What’s in a scent? Quite a lot, as it happens. According to research, our noses are capable of detecting millions of distinct aromas, and our sense of smell is estimated to be many thousands of times more sensitive than our vision.

Scent can also trigger memories and emotional responses. Have you ever been transported to another place or time by a smell? Perhaps fresh cut grass has reminded you of weekend cricket games, or vanilla of your grandmother’s kitchen?

Given that scent has so much significance, it’s surprising that, currently, fewer men wear fragrances than women. It may be even more surprising when you consider scent makes people more attractive to others. Whether you are re-entering the dating sphere or rediscovering your partner, the way you smell can have an impact. It may also affect your confidence, in the same way that an outfit can.

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together some top tips for choosing a fragrance – as well as some of the best aftershaves and colognes for men in 2024.

Top tips for choosing a fragrance

Top tips for choosing a fragrance

Aftershave vs cologne – which is better?

Aftershave and cologne are probably the first two things to spring to mind when talking about scent for men – but what’s the difference?

Cologne is richer in essential oils than aftershave because its function is purely to be a perfume. This means that its aroma is longer lasting than an aftershave, which has post-shave skin-soothing at its heart.

Although increasing numbers of men now have facial hair, you can still incorporate fragrance into your overall style, whether you’re clean-shaven or not.

Choose a low-alcohol scent

If you shave, it’s worth considering that many aftershaves have high alcohol levels. These could have a drying effect on mature skin, which may already be prone to dehydration. Choosing low- or no-alcohol products instead can help to protect the skin’s natural oils.

Some scented ingredients, including essential oils, can also be irritants, so if your mature skin tends to be sensitive, it can be better to choose hypoallergenic aftershaves.

If skin texture is a concern, try looking for products believed to boost firmness and elasticity – for example, ones containing vitamins and antioxidants. Think about your skin type too – some aftershaves may be too astringent for sensitive skin.

Test scents on your skin for best results

Any scent you wear will be particular to you. Even if you get a whiff of a delicious fragrance on someone else, this doesn’t mean that it will suit your skin – or that its chemistry, combined with your chemistry, will be a perfect match.

For this reason, fragrance sprayed on pieces of cardboard in department stores isn’t a reliable way to choose a scent. It’s often better to spray it on your skin instead and leave it for a few hours so that you can decide how it works on you.

Remember that your ‘signature’ scent can change

The idea of a day-in, day-out, signature scent has a certain fuss-free appeal – but, just as you don’t wear the same outfit for every occasion, be open to the idea of having a couple of different colognes or aftershaves to suit how you’re feeling and what you’re doing.

The season may also make a difference – some fragrances suit warmer weather better than others, while the same may be said of certain fragrances in darker months.

Size matters

Remember that scents don’t last forever. You can extend their lifespan with savvy storage – for example, dark, cool environments are better than shelves or window ledges that receive direct sunlight. But, if you are only an occasional fragrance-wearer or one who likes to switch between scents, buying products in smaller sizes can help avoid waste.

What scents are suitable for the mature man?

What scents are suitable for the mature man

The simple answer is – whatever makes you happy! As noted above, fragrance has a profound effect on mood and emotion, so it’s important to choose something that evokes good feelings in you.

That said, many men start to move away from light, citrusy notes and towards deeper, more earthy tones as they mature. They may start to favour deeper, woody, spicy, and musky tones: think tobacco, whiskey, woodsmoke, and leather.

Fragrance notes to look out for, in this case, include amber, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, sandalwood, patchouli, oakmoss, and musk.

However, many of the most alluring scents combine these earthy, masculine tones with brighter, zestier ones for a winningly complex combination.

8 of the best aftershaves and colognes for men in 2024

1. Tom Ford – Oud Wood

When choosing a scent as a mature man, doesn’t it make sense to look to a mature man for inspiration? Tom Ford has long been esteemed for his sartorial savvy and effortless elegance, and the rich, sophisticated sense of Oud Wood captures this in a bottle.

Rosewood, cardamom, and Chinese pepper form the top notes, while Oud, sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla, and amber comprise the heart and base notes.

One user on the fragrance community Parfumo describes it as “A very oriental and woody scent with fine spices … stylish and noble. I see this fragrance more on people with a certain life experience. It appears mature [and] masculine.”

2. Proraso Aftershave Lotion

When we think about men who wear their age well, Italian men frequently spring to mind because of their enduring style and sophistication. No wonder George Clooney has owned a home there since 2002!

Proraso is an Italian brand with an affordable price point and a range of high-quality shaving products. Its Refreshing and Toning Aftershave Lotion has an invigorating mint and eucalyptus scent and contains menthol and allantoin (extracted from the comfrey plant), which have calming and cooling properties.

According to men’s style blog Dapper and Groomed, Proraso’s After Shave Lotion “isn’t just a post-shave routine; it’s an essential step that completes the entire experience.

“The lotion soothes and refreshes my skin, leaving it feeling revitalised and smooth [and] the scent is quintessentially Italian – a refined, masculine fragrance that lingers pleasantly.”

