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When you’ve styled your hair and dressed to impress, there’s one finishing touch you may have missed—a spritz of the perfect fragrance. The right fragrance can take a great look and make it unforgettable, but choosing that fragrance can be tough if you aren’t sure where to start. Check out this collection of some of the best perfumes for men in the world—you might just find your next favorite fragrance!
Many of the best colognes transport you somewhere else, even for an instant. This eau de parfum from Blu Atlas will take you on a trip to Bali’s lush coastal jungles. Citrus, fruits, exotic spices, and a little musk come together for an exotic, masculine scent that will make you stand out.
High-quality ingredients make for a high-quality fragrance, and this one is made from premium, cruelty-free ingredients. It includes no phthalates, parabens, preservatives, or synthetic dyes.
Top: lemon, bergamot, blackcurrant
Middle: clary sage, peach, apricot, lavender
Base: oakmoss, ambrette seed, orris, violet, musk
If you love leather fragrances, Tom Ford’s Ombre Leather is a must-have. And while leather is its main accord, this eau de parfum’s scent profile is much more nuanced than its name lets on. It manages to be leathery, woody, spicy, and smoky all at once, and its warmth makes it the perfect choice for fall and winter wear.
That said, despite its complexity, Ombre Leather is an incredibly smooth fragrance. And like many of the best colognes, it evolves throughout the day. It starts with a bright note of cardamom and dries down to an earthy blend of moss, amber, and patchouli.
Middle: leather, jasmine sambac
Base: amber, moss, patchouli
Creed is one of the world’s most renowned perfumers, and this eau de parfum doesn’t disappoint. It was inspired by perfumer Olivier Creed’s passion for skiing, and it’s meant to transport you to the sparkling streams found atop the Swiss Alps. Even its bottle design reflects that, as the silver cap above the white bottle suggests a silvery stream atop a snowy mountain.
This highly aromatic fragrance has primarily green, fruity, and citrus accords that rest atop a woody, musky base. It’s stood the test of time, too—it was released in 1995, and it still remains a popular fragrance.
Top: bergamot, mandarin orange
Middle: blackcurrant, green tea
Base: sandalwood, musk, petitgrain, galbanum
Not every company is capable of doing an aquatic fragrance well (let alone a woody aquatic fragrance like this one). But Dolce & Gabbana really delivers here. This eau de parfum is a more intense version of Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue for men. (There’s a separate Light Blue for women.) Its complex scent profile is reminiscent of a seaside forest.
Light Blue Eau Intense’s main accords are aromatic, citrus, and marine, but there’s a distinct woodiness that keeps everything grounded. It’s a perfect fragrance for summer wear!
Top: frozen grapefruit, mandarin orange
Middle: sea water, juniper
Base: amberwood, musk
If you’re a fan of fresh-smelling fragrances, then this woody aromatic selection from Vince Camuto just might be your next favorite. The designer says that it’s a fragrance “designed for those who live a life filled with passion and adventure.”
So, what exactly does that smell like? Homme Intenso’s main accords are citrus, woody, herbal, and spicy. It’s a unique blend that’s noticeable without being overpowering: it has both a moderate longevity and moderate sillage.
Top: citron, ozonic notes
Middle: ginger, artemisia
Base: woody notes
If you’re looking for a standout fragrance that makes you smell different from everyone else, the unique perfumes and colognes designed by Etat Libre d’Orange are worth exploring. Each of these niche perfumes has a unique scent profile and a thoughtful inspiration.
An experimentum crucis is a critical experiment that conforms or disproves a certain phenomenon’s theoretical explanation. This fragrance was inspired by Newton’s experimentum crucis, in which he determined that white light was actually made up of every form of colored light.
That inspiration led to an eau de parfum with a whole rainbow of accords: from rose and woody to spicy, fruity, patchouli, and oud. Like other Etat Libre d’Orange scents, this one isn’t for everyone. But if it’s suitable for you, it will quickly become one of your favorites!
Top: cumin, apple, litchi
Middle: rose, jasmine, honey
Base: akigalawood, patchouli, musk
Paco Rabanne’s most famous cologne is probably 1 Million, but this designer has plenty of other fragrances worth exploring. This eau de parfum, like many Paco Rabanne fragrances, tends to be more popular with younger men. It’s an amber fragrance, meaning it has a wonderful, welcoming warmth.
Invictus Victory’s main accords of vanilla and amber make it an ideal fragrance for the fall and winter. And if you find you really like it, you can even purchase it in the highly uncommon size of 6.8 ounces!
