When American men think about what the term cologne actually means, most might need some advice —especially in 2022. In a time when authenticity grows more and more important, fragrance need to become more elevated and heightened while still feeling relatable to younger millennials and Gen Z audience.
In a testament as to how much fragrance has progressed to a point where, now, men have an abundant number of product offerings to choose from. Appropriately enough, new ingredients combines with sustainable techniques ground you in the present moment, and bring you back to some of the most unforgettable memories. That’s why, today’s market approach is to honor the history of cologne with the same respect and dignity of the past.
One thing I find amazing, especially when focusing on the younger market segmentations whose aim is to accelerate in work, education and relationships, the best colognes will be the ones down for the ride.
At the end of last year, after publishing the article on the “10 Best Colognes for Men to Try in 2022,” I received an abundant number of requests to find the best colognes for young men? Given I am a professor at a fashion university, it made great sense for me to look into the new men’s consumers on the horizon.
Because let’s face it, when you’re young, you have more variety. Do you want something playful and fruity? Go for it. Are you in the mood for something woody and sophisticated? Say no more! Being young is filled with much excitement and opportunity; so you want your cologne to reflect that enthusiasm to the fullest.
When it comes to fragrances for young men, the possibilities are almost endless. Therefore, to help you with your search, my team and I have gathered 16 of the best colognes for young men to try now and forever. All of the picks are multidimensional and charismatic, embodying the youth and vigor of the wearer. Day or night, casual or refined, there’s something in this roundup for every 20-something guy.
Young guys are thrill-seekers—it’s in their DNA. To match your adventurous take on life, there’s Atlantis. The citrus and woody notes of bergamot, clary sage, and patchouli are herbaceous, masculine, and bright enough to set the night on fire and spark your inner wild side. Atlantis skips out on the hundreds of chemicals typically found in fragrances and other grooming products. So you just get an all-natural fragrance with purposeful, easy-to-recognize ingredients that (bonus points) smell sublime.
Who said a classic cologne isn’t fit for a young man? Not us. Especially one that’s as light and aquatic as Acqua di Gio. This iconic Pour Homme (which literally means “for men”) marries the lightness of a dip in a pool with colorful notes of Calabrian bergamot, neroli, persimmon, and Indonesian patchouli that instantly take you back to warm days away in the sun. The scent is relaxed enough for everyday wear, fresh enough for the summer months, and warm enough for the rest of the year. So essentially, you can’t go wrong with having this cologne in your collection now and forever.
Cool off with a cologne that’s just as dope as you. Cologne Bleue is YSL’s aquatic take on their signature fragrance, so it’s ideal for the younger crowd who just wants a fresh, woody fragrance that floats on marine undertones. The scent itself opens on notes of blood orange, grapefruit, and mandarin, waking up your senses and getting you pumped for the day (or night) ahead. The citrus ensemble rolls back into the calmer, chiller heart notes of apple, thyme, and lavender. To give you that classic aquatic feel you know and love, Bleue ends on notes of marine accord, cedarwood, and oceanol.
Fit to go from day to night or one bar to the next, there’s Jo Malone’s iconic Pomegranate Noir. At first, you might be thinking: pomegranates? And yeah, that’s precisely what gives this timeless scent its punch and innate sensuality. The fragrance is elegant and charming, perfect for date nights or long office days with its notes of pomegranate, spicy pink pepper, and smoky guaiac wood. Its other fruity notes of rhubarb, plum, and raspberry provide a light, playful stage for the real woody, warm notes of this spicy scent to take the spotlight.
Dreamy and bright, this Eau de Toilette might just be your new spring and summer scent. Nothing says freshness and summertime like top notes of pineapple and mandarin orange that instantly give you mimosas at brunch vibes. Its juicy burst of fruit settles into an intriguing blend of ginger, spices, vanilla, and cedarwood that lasts on the skin from sunrise to sunset. The scent is intriguing and cheerful with subtleties of nostalgia and romance—aka the best parts of being young during those carefree summer months.
