fragrances as well as descriptions of numerous methods for making perfumes. 

The famous philosopher and theologian Ibn Sina (or Avicenna) was also quite a chemist as well, having developed a method for extracting oils from flowers through distillation. 

Early Europe

The 13th century was an important moment for the encounter between Christians and Muslims, providing an exchange of ideas along with conflict. During this period, the Greek philosophical tradition was reintroduced into the Latin-speaking west through translations by Arabic-speaking scholars. 

It was also during the 13th century that the practice of distillation and the art of perfumery made their way into Europe via Spain and Italy. 

Florence was especially important, and the production of perfume would primarily remain the domain of the Italians until the secrets of fragrance production finally made their way into France. There, perfume production reached new heights. 

Vive la France!

France dominated the production of perfumes after René the Florentine – the personal perfumer of Catherine de’ Medici – took his laboratory to France in the 16th century. It was in the perfumed court of the Sun King Louis XIV that perfume really came into its own. 

The king requested new fragrances every day for his living quarters, keeping chemists on their toes as they sought to develop new delightful scents. 

At this time, perfumes and fragrances were used primarily by the aristocracy to mask the smell of bad body odor. Throughout the 19th century, demand for perfumes grew as more and more people wanted to enjoy the experience of smelling good. 

Eau de Cologne

The word “perfume” now has a broad meaning, associated primarily with fragrances marketed to women. However, the term also carries a more precise or technical meaning which refers to the concentration of the aromatic compounds in a solvent, usually either water or ethanol. For perfume, that percentage is between 15% and 20%. 

Eau de Cologne is also a technical term indicating the concentration of aromatic compounds, though in this case it is much lower, at around 3% to 8%. However, cologne also refers to fragrances typically marketed toward men. 

Literally “water of Cologne,” eau de Cologne’s place of origin is, unsurprisingly, the German city of Cologne. As the story goes, in the early 18th century, the Italian chemist Giovanni Maria Farina was living in Cologne and was somewhat homesick. 

So he set to work and developed what he later described as “a fragrance that reminds of an Italian spring morning, of mountain daffodils, and orange blossoms after the rain.” 

This early cologne included essential oils from lemon, tangerine, orange, grapefruit, neroli, and bergamot. Apparently, Farina also wore the fragrance like a brooch so that the scent didn’t just adorn his own body, but also sent pleasing aromas into the world around him.

The royal houses of Europe noticed and his cologne became an instant hit. So much so that it continues even to this day: The factory where Farina first produced his cologne is still in operation, making it the oldest continuous perfumery in the world!

Methodology

We developed our ranking through a careful analysis of metadata from trusted review sites and extensive online research, including reading and listening to reviews from a variety of fashion critics, industry experts, and cologne users all over the world. After this careful research, we compiled our results and developed this list. 

Our research considered the categories listed below to find the best colognes for men:

  • Concept: The packaging and ad campaign for most colognes give you a sense of the type of experience you will have when wearing the cologne, and the persona it is meant to promote. 
  • Sillage: Cologne can fill up a room or a space, and that is precisely what it is supposed to do. Does your cologne have good projection?
  • Duration: The cologne’s oil content gives you an idea of how long your scent is going to last, and there is no doubt that most folks want a cologne that can go the distance.
  • Price: Looking good isn’t cheap, and neither is smelling good. Some colognes are overpriced, while others are really a good bargain. Getting an idea of where your cologne falls is worth your while – plus your wallet will thank you!
  • Composition: Picking a good cologne has a lot to do with knowing what smell you find most pleasing, so knowing fragrance notes is very helpful. 

As you decide what to wear to work, or out with your friends, or on your next romantic encounter, check out our list to help you pick the perfect scent!

Best Independent Fragrance Makers Cologne

  1. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Grand Soir

    Price: $215
    Size: 70mL

    Our overall best men’s cologne from an independent fragrance maker comes from the Armenian perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. This fragrance house has been in business for a decade, but Kurkdjian had already won acclaim for a variety of fragrances even before he established Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

    Grand Soir is a bold, lush amber scent that is perfect to wear out on the town, though probably not in a stuffy office setting. There are five notes that mark this fragrance: labdanum, benzoin, tonka bean, amber, and vanilla. The amber, resulting from the vanilla and other resins interacting, is especially striking upon first smell.

