We all know this guy. The guy who bathes in his cologne. The guy we can smell half-a-block away. The guy who gives us even the most civil, virtuous hug, but leaves a redolent trail that our significant other smells on us hours later.
When we first learned about solid colognes, the number one selling point was that they were resourcefully packaged in sturdy little tins. They travel easily, effortlessly tossed into a carry-on, a gym bag or a desk drawer without ever having to worry about leaking or breaking.
Then we learned that, because the scents are encapsulated in moisturizing compounds rather than alcohol-based liquids, the fragrance becomes understated and focused. As Outlaw Soaps puts it on their website, “Because we feel like scent is a personal thing to be shared between you and those literally closest to you, these are subtle scents.”
Rub a finger into the pot, dab some of the cologne on pulse points like the wrist and neck, and enjoy —without over-sharing.
Most of the brands we’ve shown here offer multiple scent stories too. Once you’ve tried one, feel free to experiment. The approachable price point for most of these allows — dare we say, encourages — experimentation. Which is something you can’t say for the high dollar, liquid colognes and fragrances at your local Macy’s.
Finally, why should you have all the solid fun? Get some fragrance for your home, too. The Moodo is a smart aroma diffuser that’s like a Keurig fell head over heels for an incense burner and produced the best-scented room you could ask for.
Without further ado, we give you the best solid colognes for men (and a bonus room refresher).
Fulton & Roark credits geraniums grown in Madagascar – and thus provides a bit more robust fragrance than the flower-potted varieties we know—with lending a rich, green smell to their Clearwater blend. Oak moss, wood, and citrus are added “to create a fragrance that reminds us of the Clearwater River in Washington state, rushing from the Olympic Mountains toward the sea.” We think the sturdy, hinged container is pretty cool, too.
Bravado’s top notes are described as “woodsy and oriental with spicy notes of nutmeg, sandalwood and leather.” The overall effect is one of a masculine fragrance that isn’t overpowering. As one reviewer put it “I didn’t know handsome had a scent.” Rub some on and get better looking with each sniff.
Desert Cedar is like a vacation in the American Southwest packaged in a tin with its hints of leather, brush resin, minerals, and clay. The company creates its formulations by gathering the same scents you might come across while hiking a trail, breathing nature’s deep, ambrosial palette. Tough day at work? Close your eyes and be transported to the great outdoors.
Named for the company founders’ grandfathers, Ulio and Jack were two tough guys who met everything life threw at them head on, and then still went on to live the American dream, raise families, and enjoy their lives to the fullest. The brand’s Drifter scent incorporates a blend of cardamom and mandarin with subtle sandalwood, clove, and leather for a sweet, yet spicy take on a men’s fragrance.
Buffalo Trace is one of our favorite straight bourbon whiskeys, and it just so happens to also be the inspiration for Duke Cannon’s Bourbon fragrance. But don’t take this one neat: layer it by washing up first with their Big American Bourbon Soap. Looking for a unique gift? Duke Cannon’s American Soap and Hatchet Set gives a new meaning to the term toiletries kit.
OK, so when we think of the movie Blazing Saddles, there are some other fragrances that come to mind, but let’s stick with Outlaw’s inspired solid cologne reminiscent of leather, gunpowder (!), sandalwood, and sagebrush. Truly, the scent is an Old-West fantasy. Combine it with its Fire in the Hole and The Gambler colognes for a trio of badass, but great-smelling characters.
Of the many scents Le Labo offers, we chose Neroli 36 because of the many, many benefits said to be offered by Neroli essential oil. We hear it’s good for treating depression, as well as anxiety, stress, and insomnia. But best of all, it’s considered an aphrodisiac and can help with loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, and impotence! We don’t know if wearing this lovely fragrance actually helps with any of that, but rub some on, and see what kind of trouble starts brewing.
Presenting another opportunity for subtly layering a favorite fragrance while making sure facial hair is soft and touchable, Bush Klawz creates beard oil conditioner and leave-in beard butter in a suite of fragrances that are rounded out by solid cologne. The four fragrance “stories”—Pacific, Urban, Lumber, and…ahem…Naked Princes (Naked Prince is actually unscented, so not really a part of this story) each have their own distinct appeal. We also like that the fragrance comes in a travel size stick!
Bawston & Tucker’s Hurytt solid cologne incorporates honeysuckle and French lavender with bergamot, orange, and wood. Turns out the founder developed his original formula while searching for a simple solution for his dog…now it’s developed into a collection of fragrance, beard care, and shave care that will bring out the old dog in you.
Moodo is a smart fragrance diffuser that allows users to mix and create room scents using an app, or even Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant! The sleekly designed cube looks like a piece of stereo equipment, while the fragrance capsules are reminiscent of Keurig coffee pods. Pop four capsules from various “Scent Families,” into the unit, and then use the app to adjust the mix of each fragrance to your own liking. Part of the “internet of things,” the unit connects to your WiFi (Editor’s note: I initially had a little problem connecting the unit to my network, and there was a customer service email waiting for me the next morning, offering assistance!). Your home smells fresher and there are no worries about scented candles or burning incense sticks catching anything on fire!
If solid cologne is a little new-wave for you, you can always opt for one of our favorite traditional colognes.
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