Let’s face it: You’re one in a million, so share your status with the world but let your cologne do all the talking. Inspired by the beauty and respect that gold has around the globe (hint the gold bar inspired bottle), this cologne for young men embodies the sensuality and boldness of the precious metal. With warm and spicy notes of pink peppercorn, cinnamon, amber, and leather accord, this cologne is for the 20-something guys who aren’t afraid to be different and march to the beat of their own drum—no matter how loud it is. The luxury cologne also lasts for hours on the skin, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Oriental and opulent, Oud Silk Mood contrasts airiness and subtlety with floral, woody notes for an enveloping fragrance that can be worn all year round. Key fragrance profiles include oud from Laos, which gives the cologne a musky, smoky complexity. The masculine notes of oud wood are reinforced with the power of papyrus, the freshness of bergamot, the honeyed scent of rose, and the robustness of guaiac wood. Because the cologne’s balanced profile makes it ideal for everyday wear (and getting loads of compliments), the luxury price tag is totally worth the investment.
Pair your laidback attitude with a cologne that’s all about super chill vibes. Cannabis is an Eau de Parfum grounded in the spicy, herbaceous, famously smoky notes of cannabis and all the good memories the scent brings with it. To strike a balance, the fragrance profile leans on supportive floral notes of muguet (also known as Lily of the valley) and magnolia, fresh notes of black pepper and bergamot, and earthy notes of cedarwood, patchouli, and sandalwood. The scent may be free of actual THC, but it gives you all the good vibes of the real thing.
9. Versace Eros
With a cool, spicy fragrance profile that’s suitable for year-round wear, Eros is an instant add-to-cart cologne pick for the 20-something guy. Inspired by the God of Love and the Greek affinity towards the perfect male form, this intensely masculine fragrance balances freshness from mint leaves, Italian lemon zest, and bright green apple with the warmth and sensuality of tonka beans, vetiver, and oakmoss. If you’re looking for a signature date-night scent or a fragrance that captivates anyone you meet, consider this the cologne for you.
When you’re young and full of ideas, opt for a cologne that exudes the creative energy you want to be known for. In this 2021 fragrance launch, Louis Vuitton used bright notes of citron, Sicilian orange, and Calabrian bergamot to create feelings of energy and excitement—the kind of feelings you get when you know you’re destined for success. The fresh top notes are balanced by the sensual, masculine notes of Chinese black tea, Ceylon cinnamon, Nigerian ginger, and guaiac wood that give you the confidence to choose your own path.
If you’re into luxury colognes and want to build up your collection with the best of the best, Aqua Vitae is one cologne you won’t want to pass up. Housed in a gorgeous golden glass bottle are citrus notes of Italian mandarin and bergamot that are bright, sunny, and perfect for warmer weather. The fruity fragrances of mandarin and bergamot blend into warmer, more sensual notes of Indian sandalwood. This cologne can take you from day to night and definitely deserves a spot in your suitcase on your next getaway.
On the darker, more mysterious side is Bleu de Chanel. The classic woodsy cologne is uplifted with mint, lemon, pink pepper, ginger, nutmeg, and jasmine before leaning into the deeper, more masculine notes of incense, cedar, sandalwood, and white musk. This tried and true fragrance has been a best-seller for over a decade, thanks to its refined palate that opens with a powerful parade of aromatics before handing the mic over to woodsy tones that linger on the skin for hours. If you haven’t tried it yet, you need to.
This one’s for all the bottle collectors out there who wouldn’t dare let their collection go much longer without this bad boy. Literally. Bad Boy by Carolina Herrera opens with notes of grapefruit and cannabis (because that’s what being young and risky is all about) before blending into spicy, fragrant heart notes of black pepper and geranium. With notes of leather and vetiver as its base, this cologne is for the young guys who want to strike a balance between youthful charm and mature badass. So if you tend to listen to your rebel side, this one’s for you.
