People are finally beginning to realize the importance of men’s cologne. It’s not only an extension of the man’s fashion sense and style but it can also impact him and everyone around him on a very primal level. The best men’s cologne will not only change how other people think about the man wearing it but will also impact how the wearer thinks about himself. It will affect all those touched by it on a deeply psychological level that lights up different areas of the brain. After all, scent is the one human sense that can bridge emotion and memory centers at the same time.
Finding the best cologne for men, on the other hand, is another prospect altogether. It’s sometimes hard for men to find a cologne that not only naturally extends their sense of style, underlines their masculinity and make them feel in charge of their environment, all while being pleasing to those around them. There seems to be a never-ending cacophony of scents out there—from ones too mild to be noticed by anyone but the wearer to those that seem to overpower everyone.
Selecting the best cologne for men is a process that should be taken seriously but doesn’t need to be an overly complicated process. While the terminology used to describe different colognes can be confusing, what a man should really consider before buying are the scent combinations. In my experience, all colognes can be broken down to a Base Note, a Mid-Range Note, and a Top Note. It’s how these notes are combined that really is the most important thing to consider—but more on that a little bit later. Right now, let’s take a few moments to look at the Top 25 Best Men’s Cologne brands. These are the ones that are on top of their game and provide unique scent profiles for the wearer.
Best Smelling Cologne For Men in 2018
1Calvin Klein Eternity for Men Aqua Eau de Toilette
Calvin Klein Eternity for Men Aqua is a very “safe” cologne that’s not too mild but also not too offensive at the same time. It has top notes that impart and ocean vibe and seem to be a blend of green woody and citrus notes. At its heart are very slight and imperceptible traces of Sichuan pepper, plum, and lavender and on its bottom, it are the scents of cedar and sandalwood—although these scents are rather light.
At its core, it seems to be the perfect summer scent. While it won’t make the average guy stand out too much, it also won’t offend anyone either. It doesn’t last as long as some other fragrances and it isn’t the very best men’s cologne but it’s still a classy scent that smells good while it lasts. It’s a decent scent for those who love clean aquatic colognes.
2English Laundry Arrogant Eau de Toilette
Brimming with a symphony of fragrance notes, English Laundry Arrogant Eau de Toilette is a well-composed, if somewhat tame, combination of base, top and middle or heart notes. Its top base is a wonderful combination of cedar and bergamot that quickly yields to middle notes of coriander and lavender. All of these scents are balanced quite well on its base notes which are reminiscent of amber and sandalwood.
While this scent doesn’t knock it out of the proverbial ballpark, it is fairly memorable. Sure, it could last a bit longer than it does and may need to be reapplied occasionally, it also isn’t overpowering. It’s a classy scent that goes with well a nice white shirt—with the sleeves rolled up, of course. It’s just not that formal.
3Kenneth Cole Vintage Black
Kenneth Cole Vintage Black is a fragrance that seems to be custom made for the metropolitan male. Whether you’re heading off to the boardroom to discuss your next merger, or are simply looking for a scent that highlights your masculinity for a night out on the town, this scent does seem to make a good first impression.
The first scents that will be noticed are the top notes of lime and grapefruit—a nice citrus scent that isn’t overpowering but is still effective. This is followed by lavender and dry oak scents that are eventually capped off by a vague tequila scent. It’s a scent for the sophisticated urban man.
4Tommy Bahama Eau De Cologne Spray
With scents reminiscent of sailing with your friends or hanging out at a bonfire on the beach, Tommy Bahama Eau De Cologne Spray is a complex combination of notes that promise adventure. It has citrus top notes that smell very much like tangerines, pears, and melons. It has middle notes that suggest violets and coriander and base notes of Tonka Bean and Australian sandalwood.
While it’s a little more expensive than it should be for a cologne in its category, it does have decent hang time and will linger for quite awhile without needed to be reapplied. It’s not the best perfume for men but it does deserve its place on this list for its adventurous style and longevity.
5English Laundry Men’s Collection 4-Piece Set
English Laundry Men’s Collection is a 4-piece set that brings together some really nice travel-size colognes from English Laundry. These 20 ml bottles all have their own contribution to make to your personal scent profile and can be used depending on your mood or situation.
