Most guys are introduced to men’s cologne in high school with that one dude who would rather use it than take a shower. Your remember him: So potent, he could take down low-flying birds with the miasma of Axe body spray that hovered around him. Well, if you swore off even the best cologne for men that day out of a desire to not kill native songbirds, there’s hope in this simple maxim: a little goes a long way. Like your grandfather’s Old Spice of yore, selecting the right scent is a calling card, something that’s unmistakably you (albeit not as overwhelming as that of your former secondary school peer). Cologne for men adds another dimension to a tailored appearance, and it harnesses the power of memory to those around you, flashing you into their minds when the wind blows the right way. Even if you’re not a wear-it-all-the-time type, there’s a cologne to suit any event, be it date nights, work events, or special occasions.
How you smell matters. According to Rutgers University-New Brunswick neuroscientist John McGann, humans can tell about one trillion different odors apart. So trust us when we tell you that whatever cologne you spray on as we head into spring and summer is worth thinking about. You don’t want to shut down a room with the stench of musk, nor do you want to cause people to sneeze uncontrollably. To help you navigate all the olfactory offerings out there, we’ve sniffed a slew of different colognes and perfumes. Some are great for work. Others are ideal for outdoor activities. But trust us, there’s one for you, and your significant others will thank you.
When shopping for a men’s cologne, there are some things to keep in mind. Aside from personal preference, know that eau de parfums have the highest concentration of essences, while eau de toilette and eau de cologne have the lowest. So if you’re using something perfume-based, beware of dousing yourself. One great way to avoid over-saturation is to do the old spray and walk-through technique: spray one pump of scent in front of you and walk through it. This ensures that the scent is evenly spread instead of concentrated in one area.
The Best Colognes for Men
Calvin Klein's newest scent for men continues a decades-long tradition of defining the space. Defy, which uses Richard Madden as its face, is the first stand-alone men's scent for the brand in more than 10 years, but what a return! Its woody, spicy top notes give way to a smooth, savory base of lavender, sage, and violet leaf. It hits all the right angles.
Don't let its jumble of French throw you off; this scent smells like spring. It's floral, sure, but the type of flowers Hemingway might write about. As the long winter comes to an end, this is your scent to wear as the trees come into bloom.
Summer in a bottle, folks. This peachy scent is warm and inviting, but also mature and adult and complex. It's woody, warm, and spicy, and one of those fragrances that smells better after you let it settle. Think of a summer peach cocktail, with sandalwood, citrus, and earth tones: Lots of layers, with more than a hint of patchouli.
For the no muss, no fuss dude: This fragrance, as the name indicates, is clean but not so simple. It's fresh, it's citrusy, and it's got just enough musk to give it complexity. It's also sustainably made, with mandarin oil cultivated and gathered by Brazilian farmers paid a fair wage.
Heaven. Pure heaven. This scent is rich and heady. You want to bathe in it, but a little goes a very long way. It's pretty much the perfect blend of rum (yes, rum), blended with tuberose and leather accord. It's virile and dramatic and smells great on everyone. Period.
DedCool is known for its unisex, utterly unique scents, and this one is no exception. It's a woodsy blend of citrus and gardenia, fresh and bright enough for summer. Or any season, really.
One of the great classics of the fragrance world, this one is a standout precisely because it's so subtly powerful. It's woodsy without being overwhelming, and has the invigorating freshness of cedar and sandalwood. Great for work and play.
You can end up smelling like a French snob or you can move toward the manly, woody scent of The Nue Co's latest. It does this by chemically reproducing phytoncides, the molecular compounds found in trees. It makes you smell like a refined lumberjack while relaxing you throughout the day.
This oldie but goodie remains a go-to fragrance classic. It's woodsy and sensual, and stands out without making you the center of attention. It's alluring without being overpowering, and has notes of rosemary, basil, tarragon, neroli and herbs.
This citrus-forward scent is beloved for a reason: It's fresh, clean, and invigorating. There are sharp notes of grapefruit, lime, and pepper as well as sea salt and a few deep, woodsy notes.
This woodsy cologne by Tom Ford is not subtle. But that's the point. The notes of sandalwood, vanilla, orange, and more combine to create a sweet, smoky scent that recalls a cigar store in an orange grove. If classically masculine scents are your style, this is an excellent choice.
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