Never underestimate the power of smelling excellent, or the folly of smelling bad. This is the importance of using the best men’s fragrance you can get your hands on. People will tell you when you smell well, and they’ll tell others when you stink. Smell also has proven links to memory, meaning you can be in someone’s brain forever if you match your musk to the perfect mood.
As we live before the invention of smell-o-vision it is incredibly hard to work out what a particular aroma will do once it's in your nostrils. Perfume advertising often being a confusing mix of emotions and images definitely doesn’t help.
This is why we’re here to help you cut through the clutter. Whether you’re gifting a loved one something special or are on the hunt for a scent to call your own, we’ve built this list of the best men’s fragrances to help you find your right perfume.
What's the difference between Aftershave, Eau de Toilette, and Cologne?
Starting at the start, let's clear up the difference between aftershave, eau de toilette (EDT) and cologne. You wouldn’t be the first to think they’re one and the same, but each of these terms is actually it’s own specific identifier. It’s all to do with the potency of the potpourri.
Aftershaves are the weakest, with anywhere from 1%-3% perfume oil. They exist to soothe your skin after a shave (wild, we know). Here you’ll find soothing and cooling ingredients, such as aloe vera and alum. You’ll only get around two hours of odour from an aftershave.
A cologne contains between 2%-5% perfume oil, and is a happy medium between aftershave and EDT. You’ll receive plenty of fragrance without having to fear you’ll overpower those around you. This is where the majority of products for men sit. Expect around 4-6 hours from application until dissipation.
An eau de toilette is the next step up, consisting of around 4%-8% perfume oil. This is too much oil to apply to the delicate skin of the face. To get the best outcome you’ll be applying an EDT on the 'pulse points' (neck, wrist, or chest). It should last around six to eight hours after application.
Finally, if you're looking for something really powerful, a parfum – or perfume – contains around 15%-30% aromatic oil. That huge leap up in potency means you only need a tiny amount on the pulse points to bask in a gorgeous scent cloud for hours. The trade off is that true perfumes are rare and expensive.
How to choose the best fragrances for men
Not sure what you like, or aren’t sure how to put your own preferences into words?
- How to choose the right cologne or aftershave: 5 expert tips
With the above guide helping to provide a few ways to find your scent, there is no substitute for smelling how it feels on your skin. Real world road testing is key here, though there are several ways to help narrow down your selection.
Fragrance families are your first port of call. For context, scents fall into 7 distinct worlds – floral, fresh, fruity, citrus, oriental, woody or spicy. These should help clarify the starting point of the smell hunt that’s specific to you.
Another important step is to look towards classic smells, if a certain perfume has remained popular throughout the ages, there’s a definite reason for it. Don’t feel like you have to kick tradition to the curb.
Once you’ve found your aroma, it’s imperative to note that even the most high-end fragrances will suffer from poor application. Every sitcom has at least one episode where some young buck, eager to impress on a first date, misses the mark and stinks up the place with way too much cologne. Don’t let that be you.
One spritz on dry skin will usually do for polite sillage (that’s how much the fragrance lingers in the air after you). Scents are best applied on the warmest parts of the body to help them project, so pick one spot out of the neck and lower jaw, chest, wrist and forearm, or inner elbow.
If you do apply to your wrists, don’t rub them together, as this can break the molecular bonds in the perfume and “kill” the note – and nobody wants that.
While you're looking for fragrances, why not look out for the women in your life too? Squizz a gander at our list of the best women's fragrances.
The best men's fragrances you can buy today:
Tom Ford Noir is the fourth signature fragrance launched by the American designer. He describes Noir as his most personal fragrance yet, designed for an “urbane sophisticate who the world gets to see and the intriguingly sensuous, private man they don’t”.
The subtle yet distinctive fragrance packs warm notes of Italian Bergamot, Black Pepper and Patchouli, which are balanced with warm Vanilla, Amber and Nutmeg.
Dior Sauvage has been designed to offer fresh top notes of bergamot as the dominant force; but as this distinctive scent begins to dry down on the skin, Dior promise a subtle masculine, woody note left in its wake.
Like its poster boy Johnny Depp, Sauvage is an intriguing mix of rugged manliness (vetiver, pepper, patchouli) and borderline feminine refinement (lavender, geranium) that’s hard to pin down, but there's no end of wearers complimenting its wondrous fusion of scents. A great fragrance to opt for if you are looking for an evening scent.
If you’re a gent (or you know a gent) who likes to rotate his fragrance wardrobe depending on the season, this warming, spicy fragrance is just the thing for when the nights draw in.
Inspired by warming autumnal scents, Paco Rabanne have created a scent which promises to start with fresh grapefruit, mandarin and peppermint, but soon evolves into rich rose absolute, cinnamon bark and musk, with an ultra-masculine leather base. Overall, this is a spicy fragrance so citrus lovers, avoid.
Much like the iconic clothes Coco Chanel began designing almost a century ago, Chanel men's fragrances are sophisticated and timeless. What's unique about this fragrance is that it combines aromatic-woody scents with the invigorating freshness of citrus. That makes it suitable for wearing in winter or summer months.
