This article was produced in partnership with Blu Atlas
A good cologne is like armor for men. Even on days when you’re running late and have just rolled out of bed, a spritz or two of your favorite cologne gives you the confidence to take on your day. Not to mention, cologne makes the perfect subtle accessory for dates, long days at the office, or a night out with friends. Below, we’ve listed 22 of the best colognes and fragrances for young men that can be with you for a season or become a favorite you keep on your shelf for years to come.
The Best Smelling Cologne for Young Men: Atlantis by Blu Atlas
Inspired by the coastal jungle of Bali, Blu Atlas Atlantis offers a scent that you – nor those around you – will soon forget. Sublimely musky, and spicy yet light, it holds top notes of bergamot, lemon, and blackcurrant intermingled with complementary mid and base notes. The final product: an evocative and masculine cologne you’ll be proud to wear every day for every event.
The Best Luxury Cologne for Young Men: Maison Francis Kurkdjian Gentle Fluidity Silver Edition
For a cologne that makes you feel luxe and boujee, there’s Gentle Fluidity by Maison Francis Kurkdjian. The entrancing fragrance is bright yet soft with nutmeg, vanilla, and juniper berries.
The Best Budget Cologne for Young Men: Davidoff Cool Water Cologne
This classic fragrance is a great budget buy for young men wanting a fresh, clean cologne. The aquatic scent has a sporty and masculine vibe thanks to notes of coriander, mint, and rosemary.
The Best Year-Round Cologne for Young Men: Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne
This best-selling cologne works for any event, season, and moment in your life. In this fresh, versatile fragrance, you’ll discover notes of sea salt, sage, and ambrette seeds.
The Best Date Night Cologne for Young Men: Versace Eros
Make the most out of date night with a cologne that’s as romantic and sensual as you are. Eros is passionate and alluring with tonka beans, vanilla, fresh mint, and green apple notes.
The Best Going Out Cologne for Young Men: REPLICA Music Festival
Going out with friends? Opt for the lighthearted, youthful scent of Replica’s Music Festival. This cologne (inspired by Woodstock) is all about embracing the good vibes with notes of cannabis, red apple, incense, cypress, and tobacco.
The Best Classic Cologne for Young Men: Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani
If you want a cologne that will never go out of style, there’s Acqua di Gio. This popular cologne is inspired by the relaxing vibe and clear water of the Mediterranean with notes of peach, green tangerine, rosemary, white musk, and oakmoss.
The Best New Cologne for Young Men: Louis Vuitton Imagination
This 2021 release by Louis Vuitton is all about growth, possibility, and achieving your dreams. The cologne is warm and sensual with notes of Ambrox, Calabrian bergamot, black tea, and Tunisian neroli.
The Best Aquatic Cologne for Young Men: Ralph Lauren Polo Blue Eau de Parfum
Inspired by the crisp coolness of the sea, this aquatic take on the classic Ralph Lauren fragrance features water-inspired notes alongside a balanced composition of basil, verbena, and musk.
The 22 Best Colognes for Young Men
Atlantis is a cologne made for the unabashed and confident man who needs a reliable scent that remains strong even after the longest day. This vegan, phthalate-free fragrance is one you can depend on to keep you smelling pristine while keeping your skin (and health) safe, too.
It offers top notes of bergamot, lemon, and blackcurrant for citrus refreshment, mid notes of lavender, clary sage, apricot, and peach and finishes with base notes of violet, orris, oak-moss, ambrette seed, and musk for an irresistible masculine aroma. This symphony of ingredients leads to a standing ovation from anyone who inhales it– and even requests for an encore.
2. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Gentle Fluidity Silver Edition
Maison Francis Kurkdjian is one of the most well-known and respected fragrance brands around the world. Their Silver Edition eau de parfum ‘Gentle Fluidity’ is a free-flowing, powerful, entrancing fragrance ideal for young men who want to push boundaries.
The cologne is vibrant and fresh with top notes of juniper berries that echo the scent of a good gin and tonic, yet soft and comforting with warming notes of nutmeg, vanilla, and amber wood.
3. Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne
This best-selling fragrance by Jo Malone marries the woody earthiness of sage with the lapping, mineral-rich waters of the ocean. The scent is everything you want in a cologne that will carry you from day to night, from the east coast to the west coast, and everything in between. Key notes include ambrette seeds (for sophistication), sea salt (for a touch of fresh ocean spray), and sage (for an earthy, aromatic base).
4. Louis Vuitton Imagination
Tap into the boundless, dreamy, creative powers of your imagination with this 2021 cologne launch by Louis Vuitton. Imagination is a citrus cologne for men that’s inspired by one’s desire to make their dreams their reality.