    After about 15 to 20 minutes, the vanilla and tonka bean become much stronger. Grand Soir projects well, and it lasts between 10 and 14 hours. With its lush amber hues, this cologne works great in winter or autumn. 

    At $215 a bottle, this fragrance has a mid-tier price. If you are planning to visit Paris, or if you just want to smell like you just returned from the city of lights, Grand Soir is the perfect cologne for you.

    Pros
    • Lush amber fragrance
    • Really great duration
    • Exudes style
    Cons
    • Somewhat expensive
    • Feels unbalanced to some users
    100%Rave Meter
    Shop Maison Francis Kurkdjian Grand Soir
  2. Penhaligon’s No. 33 Eau de Cologne

    Price: $95
    Size: 100mL

    Our next fragrance comes from the British perfume house, Penhaligon’s. Founded in the 1860s by William Henry Penhaligon, who at one time provided perfume for Queen Victoria, Penhaligon’s has released numerous scents over the years. No. 33 Eau de Cologne was released to celebrate Penhaligon’s 145th anniversary.

    This bright scent’s top notes include citrus with orange and bergamot, as well as grapefruit and cypress. Lavender, ginger, and black pepper are accompanied by saffron and violet at the heart of this fragrance. Lavender has been a key ingredient in Penhaligon scents since they began producing fragrances.

    The base notes include amber, musk, moss, and tobacco for an overall subtly sexy scent with a deep woody base. No. 33 has good projection and a solid 10 hours of duration. This sophisticated scent can be worn almost anywhere, but the lavender and citrus paired with a deep woodiness speak of spring and summer.

    Pros
    • Beautiful packaging and concept
    • Citrus top notes
    • Comforting lavender heart
    Cons
    • Muted projection over time
    • Lavender may not appeal to men
    98.2%Rave Meter
    Shop Penhaligon’s No. 33 Eau de Cologne
  3. Byredo 1996

    Price: $275
    Size: 100mL

    Our next scent comes from a collaboration between the Swedish perfumer Byredo and Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. “Inez and Vinoodh” are Dutch fashion and art photographers that have taken pictures of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Björk, among many others. They wanted to create a fragrance for close friends and were inspired by the photograph “Kirsten 1996,” which is actually on the box.

    Their friends liked it so much that it was released to the larger public. The top notes include black pepper and crisp juniper berries. Then, the scent becomes darker and earthier over time, with notes of amber and leather. The key iris heart note is complemented by vanilla.

    The base notes include patchouli, vanilla, and black amber. With excellent lasting power, this winter scent can easily be worn in a variety of settings. At $275 a bottle, this fragrance has a higher price point, but it is highly recommended.

    Pros
    • A gorgeous iris heart
    • Interesting backstory
    • Subtle masculinity
    Cons
    • A little pricey
    • Feminine packaging
    98%Rave Meter
    Shop Byredo 1996
  4. Memo Paris Marfa Eau de Parfum

    Price: $295
    Size: 75mL

    Our next fragrance comes from Memo Paris, a perfumery founded in 2007 by Clara and John Molloy. Marfa is named after a small west Texas town, keeping with Clara Molloy’s belief that scent and place are strongly connected. Memo Paris’ “Art Land” collection also celebrates this connection.

    Marfa Eau de Parfum is inspired by camping near Marfa while the desert is in bloom. The scent begins with a lovely powdery orange blossom, mandarin, and agave. Tuberose – a flower native to Mexico and Central America and affectionately known as “The Queen of the Night” – is also present with the orange blossom and really makes up the heart of the fragrance.

    The base is a woody collection of cedar, vanilla, white musk, and sandalwood. It offers good duration of about 10 hours with significant sillage. This fragrance definitely evokes the rugged and beautiful vistas of the desert, offering both a beautiful floral undertone and a deeply masculine base.

