Fragrance is an often overlooked aspect of men’s grooming and personal care. But it shouldn’t be. How a guy smells can be just as important as his appearance.
If you’re taking good care of your skin, hair and nails and are keeping yourself well-groomed, fragrance should be part of the overall process. Smelling good can add just the right finishing touch when it comes to self-care.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the 15 best cheap colognes for men.
Blu Atlas’ signature scent, Atlantis, is swiftly becoming the go-to cologne for many guys. In crafting this fragrance, premium brand Blu Atlas departed from the medicinal clean scents found in many men’s fragrances. They’ve created a scent that captures the complexity and elegance of the natural world. What’s more, this cologne is preservative-free, phthalate-free and made with clean ingredients.
Inspired by adventure, wanderlust and the scents and sights of coastal Bali, this is a cologne you’ll reach for again and again, no matter the occasion. The top floral and citrus notes in Atlantis are bright bergamot, lemon and blackcurrant, which set the stage for the warmer notes to come. Middle notes are lavender, clary sage, peach and apricot, which evoke sunshine and seashore. Finally, the base notes of orris, oakmoss, violet, ambrette seed and musk create a spicy, profoundly masculine finish.
An effortless scent to wear, Atlantis by Blu Atlas also has superb staying power. Dozens of online reviewers say Atlantis by Blu Atlas has become their everyday cologne, and they celebrate this unique yet timeless scent.
2. Polo by Ralph Lauren
This cologne has been a staple in the men’s fragrance world for decades. The numerous botanical notes in Polo create the sensation of a stroll in the great outdoors. With top notes of juniper berries, caraway, basil and coriander, the scent immediately evokes a fresh and sporty vibe before tapering off into the other fragrance notes.
The middle notes of pine tree needles, leather and chamomile gently unfold to reveal the base notes of oakmoss, patchouli and cedar. The entire effect gives Polo a robust, masculine vibe. There’s a reason Polo by Ralph Lauren has been such a popular fragrance since 1978: It’s easy to wear, long lasting and familiar.
3. Armani Acqua di Giò Eau de Toilette for Men
Armani Acqua di Giò Eau de Toilette for men is a classic men’s fragrance that evokes memories of the sea and sandy beaches. Its light, citrusy notes mixed with the pure mineral fragrance of sea salt creates the feeling of a day by the sea and sun-kissed skin. Many guys select Armani Acqua di Gio for their go-to summer scent, but it can be worn at any time of year.
With top notes of bergamot, neroli and green tangerine, the initial impression of Acqua di Giò is that it’s light and fresh. But as the top notes begin to fade, a masculine, woody aroma of rosemary, sweet persimmon and warm patchouli envelops you. This is a bright scent that will always create a fresh, clean feeling when you wear it. Online reviewers say the scent lasts up to 12 to 14 hours.
4. Hims Small Batch Scent
Coming in at slightly over the $50 mark, Hims Small Batch Scent may not be the cheapest cologne on this list, but it’s certainly affordable if you’re looking for a unique fragrance that will last a while. That’s because a small amount goes a long way with this cologne.
This distinctively Californian scent has a blend of unique fragrance notes that aren’t normally found together: pink peppercorn, salty air, tobacco and leather. There’s a lightness to Hims Small Batch Scent: It’s subtle enough that it won’t overpower, but those around you will certainly pay attention to this alluring scent.
5. Cool Water Eau de Toilette Spray by Davidoff
Davidoff’s Cool Water cologne has been a favorite for guys around the world for decades. It’s a pleasant cologne from every angle: It’s affordable, clean and fresh-smelling, and its packaging is elegant and classic. It may not be the fanciest of the best cheap colognes for men, but it’s accessible and has long-lasting wear.
Top notes include mint, coriander and rosemary, so the initial fragrance is green and bright. The middle and bottom notes are geranium, jasmine and neroli, which offer a citrusy scent but also have subtle white flower notes. Cool Water by Davidoff is an ideal scent for beach lovers.
6. Vince Camuto Eau de Toilette Spray for Men
When you don’t want to overwhelm the room yet want a scent that announces your presence, Vince Camuto Eau de Toilette Spray for Men is an excellent choice. With this scent, there’s no mistaking that you’re wearing cologne, but it won’t be so strong that it can offend the most sensitive nose. One online reviewer claims he was chased down by a woman asking what scent he was wearing.
