An amazing-smelling cologne can be the difference between a good day and a great one. But you need to be able to find the right fragrance without breaking the bank.
Over the past few years, I’ve collected dozens of scents that help me feel confident and masculine for under $50. Some of the best cheap colognes for men are inspired by designer colognes and offer a twist on the original for a fraction of the price.
- Rich vanilla and warming cinnamon combine in this alluring cold-weather combination.
- Similar to Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille.
- One of the most complimented fragrances in my collection.
- Incredibly similar to Aventus by Creed. I'd say 90% identical.
- A masculine and lightly-spiced fragrance that works best in high heat
- Bright and breezy Armani Acqua di Gio alternative.
My Top Pick is Club de Nuit Intense Man by Armaf. It’s very similar to Aventus by Creed, and to be honest I don’t think most people would be able to tell the difference from a blind test.
It’s a safe bet if you’re looking for versatile masculine elegance that smells expensive but doesn’t cost the world.
If you’re looking for something to up your game in winter, check out Cremo’s Spice and Black Vanilla. This gourmand fragrance will entice ladies through its sweeter, aromatic qualities, but it also has enough woodsy depth in the base to feel confident and decisive.
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got 360 Red for Men by Perry Ellis. This long-lasting fragrance is destined for summertime and will reenergize you on those days that just feel too hot. Perfect for fans of Armani’s Acqua di Gio.
I’ve also included budget picks for pretty much every situation you could imagine – so whatever you need, there’s a cost-efficient fragrance here for you.
Best Budget Colognes For Men in 2022
- Armaf Club De Nuit Intense Man – Best Budget Cologne for Men Overall
- Spice & Black Vanilla by Cremo – Best Budget Cologne For Winter
- Perry Ellis 360 Red for Men – Best Cheap Cologne for Summer
- Davidoff Cool Water – Best Budget Cologne for Maturity
- Guess 1981 Los Angeles – A Signature Scent for Gents on a Budget
- Individuel Montblanc – Best Fruity Budget Cologne
- Nautica Voyage – Best Aquatic Budget Cologne
- Versace Blue Jeans – Best Cheap Cologne for Men to Relax With
- Versace Pour Homme – Best Budget Cologne for Evenings in the City
- Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche – Best Budget Cologne for Retro Masculinity
And a fair few more…
What is the Best Cheap Cologne for Men?
Here are my top picks for under $50:
Armaf Club De Nuit Intense Man – Best Budget Cologne for Men Overall
I’m telling you right now – Club De Nuit Intense Man is one of the most complimented fragrances in my collection.
Incredibly similar to Aventus. I'd say 90% identical.
One of the most complimented fragrances in my collection.
It’s very similar to Aventus by Creed. I doubt 99% of people would be able to tell the difference.
But it somehow manages to get me even more positive female attention than Aventus did when I wore it.
It’s an exceptional pick at this price point, but I’ll concede that there are a couple of hints that Club De Nuit Intense Man isn’t a $300 cologne.
First, the opening is a BLAST of citrus. Personally, I like it – but I’ve had people describe it as a little harsh if they’re around me when I’m applying it.
Also, the projection is a little less consistent than Creed. Aventus is fireworks for the whole 10-hour ride, Club De Nuit Intense Man starts a little too strong and ends a little too weak.
But even with that in mind, you need to remember that compared to Aventus Club De Nuit Man is basically free. It’s about as close an alternative as you can get, and represents great value for money.
At the moment I have one of the newer batches, which I sense is just a touch weaker than the older ones.
The older batches are almost impossible to come by. If you can get hold of a bottle at a reasonable price, jump at the chance.
Worst case, you can mail it to me and I’ll pay you for your trouble.
|Top Notes:||Lemon, Pineapple, Bergamot, Blackcurrant and Apple|
|Middle Notes:||Birch, Jasmine and Rose|
|Base Notes:||Musk, Ambergris, Patchouli and Vanilla|
Spice & Black Vanilla by Cremo – Best Budget Cologne For Winter
Okay, guys. If you haven’t smelled Spice and Black Vanilla, I highly recommend it. You just will not get better value at this price point.
Hazy tobacco, sweet vanilla, and aromatic spice.
Cremo products are affordable and cruelty-free.
Spice and Black Vanilla is a powerhouse for me.
I can’t speak for any of you, but for me, it projects extremely, extremely well. This stuff just lasts forever on me.
It smells a little like Spicebomb Infrared, in that same world of “spice rounded out by sweetness” – but instead of vanilla, Spicebomb uses cinnamon, helped along by a dash of cardamom and hazy tobacco in the heart.
And just like Spicebomb Extreme, Spice and Black Vanilla smell exceptional. During this test, it filled up my truck on the way to work. It was a delicious ride.
I had a solid bubble for 4-5 hours from 2 sprays. I feel like more than 2 sprays of this stuff is overkill.
A great budget buy as a signature winter fragrance, and perfect for those looking for a cheaper alternative to Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille.
- Find out which Cremo cologne is best here.
|Middle Notes:||Cashmere Wood|
|Base Notes:||Bourbon Vanilla and Vetiver|
Perry Ellis 360 Red for Men – Best Cheap Cologne for Summer
Perry Ellis 360 Red is a vibrant and fresh cologne that is perfect for high heat. You know, those days when it’s too hot.
