The Best Smelling Colognes for Men

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Fragrance is a part of our everyday lives. From cooking to taking a walk outside, the scents around us have the power to make us feel happy, nostalgic, relaxed, sexy, hungry—the list goes on. The impact of scent makes it even more important to find colognes you love and feel confident wearing. And if you’re not already wearing cologne regularly, now is the ideal time to start.

The best smelling colognes aren’t just for your nose; they’re designed to make you feel good too. In fact, colognes can transform you into whoever you want to be. Confident businessman? Rugged outdoorsy guy who loves his dog? It doesn’t matter. The right cologne will fit whatever vibe you’re in the mood for—even if that vibe is just being a really good smelling version of yourself.

Ready to find your new favorite fragrance? Discover the 23 best smelling colognes for men below. Some of them are classics, others are new releases, but all of them are compliment getters.

1. Blu Atlas Atlantis

Taking our hearts at #1 is Atlantis. This incredibly fresh fragrance burst onto the scene as the signature scent of the premium men’s personal care brand Blu Atlas — and man, is it good.

The scent opens with notes of bergamot, lemon, and blackcurrant that are sharp and zingy in the best way possible. A heart of lavender, clary sage, peach, and apricot make for a well-balanced blend of fruit and aromatic scents, giving Atlantis its jungle fresh personality that’s juicy yet masculine. And like any good clean-smelling cologne, you’ll find orris, violet, and musk in its base. The addition of oakmoss and ambrette seed gives Atlantis a rich, sexy foundation that seems to melt into the skin.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you to click “add to cart,” we should mention that Atlantis is vegan, cruelty-free, and formulated with industry clean standards. So you won’t find any nasty parabens, phthalates, or preservatives inside. It’s also an eau de parfum, meaning it has a higher concentration of perfume and is more long-lasting than other options on the market.

2. Le Labo Santal 33

Le Labo’s Santal 33 is one of those colognes you stay loyal to. Originally launched in 2011, it continues to be one of the best smelling colognes for men (and women) with its rich and intoxicating blend of woods, warm spices, and clean florals.

Notes of cardamom, violet, and iris mingle with Australian sandalwood, leather, papyrus, and cedarwood to create a scent that is both clean and musky and leathery and smoky. There really isn’t a time or place when you can’t wear Santal 33, which is part of its glory. If you haven’t already added this one to your collection, now is the time.

3. Armani Code Absolu Eau de Parfum

Sensual and sophisticated, Code Absolu is everything you want in a sweet and spicy men’s cologne. Falling into the amber fragrance family, its signature blend of vanilla, tonka bean, and a rum accord create the fragrance’s warm, seductive base. This one is perfect for a date night or getting compliments from the ladies. Its vanilla suede accord also means this is a go-to cologne for fall and winter.

4. Yves Saint Laurent Y Eau de Parfum

Wearing YSL Y cologne is the perfect balance of clean, woody, and aromatic fragrances. The scent is bold enough to make you feel confident and in charge (thanks to notes like apple, bergamot, and sage) but soft enough to be a real crowd-pleaser. A masculine base of amberwood, tonka bean, cedar, and vetiver make Y incredibly long-lasting, versatile, and office safe.

5. Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille

Tobacco Vanille is a modern take on the warmth, spices, and classic tobacco scents of an English gentlemen’s club. Tobacco leaf and spicy top notes give the opening a slightly peppery scent that soon settles into the sweetness of vanilla, cacao, tonka bean, and tobacco blossom. A hearty base of dried fruits and woods makes this cologne opulent but comforting.

Like many Tom Ford fragrances, this one is for the self-reliant, confident type who isn’t afraid to exude casual elegance. Because it is rich and moody, this one is best for wearing during formal events or on a late night out.

6. Parfums de Marly Layton Eau de Parfum

Layton is one of the most beloved colognes on our list, making it a great buy for 2023 if you don’t already have it in your collection. Capturing the suave and sophisticated style of men, Layton opens with bright notes of apple, lavender, mandarin, and bergamot – instantly capturing the favor of your nose.

A floral heart of geranium, violet, and jasmine continues the freshness before Layton’s true character comes through in woody caramelized notes of vanilla, pepper, guaiac wood, and patchouli. The woodsy vanilla base means Layton is a favorite for colder months, but you can still wear it in warmer, humid climates thanks to its fresh blend of tangy fruits and florals.

7. Maison Margiela Replica By The Fireplace Eau de Toilette

Nothing is cozier than crisp nights by the fireside—except for Replica’s By The Fireplace. This iconic fragrance is still one of the best smelling colognes for men in 2023, thanks to its deliciously familiar scent of roasted chestnuts and burning wood.

