Home Beauty Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

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Your guide to smelling better.

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Finding a cologne to become a signature scent-or a few of them-is a key rite of passage in a man’s life. At some point, perhaps without even realizing it, you purchase your last bottle of Axe Body Spray (or, if you’re like me, Abercrombie & Fitch’s Fierce, the unofficial scent of seemingly all shopping malls in the early 2000s that had men of a certain age in a chokehold for years) in favor of something a bit more elevated. Because scent is so subjective, embarking on finding the best cologne for you can be intimidating. What smells great on me might repulse you.

And not for nothing, many cost a pretty penny, and no one wants to make an investment in something they won’t use. “Finding a truly spectacular cologne is all in the composition,” says Marcella Bijou, senior product developer for SOS Beauty, who adds that it all starts with “balancing the right materials to create a harmonious, wearable, and timeless scent.”

Fortunately, we’re here to assist: We spoke to four fragrance experts to help us cut through the noise to curate a list of the most popular, classic, and modern colognes for men. Several InStyle editors — and self-described fragrance snobs — tested each cologne on their skin, hair, and across various fabrics, to evaluate the scent composition and whether the fragrance notes were expertly balanced, along with the cologne’s staying power on different surfaces, and even how the cologne bottle impacted our experience — but most importantly, its overall alluring appeal. Out of 27 fragrances, you’ll find our very favorite colognes for men on the list below.

Our Top Picks Best Overall: Acqua di Parma Colonia at Nordstrom ($212) Jump to Review Best Budget: Cremo Spice & Black Vanilla at Amazon ($23) Jump to Review Best Cologne for Young Men: Paco Rabanne 1 Million Eau de Toilette at Nordstrom ($94) Jump to Review Best Summer Cologne for Men: Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme at Nordstrom ($90) Jump to Review Best Fall Cologne for Men: Maison Margiela ‘Replica’ Jazz Club at Nordstrom ($85) Jump to Review Best Winter Cologne for Men: Azzaro The Most Wanted Eau de Parfum at Ulta (See Price) Jump to Review Best Vanilla Cologne: Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille at Nordstrom ($195) Jump to Review Best Long-Lasting Cologne for Men: Creed Aventus at Nordstrom ($265) Jump to Review Best Luxury Cologne for Men: Dior Sauvage Elixir at Nordstrom ($180) Jump to Review Best Spicy Cologne for Men: Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de l’Homme at Sephora ($90) Jump to Review

Best Overall

Acqua di Parma Colonia

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $212 View On Acquadiparma.com View On Bloomingdales $150

What We Love: This refreshing cologne isn’t “too” anything, so it's a versatile scent that vibes in any scenario. 

What We Don’t Love: The scent on the skin was very light by the end of the day, so you may need to reapply.

Developed more than 100 years ago, it took just one spray for us to discover what gives this classic fragrance its staying power…no pun intended. With a balanced blend of bright fruity top notes and warm base notes of vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli, we particularly loved this fragrance for its versatility: A perfect choice for day or night, for all seasons and for any gender. The first spray comes on strong with a delectable blend of sweet and musky notes, which softens after about 30 minutes for an overall refreshing and sophisticated scent that lingers all day. 

The Art Deco-inspired bottle is the classic Acqua di Parma design that feels timeless: Simple and elegant, it definitely doesn’t look or feel cheap, but isn’t trying too hard to beclass luxurious. The twist off cap is a delightful nod to the past, as modern fragrance bottles seem to opt for magnetic caps. Depending on your personal preferences, just one spray will have you smelling light and fresh, while two to three sprays will give you a stronger (but not heavy) scent that retains its refreshing effect, especially when the fragrance is sprayed into hair.

Type: Eau de cologne|Key Notes: Lemon, sweet orange, Calabrian bergamot, lavender, vetiver, sandalwood|Fragrance Family: Citrus|Size: 3.4 oz

Best Budget

Cremo Spice & Black Vanilla

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Amazon $23 View On Cremocompany.com View On Walmart $23

What We Love: From the quality of this spice vanilla cologne to its packaging, it feels much more expensive than it is. 

