I Have a Thing for Men's Colognes—17 to Gift (Then Steal for Yourself)

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.


(Image credit: @JORDANRISA)

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.

What is cologne?

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).

The best men's colgones:

1. Rituals Maharaja d'Or

2. Tom Ford Grey Vetiver

3. Maison Francis Kurkdjian L'Homme à la Rose

4. Serge Lutens Écrin de Fumée

5. Penhaligon's Mr Thompson

6. Frederic Malle Uncut Gem

7. Byredo Sunday Cologne

8. Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense

9. Miller Harris Hydra Figue

10. Maison Crivelli Oud Maracuja

11. D'Orsay Dandy Or Not G.A.

12. Diptyque Tam Dao

13. Malin + Goetz Leather

14. Maison Margiela Replica Jazz Club

15. Bon Parfumeur 701

16. Killian Straight to Heaven

17. Heeley Sel Marin

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

Freelance Beauty Editor

Grace Day is a beauty editor and content creator. She has over 10 years of beauty-industry experience, spanning editorial, retail, and e-commerce, which gives her a unique understanding into how people shop for their beauty routines.

While studying for a history degree (specialising in the history of beauty) and working as a beauty adviser in department stores, Grace started writing her own beauty blog in order to share the products she discovered while dealing with acne. After graduating, she moved to Beauty Bay as beauty editor and content manager. Grace is currently a beauty contributor to Who What Wear. She has also written for Hypebae and PopSugar and works as a brand consultant and copywriter.