The best men’s fragrances and colognes 2018: long lasting scent for the discerning gent

From classic brands like Creed and Acqua di Parma to modern upstarts like Narciso Rodriguez, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best men's scents.

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A great fragrance is a powerful thing. It can make you feel put together on a big day, put you in a good mood, and even make people remember you, so finding the right one is extremely important. 

Luckily though, the pressure’s off, because whether you’re looking for a delightfully scented gift for a loved one, or on the hunt for your own signature scent, we’re here to help with our list of the best men’s fragrances summer 2018 has to offer.

What's the difference between Aftershave, Eau de Toilette, and Cologne?

First off, let's clear up the difference between aftershave, eau de toilette, and cologne – it's a common misconception that the terms are interchangeable.


It's all to do with strength. An aftershave is the weakest, and is made up of around 1%-3% perfume oil. To help soothe your skin after a shave, it'll usually contain soothing and cooling ingredients, such as Aloe Vera. It should only last around two to three hours after application.


An eau de toilette (EDT) is made up of around 4%-8% of perfume oil. This is too much oil to apply to the face, so should be put on the 'pulse points' (neck, wrist, or chest). It should last around six to eight hours after application.


A cologne contains between 2%-5% oil, and is a happy medium between aftershave and EDT.


Finally, if you're looking for something really powerful, a parfum or perfume contains around 15%-30% oil. That means you only need a tiny amount on the pulse points to last for a long time. It is quite 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? 

Fragrance families can be a good starting point: scents will fall into a floral, fresh, fruity, citrus, oriental, woody or spicy category – all fairly straightforward and telling.

But even the most high-end fragrances can suffer a little from poor application. Every sitcom has at least one episode where a young man heading out on his first date is chastised for wearing too much cologne, so 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 for the female in your life too? Take a look at our list of the best women's fragrances

These are the 12 best men's fragrances:

1. Tom Ford Noir

An oriental, sensual fragrance which is subtle yet distinctive

Specifications
Best for: Sophisticated sensual scent
Scent family: Spicy
Type: Eau De Parfum
Reasons to buy
+Sophisticated fragrance+Long lasting scent
Reasons to avoid
-Perhaps the obvious choice?

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.

2. Le Labo 'Bergamote 22'

Oozes modern sophistication

Specifications
Best for: Fresh, Sweet and Sensual
Scent family: Woody
Type: Eau de parfum
Reasons to buy
+Amazing blend+Unstoppable energy
Reasons to avoid
-Could last longer

Eddie and Fabrice, the founders of Le Labo, describe Bergamote 22 as, “ your white T-shirt. You always look good in one and it’s not a hassle to wear.” Its original code name, "Fire Cologne", illustrates its spirited qualities – a delicate floral character of petit grain sharpened by the bitterness of grapefruit. The scent is a dazzling elixir of freshness, sweetness and sensuality with an unstoppable acrobatic energy.

3. Narciso Rodriguez Bleu Noir

Woods and spice and all things nice come together in this modern fragrance

Specifications
Best for: Classic woody scent
Scent family: Woody
Type: Eau de toilette
Reasons to buy
+Warming spices and woody notes+Smells great; looks great
Reasons to avoid
-Not for citrus aficiondos

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.

4. Creed Original Vetiver

A fresh and bright addition to any gent’s scent wardrobe

Specifications
Best for: A luxurious treat
Scent family: Citrus
Type: Eau de parfum
Reasons to buy
+Fresh and citrusy for summer+Great balance of top, middle and base notes
Reasons to avoid
-On the pricier side

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.

5. Comme Des Garcons Parfums Amazingreen

A dazzling fusion of organic and mineral

Specifications
Best for: Fresh and natural
Scent family: Musky and woody
Type: Eau de parfum
Reasons to buy
+Recyclable packaging+Organic
Reasons to avoid
-Awkward bottle shape

In a blast of green energy, the unisex Comme des Garçons Amazingreen perfume seizes the senses. Organic greenery meets with the explosive elements of smoke and flint. A juxtaposition of air and earth, freshness and depth. Verdant, natural top notes of palm tree leaves, green pepper and jungle leaves are paired with dew mist for a crisp and vital opening, before settling into an elemental heart of flint and coriander. 

Amazingreen culminates in surprising volatility, with the smoky depths of gunpowder, smoke, vetiver and white musk. To finish it off, the Amazingreen pebble-like bottle comes tucked inside a 100% recyclable green bag that challenges the perception of luxury.

6. Paco Rabanne 1 Million

This spicy, autumnal scent is one in a million

Specifications
Best for: Winter
Scent family: Spicy
Type: Eau de toilette
Reasons to buy
+Spicy, wooden and masculine+Great for autumn and winter
Reasons to avoid
-Bottle is hideous

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.

7. Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Mandorlo di Sicilia

Whisk yourself away to Sicily for a touch of 'la dolce vita' with this almond blossom scent

Specifications
Best for: Fresh outdoor scent
Scent family: Floriental
Type: Eau de toilette
Reasons to buy
+Lovely light, fresh scent+Perfect for summer
Reasons to avoid
-Almond notes may be too sweet for some

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.

8. Molecule 01

A bespoke, pheromone-esque scent — for “science”

Specifications
Best for: Attracting a partner
Scent family: Woody/aromatic
Type: Cologne
Reasons to buy
+Adapts to the wearer's body chemistry+Unique
Reasons to avoid
-Unisex

For lads or ladies in the market for a romantic partner, this oddball fragrance makes a slightly bonkers, but interesting accessory to the search. The titular molecule is used in most modern perfumes to recreate scents, but here, it’s an almost undetectable velvety, woody scent which adapts to each wearer’s unique body chemistry. For anyone interested in the science of scent and willing to be approached by strangers, it’s one to try.

9. JOOP! Wow!

Woody and spicy with a hint of sweetness — Wow! Is the word

Specifications
Best for: Dads
Scent family: Woody
Type: Eau de toilette
Reasons to buy
+Warm and masculine+Nice design
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't last long

Joop have ensured that this classic scent hits all the right notes with high-up bergamot and vetiver, and a deep, sweet base of cardamom and warm vanilla. Spicy and fresh all at once, it’s a confident and intoxicating fragrance that makes an impressive initial statement before ebbing away to subtler tones. 

The bottle looks great, too, with its amber colour and sleek black screw top making it look rather like a sample of a posh whisky. Perhaps better suited to older gentlemen and dads, this is a popular, widely-available fragrance.

10. Dior Sauvage

Both masculine and feminine, rugged yet refined, Sauvage is an enticing enigma

Specifications
Best for: Evening scent
Scent family: Woody/floral
Type: Eau de toilette
Reasons to buy
+Clean and modern+Interesting mix of notes
Reasons to avoid
-More for evening

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.

11. Clinique Happy for Men Cologne Spray

This zesty mood-booster, bright with citrus, is a classic for a reason

Specifications
Best for: Awesome budget buy
Scent family: Fruity
Type: Cologne
Reasons to buy
+Bright and zingy+Great value
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't last long

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. 

12. Diesel Only The Brave Tattoo

A strikingly fruity scent for a great price, perfect for young dudes

Specifications
Best for: Strong, long-lasting scent
Scent family: Fruity
Type: Eau de toilette
Reasons to buy
+Interesting, noticeable fragrance+Lasts forever; no need to reapply
Reasons to avoid
-Will be too sweet for some tastes

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.

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