We’ve all been there: there’s one co-worker who has an unpleasant cologne odor. It makes people in the office silently recoil when they walk by, and they avoid his desk or office because of the overpowering fragrance. No one wants to be “that guy.” The point of wearing cologne is to feel great and smell good, so no one wants to be responsible for creating a scent so offensive it makes the office air toxic.
Some colognes work best in certain settings. For example, a strong, alluring cologne works better in a nighttime, intimate setting. A fresh, light scent that doesn’t offend anyone’s nose and makes people feel more confident around you is better for the office. The bottom line is that the right scent at the right time matters. There’s a fine line between making a great impression at the office and being remembered as the guy who made the whole office unbearable.
Business Scents Inspire Confidence
You may be wondering why you should bother wearing cologne at all. Of course, some guys opt for the au naturel grooming choice for work. But cologne doesn’t have to be something to shy away from if you enjoy wearing it as part of your daily routine. In fact, the right cologne makes an excellent first impression when meeting new colleagues in the business world. Your signature scent can bring you more confidence and have a positive effect on the people you meet and work with, and may even inspire great conversations.
However, some offices do implement a fragrance-free policy, which applies to both men and women. In these offices, employees are asked not to wear colognes, perfumes, scented lotions, powder or other personal scent products at work. Companies do this to protect employees who have sensitivities or health problems related to certain chemicals. A scent-free policy doesn’t just apply to personal hygiene. It can also include industrial cleaning products and indoor air quality. This is something you might want to ask your manager about, or check your company’s human resources policy.
Once you’ve done your homework and determined that scent is not against policy, it’s time to choose the right work fragrance. There are many factors that will determine the best colognes for work and the office, including how you feel when wearing the scent, the fragrance profile, how the scent projects and how long it lingers on the skin.
Just like your best-fitting suit or power tie, you need to carefully consider which cologne is best for a work environment. Remember that certain scents can have an effect on your brain chemistry. For example, mint, eucalyptus, bergamot and other bright botanical scents can help keep your mind alert and awake. At the same time, certain floral scents like ylang-ylang and lavender can help your mind feel relaxed and calm.
Office Etiquette for Cologne
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when wearing cologne at the office:
- Wear the cologne, don’t let it wear you. Wearing a cologne should enhance how you look and feel, not hinder your style. The right cologne should be something unique to you but also not too noticeable. Cologne should subtly enhance how your colleagues interact with you. If your cologne has too many obscure fragrance notes or is too strong, it can be off-putting and distracting to co-workers.
- Less is more. The concept of being understated rather than overstated is never more appropriate than with office scent. A light touch of cologne is all you need, and when in doubt, put on a little less rather than adding extra spritzes or dabs. The amount you wear makes a difference.
- Skin for the win. Avoid spraying cologne onto your clothes. In addition to risking staining your clothing, fabric tends to hang on to cologne longer than the skin. When you dab cologne or spray it directly onto your skin, it works with your body’s chemistry to naturally dissipate the fragrance.
- Accept feedback. If someone at your office comments about your cologne, make sure you listen and take their feedback appropriately. The goal is to always smell good, but if someone has a particular issue with your cologne, try to avoid it on workdays. It’s like the meme about microwaving fish for lunch in the office kitchen: Respecting the office environment is key.
Now that you know more about choosing a cologne and how to wear it, let’s take a look at the best colognes for work and the office.
Atlantis by Blu Atlas will give you the confidence to take on even the toughest day at the office. With refreshing yet calming notes of bergamot, clary sage, lavender, apricot and lemon, you’ll have a clear head and an open heart, and will be ready for whatever work challenges come your way.
Once the top and middle notes dry down and the base notes of orris, violet, oak moss, ambrette seed and musk are revealed, you’ll feel grounded and calm. Atlantis is inspired by the coastal jungles of Bali, so when office tension rises, close your eyes, breathe deeply and dream about your next beach vacation.
Because of its bright and clear fragrance notes, the fragrance profile of Atlantis will be recognized and appreciated by your co-workers. With its sleek matte black bottle and handy magnetic cap, it will be the cologne you reach for again and again for days at the office as well as on weekends.
