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The best aftershave and fragrances for men in 2022

Find your perfect scent with our pick of the best aftershaves and fragrances for men

The right fragrance can make you feel more confident, help people remember you – and maybe even help you find romance or a life-long partner. We’re not just talking about scents for women, either.

The market for men’s perfumery is just as saturated – if you’ll excuse the pun. So, from Tom Ford and Diesel to Prada and Hugo Boss, this is where we’ll guide you through the best choices for any occasion, whatever your budget.

Below you’ll find our buying guide, where we explain the difference between perfume, eau de toilette and aftershave – and why rubbing scent into your skin can actually dull the aroma.

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How to choose the best aftershave for you

What’s the difference between aftershave, eau de toilette, eau de parfum and parfum?

It all comes down to the quantity of scented oils in your fragrance. The higher the concentration, the longer the scent will stay on your skin and the more expensive the fragrance is likely to be.

Aftershave contains between 1% and 3% oil, alongside soothing ingredients like aloe vera, which calms your skin post-shaving. It’s thanks to this magical combination that aftershave is the only fragrance designed for direct application to your face. Expect the scent to last a couple of hours at most.

Eau de toilette is the best-selling scent strength in most Western countries. It has between 4% and 8% perfume (sometimes a bit more), and the aroma lasts a few hours. It’s perfect for wearing to work, and those times when you want a more discreet scent.

Eau de parfum, otherwise known as perfume, is between 8% and 20% pure fragrance (usually closer to 15%). You don’t need much as it can be quite strong, but it’s a great choice for wearing on a trip out. Expect each application to last for between four and five hours.

Parfum is the purest and most expensive of all perfumes, with between 20% and 40% perfume oil. Its scent is likely to last six hours or more, and sometimes into the next day. There aren’t so many of these fragrances on the market, and as such they’re generally worn on special occasions.

How should I wear perfume?

Less is usually more. If you only follow one rule, don’t over-apply. With the exception of aftershave, which you apply directly to the face, a little on the inside of your wrists, your chest and the base of your neck is best. If you’re using a spray fragrance, hold the bottle a few inches from your skin, and however you’re applying, make sure your skin is dry first. Never splash; instead, hold your finger against the bottle opening, tip it over, then dab. Don’t rub it in as it can dull the fragrance.

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The best aftershave and fragrances for men

1. Infusion Mandarine Eau De Parfum by Prada: Best unisex fragrance

Price: £105 | Buy now from John Lewis

This stunning unisex perfume was launched this year, although the Infusion collection of which it’s a part has been on sale since 2007. Thoroughly refreshing, it has top notes of green mandarin, mandarin leaf and orange peel; orange blossom and neroli its heart, and warming opoponax rounding things off at the base. There’s a rare energy to this perfume, which leaves you feeling glowing, vibrant and ready to face the day, whatever it may bring. Subtly exotic, but not intense, it’s thoroughly luxurious and more sumptuous than most of the citrus perfumes currently available.

Key specs – Volume: 100ml; Type: Eau de parfum; Scent family: Citrus

Buy now from John Lewis

2. Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Mandorlo di Sicilia: Best summer fragrance

Price: £72 | Buy now from John Lewis

This fresh, light scent will transport you to sunny Sicily. Simply close your eyes and imagine yourself wandering through its almond groves. Acqua di Parma has been producing scent since 1916, and its modern classics, like this unisex offering launched in 1999, have kept it right on trend. It might be a little sweet for some, but don’t write it off on first whiff; like many fragrances, it needs a few minutes to reveal its hidden depths. With top notes of star anise, bergamot and orange, heart notes of almond and ylang-ylang, and a base of vanilla, white musk, tolu balsam and cedarwood, it’s got plenty going on, while its clean, citrus finish makes it both zesty and graceful.

Key specs – Volume: 75ml; Type: Eau de toilette; Scent family: Floral/fresh

Buy now from John Lewis

3. Jo Malone Huntsman Birch & Black Pepper Cologne: Best for contrasts

Price: £120 | Buy now from Jo Malone

The four-scent Huntsman range is new for this season. Birch and black pepper is just one combination produced by perfumer Jo Malone in collaboration with tailor Huntsman Savile Row. It sits alongside amber and patchouli (decadent, sensual), assam and grapefruit (lively, full-bodied), and whisky and cedarwood (daring, bold). Jo Malone says it epitomises Britain today, with ‘its rebellious roots in punk, yet with an enduring respect for tradition.’ We like the contrasts, in which the spicy cardamom and black pepper are balanced by smoky birch. Definitely suited to the dapper dresser, it’s sophisticated and non-conformist – and best of all, unique.

