Summer colognes are like shorts: no one needs to wear them, but damn, do they feel good. After a long winter of cozy, warm smells, it’s refreshing to lighten up a bit and air things out.
The secret of summer colognes is that the ingredients should come from summer things: citrus, plants, flowers. There are even colognes with “marine” notes, which is a fancy fragrance-person speak for trying to capture the smell of water. This usually translates into the smell of the beach, which if that’s not summery, I don’t know what is.
The best way to choose a summer scent is to pick something with notes you’re already familiar with or are known for wearing. Chances are, since we’re talking men’s cologne here, those notes are musk, wood, vetiver, or leather. You know, man stuff. Summer colognes will have those same elements, but blend them with lighter fare to make them less heavy and more seasonally appropriate.
Most summer colognes usually fall into a category called Fougère, which basically means fresh. These scents are herbaceous, sharp, and sometimes literally smell green. Think of them as your summer vacation colognes—perfect for when you want a little change of scenery. Added value: they can actually make you feel like you’re outside even when you’re not. But whether you go full-on fougère or just dip your toe in, the best summer colognes all do one thing, allow you to lighten up. Check out the 15 best summer colognes for men to wear this year.
Best Fresh Fragrance
Chanel Bleu de Chanel Eau de Parfum Fragrance
Bleu de Chanel is the scent of a gentleman. It’s crisp, refined, and elegant, but not like an old person. It doesn’t rely on musk the way some more traditional “gentleman” colognes do and instead uses top notes of citrus and mint to bring a burst of freshness layered with woody green notes.
Best Marine Fragrance
Polo Ralph Lauren Deep Blue Parfum
Polo Blue is a summer cologne classic, but the new version Deep Blue is even more summery, if you can believe it. It has all the classic marine notes of the original, but adds in Hawaiian Green Mango for a tropical vibe and something called CristalFizz, that adds a crispness meant to mimic a spray of ocean on your face.
Best Cheap Summer Cologne
adidasSport STRK Men’s Cologne
You’d think ingredients like green apple and lavender would make Adidas STRK overly sweet. In reality, it’s a modern, clean smell that’s the perfect replacement to your post-workout body spray. Keep it in your gym bag or backpack and spray liberally whenever you need a little refresh.
Best Outdoorsy Fragrance
Bottega Veneta Illusione for Him Eau de Toilette
All the summer fragrance all-stars are represented in Bottega Veneta Illusione For Him: woods, citrus, and vetiver. If the smell of a hike through a forest could be bottled, it would smell like this cologne, which uses a mix of lemon, fir and fougère notes to create the feeling of an afternoon spent in nature.
Best Citrus Fragrance
Tom Ford Costa Azzurra Acqua Cologne
Costa Azzurra Acqua is crisp and bright (thanks to lemon and something called cistus), while also fresh and woody (that’s the juniper berry and myrtle). A spritz of this cologne instantly transports you: it’s like sunbathing on the deck of a yacht, then diving straight into the ocean to cool off.
Best Fougère Fragrance
Calvin Klein Eternity For Men Eau de Parfum
Calvin Klein Eternity is a textbook fougere and this new version is no exception. Like the color of the juice, this fragrance smells green with a capital G. The ingredients list reads like a garden inventory (apple, sage, lavender, geranium) and makes you smell like you’ve been working in one all day (in a good way).
Best Long-Lasting Summer Cologne
Armani Acqua Di Gio Pour Homme Profundo
Another classic summer cologne, Acqua Di Gio, has been reinterpreted for 2020. This Profundo version uses botanicals like rosemary, lavender, and cypress mixed with woods like patchouli to create a striking and grown-up scent. It’s summery enough to wear all season long, but still be appropriate when the vacation is over.
Best Summer Night Cologne
Moschino Toy Boy
When you first spray on Moschino Toy Boy, it smells fresh and floral because of a heavy dose of Italian bergamot. But the longer you wear it, it dries down to something deeper and sexier—that’s the middle note of clove and the base notes of amber and sandalwood. It’s like going straight to the club from the beach.
Best Unexpected Scent
Byredo Eleventh Hour Eau de Parfum
Byredo colognes are cerebral, unexpected, and totally photogenic. Eleventh Hour, which was inspired by the end of the world, is the olfactory equivalent of wearing a really, really cool outfit. Bergamot, tonka bean, wild fig, and rum sound like they’d make a weird cocktail, but they give this cologne a masculine depth.
Best Summer Musk Fragrance
Le Labo Tonka 25 Eau de Parfum Spray
This scent answers the question: how do you make a summer musk? And the answer is: put it through the ice cream machine. Tonka, which smells like vanilla, rounds out musk to make it lighter and less oppressive and, in this scent, a shot of orange flower screams summer. It’s almost like wearing a Dreamsicle.
Best Leather Fragrance
Memo Paris Moroccan Leather Cologne
Memo Paris Moroccan Leather contains a lot of leather, but it’s layered with florals like orange blossom and and iris to lighten it up for summer. There are also greens like vetiver and spices like pepper which make you smell like a world traveler, even if you’ve never left your hometown.
Best Masculine Summer Fragrance
Jo Malone London Huntsman Birch & Black Pepper Cologne
Colognes don’t have to be entirely green and fresh to be appropriate for summer. Case in point: Jo Malone Huntsman Birch & Black Pepper. Created in collaboration with the Savile Row tailors Huntsman
, this woody, spicy scent is traditional, like the musk you wear in the winter, but it’s lighter and won’t overpower your summer vibes.
Best Woody Summer Fragrance
Carlen Parfums Aztec Noir Fragrance
Inspired by “Pre-Colombian purification rituals,” Carlen’s Aztec Noir is smoky without being heavy, like sitting on the edge of a cedarwood campfire. There’s also a heady mix of palo santo and incense which adds an air of mystery and begs anyone around you to lean in and give you a sniff.
Best Luxury Summer Cologne
Frédéric Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire Parfum
Like the name suggests, Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire puts vetiver front and center to give this cologne a fresh, summery kick. In addition to a heavy dose of the herb, there is sandalwood and cedar, which give this luxurious scent a bright, young vibe. It’s renting a beachside luxury villa in fragrance form.
Best Subtle Scent
DedCool Ivy Blanc Cologne
It’s hard to find good natural colognes that don’t leave you smelling like you work at a food co-op. Los Angeles-based DedCool cracked the code with Ivy Blanc, which is spicy (from pink peppercorn) and deep (from incense) and masculine without being aggressive (from oakmoss).
via 15 Best Summer Colognes for Men 2020