Choosing the best men's cologne depends on several factors. A man's personality, his lifestyle, and the occasions for which he will wear a fragrance all come into play when choosing a scent. Quality matters, as does trying the scent before you make a purchase when possible. Once you find one you love, there are ways to increase its longevity on your skin, which is especially important for everyday wear and certain special occasions that will last all day or into the night. Find out how to choose the best scent for you or your loved one, and how to get the most out of your pick.
Types of Men's Cologne
The main fragrance categories are the same for both men's and women's scents. Although individual classification is a highly subjective process, the most common types are:
- Chypre - woodsy or mossy
- Fougere - fern
- Marine - oceanic
Men's colognes are commonly described with masculine marketing terms such as stylish, sexy, classic or outdoorsy. The most popular scents contain woodsy, citrus, fruity, and spice notes. Some men prefer to wear single notes, commonly found in aromatherapy oils. Don't forget that some scents are hybrids of two categories, so you could have woodsy-orientals, for example. If you enjoy two categories, but can't find anything that's quite right, venture into the mixes. Expertly created high-quality colognes and oils blend the notes seamlessly, so the possibilities are endless even though several men's fragrances are anchored by just a handful of notes.
Although it can be tempting to pick up a cheap fragrance, a more expensive, high-quality cologne is usually the better choice. The ingredients, staying power, and original scents of more upscale brands can be well worth the extra expense. Look for seasonal sales or sign up for email savings from your favorite brands to save money on the better brands. Some of top names in men's colognes include:
- Versace: The name Versace is synonymous with incredible class, style, and luxury. The colognes from this world-famous name are carefully crafted to bring nothing but the best to a man's fragrance collection. Rather than offering a big assortment of scents, the company is more selective. Consider the original Versace for Men or Eau Fraîche. Versace Blue Jeans is another option. Men's fragrance has never looked more masculine than with this tin can packaging and outdoorsy scent.
- Armani: Known for classy and sexy scents, Giorgio Armani is considered one of the best cologne brands.
- Dior: Dior colognes combine a unique blend of modern elements and classic fragrance notes, and is one of the top couture names in men's scents.
- Ralph Lauren: Although many men are familiar with the original sporty Polo scent, Ralph Lauren now offers a range of other colognes, ranging from rugged to sexy in their appeal.
- Yves St. Laurent: Elegant, masculine, and touted for sensual appeal, Yves St. Laurent is another highly-regarded brand in the world of cologne.
- Calvin Klein: Always a popular choice for the male population, Calvin Klein leads the way in men's fragrances. One of their popular scents, Eternity, is a mix of lavender, mandarin, vetiver, jasmine, sandalwood, basil, and sage. It is a change from the CK One that the girlfriends like to steal.
- Hugo Boss: Not a new scent, but always faithful to the top of the line, Hugo Boss is a fruity smelling alternative to the outdoorsy smell of CK and Old Spice. If you are more of an apples and lavender sort of guy (and you have plenty of company!), then Hugo Boss may be a great choice for you.
Cologne by Personality
The best cologne is also one that matches a man's personality and interests.
- Active: An active, athletic man might prefer a cologne that is on the light side. Look for scents that are described as fresh, watery, or that have green or woodsy notes.
- Traditional: For a man with classic tastes, traditional or original versions of top colognes are excellent. These are often bold, masculine scents.
- Artistic: For a men with artistic or eclectic tastes, consider the latest versions of name brand colognes. Often perfumers incorporate unique new elements for highly original products. A unisex cologne is another option for a man with eclectic tastes.
Best Men's Fragrances by Occasion
Another way to select cologne for a man is by occasion. Ideally a man should own more than one scent. Not only can alternating them keep things fresh and interesting, not all occasions call for the same thing.
- For evening wear, weekends, and dates, a cologne that is described as musky, sexy, or sensual is a good choice. Mossy and oriental scents can work well for evening wear. These can be overpowering for day wear, however, and should be avoided at the office.
- For everyday wear, a classic, lighter scent is a good bet. Look for colognes that are described as clean, fresh, or citrus or plant-based.
More Tips on Choosing the Best Men's Cologne
Not all colognes work for all men. To find the best one, consider the following tips.
- Don't trust your first impression: Colognes have three parts. Although you might like the first spritz, you are really only smelling the top note. The middle note (detected after about five minutes) and the base note (which you'll detect after about 45 minutes, and the scent that lingers the longest) aren't detectable right away. Don't buy a cologne after just testing it in the store; instead, wait a few hours to make sure you still like it.
- Ask for opinions: Many men want women to like their scent, so a man shouldn't be afraid to ask a significant other or female friends what they think of a scent.
- Read reviews: Many magazines offer seasonal lists of what they consider to be the best-rated of most popular fragrances for men. Great sites to check for new lists include the online magazine Ask Men, Esquire, and GQ. You can also read cologne reviews on popular fragrance sites such as Perfume.com and Fragrantica.
Techniques for Maximum Performance
To gain the most from a men's cologne, keep the following in mind:
- Avoid deodorant soap - as it is designed to remove all odors, including cologne. Since it leaves a deodorant film on the skin, this will affect the cologne you apply anytime throughout the day. Instead, choose unscented or a soap from the same wardrobe as your cologne.
- Coordinate your cologne with shaving cream and lotion. This will create a longer lasting scent collection. Similarly, if colognes don't tend to last on you and you have dry skin, try an unscented lotion. It offers something for the cologne to stick to while moisturizing your skin.
- Avoid using men's cologne as an after-shave. Cologne is not designed to be applied on your freshly shaven face and it can cause irritation and stinging.
Body Chemistry 101
Cologne smells different on every person, so it isn't enough to just sniff the bottle. Your body chemistry has a huge impact on how the scent turns out, so don't assume since a certain brand smells great on your buddy, it will have the same results on your skin. It's safer to say that a specific category works well on your skin (i.e. marine), but even that's not a sure bet.
Always test products before buying them. Never assume your body's science will do what you expect it to. Just like a shirt or shoes, cologne is a part of your look, and you want to try it on for the best fit.
Consider spraying some cologne on a sample card if available. This way you can spray several scents on different cards and perform a comparison. Once you narrow it down to your favorite two or three, complete a skin test.
Wearing Your Scent
Try out several scents before you make a commitment; it can take a long time to use up a bottle. Ask your friends and significant other what they think if you're having trouble narrowing it down. Once you've selected your scent, spritz on one to two sprays in the morning or before your event. Keep in mind that just because you can't smell it anymore, that doesn't mean no one else can, so there's no need for re-application unless you verify with a friend that your cologne has in fact faded away. Your nose can get used to the smell over the course of the day or weeks of wearing it, so there may not be a need to apply more.
The best men's cologne is a high-quality one that he enjoys, suits his life, and is right for the occasion. From classic to trendy, don't be afraid to test out what's best for you.