What We Don’t Love: The fragrance is distinct and spicy, so might be your favorite if you prefer something more low key.

It’s easy to experience sticker shock while cologne shopping, with the price tags of high end scents coming in well above $250 per bottle. Mercifully, that’s not the case here: This eau de toilette is a warm, slightly sweet yet spicy fragrance that has a surprising staying power on skin, fabric and in hair. For such an approachable price point, they didn’t skimp on the packaging, which is reminiscent of much more expensive perfume brands. The rectangular glass bottle is simple, sophisticated, with as expensive-feeling weight that also makes it easy to hold. Plus, you can’t beat the convenience of being able to purchase from Amazon Prime! 

At first spray, we were met with the vibrant cardamom spice alongside a very short-lived alcohol smell. The cardamom and tobacco notes remained prevalent as it dried down, with a subtle sweet vanilla note revealing itself later. The warmth of this scent profile makes it ideal for the cooler temperatures of fall and winter, but would be great to pull out for dinner on a summer evening with an unusually cool breeze. Because this fragrance isn’t overpowering, we found ourselves reaching for this scent for everyday wear and to run errands. The mix of spices and vanilla is notably distinct, so this fragrance may not be for those who prefer a softer, more subtle scent. 

Type: Eau de toilette|Key Notes: Cardamom, cashmere wood, bourbon vanilla, vetiver|Fragrance Family: Spicy, warm|Size: 1.7 oz

Best Cologne for Young Men

Paco Rabanne 1 Million Eau de Toilette

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $94 View On Sephora $94 View On Kohls.com

What We Love: Musky and leathery, this cologne is great for the younger man with after work plans. 

What We Don’t Love: The spray mechanism isn’t the easiest to use.

With its ostentatious packaging reminiscent of a gold brick and sophisticated masculine scent, young men won’t have to spend a fortune to smell like a million bucks. Formerly known as Paco Rabanne, the pseudonym for fashion designer Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo whose work and colognes date back to the 1960s, Rabanne 1 Million Eau de Toilette remains prevalent and popular since its launch in 2008. 1 Million is believed to be the last cologne that Rabanne himself had a hand in crafting. 

This cologne’s heavy leather, woody, and rich amber notes settled to reveal a touch of rose and citrus, yet is still solidly masculine. It smells like a modern take on a classic, but not in a way that will have you smelling like your dad. Three sprays will likely make you think you accidentally overdid it, but trust us; it’ll settle down to a noticeably present-yet comfortable-scent level that has great staying power. It’s encased within the brand’s iconic gold brick bottle, evoking an old-school vibe, but the spray mechanism gets sticky, sometimes requiring a few pumps to elicit a full, even mist. 

Type: Eau de toilette|Key Notes: Frosted grapefruit, rose absolute, musk, amber ketal, blond leather, white wood|Fragrance Family: Earthy, woody|Size: 1.7 oz

Best Summer Cologne for Men

Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $90 View On Macy’s $65 View On Bloomingdales

What We Love: With bright citrus dancing atop delicate floral notes grounded in amber, this cologne is like summer in a bottle.

What We Don’t Love: It smells very different on different fabrics.

Fresh, bright and light: just one spritz of this scent instantly transported us to summer vacation. Three sprays from elegantly understated on the wrist will give you all day staying power from lounging by the pool during the day to dinner al fresco. This cologne isn’t overwhelming, so you won’t be setting off anyone with fragrance sensitivities. This is a citrusy cologne that settles to reveal floral notes, which feel fresh and bright. The scent doesn’t feel too masculine or too feminine, so it makes for a great unisex choice, as well. Even the packaging feels clean, light and airy with cloudy glass and minimalistic design.

It's a perfect choice for all kinds of summer activities, but be forewarned that it smells slightly different (and not always in a good way) across various fabrics — satin skewed sour while wool highlighted and intensified the floral notes, but on cotton and linen, it remained true to scent. Since these two are our fabrics of choice in the summer anyway, this doesn't bother us one bit.