The cologne’s key notes include Ambrox, a reinvention of the ambery accord that creates a contemporary, masculine scent. The warmth and sensuality of Ambrox is contrasted against notes like Calabrian bergamot, Tunisian neroli, and black tea from China, which embodies freedom and discovery in its fresh, intoxicating scent.
5. Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani
For the twenty-somethings who want a signature cologne that will age with them, let us introduce you to Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani. This incredibly popular cologne has maintained its cult following since its launch in 1996. The scent is fresh and clean, so you can wear it practically anywhere at any time, so it’s the best cologne for young men to wear for all occasions.
The fragrance opens with water-inspired marine notes of Calabrian bergamot, neroli, and green tangerine. These top notes then relax into more sea notes, alongside the scent of peach, rosemary, and hyacinth, echoing the sweetness and saltiness of the Mediterranean. The long-lasting base notes are relaxed and woody with white musk, cedar, oakmoss, patchouli, and amber.
6. REPLICA Music Festival
Inspired by the whimsy and lightheartedness of Woodstock, Music Festival by Maison Margiela is a cologne that instantly brings your mind and body back to those feel-good vibes. The universal scent appeals to both avid music festival goers and those who’d rather avoid the crowd, with hypnotic notes of cannabis, red apple, incense, cypress, and tobacco. If you can get your hands on this unique, beloved fragrance, we guarantee it’s one you’ll want in your collection forever.
7. Davidoff Cool Water Cologne
Cool off with this aquatic cologne for young men. In 1988 Davidoff launched Cool Water, a cologne that revolutionized men’s fragrance by breathing in freshness and the aquatic inspiration of water. The iconic scent has been loved by men for decades, thanks to its sporty, masculine vibe that is youthful yet mature, so it’s guaranteed to age with you. The ocean-inspired scent features fresh notes of coriander, green nuances, lavender, mint, and rosemary.
8. Versace Eros
Versace Eros is a cologne for the passionate, masculine types who love to celebrate life’s vibrancy. The scent is cool with vibrant notes of fresh mint, Italian lemon zest, and green apple, yet warm and alluring with notes of tonka beans, ambroxan amber, vanilla, and geranium flowers.
Eros is inspired by the Greek god of love, Eros, so its fragrance represents a purposeful sensuality and intensity—something that is so Versace. Eros is everything you want in a date-night cologne. Plus, the turquoise blue bottle adorned with Medusa’s head makes this a cologne collectors must-have.
9. Ralph Lauren Polo Blue Eau de Parfum
This aquatic take on the classic Ralph Lauren fragrance launched in 2016, becoming an instant go-to cologne for young men looking for a fresh, distinctly aquatic scent. Its oceanic vibe comes from top notes of the sea, nestling amongst bergamot and cardamom.
Fresh middle notes of basil, clary sage, and verbena are balanced with the masculine profiles of suede, vetiver, and musk for a cologne that embodies the richness and openness of the ocean. You don’t need much of this cologne to make a statement, so the deep blue frosted bottle will last you a while.
10. Aesop Tacit Eau de Parfum
For a cologne that’s as fresh and youthful as you are, there’s Aesop’s Tacit. Tacit (launched in 2015) is a crisp and citrusy unisex fragrance inspired by the fresh notes of traditional colognes and the abundant vegetation cultivated on the Mediterranean coast. Uplifting top notes of yuzu, basil, and clove blend seamlessly with the fresh greenery of rosemary, mint, and fennel. To bring it all together are deeper, more masculine notes of cedarwood, vetiver heart, and amber whose long-lasting composition provides subtle warmth.
11. Le Labo Santal 33
Santal 33 is Le Labo’s (one of the best luxury perfumeries in the world) most adored scent, so it makes the ideal cologne for young men who want to start their collection off with a bang. Le Labo is inspired by the American West and man’s desire for personal freedom. It embodies the soul of those western icons that made their way through the world with little else but their horse and leather saddle. Its masculine aroma comes from top notes of cardamom, iris, violet, and ambrox that diffuse into the smokiness of Australian sandalwood, cedarwood, and papyrus. *Cowboy hat not included.
12. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue
Jump into the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean with Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue. This eau de toilette is everything young men want in an aquatic cologne. It’s fresh, juicy, and light but doesn’t hide its sensual masculine side. The scent is uplifted with notes of bergamot, Sicilian mandarin, frozen grapefruit peel, and aromatic juniper. The citrusy top notes sink into muskier, more masculine notes of Sichuan pepper, rosewood, American muskwood, incense, and oakmoss.
13. The Nue Co. Forest Lungs
As one of the most innovative colognes for young men on our list, Forest Lungs by The Nue Co was purposely designed to be an anti-stress fragrance. How does that work? The body’s olfactory system regulates our sense of smell and is closely linked to stress and how stress affects our well-being.