The four bottles in this collection are Arrogant, Riviera, Oxford Blue and Notting Hill. Arrogant is a somewhat spicy concoction of coriander, bergamot, and amber; Riviera is a cosmopolitan scent which is a blend of oakmoss, nutmeg, and black pepper; Oxford Blue is an interesting blend of mint, green apple, iris, and vanilla; And Notting Hill is a blend of lemon and cedarwood.
While you will most certainly choose one of these four as your favorite, all of the colognes are versatile enough to be used for a variety of different occasions. Some of them might not have the longevity you would want in a cologne but it’s still a worthwhile collection to own.
6John Varvatos Vintage Eau de Toilette Spray
John Varvatos Vintage is a cologne that doesn’t reach into the distant past to create a memorable scent but still manages to craft a profile that’s exciting and sophisticated at the same time. That’s due to its extremely eclectic and interesting blend of notes that really come together in a compelling way.
At its very top, this scent mixes together the scents of rhubarb and pepper with the scents of wormwood and basil. Its heart or middle notes are composed of cinnamon, lavender, jasmine and juniper berries, while it’s bottom notes are composed of earthy base tones that include tobacco, Tonka Bean, and suede. It’s a combination of scents that shouldn’t work in symphony but somehow do.
It’s the perfect scent for those who want to suggest a time long past but still want it to remain rooted in modern scent profiles. It’s one of the best smelling men’s cologne profiles to ever use such an odd array of base, heart and top notes.
7Kenneth Cole Black
Kenneth Cole Black is a cologne with a name that is sort of an oxymoron. That’s because the scent profile that has been placed in this bottle couldn’t be further from what its name suggests. It’s a scent that’s dominated by the scents of white flowers and has a more feminine profile that you would think. It’s not dark or heavy at all.
It gets its light and sweet scent from its middle notes of magnolia, tuberose, and jasmine—although its top notes of violet and citrus are the first scents to catch the nose. And it’s all layered on a very sturdy base of sandalwood, amber, and musk that doesn’t quite cut through all of the white flower middle notes but is still in the background.
Overall, this scent is for anyone who’s looking for a scent that has a flowery clean profile to it without being overly feminine. It’s a cologne that seems perfect for the beach or for sipping tea under your favorite shade tree.
8Kenneth Cole Mankind
Kenneth Cole Mankind is a basic fragrance that’s perfect for those who are just dipping their toe into the cologne market. However, while it’s not the best cologne for men, it does have a few things going for it a lot of other colognes don’t. For instance, it’s bright and sweet smell.
Composed with the earthy base notes of oakmoss, sandalwood, Tonka Bean, and musk, the creators of this blend have crafted a scent that isn’t overly ambitious. It has heart notes which include cedar and cinnamon and has top notes which include pineapple and ginger.
And while its scent combination won’t knock your socks off, it does have a nice longevity to it that doesn’t require it to be constantly reapplied. It might be a tad of a sophomoric scent but it does stand up for long periods of time.
9Calvin Klein Euphoria for Men Eau de Toilette
With a light scent that projects well, Calvin Klein Euphoria is a scent that not only lasts a long time and has a nice silage but is also one that’s sure to lift your spirits. All thanks to a complex interaction between its base notes, its heart notes, and its top notes.
On its base, this fragrance has an array of scents which include amber, patchouli, suede and redwood. It’s heart notes are composed of black basil, sage, and cedar. And its brief but meteoric top notes include pepper and ginger which fade to a more robust scent profile.
Everything mingles together that makes a bright scent that isn’t your average citrus dominated summer scent. It’s perfect for the weekends or for more casual events where a more positive and upbeat attitude is expected.
10Calvin Klein Dark Obsession for Men Eau de Toilette
Calvin Klein Dark Obsession is a cologne that was created to be the mirror to this brand’s feminine Obsession perfume line. It’s an aromatic Oriental blend that’s designed to be masculine, sensuous and rich, and it does this through its interesting blend of base, heart and top notes that create a unique and dark composition that’s sure to be compelling.
When first applied, the distinctly Asian scents of guarana and green mandarin expertly mingle with wormwood. As this layer fades, it’s distinct heart notes are the next fragrances to make their appearance known—providing the aromatic scents of sage, vetiver and balsam fir. The whole composition then shifts again as labdanum and vanilla take over.
11Vince Camuto Eau de Toilette Spray for Men
Vince Camuto might not be the most popular of the colognes on the market today with some people describing it as short-lived and generic, it still manages to be the best smelling cologne for men among a lot of the heavy-hitters. And it does so with its intriguing combination of fragrances and the subtle interaction between them.