    Pros
    • Interesting concept
    • Excellent duration
    • Unique and beautiful notes
    Cons
    • High-end price
    • Some dislike the floral notes
    97.8%Rave Meter
    Shop Memo Paris Marfa Eau de Parfum
  5. Santa Maria Novella Acqua di Colonia Russa

    Price: $125
    Size: 100mL

    Our next scent comes from Santa Maria Novella, one of the oldest perfumeries in the world, located in Florence, Italy. With a history that goes back into the 14th century, Santa Maria Novella has long specialized in perfumes, soaps, and other bath and body products. Overseen primarily by monks, the pharmacy was opened to the general public in 1612.

    Acqua di Colonia Russa offers a fresh and masculine scent, inspired by popular Russian leather colognes and aftershaves. The top notes include citrus, particularly lemon, bergamot, and bitter orange with a hint of rose.

    The heart notes include lavender, rosemary, clove, and petitgrain, with benzoin, balsam, and castoreum at the base, creating a pleasant and fruity musk. Acqua di Colonia Russa lasts long and offers significant sillage. It is great for winter and gives you a nice combination of freshness and masculinity. And, at $125 a bottle, it won’t break the bank like other pricier options.

    Pros
    • A competitive price
    • Refreshing fragrance notes
    • Excellent duration
    Cons
    • Might be too potent
    • Not subtle
    97.2%Rave Meter
    Shop Santa Maria Novella Acqua di Colonia Russa
  6. Le Labo Patchouli 24

    Price: $270
    Size: 100mL

    Our next fragrance comes from Le Labo, a perfume brand based in New York City and now owned by Estée Lauder. The concept behind Le Labo was on-the-spot perfume blending with a personal touch. Patchouli 24 was developed by renowned perfumer Annick Menardo who also created Bvlgari Black, and it is a doozy!

    Patchouli is a polarizing scent, and even lovers of Patchouli 24 express a love/hate relationship with it. Fragrance notes include tobacco, burnt wood, birch tar, and of course, patchouli. There is also a hint of burnt vanilla.

    If you have noticed that we listed “burnt” several times, you will not be surprised to hear that this scent is definitely very smoky. The smoke hits you at the beginning, and as it mellows, it doesn’t leave, but rather evolves. Then, the other notes come into focus. It is definitely different from the average patchouli scent, but its boldness is great in certain settings.

    Pros
    • Strong, unmistakable scent
    • Deep and masculine
    • Good staying power
    Cons
    • Not for everyone
    • May be too potent
    • Somewhat expensive
    96.5%Rave Meter
    Shop Le Labo Patchouli 24
  7. Nishane Afrika Olifant

    Price: $230
    Size: 50mL

    Our next fragrance comes from the Turkish fragrance house Nishane, which was founded in 2012. Afrika Olifant is an animalistic scent, meant to be powerful, alluring, and masculine. The incense and amber notes are powerful, and even a bit intimidating in some regards. And, according to the folks at Nishane, it’s supposed to be blunt and strong.

    The middle notes include myrrh, labdanum, castoreum, and oud, giving it a strong and masculine deep leathery smell. With musk and civet base notes, there is nothing sweet or floral in this fragrance.

    There is no doubt about it: This cologne is strong and aggressive. It has good sillage and exceptional longevity, even up to 24 hours. If you are feeling frisky and want to go on the prowl, this scent is for you.

    Pros
    • Very masculine
    • Exceptional longevity
    • Good sillage
    Cons
    • Somewhat pricey
    • Can be overwhelming
    • Not for all occasions
    95%Rave Meter
    Shop Nishane Afrika Olifant
  8. Eight & Bob Cap d'Antibes

    Price: $175
    Size: 100mL

    Eight & Bob gives us our next fragrance. A creation of Albert Fouquet, this company actually received its name when he became friends with a young John F. Kennedy in the 1930s. JFK requested eight samples of the cologne Fouquet wore, adding “and if your production allows, another one for Bob.” Soon, Fouquet was receiving requests from various Hollywood stars who had heard about the scent from Kennedy’s father.

