A Layman’s Guide to Cologne Types

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The first step to choosing a cologne is knowing what’s in it in the first place, right? Men’s fragrances are defined by four main categories that describe the ingredients and the resulting scents they create.

Once you understand the categories, you can figure out if you’d rather smell like a forest, an orchard, fresh-cut lawn, or an exotic spice market.

We take a look at each type and the key notes that go into each one. Keep in mind though that many colognes today are an exciting and innovative fusion of these categories.
If you have a particular smell that you favour or are drawn to, find its category and start from there…


A sensual and rich scent that is defined by spices such as vanilla, ginger, and cinnamon. Musky scents also fall into this category, providing a heavy, lingering and powerful silage to these scents.

A masculine fragrance with warm and spicy notes Davidoff Run Wild For Him Eau de Toilette opens with enticing top notes of ginger and cinnamon.

Smells like: an exotic island breeze on a balmy summer day.

30m EDT R650.00, 50ml EDT R850.00, and 100ml EDT R1,195.00

The pungent, lemony-gingery notes of Hugo Boss BOSS The Scent Absolute for Him Eau de Parfum warm to a smoky base of vetiver and sweet, sensual Mondia root.

Smells like: the alluring furl of smoky spices lingering in the stillness of night.

50 ml EDP R1,200.00 and 100ml EDP R1,550.00

Intensifying its character with incense, leather accord and a subtly sweet note of tobacco, Gucci By Gucci Pour Homme Eau de Toilette Spray lavishes the aroma with a warm embrace of amber and black pepper.

Smells like: the mingling cigar-lounge aromas of tobacco and wood polish.

50ml EDT R1,115.00 and 90ml R1,480.00

Spicy yet aromatic the new Yves Saint Laurent Y Man Eau de Parfum opens with zesty ginger and fresh geranium warming to a sensual and sweet base of Tonka bean and Olibanum.

Smells like: wisps of smoky incense wafting sensually on a midsummer night.

60ml EDP R1,460.00 and 100ml EDP R1,920.00


Aromatic fragrances have a rustic scent with a certain freshness, often coming from herbal notes. If you can cook with it, it’s probably an aromatic note. Think marjoram, mint, rosemary and sage.

Opening with a hint of citrus Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme Eau de Toilette has an intensely aromatic heart of lavender and sage grounded with warm woody notes of cedar and sandalwood.

Smells like: the masculine freshness of a gentleman’s Barber Shop.

75ml EDT R1,165.00, 125ml EDT R1,615.00 and 200ml EDT R1,980.00

The abundant French sage and pink peppercorn of Montblanc Explorer Eau de Parfum fuse harmoniously with the masculine and subtle notes of Haitian Vetiver and hints of patchouli.

Smells like: Leafy country roads on a crisp autumn day.

60ml EDP R1,199.00 and 100ml EDP R1,499.00

Opening with powerful aromatic freshness Chanel Bleu de Chanel Parfum Spray dries down to a sensual and lingering woody base of sandalwood.

Smells like: a nostalgic meander through rain-wet forests.

50ml Parfum R1,740.00, 100ml Parfum R2,405.00 and 150ml Parfum R2,925.00

Aromatic with hints of the orient Hugo Boss, Boss Bottled Eau de Toilette blends the crisp notes of apple and geranium with a fresh, clean base of cedar and vetiver.

Smells like: wisps of smoky incense wafting sensually on a midsummer night.

50ml EDT R1,095.00 and 100ml EDT R1,440.00


This embodies a wide variety of vigorous scents that focus on citrus, green, and watery, aquatic smells. Aromas of orange, lemon, yuzu and sea breezes are common in this light and crisp scent.

The vibrant top notes of bergamot and neroli of Bvlgari Man Wood Essence Neroli Eau de Parfum flow through a heart of cedarwood creating a clean, sharp and masculine scent.

Smells like: dewy citrus blossoms beckoning the new day.

60ml EDP R1,260.00 and 100ml EDP R1,680.00

The crisp and cool top notes of orange and Bergamot in John Varvatos Artisan Pure Eau de Toilette combine with fragrant Coffee Tree flowers and sensual sandalwood.

Smells like: Leafy country roads on a crisp autumn day.

75ml EDP R1,240.00 and 125ml EDP R1,499.00

The crisp, sweetness of orange and bitterness of grapefruit at the top of Terre d’Hermès Parfum Spray blend with exciting hints of spicy pepper and cedarwood.

Smells like: a stroll through an orchard on a balmy moonlit night.

50ml Parfum Spray R1,430.00, 100ml Parfum Spray R1,935.00 and 125ml Parfum Spray R2,230.00
(available at selected stores only)

The zesty orange and lemon top notes of Ermenegildo Zegna Uomo Eau de Toilette combine elegantly with violet and a sensual base of cedar and vetiver.

Smells like: a scintillating breeze caressing sunny Sicilian hillsides and shores.

50 ml EDP R1,200.00 and 100ml EDP R1,550.00


This scent derives from nature and gives off a very masculine smell.  Centred on notes of sandalwood, cedar, and moss, these crisp, forest-inspired scents are refreshing and nostalgic.

With an underlying hint of mischief, Jimmy Choo Man URBAN HERO Eau de Toilette combines zesty lemon caviar with warm black pepper and a sensual base of vetiver.

Smells like: the promise of spring in the crisp autumn air.

100ml EDT R1,450.00

The sensual allure of Dolce&Gabbana Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Homme combines watery and citrus freshness with a notable base of musky and woody notes in an irresistibly masculine scent.

Smells like: a lemony breeze tingling on sun kissed skin.

50ml EDP R855.00, 100ml EDP R1,470.00 and 200ml EDP R2,125.00

The intense woody notes of cedar and cypress in Bvlgari Man Wood Essence Eau de Parfum blend comfortably with the freshness of coriander and hints of citrus that linger on the skin.

Smells like: gathering mushrooms in a misty forest.

60ml EDP R1,260.00 and 100ml EDP R1,680.00

A perfect balance of masculine, woody aromas and watery, aquatic notes Armani Acqua Di Gio Homme Absolu Parfum is a sensual blend of patchouli, labdanum resinoid and an addictive ambery base.

Smells like: crisp ocean air tumbling on sun-baked beaches.

75ml EDP R1,550.00, 125ml EDP R1,950.00 and 200ml EDP R2,990.00


The French influence is undeniable when it comes to colognes and fragrances. Though this adds a certain degree of je ne sais quoi, this can be difficult to understand for non-French speakers. Here are some terms that come up while choosing colognes:


This simply means perfume and has the largest percentage of oils (>20%), lasting up to 6 hours.

Eau de Parfum

This is quite literally a slightly watered down perfume, as “eau” means water in French. This has 10-20% oil and lasts 4-5 hours.

Eau de Toilette

A lightly scented fragrance that is used more as a skin freshener, containing 7-12% oil and lasting 3-4 hours.

Eau de Cologne

The lightest of the fragrances, this type only contains 2-7% oil and lasts 2-3 hours.

Pour Homme

This phrase is often found on colognes and simply means “for men”.



Editor | Neil Doveton
Photographer | Ian Engelbrecht / One League
Designer | De Wet van Rensburg / glitch.capetown

*Prices and product availability are subject to change