Fall in Love All Over Again With the Best Smelling Cologne

Do you want to leave a lasting impression? You could be wearing the best suit, the most dapper shoes and have your hair parted just the right way. All this simply won’t matter, unless you leave a memory with your scent.

Explore our basic guide to the ins and outs of colognes and perfumes; your olfactory senses will thank you. We’ve put together a list of the top colognes for you to peruse through and help narrow down your choices.

 FragranceFragrance TypePrice*Rating
1 Million by Paco RabanneEau De Toilette$$4.2 Stars
Extreme by Tom FordEau De Toilette$$$$4.7 Stars
Virgin Island Water by CreedEau De Parfum$$$4.8 Stars
Jubilation XXV by AmouageEau De Parfum$$$$5.0 Stars
Colonia by Aqua Di ParmaEau De Cologne$$$4.4 Stars
Aqua Di Gio by Giorgio ArmaniEau De Toilette$$4.2 Stars
The One by Dolce & GabbanaEau De Toilette$$4.4 Stars
212 Men by Carolina HerreraEau De Toilette$$4.8 Stars
Versace Pour Homme by VersaceEau De Toilette$$4.4 Stars
Legend by Mont BlancEau De Toilette$$4.6 Stars
Boss Bottled by Hugo BossEau De Toilette$4.3 Stars
Gucci Guilty by GucciEau De Toilette$$4.3 Stars
Eternity by Calvin KleinEau De Toilette$4.5 Stars
* $ = under $20, $$ = $20 to $40, $$$ = $40 to $80, $$$$ = $80+ (price quoted per 50 ml)

A scent is what you leave of yourself… with a past companion, perhaps, after you’ve just passed through, and your cologne or perfume choice is the most intricate and important of all the fashion decisions you will make. Make a good decision, maybe a handful of people will notice — maybe just that important person will stop, breathe in your rushing personality. Make a bad decision — and let’s just say you’ll be stinking up a room all by yourself. But if you get it right, there will be “just something about you” that people can’t place — a little mystery, a little pizzazz that is, at its very base, only you.

How do you go about this very scientific decision — what is the best smelling cologne for men? A day trying different fragrances at the mall can be a daze; you don’t want to walk in without a clue and end up dropping a bunch of money on some top notes that scream “YES!” with some base notes that turn up your nose — and clear the room just a half hour later. What are top notes and base notes, you ask? We’ll get to that in a minute.

Cologne vs Perfume: What Is the Difference?

Perfume BottlesWhat is the difference between Cologne and Perfume? This may seem like a basic question. Perfumes emote a sense of femininity while colognes seem more masculine. But the difference between the two is not gender related at all. Both consist of essential oils mixed in an alcohol base. Perfumes have a higher concentration of the essential oils, however, and thus follow the wearer throughout the course of the day — even after just a short spritz. Colognes, while consisting of generally the same make-up, generally have much less of the essential oils. Therefore, the smell only lasts a few hours and is incredibly diminished. It adds just a hint — something a little extra.

Because they contain so much more of the pure essential oils, perfumes tend to be quite a bit more expensive. And because their scent is much more lively and lingering, their bottles are generally found on the toilettes of women all over the world — not in the safe toiletry drawers of men.

The way perfumes and colognes are worn is incredibly different, as well. Perfume is sprayed at a distance in small quantities; large amounts rubbed on the skin can cause irritation, headaches, and nausea. It’s best to keep the spray at a minimum with regards to other surrounding people as well: oftentimes, people have allergies or are extremely susceptible to headaches. You want your spray to be a part of your lasting impression, of course. You don’t want to leave an unfortunate taste in everyone’s mouth.

Applying CologneColognes are rubbed or splashed on the skin in greater quantities to achieve the same effect. Therefore, perfumes, though more expensive at the outset, last longer and could be the better bargain. But colognes have essentially descended into the title for men’s scents everywhere — even if, technically, the spray is a perfume in general oil and alcohol make up. You can usually tell by the size of bottle: if it’s a smaller bottle with a high intensity, your signature scent could be a perfume in disguise. Use sparingly!

