Best Colognes for Young Men (Without Feeling Self-Conscious)

You're not a kid anymore. You're getting serious about your studies, work, and relationships. You're also taking yourself more seriously and want the world to know. You want the confidence and self-assuredness that comes with flawless self-presentation.

While we can't promise you everything. We can make you smell damn good. And that goes a long way. Smell ties into our subconscious mind in a way that few other senses can. People literally judge you based on your smell — whether they want to or not. And the weird part is, your own smell even affects how you perceive yourself. Guys talk about feeling braver, happier or more relaxed based on their fragrance of the day. Life is hard enough as a young guy, use this to your advantage.

Which Cologne Should I Pick?


It can be overwhelming to look for a fragrance. There's just so many. They vary from light and sweet scents, while others can be muskier and heavy fragrances. Lighter and sweeter scents communicate an airy and light personality, while the muskier scents can communicate masculinity. The preference depends on age, social status and even the occasion. Your sense of smell actually changes as you age so in general, younger men tend to prefer sweeter scents, while older men prefer heavier, spicier fragrances. This is just a rule of thumb though — feel free to explore and see what fits you best.

Another thing to take into consideration when choosing a cologne is that each scent will be worn differently by each person. Because the skin is constantly giving off different hormones and chemicals, the perfumes and colognes react differently to each person. Stress, mood and environment also play a role in the effect of the cologne. While it's rare, every once in awhile I'll encounter a cologne that everyone is raving about but just goes flat on my skin. If you're eyeing a new fragrance but are unsure, it might be worth a trip to test it a department store before you plunge in for a blind buy.

All that said...here are my recommendations for a young man starting out wearing cologne.


The True Classic:
Cool Water By Davidoff For Men Eau De Toilette Spray

Cool Water EDT is one of the best-selling fragrances of all time and I think every man should own it at least once. The scent was revolutionary when it came out and has spawned countless imitations. It is a combination of fresh aquatic scent with a sharp masculine nuance. The smell reminds of fresh salt air. The top notes include sea water, mint and lavender, which are complemented by green notes, tobacco and rosemary. This one is truly an all-ages mens fragrance.

Ages: 12+
4.2oz bottle


Smell Like a Man:
Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce Cologne

Feeling nervous that wearing cologne will be too girly? Fierce By Abercrombie & Fitch is a good way to put that fear behind you — their brand is all about expressing a young man's personality. Even the packaging literally shows that. The woody aroma consists of musk, fir and lemon. This has no floral notes, so I advise it for people who want to avoid any hint of the feminine in their scent.

It's definitely a man's man cologne. I'd say from late-teens, 16+ would enjoy it. The one drawback is the price-point is a bit high for a young guy, but never fear, we have some more budget friendly options as well.

Ages: 16+
3.4oz bottle


Most Compliments from the Girls:
Curve by Liz Claiborne for Men

Curve by Liz Claiborne for Men is a floral woody musk fragrance. The key ingredients are teas, tonka bean, sandalwood and tobacco flower. Although I think the packaging could be more appealing, it does not match the fragrance itself. The good news is, no one has to see it. I would recommend this to anyone on a first date. It's probably the cheapest AND most complimented cologne in my collection. At this price, it's definitely worth a try!

See our full review of Curve colognes here

Ages: 15+
4.2oz bottle


Most Versatile:
Lucky You Lucky Brand Cologne Spray For Men

Lucky You for Men cologne is a woody mossy fragrance with a masculine sharpness, while still having a touch of citrus to mellow it out. The most prominent scents in this particular cologne is clover, cotton flower and sandalwood. I think this scent is perfect for those who want a masculine scent without it being too heavy and pretentious. While the price-point and sweetness make me think it's marketed for younger men, it's one that's versatile enough to be worn by all ages.

Ages 14+
3.4oz bottle


Best for Everyday:
Tommy Hilfiger Eau De Cologne Spray for Men

Tommy EDT is a great daily cologne — it's pretty subtle so you can wear it to the gym, running errands or just hanging out. It is from the fougere fragrance group with notes of lavender, geranium, moss and wood. In keeping with Tommy Hilfiger's American roots, they attempted to incorporate scents from ingredients found across the U.S.

To learn more, read our full review

Ages 14+
3.4oz bottle


Best Designer:
Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio Eau De Toilette Spray for Men

Acqua Di Gio for Men is a classic fragrance that every man should have in his collection. It was inspired by a vacation in Pantellerie, Italy that Armani had. The scent encompasses the wide open air and the abyss of the Mediterranean. In a spray is contained the warmth of the sun and the wildness of the sea. With a base of white musk, oak moss and amber, the scent is complimented by the citrusy and summer scent of salt water. This is a great cologne that's subtle enough for work but polished enough for evening. The main issue is it's incredibly popular.

Ages 16+
3.4oz bottle


First Job:
Versace Man Eau Fraiche by Gianni Versace

If you want a light, fresh aquatic but want something more unique that Gio, try Versace Man instead. It encompasses the waters of the Mediterranean along with amber, musk and saffron. The top notes are lemon, bergamot and rosewood. There is a slight spiciness in the heart of this fragrance which gives it a subtle sophistication. While it gives off a young vibe, the scent also hints at maturity and I think is the perfect blend for 20 year-old. Great for a first job.

Ages 16+
6.4oz bottle



Best for a Night Out:
Paco Rabanne 1 Million Eau de Toilette Spray for Men

One Million by Paco Rabanne is well-known for its sexy, masculine scent and eye-catching packaging. This is one of the more seductive scents in my list and I'd say it's for the 20+ crowd. With base notes of leather, amber and wood, it is definitely an exotic and sensual fragrance. It's definitely a date-night favorite.

Ages 20+
3.4oz bottle



Conclusion:

If you're picking out your first fragrance or your 100th, the good thing is there's no one perfect answer — choosing a cologne that fits the occasion, your personality and style is the most important thing. I think all these are good, solid choices for young men. If you want to try before you buy, most department store like Nordstrom, Macy's, or Kohls have counters where you can sample colognes for free.