Type: Eau de toilette|Key Notes: Yuzu, Mandarin orange, nutmeg, cinnamon, sandalwood, amber|Fragrance Family: Citrus|Size: 40 mL

Best Fall Cologne for Men

Maison Margiela ‘Replica’ Jazz Club

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $85 View On Sephora $35 View On Maisonmargiela-fragrances.us

What We Love: Out of all the colognes we tested, this one lives up to the vibe of its name the best.

What We Don’t Love: The cologne left a slight stain on the satin we sprayed it on.

Appropriately named, this cologne smells exactly like ordering a Black Manhattan Cocktail at a downtown jazz club on a brisk fall evening. The sophistication of this unisex scent is quiet luxury for fragrance lovers: It is well-balanced, has long staying power on the skin without being overpowering and evokes confidence of the wearer, who no doubt paired the scent with a perfectly coordinated layered ensemble. To put it simply, this fragrance smells like you have good taste. 

Sophisticated, cozy, and smooth: this scents greets you with sweet rum and spicy pepper, grounded with smoky tobacco leaf and warm vanilla. The sweetness of the scent dissipates over time, allowing the tobacco and vanilla to shine through. While the design of this bottle is perfectly matched for the fragrance itself and its overall vibe, the lack of a cap means this fragrance can’t easily travel. The addition of a cap or an offering of a travel size would make this cologne a perfect addition to your bag in the colder months, especially for a refresh before a date or an evening event.  

Type: Eau de toilette|Key Notes: Pink pepper, rum absolute, tobacco leaf absolute|Fragrance Family: Warm, spicy|Size: 1 oz

Best Winter Cologne for Men

Azzaro The Most Wanted Eau de Parfum

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Ulta View On Sephora $100 View On Azzaro.com

What We Love: Spicy and woodsy, it pairs well with a fire and good book. 

What We Don’t Love: The spray nozzle doesn’t work as well as it could.

Curling up by a fireplace in a knit sweater as it gently snows outside calls for a fragrance with spicy intensity. Bold and fiery, this fragrance evokes a sense of warmth to balance against the cold temperatures of winter. Factor in the bottle’s unapologetically masculine design, cementing Azzuro as an instantly recognizable collection, and pair the zippy scent with your favorite bourbon cocktail. 

While it’s important to note the intensity of this fragrance, it is not overpowering or headache-inducing; one spritz into the air and walking into it is enough to give you an all day scent. Fueled by a hit of ginger, we loved the woodsy blend balanced with subtle bourbon vanilla. The scent was consistent and had excellent staying power on almost everything we tested. The scent didn’t seem to blend well with denim, giving off a dirty smell (but, we don’t generally apply fragrance to our jeans). 

Type: Eau de parfum|Key Notes: Red ginger, incandescent woods accord, bourbon vanilla|Fragrance Family: Spicy fougere|Size: 1.7 oz

Best Vanilla Cologne

Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $195 View On Sephora $70 View On Sobelia.com

What We Love: The balance of tobacco makes the vanilla of this scent more approachable than a typical vanilla-forward cologne. 

What We Don’t Love: While it smells great, the scent can be powerful, so apply cautiously.

While Tom Ford’s name is synonymous with luxury fragrance — not to mention a Tom Ford fragrance bottle on your vanity is a status symbol on par with carrying a Chanel bag–Tobacco Vanille is arguably one of the most popular and recognizable from the lineup. The genius of this vanilla fragrance is the sweet spice itself: or rather, the constraint of the vanilla’s presence. You can definitely detect vanilla, but it feels comfortable and approachable as it complements the bolder notes of smokey tobacco and spicy ginger. 

One of the hallmarks of Tom Ford fragrances is their intensity: so be sure to apply with caution. We found that applying the fragrance to just the wrists provided all day staying power without overwhelming the senses. We noticed there was a slight oily texture on the skin, but it wasn’t irritating and dissipated quickly. While this is a very well-balanced scent, we wouldn’t mind even more tobacco to bring out more of the scent’s musk and wood. 

