Best Cologne for Young Men
Picking out the right cologne can make the difference between sealing a date and scaring off prospective partners.
A great cologne can refine the impression you give off as a man, and when used in the right situations can cement your sense of presence and allure.
You should view buying cologne the same way you would if it were a smart suit jacket. It should bring out the best in you and give you a confidence boost while upgrading your overall style.
Let’s dive into our top cologne picks! Here they are…
👑 Our Pick for Best Overall
⭐ Our Other Top Cologne Picks for Young Men
- Our Top Pick: 1 Million by Paco Rabanne
- Best Under $100: Armani Code
- Best Under $50: Curve by Liz Claiborne for Men
Best Cologne for Young Men Reviews
1 Million by Paco Rabanne (👑 Top Pick)
The best cologne for young men is one which has been around for a decade. 1 Million by Paco Rabanne first came out in 2008, and has proved that the best aromas don’t just come and go.
If you want a tried and tested cologne, one which many people still rave about 12 years after its release, then you can’t go wrong with 1 Million. If you’re dipping your toes in the dating scene and you want an irresistible cologne that will entice the ladies, then look no further.
1 Million by Paco Rabanne is made up of an alluring mixture of exciting citrus and spices which are balanced well with the rich smell of white wood. The top notes are mainly made up of citrus fruits like grapefruit and blood orange, but there’s also a subtle mint scent for a cool finish. The middle notes make a firecracker, combining the warm spice like cinnamon with the comforting scent of blonde leather. To finish, the base notes bring amber and white wood to provide a perfect end to the rollercoaster ride that can send your date into overdrive.
This cologne is best suited to the gentleman with a hidden wild side. If you exude confidence and you want that to show in the form of an exciting fragrance that grabs attention, then 1 Million is your best bet.
- Top Notes: Mint, Blood Orange, Grapefruit
- Middle Notes: Cinnamon, Rose
- Base Notes: Leather, Amber, Indian Patchouli
Armani Code is an elegant cologne housed in an equally classy container. We believe it’s the best cologne for young men for under $100, and we’ll tell you why.
Apart from the obvious appeal of parading around with a fragrance produced by the huge Italian designer Giorgio Armani, there’s a lot to love with this cologne. Like 1 Million by Paco Rabanne, this cologne from Giorgio Armani has long been a popular cologne, dating back to as long ago as 2004.
In terms of the aroma you can expect, think citrus like lemon and lime, undercut by earthy wordy notes and olive blossom, finished off with a hint of leather and a touch of tobacco. The main character of this cologne is leather and star anise, followed closely by a fresh woody scent complimented by light citrus notes. The top notes are characterised by lemon and bergamot, while the middle notes are comprised of star anise, guaiac wood and olive blossom, and the base notes finishe things off with Tonga bean, leather, and tobacco.
Armani Code is ideal for attending formal events, or just those evenings when you dress to impress. If you’ve just got your hands on a fresh new suit, there’s no better accessory than Armani Code to ensure you both look and smell the part of the stylish professional. You can channel your inner James Bond through this cologne, and give off just the right amount of wood, leather, and tobacco to radiate your masculine presence.
- Top Notes: Lemon, Bergamot
- Middle Notes: Olive Blossom, Star Anise, Guaiac Wood
- Base Notes: Leather, Tobacco, Tonka Bean
Curve by Liz Claiborne for Men
We believe the best cologne for young men under $50 is Curve by Liz Claiborne for men.
While it’d be easy to underestimate this cologne due to the lack of a big designer brand behind it, that would be a grave mistake. Curve by Liz Claiborne is a fresh and fruity fragrance which is both flowery and earthy in equal measure.
The best way to describe the aroma of this cologne is unique. While many men’s colognes play it safe by sticking to old-fashioned masculine scents like leather or tobacco, Curve brings a fresh take for the younger audience.
How many colognes come to mind when I mention notes of pineapple? What about juniper berries? Or Ginger? If the answer was none, then it’s not due to a lack of cologne knowledge, it’s because this cologne uses a variety of interesting scents to create a memorable aroma. If you like to stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting impression, then Curve could be for you. The top notes are a pleasant combination of lemon, pineapple, and juniper berries. This is followed up by middle notes which combine the elegance of violet, with the earthy character of ginger, and the aromatic herbs of coriander, and sage. As for the base notes, you’ll get a woody aroma from small amounts of sandalwood, mahogany, amber, pepper, and cedar.
