Finding A Men’s Cologne: A Reader Needs Our Help!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Let’s show a little love to the boys today and help this reader out. Have any of you found a clean men’s cologne? Or made one yourself? From our inbox…

Hi ladies,

I’m having an extremely difficult time finding a good cologne for my husband! He used to wear Polo Blue, and while it smelled wonderful I won’t let him wear it anymore. I was buying him the Herban Cowboy one from Whole Foods for a bit, but I read somewhere that it might not be any better for him. I got him a sample of Honore de Pres Nu Green, and his response to whether or not he liked it was a shrug. I think it was a bit too feminine. Most websites, like SBL just have a unisex fragrance section, and the scents aren’t quite “manly” enough. Could you tell me, or ask our lovely community, whether they have any suggestions? Or maybe someone has a good recipe using EOs and vodka or something that I could whip up for him. The rest of his routine is clean as a whistle, but there are just so few options to fill this void. Poor guy needs to smell nice too!


27 Responses to “Finding A Men’s Cologne: A Reader Needs Our Help!”
  1. danielle says:

    MCMC fragrance in Hunter

  2. Rebecca Bailey says:

    Something with a vetiver base note is gender neutral and may be nice, if he (and you!) like vetiver. The muscle detox oil in a post a while back is actually a nice fragrance – you could leave out the more flowery oils like lavender if you wanted. Evan Healy has some nice oils/attars that would work (some stuff is definitely more flowery – but straight vetiver and patchouli cacao are very gender neutral). EH sells some small sizes to try things, and the scents are strong enough that you could easily dilute in a carrier oil to make it go a long way.

  3. Kaylin says:

    I would love to hear other recommendations for clean products for men! Any recommendations for an aftershave balm?

  4. Maya says:

    I bought Honore de Pres Chaman’s Party for my husband and he’s been happy with it. It’s described as a unisex fragrance, but it’s very woodsy – I don’t find it to be feminine at all. SBL usually has sample sizes available for most of their fragrances.

  5. Ny says:

    Submariner by Harvey Prince smells pretty decent, but it looks like they may be out of business :( — They are not 100% natural as far as I remember, but they steer clear of all the nasty ingredients like phthalates, parabens, sulfates, benzene, GMOs, and triclosan. Plus they don’t do animal testing. Other retailers still have some of their stuff though, but you’d be taking a gamble buying online without smelling it first.

    Honorés Trip smells pretty (maybe not the best word) great. It’s smells more GQ manly…there’s that better.

  6. Rae says:

    A friend of mine from out east was wearing DS Durga ( ) and although I am not sure which sent it was, it was PHENOMENAL. He smelled like all things dude in the best way possible. I love wearing mens cologne but this one was a little too strong for me, but on him it just worked. They do have plenty of scents but I personally wouldn’t want to purchase unless I was in a store and could test it on my skin.

    And although this company doesn’t come right out and say they are “green” they state their fragrances are made in small batches with raw materials.

  7. Kate says:

    I have nothing useful to add here. I just wanted to say how much (How. Freaking. Much) I love the post’s accompanying picture.

  8. Holarosa says:

    Strange Invisible! My husband wears Magazine Street, but they also have many unisex fragrances which are more masculine with lots of leather and musc like Black Rosette. And they are most definitely healthy/natural, though a bit pricier than others mentioned here.

  9. Victoria says:

    What a great topic! @Kaylin if you would like to know of clean products for men I highly recommend Ursa Major For Men. What a great brand and a nice group of people!

    Last August while launching our perfumes at the Elements Showcase in NY I was fortunate enough to meet many perfumers and discuss the concept of modern scents for both men and women. One conversation in particular with the incredible Ron Robinson of Apothia in LA stuck with me. We discussed the fact that scent, materials, and the olfactive sense is neither male nor female and the new fragrance consumer is seeking an “experience” rather than a scent that defines them. Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes shared her love of smelling things and offered this advice to us “you’re doing something different and it’s wonderful. Don’t let anyone try and change you.” This advice I’m sure was due to the concern that we use only natural materials and there is some sort of stigma in the perfume world towards natural perfuming. I also believe that as far as men are concerned the belief that they are limited in what they can wear is just no longer true. Being creative and making intriguing, complex and emotionally embracing scents is growing with naturals. Plus it’s an added bonus that true scents smell different on every person and that just makes it much more unique and coveted by modern scent consumers. Who wants to smell like everyone else? I like the fact of “owning” a scent that will remind someone of just me!

    So when it comes to scent I believe it should be up to the individual person to decide what scents are exciting and intoxicating enough to want to wear on your body representing a part of you. I know some scents can be defined as more feminine than others, but as a designer of perfume I’m fearless to use a beautiful flower essence with a smoky wood note and continue to layer and build a wonderful fragrance. I’d love nothing more than to advocate gender neutral scents and instead focus on what makes people feel good to wear, That’s how I created Buenos Aires perfume for La Bella Figura and it’s always fun when someone tries it and makes that connection.

    Incredible natural perfumes are out there and I’m pretty excited to see more and more perfumes for both men and women being discovered.

  10. Maryam says:

    Although super expensive, Aquarian Rose by Strange Invisible Perfumes is amazing, lasts a long time and my husband always gets comments about it (in a good way!)

  11. H.V. Jones says:

    Evan Healy makes an amazing patchouli that I am obsessed with. I have never liked patchouli before. (Also her vetiver is nice. Though Neals Yard ‘s Vetiver is slightly nicer to me..) And I dilute either in vodka and put into an old Dr. Hauschka toner spray bottle.

