Grooming is essential when it comes to looking good and feeling great. Despite this, many men don't even give perfume a second thought. The perfect perfume will always make a wonderful gift for your boyfriend or family members. However, it isn't always easy to choose from the best perfumes in the world. This is why we're here to help you discover your signature scent, be that a fresh summer citrus or a spiced autumn oud.
Whether you feel like splashing out on a designer fragrance from Tom Ford or simply want a budget body spray, there's more to men's perfumes than a musky old bottle of aftershave. As well as a foolproof buying guide, we've ranked 10 of the top perfumes for men, including the nicest smelling colognes, eau de toilettes and eau de parfums. And they're all available from Amazon, eBay, John Lewis and Boots.
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Table of Contents
Fragrances are made of aromatic oils suspended in a solvent such as alcohol. You may have heard perfume referred to by different names – in case you didn't know, each of these refers to the concentration of aromatic oil, or perfume concentrate, per volume. The higher the volume, the longer the fragrance will last.
Eau de Cologne (EDC) is on the lighter end, with only around 2–6% perfume concentrate per volume, which lasts around 2 hours. Eau de Toilette (EDT) means 'grooming water', and it can range anywhere from 5% to 15%, lasting 4 hours or so. A lighter option such as an EDC is a perfect choice if you've made plans after work and want to seamlessly change your scent from day to night.
If you like your perfume to be strong and last really long, consider choosing Eau de Parfum (EDP). This is the most concentrated of the bunch with 10–20% aromatic oil, and steadfast longevity of 5-6 hours. This makes it the best scent to use when you're going to spend a lot of time outdoors.
A perfume should enhance your natural aroma, not drown out every other smell within a 10 mile radius. Before reaching for the EDP, you may want to try experimenting with an aftershave or body spray. They're an equally good option if you're sensitive to smells or would just prefer something lighter, as both contain only 1–3% perfume concentrate.
Aftershave is another more subtle choice, and has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and astringent properties, too – simply warm a little in the palms of your hands and apply it to the face and neck after shaving to help prevent razor burn, ingrown hairs, and acne.
Body spray is a convenient way to keep you smelling fresh throughout the day. It's the cheapest fragrance option and can be kept in your bag for a quick top up when you need it. However, a bottle of body spray also goes very quickly!
Next, consider which scent profiles appeal to you. The smell of perfume changes as you wear it and fragrances are divided into three categories depending on the order they develop. These are called top notes, middle notes, and base notes.
When choosing between the different olfactory families, personal preference is key. However, you should also take the context in which you'll wear the scent into account. For instance, spicy, warm and woody notes a perfect for evening and winter wear, while citrus is more summery. What's more, sweeter scents tend to appeal more to younger men.
To find the perfect seasonal scent, check out our favourite winter fragrances for men.
While perfume has a fairly long lifespan, it does in fact have an expiry date and its fragrance will eventually start to degrade. To avoid your favourite scent spoiling, try to buy the amount you're likely to use within the space of a year.
If you're just trying out a new fragrance, you want something for travel, or you only wear perfume on special occasions, we recommend picking up a smaller 30 ml bottle. Next are medium-sized 50 or 60 ml bottles, which are ideal for casual daily or weekly use.
Larger 100 ml bottles can be a more economical choice for heavy users, plus those who like to extend their favourite scents to freshening up clothing and bed linen. And finally, body sprays and aftershaves are designed to be used liberally over a large surface area, so for these you can go for 150 ml to 300 ml, or more!
If you're buying perfume as a present and are looking for more gifts for men, view our favourite men's wallets.
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Acqua di Parma
Colonia Eau de Cologne
A Giftable Italian Cologne Balancing Sophistication and Freshness
A Smoky Mix of Exotic Spices for an Elevated and Nostalgic Scent
A Herbal Sage and Patchouli Mix Ideal for Outdoorsy Men and Casual Wear
Original Eau De Cologne
A Timeless Option for Those Unsure Where to Start
Classic Aftershave Splash
Powerful, Masculine and Complex and Perfect for the Evening
A Contemporary Classic for Those Who Like a Bit of Luxury
A Sweet, Loveable Rogue That's Sure to Appeal to Younger Guys
Grown-Up Body Spray for Your Gym Bag
BOSS Bottled Aftershave Lotion
An Approachable, Spicy Aftershave That's Work-Friendly Too
A Fresh Bergamot and Ambroxan Blend for the Rugged Yet Manicured
A classic Italian cologne created in 1916, we've picked Acqua di Parma's Colonia Eau de Cologne for some turn of the 20th century sophistication. Despite being a heritage fragrance, you'll find it refreshingly distinct from other men's perfumes on the market, with notes of citrus, rose and lavender keeping it light and floral.
