The Le Labo brand makes me think of a mad scientist. Their hip, labware-type bottles have always intrigued me.
This week, I made it my mission to conduct an experiment of my own: find the best Le Labo scent for men.
My first stop was their most famous fragrance, Santal 33.
I’d heard some people describe it as a little like pickles. I had to find out for myself.
It’s a little different, but I can understand why people swear by it. It revolves around a delicious sandalwood accord, paired perfectly with a watery freshness that separates it from the pack.
Personally, I was more drawn to their darker accords.
Smokey Patchouli 24 was the winner for me and brought to mind memories of revelry at festivals by the campfire.
Another strong contender was their Fleur d’Oranger 27, packed full of blossom florals and orange oil. Not the most aggressive, but bright and breezy fragrance perfect for quiet confidence.
The handy thing about Le Labo is the low barrier to entry. They offer 15ml sample vials of all their fragrances, so you can try a range before committing to a full-sized bottle
Props to a high-end designer for making it easy to find a signature fragrance to suit your personality!
Best Le Labo Scent for Men- The Complete Guide
- Best Le Labo Scent for Men- The Complete Guide
- Santal 33- Best Le Labo Scent for a Standing Out From the Crowd
- Patchouli 24- Best Le Labo Scent for Rugged Masculinity
- Fleur d’Oranger 27- Best Le Labo Scent for Orange Aficionados
- Oud 27- Best Le Labo Scent for an Authentic Oud Experience
- Ylang 49- Best Le Labo Scent for Trying Something New
- Bergamote 22 Le Labo- Best Le Labo Scent for a Clean Cut Feel
- The Noir 29- Best Le Labo Scent for Year-round Wear
- Vetiver 46- Best Le Labo Scent for Sophistication and Class
- Bonus- Le Labo Fragrance Discovery Set
- FAQ- What You Need to Know About the Best Le Labo Scents for Men
- What Next?
Santal 33- Best Le Labo Scent for a Standing Out From the Crowd
Santal 33 is a true 1 of 1, unlike any other fragrance on the market.
It’s a little strange, with a seasoned vegetal opening that reminds me of fresh cucumber and tomato salad. Different, for sure, but pleasant all the same.
This watery and bright aroma is subtle compared to the main thrust of the Santal 33. The dry, powdery spiced sandalwood and leather combo straddles the line between warm and sweet.
It reminds me of my studying days back in old libraries packed with old leather and wood. The masculinity presented by Santal 33 is of an English gentleman plotting in his drawing-room, unbothered by trivial matters.
This refined fragrance implies authority without demanding it through aggressive notes. The leather here is smooth and clean rather than rugged and dirty, in a similar vein to Tom Ford’s Ombre Leather.
The key sandalwood note has enough grit to keep things interesting while remaining fresh and vivacious.
Santal gets me noticed and complimented almost every time I wear it.
I get a full 10 hour day of meaningful fragrance. It doesn’t fill the room but leaves a trail and people will catch wafts when they interact with you.
It’s no huge surprise to me that Santal 33 has been catching fire in the last few years. The hipster revolution has got its claws on another one of my favorites, and I’m now smelling it everywhere- like Aventus by Creed.
The popularity does seem to take away a little bit of the mystique for me. If I stop wearing it on that account, would I be attempting to out-hipster the hipsters? That would make me just as bad as them.
Patchouli 24- Best Le Labo Scent for Rugged Masculinity
Patchouli 24 is so handsome, it’s almost embarrassing. I don’t think I’ve ever worn this without receiving a compliment.
The first thing to say is that Patchouli 24 is very smokey. It’s untamed and peaty, like a Laphroaig single malt.
The spiced patchouli that this fragrance purported to represent is there but as more of a passenger than you’d expect. The main event here is an attractive smoke smell.
This is deep, dark, and oppressive masculinity.
It’s that sort of campfire smokiness from a summer day on a camping trip. You’ve been chilling with your friends all day, before a night of drinking and dancing around the fire.
If you’re a free-spirited individual who isn’t too precious for the great outdoors, I’d wager that Patchouli 24 is the fragrance for you.
In the dry down there’s a touch of sweetness that opens up from a vanilla expression that I find sort of awkward. I guess it’s there to balance out the earthiness of the smoke, but I’d sort of rather Patchouli 24 stuck to its guns and was bolder with the cowboy aroma.
Like Noir 29, the longevity and sillage are excellent. Patchouli 24 might even edge it. The smoke accords cut through the cold air and are built to stick around.
An excellent mood booster on rainy days, and would suit an outdoorsy lifestyle. It’s the best le Labo cologne for a blast of unapologetically rugged masculinity.
Fleur d’Oranger 27- Best Le Labo Scent for Orange Aficionados
Fleur d’Oranger 27 is a beautiful, green orange blossom fragrance that’s sweet but in a very natural-smelling way.