If you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t conform to typical standards of what the masculine should be, and you’re looking for something that doesn’t smell like tobacco and old leather, this is well worth your money.
- Top Notes: Lemon, Pineapple, Juniper berries
- Middle Notes: Sage, Violet, Ginger, Coriander
- Base Notes: Sandalwood, Cedar, Amber, Mahogany, Pepper
Tommy Hilfiger Eau de Cologne
Tommy Hilfiger’s Eau de Cologne is a classic American fragrance that is loved by many.
If the name or bottle of this cologne seems familiar to you, it’s probably because this cologne has been around since 1995. What’s great about this cologne is it has a very pleasant and aromatic character which makes it perfect for everyday use.
While it’s nice to have a cologne you reserve for special occasions, it’s equally useful to have one you can use on a regular basis. It’s also an incredibly affordable cologne, especially considering the designer label, so it’d make a great introduction to cologne if you don’t regularly use it.
The top notes of this cologne are very bold, aromatic scents: bergamot, mint, grapefruit, and lavender. The middle notes are very comforting, and are what establish this as a fantastic cologne for daily use. The combination of comforting Granny Smith apple and cranberry will make you think of home, and the rose is an additional layer which evens out an extremely pleasant aroma. The base notes bring things to a soothing conclusion with cotton flower, amber, and cactus.
If you’re looking for a cologne you can use on a daily basis to make sure you smell great whatever you do, this should be a strong contender.
- Top Notes: Bergamot, Lavender, Mint, Grapefruit
- Middle Notes: Granny Smith Apple, Cotton Flower, Cactus, Amber
- Base Notes: Cotton Flower, Cactus, Amber
Christian Dior – Sauvage
Christian Dior has a variety of excellent fragrances, and Sauvage is an example of a top cologne for young men.
An established cologne that first came out in 2015, Sauvage is a fantastic cologne for men and boasts high quality ingredients that combine for an irresistibly masculine aroma.
The top notes of this cologne are pepper and bergamot. The floral character of bergamot is balanced perfectly with the spice of pepper which makes an instant impression. Then comes the main aroma of this cologne. The relaxing scent of lavender is contrasted with the lively character of sichuan pepper and pink pepper. As for the base notes you can expect a nice smooth finish with cedar wood and other calming ingredients.
Sauvage is ideal for anyone looking to make a great first impression whatever the context. If you value quality products, then Sauvage should be essential for you.
- Top Notes: Bergamot, Pepper
- Middle Notes: Geranium, Patchouli, Pink Pepper, Sichuan Pepper, Elemi, Vetiver, Lavender
- Base Notes: Ambroxan, Labdanum, Cedar
Creed Green Irish Tweed
Creed Green Irish Tweed is an elegant cologne that was first brought to bear in 1985, and has been worn by some of the biggest male stars over the years such as Clint Eastwood, Pierce Brosnan, and George Clooney.
If you like to imagine yourself in the Clint Eastwood or James Bond role while you’re strolling down the street or heading to an evening dinner, then you’ll want to get your hands on this cologne to make it more believable.
The top notes of this fragrance are iris and lemon verbena. While iris is a very subtle smell, lemon verbena has a bold citrus scent which captures the attention from the moment you sense it. The middle note of this cologne is made up of violet leaves alone. Violet leaves give off a very pleasant flowery scent which is subtle enough to not be overpowering. The base notes are characterised by the masculine aroma of sandalwood, and the earthy ambergris.
Creed Green Irish Tweed is perfect for playing the part of the rugged man full of confidence and style.
- Top Notes: Iris, Lemon Verbena
- Middle Notes: Violet Leaves
- Base Notes: Ambergris, Sandalwood
Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
In your pursuit of the perfect cologne, you will likely ask yourself a few questions along the way. Questions such as how you can pick the right scent, and how to apply it properly, and how long it will last.
In this ultimate buyer’s guide we hope to answer all of these questions and more, so you can make an informed decision about which cologne to invest in.
The Basics of Cologne
Before you can determine which cologne is best for you, and what to look out for, it’s essential that you have a grasp of the basics.
Let’s start with a definition of cologne.
Cologne is a fragrance that sits on a spectrum alongside eau de toilette and perfume. It’s a mixture of alcohol, water, and around 2-4% of essential oils.
There are three main notes that come from a cologne, which emerge after a certain period of time has elapsed. These are called the top note, middle note, and a base note.