Type: Eau de parfum|Key Notes: Tobacco leaf, vanilla, ginger|Fragrance Family: Warm, spicy|Size: 1.7 oz

Best Long-Lasting Cologne for Men

Creed Aventus

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $265 View On Neiman Marcus $495

What We Love: An undeniable classic cologne with above average staying power.

What We Don’t Love: The price point is not for the cologne shopper on a budget.

According to the brand, Aventus is the best selling men’s fragrance in the history of The House of Creed. Not too shabby for a fragrance house with a 250 year track record, including developing fragrances for royal houses. Aventus is fruit-forward, balanced with green, mossy undertones. Beyond smelling great, Aventus really impressed us for its staying power; the scent settles nicely on the skin and lasts all day.  

While the fragrance seemed to vary slight fabric to fabric–it smelled more woodsy on linen and wool, more citrusy on satin and polyester–the scent remained impressively present no matter where we applied. Creed fragrances are also noted for their higher price point (entry pricing for Aventus starts at $265). Admittedly, at that cost, we’d expect a more luxuriously designed package overall, but we cannot deny that this isn’t a very high quality fragrance. 

Type: Eau de parfum|Key Notes: Apple, blackcurrant, pink pepper, jasmine, pineapple, oakmoss, cedarwood|Fragrance Family: Woodsy, fruity|Size: 1 oz

Best Luxury Cologne for Men

Dior Sauvage Elixir

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $180 View On Sephora $180 View On Ulta $250

What We Love: Wearing this cologne makes you feel more expensive.

What We Don’t Love: The dose from one spray can be a bit too much.

A reinterpretation of Dior’s iconic Sauvage fragrance, Elixir is a spicier and longer-lasting iteration of the favored classic. This scent is fascinating: you’re initially met with florals, spice and a pinch of citrus. As it settles, notes of lavender, pepper and grapefruit pop through alongside patchouli and woodsy notes. We’re adding this into our rotation for the next hot date or important meeting where we need to make a lasting impression! Just like how a perfect accessory can change an entire outfit, this cologne can elevate your whole aesthetic. 

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From the Instagram-worthy bottle to the velvety sensory experience as this complex scent opens up, this is a sensual experience from start to finish. We’d recommend grabbing this fragrance in the late afternoon at the earliest, as this is the kind of scent you want to carry you into the early hours of the sun rising the next day. If we really had to nit-pick–which was hard with this one — we wish the sprayer dosed out a little bit less, as one spray is a lot! 

Type: Eau de parfum|Key Notes: Grapefruit, lavender, amber|Fragrance Family: Fresh, woodsy|Size: 2 oz

Best Spicy Cologne for Men

Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de l’Homme

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Sephora $90 View On Ulta $90 View On Yslbeautyus.com

What We Love: This cologne is the perfect blend of spicy and sexy.

What We Don’t Love: The bottle is a bit clunky and heavy.

For fans of Yves Saint Laurent’s beloved L’Homme Eau de Toilette, think of La Nuit as the bad boy older brother: sneaks out at night, wears a leather jacket, but is still irresistibly charming. For a spicy fragrance, we loved that this cologne doesn’t immediately hit you with too much spice, thanks to the fresh notes of bergamot and lavender. As it dries down, snappy cardamom shines without being too aggressive and stays with you all evening (this is one you are going to want to wear in the evening!).  

Unlike many spicy fragrances that feel intimidating, this one evokes a more approachable, cool-guy vibe instead of the too cool try hard. Woody cedar and earthy lavender balance out the zippy notes, culminating in a cologne that is spicy, smooth, and definitely present, but not attention-seeking. With its sensual packaging featuring a black gradient, black lettering and a black top, this bottle perfectly encapsulates the essence of the night. A fair warning: this bottle is substantial and quite heavy, so just make sure you pick it up from the base (and not the cap like we did) so you don’t drop it. 

Type: Eau de toilette|Key Notes: Bergamot, cedar, lavender, vetiver|Fragrance Family: Warm, spicy|Size: 2 oz

Best Fresh Cologne for Men

Jo Malone London Earl Grey & Cucumber Cologne

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $165 View On Walmart $134 View On Walmart $134

What We Love: This cologne is fresh, cool and unique-the kind of scent that will have strangers stopping you on the street to tell you how great you smell.