Fleur d’Oranger 27
It might be my low-key favorite Le Labo scent. Some fragrances can evoke memories, and Fleur d’Oranger reminds me of wandering through Orange groves in southern Spain.
It’s for the sort of gentleman who is sharp and fizzing with energy. Picture a go-getter in life, but one who doesn’t feel the need to shout about it.
He’ll get the job done, but on his schedule, without fuss.
The opening is very bright. Floral notes rush to the front to complement the greenery and orange. It manages to present softer floral notes in a context that feels energizing and refined- over feminine and delicate.
The greenery and orange have enough depth to prevent any ‘bouquet of flowers’ vibes from emerging.
It’s closer to the feeling of sitting under an orange tree in bloom, as a welcome cool breeze carries the fragrances of the meadow in your direction.
Light, summery and inoffensive.
What I love about it most is how natural it smells. Neither the orange blossom, neroli, or jasmine are overdone or synthetic-smelling.
They’re just blended perfectly. It’s an excellent balancing act.
There is nothing like it in terms of mimicking the orange orchard. You can find similar Tom Ford Private blends that emphasize a citrus accord, but none that pay homage to the humble orange.
For me, longevity was average at 6-ish hours of noticeable fragrance. Fleur d’Oranger 27 is not a room-filling fragrance, staying close to the skin. You will pick up compliments, but only if you’re up close.
To be honest, for the price I’d prefer it was a little longer lasting. It feels a bit unfair to have to reapply a fragrance during the day when it’s so expensive.
That said, it is my favorite example of an orange-led scent, period. It’s one for my collection for sure, but I wish it stuck around a little longer.
Oud 27- Best Le Labo Scent for an Authentic Oud Experience
Oud 27 is on the outer fringes of the more challenging and authentic ouds that haven’t been completely cleaned up for the mass market.
Need to know: What does Oud smell like?
amazon: $9.99 for tester
It’s a great opportunity for any gent to take a step beyond the tame, Western designer Oud fragrances and have a go at something bolder.
It’s still completely wearable and pleasant, but it’s not squeaky clean and safe in the mold of Tom Ford Oud Wood or Creed Royal Oud, for example.
There are animatic notes, a barnyard feel that refers to Indian Oud and civet. Prominent musk and a touch of smokiness are the only notable additions here.
I’d compare the smokey dry down to an aged Islay scotch, and it’s a moderated version of the peatiness you find in Patchouli 24.
While the fragrance notes promise a prominent rose, I don’t get any at all. I’m quite pleased about that. The market is overloaded with boring oud-rose fragrances that pull back on a genuine oud expression. They pacify and patronize beginners with sweetness.
Within 2-3 hours, the stronger and more polarising accords have mellowed out. The result is something closer to the cleaner ouds you might be used to. White musk steps forward, while the Oud steps back.
I’d consider Oud 27 a legitimate unisex scent. The oud and civet elements here don’t point in a particularly gendered direction- they’re more transferable primal than that.
Signature worthy? Perhaps for the right person. Just remember that you’re picking up an Oud that is loud and proud, and probably isn’t the ideal choice for the office. It’s a more genuine representation and best suited for those with a daring character who isn’t afraid to stand out.
Ylang 49- Best Le Labo Scent for Trying Something New
This mysterious yet confident cologne is a perfect introduction to its central accord.
Ylang, a flower from the Philippines, is traditionally used in aromatherapy to treat feelings of fear, anger, and depression.
It means “flower of flowers” or “fragrance of all fragrances”. High praise for this deep, rich, and slightly floral/sweet aroma.
This versatile and elegant accord has hints of honey, spice, custard, and jasmine.
Spoiler: it’s delicious.
It’s not an aggressive fragrance and won’t dominate the room, but it is characteristic enough to stand out against the crowd.
I see it as a cologne for the type of man who isn’t fazed by problems or drama. The wearer always keeps a calm exterior, and inspires confidence in those around him.
In the opening, the Ylang combines with Oakmoss and Vetiver for a green, fresh and revivifying burst of energy.
It’s also got a bold patchouli streak that’s reminiscent of Tom Ford White Patchouli, but jumped up to 11.
Through the dry down, a dark and exotic background develops, with hints of earth, musk, and smoke revealing themselves. It’s like the dirty patchouli and ylang you find in Tom Ford’s Black Orchid and provides masculine grounding without being too harsh.
It’s a great example of balancing a delicate Ylang note with deeper, more serious accords.
The unique primary note makes Ylang 49 signature fragrance material if you’re looking for something elegant with a little bite.
Bergamote 22 Le Labo- Best Le Labo Scent for a Clean Cut Feel
Bergamot 22 is like smelling an actual live flower. This does better than smell natural- Bergamot 22 is full-on organic.
The opening is full of succulent orange blossoms. It’s a floral bouquet, but tart and zesty too. It’s not as sour as lemon, but still succulent, cool, and lively.
This fragrance would suit an energetic gent on a summer trip. It’s all about youth and energy and presenting a brand of clean, stylish masculinity rather than rugged aggression.