A masculine and lightly-spiced fragrance that works best in high heat.
A capable Armani Acqua di Gio alternative.
Spicy, masculine, and energizing. Everything I value in a signature summer fragrance.
There’s a citrus spice duality that runs throughout the core of this fragrance, with lime and mandarin orange meeting cloves and nutmeg and embracing each other in a very friendly hug. It’s got some heat, but it’s bright rather than warm and cozy. For the price, it’s wonderfully sparkling and versatile.
If you’re a fan of Giorgio Armani’s Aqua Di Gio, Perry Ellis 360 Red is an alternative with a slightly rougher, spiced edge.
Performance is comparable too. The average clocks in at an average of 10 hours longevity, but I’ve had particularly hot days where I’ll detect 360 Red 12 hours in.
|Top Notes:||Lime, Bergamot, Cinnamon, Orange, Mandarin Orange, Cloves and Nutmeg|
|Middle Notes:||Lavender and Coriander|
|Base Notes:||Musk, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Red Cedar, Vetiver and Oakmoss|
Davidoff Cold Water – Best Budget Cologne for Maturity
Cool Water was synonymous with the club and bar scene 15 years ago. It seemed that everyone was wearing this fresh and distinctive cologne.
A mature sandalwood cologne with an aquatic, clean and fresh feeling.
Touches of lavender and rosemary help round out the bitter, dry sandalwood for a well-balanced fragrance.
Back then, it was the go-to for reviving yourself for another round of dancing. The fresh pick-me-up is in the midst of a renaissance at the moment, too.
Cool Water is for a mature gent who is growing into his 40s gracefully. Still dominant, still a leader, and exudes a depth of confidence that hints at his established power and status.
This nostalgic fragrance feels like something James Bond would wear- no young buck, still a dangerous edge that you wouldn’t want to mess with.
The dry, bitter sandalwood is the main accord here, but it’s mellowed by an aquatic sense of seafoam and citrus vitality.
It’s clean, laundry-detergent fresh, and brings to mind a pristine white t-shirt. Casual and proud.
There are touches of herbs from accords of lavender and rosemary. These kick-out hits of earthiness once the bracing, cool opening has subsided. These pops of vitality help round the harsh sandalwood and keep Davidoff Cool Water energetic rather than aggressive.
In the base, white musk oakmoss lends a chalky, powdery sense and offers a great contrast to the vitality of the heart. These deeper accords dull some of the shoutier notes and present that bold, bitter sandalwood thrust in the best light.
- Check out more notalgia-infused sandalwood colognes here
|Top Notes:||Sea water, Lavender, Mint, Green Notes, Rosemary, Calone and Coriander|
|Middle Notes:||Sandalwood, Neroli, Geranium and Jasmine|
|Base Notes:||Musk,Tobacco, Oakmoss, Cedar and Amber|
Guess 1981 Los Angeles – A Signature Scent for Gents on a Budget
Unlike some of the other colognes in this guide, 1981 Los Angeles has signature fragrance potential. It’s all due to a heavy dose of a rather unique note: plum.
A well-balanced and masculine cologne that emphasizes a unique plum note. A worthy signature scent.
Ideal for Gents in their 20s or 30s. It's classy, but still sweet enough to feel playful.
1981 Los Angeles is more of an evening scent, great for nights out with friends or cuddling with your significant other.
It’s best for somebody in their late 20s/early 30s; sweet enough for the younger crowd, but with some maturity to it in the mid and base.
This primary plum accord is syrupy and sweet but still manages to come off as refined and clean. It’s not super-fruity or overly sweet like some other modern men’s designer fragrances.
After 20 minutes, notes of tobacco and spice from ginger and black pepper arrive to quell the tart aspect of the plum.
This, along with bergamot, prevents the sweetness from luring 1981 Los Angeles into feminine territory.
In the base, vetiver helps add some vegetal earthiness while sandalwood lends a creamy quality.
The tobacco and amber are still present through the dry down, leaving a warm and dry scent deep into the lifetime of the fragrance.
Overall it’s a well-blended fragrance where no specific note is too loud. It’s smooth throughout its respectable 4-5 hour lifetime, too. If you’re looking for better longevity, 1981 Los Angeles lasts 7-8 hours on fabric.
It’s the perfect budget-friendly fragrance for a younger gent who wants to be asked “excuse me, what are you wearing?”.
After a couple of sprays, you’ll be oozing upper-class confidence that feels bespoke rather than “one-size-fits-all”.
I’d pitch it as a solid year-rounder due to the heavy notes but mellow projection; it will emit less in the summer, and more in the winter.
- Check out our guide to the best Guess colognes for more.
|Top Notes:||Black Pepper, Plum and Bergamot|
|Middle Notes:||Ginger, Mint and Geranium|
|Base Notes:||Vetiver, Sandalwood, Amber and Tobacco|
Individuel Montblanc – Best Fruity Budget Cologne
Montblanc Individuel is a bright, fruity daytime fragrance that doesn’t cost the earth. It’s perfect for the chillier seasons, adding some zip and energy to days where it’s lacking.
