Solid cologne vs spray cologne is a contentious issue for some- but it doesn’t need to be.
It’s like asking what’s better- a car or a motorbike. They’ll both get you from A to B, but they are not the same.
They’re simply better for different things, so it really depends on what you’re looking for.
In this guide, I’ll explain why you should give solid colognes a chance.
They’re cheaper. They’re portable. They’re even good for you.
I’ll even recommend a few of my favorites to get you started.
Don’t listen to the spray-sayers; there’s a reason these pocket-friendly colognes are having a renaissance.
What is Solid Cologne?
Solid cologne is essentially fragrance packed into a waxy bar. The consistency is somewhere between soap and a men’s hair putty/clay; strong enough to keep its shape, but will break away under pressure.
It’s applied by using your fingers to swipe a small amount and rubbing it into your pulse points (wrists and neck). Basically, anywhere you’d spray regular cologne.
It’s become increasingly trendy over the past few years, but solid cologne has been around for ages. The history can be traced back to the Ancient Egyptian period when the upper classes would apply aromatics stored in creams and waxes.
What’s the difference between solid cologne and spray cologne?
First, they’re both perfectly capable of doing their job: making you smell incredible. It’s less a case of one being better than the other, and more choosing the right tool for the job.
Here’s the TLDR;
|Spray Colognes||Solid Colognes|
|Long-lasting Fragrance||Great Value for Money|
|Range of Options and Choices||Discrete and Subtle|
|Availability in Stores||Pocket-sized and travel-safe|
|Easy to Store in All Weathers||Skin-friendly and Moisturizing|
Let’s break it down…
Solid Cologne vs Spray- Which is better?
Best Value for Money – Solid Cologne
Solid colognes retail for a fraction of the price of their aquatic counterparts. Most RRP for between 20-50% of what you’d pay for a sprayer.
Plus, because you only need a little smidge of solid cologne to be noticed, you’ll find that each tin lasts about as long as a standard-sized bottle of good-quality cologne.
Solid colognes are also far better in terms of refills. Companies can easily ship out a replacement bar for you to fill your tin with at an even better price.
In terms of value, solid colognes are an underappreciated gem.
Best Availability/ Range – Spray Cologne
As a market, spray colognes are far more established than solid colognes. The choices are endless, and you can be incredibly specific with what you’re looking for.
Every occasion, every personality, every style- there’s a spray cologne out there to perfectly match.
As a less prevalent product, the same can’t be said for solid colognes. There are a lot of choices, but nowhere near as many.
I still think there’s plenty of room to find something that feels special and unique, but you’re not going to be able to specify note for note as you can in spray-world.
This is more of an issue in-store than online. With the internet, you can find hundreds of solid colognes, while a fragrance store may only offer a handful- or NONE at all.
Best for Discretion- Solid Cologne
Compared to a spray, solid colognes are subtle by nature.
I don’t know about you, but I think spraying cologne in public comes off a little obnoxious. Like you’re making some sort of announcement. It’s a straight blast of fragrance and can border on unprofessional at work.
Worse, in close proximity, you might end up spritzing someone else. No Bueno.
With a solid cologne, it’s way easier to stay undercover. You can just swipe a little cologne and apply it without drawing attention to yourself.
Best for Long-lasting Fragrance – Spray Cologne
Spray colognes generally smell stronger and last longer than solid colognes. The carrier method of alcohol is more effective than wax in terms of longevity and projection; that’s just the way it is.
Solid colognes have respectable power; they’ll last between 2 and 6hours, which is better than most budget colognes. But when you compare them to high-end sprays from Gucci and Tom Ford– which last up to 10 hours- they come up short.
Luckily, solid colognes are portable enough to reapply throughout the day, so they’re still a viable option.
Most Skin-friendly – Solid Cologne
The alcohol content in spray colognes can be troublesome for those with sensitive skin. While most people are fine with a daily spray, overuse can dry out your skin and leave you itchy, red, and uncomfortable.
Solid colognes don’t include any alcohol, and often contain actively moisturizing ingredients like shea butter and oils.
So, if you’ve found spray colognes a little abrasive in the past, solid colognes are a great way to smell your best without sacrificing your skin.
Best for Portability/ Travel – Solid Cologne
Let’s start with the obvious. Most cologne bottles are made from glass, which is incredibly delicate.
A smashed cologne bottle in the gym bag is a nightmare. Your bottle is gone, there’s glass everywhere, and your bag will be obnoxiously fragrant unless you wash it 1000 times.
Solid colognes tend to come in smaller, pocket-friendly tins. Since the fragrance isn’t diluted by water and alcohol, you can pack more in less. They’re slender enough to keep in a jacket pocket and can take a real beating.
To give you an idea, they’re usually similar to tins of hair products or cigars.
If you like to travel a lot, you’ll know that the TSA is tight on flying with liquids. I’ve actually had to toss bottles of cologne before I’m allowed onboard.
Thankfully, solid colognes do not qualify as a technical liquid, making them ideal for business travelers who want one less thing to think about.
Best for Ease of Use – Tie
We all know someone that overdoes it with their cologne. When cologne is overpowering it becomes a distraction and makes you difficult to be around.
Spray colognes should be easy to use. The bottle measures your dose for you. But people still manage to take it too far, and douse themselves.
