What Makes a Cologne a Favorite?
It’s hard to say exactly what makes a cologne a favorite among men only because your taste in scent is so personal! Many of the best selling fragrances on this list capture the zeitgeist in some way, and others simply smell amazing. Every single cologne on this list is one that will turn heads when you wear it. Men and women will come up to you to ask what you’re wearing, and may start wearing it yourself. That’s how fragrance revolutions are made, and that’s the power that all of these fragrances have.
What to Look for in a Cologne
As you’re browsing through cologne options, here’s what to keep in mind:
- Your Personal Preferences. Of course, you should narrow down the options available based on your personal preferences. Are you someone who sticks to the tried and true or do you live outside the box and are willing to experiment with your signature scent? Is there nothing more appealing to you than a breath full of fresh forest air? Or are you more of a beach guy? Start with your favorite scents and think about how you want your cologne to make you feel.
- The Classics. If you’re stuck when looking for a perfume (and if you’re reading this you probably are), start with the classics. Scents that your coworkers have worn for years or that are already beloved in the fragrance world. Look over this list and you’ll get plenty of direction to help guide your decision.
- Some fragrances are indeed of a higher quality than others, and if it’s within your budget, opt for the high-quality scents. These are typically made of sustainably sourced, premium ingredients and you can absolutely smell the difference. The quality of a scent will also affect its longevity and sillage.
- Longevity and Sillage. The longevity of a fragrance is how long you can wear it for until the scent fades, and the sillage is your scent trail, kind of like the wake of a boat. Depending on your preferences and needs, you may want a potent fragrance with great projection that gets you through the day, or you may prefer a skin scent that others have to get close to catch a whiff of. Higher concentrations of perfumes (eau de parfum versus eau fraîche) will linger for longer.
- How it Makes You Feel. As you start your search for your new favorite scent, look for colognes that evoke the feeling you’re hoping for. Maybe you’re looking for a little extra confidence when you need it, or want a fragrance that keeps you calm throughout the ups and downs of your day. Sample a few different colognes and notice how they make you feel, then choose based on that!
Popular Scent Families
As you’re looking through fragrance options, it’s a good idea to understand the most common scent families out there. Most colognes can be categorized into the following scent families:
- This fragrance family is home to the most classically masculine scents. Typical notes you’ll find in woody fragrances include cedar, sandalwood, pine, and patchouli. While some of these fragrances smell like straight forest, others are more subtle and balanced.
- Floral fragrances are typically thought of as feminine, although lately lots of men’s scents have been playing with florals. Delicate notes like jasmine, violet, and geranium are common in colognes, and add depth and freshness to fragrances.
- Also known as Oriental, this fragrance family encompasses scents thought of as “warm,” such as amber, vanilla, or tonka bean. You also may find spices like cardamom or ginger in amber fragrances. Many popular men’s fragrances combine amber and woods notes, making for intriguing and autumn-friendly scents.
- Fresh scents are uplifting and clean, with notes like citrus, herbs, fruit, or aquatic accords. These fragrances pair best with warm weather, although you may wear them at any time of year.
- This word means “fern-like” in French and refers to a classic subset of colognes containing lavender, oakmoss, and coumarin notes. Bergamot is another note that is popular in fougere fragrances, and you may also catch a hint of vetiver in these clean colognes.
- Chypre fragrances are warm and dry, with lots of earthy notes at the core. You may also smell floral or fruit notes in chypre fragrances, although they typically are built around essences like bergamot, patchouli, and labdanum.
Blu Atlas Atlantis has quickly made a name for itself as a cult favorite fragrance thanks to its exciting and unusual scent that’s sure to spark adventure. Each whiff you get of the fragrance smells like discovery, like the thrill of getting to know a destination far from home. Since the coastal jungle of Bali inspired the cologne, it should come as no surprise that the scent brings out your adventurous side! It does so with a titillating head of citrus and black currant, followed by an intriguing heart that expertly blends clary sage with peach and apricot. The base is simply stunning, with powdery orris, oakmoss, musk, and the raw sensuality of ambrette seed.
2. Dior Sauvage
Sauvage is absolutely iconic, and one of Dior’s best selling fragrances of all time. The scent is bitingly fresh but also dignified, making for a versatile pairing with any occasion or season. It manages to be both invigorating and relaxing thanks to a mix of spices, herbs, and woods that seem to shift a little with each breath. On the top you’ll get a bright flash of pepper and lemon, followed by more pepper that mingles with lavender, vetiver, patchouli, geranium, and sharp elemi. At the base, labdanum, cedar, and ambroxan feel classically masculine without taking away from the overall fresh spicy accord of the fragrance.