    Cap d’Antibes is definitely a marine scent with a green opening. The top notes include mint, violet leaves, and birch. As it moves into the heart, the scents of moss, wood, and vanilla take over with cinnamon mixed in as well. At the base is incense, cedarwood, and vanilla.

    Meant to evoke the south of France and the resort town of Antibes, this fragrance manages to not only evoke a marine feel, but also bring in the green notes to create a unique and refreshing scent with real staying power. This sporty scent makes a great spring or summer option.

    Pros
    • Great concept
    • Decent price
    • Great for summer months
    Cons
    • Too light for some
    • Not fit for nightlife
    • Initially overpowering violet
    94%Rave Meter
    Shop Eight & Bob Cap d'Antibes
  9. Rancé 1795 Le Roi Empereur

    Price: $151
    Size: 100mL

    Le Roi Empereur comes from the renowned fragrance house Rancé 1795. The Rancé family began by providing perfumed gloves for the French aristocracy in the 17th century. The family turned entirely to perfume in 1795 and was so successful, they secured the favor of emperor Napoleon.

    Le Roi Empereur celebrates Napoleon’s ransacking of Europe, when he was crowned emperor in 1805. But don’t let that keep you from enjoying a scent fit for a king…and an emperor. Le Roi Empereur manages to bring together bright fruity and floral scents, with a masculine undertone. As Napoleon would have liked!

    The top notes include lavender, anise, and orange blossom, with some subtle hints of cinnamon and cardamom. In the heart, the cardamom continues with rose and violet. The base notes include amber, leather, cedar, and musk, giving the scent a masculine base, which helps to solidify the more floral and fruity top notes. This scent is great for the winter months.

    Pros
    • Unique history
    • Both floral and masculine 
    • Very competitive price
    Cons
    • May be too floral for some
    • Not very potent
    • Moderate longevity
    93.3%Rave Meter
    Shop Rancé 1795 Le Roi Empereur
  10. Creed Green Irish Tweed

    Price: $395
    Size: 100mL

    Rounding out our list is Green Irish Tweed, by far the most successful fragrance produced by the exclusive British fragrance house Creed. With a history that goes back into the 18th century, most of Creed’s fragrances are products of the modern age.

    Sometimes the name of a fragrance doesn’t match what’s inside the bottle, but that is not the case here. Meant to embody walking through an Irish countryside, this fragrance definitely has significant green notes. The top notes include lemon verbena and iris, which is well-known for producing the wet and damp smell of a field after the rain.

    The heart note is violet, while the base is a woody amber with a sandalwood anchor. Green Irish Tweed is supposed to be fresh and invigorating, while also inviting, though not overpowering. A great cologne for the spring or summer – or really any time!

    Pros
    • Bright and fresh notes
    • Both green and woody
    • Long lasting duration
    Cons
    • Excessively expensive
    • Moderate sillage
    • May be too floral for some
    92%Rave Meter
    Shop Creed Green Irish Tweed

Best Fashion House Fragrances Cologne

  1. Tom Ford Tobacco Oud

    Price: $235
    Size: 50mL

    Our first fashion house fragrance comes from us via Tom Ford, the upstart fashion house that has taken the world by storm since Ford left Gucci in the mid-2000s. As the title suggests, Tobacco Oud is a densely masculine scent projecting rugged sensibility. It will definitely get the attention of those around you.

    The top note is a resinous whiskey and oud. This is followed by heart notes of coriander, cinnamon, and other spicy notes. At the base is the Arabian agarwood or oud, as well as tobacco, patchouli, sandalwood, incense, and vanilla. There is also a benzoin scent, which gives a slight medicinal smell to the fragrance.

    Tobacco Oud is a long-lasting scent that initially screams “I am man, hear me roar!” As it dries down, it becomes more pleasant and woody. The sillage is only moderate, which might actually be a good thing as this scent is certainly aggressive. It is great for winter, but it’s probably not an everyday fragrance – more like a night on the town.