Take a trip to Venice Beach and late nights on the boardwalk with this Eau de Parfum. Known for its California inspiration, this cologne is fresh, fragrant, and perfectly balanced with ripe top notes of pink pepper, rosemary, and bergamot. Heartier middle notes of sage, lavender, and cannabis linger into beachy base notes of driftwood, patchouli, and tonka bean. The end result is a cologne that’s fun yet chill, youthful yet mature. And it’s certainly one that will get you loads of compliments and questions about what scent you’re wearing.
Your future is bright, so make sure your cologne is on the same page. As one of the freshest fragrances on our list, Colonia Futura is citrusy and fruity with notes of lemon, bergamot, and grapefruit. The cologne also includes well-known aromatics like pink pepper, lavender, and sage that set the stage for masculine vetiver to give a woody, earthy finale. This Eau de Cologne is inspired by nature and the brightness of its ingredients, making it ideal for daytime wear. Plus, because the scent profile is light and uncomplicated, it can easily be layered with other fragrances for something unique to you.
If you’re searching for a cologne that fits seamlessly into your active lifestyle, look no further. This energizing fragrance by Chanel is everything you want in a sparkling yet masculine scent that can go with you in your gym bag or on adventurous trips abroad. Notes of Italian mandarin and crystalline accord create a scent that is so fresh and so clean before blending into warmer, almondy notes of tonka bean and white musk. Thanks to its fresh citrus notes, feel free to spray this cologne generously onto clothes and skin and instantly become casually allure (not like that’s hard for you anyway).
The best time to wear cologne?
If you’re a novice at wearing cologne, every moment can seem like an opportunity to use your new fragrance. And you can! Technically. There are no hard and set rules as to when you should wear cologne; it’s totally up to personal preference. So if you want to wear cologne when you’re at home alone working from your computer all day with no one to talk to but your dog, go for it! If it makes you feel more polished and put together, there’s no harm in a few spritzes. But if you’re someone who would rather save the good stuff for when you’re going out, that makes sense too. Spritzing some cologne on before you head off to the office, on a date, to an event, or wherever life takes you can make you feel (and smell) like a stud.
Some colognes have fragrance profiles that are better suited for day or night. So opting for a fresh, citrusy scent for casual daywear then wearing a more sensual, muskier scent for the nighttime is typically the best option. You can also switch your fragrance preference to the seasons or to what’s going in your life. Scent is powerful, so going for a warm, winter-time fragrance can get you in the holiday spirit. At the same time, a Mediterranean-inspired cologne might make the perfect addition to your vacation travels.
Is it possible to wear too much cologne?
When you’re young, it can be easy to think that the more cologne, the better. But after one too many spritzes and a few too many comments, you’ll soon realize that less is more when it comes to wearing cologne. It’s definitely possible to wear too much cologne, and the most obvious way to know if you are is if the scent is so strong it’s gone from pleasant and subtle to making people choke on its fumes. If you or those around you are coughing, getting sudden headaches, or avoiding getting too close to you, odds are you’re wearing too much cologne.
To avoid wearing too much, apply just a few spritzes (if the scent is lighter with less fragrance oil, you can apply more than you would a heavier fragrance) to your pulse points, like the wrists and neck. Remember, you can always add more on later, but there’s really no way to take it away once you’ve applied it.
How long does a bottle of cologne last?
It’s no secret that cologne is an investment, with bottles on our list ranging from the upper 70s to just under $400.
The good news then is that the average bottle of cologne lasts anywhere from three to five years, depending on the formula itself—meaning you get pretty good use of your money over that time. But really, there’s no hard and set rule for how long your fragrance will last you. Unopened bottles will last a good while if properly stored because the lack of airflow means that the fragrance is less likely to oxidize, while opened bottles will expire more quickly. A good way to know for sure how long your cologne will last once you open it is from the expiration date on the bottle. But since a lot of brands tend to leave out this piece of information, you can always lean on help from your nose. An expired perfume will have a slightly sour, metallic smell once the top notes have begun to oxidize. This is especially true for those colognes with citrus, fruity, green top notes (which happens to be a lot of them). Patchouli is another fragrance note that can jeopardize your cologne’s longevity. If you notice something off about the fragrance you’ve had on your shelf for a while, it’s probably because it’s hit its expiration mark.
