Perfumes have long since become a sense of fashion, and a way of expressing yourself, ever since the ancient age of Mesopotamia and Egypt. However, it’s believed by some that the Romans and Persians were the ones who came to know perfumes as a science of alchemy and mastered the art of perfume-making.
Over time, the beliefs – as well as the ways in making perfumes – changed, and this change remained in place until the birth of cologne came about in 1709. That year, an Italian by the name of Giovanni Maria Farina developed a spirit -citrus perfume he called Eau de Cologne (“water of Cologne”) to pay respect to his hometown.
Ninety years later, colognes became more popular and accessible, but Farina’s creation continued to be the gold standard amongst perfumers. Today, the name Eau de Cologne is used as part of the global marketing of almost every cologne.
Searching for the right cologne for yourself can be quite the challenge, especially when you’re only starting to understand how the whole industry works.
If you feel like you have to buy a new cologne to boost your self-confidence for your new job or impress a date, it can be intimidating knowing that the market is full of many options from which you can choose.
Apart from choosing between countless brands, you’ll also have to try out different colognes in order to find your true signature scent. Trying each one out carefully will give you a great measure of what you want to have in a cologne.
After all, it would be useless to invest in a fragrance that is too strong or too weak for your sense of smell.
Fortunately, we have compiled a list of recommendations for you to try out but before you start considering what to buy, here’s a complete guide and rundown of everything you need to know about colognes.
The Major Differences Between Types of Fragrances
The word “fragrance” is the unisex, generic term used to represent the many forms of fragrance that a person can wear, so it’s important to get better acquainted with them so you can choose the best one for yourself. Typically called by a variety of different names, most fragrances generally fall into one of these categories:
- Eau Fraiche
- Cologne (Eau de Cologne)
- Toilette (Eau de Toilette)
- Perfume (Eau de Parfum)
Let’s go ahead and take a look at the differences between these types of fragrances so you can better find the right one for you.
The eau fraiche – literally “fresh water” in French – only comes with anywhere between 1-3% perfume oil, making it the most diluted version of a fragrance available. These fragrances usually don’t last for much longer than an hour.
The advantage of using an eau fraiche is that they tend to be quite affordable, making it a good “entry” fragrance for those who are just now starting to dabble in wearing scents. They’re also more subtle, leading to a more intimate scent. However, since they’re so dilute, they don’t last long, meaning you’ll have to constantly reapply them.
- Tends to be fairly affordable
- Subtle, less overpowering scent
- Great way to try out a new cologne
- Only lasts about 1-3 hours
- Can get costly to constantly reapply
Cologne (Eau de Cologne)
Known to be the oldest term for perfume, colognes are often used by men and younger people because of their light and fresh scent. they are composed of 2-4% perfume oil and they usually last for 2 hours.
Like an eau fraiche, these also tend to be a fairly affordable option. They can also be a milder scent, though you can always apply more if you want to pack a stronger punch. However, because they are fairly dilute, they don’t last very long.
- A fairly affordable option
- Great way to try out new scents
- Won’t overwhelm people
- Constantly need to reapply
- Can fade quickly, revealing less-pleasant notes
Toilette (Eau de Toilette)
These fragrances are also referred to as aromatic waters. Like a cologne, a toilette is a light and fresh scent composed of 5-15% perfume oil. They can last for about 3 hours.
These tend to have a more powerful scent than their more dilute counterparts. Because of this, they can cost a little bit more. That said, you won’t have to reapply as often, and you can still enjoy a more subtle scent when you wear one.
- Not overwhelming
- Can be more affordable than perfumes/parfums
- You can change it up day by day
- Fades within three hours
- Can reveal body odor quicker than perfumes / parfums
- More expensive than colognes
Perfume (Eau de Parfum)
Perfume is probably the best term to describe fragrances as it is often used for both men’s and women’s products. They usually contain 15-20% perfume oil and can last for about 5 to 8 hours.
These are a great option if you already know you like a scent and you want to let people know it’s your trademark smell. However, because they have more fragrance oil, they do tend to be more costly. As the main notes fade away, it can reveal a very handsome base note beneath it.
- Long lasting scent
- A little goes a long way
- Can boost mood
- Considerably more costly
These fragrances are the most expensive of all the options. They’re slightly oilier than perfume in texture, as they usually contain 20-30% perfume oil. A parfum can last up to 24 hours when worn.
Choosing a parfum is a fantastic way to really hang on to a scent and let it linger on your skin. Because they last so long, you can enjoy smelling them all day, from the initial notes to the final base notes. They can be quite costly, though, as they’re a very concentrated scent.
- Get a lot of mileage out of it
- Scent lingers all day
- Can be your trademark scent
- Not very affordable
Life Cycle of a Fragrance
Most fragrances tend to undergo a process known as the ” life cycle pyramid .” A fragrance naturally goes through this process to showcase the various scents it has from the top, all the way down to its base.