You can wear Atlantis with confidence because it is vegan, cruelty-free and formulated with industry clean standards. Furthermore, it’s made without parabens, preservatives, phthalates or synthetic dyes. This is the perfect office-friendly, co-worker-approved cologne.
2. Polo Earth by Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren has many colognes for men, but Polo Earth may be the least well-known classic and light scent. With notes from the floral and citrus family, all of the elements of this cologne are familiar and soft. The ingredients are 97% natural and sourced sustainably from local communities around the world.
Notes of sage, mandarin, lavender and bergamot lend a fresh and bright aroma to Polo Earth. Reviewers online admire this cologne’s fresh and subtle scent that lasts throughout the day. While it is a unisex scent that can be worn by both men and women, guys say there’s enough masculine power to this cologne to make it a favorite for days at the office.
3. Eucalyptus Cologne
Made by luxury fragrance company Thymes, Eucalyptus Cologne is the invigorating and mind-alerting fragrance you need for long days in meetings at the office. This refreshing scent will awaken your senses long into the afternoon.
In this botanically inspired fragrance, the star note is invigorating eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus oil has been used for centuries as a naturally stimulating fragrance that awakens the senses, improves brain function and fights fatigue. And eucalyptus is only the start. Fragrance notes of fresh fir, lemongrass and bergamot also make this cologne an inspiring choice. To balance the botanical notes, Eucalyptus Cologne also contains petitgrain, which has a deep citrus and mandarin orange scent with woody undertones.
Reviewers say this fragrance is refreshing and lasts all day, with one reviewer saying it makes everything seem okay. And who doesn’t need that at the office?
4. Roadster by Cartier for Men
You may not be out on the open road with the wind in your hair and sun on your face when working at the office all day, but with Roadster by Cartier, you can feel that way.
Roadster leans into the inspiring notes of French labdanum, which is derived from resin and has the aroma of amber yet is sweet and woody. Combined with patchouli, vanilla, bergamot and mint, Roadster has a scent that is mellow, powdery and warm.
Launched in 2008, Roadster has been a favorite cologne for the professional man for years. Reviewers describe this scent as clean, soothing and captivating. They also report that it lasts for hours without fading. Your work day may flow a little better with Cartier’s Roadster.
5. Clean Reserve Skin Cologne
It’s not often that you hear a fragrance described as sheer. But that’s how one reviewer chose to explain Clean Reserve cologne. Made by the Clean Beauty Collective, Clean cologne comes in eco-friendly packaging and is vegan, phthalate-free and cruelty-free.
With a warm and sweet base of creamy Madagascar vanilla, fragrance notes of lotus flower, honeydew and musk are added to make this cologne a scent that stays under the office radar. All anyone will notice is the fresh, clean and mildly sweet scent of someone who has just stepped out of the shower.
The goal of Clean Beauty Collective’s Clean Reserve was to replicate the scent of touchable bare skin. If you’re looking for simple and understated when it comes to cologne, this is an excellent choice for work and the office.
6. Givenchy Gentleman
If classy and sophisticated had a scent, this would likely be it. Gentleman by Givenchy is a distinctive cologne that will ensure you are noticed; however, it’s not so strong that you come across as flashy.
This whiskey-inspired cologne uses barley in its manufacturing process, just like the master distillers of fine spirits. Other notes include bergamot, black pepper, iris and black vanilla. The result is an elegant fragrance for men with a smooth scent that evokes both mystery and boldness.
Reviewers comment that Gentleman by Givenchy is dark, slightly sweet and powdery. One reviewer called Gentleman a masterpiece and says it’s versatile enough for a day at the office but can effortlessly cross over to a night out on the town.
7. Burberry Touch
Burberry’s first men’s cologne premiered in 1981; since then, they have launched dozens of scents. One f the softest and most timeless items in their fragrance collection for men is Touch. Reviewers say this cologne is easy to wear and will not offend anybody, and they love its ability to last all day.
Firmly situated in the woody and floral scent profile, Touch is subtle but memorable. It opens with sweet top notes of violet, artemisia and mandarin orange. After the dry down, the middle notes of white pepper, nutmeg and cedar are revealed. Finally, the base notes of white musk, tonka bean and vetiver firmly ground this aroma, which is reminiscent of the woods after a fresh rain.