The striking yellow packaging also makes for a great gift, and if you find yourself really digging this one, you'll be pleased to know it comes as part of a range of men's grooming products!
This signature fragrance from Tom Ford combines woody notes with exotic spices and cardamon for a mature, sensual Eau de Parfum of exceptional quality and staying power. This fragrance is indulgent, and perfect for anyone who is looking for a rich and bold signature scent.
We'd say it's a spoil-yourself designer choice that really makes an impact. This perfume is well suited to evening wear due to its smokey and exotic notes which evoke incense-filled temples.
In spite of its modern-day adventurer aesthetic, there's something surprisingly bohemian about Mont Blanc's Explorer. This fragrance is characterised by woody, herbal notes coming from sage and patchouli with just a hint of leather that develops over time.
Explorer is often compared to Aventus and while the two have a lot in common, think of them as cousins rather than siblings. All in all, it's a good casual perfume if you aren't a fan of overly floral or citrus scents, plus it'll stay put for many an hour.
4711 Original Eau de Cologne is a timeless option, and a fine choice for anyone unsure where to begin their perfume journey. A quintessential spring fragrance, 4711 is blended to conjure the scent of orange blossoms coming into flower.
This sweetness is offset with some pleasantly husky, old-worldly base notes of musk, sandalwood and cedar. As a cologne, it doesn’t have much longevity. But, its subtlety makes it ideal for freshening up during the day or for use as a base when layering with other fragrances.
Aramis was the first fragrance for men to appear in a department store, way back in 1964. This retro aftershave is far from outdated though, and stands in stark contrast to the fresh, crisp scents of the 2010s.
It's powerful, masculine and complex, and what immediately comes to mind when you think of men's fragrance. Aramis is best worn at night, perhaps to a bar, dinner or event. Splash a bit onto the face after shaving to create a big impact with minimal effort.
Heralded as the 'niche king' of men's fragrance, Creed's Aventus is inspired by the life of Napoleon. This is reflected in its unique profile, paying tribute with blackcurrant from his birthplace in Corsica and pineapple as a nod to the emperor’s alleged favourite dessert.
Aventus really blew up as a must-have men's perfume in 2019, and in 2021 it's fast becoming a contemporary classic with fans worldwide. This is one we recommend trying before you buy as it is more expensive when compared to other similar fragrances.
There's no denying the name Bad Boy elicits certain connotations –perhaps the leathery, spicy tobacco scent you imagine drips right from the pores of James Dean? Well, you may be surprised to hear that this rebellious fragrance is actually quite sweet!
In essence, it's a chocolatey, tonka bean-heavy perfume with a little cedar wood and bergamot, so if you were hoping for something a little darker and edgier, you may be disappointed. But, subversion of expectations aside, it's a nice gourmand fragrance that doesn't rely on vanilla for sweetness.
For those times when you just need to take the edge off a bit, body spray makes a great alternative to a standard perfume. Rock Face's Active Body Spray may be lacking in complexity, but for under a fiver, it's a good one for the gym bag.
If you're getting flashbacks to the dense musky fog of the sixth form PE changing rooms, worry not! Rock Face has opted for a much cleaner, subdued citrus fragrance with some more mature notes of coriander and cedar leaf.
Next up, the aftershave edition of Hugo Boss' staple fragrance Boss Bottled. It's a good choice for office workers and university students, or anyone who works with others in a closed-off environment where strong-smelling perfumes may irritate coworkers.
It's an approachable fragrance that's spicy and woody, radiating warmth without becoming too dense. Boss Bottled is also available as a cologne and eau de toilette, though we like the aftershave as it provides skin toning benefits. Just be careful of any nicks or cuts on the skin as it will sting a bit!
Dior's Sauvage is a contemporary eau de toilette, designed to evoke the feeling of wide-open desert planes with clear blue skies. Best described as one for the man who's rugged yet manicured, it's a fresh and crisp fragrance – if not a little synthetic – that lingers for a long time.
It may not be for everyone though, as the top notes of Sauvage are bergamot and ambroxan, which produce a distinct musky smell that you'll either love or hate!
Written and researched by Wren Mann
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