The scents are called “ notes ,” and there are three different types of notes that are found in most fragrances.
- Top Note. The initial smell of a fragrance that wafts up to your nose right after you apply it is known as the “top note.” The top note can last from 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the fragrance. Top notes are usually composed of light floral scents, powdery scents, marines, fruity scents, or spices like cinnamon.
- Medium Note. Commonly known as the “middle” or the “heart notes,” the medium note is considered the main element of a fragrance. After the scent of the top note slowly disappears, the medium note develops and can last about 3-5 hours after spraying. Medium notes are composed of heavier floral scents, green scents, spice scents, and fruity scents.
- Base Note. Once the top notes completely evaporate, the “base notes” of a fragrance start to develop. The base notes usually provide the foundation of the fragrance, as they will determine how long the scent of the fragrance will last. Some of the more common examples of base notes are moss, vanilla, tar smoke, musk, tobacco, and leather.
Best Cologne Brands
There are so many cologne brands out there, proving that it can be difficult trying to find the right one. However, it’s useful for you to know which brands are prestigious and trusted – so here’s a small list of reputable cologne brands that you can check out.
Besides being famously known as a high-end brand of dresses, hats, and jewelry for women, Chanel is also known for its fine fragrances. One of their most famous fragrances is the timeless Chanel No. 5 .
To this day, the perfume is still widely used, and it’s considered to be one of the most iconic perfumes out there. Having said that, Chanel also has a reputation for making unique fragrances for men.
Chanel started their line of men’s fragrances way back in 1955, when they launched Pour Monsieur EDT . Although the product is now discontinued, Chanel continues to be one of the leading brands when it comes to men’s fragrances.
One of their most famous fragrances for men is the Bleu de Chanel , a woody aromatic fragrance.
Another name that comes into mind when it comes to men’s fragrances is Giorgio Armani, more commonly known simply as “ Armani .”
The Italian high-end, luxury fashion house designs and manufactures different lines of products including classy leather goods, designer shoes, fancy watches, timeless jewelry, and other accessories, such as eyewear and cosmetics.
The brand is famously known to market its products by associating the name Armani with high-end fashion. Armani’s collection of men’s fragrances is comprised of several lines of designer scents that can be worn on any given occasion.
The company released their first Armani scent made for men back in 1984, named Armani Eau Pour Homme. Today, Armani offers a wide range of fragrances that you can choose from. Much like Armani’s sense of high fashion, his scents are considered elegant and more accessible than the competition.
Although Tom Ford is a newer house compared to the other high-fashion brands, his fragrances are some of the best within the industry. Being a serious person when it comes to fragrances, Tom Ford believes that a great fragrance is always a necessity when it comes to fashion.
Having the sophistication of a true gentleman, picking among his fragrances today can prove to be confusing. To understand the man’s motive when it comes to fragrances, his collection of fragrances is generally divided into two lines: Signature and Private Blend.
The signature line is basically a selection of fragrances that you can choose from when you’re trying to find the right day-to-day fragrance. In contrast to the signature line, you could view the private blend line as Tom Ford’s own selection of unique and personal scents. It’s pretty much a look into his own scent laboratory.
The British luxury fashion house of Burberry has been around for about 165 years . When it comes to fragrances, Burberry is known for its timeless and fresh fragrances for both men and women.
Just like the other high-end fashion brands we’ve mentioned, Burberry stands out as one of the leading brands when it comes to making a diverse line of colognes. Most of their colognes are always among the best-sellers within the industry.
Whether you want a sophisticated masculine scent or a sexy, elegant aroma, you won’t be disappointed with Burberry’s selection of men’s fragrances .
Creed is known as one of the most respected brands when it comes to perfumes. The brand claims that it has a history of providing exclusive fragrances to high-class individuals including celebrities and well-known political figures.
And although the brand seems skeptical when you consider their marketing strategy or niche, their fragrances are extremely pleasant and worth the mention.
There are countless brands within the industry and admittedly, you can’t go wrong with most of them. But when we’re talking about signature scents, you should be picky.
If you’re buying a new cologne from an unfamiliar brand, it will help a lot if you do your own research of the brand and its reputation to avoid any shady products within the industry.
Tips on Wearing Men’s Cologne
It’s important to remember that you need to be careful about how you apply cologne. This may seem obvious for some, especially for those who have a strong sense of smell, but it can be quite off-putting if you don’t know how to apply it properly. That said, here are some helpful tips on properly wearing men’s cologne.
- Always try to spray on dry skin. If possible, you should always spray right after a shower. It will also help if you lightly spritz about 3-6 inches away from your skin.