    Pros
    • A robust fragrance
    • Great duration
    • Moderate sillage
    Cons
    • Very expensive
    • Might be too strong
    100%Rave Meter
    Shop Tom Ford Tobacco Oud
  2. Louis Vuitton Au Hasard

    Price: $250
    Size: 100mL

    Our next fragrance comes from the French fashion house Louis Vuitton. Founded in the 19th century as a purveyor of fine leather goods, Vuitton started making fragrances in the 20th century. Au Hasard was launched in 2018 and was developed by the well-known “nose” Jacques Cavallier, who was also responsible for creating fragrances for Bvlgari, Calvin Klein, Cartier, and others.

    Au Hasard is a woody scent, with initial top notes of citrus, like lemon and bergamot. The middle notes include fresh cut grass, freesia, cardamom, neroli, and pear. Luxurious Sri Lankan sandalwood, musk, leather, and ambrette are underneath, giving an earthy undertone to the woody smell.

    The sillage on Au Hasard is very light, which might require folks to come in close to get a good sniff – which may be the point! It doesn’t last very long, some users report that it wears off after only four hours. But the unique combination of wood and green notes make for an alluring and unique scent.

    Pros
    • Fresh and woody
    • Moderate sillage
    • Versatile
    Cons
    • Somewhat pricey
    • Doesn’t last very long
    99%Rave Meter
    Shop Louis Vuitton Au Hasard
  3. Dior Homme

    Price: $95
    Size: 100mL

    Christian Dior brings us our next scent. Dior has been producing fragrances since the 1940s, when Christian Dior first established the Dior name as an icon of fashion. Homme was launched originally in 2005, and it is technically an eau de toilette and not a cologne.

    This scent is a great casual option for work, or when you are feeling like getting dressed up to go out on the town. The top notes include sage, lavender, and bergamot with an overall lightly sweet effect. The heart notes include amber, cacao, and iris.

    Iris brings a fresh earthiness, which is then underlined by patchouli, leather, and vetiver, giving the scent a deep woodiness. Homme lasts moderately long – about five to seven hours – with light to moderate sillage, making this a very wearable cologne for most settings. And, of course, the price point of $95 for a 100mL bottle makes it a very attractive fragrance to have in your collection.

    Pros
    • Great price
    • Light and versatile
    • Well-balanced overall
    Cons
    • May be too sweet
    • May not be strong enough 
    98.4%Rave Meter
    Shop Dior Homme
  4. Chanel Pour Monsieur

    Price: $98
    Size: 75mL

    Pour Monsieur was the first men’s fragrance produced by powerhouse Chanel. Originally released in 1955 as an eau de toilette, it became an instant classic and has remained beloved ever since. The eau de parfum was introduced in 1991. There is more oil content in the eau de parfum than in the eau de toilette, making its aromatics more concentrated and, as a result, stronger.

    The fragrance begins with lavender and lemon, for a citrus burst. The heart notes are filled with spices, including cardamom and coriander, as well as basil and ginger. Earthy and woody scents of oak moss and cedar are at the base.

    This is a classic scent that hearkens back into the era of the original. The eau de parfum version does not stray far from the original, but more aromatic compounds means it is even longer lasting. This is a perfect scent for everyday use, with moderate sillage and good staying power.

    Pros
    • Has good duration
    • Fresh and citrus fragrance
    • A classic cologne
    Cons
    • Doesn’t update the original
    • May be too light
    98.1%Rave Meter
    Shop Chanel Pour Monsieur
  5. Gucci Guilty Pour Homme

    Price: $92
    Size: 90mL

    Our next fragrance comes from the folks at Gucci. That’s right, they make more than just badass bags for ladies. Guilty Pour Homme came on the market in 2010 as a companion to the women’s fragrance that appeared the year before. The scent is marketed as an aggressive and stylish scent for men.

    The top notes open out with lavender and lemon for a burst of citrus. The dominant heart note continues the citrus theme with orange blossom, followed by woody base notes of orris and patchouli.  

    This cologne is definitely fresh and citrusy, which is what many men love about it. You can easily wear it for most occasions, and it lasts all day long. Obviously, citrus lends itself to spring and summer, and exudes a casual or sporty vibe. The sillage is moderate, so you won’t overpower anyone with this fresh smelling cologne.