By The Fireplace is spicy on the first spray with notes of pink pepper, orange flower, and clove before settling into the smoky sensations of chestnuts, guaiac wood, and cade (a fragrant plant known for its deep, woody aroma). The dry down is soft and comforting with vanilla, cashmeran, and a Peru balsam resinoid.

8. Jo Malone Moonlit Camomile Cologne

A new launch from Jo Malone, Moonlit Camomile is one of the most memorable fragrances on our list. Inspired by night, the scent is ethereal and dreamy, with notes of moonflower, English chamomile, and white musk. It’s a calming, clean scent that smells luxurious—sort of like an expensive aromatherapy candle or a 5-star hotel lobby. If you like the smell of chamomile and feeling relaxed, then this one’s for you.

9. Giorgio Armani Acqua di Giò Absolu Eau de Parfum

We all know and love Acqua di Giò, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Acqua di Giò Absolu is an absolute dream. Grapefruit and a signature aquatic accord are ultra-clean, unfolding into a heart of labdanum that marries marine notes with woods. Adding warmth to its aquatic freshness is a standout base of patchouli, amberwood, and tonka bean.

Overall, it’s the ideal combination of citrus, aquatics, and woods. Compared to the original, Absolu lasts an incredibly long time on the skin and is well-priced for how wearable it is. Add this one to your collection—you won’t regret it.

10. Byredo Bibliothèque Eau de Parfum

You don’t have to be a reader to appreciate Byredo’s Bibliothèque. Inspired by their best-selling candle, this EDP captures the aromatics of old leather-bound books and a library full of dark wood shelves—with a hint of fruit.

At first smell Bibliothèque is ripe and fruity with unique notes of peach and plum, but as it dries down, the scent becomes clean and slightly powdery with notes of violet and peonies. Leather comes in at the base alongside vanilla, patchouli, and musk. The composition is interesting, to say the least, and definitely a conversation starter.

11. Snif Sweet Ash

An affordable option on our list comes from fragrance brand Snif, which lets you try their fragrances first before you commit. While all of Snif’s scents are genderless, Sweet Ash leans more masculine and is our favorite recommendation for guys who prefer warm, woody fragrances.

It includes bright notes of juniper and bergamot as well as the earthy aromas of fir balsam, white moss, and patchouli. Hints of tonka and black vanilla bean add a touch of sweetness. Like our number one pick Atlantis, Sweet Ash is vegan, cruelty-free, and formulated with industry clean standards.

12. Krigler Sylt Style 2202 Perfume

For a luxury buy, there’s Krigler’s Sylt Style 2202. The latest launch from Krigler, this woody spicy men’s fragrance is inspired by the chic and discreet German island of Sylt, known for its pristine beaches and windswept dunes (it’s often referred to as “the Martha’s Vineyard of Germany”).

The scent itself opens with playful notes of Peruvian pink pepper, black pepper, Italian almond, and Spanish orange, instantly evoking the sensations of a relaxed, lavish holiday. Incense, cypriol, ginger, and hazelnut are warm and aromatic, while the base of Reunion Island vanilla, amber, tree moss, and labdanum are as smooth and silky as a cashmere sweater.

13. Hermès Terre d’Hermès Parfum

The Terre d’Hermès line had a great year in 2022, and we expect the hype to continue well into 2023. Not sure which one to try? (They’re all good). Right now, we’re enjoying the pure perfume version for its warmth and depth.

Essentially a more intense version of the original, Terre d’Hermès Parfum features a grapefruit, orange, and shiso top that is fresh and juicy. A heart of flint adds a hint of smoke, while a woody base gives the cologne an outdoorsy feel. If you want your cologne to embody maturity, confidence, and masculinity—look no further.

14. Nishane Sultan Vetiver

If you’re a fan of vetiver, you’ll love Sultan Vetiver by Nishane. Clean, dry, woody – vetiver is the star of this fragrance show. It opens on a warm spicy note with Javanese vetiver, absinthe, pink peppercorn, and bergamot. The opening can be too intense for some but just wait for the dry down.

Bourbon vetiver, Haitian vetiver, neroli, and tonka make up the heart, which masterfully accents the complexity of vetiver. It culminates in a base of amberwood, leather, and Brazilian vetiver that is earthy, masculine, and incredibly long-lasting. Some say this is one of the best vetiver fragrances ever, and we’d have to agree.

15. Dior Sauvage Elixir

Dior’s Sauvage Elixir is like the cooler (or should we say hotter?) brother to the original Sauvage. The elixir is an incredibly concentrated version of Sauvage, taking all its freshness and blending it with high-quality spices and woods. Top notes of grapefruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom play up each other’s zestiness, while a heart of Nyons lavender shows the many layers of the wildflower.

The result captures the rawness of the ingredients and leaves behind an intoxicating trail of woodsy sandalwood, creamy amber, grounding patchouli, smooth licorice, and velvety Haitian vetiver. Bonus: This is one of the best performers on our list in terms of longevity and sillage (the fragrance trail left in the air after a person walks by).