This fragrance formula uses clean, natural fragrances, olfactory chemistry, and phytoncides (molecular compounds produced by trees known for their positive health benefits) to reduce stress by 96% and anxiety by 91%. This unisex cologne has citrus and woodsy notes of vetiver, cedarwood, benzoin, pine, patchouli, and bergamot that instantly get you back to feeling cool, calm, and collected.
14. Obvious Parfums Un Musc
Musk is a classic men’s fragrance that makes you feel like your best, most powerful self. So no matter what your day has in store, this musky eau de parfum can be your go-to. Top notes of Italian bergamot and Madagascar ginger lap into the heart of the fragrance with notes of Indian amyris, Haitian vetiver, and Iranian galbanum. The base is carried by clean, musky notes that are soft, timeless, and casually elegant.
15. Hawthorne Tailored Cologne Work + Play
For a tailored cologne experience perfectly aligned with your scent preference, body chemistry, and pheromones—there’s Hawthorne’s Work + Play fragrances. All you have to do is take a short quiz and let Hawthorne’s award-winning perfumers do their magic. Each cologne is crafted with 10x higher quality ingredients than other brands (so you know you’re getting the good stuff). The fragrances are also free of all the bad stuff, including sulfates, parabens, phthalates, aluminum, and talc.
16. Byredo Sunday Cologne
Easy like Sunday morning vibes are what’ll you get with this cologne by Byredo. This expertly-crafted fragrance features top notes of bergamot, cardamom, and star anise that relax into heart notes of geranium, incense, and lavender. Base notes of moss, patchouli, and vetiver are in it for the long haul (meaning they’ll still be smelling fresh after your Sunday afternoon nap). Sunday’s classic, crisp, and citrusy scent is perfect for young guys who would rather sport their at-home lounge clothes than a formal tailored suit.
17. Baxter of California Pacific Cannabis
This eau de parfum by Baxter of California perfectly captures those memorable late nights spent on Venice Boardwalk feeling young and invincible. Pacific Cannabis begins with spicy top notes of pink pepper, rosemary, and bergamot before softening into middle notes of cannabis accord, lavender, and sage.
The long-lasting fragrance then lingers on the base notes of driftwood accord, patchouli, and tonka absolute for a soft, beachy vibe. And while this cologne for young men may be inspired by cannabis, it doesn’t actually contain the plant, so there’s no chance of you getting high from it (sorry).
18. Murdock London Black Tea Cologne
Black Tea by Murdock London is smooth and subtle, just like a cup of English breakfast. This quintessential British cologne is spicy, woody, and evocative with its masculine middle note of leather and balancing base notes of musty woods, musk, and birch tar. The scent’s spiciness comes from top notes of clove, nutmeg, basil, and pepper. This alluring cologne for young men is ideal for office wear or a night out.
19. Dior Sauvage Eau de Toilette
Launched in 2015, this eau de toilette by Dior is raw, relying on the scent of its natural essences to portray a sense of wide-open spaces and endless desert landscapes spreading under the vast blue sky. This timeless, versatile cologne for young men is earthy and woody, with simple top notes of Calabrian bergamot and pepper that diffuse into a melody of middle notes.
Sichuan pepper, lavender, pink pepper, vetiver, and patchouli are just some of the middle notes that make this cologne so fresh. Sauvage will dry down to a base of ambroxan, cedar, and labdanum, perfectly capturing the scent of warm woods.
20. Jack Black Blue Mark Eau de Parfum
Blue marks the spot with this classic cologne for young men. Jack Black’s Blue Mark is fresh and flirty with top notes of watermint, cilantro, and bergamot that blend gingerly into deeper notes of Japanese juniper, ginger essence, patchouli, and driftwood. The revitalizing scent instantly transports you to an all-inclusive resort on the beach, so we don’t blame you if you envision yourself sipping a mojito in a cabana with each spritz.
21. Malin+Goetz Dark Rum
If you’re not already having enough rum in your life, get your fix with Malin+Goetz Dark Rum eau de parfum. Inspired by the old-world sailors who would transport rum throughout the Caribbean, this cologne balances dark and spicy notes with warm, fresh, and tropical scents.
Top notes bergamot, plum, and anise fade into the warm, alluring middle notes of leather, rum, and vanilla. Dark Rum settles onto the skin with base notes of patchouli, amber, and milk, adapting to perfectly fit your unique fragrance profile the longer you wear it.
22. 19-69 Rainbow Bar
19-69 is a revolutionary, contemporary luxury fragrance brand that pushes gender boundaries and lights a creative fire wherever they go. Their unisex fragrances are inspired by iconic moments in counterculture that have left their mark on the world, whether through art or music. Rainbow Bar is inspired by the 1980s LA music scene and the lifestyle of the West Coast during the 60s and 70s.
The result? An incredibly earthy, aromatic cologne that stuns with notes of cypress, warwood, fresh basil, and guaiac wood. It’s the ideal cologne for young men who want to express their individuality and show the world exactly who they are.
