With good quality designer colognes often running well over $100, we know it’s tricky to smell good on an affordable budget.
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This guide includes our pick of the best cheap cologne for men that are a beautiful balance of quality and price. These are bottles from a range of well-known designers, brands, and celebrities that you can still get for an affordable price.
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Are There Good But Inexpensive Men’s Perfumes?
So you’ve spent more than you should have for the holidays, or you’re doing some serious scaling back on your expenses and something has to give. Dealing with financial realities doesn’t mean you have to compromise on smelling good.
These inexpensive cologne options for men might not be the cheapest of the cheap but you’ll be getting a quality fragrance at an affordable price.
Of course, you can also keep your eyes on bargain bins, where incredible deals can sometimes still be found – and sales with 60-80% discounts are not uncommon.
Best Cheap Cologne and Where to Wear Them
The Classic: 4711 Original Eau de Cologne
This classic bargain fragrance is apparently still made according to a secret recipe from the late 18th century (yes, it’s been around that long).
While 4711 Original Eau de Cologne lacks staying power, it more than compensates with its uplifting and nostalgic mix of lemon, bergamot, and orange oil. More than a fragrance, it’s a superb pick-me-up tonic.
Best Masculine Scent: Antonio Puig Quorum EDT
Originally launched in 1981, Quorum packs an old-school power punch with dominant notes of oakmoss, leather, tobacco, artemisia and sandalwood.
This bargain fragrance is super-masculine stuff, irresistibly earthy and is as far from generic as you can get. It’s not often you will find quality at this price, so hunt it down now.
Best Wood: Jeanne Arthes Cobra Man EDT
There’s more complexity to this woody-aromatic fragrance than its price tag suggests. It opens with notes of citrus, orange blossom and rosemary. The heart is quite unusual and features notes of ginger and angelica among the more familiar cinnamon and lavender.
The base is warm and cozy, with notes of sandalwood, tonka bean and vanilla bringing smoothness. Jean Arthes is a French fragrance company that’s based in Grasse, the heartland of French perfumery. Another option from the brand well worth sniffing out is the leather-licious Colonial Club Legend EDT.
Best Cheap Cologne For the Car-Lover: Jaguar For Men EDT
It all started with Jaguar for Men EDT for the British luxury car manufacturer. Launched in 1988, this EDT was created by none other than master perfumer Thierry Wasser (now Guerlain’s in-house perfumer). It’s an old-school treat with a herbal and soapy character after the citrus opening has subsided.
The good news is that it celebrated its 30th year on the market in 2018. It’s also ridiculously cheap – roughly half the price of a designer fragrance. Jaguar, like most other automotive fragrance brands (Mercedes-Benz. Porsche, Bentley, Ferrari) has a very respectable portfolio of reasonably priced products.
Best for the Gym: Adidas Ice Dive EDT
Sometimes we all need a trusty spray n go when we hit the gym. And Adidas Ice Dive EDT fulfills that need perfectly.
It’s suitably fresh, cool, and sporty, with notes of mint, grapefruit, lavender, yuzu, and lemon, among others. It’s a teeny-weeny on the synthetic side, but gents, look at that price.
Best Cheap Cologne for Date Night: Antonio Banderas Power of Seduction
He’s been in the biz of seduction for 20 years and is one of Puig’s big money-spinners, so Antonio Banderas knows what will have commercial and relatively enduring appeal.
Power of Seduction, his latest fragrance, opens with a fresh n fruity blast of bergamot and apple notes. It then morphs into an aromatic focus, with notes of lavender and sage. There’s also a big patchouli note lurking in here. While this typically masculine fragrance won’t be winning any awards for originality, it’s undeniably good quality at the price.
Best Sweet-Smell: Zara Tobacco Collection Rich Warm Addictive
A seemingly simple composition of tobacco, coconut, sandalwood, honey and cedar notes, it yields so much more than its structure suggests.
It’s on the sweeter side of things, but who cares when this EDT is so smooth and creamy. Zara has numerous examples of cool cheapies like it, so it would be time well spent to visit your local store or the website for more options.
Best Oriental: The Body Shop Activist EDT
This one has been around for over 23 years – and for good reason.
A light oriental with a clean, fresh vibe, it features standout notes of green grass, citruses, amber, spices and woody notes. It doesn’t have the most impressive staying power and projection, but at the price, a couple of re-sprays is not a problem at all.
While you’re in The Body Shop mode, look out for White Musk EDT. It’s a highly rated Body Shop classic that features notes of lavender, jasmine, geranium, sandalwood, vetiver, tonka bean and, course, musk.
Best Celebrity Fragrance: Gold Jay-Z EDT
Celebrity scents are often surrounded by a cloud of self-limiting snobbery. All we can say is sniff around and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
If you’re expecting a mega-dose of bling-meets-street cred, loud and proud, from Gold Jay-Z EDT, prepare yourself for an unexpectedly sophisticated, albeit sweet, scent that features a very agreeable pink pepper note front and center.
Other discernible notes in the eclectic mix include blueberry, violet leaf, vanilla, cardamom, lavender, and grapefruit. It’s good to be wrong (sometimes).
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Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.