- Top. The top notes are the first part of the fragrance you’ll pick up on after applying the cologne. You can typically expect the top notes’ aroma to be floral, fruity, or something less sweet like cinnamon. It tends to be light, and has a duration of anywhere between 15 minutes and 2 hours.
- Middle. The middle notes of a cologne make up the main character of the fragrance. Once the top notes have died down a bit, the middle notes will take over and diffuse around the body for up to 3-5 hours. The middle scent tends to be more full-on, and tends to take on bold aromas like spices, which merge with the remaining top notes’ scent.
- Base. The base notes are the ones which take the most time to present themselves. These notes are quite subtle compared to the other types, but will hang around for a good few hours afterwards. Some of the more common aromas for the base notes are vanilla, sandalwood, and musk.
The Best for Your Body
While it might sound like an impossible task to pick out the scent that best suits you, it’s easier than you might think.
There are a few steps you can take to determine whether or not a particular cologne is a good fit for you.
1. Try Before you Buy
This age-old buying advice couldn’t be more appropriate here. If there’s one product that you should try out before you invest, it’s cologne.
While reading about the character and aromas of a cologne online can give you an idea, you won’t know for sure how good a match it is for you until you try it in person.
Our advice for trying colognes out before you make a decision is to head straight to a department store. When you get there, head for the colognes and fragrances area for some experimentation.
2. Apply it Well
When you see a cologne you want to smell, grab the bottle and spray a small sample onto the underside of your wrist.
Cologne works best when applied to warmer parts of the body, due to better diffusion, so the wrist is a good risk-free place to try it out. While the neck and chest are the best places for application, you don’t want to be stuck with a cologne you tried on in the store and didn’t like.
Spray the cologne from around 3-6 inches away, so that you can get a subtle yet complete sample of the aroma. Did you know that colognes and perfumes actually combine with the oils in your skin to create a different scent? For this reason you should make sure you get it on your skin and not on the cuff of your shirt.
3. Let it Sit
Once you have the cologne on your wrist, you’ll want to note down your initial impressions. You can do this by making a mental note or by writing it down in your phone.
Here’s the important part though, don’t make your judgment based on this first impression.
Avoid the trap of falling for the top scent. You can expect this initial aroma to be quite alluring, since manufacturers know they can rely on impulse buys. You’re smarter than that though, wait it out.
Leave the scent for a while so that you can see how it develops and whether you like the middle notes as well as the top one. Continue to document the aromas and your feelings toward them, so that way you can assess each cologne as a whole.
You can even leave the store and go about your business as you let the cologne mature. To make things extra productive, you can have a different cologne on each wrist, and maybe even one on the inner side of each elbow too.
4. Get a Second Opinion
If possible, take a female friend with you when you go to try out colognes.
That way, you can get a second opinion on the cologne, to make sure you don’t end up with something that acts more as a repellent to the ladies than a charm.
It’s always worth knowing what others think about a cologne you’re interested in, since you don’t want those close to you to think you have bad taste – it’s a bit of a confidence killer!
When it comes to decision time though, if you feel very strongly about a particular cologne, you should trust your instinct – despite what your friend/s might think.
Due to the way colognes react differently to different bodies, you might find the perfect scent for you even if it doesn’t sound like a good fit in theory.
How to Apply
Applying cologne requires a little more thought than spraying it all over the body like a deodorant.
A perfect way to ruin a quality cologne is to use too much of it in one go. The mistake a lot of people make when applying cologne is simply overdoing it. We all know what it’s like when someone walks past us caked in cologne, so it’s best to avoid that if possible.
Then, you also want to make sure that you provide the best conditions for the cologne to thrive in. You want the middle and base notes to kick in, rather than relying on the floral top notes as the main scent.
To do so, you’ll want to keep the following in mind as you go to apply the cologne:
1. Less is More
A minimalist approach to using cologne is best in the beginning.
If you spray the cologne once, then it’s impossible to overdo it, and you can adjust from there should you want more from the fragrance in future.
It’s easy to apply too much cologne, so go slow at first, and your friends and potential dates will appreciate it.
2. Hit the Hot Spots
The most important thing to bear in mind when using cologne is where to apply it.
In general, it’s best to aim for the warmest parts of your body for the best effect.
This includes the neck, the chest, forearms, and wrists. There are other areas you can apply it to, but these are by far the most popular places for cologne to reside.
The reason why you should aim for the hot spots on the body is because it will help the fragrance to diffuse, so you will get the most complete character profile over time.
3. Apply After A Shower
Hands down the best time to apply cologne is after you’ve showered up and dried off.
