With a global pandemic underway, I’ll admit that it does feel a bit weird to be writing about cologne for men.
But hey—when this blows over, you’ll want to go outdoors and socialize feeling fresh and confident, right?
And if you’re sheltering at home with a significant other, may as well make it more pleasant by smelling suave.
Cologne is important, and can be one of the best aspects of a man’s aesthetic. It’s also super under-used.
Now let’s run down the full list in more detail:
Item 7: Homme by Usher Cologne
The name “Usher” is not a coincidence: R&B star Usher has a brand of fragrances and this is one of the latest and best products in that brand.
The short version? It’s got a more unique scent, though that also could make it polarizing/unappealing to some of you who prefer to play it safe.
As far as I’m concerned, the main attraction is really the price: it’s heavily discounted, and you’re getting more than just cologne.
- From the brand of an immensely famous and acclaimed musician, if that’s of interest to you.
- A set that comes with not just cologne, but body wash (described as shower gel, on the left) and after shave.
- Overall, the price is really good, because you’re not just receiving the standard amount of cologne (100mL, or 3.4 fl oz), but shower gel and aftershave. To make it clear, the list price is $72, but at the time of this writing it’s on sale for $29.99.
- The scents are a little more unique: cardamom, saffron, ginger, amber, and tonka bean are prominent elements. And needless to say, it smells great.
- If you only care for cologne, this may not be necessary. Sure, the price is still fine, but you’d be getting products you don’t need for it.
- Although the score is super high, there are only 7 ratings. I’m not saying they’re all fake, but it’s not as good as if there were 70 or 700 ratings, for example.
- As the brand name has power and the discount is so large, there may be only a few left in stock when you get to it yourself—or it may even be out.
- No special Prime benefits. Yes, shipping is free on this product, but there’s no 2-day shipping option, for example.
This one has a distinct aesthetic, which gives it both its pros and cons
It’ll be great for those who like it, but many may not like it. It’s polarizing, in other words. Though the good news is that the price is pretty reasonable.
- Has a more distinct scent, with key elements being: Mandarin, lavender, jasmine, cedarwood, and moss. As you’d expect, this has a more Western, woodsy fragrance.
- If you prefer to purchase products made in the United States, this was made in the U.S.
- Pricing is decent. It’s not super cheap but it’s the lower end of average, at $32 for a 100mL (3.4 fl oz) bottle.
- This is absolutely subjective, but some may find the appearance a bit tacky. Granted, some will also enjoy the Western/country-theme…I just think this is an aesthetic that will be more divisive.
- As with Homme by Usher, the more unique combination of elements may make it a risky choice for some.
- Like the previous item, this has a very high rating (good) but only a handful of reviews (bad).
- At the time of this writing, delivery is an extra $5. It may vary based on your location, but if this is true for you, the price is really more like $37.
Item 5: Curve by Liz Claiborne
There’s not much I can say about this one—it’s overall pretty straightforward. It’s a decent cologne for a decent price, from an established brand in the industry.
The main scents in Curve for Men (there is a Curve for Women line as well) are spice, wood, and some amount of citrus.
The only real issues come from the nature of the seller online, which can lead to complications in shipping, etc.
- Lasts a long time.
- Has more reviews than some of the other options here, but just as high a rating—meaning the high rating is significantly more trustworthy. It has more data.
- Price is okay: at about $35 for a 125mL (4.2 fl oz) container, this offers a little more fluid than the standard 100mL for a marginally higher-than-average price. When the amount is put on the scale with price, it ends up looking regularly priced, or even on the affordable side.
- Several recent complaints that the product is fake. As in, it works, but is not the authentic version of Curve from Liz Claiborne.
- Not available directly from the main manufacturer: it must be bought from different sellers. So the prices and reliability of the product may vary, plus the time it takes to ship.
- Pursuant to that, there isn’t a guaranteed 30-day return policy.
Item 4: Chesapeake Bay Spyce Cologne
Summarizing this one is pretty straightforward: it’s got a lot of strengths that make it very compelling. And as you’d expect, this one has more of an ocean-bay fragrance.
But there are two key flaws that hold it back. I won’t stall, so let’s have a look and get to it:
- A rarer cologne, which is good if you want to stand out more.
- Like the previous option, has more reviews than the first couple entries on this list, but has just as high a score. Which, again, means the quality vetting is more trustworthy.
- Intended to be used not just as a quick supplement to your clothes before going out, but as a post-shower fragrance. This lasts longer. Yes, technically this is the better way to apply cologne in general. But not all colognes are geared with this in mind…and Chesapeake’s is.
- One of the better bargains on this list, in pure terms of cologne amount vs. price. This comes with 120 mL (4 fl oz) of cologne, but for only $30, meaning it’s a few bucks cheaper than normal for more ounces than normal.
- Shipping isn’t free—it’s $8. Which is frankly a large increase in price. If the shipping prices change, I’d say this is a pretty good deal—but until then, it’s on the high side of average.
- This is a liquid cologne—there’s no vaporizer component that turns this into a spray. This in general makes it more difficult to use: it’s more likely you’ll spill some, or pour too much, or apply it unevenly (especially compared to a mist).
Item 3: Nitro Musk
This is one of the most unique items on the list. Put simply, this is a container that has 12 slots that can be filled with 12 small vials of cologne oil—known as Stubbies.
Basically, this offers some unique benefits that none of the other colognes on this list can claim. However, it also has a smaller amount of cologne in total, so it may not be a good deal for many of you.