- Consider starting light. If you’re only starting out wearing cologne, make sure to start out light. Preferably, you can start by applying one single spray on your chest. As you become more familiar with other fragrances, you can try out a few more sprays in other areas of your body.
- Apply to warm areas. Applying your cologne on areas like your chest, neck, lower jaw, wrist, and forearm will give you the best results when it comes to retaining the scent. The heat from these areas will push the scent of the cologne throughout the day, creating a scent trail called ” sillage .” However, as we mentioned earlier, consider starting light and build up your application slowly.
- Re-spray on your wrists only when it’s necessary. If you think the scent of your cologne is fading, you can spray a little on your wrists to preserve the fragrance – but you should only do so when it’s necessary. Most people do this in the second half of the day.
- Never spray on your clothes. Spraying on your clothes is not the proper way of applying cologne. If you apply cologne to your clothes rather than on your skin, you’re literally preventing the cologne from going through its natural process, or what we call the stages of notes. It’s also important to note that the oils of your fragrance can stain different fabrics, possibly permanently damaging them.
- Less is more. We really can’t stress this enough: m ost colognes have their own distinct scent that changes as it wears off. If you apply too much of it, the cologne’s composition would be useless. Too much application will eventually lead you to have an overpowering scent, which can be fairly offensive to others. To appreciate the notes of your fragrance, make sure to remember that less is always more .
Buying the Right Cologne
There’s a lot to take in when you want to buy the right cologne. Here are some helpful tips to get you started on your search for your own signature scent.
Know Your Motive
Consider what you’re aiming for when it comes to buying your new cologne. Are you looking for a day-to-day fragrance for work or a strong personal scent? If you’re looking for your signature scent, always prefer to find something that suits your personality.
You should always get something that will not overwhelm people near you. Let people discover your fragrance, be a little subtle. You don’t want to pummel people with it, as that can be considered both a little bit tacky and more than a little bit overwhelming.
Ask for Tips or Clues From Good-Smelling People
If you have any friends that are reasonably knowledgeable when it comes to perfumes, try asking them for any clues or tips. They may suggest a good brand for you to try out or a reputable store that has a great selection of colognes or friendly employees.
Always Try Before You Buy
We can’t stress this enough. There’s a lot to take in when you’re buying your new cologne, but the most important factor is to always try before you buy . This will save you a lot of trouble in the long run especially when you’re on a budget and only starting to understand how fragrances work.
Our Top Recommendations
Assuming that you’re finally familiar with everything when it comes to colognes, you might find yourself doing a lot of research when it comes to picking the right one.
So whether you’re looking for your first true signature scent, or you’re on the hunt for a worthy addition to your collection, take a look at some of our recommendations down below.
What Was Our Evaluation Criteria?
Trying to find the best cologne can be a serious challenge, and nobody wants to invest a lot of money into a cologne that is only mediocre. Because of this, we were very picky in narrowing down our favorites. A few of the things we considered when selecting these were:
- We wanted to make sure the ones we chose were backed by a reputable brand.
- The colognes themselves were well-established and not too new on the market.
- Did they actually smell good? (This was a huge consideration!)
- Are they more universally flattering scents, ie, are they good for most body chemistry types?
We know that trying to buy a good cologne is an investment, and a discerning consumer like yourself would want to pick one that was worth your purchasing price. All of the colognes below come at different price points, allowing you to choose the very best one for yourself, regardless of its cost.
Aventus by Creed
This Cologne celebrates strength, vision, and success. A fragrance inspired by Emperor Napoleon, Aventus composed of irresistible scents that will surely attract women. The top notes of this cologne are blackcurrant, bergamot, apple, and pineapple.
The middle notes of Aventus are dry birch, rose, Moroccan jasmine, and patchouli while its base notes are musk, ambergris , oakmoss, and vanilla. This is truly a great fruity, sharp fragrance for men.
1 Million by Paco Rabanne
From a house dedicated to making fresh fragrances for men, this cologne will surely impress you with its sensual blend of notes. Inspired by Paco Rabanne’s metallic fashion, it comes in a sleek golden package.
The notes of this bold and luxurious fragrance are grapefruit, sexy blood orange, mint, spices, light leather, cinnamon, amber, whitewood, and patchouli. 1 Million a great everyday scent to be worn with any outfit and for any occasion.
Bleu De Chanel by Chanel
Made by a brand associated with elegance in the fashion industry, Bleu De Chanel is a timeless, must-have cologne to add to your collection. It’s a powerful fragrance that reveals the essence of your determination as a man.
This cologne brings together notes such as dry cedar, amber, ginger, and incense, providing an aromatic woody scent and an irresistible undertone. No matter when you wear it, you’ll be sure to attract the right attention with this scent.
Invictus by Paco Rabanne
Another Paco Rabanne cologne on our list, Invictus is a fragrance that represents power and energy. The cologne is accompanied by a bold mixture of freshness and heat that will yield you compliments throughout your day.