16. Chanel Bleu de Chanel Eau de Parfum

Bottle up a harmonious blend of citrus, amber, and woods that is pretty much impossible to hate, and you’ve got Bleu de Chanel Eau de Parfum. This EDP is the enhanced version of the original, so you get a deeper, more nuanced scent that’s just as wonderful.

It has a similar opening with grapefruit, lemon, mint, and pink pepper but diverges with additional notes of bergamot, coriander, and aldehydes. It continues its path with notes of ginger, nutmeg, jasmine, and melon before settling into its woodsy, sensual base. Amber, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, and tonka bean dry down to create a smooth, clean finish.

The beauty of Bleu de Chanel is its wearability. Its universally loveable scent means it works for all ages, events, and seasons. Because of this, Bleu de Chanel is a great go-to cologne if you’re in the market for something that doesn’t require much thought—you can wear it whenever and wherever.

17. Creed Green Irish Tweed

One of Creed’s best-selling fragrances, Green Irish Tweed seamlessly combines woods with freshness to create a seasoned, purely masculine scent. The mixture of lemon, Indian verbena, and peppermint sparkles with brightness right out of the gate. A standalone heart of violet leaves is like walking through an Irish meadow, while the dry down of Florentine iris, sandalwood, and ambergris is soft and classic.

Like an impeccably tailored suit, Green Irish Tweed gives you that extra boost of confidence only a clean, masculine fragrance can provide. It is versatile, too. This cologne pairs just as well with a tee shirt and jeans as it does with a suit.

18. Dossier Woody Sage

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly fragrance buy, you can’t go wrong with Dossier’s Woody Sage. This bestseller is based on another fragrance bestseller (ever heard of Jo Malone’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt?) but for a quarter of the price. The fragrance itself is inspired by the salty sea and the freshness of an ocean breeze.

It opens with top notes of fig tree and grapefruit before washing away into marine notes and sweet ambrette musk. A base of clary sage and amberwood end this nautical cologne with its aromatic, ambery finale that is fresh and outdoorsy.

19. Jean Paul Gaultier Ultra Male Eau de Toilette Intense

Powerfully masculine, Ultra Male is an intense amber, aromatic take on Jean Paul Gaultier’s best-selling Le Male fragrance. At first spray, you’re immediately enveloped with the mouthwatering scents of pear, lavender, mint, bergamot, and lemon. Cinnamon, clary sage, and caraway seeds continue the aromatic accord before black vanilla husk, amber, patchouli, and cedar dry down to a syrupy, smooth base.

It’s sweet throughout but well-balanced with the freshness of the fruit and the spiciness of the aromatics—but if you don’t like sweet colognes, this might not be for you. Bonus: The iconic Le Male torso bottle is on any fragrance collector’s wish list.

20. Chanel Allure Homme Sport

From deep woods to green fougères, there is endless variation when it comes to men’s cologne, but nothing smells as refreshing as citrus. Chanel’s Allure Homme Sport opens with a bright blast of orange, blood mandarin, aldehydes, and sea notes that are as thirst-quenching as they sound. Citrus might shine in the top notes, but a combination of pepper, cedar, amber, vetiver, tonka bean, and white musk makes it a woody, spicy fragrance.

The overall effect is invigorating without being over the top. Like the name suggests, this is a great fragrance option for those with an active lifestyle or really anyone who likes a clean, light scent.

21. Prada L’Homme Prada Eau de Toilette

A merging of Prada’s two most emblematic ingredients—iris and amber—L’Homme Prada is a modern take on a fougère, combining traditional notes like geranium with unexpected notes of neroli, violet, pepper, and patchouli. The iris ensures the cologne is clean and slightly powdery, while the amber base gives it a sensual, high-class finish. Confident and classy, it’s a great office scent and is perfect for the spring and summer.

22. Burberry Hero Eau de Parfum

Newly launched in 2022, this EDP is a darker, more intense version of Burberry Hero. The woody, ambery fragrance isn’t for the faint of heart, with top notes of pine needles and olibanum and middle notes of benzoin and incense that are soulful and undoubtedly masculine. Its base is a trifecta of cedarwood (Himalayan cedar, Atlas cedar, and Virginian cedar), which gives it an outdoorsy vibe. If you had a feeling this cologne would be best for colder climates, you’d be right—it’s a great fall and winter scent.

23. Escentric Molecules Molecule 01

2023 is the year of smelling like you (minus those times when you need to shower). To get that “your skin but better” scent, there’s Molecule 01. This cult favorite fragrance only uses the incredibly unique Iso E Super molecule to create its minimalist scent, meshing with the wearer’s skin chemistry to create a tailored fragrance experience. Iso E Super is velvety with a modern cedarwood note that is comforting and settles close to the skin. It wears differently on everyone, which is part of the fun!