8. Byredo Mister Marvelous
European luxury brand Byredo is known for its unique and powerful men’s and women’s fragrances. The goal of the brand’s fragrances is to translate memories and evoke emotions. Mister Marvelous is a cologne that will remind you of the classiest businessman you have ever met and inspire you to emulate him.
This vegan-formulated cologne has top notes of bergamot, mandarin and neroli, and middle notes of bamboo and lavender for a calming, floral scent. The woody base notes of amber and cedarwood tie everything together.
Byredo founder Ben Gorham said of this cologne, “There are so many facets that can make a man marvelous.” This fragrance is one masculine facet that will leave you smelling amazing.
9. Checkmate by Mind Games
Technically, Checkmate is not a cologne just for men. Parent company Mind Games created a line of fragrances for men and women meant to be worn by both genders. This is an extrait de parfum, which is a highly concentrated perfume oil, so a little goes a long way.
The complex scent profile in Checkmate is bound to get noticed by office mates, but in a decidedly positive way. The fragrance notes in Checkmate are a combination of woody and floral notes, including magnolia, rose, tobacco, tree moss and patchouli. The scent is deep and complex, and only the lightest amount of fragrance is needed to make an impact.
The natural ingredients in Checkmate are traceable to the farmers who cultivate them and the company supports local community projects.
10. Tumi Awaken
If feeling inspired and invigorated at the office is what you’re after, Tumi’s Awaken should be on the agenda. This cologne will give your mind and spirit a little boost to inspire productivity and may even make your co-workers more productive, too.
Tumi starts bright and fresh, with top notes of bergamot, grapefruit and coriander. The result is a citrusy aroma with a hint of spice. The scent moves on to middle and base notes of cypress, frankincense and cedarwood to complete the woody and clean aroma.
This cologne gets many five-star reviews online, and reviewers are complimentary of its long-lasting scent. They describe the scent as crisp and clean, and say it’s a high-class fragrance that can be worn for virtually any occasion.
11. Lacoste Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Blanc Cologne for Men
If you’re a man of a certain age, you’ll remember that the Lacoste crocodile logo was all the rage in men’s and women’s fashion decades ago. The brand is still popular, and their fragrance line has much to offer those who want to make a style impression.
Lacoste Blanc has a prominent botanical and fresh fragrance profile, making it one of the best colognes for work and the office. The middle notes, or heart, of this fragrance are ylang-ylang and tuberose, so a soft, floral element comes through. Other prominent notes include grapefruit, rosemary and cardamom.
This is a bright scent that has a soft feeling but can leave you invigorated. Reviewers online enjoy its clean and mild scent, and say this is an excellent choice for guys to wear daily.
12. DIME No 1 Cologne
If you have sensitive skin or allergies, DIME Beauty’s No. 1 cologne is an excellent hypo-allergenic choice. Made of safe synthetic and natural ingredients, this cologne is vegan and cruelty-free, making it a natural cologne choice.
No. 1 Cologne opens bright and cool with bergamot to give a deliciously citrus-inspired aroma. Notes of sandalwood and amber musk deepen the woody scent, giving it a spicier profile. Reviewers online say even users with allergies tolerate this fragrance well, and they love its long-lasting wear.
If you’re sensitive to many colognes and also want to be mindful of fragrance-free company policies, the No. 1 Cologne by DIME Beauty may help you sneak your scent in under the office’s radar.
13. Tru Western Yellowstone Ride Men’s Cologne
If you spend long days at the office but secretly dream of being a cowboy on the Dutton Ranch, this is your scent. It’s a Western-inspired vibe, and you’ll feel like you’re on a horse in Montana even though you’re under the fluorescent conference-room lights.
This cologne is for a bold office or work environment. With notes of whiskey, bourbon, sage, vanilla and bergamot, this is a raw, tough scent that lasts all day. Fans of this cologne say it’s seductive and richly masculine.
14. Clinique Happy for Men Cologne
Even if you’re not thrilled about going into the office some days, with Clinique Happy for Men, you can fake it till you make it.
This cologne gets its uplifting spirit from citrus notes that are blended to make a bright, refreshing scent. With lime, orange, lemon, jasmine and wood notes like cedar, the fragrance is clear and aromatic, with familiar scents that aren’t offensive or overly complex.