It’s for the well-kept, confident in their sexuality man who isn’t afraid to cut loose and have fun.
The bergamot and a hint of grapefruit compound this juicy, essential oil sense. It bursts out from the very first spray.
It’s refreshing but floral enough to feel calm and well-balanced. A very fine “clean white shirt” fragrance for when you want to feel crisp and fresh.
There are also hints of greenery and incense grass that make it seem as though you’re waking up from a nap in the park in the summer heat.
In the dry down, earthy touches of musk and Vetiver lead to a base of cedar and vanilla.
It’s similar to Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver, where the vetiver is a little on the smokier side. I’m also reminded of Creed Original Vetiver, where citrus and vetiver intermingle mysteriously.
It’s unpretentious but still utterly cool and crisp. It’s rare to come across a scent as refreshing as this, and worth a try if you’re a fan of either bergamot or orange (or interested to see how they combine).
The Noir 29- Best Le Labo Scent for Year-round Wear
I’ve fallen in love with this jammy, woody juice.
The Noir 29
nordstrom: $172 for refills
In the opening, rich fig and smokey tobacco have a wrestling match. Fig wins, but the partnership of these two primary accords is what makes Noir 29 special.
The fresh, citrusy elements of the fig rest against the darker spiced notes of tobacco. The results are a fragrance that feels opulent and expensive.
The tobacco elements are a little rough, adding to the masculinity of Noir 29. This is not a delicate, sweet cigar scent- it’s closer to cigarette territory, but not overpowering.
Still, it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re not particularly into that sort of thing.
It has shades of Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille, where the tobacco flower accord is front and center rather than a sweet compliment to other accords.
Within half an hour, the opening has bloomed open to reveal notes of bergamot and black tea that invigorate and energize. The more decadent primary notes of fig and tobacco are still the stars, but Noir 29 benefits from this kick. It prevents the composition from becoming too sleepy.
There’s a little hay in the base, which adds a nice earthy sense to the blend. Cedarwood holds everything together and compounds masculinity. The woodiness that feels fresh compared to deeper woods like oak or ebony.
Longevity and sillage are great too. Literally, everyone compliments me when I wear this. Noir 29 projects a solid arm’s length away and lasts for up to 10 hours on my skin. Performance-wise, this is Le Labo at its best.
Noir 29 is an evening fragrance I’d be comfortable wearing year-round. It’s not overtly bright and citrusy, or deep and spiced. It balances both of those senses nicely.
Vetiver 46- Best Le Labo Scent for Sophistication and Class
Vetiver 46 is a sweet and spicy delight. It’s musky, dusky, dark, and stark- and a real treat for people who are looking for a vetiver cologne that pushes the boundaries.
The opening is a peppery and clean green vetiver that soon becomes smokey and deep. It brings forth an interesting, incense-like element that reminds me of an old church or cathedral.
I’d imagine it working well for the sort of Gent who likes the finer things in life. The accords here are uncommon and decadent and would make sense for men of distinction and sophistication.
The base of cloves, guaiac wood, and creamy vanilla pulls this ceremonial sense into a starker perspective. It’s very vanilla-y but not in a gourmand or sweet way.
The combination of vanilla with the aged woods is the sort you find in an aged Laphroig or Lagavulin whiskey. The result is a mysterious and earthy undercurrent in the masculine base.
Comparisons with Gucci pour Homme are justified. There’s a similar, masterful contrast between these more rugged elements and a softer amber accord. Soft enough to get away with at the office, but with a hint of danger to keep things interesting. It’s a winner.
So, what’s the catch? Well, longevity is not where it should be. Vetiver 46 is a tour de force- for about 3 hours. After that, it descends to skin-scent status and I can barely smell it on myself.
Bonus- Le Labo Fragrance Discovery Set
I love having an array of fragrances to hand so I can deploy the one that suits the situation best.
While checking the prices for my top Le Labo picks, I came across their fragrance discovery set.
It contains 5 vials of the best Le Labo scents, so you get to try a whole range of colognes and get a feel for what works for you.
Once you’ve found your favorite, you can commit to buying a full-sized bottle and making it your signature scent.
FAQ- What You Need to Know About the Best Le Labo Scents for Men
Hopefully, you feel ready to step into the lab and pick out a signature fragrance.
While Santal 33 deserves all the credit it gets, my pick for best Le Labo scent for men has got to go to either Patchouli 24 or Fleur d’Oranger 27.
Between that pair, you’ve got everything. For darker aggression on cooler nights, it’s the smokiness and power of Patchouli 24. But when the sun’s shining and you’re just down for something light and fun, you can’t go wrong with Fleur d’Oranger.
Ylang 49 is also a dark horse for an underutilized primary accord that you could claim as a unique signature scent.
With sample vials available for all these fragrances, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t order a few to test so you can find your favorite.
I’ve included links to all fragrances at the best prices I could find, so check them out and enjoy your new hipster fragrances!