Top: lemon, pink pepper
Middle: lavender, olibanum
Base: vanilla, amber, tonka bean
This eau de parfum seems to create an ambiance of its own: if sitting in a study drinking whiskey has a fragrance, this is it. Whiskey, wood, leather, and honey come together for a warm, smooth experience.
Throughout the day, To My Father seems to tell a story. Its opening notes are bright, cheerful, and citrusy without being overly sweet. As it dries down, you’ll start to notice whiskey and cade oil (a smoky, distilled juniper oil). This complex collection of notes sits atop a warm, classic base of leather and oak. It’s a great signature fragrance for the fall and winter!
Top: bitter orange, musk mallow, davana
Middle: whiskey, cade oil, cabreuva
Base: oak tree, leather
If you’re looking for a remarkable aromatic spicy scent, this eau de toilette is certainly one to consider. Despite the fact that it’s relatively new (released in 2021), La Nuit de L’Homme Bleu Électrique has quickly taken off. And notably, its mixture of warm spicy, fresh spicy, lavender, and woody accords makes it versatile enough to wear all year round.
It’s also a wonderful evening fragrance. The name translates to “The Night of the Electric Blue Man,” so if you’re looking for a nighttime fragrance that exudes mystery and charisma, this is definitely one to look at.
Top: ginger, bergamot, cardamom
Middle: geranium, lavender
Base: cedar, vetiver
Love citrus fragrances? If so, Orange Sanguine just might be right for you. This fragrance is a Cologne Absolue, a term that Atelier Cologne invented. Cologne Absolue has a similar strength to eau de parfum, so it’s fairly long-lasting.
We like that all Atelier’s Cologne Absolues are made with between 84% and 95% ingredients from natural, renewable sources. The natural citrus notes make for a rich, authentic-smelling citrus fragrance that’s perfect for summer.
Top: blood orange, blood mandarin, bitter orange
Middle: Madagascar pepper, African geranium, Egyptian jasmine
Base: sandalwood, amber, tonka bean, Texas cedar
11. Hero by Burberry
Woody, spicy fragrances like this one are great for wearing in the spring and fall. You might recognize Hero from Burberry’s ad campaign featuring actor Adam Driver. It’s available as both an eau de toilette and an eau de parfum. Both versions offer a truly distinctive blend of pine needles, benzoin, incense, and three separate cedarwood oils. If you want to find a fragrance that evokes the experience of being in a forest, this is it.
Middle: juniper, black pepper
Base: Atlas cedar, Virginian cedar, Himalayan cedar
FAQs: Which of the Best Perfumes for Men in the World Is Right for You?
What’s the difference between eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and parfum?
Some people don’t look closely at the type of fragrance they’re buying. But if the longevity of your fragrance is a primary concern, it’s a good idea to see what type you’re getting.
Eau de toilette fragrances are usually only made up of 8%-15% fragrance oil. Because they’re more dilute than eau de parfum fragrances, they will generally last 4-6 hours. Most experts recommend using 3-4 sprays when applying them.
By contrast, the more concentrated eau de parfum is a better choice if you want your fragrance to last all day. This fragrance type usually has 15%-30% fragrance oil, so it lasts about 8-10 hours. You’ll probably only need 1-2 sprays when applying it.
As you may have noticed, many of the best perfumes for men in the world are classified as eau de parfum. That’s because, in many cases, buyers of high-end fragrances want them to last longer.
If you want something that really lasts a long time, you might be interested in parfum. This concentrated spray usually contains 20-40% perfume oil. For very concentrated parfums, one spray might be enough. Parfum will typically last longer than eau de parfum: it can last 12 hours or more in some cases.
What’s the difference between notes and accords?
If you’re new to the fragrance world, you might find that the terminology is more complicated than you’d expect! Understanding accords and notes is important when you’re buying a fragrance, especially if you’re buying it without trying it first.
A note is a single ingredient or scent. For example, cedar and vanilla are notes, as each represents a single identifiable smell. On the other hand, an accord is a blend of different notes that gives you a rich and nuanced scent. If a fragrance has a blend of cedar, sandalwood, and pine, it will have a woody accord.
Notes and accords are analogous to notes and chords in music. When you play a single note, you hear a singular pitch. But when you play several notes at once to play a chord, you get a rich, nuanced sound that you simply can’t get by playing a single note.
What do some common notes smell like?
