The last thing you want to be is the Cologne Guy — with a scent more noticeable than you are. Thanks to essential oils, you don’t have to be. Distilled from plants, flowers, and trees, these fragrances are earthy, natural, and, best of all, subtle.
While conventional colognes are brewed in laboratories and laced with chemicals, creating an essential is more art than science. “We backpack in the mountains, stick our noses in the trees, and when we smell something true to the place, we distill it right there on the trail,” says Hall Newbegin, founder of Juniper Ridge, a wild-fragrance company in Berkeley, California.
Because they’re all-natural, essential oils break down faster than colognes do and need to be reapplied throughout the day. But because they’re superconcentrated, you need only a drop on pulse points. The oils then mix with your skin’s natural oils, so no two guys will smell alike. What’s more, “because they’re not re-created in a factory, no two batches are exactly the same; this makes an oil seem more personalized,” says celebrity stylist Kristan Serafino. Here, six of our new favorites.
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Otter Wax Spruce Cologne Solid
Packaged in solid form (it's made with beeswax and shea butter in addition to oils), this scent lasts a bit longer and is easy to swipe on. We liked the spicy kick from black pepper and lime oils. [$29.95; otterwax.com]
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Kiehl's Essential Oils in Musk
Bergamot, neroli, rose, and other oils create this musklike aroma, which isn't heavy or pungent like a typical musk. The roll-on applicator ensures you don't overdo it, too. [$35; kiehls.com]