What’s the best way to store my cologne?
Fragrances are not indestructible. The delicate fragrance profiles can be negatively altered by its environment, which is why making sure you store your colognes correctly is essential. Here are some must-try ways to store your cologne to last a lot longer.
● Keep the environment cool and dark: Environment is key when it comes to storing cologne. The right environment can prolong the life of your cologne, while the wrong environment means your collection will go off way sooner than you want. So what is the ideal setting for storing cologne? Well, it’s one that is cool, meaning the temperatures don’t get much higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit and is relatively dry since heat and humidity can both break down the cologne’s fragrance molecules. You’ll also want to keep your cologne out of direct sunlight since it makes the molecules more unstable. A good place to store your cologne would be the fridge (yeah, you heard that right) or away in your wardrobe where the temperature and light don’t change much. While it may be convenient, keeping your cologne in the bathroom means that the fragrance is constantly exposed to changes in heat and humidity that speed up the oxidation process.
● Use all of the bottle: While it can be tempting to try different fragrances on a regular basis or cater your daily scent to match your mood, if you want to get the most life out of your cologne, it’s best to use a bottle until it’s gone. This method ensures that you’re using up the product before it goes bad (since used bottles are more prone to oxidizing) and not just throwing money out the window. If you have an extensive cologne collection or even a small one, see if you can use up the bottles with the least amount of cologne left before moving on to others.
Can you leave cologne in the car?
Technically, yes. Should you? Probably not. Just like the heat, light, and humidity fluctuations from your home can cause the fragrance molecules in a cologne to break down, so can the extreme light and heat in your car. While it might be okay once in a while, leaving your cologne in the car for long spans of time (especially in the heat) will alter the fragrance scent and longevity.
What are the different cologne scent profiles?
You’ve probably seen by now how each cologne identifies itself with a fragrance family or two. The concept, developed by Michael Edwards and his Fragrance Wheel, categorizes fragrance notes into four general categories: floral, oriental, woody, and fresh, which then breaks down into smaller, more specific categories of scent.
● Floral: Floral fragrance notes are defined by (you guessed it) florals. While floral fragrance profiles are more commonly found in perfume, many colognes include hints of florals here and there to create depth and mystery. Floral notes range from fresh florals to soft, powdery florals to floral oriental with scents like orange blossom.
● Oriental: Oriental fragrance profiles tend to be warm, sensual, luxurious, and even slightly spicy. You’ll see oriental notes in nearly every men’s cologne with scents like incense, amber, vanilla, and cardamom.
● Woody: Like oriental fragrances, woody scent profiles are also warm and captivating. They draw their earthy, dry, sometimes smoky scents from notes like sandalwood, cedarwood, oakmoss, leather, and vetiver.
● Fresh: Fresh notes are diverse in their crisp, clean nature. You’ll know a cologne has a fresh fragrance profile if it has citrus, aquatic (water-inspired), green, or fruity notes. Fresh citrus and fruity notes take inspiration from citruses like lemons, oranges, bergamot and juicy fruits like watermelon, berries, and pineapple. Water fresh scents will be based on marine and aquatic notes inspired by the sea, lake, pool, or other body of water. Green fragrances will often be crisp, herbal, and down to earth with notes like rosemary or basil.
The difference between an Eau de Parfum and an Eau de Toilette?
If you’ve scoured our list, then you’ve seen that our top picks can be divided into two categories: Eau de Parfum (EDP) and Eau de Toilette (EDT). The difference between the two is actually pretty simple. An Eau de Parfum has a higher concentration of fragrance than an Eau de Toilette (an EDP typically has a concentration of 15 to 30 percent, while an EDT is around 8 to 15). Concentrations vary from fragrance to fragrance, but an EDP will generally be more potent and longer-lasting than an EDT.