The Eau de Toilette is designed to give you "untouchable confidence", and if sure to get plenty of compliments.
This scent was launched in 2010 to celebrate Creed’s 250th anniversary. It celebrates strength, power, vision and success, and is a luxury scent for individuals who saviour things in life. Aventus is inspired by the dramatic life of a historic emperor who waged war, peace and romance with equal magnitude. It opens with tantalising top notes of blackcurrant and Italian bergamot, blended with Calville Blanc apples and pineapple. A woody and heady centre is complemented with notes of roses, Jasmine blossom and patchouli, while a rich base of oak moss, ambergris and a touch of vanilla provides a final flourish to this sophisticated scent.
'Hugo Boss Man' Boss evokes the classic values of the successful, classic Hugo Boss man. The simple and clean lines of the bottle are stylish, and masculine, just like Hugo Boss tailoring. The fragrance contains fresh top notes include both apple and citrus fruits. In the heart of the fragrance lie the sweeter and warmer notes of geranium, cinnamon and cloves. At the smouldering base lie the notes of dry spicy scents of sandalwood, vetiver, cedarwood, olivewood, amber and musk create a distinctly masculine dry down. Hour by hour, the scent unfolds and takes on a different quality.
Summer might be over, but there’s no reason why its scent can’t linger on your skin for a little longer. Tom Ford’s Private Blend Neroli Portofino is inspired by the luxurious Italian Riviera resort, and like the glamorous destination, it’s expensive, but a little goes a long way. A reinvention of a classic eau de cologne, it features Tunisian neroli, Italian bergamot, Sicilian lemon, winter yellow mandarin, lavender, orange flower, rosemary and amber, which makes for an uplifting citrus aromatic scent. If that wasn’t enough, the bottle, which evokes the Mediterranean Sea, is to die for. It’s a real taste of luxury you can enjoy every day.
This bold fragrance promises to be pure fruit on the nose, coming in straight away with a hit of zesty-sweet apple and mandarin before mellowing to a sage and bourbon pepper middle.
Finally, there’s a distinctive patchouli and tobacco base, which adds a dark and dangerous note to an otherwise uncomplicated fragrance. Those in search of a refined classic would be better off looking elsewhere, but for the brave (see what we did there?) it appears to be a real standout scent — strong, long-lasting, and good value for money. An ideal gift for young guys.
A classic scent first introduced in 1995, you’ll be hard-pushed to find any faults with this magnetic Eau de Toilette. It opens with a fresh hint of mint, and is followed by warming lavender, masculine cinnamon and cumin. To compliment the amazing fragrance is a striking bottle, which will really stand out on a dressing table or bathroom counter.
Issey Miyake is known for creating perfumes using rare and unusual ingredients, and this fragrance is no different. The L'Eau d' Issey Homme is a classic for any occasion, with a fresh, vibrant and elegantly timeless scent. It starts with top notes of yuzu, with heart notes of blue water lily, nutmeg, and base notes of tobacco amber and Indian sandalwood.
Narciso Rodriguez’ Bleu Noir is the very picture of refinement, with its opaque deep blue interior promising something magical. The scent is just as elegantly modern as its vessel, promising fresh, spicy notes of nutmeg and cardamom combining with deep, sensual woods for a superbly sexy masculine vibe. It's great for wearing every day – pronounced without being overpowering.
After originally striding onto the market in 1916 with their original Colonia, it seems that Acqua di Parma have perfected a new set of classics with their Blu Mediterraneo range. Reminiscent of a sun-drenched stroll through the almond groves of Sicily, this fresh, green, citrus-laden scent is just the thing to evoke that holiday feeling.
We really commend its surprising amount of staying power for an eau de toilette, which makes it an equally as fresh, but better value, alternative to Creed’s Original Vetiver. A true holiday scent.
A fresh, citrusy scent for the man with discerning taste, and deep pockets. Creed fragrances are a designer classic, and with good reason. With the unmistakably masculine hit of vetiver at its heart, this fine fragrance is kept contemporary by zesty bergamot and bitter orange; clean, herbaceous coriander; and smooth sandalwood. We love its freshness, which provokes that 'just out of the shower' feeling — use it to treat your other half, or yourself.
In case you didn’t get the memo, the Nineties are cool again and classic fragrances like CK One are smelling fresh. While that old pair of Jeans you had (and Kate Moss) might have aged a little, this fragrance still smells young and is incredibly easy to wear for both sexes, making it a useful option to keep at hand in the bathroom. Bringing together refreshing notes of green tea, papaya, and bergamot, it’s balanced with soft accents of nutmeg, violet, cardamom, and rose. This means it’s a little bit musky and floral, and a lot citrus-y and refreshing.
Packed with joyful notes of lime, lemon, mandarin and ultra-fresh sea spray, backed up by armfuls of delicate white flowers, this classic Clinique fragrance has been praised for its fresh, summery scent, making way for its chirpy name.
With a woody base for structure, a pleasing floral heart, and the brightest, zestiest citrus tones up top, this is highly rated as a wonderfully 'happy' fragrance that seems to be loved by men and appreciated by women.