The cologne’s top notes are black pepper, mandarin orange and bergamot, giving it a slightly spicy and sweet start. The middle and base notes of lavender, leather, nutmeg and sandalwood ease the fragrance into a mellower, more masculine scent. The result is a fragrance that gets noticed without making you overly noticeable.
7. Nautica Voyage
Voyage by Nautica has a bright and sunny aroma that gives a sparkling and effervescent feeling. It’s the perfect pick for an athletic man with a youthful spirit. The top notes are green and fruity with apple and green leaves. The middle and base notes are lotus, cedar, oakmoss and amber, creating a masculine woody profile that delightfully complements the floral notes.
Voyage is a popular scent because wearers enjoy the cool refreshing feeling. Online reviewers also mention it lasts for hours and hours. This is a great cologne for the price, and is a popular choice among adventurous and sporty guys. Feel free to wear Voyage by Nautica to work or to any type of social event where you want to smell great but not overpower the room.
8. Eternity Summer Daze by Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein’s Eternity Summer Daze Eau de Toilette Spray for Men is one of the best cheap colognes for men because of its popularity and price. Scores of reviewers cite this scent’s ocean-like, summery scent as one of their favorites when it comes to colognes that don’t break the bank.
The top notes in this fragrance are emblematic of summer: melon, juniper and chamomile. These fruity notes give way to medium and base notes of musk, hyacinth, mimosa and violet leaf, giving the fragrance a strong, earthy foundation. If you’re looking for a romantic summer sunset fragrance that warms your soul, this is the cologne for you.
9. No. 8 Bourbon & Oak Men’s Spray Cologne
This complex cologne by Cremo has a high-end fragrance without the high-end price. The scent is surprisingly long-lasting – one reviewer claims it lasts all day, even through sweaty workouts. Other reviews describe this scent as sophisticated: vanilla, but with a dark twist.
The fragrance profile for Cremo’s Bourbon & Oak is spicy and woody. There’s a distinct whiskey undertone and the base note is oak. These warm notes make this an ideal scent for fall and winter, but it can be worn at any time of year. If you’re in the market for a solid, intense fragrance that you’ll turn to again and again, Cremo’s Bourbon & Oak is an ideal choice.
10. Lucky You for Men by Lucky Brand
This casual, sporty scent has unique base notes of fresh bamboo stem. Bamboo gives the fragrance a clean, green, leafy smell, which many reviewers say reminds them of freshly cut grass, cucumber and mint. Some also describe its scent as soapy. After the top notes of grass and white blossoms wear down, the middle notes of cardamom, sandalwood and Brazilian rosewood emerge to complete the fresh-out-of-the-shower aroma.
For over two decades, Lucky You for Men by Lucky Brand has been a popular cologne choice for men. It’s an ideal all-occasion scent that isn’t going to break the bank and will last for hours on the skin.
11. Alfred Sung Hei Cologne for Men Eau de Toilette Spray
Uplifting and stimulating, the cologne is an ideal casual daytime fragrance for men. Spritz it on as part of your grooming routine before heading out the door for a day of fun. This scent focuses on nature’s five elements – air, water, fire, earth and space – to create a unique and fun scent.
The top notes of Hei by Alfred Sung Eau de Toilette Spray are distinctly green and floral, with dill, fennel and lavender notes. The base notes of tonka bean, mahogany, amber and cedar balance out the brightness and make it a subtly complex fragrance. Easy to wear for almost any occasion, this scent has some exquisite floral notes that dry down to a masculine richness.
12. Raw Pheromone Cologne for Men
If chemistry and pheromones are your type of thing, you shouldn’t miss Raw Attracting Pheromone Cologne for Men. Formulated with a patented and proven blend of scents to entice romantic partners, this has long been one of the best-selling men’s colognes on Amazon.
Designed to be attention grabbing, this cologne has top notes of elemi, bergamot and Sichuan pepper, giving it a slightly spicy and citrusy opening. The base notes are woody and spicy, with notes of orange blossom and patchouli.