The opening is full of playful, flirty raspberries. It’s sweet and fresh, with touches of spicy florals to keep things interesting – resting on top of a powdery base of lively sandalwood.
This energetic fragrance is for a guy in his 20s or 30s, ideal for a casual evening dinner or laid-back cocktail date. It projects this air of a fun-loving, spontaneous gent who doesn’t feel like he has to assert his masculinity every step away. It’s for the guy that girls have fun with, rather than dates that feel more like business meetings.
Individuel feels a bit like a wrestling match between sandalwood and the raspberries. Sandalwood starts as the underdog but takes control in the later rounds. It’s a journey from the sharpness of the opening to a more warm, masculine dry down.
The clean and fruity raspberry note is what Individuel revolves around, and it lasts right through the dry down. As the body develops, vanilla and cinnamon enter the scene, adding a more delicious, dessert-like quality.
I imagine this sweetness could become a little cloying in warmer weather, so I wouldn’t recommend Individuelle for summer.
Performance is strong, with an arm’s length projection for the first few hours and total longevity of 6-7. If you apply Individuel before leaving the house for dinner, you’ll be going strong through post-meal drinks and in the taxi home.
It’s great if you’re a fan of Sandalwood, but don’t want a huge stuffy blast of it. Individuel offers a powerful representation of the accord but in the context of a berry-platter and masculine florals.
|Top Notes:||Lavender, Pineapple, Cinnamon, Juniper Berries, Mint, Cardamom and Rosemary|
|Middle Notes:||Orange Blossom, Jasmine and Violet|
|Base Notes:||Sandalwood, Vanilla, Raspberry, Dark Chocolate, Musk, Amber, Vetiver, Oakmoss and Patchouli|
Nautica Voyage Eau De Toilette Spray – Best Aquatic Budget Cologne
Nautica Voyage is an elegant and smooth cheapie that conjures images of summer adventures. This aquatic blend is a well-balanced tour of natural-smelling fruits and woods that will lend a slice of energy and style to your escapades.
Fruity and sweet with a masculine cedarwood base.
A calming and aquatic scent perfect for casual good vibes in summer.
And with a 100ml bottle being just a little over $30, Nautica Voyage is a superb and budget-friendly summer fragrance that doesn’t compromise on quality.
It does the simple things well and produces a light, clean-smelling brand of breezy masculinity. Revitalizing top notes of crisp green apple are bright and juicy, followed by a more masculine dry down that pitches amber, musk, and oakmoss against an aromatic cedar wood base.
This is a clean-smelling aquatic scent that won’t overpower those around you, but don’t mistake that for weakness. Just 1 – 2 sprays will last all day, but it’s a moderate projection reserved for those you pass by on the pier.
Nautica Voyage will not flood the room when you walk in, but it will fascinate those you get within arms-length of. It’s crafted for casual beach days or a laid-back dinner and drinks with friends.
- Check out our guide to the Best Nautica Colognes here
|Top Notes:||Apple and Green Leaves|
|Middle Notes:||Lotus and Mimosa|
|Base Notes:||Musk, Cedar, Oakmoss and Amber|
Versace Blue Jeans – Best Cheap Cologne for Men to Relax With
When you hear Versace, you probably imagine a heavy price tag. But, sort of weirdly, Versace colognes are actually very reasonably priced.
Like, budget prices.
Versace Blue Jeans is a blend of citrus and lavender notes and has a subtle hint of bergamot which adds a fantastic, crisp dimension drying down to a warm, masculine base of vanilla and patchouli.
This confident fragrance feels youthful and vibrant but has a measure of maturity arising from the expert balancing of accords that feels professional and legitimate
The light, juicy citruses and subtle florals make it a perfect choice for relaxing after a workout or as a freshener for a day at the beach.
Despite the low barrier to entry, Versace holds up their end of the designer bargain in terms of performance and longevity. You’ll get a full day’s use from 2 – 3 spirits in the morning, with good projection for the first 3 – 4 hours.
So, you don’t have to worry about blitzing through your bottle in a week. Versace offers good value all around here.
Blue Jeans and summer days go hand in hand, but who knew that extended to masculine fragrance, too?
|Top Notes:||Citruses, Bergamot, Juniper, Anise, Brazilian Rosewood, Basil|
|Middle Notes:||Lavender, Rose, Carnation, Heliotrope, Jasmine, Geranium, Fir, Sage, Lily-of-the-Valley|
|Base Notes:||Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Sandalwood, Iris, Musk, Amber, Vetiver, Cedar, Patchouli|
Versace Pour Homme Eau De Toilette – Best Budget Cologne for Evenings in the City
Released back in 2008, Versace Pour Homme has become one of the most popular designer colognes out there.
Top notes of lemon, bergamot, and rose sparkle brightly against a darker heat of clary sage, geranium, cedar, and hyacinth. It sets the tone for a sensual dry down that brings in musky notes, tonka bean, and amber for a deeper denouement.
Because of these dazzling details, I’d recommend Versace Pour Homme for Gents on evening occasions. Night outs that demand you to dress a little more charismatically will only be enhanced by a spritz of Pour Homme.