Because solid colognes aren’t as diffused by air and alcohol, you’re not hit by an immediate scent wave that slowly dies off.
Solid colognes are more consistent throughout their lifetime, and never overwhelming if applied in moderation.
That said, they do need a bit of time to pick up. If applied as part of your morning routine, you’ll be in the sweet spot by the time you hit the office.
The absence of volatile alcohol means your projection is generally closer to home. That means that people will have to be relatively close (within arms-length) to smell solid colognes.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s just how it should be. A good cologne intrigues, but does not dominate.
Best for Storage – Spray Colognes
This is only going to apply to you if you live somewhere hot. Canadians, skip ahead.
Any cologne that’s exposed to heat or sunlight is going to degrade. Even with spray colognes, long periods of direct sunlight passing through the bottle are going to diminish the fragrance.
However, solid colognes suffer from this significantly more because they melt.
When solid cologne changes state, the aromatic oils that provide the scent have a chance to escape.
To be safe, you’ll want to store your solid cologne at no more than 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It melts at around 90, and you’ll want some wiggle room to be safe.
Usually, it’s perfectly safe to order solid colognes online. However, there are rare occasions where it has become too warm in transit and becomes defective.
We’re talking about 1 in 1000 though, so don’t worry. Besides, any reputable company will send a replacement and apologize once you explain what’s happened.
How to use Solid Cologne
Step 1 – Choose your scent
This is the fun part- choosing your signature solid cologne.
Are you looking for something light and energizing, or a more aggressive, deep masculinity?
You can check out my recommendations in the next section, or make your own way on Amazon.com for hundreds of options.
Make sure you read a few reviews to help you make a purchase you’re pleased with!
Step 2 – Measure out your solid cologne
Once you’ve cracked open your tin, take a pinch of solid cologne
It’s best to start with a small amount- too small- and work your way up. It’s very easy to apply cologne, but far harder to take it back!
Step 3 – Apply to your pulse points
You apply solid cologne in the same places you would apply spray cologne: on your pulse points.
There’s a reason behind it. Pulse points are the areas where we emit most heat.
This heat causes the aromatics to evaporate, filling the surrounding air for others to enjoy.
Step 4 – Enjoy!
You’ll now be emanating a perfectly weighted masculine aroma, without a spray bottle in sight!
The Best Solid Colognes for 2022
Here are a few of my top solid colognes to get you started:
Best Fruity Solid Cologne- Fleur d’Oranger 27 by Le Labo
I love Le Labo fragrances, and in my recent guide, I had Fleur d’Oranger as one of my top picks. This orange blossom fragrance is all about sunshine, with lemony and floral notes rounded out by musk and bergamot.
It’s made from an almond and coconut oil base, so it has moisturizing effects as well as smells great.
Plus, it’s only a fraction of the cost of the spray bottle. The regular cologne goes for $180, but the solid version is just $35.
Best Fresh Solid Cologne- Lime, Basil and Mandarin by Jo Malone
This fresh blend from British perfumer Jo Malone combines twists of citrus with peppery basil in a tropical breeze.
It’s a smooth and light fragrance and, like Le Labo, way cheaper than its spray bottle counterpart.
Best Masculine Solid Cologne- Bourbon Oak Barrel by Duke Cannon
Duke Cannon produces MANLY products for MEN.
This solid cologne is a woodsy, oak barrel scent inspired by casks from the Buffalo Trace whiskey Distillery.
It’s rugged, outdoorsy, and unapologetically Alpha.
Best Green Solid Cologne- Philosykos by Diptyque
Philosykos is a natural-smelling fragrance that emphasizes greenery and florals- combining in milky, masculine majesty.
The star player here is fig, a unique and pleasant note that I wish I saw more often
It’s also less than half the price of the spray version, which is nice.
FAQ- What You Should Know About Solid Colognes
Are solid colognes worth the money?
Solid colognes are a cost-effective way to access premium fragrances. They tend to retail for between 20-50% of the price of the sprayer version, and can be as cheap as $20.
However, keep in mind that spray colognes tend to last longer per application. So while you’ll get more hours out of a solid cologne, you’ll have to do more work to maintain your fragrance throughout the day.
Does solid cologne expire?
Solid colognes don’t expire, but they will lose potency over time if exposed to heat and direct sunlight. For best results, keep your tin closed and at room temperature.
Solid colognes tend to smell their best for 6 months after opening, which is plenty of time to use up your cologne. It only has the potential to be an issue if you’re rotating between a dozen solid colognes and using very little of each.
Do solid colognes last longer?
Solid colognes last around 4 hours per application, while sprayers can range from an hour for budget colognes up to 10 hours for premium fragrances.
So, it depends on the quality!
Where do you put solid cologne?
You should apply solid cologne to your pulse points, as you would with any regular cologne.
This is because these points emanate the most heat, and will help the fragrance diffuse through the air most effectively.
How do you apply solid cologne so that it lasts all day?
Solid colognes are designed to be lightly applied every 4-ish hours for best results, so I’d recommend carrying some with you.
I don’t recommend applying a day’s worth of solid cologne in one go. It would be overpowering for the first couple of hours.
Solid Colognes are Back, and Here to Stay
If you’ve only been using sprayers so far, perhaps now it’s finally time to solidify your relationship with colognes.
Why not start with one of my recommendations, and drop a comment below if you’ve got a favorite I’ve missed?