RawChemistry, makers of Raw Pheromone Cologne for Men, recommend using this fragrance on pulse points like the neck, inner elbows and forearms. It’s also considered a moisturizing fragrance because this scent does not contain alcohol.
13. Armaf Club de Nuit Intense Man Cologne
Top notes of lemon, bergamot, pineapple, apple and blackcurrant create a clean, citrusy scent in Armaf’s Club de Nuit Intense Man. Once the top notes mellow out, the middle and base notes of jasmine, rose, musk and vanilla become more prominent, giving complexity to the cologne.
Club Nuit Intense Man by Armaf is often compared to much pricier colognes, but at a far lower price point. Reviewers say that when they wear this scent, they are almost guaranteed a compliment. They also note its long-lasting scent, which stays on throughout the day and well into the night. This cologne has it all: fragrance, long wear and an acceptable price point.
14. Burberry Brit for Him Eau de Toilette Spray
Leave it to British luxury fashion house Burberry of London to create a scent that’s as masculine as a trench coat and felt fedora worn on a foggy day. With ingredients like ginger, tonka bean and cedar wood, this cologne has fragrance notes that smell like an old money English country house without the steep price tag.
The top and middle notes of ginger, cardamom and green mandarin dry down to reveal the base notes of woody cedar. The result is the fragrance of a forest after a light rain, fresh but also slightly mysterious. Reviewers online tout this cologne as a tried-and-true masculine favorite, and it has become a go-to for gentlemen who are after elegance without a hefty price tag.
15. Chrome for Men Eau de Toilette Spray
Many reviewers describe Chrome for Men Eau de Toilette Spray by Azzaro as strong and clean. They love the bright, clear, attractive scent, which has no conflicting fragrance notes to make it overly complex. This proves that simple is sometimes the way to go, and is why this cologne has been popular since 1996.
The top notes are lemon, rosemary, bergamot and neroli. The middle notes are jasmine, oakmoss and coriander, and the base notes are tonka bean, Brazilian rosewood and cardamom. This cologne has been around for decades, and never seems to go out of fashion.
How to Choose a Cologne?
There are so many fragrance options out there that sometimes it can be hard to know where to begin when you’re hunting for a scent that suits you. First, you should recognize that there are different types of fragrances and each one has its own concentration of perfume oils and ingredients.
How do you know what to look for when choosing a fragrance? Fragrance is a blend of scented oils and a carrier liquid, such as alcohol, that stabilizes and preserves the scent. The ratio of oil to alcohol is what gives a fragrance its designation, from perfume (high concentration of oil) to eau de toilette (low concentration of oil).
Eau de cologne (also known simply as cologne) contains about 2-4% fragrance oil, which is diluted with alcohol. Cologne is a solid choice for any guy looking to smell good but who doesn’t want an overpowering scent that may linger after he leaves the room. Colognes are popular because they smell great and last for hours. There are thousands of colognes explicitly designed for men.
Another aspect affecting the popularity of cologne for men is affordability. Fashion brands, luxury apparel houses and designers all make pricey fragrances, but sometimes what you’re really paying for is the brand name or fancy packaging. When everything from food prices to gas is so expensive these days, spending several hundred dollars on a fragrance can seem over the top.
Men’s fragrances, just like women’s fragrances, run the gamut from overpriced and heavily marketed to cheap and relatively unknown. Most of us are looking for the hidden gems of the grooming and self-care industry that others have found worthwhile but that mainstream media doesn’t know about yet. These are the real bargains – awesome fragrances that make you smell like you spent a lot of money though you really didn’t.
The good news is that there are excellent options out there for anyone wanting to add an amazing, affordable scent to their daily grooming routine. You don’t have to worry about finding the right one. We did all the leg work for you.
What Is a Fragrance Profile?
When setting out to purchase cologne, you want to make sure you understand what you’re sniffing for. Once you get familiar with scent profiles, you may even be able to shop for fragrances online instead of in person. It takes some practice, but it’s worth the effort if you’re looking for an easy and quick way to enjoy a great scent that can be delivered to your door.
A fragrance profile is composed of fragrance notes and layers. Fragrance notes are created by the oils used in the scent. For example, sandalwood can make a cologne smell woodsy and masculine. Jasmine is a floral note that smells sweet. Other fragrance notes, like musk, give a fragrance a distinctive masculine yet fresh scent.
