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 this Christmas, or on the hunt for your own signature scent, we’re here to help with our list of the best men’s fragrances 2020 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.
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.
Penhaligon's Juniper Sling pays tribute to the indulgence and forbidden delights of London in the roaring 1920s. The fragrance is inspired by the most iconic and atmospheric spirits – dry gin – and has been created by master perfumer Mr Olivier Cresp.
The perfume is made with Gin berry Juniper freshness is mixed with measures of Angelica and Brandy and develops into a heart of Black Pepper, Cardamom, Leather and Orris. It has a warming base of Brown Sugar, Black Cherry and Amber. We think it's ideal for Christmas parties, but also works all-year round.
Part of a collaboration with Huntsman, Savile Row, Jo Malone London's cologne blends sweet woody notes that recreate the aroma of good whisky, making it a top pick for traditionalists. Designed to go with a sharp suit, the fragrance is very masculine and grown-up, with invigorating spicy pimento and cedarwood for a rich, hearty smell. The fragrance comes in s stylish and sturdy bottle, making it a winner for throwing in a weekend bag or just looking good in your bathroom.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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