Just make sure you apply it a little before you go out. In my experience, that initial 10 – 15 minute blast of brightness can be a little overwhelming until it calms down.
- Check out some more of our favorite Versace Colognes in our guide here.
|Top Notes:||Lemon, Bergamot, and Rose|
|Middle Notes:||Clary Sage, Geranium, Cedar, and Hyacinth|
|Base Notes:||Tonka Bean, and Amber|
Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche Eau De Toilette – Best Budget Cologne for Retro Masculinity
Sometimes the classics are classics for a reason. Dramatic Noir Guy Laroche is another blast from the past in the same way as Davidoff’s Cool Water; it was also very popular 15-20 years ago.
Smokey sandalwood with flickers of pine and cinnamon.
Excellent performance with over 8 hours of strong projection.
It’s less known nowadays, but still has a cult following from those who fell in love with it. Drakkar Noir is the more opulent, devil-may-care analog of the bright, aquatic Cool Water.
Like the confidence boost of a new haircut, when I wear Drakkar Noir I feel like a million-dollar man.
Just be aware it’s not for youngsters; this cologne is very mature.
The overwhelming sense is of a pristine 90s barbershop, packed full of shaving cream, herbs, and green pine. It’s like a nice clean shave and very mature smelling.
In the opening, we’ve got lemon and lavender with a touch of mint. It’s energizing and enjoyable but is well-balanced enough to feel measured and sophisticated.
Within half an hour, these lighter notes make way for a heart of pine, cinnamon, and the dominant sandalwood moves from the sidelines to center stage.
The dry down is where the wood notes lay bare, like the most relaxing sauna you’ve ever been to. It’s masculine and mature, with touches of smoke and musk that prevent it from feeling dated or off-trend.
As you might expect from a masculine fragrance this well-worn, performance is excellent. You’ll get well over 8 hours of wear out of Drakkar in all its woody glory.
The projection is also, for me, just right. With a couple of sprays, you’ll be noticeable without dominating the space.
|Top Notes:||Lavender, Bergamot, Mint, Lemon, Rosemary and Basil|
|Middle Notes:||Jasmine, Juniper, Coriander, Cinnamon and Wormwood|
|Base Notes:||Sandalwood, Pine Tree Needles, Fir, Leather, Oakmoss, Cedar, Patchouli and Amber|
Cremo Bourbon & Oak Cologne Spray – Best Value for Money Winter Cologne
Bourbon and Oak is another very, very masculine scent from the criminally underrated Cremo range.
Sweet vanilla bourbon paired with a spicy/woody dry down.
Perfect for a night at the bar or for a chilly winter date
The opening is pretty sweet, with gourmand-like vanilla feel competing with a spicy/woody dry down. The bourbon and oak become increasingly prominent, throughout the lifetime of the cologne.
It’s a cooler weather scent for sure, perfect for a night at the bar or on a chilly winter date.
It gets very close to Polo Red Extreme for the first hour, full of creamy vanilla-chocolatey spicy tonka woods. It’s a cold-weather beauty.
In the heart, it’s more bourbon and oak backed up by tonka/sweet vanilla for a skin scent that lasts all day.
I managed to pick up my bottle for $14 (fourteen!), which is a total steal. Bourbon and Oak is one of the cheapest colognes in my collection but I don’t feel cheap wearing it.
I sprayed myself this morning and five minutes later my GF gave an unsolicited compliment about what I was wearing, so it must be doing something right.
|Top Notes:||Vanilla and Spicy/woody|
|Middle Notes:||Bourbon and Oak|
|Base Notes:||Tonka and Sweet Vanilla|
Versace Man Eau Fraiche By Gianni Versace For Men – Best Cheap Aquatic Cologne
Versace Man Eau Fraiche (pronounced like ‘oh-fresh,’ meaning free water) is an aquatic scent that evokes the feel of summer: the beach, relaxation, and sunny days.
Light and breezy lemon freshness with a woodsy base.
A crisp and clean fragrance for warmer weather.
Bright citruses and florals set the scene in the top notes, with lemon and rose to produce a summer-sweet breeze that will captivate your neighbors. Within an hour you’re introduced to more warming touches of prickly pepper and earthy clary sage, hinting towards masculinity that the base truly delivers on.
By hour 6 the dry down has begun in earnest, with alluring saffron and musk meeting woodsy cedar tones. By this point, we’re transitioning from lively to romantic, as the evening draws to a close.
As with most other Versace colognes, Man Eau Fraich feels well-constructed and purposeful. This is a clean and professional-smelling masculine scent rather than a muddle of notes. Less, in this case, at least, is more.
|Top notes:||Lemon, Bergamot, Rosewood, and Rose|
|Heart notes:||Cedar, Tarragon, Sage, and Pepper|
|Base notes:||Amber, Musk, Saffron, and Woody notes|
Nautica Blue Eau De Toilette Spray for Men – Best Budget Blue Cologne
Nothing compares to an escape to the beach and having a sense of distance from daily stress triggers.
This oceanic, aquatic fragrance from Nautica is ridiculously cheap for what it offers.
The easy-going top notes of this fresh scent emphasize sweet peach fruitiness, paired with clean-smelling bergamot and juicy pineapple in an invigorating balance.