    Pros
    • Moderate sillage
    • Casual but versatile
    • Competitively priced
    Cons
    • May be too light
    • May be too fruity
    97%Rave Meter
    Shop Gucci Guilty Pour Homme
  6. Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L'Homme

    Price: $92
    Size: 100mL

    Our next cologne comes from Yves Saint Laurent, which has been producing fragrances since 1964. Their first cologne launched in 1971. La Nuit de L’Homme is a scent meant for nightlife, romantic encounters, or perhaps a bit of flirting. In other words: sex appeal.

    The top note is a predominant cardamom which produces an initial zesty spice. The heart notes include bergamot, cedar, and lavender, producing tension with the spicy wood and citrus top notes. Earthy vetiver and caraway notes are at the base, producing a scent that is sexy yet refined.

    La Nuit de L’Homme has moderate sillage – which means folks will really catch a whiff when they lean in to you – and has good duration. It easily lasts for about eight hours, and at $92 for 100 mL, it’s on the low end for a fashion house fragrance.  

    Pros
    • A great date fragrance
    • Very good price
    • Effective duration
    Cons
    • Some find it too sweet
    • Not for all occasions
    96.8%Rave Meter
    Shop Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L'Homme
  7. Giorgio Armani Acqua di Giò Absolu

    Price: $95
    Size: 75mL

    Celebrated as one of the best selling fragrances of all time, Acqua di Giò Absolu embodies the Mediterranean Sea. Produced by Giorgio Armani, this cologne is inspired by the volcanic Mediterranean island of Pantelleria in the Strait of Sicily, and features oceanic and marine scents. 

    Along with sea notes, the top notes also include a variety of citrus scents like bergamot, lemon, and grapefruit, as well as pear and apple. This combination creates the fresh sun-kissed feel of a day at the beach. The heart notes include lavender, rosemary, and geranium, with base notes of patchouli, tonka bean, amberwood, and labdanum.

    As this scent dries, the woody and herbal notes come in to their own. Acqua di Giò Absolu is a great scent for the summer or spring, but you could also wear it in autumn. Since its sillage is not overpowering, it is also quite flexible. It also has good duration, so you don’t need to reapply, and it is designed to stand up well under heat.

    Pros
    • Fresh and sensual
    • Very good duration
    • Very flexible
    Cons
    • Not very unique
    • Not necessarily romantic
    • May have too much citrus
    96.1%Rave Meter
    Shop Giorgio Armani Acqua di Giò Absolu
  8. Burberry London for Men

    Price: $77
    Size: 100mL

    Our next fragrance comes from the British fashion house Burberry. Known for their development and marketing of the trench coat and their famous tartan pattern, Burberry has been creating fragrances since 1981. London for Men is often described as a winter scent because it is reminiscent of the warm spices of the Christmas season.

    Top notes include lavender and bergamot, but the cinnamon really steals the show. Rich notes of mimosa and leather are in the middle, creating a masculine scent with a hint of sweetness. The base notes include resinous opoponax, tobacco, and woody earth tones of guaiac wood and oakmoss.

    This complex cologne is both masculine and attractive, speaking of a confident man. Perfect for winter and fall, it has a good duration of about six to eight hours, though some users note considerably less lasting power. With moderate sillage, it is also wearable in a variety of settings, and the $77 price tag isn’t bad either!

    Pros
    • Excellent for fall and winter
    • A masculine spicy scent
    • Great price tag
    Cons
    • May not have enough sillage
    • Not for summer 
    • Users note uneven duration
    95.3%Rave Meter
    Shop Burberry London for Men
  9. Hermѐs Terre d'Hermѐs

    Price: $120
    Size: 100mL

    Terre d’Hermès is a line of fragrances by French fashion house Hermès. This fragrance was released in 2006, overseen by the renowned Jean-Claude Ellena, who has also designed fragrances for Bvlgari, Cartier, Christian Lacroix, and Giorgio Armani.  

    The rich, bold top notes are a fresh citrus bouquet of orange and grapefruit, and the heart notes include pepper and geranium. The pepper mellows the fruittiness, and the geranium gives a mild sweetness. Underneath, notes of vetiver and cedar add woodiness, along with patchouli and benzoin.