This cologne opens with the scents of bergamot and black pepper and infuses it with the scent of mandarin orange. As these three scents fade, they fade into the heart notes of this cologne which include such subtle earth scents as lavender, nutmeg and finally, leather. As the day wears on, it then settles into its main profile which includes a combination of patchouli, musk, and vetiver.
It’s definitely a masculine scent that’s sure to make the wearer feel sexy and in control at all times. And it manages to do so without being overly musky or overly cloying.
12Kenneth Cole Reaction
While most colognes with citrus top notes are usually immediately taken off most people’s best smelling cologne for men list, Kenneth Cole Reaction is a fragrance that wants this to change. And they may have done just that by crafting a cologne that has its citrus top notes supported by some really fascinating middle and bottom notes.
When first applied, this cologne immediately strikes you with a combination of lemon, lime, and luscious melon scents. These scents then give way to the more subtle notes of patchouli. This complex framework is then supported by musk and sandalwood notes.
It’s silage and longevity might not be as great as they should be and may need to be reapplied every once in awhile, it is an interesting scent profile that should prove to be an adequate summer scent that is unlike many of its predecessors.
13John Varvatos Eau de Toilette Spray
While John Varvatos is not a cologne that’s able to crack the top ten of most people’s list for the best perfume for men, it’s still a scent that was far ahead of its time when it came out in 2004. Even today, it’s considered by some people to have started some of the trends that modern perfumes are just now beginning to use.
It’s top, bottom and heart notes seem to all blend together in a very interesting and surprising way. As you wear it, you’ll notice alternating notes of lime, plum, coriander, and sandalwood that is often interrupted by cinnamon, pepper, and amber. Its combination of fruit smells and spice is what makes it an attractive scent to many different people.
14BURBERRY Touch for Men Eau de Toilette
Recognized by many for its interesting bottle shape, BURBERRY Touch for Men is a cologne that was introduced at the turn of the 21st century. It is a cologne with a long-lasting silage and an interesting scent profile that has made it a favorite among many people.
Artemesia, mandarin orange, and violet are the first notes to introduce themselves to your nose. This is then followed up by heart notes which include the spiciness of white pepper, cedar, and nutmeg. It then finishes up by leaving a chorus of scents behind which include white musk and Tonka Bean.
It’s a fragrance that will fit in with just about any occasion—from family events to a day at the office to a night out on the town. It’s spicy underlying notes are invigorating and unique.
15Vince Camuto Homme Eau de Toilette Spray
While some people have complained about its silage and projection, most other people would agree that Vince Camuto Homme is a scent that smells very much like an aquatic cologne mixed with the subtle overtones of juniper berries. However, this cologne has a lot more going for it than that scent combination.
The first thing that hits the nose when this scent is applied are the top notes of lemon and juniper berries. Then its middle or heart notes begin to shine through projecting notes of fennel, Cyprus and lavender. These notes then begin to fade into its base notes of cedar, birch and musk.
While it might not be the best men’s perfume out there, it’s still interesting enough for most people and is worth trying out.
16Lacoste Essential Eau de Toilette for Men
Launched in 2005, Lacoste Essential might not be the best selling cologne but it is a best smelling cologne for men. That’s because it’s a cologne that delivers a nice, fresh scent that has interesting citrus notes and is the perfect cologne for warm weather.
Straight out of the bottle this men’s perfume provides bright and airy top notes which include tangerine, tomato leaf, bergamot, and cassia. These top notes then give way to some interesting heart notes which include the scents of rose and pepper combined. For its base notes, you’ll notice subtle hints of both sandalwood and patchouli.
Overall, Lacoste Essential is a cologne with a summer scent that leaves many of the other citrus-based summer scents in the dust thanks to its interesting and spicy middle notes coupled with its woodsy bottom notes.
17Lacoste Eau de Lacoste Blanc
Influenced by the colors of their polo shirts, Lacoste Eau de Lacoste Blanc is a scent that’s supposed to emulate the clean, crisp scent of a white polo shirt. It does this through an interesting scent profile that carefully layers the top and middle notes upon the solid foundation of its base notes creating a scent that is unique and fresh.
You’ll discover that it uses grapefruit and rosemary in its top notes and tuberose and Ylang-Ylang for its middle notes. However, it’s the scents that it uses for its base notes that are the most interesting. At its bottom, you’ll find leather, suede, and cedar. All scents that serve to reinforce its fresh, clean scent.