What We Don’t Love: This scent doesn’t show up as well on some fabrics, so we recommend wearing it on your skin.

There’s an undeniable cool factor about the British fragrance house Jo Malone London. It doesn’t get more British than afternoon tea with Earl Grey and cucumber sandwiches, and the resulting cologne from these notes is delightfully fresh, light and cool – a great everyday staple to add to your fragrance wardrobe. 

Like its name suggests, the standout notes of this cologne are tea and fresh cucumber. Supported by a light beeswax that isn’t too sweet, there’s almost a smokiness to it that tempers the honey and feels masculine. Despite all of the notes inspired by items you’d find on a table, you’ll find yourself feeling calm and cool, not hungry. Overall, we found this cologne has excellent staying power and remains consistent throughout the day.

Type: Cologne|Key Notes: Bergamot, cucumber, vanilla, musk|Fragrance Family: Warm, spicy|Size: 100 mL

Best Woody Cologne for Men

DIOR Homme Eau de Toilette

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $120 View On Ulta View On Sephora $95

What We Love: While this woody cologne is masculine and elevated, it’s extremely wearable and would appeal to a wide range of men. 

What We Don’t Love: The sophistication of this scent makes it less ideal for a younger man. 

The hero of DIOR Homme Eau de Toilette is its Atlas cedar, apparently hand-chiseled in house, which only adds to the undeniably masculine and sensual appeal of this cologne. Buoyed by notes of patchouli and vetiver, the resulting scent experience is luxe and sophisticated, while still approachable and wearable. Once you get familiar with this scent, you’ll definitely clock it on evenings out as it’s widely appealing. 

We found the fragrance to be long-lasting and holds up well on the skin, hair and fabrics after it dries down. With two to three sprays, the scent remains omnipresent without becoming overpowering. Make no mistake, however: this is not a casual fragrance. While it may not be a perfect fit for a younger man or everyday wear, you’ll want to reach for this one before a formal evening occasion, or if you work in a highly professional environment. While the bottle’s thick glass and sharper corners give a luxurious look and feel to the packaging, it would be a bit too heavy to carry with you in a gym bag or in a dopp kit when you’re traveling. 

Type: Eau de toilette|Key Notes: Cedar, patchouli, vetiver|Fragrance Family: Woody|Size: 1.7 oz

Best Citrus Cologne for Men

Chanel Bleu de Chanel

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $110 View On Sephora $110 View On Ulta $110

What We Love: This scent is bright and understated, making it easy to wear, especially for guys who are looking for their first cologne. 

What We Don’t Love: While it smells great on a variety of fabrics, we did notice some staining on satin.

Since its 2010 debut, Bleu Chanel has catapulted to one of the most popular men’s fragrances in the world, with good reason. Bleu de Chanel is one of those fragrances that if you smell, you’ll think “he smells great,” making it an ideal pick for anyone who is looking for their first cologne. While this is undeniably an woodsy cologne rooted in notes of cedar and sandalwood, it’s the zesty grapefruit that balances the earthiness and brightens the overall scent to make for a wearable instant classic. 

As is to be expected with a Chanel fragrance, this cologne was long-lasting and smelled great consistently across all the fabrics we tested on. Of note, the cologne did leave a stain on the satin we tested it on, but performed well everywhere else. Like it's brand ambassador Timothée Chalamet, Bleu de Chanel’s bottle is instantly recognizable. Marked by dark blue glass and minimalistic branding, this luxe bottle feels both classic and modern. We wish that it was a touch easier to spray, as it’s a very wide bottle (not ideal for those with smaller hands!) and when sprayed at a downward angle, the atomizer releases a lot of fluid instead of its usual fine mist. 

Type: Eau de toilette|Key Notes: Citrus accord, labdanum, sandalwood cedar|Fragrance Family: Earthy, woody|Size: 1.7 oz

Best Classic Cologne for Men

Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio Eau De Parfum

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $190 View On Ulta $86 View On Giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com

What We Love: This cologne is simply easy: if you’re looking for a traditional kind of scent that feels almost nostalgic, this is for you. 