Within half an hour, you’ll start to detect alluring florals of jasmine and water lily. These are tasteful additions that imply a sense of luxury, and perfectly pitched to remain gender-neutral.
This is a great cologne to have in your bag for a light misting of summer. It’s the furthest thing from overbearing, and you’ll struggle to find a more crowd-pleasing cologne at this price point.
Plus, the performance is completely respectable at 6 – 7 hours of meaningful projection. Nautica Blue is not supposed to be a performance-best that breaks necks, and it mirrors a light sea breeze perfectly in terms of intensity.
|Top Notes:||Pineapple, Bergamot and Peach|
|Middle Notes:||Water Lily and Jasmine|
|Base Notes:||Sandalwood, Musk and Cedar|
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme Eau De Toilette – Best Cheap Cologne for Men Keeping it Casual
Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue gives you a vibe of a casual and breezy summer walk along the beach, with fruity and floral notes that remain masculine.
A breezy summer fragrance that will pick up compliments in the sun.
Zesty citrus on a bed of masculine oakmoss and musk - with a mysterious incense accord.
The grapefruit opening is natural-smelling and energizing, with enough of a tartness to make me think of the rind rather than the flesh.
While a light cologne, Light Blue is not without a sense of masculinity. Oakmoss, musk, and incense all play a part in producing a slightly obscure, mysterious dry down that will leave those in your company eager to find out more.
With a moderate sillage, this masculine fragrance may be intriguing for anyone wants to impress that special lady or collect compliments during a night on the town.
- If you want to check out more Dolce & Gabbana fragrances, click here
|Top notes:||Grapefruit, Bergamot, Sicilian Mandarin, Frozen Grapefruit Peel, Juniper|
|Heart Notes:||Sichuan Pepper, Rosemary, Rosewood|
|Base notes:||Oakmoss, Musk, Incense|
Duke Cannon Supply Co. Solid Cologne Balm – Best Cheap Solid Cologne
Not a lot of people take the time to seriously consider solid colognes, but you may rethink that once you’ve tried Duke Cannon.
They produce MANLY products for MEN. Rugged, outdoorsy, and unapologetically Alpha.
This solid cologne is a woodsy, oak barrel scent inspired by casks from the Buffalo Trace whiskey Distillery.
One of the great things about solid cologne is that it lasts absolutely ages. I have a tin I keep for traveling, and it’s lasted well over 6 months at this point.
- Click here to learn about the differences between solid cologne vs spray
|Notes:||Woodsy, Oak Barrel|
Armaf Hunter Intense for Men – Best Budget Cologne for Making First Impressions
If you want a masculine cologne that’s refreshingly light and pleasant, try Hunter Intense.
A citrussy opening descends into sophisticated florals and woodsy muskiness in this evolving scent. There are flickers of spice from pink peppercorns, leading the way into a patchouli-informed dry down that smells complex and well-crafted.
I like to wear Hunter Intense when I’m trying to make a good first impression, like on a date or at a job interview. It’s often difficult to judge what the right sort of scent is for these types of situations, and Armaf gives me a nice compromise between professional confidence and expressing my personality.
Comparisons with Dior Sauvage might miss the mark in terms of some of the subtleties, but the overall sense is the same. Crowd-pleasing energy that maintains a healthy dollop of personality.
It’s also an outstanding performer in terms of longevity that will keep you smelling clean and fresh from morning to night.
Plus, I’m a sucker for a cool bottle. This leather-clad flacon feels masculine and foreboding, with a texture that begs to be handled.
- You can find more impressive budget fragrances in our guide to the Best Armaf Colognes
|Top Notes:||Lemon, Orange, Cardamom and Citrus|
|Middle Notes:||Lavender, Pink Pepper and Rose|
|Base Notes:||Cedar, Patchouli, Vetiver and Musk|
Calvin Klein CK One Shock – Best Budget Calvin Klein Eau de Toilette
Time for another Calvin Klein pick here with One Shock. It’s something of an undercover classic, in production since 1994 and selling around 20 bottles per minute back in 2000.
It still feels modern and relevant today, though. This versatile scent is clean, refreshing and unstuffy even in 2022.
There’s not much that’s controversial about this cologne, so I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something inoffensive that the vast majority of people will enjoy being around.
It’s a versatile scent that’s equally suited to a productive day in the office as it is for an evening jaunt on the town. This is a clean and refreshing scent that’s noticeable without being too disruptive or controversial.
CK One Shock is budget-friendly and will take you on a tour of Calvin Klein’s most popular notes.
In the top notes, we’ve got bright citrus in the form of lemon and mandarin orange. The heart is more floral, with violet and jasmine at the fore.
It’s all rooted in a base of amber and musk, with a light spiciness from a subtle nutmeg accord. There’s a subtle green tea in the dry down too, if you’re looking for it.
This is a great choice for an early twenties professional or a switched-on student looking for something sharp and youthful, but not at the expense of sophistication.