The Dos and Don’ts of Applying Cologne to Make It Last
1. Dab, Don’t Rub
You might be tempted to rub your wrists together after spritzing your fragrance, but the key to getting the most out of your cologne is to dab, not rub. Rubbing in your cologne breaks down the fragrance molecules, weakening the scent. Instead, gently dab it onto your skin.
2. Apply to Pulse Points
Pulse points are areas on the body where your blood is closest to your skin. Because these areas are warmer than others, they’re ideal for applying fragrances and diffusing the scent across your body. To make the scent of your cologne last longer, apply it onto pulse points such as behind your ears, your wrists, inside your elbows, on your neck, lower jaw, below your midriff, and behind your knees.
3. Apply Cologne After the Shower
Applying a few spritzes of cologne after you get out of the shower (while your skin is still warm and hydrated) will activate the fragrance molecules, enhancing the scent and locking it in your skin.
4. Keep Your Skin Moisturized
Applying an unscented lotion (or matching scented lotion) to your skin will help lock in the fragrance for ultimate staying power. To avoid altering the scent of your cologne, stick to a lotion or cream that’s unscented or only lightly fragranced.
5. Lock it in with Vaseline
Similarly to applying your fragrance onto freshly moisturized skin, you can prep your pulse points with a skin occlusive like Vaseline or Aquaphor before spritzing. The occlusive locks the scent on the skin, so you smell incredible for longer.
6. Reapply Every 4 Hours
If necessary, reapply your fragrance every four hours or so. Don’t overdo it with cologne by applying too much too often, or you risk smelling too strong and giving people a headache.
7. Keep Your Cologne Out of Your Bathroom
While your go-to cologne probably looks fantastic sitting on your bathroom counter, the bathroom is a less than ideal location for storing your fragrances. A bathroom is a place where light, humidity, and heat are constantly shifting, creating an environment that breaks down perfume molecules—resulting in a less intense fragrance.
8. Know the Concentration
The concentration of perfume to alcohol in your cologne can help you determine how long the smell will last on your skin. A parfum be made of 20-30% perfume, so it will be the longest lasting. An eau de parfum has about 15-20% perfume and will have a more intense, long-lasting fragrance (about five hours), while an eau de toilette will have 5-15% perfume, so it is lighter and less long-lasting (about three hours).
9. Skip the Cologne Cloud
You’ve probably seen people spray cologne into the air and then walk through it. And while it might look cool, this application method is really ineffective. Walking through that cologne cloud doesn’t evenly distribute the fragrance since most of it goes onto the floor or scatters in the air rather than landing on your clothes and skin.
Apply your cologne by spritzing (about three to six inches away from your skin) and then gently dab it in with your wrist. If you’d like, you can also apply a few spritzes directly onto your clothing to make the fragrance last longer.
Can you wear too much cologne?
Yes! It’s definitely possible to wear too much cologne—all it really takes is a few too many sprays. When applying cologne, follow the motto “less is more.” Excessive amounts of fragrance can be highly irritating and distracting for those around you, often causing headaches or allergic reactions.
Instead of going crazy with the cologne and spraying it everywhere, stick to just one or two spots on the body. Apply two to three spritzes on pulse points like your wrists or lower jaw, where the scent is more likely to spread and be more impactful. Remember, you can always apply more if needed.
What do fragrance notes mean?
Fragrance notes refer to the ingredients that make up a cologne. The ingredients are carefully selected to blend together and create a fragrance experience. The scents are categorized into top notes, middle notes (or heart notes), and base notes. The fragrance notes and how they affect the scent and longevity of a cologne can be visualized as a pyramid.
The top notes form the top layer of the fragrance and are what you’ll initially smell after spritzing. The top notes are typically lighter and have a smaller molecule structure, so they will evaporate quickly (lingering for about five to fifteen minutes) before blending into the middle notes.
The middle or heart notes tend to be the bulk of the fragrance, making up around 70% of the scent. The heart notes tend to be full-bodied and aromatic with a medium evaporation and duration length, lasting up to an hour on the skin before transitioning into the base notes.
Base notes form the foundation of a fragrance, so they tend to be the richest and heaviest scents (think notes like musk, sandalwood, and cedarwood). Base notes linger the longest on your skin and (depending on the cologne or perfume) can last up to six hours or more.
When should you wear cologne?
The joy of cologne is that it’s something you can wear as frequently or infrequently as you’d like. So whether you want to wear cologne every day or only on special occasions is totally up to you and your preferences.
With that being said, certain colognes and fragrance compositions are better suited for different events. For instance, one cologne might be light and fresh, making it perfect for casual wear. Another might be stronger and more decadent, making it better suited for special events or evening wear. There’s a lot of factors to consider when selecting the best cologne for young men.
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