3. Dior – Sauvage

Dior’s Sauvage was released in 2015 (with Johnny Depp as its face) and, according to GQ magazine, it quickly became the UK’s biggest-selling scent.

It’s a complex scent, with citrusy top notes of lemon, cumin, bergamot, and rosemary coupled with herbal, floral, earthy, and musky notes – such as patchouli, orris, jasmine, sandalwood, and amber – beneath.

The GQ article quotes Mia Collins, of London department store Harrods, describing Sauvage as an “exquisite scent. The fresh and captivating top notes give way to a warm, sexy, enigmatic and sophisticated base.”

4. Le Labo Aftershave Balm

Founded in 2006, New York-based Le Labo is celebrated for its use of sustainably sourced, raw ingredients and its hand-blended formulations. It also has a personalisation service, which allows you to have a name (up to 23 characters) added to the label – a lovely touch for a special birthday.

The brand’s aftershave balm is like creamy silk, containing extracts of ultra-hydrating and soothing sunflower and avocado, which post-shave skin soaks up gratefully. Redness dissipates almost instantly and the formulation leaves no greasy residue.

Le Labo’s scent is delightful too – a subtle blend of bergamot and tonka bean with floral notes of violet and lavender.

5. Light Blue Pour Homme by Dolce and Gabbana

Originally launched as a scent for women in 2001, Dolce and Gabbana quickly gathered that they were on to a winner and released a version for men, harnessing juniper, bitter orange, and oakmoss in favour of vibrant citrus and florals.

To that end, the scent’s top notes include Sicilian mandarin and ‘frozen grapefruit peel,’ as well as juniper and bergamot. Under these, musk wood, oakmoss, rosewood, Szechuan pepper, and rosemary give this scent a vivid complexity.

A contributor to the discussion boards on online fragrance resource Fragrantica, describes Light Blue as “a super fresh citrusy powerbomb, supported by aromatic and woody nuances to bring it all together. It’s really a nice versatile classic and you can never go wrong with it.”

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6. Paco Rabanne – 1 Million

With its earthy, spicy scent, this is a popular choice for mature men. It’s frequently described as seductive, so could be a good choice for a special night out – especially in the cooler months, when the temperatures pair nicely with the musky intensity of the fragrance.

It blends cinnamon, rose, blond leather, patchouli, white woods, and amber under a top of blood mandarin and frosted grapefruit, spiked with a surprising and beguiling hint of peppermint.

According to fashion and lifestyle site FashionbeansPaco Rabanne 1 Million, “envelopes its wearer in a heady haze of warm, sweet spices that grab attention and leave a lasting impression.”

7. Truefitt & Hill

With its origins in the opening years of the 1800s, Truefitt & Hill represents the legacy of London barber William Francis Truefitt, and the court perfumer of King George III’s court, William Hill. The brand has been beloved by royalty over many years and recognised with numerous Royal Warrants.

Unlike many fragrance and skincare brands, Truefitt & Hill products are designed exclusively with men in mind. This, plus its long and illustrious history, makes it a great choice for mature men looking for an aftershave with some gravitas.

Its range of sophisticated fragrances includes the calming Trafalgar, which contains soothing aloe vera and is light and easily absorbed. Scent-wise, expect citrusy lemongrass and orange, spiced with nutmeg and clove, while amber, wood, and musk provide an earthy sensuality.

The iconic 1805 variety is similarly soothing, but scented with refreshing citrus and floral notes, with amber and musk at its base. For those who can’t decide, travel often, or simply like variety, there are also sample packs available.

8. Givenchy – Gentleman Paris

What would an article about male sophistication be without a nod to Paris? This Givenchy fragrance has been described as suiting a man who has “a headstrong identity … [is] determined and confident … [and] proud.”

Presented in a sleek, black bottle, its profile combines warm vanilla with spicy black pepper and woody patchouli, alongside subtle floral notes of iris and lavender. It boasts an impressive staying power too – users report that it remains on the skin for a good six to eight hours.

Scented Review describes Givenchy Gentleman by saying “this fragrance makes its presence known without being too overpowering. It’s …moderate to strong, [so] it’s noticeable to those around you, but it won’t overwhelm the room.” The review also notes that it’s “all about blending …classic cool with a bit of modern edge. It’s not just a fragrance; it’s like a bridge between the past and present.”

Final thoughts…

Although women still surpass men in the fragrance-buying market, a 2018 report indicated that men are increasingly coming to the party (or the counter, as the case may be) – and, given the number of beautifully masculine scents available, is it any wonder?

When choosing a fragrance as a mature man, you’re not limited by whether you shave or not. But, if you do, be sure to choose one that not only smells great but is also kind to post-shave skin.

While many men’s fragrances favour earthy, woody scents, these are often combined with brighter notes for complexity, so don’t feel that you have to swerve citrus or floral as a mature man. This is exactly the right time of life to be embracing complexity!

Overall, of course, the key is to wear a scent that makes you feel happy, positive, and confident. Whether it evokes sensory memories or helps to define a new era in your life, your scent should speak to you, even before it speaks to anyone else.

What’s your favourite aftershave or cologne? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.