Just like it was intended by its creator, this cologne is meant to pair well with a nice white polo shirt for a summer afternoon or for a trip to the tennis courts. It’s also a scent that has become a staple scent for many people all over the world.
18BURBERRY London for Men
BURBERRY London for Men is a cologne that’s considered to be the best men’s cologne for the English gentleman who wants to light up his pipe and kick off his slippers or for anyone who wants to replicate this feeling of sophistication, elegance, and style.
Composed of very woody base notes that include scents such as oakmoss, myrrh, and tobacco leaf, this cologne is built one step at a time with middle notes that include mimosa and leather. It’s top notes, however, are what will really strike you in the beginning. They consist of scents such as lavender and cinnamon. Taken in all together, its base, middle and top notes create an air of a simpler and more elegant life. It’s woodsy, spicy and leathery smell also lasts a nice long time and won’t fade as the day fades away.
19Tommy Bahama St. Barts Men’s Cologne
Although Tommy Bahama St. Barts is a cologne that really hasn’t been on the market as long as some of the more traditional cologne brands, it still has made a pretty big impact. It’s viewed by many people to be the quintessential aquatic fragrance that makes the wearer feel like they are ready to jump in their sailboat and head out on the warm, Caribbean waves.
This scent is constructed using citrus-based top notes infused with green middle notes and musky bottom notes. On its surface, you’ll enjoy the scents of lime mixed with tequila and agave—as well as some salty ocean notes. In its middle, you’ll find intriguing guava notes and on its base, you’ll enjoy the scents of musk and vanilla.
This cologne is the best men’s fragrance for those who love an airy, citrus and breezy cologne that makes you feel like you have the sun at your back, the wind in your hair and the whole ocean ahead of you.
20L’Occitane Woody Eau des Baux Eau de Toilette for Men
Although it comes in a bottle that looks like it should be holding some form of tincture or essential oil and not a top-brand cologne, L’Occitane Woody Eau des Baux is a cologne that really does a great job at bringing attention to itself and providing an olfactory experience that’s unmatched.
Named after a famed French city fortress, this brand is one that wants to bring out the qualities of courage and tenacity in you by blending together various scents that bring that connotation to mind. Just wearing this cologne is enough to make some people feel stronger and more confident.
Its top notes are the first things that will capture your nose—pink pepper and cardamon that dances in the forefront. This is then replaced by middle notes that include cypress and a base note that includes vanilla and Tonka Bean. All of which blend together to make a truly courageous scent.
21Jimmy Choo Man Eau de Toilette Spray
Jimmy Choo Man Eau de Toilette Spray is a scent that’s supposed to the perfect representation of the modern British male—sophisticated with a sense of style and an air of confidence. It’s a more sensual version of the ideal English man.
This is done by blending the traditional scents of suede and patchouli with melon, lavender, pink pepper and even pineapple leaf. This creates a distinct scent profile that isn’t reminiscent of your grandfather’s scents yet still retains a sense of elegance and style. This makes it a designer scent that many people is the best cologne for men or at least in that conversation.
22Calvin Klein CK One Eau de Toilette
Calvin Klein CK One is a cologne that’s been around for some time now—for over 20 years—yet it still remains one of the more popular men’s cologne out there today. Why is that the case? That’s because this particular scent has a lifespan that seems capable of transcending the generations.
It’s the perfect cologne for summer or for putting on to do your daily chores. It first greets you with nice green, citrus notes which include papaya, pineapple, mandarin orange and lemon. It then follows these scents up with heart notes which include violet, rose and nutmeg. It then finishes things off with a nice base note of amber, cedar and sandalwood.
23MONTBLANC Individuel Eau de Toilette
MONTBLANC Individuel is a cologne that was launched around 2003 and features a well-orchestrated procession of notes that makes it one of the most loved fragrances out there today. And this is all due to the complexity of its base, heart and top notes that all work together to provide this cologne with a nice silage and long-lasting projection.
The first thing that’s immediately noticeable about this cologne is its top notes of rosemary, pineapple, juniper berries, mint, lavender, and bergamot. It then follows these top notes up with middle notes which include jasmine, violet and orange blossom. For its finish, it then adds in base notes of amber, oakmoss, dark chocolate and vanilla. All of which come together to form an interesting and complex scent.
