The Best Men’s Cologne Scents, Backed by Science

Cologne on table.

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Finding the right cologne is tough for guys. We don’t have a clue what smells women like so how can we know which cologne will get us the best results? We can know by asking women, of course.

Media outlets and cologne companies have worked hard in recent years to gather feedback on which smells make the best men’s cologne. So here they are: the best men’s cologne scents according to women.

1. Lavender

Have you ever noticed the abundance of lavender-scented products available? It turns out that lavender is a soothing scent with anxiety-relieving properties. These qualities are perfect for a men’s cologne for a first date. A lavender cologne will help relieve the jitters and show your woman that you pay attention to small details. 

Plus, people don’t seem to get tired of lavender. It’s a common scent used in candles, soaps, lotions, pillows and even toilet paper. You can’t go wrong with this smell for your cologne

2. Vanilla

Vanilla is another popular scent among household products, and it makes a great cologne smell because of its sweet and playful qualities. Some men even have a testosterone-linked genetic mutation that makes their sweat smell like vanilla – a mutation similar to other pheromones found in the wild. This characteristic suggests that vanilla is more noticeable and attractive in social settings than other scents.

Besides its potential genetic advantage, vanilla reminds us of pleasant things, like ice cream and candy. It’s an enjoyable smell overall that everyone can appreciate.

3. Mint

We usually think of mint as a solution for bad breath, but it also has medicinal properties and a noteworthy backstory based in Greek mythology. A beautiful water nymph named Minte seduced the god of the underworld Hades, so Hades’ wife Persephone grew jealous and turned Minte into a plant. The plant smelled so pleasant that it kept seducing people anyway, and the scent remains attractive to this day.

According to the 2001 book What Flavor is Your Personality by Dr. Alan Hirsch, strong food odors such as mint create the greatest sexual response in both men and women. Put Dr. Hirsch’s study to the test with a mint-scented cologne!

4. Cucumber

Cucumber was another odor mentioned in Dr. Hirsch’s book as an effective food pheromone. It smells like a wet backyard after a heavy morning rainfall. The scent is cool, refreshing and just as common among household products as lavender and vanilla. It also doesn’t overpower the room like other colognes. It’s subtle enough to blend in with the environment but strong enough to make a good impression.

5. Café Scents

Café scents consist of the little things you smell inside a coffee shop: coffee grounds, pastries, cocoa, pumpkin spice, etc. Women seem to enjoy this collection of scents judging by how much they love cafés, so why not get a café-scented cologne? Any fragrance we mentioned will do, but the sweeter options like cocoa work best. Chocolate is a known aphrodisiac, and the sweet aromas of sugary baked goods are also appealing.

Just be careful you don’t go overboard with a cafe-scented cologne. Sweet smells can easily overpower the room. Use the product sparingly, so you just get a hint of the odor, not a full dose.

6. Citrus

Strong citrus scents like lemon, orange and grapefruit are clean and full of energy, which is why they’re so common in cleaning products. Scientists have also found that they increase libido in both men and women. Oranges specifically increase oxytocin levels, reduce stress and improve cardiovascular functions, all of which contribute to a higher sex drive. 

Although orange or lemon isn’t the first cologne scent you’d think of using, the proof is in the results. Citrus is a powerful odor that grabs your attention and gets the job done.

7. Pine

Pine is a more traditional and masculine option among men’s cologne scents, and for a good reason. It has a unique combination of sweet sap and rough woody notes that you can’t find anywhere else. This pairing comes from terpenes, chemical compounds in evergreen trees with soothing anti-inflammatory effects. 

Take advantage of this natural quality and get yourself a pine-scented cologne. Although it won’t have the same medicinal effect as the real thing, the scent will be just as appealing.

8. Black Licorice

Another scent from Dr. Hirsch’s book makes an appearance on our list, this time with the lesser-known and appreciated black licorice. It primarily works on men, but the licorice roots and anise seeds also contribute to female arousal. These main ingredients contain organic, earthy scents that appeal to our basic human instincts. Try a licorice-scented cologne and see if you notice a change in behavior!

9. Sandalwood

Sandalwood is an agreeable smell with notes from bark and roots that makes for a fantastic men’s cologne. A 2006 study from Planta Medica found that sandalwood boosted mood and arousal in humans. The odor elevated the subjects’ heart rates, blood pressure and skin electroconductivity levels, all of which are prime indicators of aroused behavior.

Sandalwood also contains hints of odors found in pleasant environments, such as beaches and forests. It’s a masculine scent that evokes both ruggedness and sophistication.

10. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a unique scent. It’s sweet like chocolate and a bit spicy like pumpkin, creating an interesting combination that works best in the winter months. According to a study from Appetite, subjects who smelled cinnamon during the holiday season had greater feelings of comfort than those who smelled cinnamon during the summer. 

If the results of this study are accurate, you have to think strategically. Lavender and citrus might work better in the spring and summer, but once Thanksgiving rolls around, break out your cinnamon-scented cologne to maximize the effects.

Step up Your Cologne Game

As boys become men and graduate from Axe body spray to cologne, the scents we choose should change as well. Enough of the made-up “Swagger” and “Sport” scents. Choose an organic fragrance that appeals to humanity’s basic instincts.

The ten smells we discussed will contribute to a pleasant environment that will boost your confidence and impress all the women in the room. Step up your cologne game!

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