Posted on: December 4, 2023 Posted by: Comments: 0

Most people steal button-down shirts and sweaters from their boyfriends; I steal cologne. It started naturally enough with a few spritzes of my boyfriend’s Rituals’ Maharaja d’Or when we were on holiday, and from there it was just a matter of months before I’d blended together our fragrance collections. What’s yours is mine, right?

Wearing fragrance in this way has really opened my eyes to how confining it can be to perceive fragrance through a gendered lens. Historically of course, fragrance has a very gendered narrative. Sweet, floral, and fruity notes are typically labelled as ‘feminine’, while woody and musky scents are referred to as ‘masculine’. However, in the past few years, there’s been an increase in launches of gender-inclusive or gender-neutral fragrances and a marked change in perceptions of the gender “rules” around fragrances.

Maharaja d’Or is now one of my daily go-tos (please, go smell it), sandalwood, tobacco, and pepper feature within some of my most reached for fragrances, and one of my all-time favourite scents ever was specifically designed for men: Tom Ford Grey Vetiver. Seriously, buy it for your boyfriend/husband/brother—then keep it for yourself.

If you’re wondering exactly what constitutes a cologne, it’s actually not that complicated. Typically, eau de cologne has a very low concentration of perfume oils (typically 2-4%) compared to eau de toilette (5-15%) and eau de parfum (15-20%). However, cologne is often just used as a term to refer to men’s fragrances, which can encompass all of the above.

Whether you’re shopping for someone else or you’re looking to mix things up in your own fragrance collection, scroll down to discover my edit of the best men’s colognes (all tried and tested).

Spicy, woody, and aromatic, this is the kind of scent that lingers on your skin, hair, and clothes all day (and night) long.

This fresh, spicy fragrance combines orange blossom with saffron—the world’s most expensive spice.

Rose scents are typically labelled as feminine, so Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s “masculine” take on rose is a (literal) breath of fresh air. If you’re accustomed to stuffy, sickly florals, this is quite the opposite—it’s fresh, green, and citrusy.

I tend to steal this one from my boyfriend most often in the winter months. It’s rich and warm, with notes of tobacco, rum, and cacao.

Although it is labelled as “for men”, I actually think this is a really wearable, gender-neutral scent. It’s soft and creamy, with notes of lavender, pepper, and vanilla.

Like all Frederic Malle fragrances, this one is a real statement maker. Loud top notes of ginger, bergamot, and mandarin stand out against a base of musk and amber.

Inspired by traditional gentlemen’s colognes, this underrated Byredo scent is clean, refreshing, citrusy, and totally wearable no matter what your gender.

This warm and cosy scent is actually one of my all-time favourite fragrances from Jo Malone. it’s warm and creamy, with smoky undertones that make it ideal for winter wear.

Ignore the name because this is far more than your typical fig-based fragrance. Inspired by the wild beauty of the Greek islands, it features marine notes and sea salt alongside ouzo, sage, and lemon. It’s the perfect holiday scent to share with your partner.

If, like me, you’re not typically a fan of oud fragrances, this one might just surprise you. The rich, deep oud is balanced out by bright and fruity passionfruit and a sweet vanilla base.

Although it’s labelled as ‘woody and spicy’ (two conventionally masculine fragrance families), this scent smells quite neutral to me. It’s light and elegant with sweet notes of cardamom and black tea which makes it feel really wearable.

Tam Dao is one of those fragrances which smells different on everyone, so it works perfectly if you’re looking for a scent to share with your partner. It’s warm and woody, with floral notes and a hint of musk.

Leather is commonly labelled as a masculine fragrance note, but don’t let that put you off trying this iconic fragrance. It’s rich and deep, yes, but light and fresh heart notes of violet, lily-of-the-valley, and orchid balance it out.

Inspired, as its name suggests, by New York jazz clubs, this boozy scent features notes of rum, tobacco, and leather. It’s one I frequently return to because it’s got a really unique vintage-y feel to it.

A fresh, spicy scent, this is one I tend to reach for in the warmer months. It features bright citrusy top notes of grapefruit, bergamot, and pineapple alongside eucalyptus and pepper.

One of the most popular men’s colognes, Straight To Heaven has many loyal fans who love it for the way it balance spicy notes of patchouli and nutmeg alongside sweet, boozy notes like rum, dried fruits, and amber.

If you could bottle the scent of a fresh, sea air breeze, this would be it. Bright, fresh, and salty, Sel Marin is so addictive, you won’t not be able to share it. 

Next Up: Short-Lived Perfume Is the Worst, so I Found 18 That Will Last All Day

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