What We Don’t Love: The pump has a tendency to stick, which can make dosing your sprays a challenge.

A department store staple for decades, Giorgio Armani’s Acqua di Giò family of colognes is instantly recognizable. The Eau de Parfum from the Acqua di Giò tribe is perfect for those looking for a more intense, longer lasting version of the iconic scent. We feel like this is exactly what cologne should smell like; the well-balanced blend of marine, green mandarin and sage feel both fresh and traditional, while remaining decidedly masculine. The result is really a universal appeal: it smells like a best-seller.

Like the Armani fashion house itself, the bottle itself feels like unapologetic luxury with its sleek clear glass design and cap fashioned to look like black wood. A word of caution: we found the spray nozzle to be a bit inconsistent, occasionally getting stuck at times and spraying too much out at other times. 

Type: Eau de parfum|Key Notes: Marine, green Mandarin, sage|Fragrance Family: Fresh|Size: 1.4 oz

Best Date Night Cologne for Men

Versace Eros

Finding the right cologne can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Depending on your preferences, the time of year, the occasion, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking the perfect scent. We tested dozens of the top-rated colognes and spoke with four prominent experts to determine the very best ones.

View On Nordstrom $79 View On Sephora $79 View On Ulta $79

What We Love: This long-lasting scent is an intoxicating blend of fresh and spicy, an ideal companion for your date night.

What We Don’t Love: This isn’t a scent for the faint of heart, so it may be too intense for some.

Like Versace’s flamboyant designs, this intense cologne is meant to leave an impression. Named for the Greek god Eros, the god of passion and son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and fertility, this cologne is appropriately sexy and playful – perfect for your next date night. We found the intensity of this cologne enticing, it may be too much for someone looking for a more low key fragrance.

This cologne bounces between fresh and woody, hitting you with citrus, mint and a little spice before settling into a woodsy cedarwood and hints of vanilla. On skin, the intensity fades quite a bit while maintaining a strong presence that doesn’t feel overpowering. No matter where we sprayed, the scent remained vibrant and long-lasting. It feels like the kind of scent you can rely on as you dance the night hours away. To boot, the bottle design, as is to be expected with Versace, is a showstopper in a bold blue featuring the brand's signature pattern engraved throughout the glass with a gold Medusa logo on the bottle and cap.

Type: Eau de parfum|Key Notes: Mint leaves, orange blossom, vanilla Madagascar|Fragrance Family: Warm, spicy|Size: 1.7 oz

What to Keep in Mind

    Your Body Chemistry: All of our experts stressed the importance of testing cologne on your skin before purchasing, as colognes can smell vastly different from person to person. A variety of factors, like your individual pheromones, the natural oils on your skin, your body temperature, even the pH of your skin will impact how the cologne smells on you. “What smells sweet on me might pull spicier on you,” notes Tynan Sinks, fragrance expert and co-host of the Smell Ya Later fragrance podcast. 

    Even though the same cologne will smell different on everyone, our body chemistry is not actually changing the fragrance itself, clarified Ranger Station founder Steve Soderholm: “The fragrance is mixing with our natural pheromones.”

    So what can you do if you love how a cologne smells on someone else, but don’t love how it smells on you? Unfortunately, you may be out of luck, according to Dsm-Firmenich master perfumer Alexandra Monet. “There is nothing you can do, you have to accept it and choose the fragrances that suit the best with your skin.” 

    Staying Power: The label of your cologne can actually help you determine how long it will last on your skin. Colognes are categorized by the concentration of fragrance oil, as well as the amounts of alcohol and water, used in the formula. Fragrances with higher concentrations of oil will last longer on skin, while fragrances with lower concentrations will dissipate faster, according to Bijou. 