3. D.S. and Durga’s Italian Citrus
Italian citrus scents have already had their moment, but this D.S. and Durga cologne is a slightly new take on the classic, which makes this a must-have for men in 2023. There’s nothing sexier or more alive than the spirit of the Italian coast, which is what you get in spades from this cologne. The freshness of Italian citrus is apparent from the first spray to the last echo of the cologne thanks to citrus rinds like bergamot and lemon. Ambrette seed and musk play with oakmoss and violet for a high-quality, balanced scent. A definite favorite for the year!
4. Terre d’Hermes
This woody spicy fragrance had its heyday a decade ago, but a comeback is afoot in 2023. That’s because the blend of scents is flirtatious and fun, playing on bitterness, sweetness, and earthiness to keep things interesting. The head of grapefruit and oranges is an instant wake up call, and the heart of flint, pepper, and pelargonium encompasses a whole world of possibility. All of this rests on the foundation of vetiver, oakmoss, cedar, patchouli, and benzoin for a put-together end to a wild ride.
5. Tom Ford Oud Wood
You probably aren’t surprised to see Tom Ford Oud Wood make the list–some popular fragrances are anything but overrated. This particular cologne has topped favorites lists for years on end thanks to its somewhat mysterious blend of wood and spices that is absolutely irresistible. Make Oud Wood your signature scent in 2023 and command the respect of everyone around you. You’ll do so thanks to smoky oud wood mixed with welcoming cardamom and vanilla, amber, tonka, vetiver, and a kick from black pepper. You’ll be glad to have a classic and long-lasting perfume in your collection.
6. Byredo’s Mister Marvelous
Byredo is a European luxury brand that focuses on evoking emotions through all of its products. Mister Marvelous, which made its debut in 2011, was created to pay homage to creativity and strength of character. It is meant to make you feel self-assured as you take on your day, and we believe it does just that. The vegan formula is sunny, with bergamot, mandarin leaves, and neroli at the top. Then bamboo and lavender burst forth at the heart, followed by a compelling base of amber and cedar for an earthy finish. The result is a scent that feels like a sunset hike in the woods in crisp weather–biting yet comforting.
7. Bleu de Chanel
Bleu de Chanel started the blue fragrance trend when it was released in 2010 and has remained a classic ever since. It’s one of the best selling colognes as it’s been steadily for the last decade! This is a professional man’s scent, and smells powerful and clean without putting anyone off. It’s also a great option for date night, when you want to show that special someone that you have your act together. It begins with a fresh head of pink pepper, mint, lemon, and grapefruit that sweeps you off your feet. Next, you smell an enticing blend of ginger, nutmeg, jasmine, and iso e super that creates some depth in the fragrance. At the finish you get woods with incense and white musk, wrapping up this cologne in a masculine bow.
8. Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur
Men who like gourmand fragrances will be pleased with this one, but it also appeals to those who prefer a hint of freshness in their signature scent. With some spice notes in there, however, this scent is just beguiling. Lavender, bergamot, and tangerine open up the scent, setting the stage for a heart of cinnamon and cloves that make you feel like you’ve ended up in a Hallmark Christmas movie but in the very best way. At the bottom you get an interesting composition of vanilla, tonka, musk, amber, sandalwood, and guaiac.
9. Aesop Hwyl
Outdoorsmen will feel at home in Hwyl, and city dwellers can bring a little slice of the great outdoors with them every time they apply this cologne. The scent is absolutely grounding, helping you reconnect with nature and providing that sense of peace that only forest bathing can provide. At the same time, the cologne isn’t too woodsy. We’d dare to say it’s just the right amount of forest floor. Thyme, elemi, and pink pepper pique your interest, then cypress, suede, and geranium make for a striking heart. Vetiver, cedar, and frankincense greet you at the base. If not all who wander are lost were a perfume, it’d be this one.
10. Kilian Sacred Wood
Sandalwood has a distinctive scent that can be sweet, balsamic, or floral in expression. Because the note is a dynamic addition to any fragrance, it’s one of the most popular perfume extracts on the planet. Kilian’s Sacred Wood honors sandalwood with the inclusion of Mysore sandalwood, a premium form of the scent that is sweeter than most varieties with a hint of spice. The combination of sandalwood with fruity amyris, warm tolu, and malted milk vapor makes for an exquisite and luxurious aromatic experience. Sacred Wood is truly unforgettable.