Key specs – Volume: 100ml; Type: Cologne; Scent family: Spicy

Buy now from Jo Malone

4. Armani Acqua di Gio: Most recognisable men’s fragrance

Price: £58 | Buy now from John Lewis

When Armani created this perfume in 1996 he was, he said, inspired by a holiday on the Italian island of Pantelleria. Instantly recognisable, it remains an iconic scent. Armani says it’s an aroma of ‘freedom, full wind and water’ and you can’t deny the very clever, nuanced balance of sweetness, salt and warmth. Imagine bitter citrus, aromatic herbs, sharp spices and a woody, musky base. It feels surprisingly modern, given that it’s already more than 20 years old. One of the editors at Allure describes it as ‘a dream boyfriend in a bottle’. You can’t ask for more than that.

Key specs – Volume: 40ml; Type: Eau de parfum; Scent family: Fresh

Buy now from John Lewis

5. Dior Sauvage: Best evening scent

Price: £55 | Buy now from John Lewis

An unusual, heady mix hovering between woody and floral, Sauvage says, ‘I’m masculine, but also in touch with my feminine side.’ No wonder Dior picked Johnny Depp as the poster boy for its 2015 launch. Inspired by wild open spaces, big blue skies and the desert sun, Dior describes it as ‘fresh, raw and noble.’ Not to be muddled with Eau Sauvage, which was launched in 1966, this scent, created by François Demachy, is a world away thanks to its natural radiance. You could get away with wearing it for work, but we think it’s better for the evening.

Key specs – Volume: 60ml; Type: Eau de toilette; Scent family: Woody/floral

Buy now from John Lewis

6. Tom Ford Noir: Most sophisticated fragrance

Price: £74 | Buy now from John Lewis

American designer Tom Ford’s fragrances are exotic, nuanced and sophisticated – and this surpasses all others. His fourth signature fragrance, he describes it as urban and sensuous and who are we to disagree? It’s full-bodied and mysterious, and far too subtle to leave a potent trail in your wake. Noir balances patchouli, black pepper and nutmeg with the floral notes of musk and vanilla. It’s long-lasting, comforting to wear, and elegant.

Key specs – Volume: 50ml; Type: Eau de parfum; Scent family: Spicy

Buy now from John Lewis

7. Cool Water by Davidoff: Best aquatic fragrance

Price: £20 | Buy now from Argos

Cool Water has been selling well since 1988, but it’s a world away from the crude, in-your-face aromas typical of that decade of greed and excess. In fact, perfumer Pierre Bourdon’s creation was pioneering, kick-starting the trend towards aquatic themes. No wonder it’s been consistently one of the brand’s biggest sellers. With top notes of mint, rosemary, lavender and coriander, heart notes of jasmine, geranium and sandalwood, and base notes of cedarwood, musk, amber and tobacco, it’s both fresh and masculine. Good for all ages, it even has a relatively wallet-friendly price tag.

Key specs – Volume: 125ml; Type: Eau de toilette; Scent family: Fresh

8. Tonic by Hugo Boss: Best daytime fragrance

Price: £43 | Buy now from Amazon

Citrus is a popular choice for men’s fragrances. This is especially true in those designed for daytime wear, as it keeps things fresh and sharp. Citrus-inspired scents are often lighter and more refreshing, so are good for men who want to dip a toe into the world of fragrance, rather than dive right in. Tonic gives you top notes of grapefruit, bitter orange, lemon and apple. Ginger and cinnamon sit at its heart, while base notes of sandalwood give it some depth and earthiness. It’s a classy option for daytime use, whether you’re going to work or lunch.

Key specs – Volume: 100ml; Type: Eau de toilette; Scent family: Citrus

9. Polo Blue by Ralph Lauren for Men: Most masculine fragrance

Price: £77 | Buy now from John Lewis

Unveiled in 2003, Polo Blue is another long-time bestseller. The chic blue bottle promises class, and doesn’t disappoint. With its top notes of mandarin orange, melon and cucumber, and middle notes of geranium and herbs, there’s musk and woodiness at the base. These combine to produce an aquatic, fresh, highly seductive scent. It’s cool and light, with a strong, slightly spicy aroma of masculinity. Producing such a combination is no mean feat. Polo Blue is a versatile choice, likely to impress at work, and distinctive enough to wear on an evening out.

Key specs – Volume: 75ml; Type: Eau de parfum; Scent family: Fresh

Buy now from John Lewis

10. Diesel Only the Brave Tattoo: Best fragrance for winter 

Price: £29 | Buy now from Amazon

This graffiti-themed bottle hints at boldness and rebellion, which is exactly what you get with this stand-out scent, well suited to younger men (or at least the young at heart). Its top notes are zesty and fruity – notably apple and mandarin – while things balance out at its heart, where you’ll find sage and bourbon pepper. But it’s at the base that the dark, daring and punk-like nature comes through, courtesy of its characteristic patchouli and tobacco notes. Don’t go for this if you’re after something elegant and discreet, but do snap up a bottle if you want an energetic, powerful, slightly naughty fragrance. It’s a great choice for winter.

Key specs – Volume: 50ml; Type: Eau de toilette; Scent family: Fruity