Launched in 1999, Clinique’s Happy for Men has been a favorite with guys for decades. Reviewers online say this is an easy-to-wear fragrance that is versatile enough to wear anywhere, including the office. It’s a mood-boosting, cheery cologne that will keep you going even when the hours at the office drone on.
15. Coach Cologne for Men
Coach brand says mavericks, dreamers and rebels inspired this classic cologne for men. If that’s the profile you’re going for at the office, then this is your chance to make a statement.
With base notes of vetiver, suede and ambergris, there’s a solid foundation of leather and wood to this cologne. The middle and top notes soften the aroma with geranium, pear, grapefruit and lavender. The result is a masculine fragrance with gentle floral notes that ground this cologne in its masculine profile.
Reviewers admire this cologne’s fruity yet woody fragrance and say it is perfect for a long day at the office that transitions into a night out on the town.
16. John Varvatos
This spicy and woody cologne from men’s fashion designer John Varvatos is probably the most complex fragrance on our round-up of the best colognes for work and the office. It has a decidedly masculine and spice-heavy profile, so a little goes a long way.
The potent base notes of John Varvatos cologne include leather, balsam, oud, amber and vanilla. These scents form a solid foundation for the lighter spicy notes, like clary sage, tamarind, coriander and date. The date and vanilla emerge to lend a light sweetness to this otherwise deep and dark scent.
This cologne is described by reviewers online as unique and full of delightful contradictions: bold yet relaxed; masculine yet delicate.
17. Jimmy Choo Man Aqua Eau de Toilette
With Jimmy Choo Man, you get a little bit of all your favorite scents rolled up into one solid fragrance that is both masculine and delicate. This cologne manages to be simultaneously effervescent and grounding, so no matter what kind of day you’re having at work, you can stay calm and on top of things.
Reviewers of this fragrance for men say it lasts all day and has a distinctive fragrance profile. It’s versatile enough to wear at a high-powered meeting, casual work day, and anything in between.
In Jimmy Choo Man, lavender notes are the top scents that hit you. Middle notes of geranium and pineapple leaf add more floral and citrusy profiles to keep the scent upbeat. The base notes of amber, patchouli and amber create a well-rounded fragrance that helps ground this cologne in masculinity.
18. Bleu de Chanel
This classic scent by the legendary fashion house Chanel is easy to wear to the office, primarily because of its familiarity. This scent has been so popular in the men’s fragrance world that most people will recognize the smell.
Blue de Chanel is crisp and elegant. All the fragrance notes are sharp but together work seamlessly to create this vibrant fragrance. The base of this cologne is aromatic and woody, with notes of cedar, tonka bean and sandalwood. The lighter notes of lemon, ginger and mint keep it fresh and tone down the base notes.
Online reviewers have a lot of positive things to say about Bleu de Chanel. They tout its longevity on the skin and note that it feels like they’re putting in a suit when they wear it.
19. Louis Vuitton Imagination
You hope to be inspired. You want great ideas. You long for creativity. If this is you, then Louis Vuitton’s Imagination is the office-friendly cologne you need.
The name Imagination is not just a marketing hook. This citrusy scent is actually brain-stimulating. It has ginger and cinnamon notes, which can increase serotonin and dopamine levels. Other notes include black tea, which, in its aromatic form, can help improve memory and attention.
One reviewer says Imagination by Louis Vuitton puts him in a good mood every time he wears it. That would be a big win for a day at the office in anyone’s book.
20. Tacit by Aesop
Aesop is a brand that creates grooming formulations with sensory pleasure in mind. Tacit, a unisex fragrance, is a complex scent filled with various botanical notes. All Aesop fragrances are vegan and cruelty-free.
Tacit opens with yuzu and citrus notes and dries down to reveal fresh basil. Vetiver and cloves are the base notes, so that the fragrance can be reminiscent of a fresh garden or a walk in the damp woods. The overall impression of Tacit is clean and refreshing.
One reviewer said of Tacit that it is ridiculously satisfying in the most subtle, understated way. For an office environment, nothing can be better than making a statement without having to say a word.