Three layers of notes make up a fragrance profile: top, middle and base. The top notes are the initial scents, or the first impression of a fragrance. Top notes (sometimes called evaporation notes) usually wear off quickly, giving way to the middle and base notes. The middle notes are often referred to as the heart of the fragrance. Base notes are the foundation of the scent, and can remain discernible until the end of the day, when they wear off.
Fragrances are usually categorized into four main scent families: woody, floral, amber and fresh. A scent with sandalwood, cedar and patchouli might fall into the woody category. A fragrance with jasmine, chamomile and mandarin orange might be characterized as fresh and floral.
The carrier liquid in a fragrance usually has no scent at all. It simply carries the fragrance oil onto the skin and is absorbed quickly. Alcohol, the most common carrier liquid, maintains the structure of a fragrance. Once the perfume is on the skin, it diffuses the scent and then dissipates. A few fragrances use water as a carrier liquid.
What determines a cologne’s price?
The price of a cologne is determined by the ingredients used in a fragrance’s formula, by how much of them are used, and by packaging, marketing and other factors. Most of the pricing in fragrances comes from the cost of raw materials. Certain rare and difficult-to-produce fragrance oils are among the most expensive raw materials in the world.
One of the most expensive fragrance ingredients is oud. Oud comes from the resin of certain agar trees that are infected with a type of mold. This mold-induced resin is extraordinarily rare, in high demand and hard to produce. It is sometimes referred to as liquid gold because it is so sought after and costly.
Some ingredients, like lavender oil, aren’t as expensive because they are easily available and less difficult to harvest and produce. Lavender is a universally beloved fragrance because it’s been popular for decades in everything from fragrance to shampoos to soaps.
Some fragrance manufacturers turn to synthetic duplicates when formulating their scents. For example, jasmine is a popular fragrance ingredient, but up to 80% of all jasmine used in fragrance is synthetic. Why? Because real jasmine is very expensive. It takes 2,000 pounds of jasmine flowers to produce just one pound of oil. Jasmine flowers are also fragile and their petals can bruise easily, so harvesting them is complex and labor-intensive.
Wear It well
When you’re ready to put on your cologne, think of the hot spots on your body. These are also referred to as pulse points. These areas, which include the chest, forearms, inner elbows, lower jaw, neck, shoulders and wrists, are where you should concentrate your fragrance application. As your body warms up the fragrance, it will release the fragrance notes and allow the scent to unfold in perfect harmony with your body’s chemistry.
For the best cologne effects, apply it to clean and dry skin. Hold the bottle three to six inches away from the pulse point if using a spray, and spritz it directly onto the skin. Two to four squirts are ideal. Don’t rub it in after applying; let it dry naturally onto your skin. If you have a bottle without a spray cap, add dabs of the fragrance to your desired pulse points and allow it to sink into your skin.
Ready, set…time to shop
Now that you have checked out the 15 best cheap colognes for men, it’s time to get shopping. Whether you shop online or in a store, you’ll know what you’re looking for and can almost imagine how these fragrances will smell without having to sample them. Once you’re more familiar with the fragrance profiles of woody, citrus, floral and spicy, you’ll have a better idea of what you like and don’t like.
Shopping for the right fragrance can take time, so try not to rush it. It’s also helpful to note that the way a scent smells immediately after you put it on is not necessarily how it will smell a few minutes or even hours later. The scent unfolds over time. So, when testing a fragrance, take an initial sniff and then wait a little to see how the fragrance profile develops. You may be surprised by how much you like a fragrance after it mellows onto the skin.
Remember, when you’re shopping for cologne, how it smells and the way it makes you feel are subjective. Sample a number of fragrances and find one that suits your lifestyle and aspirations. You should feel comfortable in your cologne just like you do in your clothes, and the scent should be a natural extension of your personality.
You should never feel like you have to stick with just one scent. You may have a favorite fall or winter scent that’s heavier and woodier, but when warmer weather arrives, you might fancy a citrus or floral fragrance profile. The time of year, your mood and even the activities you enjoy can all affect your choice of cologne. Whatever you decide, enjoy your fragrance journey. And remember, cologne doesn’t have to be expensive to smell great!