- Check out our guide to the best Calvin Klein colognes for more.
|Top Notes:||Lemon, Green Notes, Bergamot, Pineapple, Mandarin Orange, Cardamom and Papaya|
|Middle Notes:||Lily-of-the-Valley, Jasmine, Violet, Nutmeg, Rose, Orris Root, and Freesia|
|Bottom Notes:||Green Accord, Musk, Cedar, Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Green Tea, and Amber|
Dreamer by Versace – Best Budget Floral Eau de Toilette
Introduced in 1996, Versace Dreamer was the last cologne created under the direction of Gianni Versace.
What makes it unique is the pairing of tobacco with lavender. It’s a combo I haven’t found elsewhere, and it’s a beautifully rich blend of floral comfort and bright warmth.
This confident and mature pairing will give you a bit of a wildcard element without straying into the quirky territory.
Just be aware that if you’re a man who finds floral elements a little challenging, this might not be for you. Lavender is front and center, but I find it’s more about a sense of relaxation and freshly-laundered preparedness than any overt femininity.
As you’ve probably come to expect from Versace colognes, longevity is excellent here at 10 hours of moderate projection.
|Top notes:||Lavender and Tobacco|
Curve by Liz Claiborne for Men – Best Clean-smelling Cheap Eau de Parfum
To me, Curve has an almost addictive quality. It’s an incredibly refreshing fragrance that I can’t resist topping up on throughout the day.
A casual and refreshing scent filled with lively pineapple and ginger.
Held together by a masculine base of musk and woods
This is light, bouncy good times. Crushed pineapples lead the way with a zippy, tangy quality, before moving into a greener hearbality with cracked coriander and clary sage in the heart. The base reveals musky, woodsy notes that ring out in this persistently long-lasting fragrance.
This is not a passionate cologne. There are zero animalistic qualities here. No heat, no spice, no fire.
Instead, you get something that feels like a cocktail on a lilo in a crystal blue ocean. No worries, good vibes, everything is working out for the best.
In terms of a casual cologne in the purest sense, Curve is one of the best out there. Unpretentious, bright, and vibrant notes of lemon, ginger, and sandalwood flicker in and out of the heart putting a spring in your step.
Anyone who wears this clean and masculine cologne will feel confident. Because of its pacifism, it’s also pretty versatile. I’d feel just as comfortable wearing Curve at the beach as I would at the office, for example.
|Top Notes:||Lemon, Pineapple, Juniper Berries and Lavender|
|Middle Notes:||Sandalwood, Cardamom, Bergamot, Ginger, Violet and Coriander|
|Base Notes:||Musk Mahogany, Amber and Vetiver|
Guess Seductive Homme – Best Budget Eau de Toilette for Younger Men
Seductive Homme is a youthful cologne with mass appeal. It’s ideal if you’re starting with colognes and are looking for something that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s sweet and playful, harboring a little sweetness without being too feminine.
Perfect for beginners. Plenty of sweetness that feels playful and would suit a party atmosphere.
Not an aggressive, macho-man frag. Best for well-groomed, younger Gents.
I’d recommend it for younger gents in their early 20s, but it’s not for anyone looking for a macho-man fragrance. It’s more of a pleasant unisex cologne than a masculine statement.
I can imagine a trendy guy wearing it to a party as a complement to his personality, rather than as a substitute.
The powdery sweetness in the opening reminds me of Skittles, but there’s also a nice peppery spice there. These top notes fade after about an hour and dry down into a heavier amber and musk.
It’s a calming combination that I love spraying after I shower before going to bed.
Performance-wise, Seductive Homme emits powerfully for the first 2-3 hours. The next 2-3 are softer but still noticeable.
It can withstand a full working day, and you can’t ask for much more from a cologne at such a great price point.
|Top Notes:||Mandarin Orange, Cardamom and Pink Pepper|
|Middle Notes:||Orchid, Violet Leaf and Vetiver|
|Base Notes:||Musk, Patchouli, Amber and Sandalwood|
Quorum By Puig – Best Cheap Cologne for Older Men
Quorum, first released in 1981, is a powerful old-school fragrance. Super masculine, super traditional – and super cheap, too.
A masculine quartet of oakmoss, tobacco, leather and sandalwood.
Extremely good value for money. Smells like it should cost 3-4 times the price.
If you’re an older gent with refined tastes, this is the sort of fragrance that will instill the confidence you’re looking for.
Revolving around a dapper quartet of oakmoss, tobacco, leather and sandalwood, Quorum smells silky and opulent. The notes here are so deep and rich that they border on creamy, perfect for formal occasions in winter that require a break from the mold.
There are some dashes of lavender and pine in the opening, but they are swamped by the deeper across within half an hour. The leather-led dry down lingers on and on, with the skin scent generally holding into the morning of the next day, in my experience.
If you’re able to pull off something a legitimate Gent might wear, you won’t find a better pick at this price.
|Top notes:||Oakmoss, Tobacco, Leather, and Sandalwood|
|Middle notes:||Lavender and Pine|
Adidas Team Five Special Edition – Best Budget Cologne for Sports
This sporty scent is probably best for younger Gents looking to stay fresh after sports practice.
It is a very clean-smelling fragrance that doesn’t project much at all. In terms of function, it’s somewhere between cologne and deodorant – a reset to keep you smelling fresh rather than smelling amazing.