    While there isn’t a precise industry standard for these categories, most fragrances follow the concentration levels below: Parfum: The highest concentration of fragrance oil, around 20-30%, which will last approximately 8 hours. Eau de Parfum: A concentration of 15-20% fragrance oil, which will last around 4-6 hours. Eau de Toilette: A concentration of 5-15% fragrance oil, which will last around 2-3 hours.  Eau de Cologne: A concentration of 2-4% fragrance oil, which will last around 2 hours.  Eau Fraîche: The lowest concentration of fragrance oil (most commonly found in body mists), approximately 1-3% of fragrance oil, which will last around 1-2 hours.|

    High Quality Ingredients: Navigating the ingredients and quality of colognes can be one of the most challenging aspects of shopping for a new scent. “‘Quality’ is subjective, because how do we define quality? Is it the high price of the raw materials, or how long they last on your skin?” questions Sinks. Bijou agrees, noting that “high quality” doesn’t necessarily mean a cologne has the most expensive raw ingredients, or the most natural ingredients. Rather, it’s the full picture experience — the harmony of the notes, the way the fragrance lingers on your skin and clothing, and most importantly, how it makes you feel while you wear it.

    However, cost isn’t necessarily indicative of quality. For one, the concentration of the fragrance oil can have an impact here. “Body sprays are commonly more affordable products than eau de toilette or eau de parfum because of their concentration level,” says Monet. The cologne’s overall experience factors in here, as well. Some brands opt for more expensive packaging and flashy marketing, which can impact the cost of your cologne.

    At the end of the day, selecting the perfect cologne is highly personal, notes Bijou: “Experience with fragrance is highly subjective, so it all comes down to preferences and compatibility!”

Your Questions, Answered

Where are the best places to spray cologne? 

Colognes perform best when applied to the skin, particularly to areas of the body with high blood circulation, also known as pulse points. On men, these points are the neck, armpits, knees, wrists, and behind the ears. The cologne will have the strongest effect in these areas, and Penny Coy, Vice President of Merchandising for Ulta Beauty, notes that the scent will best infuse with your body chemistry in these spots. 

A pro tip from Sinks: spray the cologne in the crease of your arm, where your bicep meets for your forearm. “It's a major pulse point,” without the risk of accidentally rinsing your cologne off when you wash your hands.

How do you apply cologne so it stays? 

If you want to maximize the staying power of your cologne, our experts shared that cologne clings best to moisturized skin. “Always make sure your skin is moisturized with an unscented body lotion or oil first so the cologne can stick better,” advises Coy.

Cologne should also be applied directly to the skin, where it lasts the longest. “The most important thing to remember when applying cologne is to not rub it in,” recommends Bijou. “This is the most common mistake in fragrance application, but the process of rubbing into skin can cause the top notes to evaporate faster, which will impact the overall wear time. Instead, simply spray it and let it set.”

How do I know if I’m wearing too much cologne?

While you may be excited about your new great smelling cologne, there can definitely be too much of a good thing. “There is a moment when you get used to a fragrance, unfortunately, you start to smell it less and less on yourself,” warns Monet. In reality, the fragrance isn’t losing its power, you’ve just gotten too used to it. Bijou agrees, adding that “if the scent lingers too long or if you can constantly smell it on yourself or in the room, that’s a clear indication that you’ve overdone it.” 

Their advice? Avoid the temptation to keep spraying. “One small spray per area is the appropriate dosage,” advises Bijou. Building a fragrance wardrobe of different options can also help when you feel your cologne isn’t as powerful as it once was. Monet’s trick here is genius: “when you start to smell one [cologne] less on yourself, switch to another one for a little period of time, and come back to the first one, you’ll be able to smell it like the first time.”

Why Shop With Us

Tyler Williams is a beauty and communications professional with more than 15 years of experience in the industry. He is a fragrance fanatic, having amassed a collection of dozens of scents, despite regularly being told “you have too many colognes.” For this piece, he consulted Smell Ya Later co-host and fragrance expert Tynan Sinks, Ulta Beauty’s VP of Merchandising Penny Coy, the senior product developer at SOS Beauty Marcella Bijou and Alexandra Monet, a perfumer for fragrance house dsm-firmenich.

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