The top notes of this woody aquatic fragrance are sea notes, grapefruit, and mandarin orange. This fragrance will eventually lead you to the scent of bay leaf and jasmine, and it hides a woody base composed of guaiac wood, oakmoss, ambergris, and patchouli. Masculine and fresh, it’s a fantastic cologne for anyone.
Acqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani
A clean, long-lasting cologne inspired by Armani’s vacation to a majestic coastal town in Italy, this fragrance is considered to be the gold standard when it comes to affordable yet attractive colognes.
Considering that it’s an aromatic aquatic cologne, the scent of Acqua Di Gio is full of wind, freedom, and water. This perfume is a perfectly balanced cologne composed of sea notes, floral, and fresh spices.
The top and middle notes of this fragrance are eventually softened by its base notes composed of musky scents. No doubt, it’s an incredibly irresistible scent.
Noir Extreme by Tom Ford
Considered by many as a perfect fragrance for fall and winter, you’ll surely love the first sniff of this cologne. The Noir Extreme by Tom Ford is an extraordinary fragrance dominated by warm spicy notes and woody accords. It’s a fragrance that will let you experience the true brilliance of Tom Ford’s creations.
The top notes are saffron, nutmeg, cardamom, neroli, and mandarin orange. The middle notes of this fragrance are rose, kulfi, mastic, jasmine, and orange blossom while base notes of it are amber, woody notes, vanilla, and sandalwood. Even though it’s a cooler-month cologne, feel free to wear it all year ’round.
Armani Code by Armani
If you’re a fan of deep, heady leather scents when it comes to colognes, consider trying out Armani Code by Armani. It’s a versatile cologne that will let you experience the soft initial scents of sweet, pleasantly fruity notes.
The notes of this fragrance are olive blossom, tonka bean, tobacco, star anise, and guaiac wood. With a fantastic, unique scent, the Armani Code may as well be your go-to winter fragrance and perhaps, your go-to signature scent.
Question: What’s the best way to take care of your cologne?
Answer: Always store your fragrances in dark, dry places. You will be surprised how it can last longer if it stays away from light. It is also important that you avoid any unnecessary shaking of the bottle, as it will lead to unwanted oxidation (which can cause it to smell not so nice before too long).
Question: Is it okay to buy your new cologne online?
Answer: If you’re in the market for a new cologne, it’s always important to remember that trying out a selection of colognes at a store will always yield you a better measurement of what you want.
Furthermore, if you’re thinking of ordering a cologne online to replace an old one, make sure that you’re buying from authorized retailers. Be aware of fake products and counterfeits, as well as unscrupulous retailers cutting an expensive product with water or other fillers.
Question: Is it always best to buy only a small bottle of a new cologne?
Answer: If you consider yourself a newbie when it comes to men’s cologne, your investment in such products may prove to be worthwhile if you buy at a lower risk.
You have to consider how often you will use the product and whether you would like to try different colognes later on. In the end, it can be a wise decision to buy a smaller bottle of a new cologne especially when you’re on a budget.
Question: Why do colognes smell differently on different people?
Answer: There are several factors involved that can affect the scent of a cologne and how it will smell when you apply it onto yourself. For example, the products you use such as soap, body lotion, and shower gel can affect the cologne’s scent on you.
Other factors that can affect the smell of a cologne include your given diet, your hormone balance, and the condition of your skin. As a result, the same cologne can smell very differently if you apply it to two people. That’s why it’s always best to try a smaller, sample-sized bottle before investing in a larger bottle of cologne
Question: What’s the difference between a linear fragrance and a non-linear fragrance?
Answer: If you want your fragrance to remain unchanged throughout its entire lifecycle, consider springing for a linear fragrance . But if you’re leaning more towards complex layers and a scent that will evolve over time, try using non-linear fragrances.
It’s important to note, however, that not all linear fragrances are cheap and low-quality. Finding the best one for you may include a little bit of trial-and-error, but shouldn’t break the bank.
Final Thoughts: Choosing a Cologne That Works Best for You
Getting the best investment out of colognes is not an easy task, as there are so many fantastic options for you to choose from.
Rather than relying solely on the opinions of experts, we suggest that your main focus when it comes to buying a new cologne is based on your personal sense of smell. After all, subjectivity also has its own role when it comes to fashion.
It’s deep and subtle, with spicy notes that compliment most body chemistries. A wholly aromatic and intriguing scent, it’s our favorite on this list. Whether you’re searching for a new signature scent or you’re simply looking for a strong and evocative scent for a special occasion, we hope that this guide made it easier for you to understand how to find the right cologne for you.
So, keep on trying fragrances because eventually, and we’re confident that you’ll find your own signature scent before too long!