  12. Laura says:

    Black Amber Balm! I’m pretty sure it’s clean. A solid, musky unisex. I really like the Oakmoss.

  13. Ann says:

    Buffalo Gal Organics and Alkemia make really good perfumes of all sorts, and I’m pretty sure they also have men’s fragrances, but I didn’t smell any of them. Both brands have the kind of owners who could formulate something based on request.

  14. Emma B says:

    @ Kaylin I’ve had some success switching my boyfriend over to clean products. He’s pretty low maintenance, and he seems content with Aubrey Organics for shampoo and hair gel, Dr Bronner’s body soap, Living Nature shaving cream, Karen’s Botanicals cleanser and moisturizer, and Erbaviva for sunscreen.
    Fragrance is the one thing I have not been able to replace, since he’s very attached to JPG’s Le Male.

  15. maiastras says:

    You should definitely try, where they sustainably harvest wild sage, conifer, herb to create wonderful soaps and colognes.

  16. Diana says:

    @Kate couldn’t agree with you more.

  17. Caitlin says: does a sample set. Mesa and Phosphorence are woodsy and alluring, Sea Wolf and Wolf Moon are a bit more oceanic.

    They are the best fragrances I’ve found and so clean to boot- my partner’s MCS is pretty severe about scents to the point where a pine forest can tip him off and forget any solvent extracted EOs!

    with captain blankeship I don’t get any seizures from him, just “Ooh you smell nice”
    he’s like my canary. you know it’s gotta be clean if he can tolerate it!

  18. Stephanie says:

    I’ve heard that Yiska Natural Eau de Parfum by Tallulah Jane is supposed to be a nice male frangrance option. It is described as woodsy with a “vegetal leather accord” or as the description from the website reads, “Yiska for men is bold and contemporary in its opening citrus notes before subtle florals widen its experience. Woods, tea and leather round off this fresh yet sophisticated scent. 100% natural essential oils and absolutes are blended in organic grape alcohol and presented in 1 ounce spray bottles.” I’ve been wanting to get it for the bf forever! Hope this helps :)

  19. Pepper says:

    This is great! Thank you so, so, so much for posting my question, I can’t wait to gather up as many samples from these suggestions as I can. Hopefully we’ll find a winner! Thanks everyone for your help, and my husband says thank you also!

    The rest of the stuff he uses is: John Master’s shampoo (zinc & sage), Dr. Bronner’s soap (almond), Acure face wash (the cream minty one), Kiss my Face deodorant, John Masters pomade (this is his favorite hair product he’s ever used), Weleda shave cream/aftershave and he has a Hurraw lipbalm (rootbeer!). Sometimes I use some Stark CY oil on his face or a little Evan Healy hydrosol, and even though it’s always against his will I know he actually likes it.

  20. Laurie says:

    I would highly recommend that you search for a natural fragrance for your husband at These are natural perfumes, made by Dominique Dubrana, a Frenchman living in Italy who converted to being a Sufi. He goes by the name Abdessalaam Attar. The man sounds like a pure perfume genius. I’d actually love to see something written about his perfumes here at No Dirty Looks. I bought several small bottles of different things to try and they were really quite unlike anything else out there. They are somewhat expensive and you do have to pay international shipping charges as they are being shipped from Italy.

  21. Alyssa says:

    SOAP and PAPER FACTORY!! Patch NYC Solid Fragrances :)

  22. Stephanie says:

    There is a great product line of natural perfumes and lip balms called “For Strange Women”. Even though her product is called “For Strange Woman” it is not only for woman. She has many scents that are gender neutral which is great! On her website she provides a great chart to help you find a scent that you would be interested in and samples that can be purchased. I have been friends with Jill’s brother for many years and it has been great to watch her passion and business grow. Should definitely check her out!!

  23. Krystal says:

    Here is a recipe you could try out. It’s really for an aftershave, but it smells reeeeally good:

    Take 1 8-ounce mason jar.
    Fill it half way with vodka (80 to 100 proof)
    Add in the following:
    A few mint leaves
    Half to a full cinnamon stick
    A sprig of Rosemary
    5 or 6 cloves
    a few thin strips of orange peel
    a few thin strips of lemon peel (for both these, i like to bend them backwards into the jar to spritz out some of the oils)
    10 drops of some orange essential oil, or you can make a blend with some woodsy scents like sandalwood, whatever smells nice to you!
    1/2 teaspoon of veggie glycerin

    Then fill the rest of the jar up with witch hazel.

    Let that steep, closed, in a dark place like a cupboard, for 2 weeks. Try to shake it up every day. Open it up after 4-5 days and take a whiff. It’s lovely. Keep steeping for about 2 weeks, then strain through a cheesecloth into a spritzer bottle. It smells how I think Mad Men smells (and by that, I mean the TV show, the whole thing. It smells like this +cigarettes).

    If, after the two weeks, there’s a scent you wish was more prominent, you can add a fresh bit to the strained mixture. It makes the bottle look nice, too!

  24. Geoffrey Shields says:

    For the Select Premium cologne, 2 very different picks: Aramis 900 and Chanel Bleu. Just 2 sprays is all one needs. These will definitely attract attention in a good way, of course!

  25. Shathy Aktar says:

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  26. Eric says:

    If he’s looking for more of a “manly” scent, you may want to avoid the citrus dominant fragrances as they tend to be seen as more unisex. Maybe find him something that contains more leathery, woodsy, musky, tobacco scented base notes. John Varvatos Vintage and Fahrenheit Dior come to mind. Give those a try and see what he thinks!

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