When perusing the cologne and perfume aisles, you should know the dialogue of the trade. Here is a short list:

  • Eau Fraiche: This is a feminine term applied to sprays with a very small concentration of oils. Therefore, it is technically a cologne — specifically for women. Scientifically, it contains less than 3% of oils, and usually has no alcohol. It is, literally, “fresh water”;
  • Eau de Cologne (or EDC): It’s found at the tail-end of the concentration spectrum, at around 3-8%, and is generally sold in large, 200 ml bottles. The stuff can be applied over and over via splashing or rubbing, as it only lasts about 2 hours. It is particularly appropriate in the summer months;
  • Eau de Toilette (or EDT): This is the most popular of all the generally feminine forms of perfume and cologne. It usually contains around 10-20% concentration of essential oils. The premier scents after spraying — the top notes — are refreshing and zealous. They linger only momentarily before descending into the middle and base notes. Like the cologne above, eau de toilette is generally accepted in the summertime. It is sold in 100 ml bottles;
  • Eau de Parfum (or EDP): The basis of eau de parfum is focused on its middle and base notes. The top notes might not have a lot to show in eau de parfum, but the lingering scent strides through. Therefore, it is often used on hair and clothing — not just the skin. The concentration of essential oils lies between 15 and 30% and is cheaper than regular perfume — but contains the same longevity. It’s sold in 50 ml bottles;
  • Perfume: It’s called perfume extract or extrait and is the most expensive little bottle on the shelf. But it’s the real stuff, for sure. Its top, middle, and base notes interact with each other; they descend from top to bottom providing a whole series of different olfactory experiences and landing gracefully on the base heart notes. The essential oils are as high as 40%–thus providing the best longevity of the perfume and cologne crew. You just use a tiny amount: on the pulse points, behind the ears, on the throat, or on the insides of the wrists. These are your most personal, most treasured spots: you wouldn’t put perfume just anywhere. The perfume lasts about 6-8 hours: all day or all night long.

Top 5 Selling Men’s Fragrances of All Times

What makes a perfume withstand the test of time? With dozens of contemporary scents that are constantly trying to become a new hit in the fragrance world, there are a few names that are here to stay. Check through our top 5 picks of all-time favorite colognes.

Cool Water by DavidoffCool Water by Davidoff

Introduced by the company that had nothing to do with perfume business but with cigars and tobacco, Davidoff Cool Water managed to become the iconic fragrance that withstood the pressure of time. Back to 1988, the skilful perfumer Pierre Bourdon made a decision to blend quite common ingredients jasmine and sandalwood with a few unique ones including lavender, cedar and musk. As a result, a pure contemporary masculine aroma became instantly recognizable. Although there are similar products available on the market, this fresh aquatic fragrance holds a special place in one's heart.
Drakkar Noir by Guy LarocheDrakkar Noir by Guy Laroche

Probably one of the most powerful and real men scents ever created, Drakkar Noir offers the irresistible simplicity and lasting shower-fresh scent that many women find so attractive! Created in 1982 by olfactory artist Pierre Wargnye, this fragrance became one of the club crawler “must have” attributes. Drakkar Noir smells classic, but not outdated. Imagine yourself walking into the pine forest and breathing in deeply the resiny notes while wearing your favourite leather jacket. This is a powerhouse fragrance with incredibly strong projection velocity, designed for a mature man who knows what he wants!
L'Eau D'Issey by Issey MiyakeL'eau D'Issey by Issey Miyake

Since early 90s, L'eau D'Issey Pour Homme has become a benchmark of sophistication in the world of men’s perfumes. The crispy blend of citrus, spices and precious woods, this energising scent is perfect for a modern, independent man. With quite a citrusy opening it gives you the fresh “after shower” vibe, while the drydown releases the more woody and spicy scents which literally last all day long. The bottle is pretty damn cool too, with the convenient spray mechanism, allowing perfectly controlled application. A true masterpiece that is here to stay!
Kouros by Yves Saint LaurentKouros by Yves Saint Laurent

Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent is an aromatic fougere fragrance, created by well-known Pierre Bourdon in 1981. It is a complex blend and thus, always intriguing! The fragrance is slowly building with floral and spice notes, topping up with a hint of vetiver in the mid and continuing to amber and woods. It's amazing that such a clash of scents can blend together smoothly in the drydown. Somebody said "You don't wear Kouros. It wears you", that sounds about right. Created for a man who stands alone without the need for a validation, who is not out there to please somebody, nor afraid to protect his freedom!
Eau Sauvage by DiorEau Sauvage by Christian Dior

A revolutionary scent appeared on stage in 1966, Eau Sauvage has since become one of the great classics in men's perfumes history. Absolutely wild and resolutely sensual, this fragrance embodies the timeless elegance of the Dior House, with a balance between natural simplicity and perfection. The perfume itself opens with a lemon-citrus blast, coupled with soft lavender and a lingering jasmine accord in the drydown. This may sound quite trivial, but it works in a way which makes you feel fresh, sexy and daringly adventurous at the same time. It doesn’t last long, but it lasts long enough to make your woman go wild.

The above list is a good place to start your search for the perfect cologne. Keep in mind that your signature scent is kind of like a fine wine. There is a huge selection available, and they’re not all alike.

Photo Credits: thegarnierman.com, Vagawi and Tomas Barrios