The best men's fragrances and aftershaves to get you smelling nice
Top scents for smelling good, boosting confidence and elevating your presence...
Selecting a fragrance isn’t a task that should be taken lightly. It’s about way more than just smelling nice. Wearing the right perfume can boost your confidence, elevate your presence and leave a memorable impression on anyone you cross paths with. Plus, if you don’t choose the right one, you could be lumbered with a pricey bottle of liquid you don’t like and never use - that's where our best men's fragrance and aftershave guide comes in.
With countless options available, discovering the right scent is a challenge. What’s more, there’s a plethora of things to think about.
Do you prefer musky or lighter fragrances, for instance, or fresh or deep scents? Personal taste plays a big role too, so visiting local fragrance stores for a sniff test is paramount. However, if you’re just looking for some ideas, or online shopping is the only way you like to shop, we’re here to help.
We've compiled a list of the finest men's fragrances to simplify your search and help get your signature scent just right.
If you want to read more about how to describe a scent, which we go big on below, scroll down to the bottom of this shortlist for a quick explainer.
The best men's fragrances and aftershaves
1. Margiela - Replica: Under the Lemon TreeBuy now from John Lewis
Margiela's Replica: Under the Lemon Tree is a unisex fragrance that anyone can enjoy. As the name suggests, it evokes feelings of late summer evenings lazing around in fields, lounging under lemon trees surrounded by zesty lemons and a gentle breeze. It should come as no surprise, then, that it offers up a fresh, citrusy and clean scent great for every day wear. It’s also long-lasting, lingering on the skin for most of the day. Since it’s just so refreshing, Under the Lemon Tree is best suited for wear during the warmer months, but heck, we don’t make the rules.
2. Yves Saint Laurent – YBuy now from Boots
Yves Saint Laurent's Y for men is all about freshness. It slaps you around the face with a zesty blend of bergamot and ginger for an instant pick-me-up. As it settles, you'll catch the middle note hints of sage and juniper, which add a lovely warm and herbal touch. Then, it wraps up with base notes of vetiver and cedarwood, leaving you with a clean, masculine vibe. Y is a versatile, everyday fragrance that you can wear year-round and on any occasion. We prefer it for the daytime rather than night, though.
3. Chanel - Bleu De ChanelBuy now from Boots
Bleu De Chanel is a modern and sophisticated fragrance with a classic edge, like a crisp white shirt. Each nozzle pump unleashes top notes that are fresh and clean, giving off a burst of zesty citrus, which eases into a refined mix of aromatic and spicy notes. It settles with a warm, woody depth that’s cosy yet sharp. A great all-rounder that’s elegant and timeless - ideal for those who like to keep things stylish but understated.
4. Viktor & Rolf – Spicebomb InfraredBuy now from Boots
Spicebomb Infrared is the latest twist on the original and hugely popular Spicebomb scent by Viktor & Rolf. Normally, we’d follow the mantra of “if it ain’t broke”, but Infrared is one worthy exception thanks to added hints of amber spice. Expect top notes of red fruits and saffron, heart notes of cinnamon and red pepper and base notes of tobacco and benzoin, the latter of which make this fragrance so distinctive and long-lasting on the skin. The tobacco adds a warm, slightly sweet and earthy aroma while the benzoin offers a vanilla-like scent with hints of balsamic. The result? A rich, sweet and comforting fragrance that’s great for evening wear in the autumn and winter seasons.
5. Hugh Parsons - Saville RowBuy now from Debenhams
We simply love this fragrance. With a name inspired by one of the most famous streets in London, Saville Row by Hugh Parsons certainly fits the luxury connotations of that locale.
The fragrance opens with notes of cypress, offering crisp woody aromas like those you’d expect from lush forest greenery. This is followed by heart notes of sage and fig leaves, which combine herbaceous and slightly spicy scents for balance. Musk, patchouli and sandalwood round out the fragrance at the end, creating a warm, earthy foundation that’s both long-lasting and sensual smelling. A great scent for the end of summer or early autumn.