    This fragrance has good sillage that announces your arrival in the room, and it lasts about seven to eight hours. It is versatile enough to be worn at work or on a night about town, and it works well in spring and fall, as well as the summer months.

    Pros
    • Beautiful packaging
    • Complex fragrance
    • Versatile
    Cons
    • Somewhat pricey
    • May not be potent enough
    • May have too much citrus
    95%Rave Meter
    Shop Hermѐs Terre d'Hermѐs
  10. Prada L'Homme

    Price: $98
    Size: 100mL

    L’Homme is produced by Prada and designed by Daniela Andrier. In 2016, this fragrance was launched alongside La Femme Prada as a pair. Drawing on classic Prada ingredients like amber and iris, L’Homme is an airy and challenging fragrance.

    The top notes include a zesty mix of cardamom and black pepper, and there is also a hint of lavender and neroli to provide some freshness. The heart notes include florals like geranium and violet, as well as earthy iris and mate. The base notes, including cedar, patchouli, amber, and sandalwood, mix with the heart notes to create a typical masculine woody scent.

    This cologne is very wearable with moderate sillage, and it lasts quite a while. It can be worn in a variety of settings, and the price is competitive at $98 for a 100-mL bottle (which is interesting-looking, to say the least).

    Pros
    • Great price
    • Versatile
    • Good duration
    Cons
    • Not very distinctive
    • Only moderate sillage
    • Synthetic lavender
    94.9%Rave Meter
    Shop Prada L'Homme
  11. Ralph Lauren Polo

    Price: $105
    Size: 235mL

    Rounding out our list is the classic Polo, by Ralph Lauren. The dream of every preppy kid from the 1980s or 90s, Polo exudes casual luxury and sporty masculinity. Packaged in a distinct green bottle bearing the image of the company Ralph Lauren founded in the 1960s, this fragrance is worth having in your lineup.

    The top notes of Polo are fresh and green, including basil, thyme, and artemisia. There are also spices such as cumin, coriander, and cloves, with a hint of citrus bergamot. The heart notes are composed of masculine leather and piney woods, with black pepper, carnation, jasmine, rose, and chamomile. Woody cedar and amber, as well as patchouli, musk, and a hint of tobacco make up the base notes.

    Polo has good sillage, which anyone who has spent time at a high school party knows, and it also lasts long (close to eight hours). Definitely a young scent, Polo is great for the spring or summer months.

    Pros
    • Good price
    • Very distinctive scent
    • For summer or spring
    Cons
    • Not a mature scent
    • Sillage may be too strong
    • Not fit for winter
    93%Rave Meter
    Shop Ralph Lauren Polo

What are fragrance notes?

Cologne advertising and analysis always include the term “fragrance notes” —  so, what are they?

As you might expect, the actual chemical makeup of the average perfume or cologne is a closely guarded secret. Master perfumers – or what some insiders call “the nose” – keep track of the various extracts and oils they use, as well as the solvent in which they mix them.

Some colognes and perfumes use as many as 800 different compounds to produce their unique scent. But they still need to be able to describe a cologne to curious prospective buyers.

The term “fragrance notes” was developed to pinpoint predominant scents in a cologne. Much like wine tasters or whiskey lovers, these notes are indexed to actual smells that you can detect.

Most of the time, these scents are from the natural world, like vanilla or leather, and other scents, like metallic or ozone, are synthetic.

Cologne smells different in the air than on the body, and the dominant smell shifts over time. To name the different phases, perfumers reference top notes, middle or heart notes, and base notes. Top notes are the initial aromas you can smell almost immediately. These notes are generally meant to evaporate quickly, though some can linger for a couple hours after application.

Middle or heart notes make up the real essence of the fragrance, and tend to include spices or floral scents. Base notes give a fragrance its depth, and they are often quite strong initially but mellow out over time. Essentially, the top notes and middle notes provide cover for the base notes to become more pleasant. 

How do you make cologne last longer?