11. The Nue Co Forest Lungs
Another best selling cologne is Forest Lungs, which treats your senses to a woodsy experience to bring you instant zen. Because of its calming effect, Forest Lungs is a great cologne to turn to before any big moment in life–when giving a speech, trying to make a sale, or getting out of your comfort zone. Think of this cologne as natural medicine! Patchouli, pine, and vetiver make their debut in this fragrance, tapping into your parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress. An independent trial found that 96% of testers felt less stressed within 30 minutes of application, so count on this cologne to have your back when needed.
12. Paco Rabanne One Million
Want to smell like a million bucks? Add Paco Rabanne’s One Million to your grooming routine. This bold fragrance is bottled confidence, and is a tool of seduction to be used carefully. The warm spicy notes make One Million a standout fragrance, solidifying the fragrance’s place on our list. The One Million experience begins with mandarin, grapefruit, and mint, then cinnamon and rose steal the show. By the time you get the dry down to the amber, leather, patchouli, and woods base, you’ll have already come out on top in whatever situation you find yourself.
13. Burberry Hero
Hero was released in 2021 and is sure to fly off the shelves in 2023. Its appeal lies in the cologne’s simplicity, which is straightforward without boring you to tears. Instead, the well-crafted composition keeps things interesting throughout the day or night. Bergamot kicks Hero off with a zesty start, then juniper and black pepper form an interesting heart. Three different types of cedar at the base make for an endlessly fascinating and undeniably masculine finish. Hero is unique and balanced, giving off an opulent earthiness.
14. Givenchy Gentleman
This new take on the classic Givenchy scent is light and versatile, honoring the wide spectrum of modern gentlemen. There’s a timelessness that Givenchy absolutely nails with this cologne, making it a top choice for 2023. On the top you’ll find pear and violet notes that are delicate and unexpected, followed by orris and lavender that melt away to reveal smoldering leather and patchouli at the base. Givenchy Gentleman is a powerhouse and a great choice for any man.
15. Guerlain L’Homme Ideal Cool
L’Homme Ideal is a classic Guerlain fragrance, and this iteration is a cooler version with a little more depth than the original. The result is an uplifting cologne that will surely win you over! The first whiff you get of L’Homme Ideal Cool is mint, bergamot, orange, and anise, followed by almond, neroli, and aquatic notes. The base of vetiver, patchouli, and ambroxan is refreshing and long-lasting.
16. Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male
Le Male is a popular wintertime fragrance and a creation of Francis Kurkdijan who now boasts his own line of scents. Think of this fragrance like a complex dance among contrasts–cool notes are balanced out by warm notes for an exciting experience that’s hard to pin down. All we know is that it’s been a staple for men since its release, and we don’t expect that to change anytime soon. The Le Male experience is jump started with lavender, mint, cardamom, and artemisia. Next, a heart of cinnamon, caraway, and orange blossom provides an oriental twist. At the end, a base of vanilla, tonka, amber, and woods feels like a warm embrace at the end of the night.
17. Club de Nuit Intense
This cologne is true to its name in that it’s intense, but not in a way that will put you off. Wearing this is like an instant flex, helping you make a strong and favorable impression from the moment someone gets within scent trail range. Thanks to its sensual and exciting notes, Club de Nuit is a great scent for young men who are hitting the town. Many fans call this fragrance a cheaper version of Creed Aventus, which is a fair comparison. Apple, bergamot, pineapple, and lemon greet you upon first spray but don’t hang around for long. The mid notes of rose, jasmine, and birch shine through, fading into a masculine base of patchouli, musk, and ambergris complemented by sweet vanilla. Club de Nuit will stick around for many hours, so go easy on the application.
18. Dolce and Gabbana The One
The One is an elegant take on a classic date night fragrance, and by now is iconic in the fragrance world. It starts strong with basil, grapefruit, and coriander and then launches into a core of ginger, orange blossom, and cardamom. The tobacco, cedar, amber base is extremely alluring.
19. Maison Margiela Replica By the Fireplace
Maison Margiela is well-known for their Replica fragrance line, which features scents that represent specific experiences or situations. This one is called By the Fireplace, and gives you that cozy feeling of cuddling by the fire to escape a cold, snowy day. To achieve this effect, Maison Margiela has blended cloves, pink pepper, and orange blossom at the top for a fiery start, then chestnut, guaiac, and juniper at the heart. The scent is rounded out with the addition of vanilla, balsam, and cashmere at the base for that soothing feel that only a roaring fire (or a Maison Margiela cologne) can evoke.