Reading what notes are in a fragrance can help you determine whether you’ll like it or not. And while some notes (like apricot, apple, etc.) are pretty self-explanatory, some of them might look unfamiliar. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most popular notes:
Davana is an Indian herb that typically smells like tea or dried fruit. In fragrances, it’s an especially interesting note, as many perfumers say it can smell dramatically different on different people.
Cade oil is also called “juniper tar,” as it’s derived from juniper wood. It’s a rich, smoky scent that smells a bit like birch tar. It’s often described as smelling smoky, woody, and intense.
Ambrette (musk mallow) is a common plant-based musk. It comes from the musk mallow, an Indian plant commonly used in folk medicine. It smells both musky and sweet. This distinctive note was once used to replace natural animal-derived musks. But because ambrette is quite expensive, most manufacturers now use synthetic musks.
Orris comes from the root of the iris plant. It smells like a sweet, powdery mixture of violet and suede. This is one of the most expensive ingredients, thanks to the arduous process involved in creating it. The process begins with the harvesting of iris bulbs. They are then left in a cool, dry place for 3-4 years. After that, they are turned into a powder and distilled. That distillate then becomes an oil.
Amber is a “fantasy note” in perfumery—that means that it’s not actually based on a real scent. Rather, it’s a warm blend that’s loosely inspired by the golden color of amber. It often contains sweet elements of vanilla, fir, benzoin, and/or labdanum.
Benzoin, mentioned above, might sound like something straight out of a chemistry class. But it’s actually an oil from the Styrax benzoin tree. It’s often included in other fragrances to give “body.” Many perfumers describe it as a sensual fragrance that smells like vanilla with a little cinnamon.
Labdanum is a powerful, complex note that can almost carry a fragrance by itself. It’s a resin distilled from different Cistus species. The Cistus plant is also known as the rock rose. As a note, labdanum is often described as being powerful, ambery, leathery, fruity, or woody.
Bergamot is a mainstay of countless citrus fragrances, and it pops up in many high-end colognes, usually as a top note. It’s also found in Earl Gray tea. The bergamot fruit is a pear-shaped citrus fruit about the size of an orange, and it’s commonly found in the Mediterranean. It smells citrusy and a little tart, and it’s sometimes described as an “elegant” note.
Jasmine sambac is a species of the jasmine plant also called “Arabian jasmine.” Other species of jasmine tend to be sweet and fresh, but this one has a sweet, musky scent often described as “sultry.”
Musk is often used as a base note, and it originally came from a gland found in male musk deer. Now, musks from plants as well as many synthetic musks are readily available. The scent of this note can be hard to describe, but many people say it’s “earthy” or “woodsy.”
Oakmoss technically isn’t a kind of moss. It’s actually a lichen found in Europe and northern Africa. It has a distinct, complex scent that’s much like that of a forest—it includes earthy, woodsy, ambery, and musky qualities.
Petitgrain comes from the leaves and twigs of the bitter orange plant. It’s popular in “fresh” or “green” fragrances. Petitgrain usually smells like a mixture of neroli (orange blossom), wood, fresh, and green notes.
Galbanum is a resin extracted from several Asian plant species, especially Ferula galbaniflua. It’s one of the most “green” of the green notes, and it also smells a little bitter.
Ozonic notes are “fantasy notes” that, like amber, aren’t based on a specific plant or element. These notes are meant to be fresh and crisp, much like the air by the seaside. If you love the ocean, you’ll probably like ozonic fragrances.
Artemisia is a note that comes from plants in the Artemisia genus. These include wormwood and tarragon. Artemisia is an extremely bitter “green” note that’s often used to balance out floral elements in men’s scents.
Akigalawood is a fairly new note that’s derived from patchouli oil. It smells a bit like a blend of oud and patchouli, and it’s also a “chameleon” note that seems to transform depending on what it’s mixed with.
Litchi is an ingredient you may also see as lychee. It comes from the Asian lychee fruit. Its scent is tropical, sweet, fruity, and a bit aquatic.
Cabreuva is an oil derived from the Myrocarpus fastigiatus tree. It’s a woody note, but it smells remarkably sweeter and more floral than other woody notes.
Pink pepper comes from a plant of the same name. It’s a very common top note in men’s fragrances, and it manages to be spicy, floral, and herbal all at once.
Tonka bean is a note often described as smelling “creamy.” It smells somewhat like vanilla, but it’s a bit more nuanced. It often smells a little herbal, spicy, and nutty, and some people even say it’s reminiscent of tobacco.
