Now that our contact with friends and colleagues is limited to video or phone calls or — at the very least — from six feet away, what we smell like may be the very least of our problems. Spending money on cologne may even feel frivolous, yet no other sense is so perfectly attuned to emotion and memory as smell. A spritz of a fresh new cologne can brighten your day and arouse all your senses, something badly needed in the repetitive wheel of working from home. Also, when everything from classes to proms to commencement ceremonies are being canceled, and even Father’s Day get-togethers may be virtual, the gift of cologne may be just the thing to lift somebody else’s spirits.
Since you won’t be able to get to a department store to try some of the latest fragrances, we found out what was trending in this most arcane grooming category. Gender-neutral fragrances are topical; fresh, green elements are trending; and lighter, incense-inspired perfumes are giving a spiritual lift to our days.
“Right now, there is a move towards more and more scents being genderless,” says Henry Rose CEO and co-founder Melina Polly. “Fragrance is such a personal experience and it shouldn’t be tied to the idea that it’s for any specific gender. You should wear whatever fragrance you like.”
Fulton and Roarke co-founder Kevin Keller concurs. “We’re seeing gender-neutral blowing wide open across the spectrum. Pink peppercorn is a really big ingredient in fragrance right now.”
And, when it comes to fragrances, sometimes less is more. “We’re seeing a move towards simplicity in fragrances,” Keller adds. “Some colognes had hundreds of ingredients, but the consumer has no real appreciation of it.”
Here are our favorite colognes this spring.
Yes, these fragrances self-identify as gender-neutral, but nobody’s checking.
Henry Rose Queens & Monsters
Henry Rose, founded by Michelle Pfeiffer, conceives of all of its fragrances as genderless. This latest offering, Queens & Monsters, is also Environmental Working Group and Cradle to Cradle certified for sustainability efforts. Oh yeah, it smells good, too! With notes of violet, neroli, jasmine, vanilla, and sandalwood, the fragrance is initially soft and rich, yet eventually becomes fresh and woody.
Calvin Klein CK Everyone
Everyone is built on Calvin Klein’s now-iconic CK One fragrance: vegan and made from naturally derived alcohol. Organic orange oil layers over “blue tea” (think of the oolong variety of tea: somewhere between black and green teas) and cedar. The recyclable bottle features an elastic band which is an homage to — what else — Calvin Klein underwear.
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, Love is Love
While Love is Love is divided into “pour homme,” and “pour femme” versions, your wife or girlfriend may still want to steal yours. Building on the brand’s Light Blue fragrance, with its iconic campaign featuring the two most beautiful models you’ve ever seen cavorting in a lagoon in Capri, this version is a bit lighter for summer. It features citrusy bergamot and grapefruit, with crisp Granny apple top notes, then it moves through pink pepper, rosemary, musk, amber, and vanilla fragrances as it dries down.
The very essence of spring and summer is expressed through fresh grass, fruit, and herbs.
Fulton & Roark Mahana Solid
Be transported to the Southern tip of Hawaii’s big island and the Papakolea green sand beach. Fulton & Roark’s Mahana transports you there via clean, breezy notes of pomelo, coriander, and fresh green leaves. The solid fragrance comes in an easy to transport tin, perfect for your gym or toiletries bag. It’s highly concentrated, just rub a little into your pulse points.
Gucci Guilty Love Edition Pour Homme
Gucci updates its Guilty fragrance collection with the Love Edition. “Dedicated to eccentric lovers,” the eau de toilette is a spicy green fragrance that starts out with citrusy kumquat, mandarin, and ginger, but then fades to lavender, pink pepper, and rosemary; all the way through to musky patchouli and grassy vetiver. It’s also packaged in a pastel green bottle.
Polo Deep Blue Parfum
Perfect for summer, Polo’s new Blue celebrates citrus and Hawaiian green mango fragrance, as well as the brand’s proprietary CristalFizz ingredient, designed to boost freshness. The parfum dries down to cypress and sage notes with a salty mineral finish.
Incense and Sensibility
Burn some sage, chant your mantra; breathe in, and breathe out to enjoy these ethereal offerings.
Beardbrand Temple Smoke
Beardbrand debuts its new fragrance collection with three impressive scents. There’s Old Money, Four Vices, and, our favorite, Temple Smoke. Each promises to leave a lasting impression on its own, but Beardbrand also backs up the fragrances with coordinating products in beard oils, soaps, mustache wax, and more. Temple Smoke is inspired by oud incense (derived from a Southeast Asian tree resin) with notes of frankincense and myrrh, evoking an exotic spiritual retreat.
Dior Sauvage is inspired by the desert at twilight (you may have seen the somewhat surreal Jonny Depp mini-film created for the scent). Sauvage includes bright, citrusy bergamot tempered with smokey vanilla.
Bleu de Chanel Ocean Spray
Bleu incorporates Cedar and Sandalwood for an intense, woody fragrance. Intensely masculine, the fragrance is evocative of jungle-lined tropical beaches and late-night summer bonfires.
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