Try not to get carried away and spray it on your body the moment you step out of the shower though, since you’ll need your skin to be nice and dry.
When you do go to apply it, make sure you hold the bottle between 3-6 inches away from your body, and remember that less is more.
What Not To Do
If you follow the simple steps laid out above you should have no issues getting the most out of your cologne, however it’s easy to do it the wrong way.
Here are some of the things that you absolutely shouldn’t do when applying cologne:
1. Spray it On Your Clothes
One surefire way to ensure you don’t get the most out of your cologne and its aroma is to spray it on your shirt.
While it might seem like a good idea, this will prevent the cologne from mixing with the natural oils produced by your body. As a result, you’ll lose a lot of its potential scent and deny its potential.
Plus you might accidentally stain your shirt with the oils, which makes this an even more costly mistake, especially if you’re out on a date.
2. Re-apply It Regularly
While colognes don’t last as long as perfumes do, it’s important not to re-apply them with too much regularity.
As a general rule, don’t re-apply the cologne until you can definitely say that the aroma has died down.
You shouldn’t really ever need to spray the cologne on your body more than two times in a single day.
3. Rub It In
A common move for applying cologne is to spray it on both wrists and then rub them together.
Presumably this is done in an effort to bring out the smell, or spread the cologne to more parts of the skin.
However, this can actually weaken the overall aroma by breaking down the molecules so it’s ill-advised.
Once you’ve sprayed the cologne onto your skin, the best thing you can do is forget it’s there and go about your day.
Use Common Scents
It’s important to use common scents if you want to use the best cologne for you; common sense can be useful too.
Here are some of the most common and subsequently the most popular scents that you might like to try out:
We’ll start with one of the most popular scents for men: leather.
There’s something about the smell of leather which has a very masculine edge to it, maybe it’s cowboy boots and cowhide belts that does it. Whatever the case, you can’t go too far wrong with a cologne that has an aroma of leather.
Some brands will focus singularly on the smell of leather for their colognes, so if that’s something you’re interested in it’s worth seeking them out.
We’re all familiar with the rich aroma of citrus, produced by fruits such as lemons, oranges, and limes.
Citrus can add a level of complexity to a cologne, especially when combined with warm ingredients like spices.
You will generally notice citrus when you first smell a cologne, and that’s because it functions best as a top note. As such it provides an enticing aroma to capture your attention, before blending with the middle notes and taking on a different character.
Spices are just the kind of warm ingredient that combines well with citrus.
In this category you’ll find everything from vanilla and amber, to cinnamon and cloves. These scents provide a warm character to a cologne, and can be very pleasant when combined for the middle notes.
Spices provide just the kind of allure that you’d want from a cologne. If you’re looking to impress on a date, then you might consider a cologne that includes several spices.
While floral scents are heavily associated with perfumes, they are also found in many colognes.
If the idea of wearing a floral scent doesn’t sound very manly, think of it as a way to impress a hot date. Floral scents bring a hint of the romantic, and there’s a reason why lavender for example is so commonly used for aromatherapy – it can provide a great sense of comfort.
Much like leather, wood is one of those scents that is strongly favoured by men. This could be due to associations of a life lived in the wilderness, or the lumberjack stereotype.
Sandalwood is one of the most popular wood fragrances, and it’s easy to see why. The moment you get a whiff of it you will know why it’s a great choice for any cologne.
Other great woody smells include amber, rosewood, and cedar. You’ll struggle to find a good men’s cologne that doesn’t at least have one or two woody scents in its composition.
One of the last common scents you can find in cologne is the herbal or aromatic kind.
This includes all the herbs you use in cooking to bring out the flavour of other ingredients. You can see their implementation in cologne in the same way: to bring out the other ingredients, only this time purely for the aroma.
Common herbal scents include rosemary, mint, and fennel. Though there are many others which are popular.
So you’ve made it this far, and now you might be wondering what some of the best cologne brands are.
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past few years, or don’t own a television, you’ll know that there are some colognes which dominate the market. Or at least have very large budgets to market their fragrances to a wide audience.
While some of these brands are indeed as good as they claim to be, others aren’t. In this list we’ll take a lot at which brands you can trust to deliver an excellent cologne that can help you step up your game:
Christian Dior has a number of very successful colognes that each offer complex and alluring aromas.
One of our favourites is Sauvage, which is incidentally one of the most popular fragrances around. Combining bergamot, lavender, and cedar wood, amongst many other enticing scents, Sauvage has a refined aroma that’s hard to dislike.