- Allows you to try many different scents at your convenience. This can particularly be good for those who are experimenting with cologne, as otherwise they’d have to overly rely on samples in department stores or purchase bottles one at a time that last a long time.
- HUNDREDS of positive ratings (compared to the preceding items, which had dozens, and the first couple items, which had a handful).
- If you would like to refill on certain scents, you can simply purchase the “Stubbies” from Nitro Musk’s website (a few bucks apiece).
- Subjective, but it’s a fun product! Relatively speaking, you get to experiment and try stuff out. It adds variety to an otherwise straightforward procedure.
- Can be returned within 30 days, though a restocking fee may apply.
- Unsurprisingly, a bit more of a hassle if you’re rushed and just need a few quick sprays—something a regular bottle of cologne would be better for.
- In general, not a lot of actual cologne for the price. Basically, each stubbie has about 1.75ml…meaning in total, with all 12 Stubbies in, you should have about 21mL. Compared to bottles with 100mL or more, which is the standard, this isn’t too much.
- Especially as the price is $36, the amount per ounce of cologne is very high, perhaps the highest on this list. Basically, the price is in the same range as most of the items here, but the amount of cologne is 1/5th the size of what the other items here offer.
- On that note, if you only like a small number of the scents, you don’t get very much of them. The total amount of cologne is of course substantial, but each Stubbie obviously has a small amount.
Item 2: Boss in Motion by Hugo Boss
Here we have another cologne by a recognized brand…except this is one of the most well-established brands in the industry.
It didn’t earn its way into 2nd place alone: it did so by being basically a good and reliable cologne.
The Boss in Motion cologne line primarily features citrus and spice scents.
- As you probably can tell from the picture, this has a unique look. That doesn’t matter to everyone (smell is obviously most important), but some people will appreciate the aesthetic of the bottle.
- From a reputable brand, which makes it safer (especially if you’re purchasing online).
- Item can be returned within 30 days, though a restocking fee may apply.
- Although there aren’t hundreds of reviews (like the previous item), there are still dozens. Of those, only a couple are not positive, and they are unrelated in content; essentially, there are no consistent complaints among the reviews, which is a great sign.
- A LITTLE pricier per amount. It’s not that extreme a deviation from the competition, because the price is on the lower side, and the amount is on the lower side as well. But at 90mL (3 fl oz) for about $32, one could argue this isn’t the best bargain.
- The fragrance isn’t super unique and the brand is popular, meaning it’s safer but less likely to help you stand out.
Item 1: Dark Obsession by Calvin Klein
This is similar to the previous item:
It comes from a super popular brand, and is a reasonably popular line of cologne.
It’s essentially earned its place here by being a good cologne for a good price, with the main downsides being similar to the previous item: it may not be super unique.
As you should expect by the title, the general fragrance is geared more for seduction and romance. The main scents are vanilla, amber, and wood.
- Great price, at least at the time of this writing—perhaps the best bargain of all the items here. This is 125mL, or 4 fl oz, for only $29. If you have Amazon Prime, the price is $25.72, meaning this is the cheapest option here for a medium-large amount of cologne.
- Comes from a reputable brand.
- Has the best rating of all the products here: a nearly-flawless 4.9/5 rating from dozens of reviews.
- On that note, it has the distinction of being Amazon’s Choice.
- Ships worldwide, not just to the United States.
- Not particularly unique, if that’s what you’re going for. Most people like it, but not a ton love it. By that same token, almost no one dislikes it. Essentially, it’s good and reliable, particularly for the price. More “safe” than exceptional.
Now that we know the best colognes for men, let me address some issues:
How do I choose the right cologne?
I want to clear up something right away:
I can’t tell you what the best scent is for you.
Realistically speaking, we do have distinct smells, and some colognes smell better on some guys than others. And that doesn’t even take into account what YOU like, or what your partner does.
So to keep things neutral, you’ll need to keep in mind your own preferences and check to see if the listed ingredients, fragrances, etc, are really for you.
You can check out this article by GQ for more info on how to find the right scent for you.
Okay. There are certain things that can help you pick:
Is value important? In other words, getting something affordable, that lasts a long time and is overall decent?
Or are you trying to get something more unique?
Additionally, some of you may feel better going with a brand name option—in general, it IS safer—while others may be more daring.
All of these questions are important to consider when choosing cologne.
(chart here, characteristics to use below)
Comparison of characteristics:
- Quantity (mL or fl oz, or both)
- Number of reviews
- Key notes/scents
Note: Not all products say their fragrance/scent on their Amazon pages. I used the site Fragrantica.com to find the key scents of some, just so you know.
- Return within 30 days policy?
Note: I found all of these have a 30-day return policy except for Curve. At first the Calvin Klein product had a 30-day return, but when I visited again it was gone. So perhaps 2/7 do NOT have it, in which case it’s probably worth putting into the table. Again, I defer to you here.
So there you have it—7 of the best colognes for men, which you can get quickly if you order now.
I feel pretty confident in this list, but keep in mind it won’t necessarily be the perfect order for you.
For example, you may have noticed our #7 and #6 spots were colognes with more unique scents and aesthetics, and our #1 and #2 spots were more popular and less unique.
Ultimately, judging by how much these products have been vetted and with taking price into account, this ranking is pretty fair.
But remember what I said at the beginning: you need to be careful when selecting a cologne, because it is an important part of your image.
That could mean picking something more unique, or it could mean picking something safer. You’ll need to be the judge of that.
In the meantime, I hope you found this list informative. Stay fresh, fellas!