The man’s guide to choosing cologne

How to pick your next scent

Men's Health / April 11 2016

What’s the secret when it comes to choosing a new cologne? “Go with someone you trust,” says Nick Smart, Director of Agence de Parfum. They’ll be brutally honest, preventing you from walking out of the store smelling like your grandma’s potpourri.

But don’t make a final decision until the scent has lingered on you for at least 15 minutes. The fragrance has to fully react with your skin before you get an accurate impression—like red wine, you have to let it breathe. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are nine ways to figure out the best men’s colognes according to your personality type.


For the go-getter

Need a blast of energy? Crystalised ginger delivers a heady rush of freshness, while the combo of raw salt mixed with vetiver packs a powerful punch. The result? “An exhilarating, salty oriental fragrance,” says fragrance expert and scent designer Ainslie Walker.

Try: Calvin Klein Reveal Men EDT

Calvin Klein Reveal


For the alpha male

Used for centuries to make high-quality incense, oud is one of the world’s most expensive types of wood. Here, it’s spiced up with cardamom and a judicious splash of bitter orange for a smoky and uber-masculine scent.

Try: Versace Pour Homme Oud Noir

Versace Pour Homme


For the avid surfer

This fresh reinterpretation of the 1996 classic features zesty grapefruit and sea salt – the kind of smell you’d associate with a killer right-hand reef break. “Ideal for hot climates and sporty types, it’s like a salty wave in a bottle,” Walker says.

Try: Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio Essenza

Acqua di dio essenza


For the quietly confident

Equilibrium is the key to a life well lived and this fragrance strikes the perfect balance. Delicate but masculine, clean and fresh top notes mix into rich and warm aromas of tobacco and hay.

Try: Dolce & Gabbana Intenso

Dolce & Gabbana Intenso


For the high achiever

What’s the sweet smell of success? For men, a mix of patchouli and heavy spice notes, according to research done by Creston’s Marketing Sciences Sensory Unit, which studied the smells that give off the greatest whiff of accomplishment. It’s the fragrance world’s equivalent of a corner office.

Try: Tom Ford Private Blend Patchouli Absolu

Tom Ford Private Blend Patchouli Absolu


For the fashion forward

You might not be able to bend it like Beckham, but now you can smell like him – or at least like a sophisticated concoction of lemon, bergamot and basil. “Elegant and masculine, like the man himself,” says Walker.

Try: David Beckham Instinct Gold Edition

david beckham instinct gold edition


For the boss man

A man of authority never has to raise his voice. That’s the effect this scent will have as it makes a stealthy impression, with the initial hit of fresh juniper spiced up with fir and anchored by a warm hint of leather.

Try: Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Extreme

Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Extreme


For the deal maker

Need a client to sign on the dotted line? Researchers at Leiden University say that lavender can make you seem more trustworthy. This scent features the note toughened up with a hint of suede leather.

Try: Creed Aberdeen Lavender

Try: Creed Aberdeen Lavender


For the rock star

Burberry’s Chief Creative Officer, Christopher Bailey, described this fragrance as “trying to create the atmosphere of a gig in a juice”. Translation: a powerful mix of leather and incense that’s worth an encore.

Try: Burberry Brit Rhythm

Burberry Brit Rhythm

Main image credit: Getty