The brand is also responsible for the hugely popular Dior Homme. This cologne clearly aimed at men offers a well-balanced fragrance that combines the masculine scent of leather, with the floral lavender and warm spices such as cardamom.
Tommy Hilfiger is one of those brands that can do it all.
If you’re looking to upgrade your style, they can help you. When it comes to men’s fashion they consistently knock it out of the park with their belts, clothes, and colognes.
The Tommy Hilfiger eau de cologne is a fine fragrance, and one that has stood the test of time. Offering pleasant citrus notes alongside floral and herbal scents like lavender and mint, this fragrance is quite calming.
Other great Tommy Hilfiger colognes include True Star, Athletics, and their Eau de Toilette spray.
Giorgio Armani is another huge designer brand that has conquered various markets in men’s style, cologne being one of them.
Armani Code is their killer cologne which is presented in an elegant bottle to match your refined style. Make no mistake, this fragrance isn’t the most affordable, but it will help you feel the part. The body of this cologne consists of high quality ingredients like bergamot and olive blossom which combine with guaiac wood extract to create an exquisite aroma.
Other fantastic colognes from Giorgio Armani include Acqua di Gio Pour Homme, Emporio Armani, and Armani Mania For Him.
Paco Rabanne is responsible for producing some incredible fragrances over the years, and 1 Million is one of the most outstanding.
1 Million is a fragrance that was first brought to light in 2008, and is still alive and kicking today. If that doesn’t speak to its quality, then maybe you need to try it for yourself to see. This fragrance combines grapefruit, cinnamon, and leather for a complete aroma which really captures the sense of smell exquisitely.
Other great colognes from Paco Rabanne include XS, Pour Homme, and Invictus.
Frequently Asked Questions About Colognes
What is cologne used for?
Cologne is made up of 2-4% perfume oils which is mixed with alcohol and water. It’s a fragrance that is commonly used by young men for going out in the evening or hanging out with friends.
Cologne is widely applied to the neck and chest, and works best on heated areas of the body since this will allow the scent to circulate better over the course of the day.
What is the best men’s cologne?
We believe the best men’s cologne is 1 Million by Paco Rabanne.
A cologne that has been a go-to for many men ever since it was first released in 2008, 1 Million combines typically masculine scents like leather with fresh aromas like that of mint and blood orange.
What’s the difference between cologne and perfume?
Perfume and cologne are both fragrances which are largely composed of the same liquids: alcohol, water, and essential oils.
If that’s the case though, why are they branded as different products?
In a nutshell: it’s all to do with the concentration of the essential oils.
While perfumes tend to have a high concentration of essential oils, around 20-30%, colognes will typically contain as little as 2-4%.
The main difference in marketing between the two fragrances is of course that cologne is aimed more towards the masculine audience, while perfume targets a more feminine demographic.
Cologne will last for several hours, and it isn’t uncommon for it to have a musky smell. Due to its short duration, you might need to apply it several times during the course of the day. The longer you wear cologne, the more the scent will come alive and present its true character.
Perfume is a much stronger fragrance, and can last anywhere up to a whole day after application. As a result, you don’t need to use much of it to get the benefits, and you won’t need to re-apply it either.
What is the best smelling cologne?
The answer to this question will depend on what your preferences are when it comes to what you think a cologne should smell like.
There are some who believe in the more traditional idea that a cologne should smell of leather, tobacco, wood and everything considered masculine.
For anyone who falls into this group we’d recommend something like Armani Code. This cologne combines leather, tobacco, and guaiac wood with olive blossom and lemon for a classically elegant aroma best suited for evening dinners and formal occasions.
Another solid option would be 1 Million by Paco Rabanne, as this cologne also captures typically masculine scents such as leather, but combines it with mint and blood orange for a refreshing and unique take.
Then, there are those who want to celebrate uniqueness and leave a lasting impression on those they meet.
For anyone who falls into this group, we’d strongly suggest you give Curve a go. This cologne combines the unusual and exotic ingredients of pineapple and juniper berries with the earthy tones of ginger, the aromatic coriander, and the classic woody character of sandalwood. The end result is something quite special that’s sure to impress a date.
A Final Word on Cologne Selection for Young Men
Cologne can form an important part of how you present yourself to the world, so picking the right one is essential.
Of all the advice you could take with you when it comes to selecting the right cologne, always remember to try before you buy and see what you are naturally drawn to.