How to Find the Best Smelling Cologne for You

Find Your Favorite Fragrances

When shopping for a new cologne, it’s a good idea first to identify the fragrances you already know and love. For example, if you know you’re a fan of Chanel’s Bleu de Chanel, then you might also like the fresh citrus and aquatic notes of Acqua di Gio Profumo. Not only will this help you find fragrances you’re more likely to love, but it will also help you avoid those that don’t suit your palette.

Know Your Notes

Notes are the building blocks of fragrances. They are the individual components that give a fragrance its unique nuances. Because notes play such an integral part in the performance, projection, and scent itself, understanding them is essential when shopping for any fragrance.

  • Top Notes. The top notes are what you smell on the first application. Also called opening or head notes, they hit your nose first and introduce the fragrance. If you’ve smelled a cologne and loved it upon first whiff, then the top notes made a good impression on you. If you were immediately turned off by a fragrance, then the top notes aren’t for you. Top notes have the lightest molecular structure, so they fade quickly. Because they only take up a short window of time, you can still love a fragrance without liking the top notes.
  • Middle (Heart) Notes. Middle notes, or heart notes, emerge once the top notes have faded. They’re called heart notes because they make up the heart of the fragrance, highlighting the prominent scent or accord. They last a while on the skin, usually 2 to 5 hours since the first spray. Middle notes are generally smooth and well-balanced, bridging the transition from the fragrance’s top notes to the deeper base notes.
  • Base Notes. Base notes are the fragrance finale. They emerge once the middle notes have dissipated and are typically associated with a scent’s “dry down.” These are often the richest, most decadent notes (think vanilla, leather, vetiver, and musk) that linger for hours on the skin.

Understand Fragrance Families

In addition to top, middle, and base notes, fragrances can be divided into four categories: floral, ambery, fresh, and woody. These fragrance families can be further divided into subcategories based on Michael Edwards’ Fragrance Wheel.

  • Floral: Consisting of fruits, florals, soft florals, and floral amber, floral fragrances center around flowers (obviously). Common floral notes include rose, lily of the valley, and jasmine, as well as fruity notes like peach and cherry.
  • Ambery: Consisting of soft amber, amber, and woody amber, ambery fragrances are warm and opulent. Common ambery scents include cinnamon, vanilla, and incense.
  • Fresh: The largest fragrance family, fresh encompasses aromatic, citrus, water, and green scents. These are typically the scents you associate with being clean and bright. Common fresh notes include sea salt, clary sage, bergamot, and lavender.
  • Woody: Woody fragrances are much like you’d expect: rich, sophisticated, earthy, and sometimes smoky. Common woody scents include vetiver, oakmoss, and cedarwood.

Understanding where a cologne lies on the fragrance wheel can help you determine its vibe or seasonality. In general, fresh green and aquatic fragrances are made for those hot, humid summer months. Whereas more spicy, woody scents are perfect for warming up in the winter.

Read Reviews

Reviews won’t tell you everything you need to know about a fragrance, but they will tell you some important things. If you have your eye on a specific cologne, scour the Internet for reviews on it. Whether it’s a YouTube video, blog post, or TikTok, reviews can help you make a more informed purchase.

Test Before Your Buy

No matter how great the reviews are or how well you know the fragrance notes, blind buying any fragrance is scary. A cologne might check all your boxes on paper, but there is always a chance it doesn’t mix well with your own scent chemistry.

We always recommend testing a cologne before you buy. Many brands offer sample-size testers or an assortment of testers so you can try out the brand’s best-selling fragrances. For more popular mass colognes, you can head to local department stores and get samples there. There are also online resources like Luckyscent that offer samples of thousands of fragrances for only a couple of dollars each.

Consider Your Goals

Why are you in the market for a new scent? Do you want a new winter-appropriate cologne to add to your collection? Or are you looking for a signature scent that can carry you through the year? Whatever your goals are, keep them in mind when shopping for your new fragrance. It will help keep your nose from wandering and losing sight of why you wanted a new cologne in the first place.

Having occasions in mind when shopping for colognes can also help you narrow down your options. If you need a new cologne that’s appropriate for everyday office wear, then you’re less likely to go with a strong niche fragrance. Instead, you might choose something subtle and inoffensive.

Follow Your Nose

Ultimately, the best smelling cologne for you will be based on your scent preferences, not anyone else’s. When in doubt, follow your nose. If it takes you to rich, intoxicating oud smells – follow it. If you land somewhere citrusy and tropical, that’s amazing too. The point is to shop for you and not what you think everyone else might love. Keep it simple: if you love it—wear it!

 

This article was supplied by Verma Media, a paid advertiser. Content has not been independently verified by Los Angeles magazine.