24MONTBLANC Legend Eau de Toilette
MONTBLANC Legend is more than a men’s cologne that comes in a nice bottle. It’s a cologne that is made for the self-confident modern man who wants to be clad in scents that are in direct contrast with each other yet somehow manage to complement each other.
The top layer of this cologne is a mixture of lavender, lemon, and bergamot highlighted with pineapple. Its middle notes stand in contrast to this top layer with scents such as dried fruit, rose, and geranium. And then it’s all finished with sandalwood and Tonka Bean notes that stabilize the cologne and bring everything together. It’s a scent that continues to impress the longer it’s worn.
25Calvin Klein Obsession for Men Eau de Toilette
Calvin Klein Obsession for Men Eau de Toilette is not only one of the most recognizable men’s cologne brands on the market today but it is also the best fragrance for men. It’s a delightful cascading of scents that can only be called alluring and sexy.
Its nice scent profile is really due to its layering of its top, middle and base notes. On top, it has lavender, lime, grapefruit, and cinnamon and its middle notes consist of carnation, nutmeg, jasmine, and pine. It’s a delicate structure that’s upheld by its base notes of amber, patchouli, and vanilla. It’s this dance of scents that makes this a much love men’s cologne.
More About Choosing the Best Male Cologne
While there is some consensus over which men’s colognes are the best and which don’t even come close, the only real indicator of which cologne is the best is you. After all, you’re the one that will wear the scent and it’s your body chemistry that will determine how that scent is expressed, so the only thing that really matters when choosing a cologne is how it suits you.
Of course, with the wide array of products on the market today and a whole lot of industry terms being batted around, it can not only be hard to find out which cologne is the best for you but it can be hard to determine what the defining characteristics of a particular scent is going to be. Which is why I’ve decided to give you a little cheat sheet.
I’m going to reveal to you what the notes really mean and some of the terminology that’s used to sell cologne. That way, you can rest assured that you not only are able to differentiate between the different cologne brands but that you can find the one best suited for you.
Base, Heart and Top Notes
Base, Middle (also called Heart) and Top Notes are simple terms used to describe which scent hits you first and how long that particular scent will linger. It’s a solid way of breaking down a cologne into its component parts so that you can get a good feel for what a scent is going to be like before you even try it.
The Top Note is the first note that reaches your nose and is the one that lasts the least amount of time. The scents that can usually be found in this part of the cologne include citrus fruits such as lemon and lime, as well as aromatics such as Anise and Lavender. This top layer of the cologne will usually linger anywhere from 15-minutes to 2-hours depending on the cologne.
The Middle or Heart Note is the next set of notes that will surface from the cologne after the Top Note has begun to fade. There can be a variety of scents found in this layer—including floral scents such as jasmine and rose; green scents such as leaves and grasses; spicy scents such as cinnamon or nutmeg; and fruity scents such as pear or pineapple. This layer usually lasts about 3 to 5 hours depending on the cologne.
The Base Note is the main foundation of the cologne. It’s the part of the cologne that you can expect to last anywhere from 5 to 10 hours. It’s usually composed of woody scents such as cedar or moss; or balsamic notes such as vanilla or Tonka Bean.
The Different Types of Cologne
In general, the terms perfume, cologne, and fragrance are all generic interchangeable terms for a scented water that’s applied to your body and/or your clothing. And these terms are used fairly frequently. However, there are also a few terms that are more specific and will give you a better idea about the product and how it should be used. Here are some of the specific terms used by cologne manufacturers to describe their products.
Parfum: Parfum is usually the most concentrated of all of the available fragrance styles and is usually composed of about 30-percent pure fragrance essence that should last about 24-hours when applied.
Eau de Parfum: Eau de Parfum is less concentrated than Parfum with a concentration of about 20-percent. This allows it to last about 8 hours on your skin or clothing.
Eau de Toilette: Eau de Toilette is a spray that’s anywhere from 4-percent to 15-percent perfume concentration. This product will last about 3-hours.
Eau de Cologne: Eau de Cologne is usually applied to masculine scents with a concentration of 2-4 percent. At this concentration, it can last about 2-hours.
Eau Fraiche: Eau Fraiche has the least concentration of fragrance at 1 to 3-percent and will last about an hour or less.
Now that we’ve run through 25 of the more popular cologne brands and you’ve learned a bit about cologne notes as well as styles, it’s now time to find a cologne that will fit you and your lifestyle and says something about your personality. Choose well and you’ll be happy with your purchase every time you sprinkle it on.