20. Viktor and Rolf Spicebomb Extreme
Get ready to detonate a heck of a lot of confidence every time you bring out the Spicebomb Extreme. The fiery accords mixed with fresh notes makes for an astounding aromatic experience that can help you feel your best even when your motivation is dwindling. Spicebomb Extreme lasts forever, so only apply it when you’re ready to get a whole day of wear out of it. Beware: this fragrance is truly addictive! You get a hint of cumin and cinnamon in Spicebomb extreme, an aromatic blend that is complemented by saffron, tobacco, vanilla, and bourbon. An added bonus of this fragrance for some men is that ladies love it, so make Spicebomb Extreme your top choice whenever it’s time to impress one.
21. Eight & Bob
There’s a story behind the name of this best selling cologne that matches the enigmatic nature of the scent. Apparently, Parisian aristocrat Albert Fouquet was talented at putting together fragrances that he’d then share with his social circle. John F. Kennedy once met Fouquet and loved the scent he was wearing, so requested eight samples “and if your production allows, one for Bob.” Fouquet wasn’t quite sure what he meant, but now there’s an entire brand with this name!
The scent that now goes by the same name as the brand is a woody aromatic fragrance. It opens with cardamom, ginger, and a citrus mix, which soon reveals a heart of guaiac wood, labdanum, and hazelnut. It finishes strong with a base of ambergris, vanilla, sandalwood, and patchouli. Users describe it as nostalgic and clean, and we believe it will continue its upward trend in popularity that began last year!
22. Montblanc Legend
This fougere (fern-like) fragrance plays with contrasts, combining unexpected notes together for a sexy and casual effect. The top notes are nothing short of energetic, combining bergamot, pineapple, and lavender for a bright and fun start. Then apple, rose, and geranium take over and lead to a base of cedar, sandalwood, and tonka. Legend comes from the brand best known for its line of quality fountain pens, and you can expect the same elegant craftsmanship from this cologne. The scent remains a best seller thanks to its universally appealing blend of notes, making it a great choice for a novice buying their first cologne or someone hoping to impress a blind date.
23. Creed Aventus
Creed Aventus is one of the best selling colognes of all time, and has spawned a whole generation of copycat fragrances. However, there’s no beating the original, which smells like success and victory. Aventus was created by a father and son team who sought to develop bottled positive energy. With this fragrance, they’ve certainly succeeded. The Aventus experience begins with a head of pineapple, bergamot, black currant, and apple for a fruit-forward opening. Then, birch, patchouli, jasmine, and rose form the delicate heart and musk, oakmoss, ambergris, and vanilla are a provocative finish.
24. Le Labo Santal 33
Le Labo Santal 33 is the fragrance Le Labo has to thank for their success. While it’s widely worn, the fragrance comes across slightly differently on each individual, so you don’t have to worry about standing out from the crowd. This instant classic is certainly one of the best selling colognes, and may just become your go-to no matter the occasion. With Le Labo Santal 33, you can relish in your independence and freedom. The blend of violet, cardamom, iris mixed with amber, cedar, sandalwood, leather and musky notes smells like an open starry night sky, and seems to hint at endless possibilities. Those who wear it swear by it!
25. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Vitae
Formentera, an idyllic Spanish island, is the inspiration behind Aqua Vitae. This cologne brings you right to the Mediterranean coast, with all its romance and charm. Because of that, a spritz of Aqua Vitae is like covering yourself in sunshine, and is a great pick-me-up whenever you need one. Italian-sourced citrus, like lemon and mandarin, create this bright effect. Then sensual jasmine draws you into the heart of the fragrance and guaiac wood, tonka bean, and vanilla warm you up during the dry down. You’ll want to add this versatile and deeply masculine cologne to your collection.
26. Issey Miyake’s Nuit D’Issey
Nuit D’Issey is nothing short of magnetic, and is sure to cast a spell over anyone who catches a whiff. This Issey Miyake favorite is surely a nighttime fragrance, best for intimate dinners, nights out with friends, and hot dates. While the scent is straightforward, you also can’t quite pin it down, giving the fragrance–and you–an air of mystery. Grapefruit and bergamot feel straightforward right off the bat, then leather, woods, spices, and black pepper feel secret and captivating. Patchouli, incense, ebony tree, and tonka bean are ravishing at the base.You can’t go wrong with any of the best selling colognes for 2023! Whether you’re looking to fake it ‘til you make it or enhance your inner self-assuredness, these scents have got your back.
Presented by: Sophia Edwards.