Making sure that the cologne you applied this morning will get you through the day is a must, especially if you dropped a lot of cash on it. There are several tips to consider to make your cologne last longer.

The first, of course, is to check out some of the reviews of the cologne you’re considering to see what people say about its natural duration. Some colognes are designed with stronger base notes and will last longer. 

Others are specifically designed to give out over time so that you either have to reapply, or layer it with other products.

Also, apply your cologne right after you get out of the shower, when your pores are most dilated. The scent will be better able to penetrate your skin and stay with you.

Another suggestion is to make sure your skin is properly moisturized: You want your skin to be supple enough for the fragrance to stick around.

Lastly, know where to apply cologne (see more on this below). Don’t put it directly on your clothes. Rather, consider applying it to the pulse points on your wrists.

Where should you apply cologne?  

Making cologne last longer is connected to knowing where and how to apply it. As we already covered, don’t put cologne directly on your clothing. Cologne is meant to interact with the natural oils and pheromones of your body, and this interaction needs contact with your skin to happen.

Cologne also needs heat or warmth from the human body, which is why putting cologne on pulse points is most effective. Pulse points are locations on the body where major arteries come close to the surface of the skin, making it warm.

The primary pulse points to put cologne are your wrists, neck, and at the bottom of your throat. Other options include the inside of your elbow and behind your knee. You can also apply some behind your ear as well.

When you apply, hold the bottle about three to six inches away from your skin, and spray just a couple of squirts. There is no need to over do it. If you find you need more, you can always reapply later in the day.  

Also, avoid rubbing the cologne in after you apply it so the fragrance can penetrate your skin more organically. Rubbing in cologne may actually remove it.

Another trick of veteran cologne users is to layer different colognes over the course of your day. For instance, use an aftershave in the morning, a skin freshener at midday, and then a cologne in the evening.

Manufacturers make it easier to layer scents by offering a variety of products that work well together, complementing one another while building an attractive fragrance.  

How do you choose a cologne?

Choosing a good cologne is an intimate and subjective experience. Our sense of smell is the most powerful of our five senses. We attach memories to certain scents, and some can trigger deep emotions. Without overstating it, wearing cologne can help you to connect and bond with other people more readily.  

So how do you choose the cologne that is right for you? When you visit your local department store or perfumery, first spray the cologne you are trying onto a sample card or piece of paper. Wave it in the air for a minute so the card can dry, allowing the initial top notes to evaporate, and the middle notes to begin to emerge.

Once you have a sense of the middle notes, also called heart notes, you will have a good idea of the essence of the cologne.

Next, if there are any samples of the cologne available, take a couple home. Apply a bit to your wrist at the beginning of the day. Your wrist is a good pulse point, where your warm blood comes close to the surface of your skin, activating the cologne and letting it mingle with your own natural oils and scent.

Then, over the course of the day, check the fragrance from time to time. As the day wears on, the cologne will naturally mingle with your natural scent, and the base notes will also come into focus.

You should then have a good basis for choosing the cologne that best suits your needs and taste. 

What is the best cologne?

Choosing the cologne that is right for you is very much a personal choice. Not only does it include the consideration of what smells good on your skin, it may also depend on other factors such as when you plan to wear it (work, dinner, dates, etc.), the season, and even the style you want your fragrance to project. 

To help you decide which cologne is right for you, we developed our ranking by using a careful research methodology focused on the following categories:

  • Price: Making sure that you get what you pay for is important for any product, especially for something as personal as cologne. 
  • Fragrance notes: What are the actual scents that make up the fragrance?
  • Concept: Does the style of the fragrance really express what you want it to? And does the packaging match the actual fragrance itself?
  • Sillage: Does the cologne sufficiently project into the air around you? We wear cologne not only to smell good to ourselves, but to others as well!
  • Duration: How long does the fragrance last?

These factors led us to choose two colognes, one from an independent fragrance maker, and the other from one of the great fashion houses, as the best for men: Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Grand Soir, and Tom Ford’s Tobacco Oud

So, if you are thinking of buying your first cologne, or you want to branch out and find a new option, check out our list of the best colognes for men.

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