Black pepper, like pink pepper, is a common top note in many fragrances for men. It’s a sharp, fresh, invigorating scent that gives any fragrance a strong opening. It’s versatile and goes with citrus, green and sweet scents.
Vetiver is a highly aromatic grass that grows in many parts of the world. Generally speaking, it is earthy and woody, but some varieties lean more green. Additionally, its scent can vary dramatically based on where in the world the individual plant grew.
Sandalwood is a woody scent that some people also describe as “creamy.” That might sound hard to imagine, but if you ever get to smell a vanilla sandalwood fragrance, you’ll see that the creaminess makes sense!
Oud comes from the resin of agarwood trees that have been infected with a particular fungus. That might sound strange, but it’s one of the most costly and sought-after fragrance ingredients in the world. Oud is incredibly nuanced, which is why it can be described as sweet, woody, spicy, smoky, and leathery all at once.
Why are there top, middle, and base notes?
You might wonder why most fragrances are described as having top, middle, and base notes (instead of the notes being listed together). The reason notes are structured this way is the fragrance’s “scent cycle.” A good fragrance will seem to evolve over time. That’s because the oils that correspond to individual notes evaporate at different rates.
Top notes are usually lighter, brighter notes that you most smell when you first apply a fragrance. These notes tend to be short-lived, as they linger on your skin from 15 minutes to two hours.
Middle notes are sometimes called “heart notes” because they sit at the heart of a fragrance. In most instances, middle notes are considered to be the main scents of a given fragrance. For instance, if a product is described as a “leather fragrance,” leather is probably a middle note. These notes will usually linger for about 3-5 hours.
Base notes are usually heavier, “darker” scents that are present beneath the top and middle notes. But as those top and middle notes evaporate, the base notes become much more prominent. They often last about 8-10 hours.
How do I see if I like a fragrance before I buy it?
Especially if you’re buying an expensive scent, you’ll probably want to try out a given fragrance to make sure you like it. Different scents will smell different depending on the natural oils in your skin, so the same scent may smell different on you than it would on someone else.
If the fragrance you’re interested in is a designer or popular fragrance, you may be able to visit a department store to sample it. But given the huge range of available fragrances, chances are that you might not find the one you want as a tester.
Another option is to order a sample online. This still costs some money, but if you find that you hate a scent you thought you’d love, you’ll only be out around $5 instead of $100+. Many online marketplaces sell manufacturer-issued samples. But if you can’t find one that way, some companies also sell decants (small poured-out samples) of popular colognes.
Of course, you can also scan over the notes and accords in a given fragrance and decide if it’s something you think you’d like. This is a little risky, but in some cases, it leads to you getting a fragrance you love very quickly.
What’s the best way to apply fragrance?
Choosing a great fragrance for you is just one part of the process. To get the most out of your chosen scent, you should make sure you’re applying it correctly.
If you’re going for maximum longevity, apply your fragrance right after you shower (but when your skin is dry). The heat of the shower helps to open up your pores, letting the fragrance sink in deeper. You should hold the bottle 3-6 inches from your skin when applying.
Where you apply fragrance is also important. To get the full effect of the evolving scent, you should apply it on warm areas of your body. Your neck, wrist, shoulder, and lower jaw are all great choices. The warmth will help the oils in the fragrance mix with the oils on your skin, giving the fragrance a character that’s uniquely you.
Be sure to avoid spraying your fragrance onto your clothing. It can be tempting to do this, as many people think it makes the scent last longer. In some cases, that’s true. But when you do this, the fragrance won’t have a chance to mix with your skin’s oils, so it usually won’t be able to go through its typical scent stages.
What’s the best way to store fragrance? Does it ever go bad?
Fragrances do expire, but the expiration timeline varies extremely widely. Some fragrances will go bad after a year. Others may stay good for up to 10 years.
So how do you tell if a fragrance has expired? One of the best ways is to see if it smells sour, metallic, or somehow “off.” If you suspect a fragrance has gone bad, try dabbing it on a piece of paper before smelling it. That way, if it has gone bad, you won’t be stuck smelling like it all day. In some cases, the fragrance liquid itself will start to turn a different (usually darker) color, too.
To preserve your fragrances as long as you possibly can, a good rule of thumb is to protect them from heat, light, and oxygen. Storing them in a dark and cool place is ideal. Some perfume experts recommend storing them in the fridge!
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