6. Clinique - Happy for Men Cologne SprayBuy now from Amazon
Clinique Happy for Men is a vibrant, everyday scent designed to give you a mood-boosting start to your day. Best suited to the warm and humid summer months thanks to its zesty, fresh notes of lime, lemon and mandarin, it's like sunshine in a bottle. Since it's light yet long-lasting without being overwhelming, this fragrance is great for casual wear. And a top choice for those who want to smell fresh and energised without trying too hard to impress.
7. Rook Perfumes - Undergrowth Eau de ParfumBuy now from Harvey Nichols
Undergrowth by Rook Perfumes will transport you to an Alpine forest in April time. It has that earthy, minty and grassy freshness that evokes memories of sheltering under trees during a heavy downpour without that annoying feeling of getting wet. The scent journey is filled with hints of greenness, a touch of mandarin and some floral orris, which adds a delicate and slightly woody scent with hints of violets. In the end, you'll feel the grounding effect of the vetiver, patchouli and petrichor base notes, which together add depth and warmth. A perfect scent for those who love the great outdoors.
8. Le Labo - Santal 33Buy now from Le Labo
Le Labo's Santal 33 is a fragrance that's all about comfort. Imagine the cosy scent of a well-worn leather jacket with a subtle, lingering smokiness. It's like a big hug in a bottle. With notes of sandalwood and cardamom, it's a bit spicy, a bit woody, but incredibly inviting. It's not loud or overpowering, either. If you're into understated, earthy scents that feel like a second skin, Santal 33 should be your go-to
9. Electimuss - TrajanBuy now from Electimuss
This fragrance’s box says it all: it’s bold and dramatic but super sophisticated. Each squirt offers a fruity blend with hints of citrus groves and lavender fields alongside the warmth of cedar wood. Next, you'll pick up a sweet whiff of lemon and geranium for the heart notes, spiced up with star anise and cloves, before it mellows into a base of patchouli, ambergris, cedar and a touch of soft leather. Since this fragrance is a versatile mix of freshness and warmth, we think it best suits autumn or spring, when the weather can’t quite decide what it’s doing yet.
10. Paco Rabanne – Pure XSBuy now from Amazon
Launched in 2017, Pure XS by Paco Rabanne was inspired by the idea of the “ultimate seducteur” - a man who is confident and unafraid to take risks. That’ll be why this is such a bold and intriguing fragrance. It kicks off with a fresh, slightly zesty scent from green sap and ginger but as it settles in, you'll notice warm and sweet notes of vanilla, myrrh and a hint of cinnamon. It's a bit spicy while also smelling a bit sweet, so certainly makes an impression. If you want a cologne that's both intriguing and confident, this might be your go-to choice. It's just the right mix of daring and inviting.
11. Ralph Lauren - Polo RedBuy now from Ralph Lauren
This modern classic is like a shot of espresso on a hangover. Each spray kicks off with a zesty lemon and bergamot mixed with a spicy sprinkling of red saffron. These fresh top notes are like a refreshing splash of icy mint, swiftly followed by a warmer, woody base of cedar and vetiver. Think of it as a no-nonsense yet lively scent for everyday wear, year-round.
Before you delve into the best fragrances for men, it might be worth looking at what makes a fragrance smell a particular way. Understanding this will make the shopping process a lot more straightforward since you’ll begin to learn what types of fragrances you prefer and why.
The most important thing to know is that perfumes, colognes, aftershave, etc are generally composed of three layers of notes: top notes, heart notes, and base notes.
Top notes are the initial, fleeting scents you perceive when you first apply a fragrance. Fresh and light, these are meant to grab your attention but don't last long. Common top notes include citrus, herbal and light floral scents.
Heart (or “middle”) notes emerge as the top notes evaporate. They form the core of the fragrance and last longer. They’re often floral, fruity or spicy to add depth and complexity.
Last up are base notes - the foundation of the scent. They appear as the heart notes fade, providing a lasting scent. They’re commonly woody, musky and sweet.
By understanding these layers, you can choose a scent that matches your style and personality.
However, when testing out a fragrance, it's essential to let it settle on your skin for a while before purchasing, as the full bouquet of notes reveals itself over time.