If you’re a super sporty guy who doesn’t want to rinse through his designer colognes every time he takes a post-workout shower, it might be worth keeping a bottle of Adidas Team Five. It will help you freshen up basically for free.
|Top notes:||Green Apple, Lemon, Basil|
|Heart notes:||Lavender, Mint, Sage, Pine Tree|
|Base notes:||Benzoin, Amber|
Dior Sauvage EDP – Best Budget Cologne that isn’t Actually a Budget Cologne
This is a bit of cheeky inclusion, but I had to get it in. Dior Sauvage is not exactly a budget cologne, sure – but it’s certainly not wildly expensive either.
Strong bergamot and pepper with bright flashes of lavender and cedar.
This is one of the most popular fragrances in the world - and for good reason.
Okay, it’s around $100. Just hear me out
Even if you’re on a tight budget, don’t dismiss Dior out of hand. It might be worth waiting, saving, and buying a cologne that’s actually going to get the attention you’re looking for.
And Sauvage will certainly do that.
It’s a mass-appeal cologne that has come to define masculine sophistication for a generation.
It opens up with a mist of vetiver and lavender, propped up by prickly pepper and powdery bergamot. There’s a citric quality there, too, that verges on sour in an acquired taste sort of way that will have to be smelt to be believed.
Trust me, it’s great. It’s a unique scent that hundreds have tried to imitate, but no one else has ever quite cracked.
The base is where we find more of our traditionally masculine notes like cedar and salty ambroxan. It feels like a sturdy grounding for a mysterious, alluring fragrance to proceed from.
An inimitably fierce charm, as well as performance that will stick around all day. Just be aware that Sauvage is a bit of a statement, so if you choose to use it in the office you will be better off applying it modestly.
|Top notes:||Vetiver and Lavender|
|Heart notes:||Pepper, Bergamot and Citrus|
|Base notes:||Cedar and Ambroxan|
- Rich vanilla and warming cinnamon combine in this alluring cold-weather combination.
- Similar to Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille.
- One of the most complimented fragrances in my collection.
- Incredibly similar to Aventus by Creed. I'd say 90% identical.
- A masculine and lightly-spiced fragrance that works best in high heat
- Bright and breezy Armani Acqua di Gio alternative.
And a few to avoid…
I’ve tested hundreds of colognes in my search for the best budget fragrances for men. I was generally pretty satisfied with the quality across the board, even if a few of them didn’t appeal to my nose personally.
You could still see why others would like the blend, the customer service was on point, and some of the colognes to miss this list were more an issue of personal preference than anything else.
But, unfortunately, that was not true for every cologne. For various reasons, some of them just sort of sucked.
Here are the 3 worst offenders I found, so you know what to avoid.
Pineapple Vintage – Poor Customer Support
Pineapple Vintage markets itself as an Aventus Creed alternative, and I’ll admit that it does a great job of capturing the Aventus DNA in the opening. It’s light and fresh, and for the first hour or so it smells a lot like Creed.
However, as it progresses it can’t keep up with any real depth. It’s a bit too sweet and tart, without any of the smoke you’d hope for. It’s far less complex than Aventus.
But the main reason that I’ve chosen Pineapple Vintage as a budget cologne to avoid is that their customer service is just horrible.
When I bought a couple of bottles last year, one came with a loose sprayer and had leaked all over the box.
I reached out to Pineapple Vintage in good faith to get a replacement sent out but didn’t hear back from them.
3 more emails, radio silence. Nothing.
This is despite stating on their website that refunds are available for products not as described. I’ve since opened a dispute with PayPal so I’m hoping that will speed things along.
I should have done my due diligence. Having read reviews from online forums it turns out I’m not alone. Other disappointed customers have been promised full refunds and only been partially repaid, for example.
Check out our review of the best places to buy cologne online to make sure you’re protected.
|Top Notes:||Pineapple, Apple and Birch|
|Middle Notes:||Bergamot, Rose and Jasmine|
|Base Notes:||Ambergris, Musk, Patchouli and Vanilla|
London by English Laundry – Terrible Longevity
London English Laundry smells excellent- for about five minutes. That’s how long it lasts.
Okay, it’s probably closer to an hour, but you get the point. It’s weak. Honestly, one of the most short-lived fragrances I’ve ever set my nose upon.
The initial spray is a burst of juicy pineapple, blackberry and apple, and it really lures you in. Within 20 minutes you’ll notices touch of vanilla and the beginnings of a cedar base – and then after an hour it just vanishes.
I’d only ever even consider London English Laundry for hot summer days where it has a chance to carry. It’s not got the firepower to cut through the cold air, at all.
If you decide to pick it up, just prepare to respray throughout the day. It’s a glovebox cologne, best used directly before you arrive at whatever it is you’re doing so it has a chance of surviving.
|Top notes:||Pineapple, Blackberry and Apple|
|Middle notes:||Juniper, Bergamot, Patchouli and Ambergris|
|Base notes:||Oakmoss, Musk, Jasmine and Vanilla|
Cremo Bergamot and Musk – Just a Little Bland, to be Honest
In general, I find Cremo cologne to be very appealing. But there’s one scent in particular – Bergamot and Musk- which is not really what you would call “my cup of tea”.
There’s just nothing here that grabs my attention beyond those titular notes.
Don’t get me wrong – the bergamot and musk still smell nice, and this cologne could easily be on anyone else’s ranking – it just isn’t my personal favorite. It’s too safe.
It seems like I’m experiencing some fatigue from the seemingly endless supply of bergamot/musk combinations on the market these days.
In terms of longevity, it’s fine, but it doesn’t quite stack up to the other Cremo colognes. I get four to five hours out of it before it’s pretty faded out, which isn’t too disappointing given the price – but not spectacular, either.
P.S. (Updated) It appears Bergamot and Musk has been discontinued – so I have the last laugh!
- Check out our guide to the best Cremo colognes for some better options.
How to Save Money Buying a Budget Cologne
What is the Price per Ounce?
You can make really significant savings depending on what size cologne you buy.
For example, Armani’s Stronger With You costs between $40 and $80, but for double the price you get 7 times as much per cologne.
|Size||RRP||Cost per Oz|
The real metric you should be using to assess value for money is “cost per fluid oz”.
However, if you’ve never tried the cologne before, you’re unlikely to want to make a significant financial outlay on something you’re not sure you’ll like.
The best solution to that problem is to order a small sampler through someone like Microperfumes.com. These guys split up genuine designer colognes into vial-sized 2ml decant, so you can get access to fragrances for just a few bucks.
Each vial contains 10 – 15 sprays, meaning you’re getting around a week’s worth of consistent use to asses the scent. It’s a great way to try a bunch of colognes firsthand to help you find your signature scent.
What’s the Best Place to Buy Cheap Cologne Online?
The best place to buy cheap cologne is somewhere like FragranceX or FragranceNet. They’ve got direct relationships with distributors, and they’re the cheapest guys I’ve found that are still legitimate businesses.
Don’t go ordering colognes, particularly designer ones, from dodgy-looking sites that promise the world.
Established discount retailers like FragranceNet and FragranceX are able to offer such low prices because they buy colognes in bulk when they go out of rotation, capitalize on wasted sampler products, and pass that saving on to the consumer.
Are Cheap Colognes Worth It?
Reputable designer houses tend to use the best ingredients across their ranges. Their cheaper colognes will generally just lack some of their more “boutique” elements, like any avant-garde accords.
With cheap colognes, there’s a quality vs value equation you have to run. Once you pass a certain point, the cheapest colognes start to smell pretty synthetic and off-putting.
Better to go with a straightforward, uncomplicated fragrance from a reputable brand than something from some chancers offering all the bells and whistles.
How to Choose the Best Cheap Cologne
Whenever you’re shopping, keep the following traditional brands of fragrances in mind: Eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne. The concentration of perfume oil present in the first brand is highest, while the third brand contains the lowest amount. Eau de toilette contains a medium level of concentration.
Given the high cost of perfume oil, even the most budget-friendly cologne will almost always be an eau de toilette or eau de cologne.
With a lot of colognes present in the market, getting one with the ideal fragrance you love is challenging. With the following factors in mind, you can buy the best cheap cologne of your choice when shopping:
Pay attention to the scent
When shopping for cologne, this is the most important factor to consider. You want to choose a perfume that gives you a delightful smell.
Avoid that odd smell and those winces around the workplace as you exude a strong scent that may be more appropriate at a bar. If you’re not sure about the perfume scent you’re going to purchase, try visiting a store and asking for a sample.
The agreeableness of a perfume means you should think about how other people react to the fragrance. If many individuals find the fragrance to be excessively strong or irritating, you might have to look for something else. In the end, it may be unwise to make a budget for a perfume that isn’t a pleasing common scent.
Free samples allow you to try it before you buy it and help you avoid mistaking cheap for high quality. The last outcome you desire is a cologne that makes you smell bad.
With availability, some colognes are only accessible in certain parts of the world.
When purchasing cologne, choose a brand that is replaceable if you finish your current one, especially if you dislike switching brands.
Determine a cologne’s intensity by its type. You can find five basic types of cologne on the market.
Eau De Cologne, Eau Fraiche, Eau De Toilette, Eau De Perfume, and Parfum are among them. Parfum is the strongest and lasts longer.
With every other factor considered, make sure that you choose a bottle of sufficient size. Nothing’s worse than buying a 2oz bottle and later finding a 4oz bottle from an equally pleasing brand at a cheaper price.
Provided you smell the fragrances first, ask at a store before buying, you will know whether the 4oz bottle is the better choice. If you are a regular user of aftershave, ask yourself how long it lasts if you use it regularly.
Testing the scents for quality can really help you here. The brands suggested above will help steer you towards an informed choice that suits you.
A cologne’s ingredients determine its scent. There are colognes with a fruity fragrance made of raspberry, pear, and peach, some with floral ingredients like lilac, jasmine, rose, and others with woodsy from ingredients like cedar, patchouli, and moss.
Although alcohol-based aftershave balms can help to curb ingrown hairs, their use in colognes is a different story. Alcohol is a common ingredient used in colognes.
A high price tag doesn’t mean a long-lasting scent.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on perfume to smell nice whether it’s a designer or niche cologne. There are a plethora of good colognes available that you can get at a decent price.
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