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The sweet, slightly tart scent of citrus brings to mind breezy summer days, making it ideal for warm-weather wear. That said, all citrus colognes are not created equal. Nobody wants to smell notes of Sunny D when they could breathe in the essence of freshly-sliced bergamot.
Not sure how to separate the winning citrus colognes from the losers? Check out some of the best citrus colognes for men.
1. Atlantis by Blu Atlas
Simply referring to Atlantis as a “citrus cologne” doesn’t really do it justice. It opens with a wonderfully balanced citrus burst featuring lemon and bergamot, but the dry-down reveals a darker complexity that any guy will love.
This eau de parfum’s premium ingredients are meant to take you on an adventure through the jungles of Bali, so it’s fitting that Atlantis evolves through several scents of the forest. The bright, fruity top and middle notes give way to earthier, almost animalic smells you’d find on the jungle floor.
Top: bergamot, blackcurrant, lemon
Middle: apricot, peach, clary sage, lavender
Base: ambrette, musk, violet, oakmoss, orris
2. Neroli Portofino by Tom Ford
Want to experience the Italian Riviera? Now you (or at least your nose) can. Neroli Portofino was inspired by the Riviera’s stunning greenery, clear water, and cool breezes. Don’t be fooled by the “neroli” (blossom of the bitter orange tree) in the name — Neroli Portofino is still very much a citrus cologne! The opening includes no less than four distinct citrus notes: bergamot, bitter orange, lemon, and mandarin orange.
This eau de parfum is designed for both men and women, and it’s impressively androgynous. The floral notes (some of which are from citrus trees!) are tempered enough by amber and ambrette to make this fragrance masculine enough for any guy.
Top: bergamot, bitter orange, lemon, mandarin orange, lavender, myrtle, rosemary
Middle: African orange flower, neroli, jasmine, pittosporum
Base: amber, ambrette, angelica
3. Nero 70 by Xerjoff
This eau de parfum is relatively new: it was developed in 2020 as a fragrance for both women and men. Xerjoff is a luxury Italian perfumer, and most people would consider its creations to be “niche” fragrances. However, Nero 70’s diverse array of notes makes it a pleasant scent to most.
There’s a lot going on in this blend, but it very clearly has a main accord of citrus. The underlying vanilla accord is a sweet surprise, but there are enough of the stereotypically “darker” notes to prevent it from ever becoming overly saccharine.
Top: Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian citruses, lavender
Base: bourbon vanilla, amber, musk
4. Bergamote 22 by Le Labo
Some people think Le Labo is overrated, but this niche design house is certainly capable of coming up with some memorable fragrances! Many Le Labo favorites have surprising scents that you wouldn’t have guessed by the name. But this simply-named one delivers as promised.
Bergamote 22 is ideal if you’re looking for a very “modern” smelling citrus cologne. Its opening is crisp and almost bitter, but it’s balanced out by light floral and woody touches. We think this fragrance is a well-rounded crowd-pleaser.
Top: bergamot, grapefruit, petitgrain
Middle: nutmeg, orange blossom
Base: amber, cedar, vetiver, musk
5. Citrus and Mint Leaf by Cremo
Cremo mostly makes grooming and personal care products, but those products are known for their “good uncommon scents.” So it’s no surprise that Cremo also sells some of its popular scents in the form of eau de toilette spray colognes.
If you find that you like the crisp, refreshing scent of Citrus and Mint Leaf, you might like Cremo’s coordinating products. The brand’s Citrus and Mint Leaf body wash is infused with peppermint oil to deliver a wonderfully cooling sensation perfect for summer. There’s a cooling 2-in-1 shampoo, too.
Base: cedar, moss
6. Aqua Celestia Cologne Forte by Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Need a fragrance that’s light, floral, refreshing, and still masculine? If so, Aqua Celestia Cologne Forte is a great choice for you. Its beautiful bergamot opening seems almost fizzy, so it’s a perfect prelude to the sweet blend of jasmine and mimosa flowers.
All of this might sound saccharine, but thanks to its masterful blend, this cologne remains balanced. Its soft but present base of musk keeps everything grounded. The manufacturer says that it “releases a bright, crystal-clear aura and offers a flight towards the horizon.” You’ll have to try it and see for yourself!
Top: bergamot, blackcurrant
Middle: mimosa, jasmine
7. Viking Cologne by Creed
Viking Cologne is classified as a fougere fragrance. “Fougere” comes from the French word for “fern,” and it describes colognes that have been inspired by ferns and other forest greenery.
Like most fougeres, Viking Cologne features a citrusy opening and a middle that includes lavender and geranium. But this fragrance’s heart is also distinctly herbal and spicy thanks to the inclusion of sage, nutmeg, and rosemary.
The strong, layered base brings together some heavy hitters of the fragrance world. The smooth woodiness includes the warmth of sandalwood and the mystery of olibanum (also called frankincense).
Top: mandarin orange, pink pepper, lemon, bergamot
Middle: lavender, geranium, sage, nutmeg, rosemary
Base: vetiver, cedar, sandalwood, patchouli, olibanum
8. Byredo Mister Marvelous
According to the founder and creative director of Byredo, Mister Marvelous was made to “celebrate great character, resilience, and creativity.” It was launched in 2011 and brought back as a limited re-issue in 2022.
This eau de parfum is an intriguing blend that combines classic ingredients with surprising twists. Among the top notes are mandarin leaves — an interesting alternative to the mandarin orange sometimes found here. And at the heart of this enchanting fragrance, lavender is accompanied by a burst of fresh bamboo.
Top: bergamot, neroli, mandarin leaves
Middle: lavender, bamboo
Base: amber, cedarwood
9. Dylan Blue by Versace
This iconic, complex eau de toilette was launched in 2016 and quickly became a favorite. Although it has quite a citrusy opening, Dylan Blue is also perfect for any guy who loves aromatic, woody fragrances. It’s versatile and nice smelling, but some connoisseurs say that it’s a very generic scent. But many “generic” perfumes appeal to a wide variety of people, so you’re sure to get compliments on how you smell when you wear this one!
Plus, Dylan Blue will look great on the shelves of your medicine cabinet: the bottle itself is a work of art. Its deep blue glass is graced by a golden Medusa seal. It’s a fragrance designed for men, but Versace also makes a lighter-smelling women’s version.
Top: Calabrian bergamot, water notes, fig leaf, grapefruit
Middle: ambroxan, patchouli, black pepper, papyrus, violet leaf
Base: saffron, incense, musk, tonka bean
10. Fresh Citron + Driftwood Cologne by OffCourt
OffCourt isn’t really your typical cologne brand. It describes itself as “the first company dedicated to creating products that specifically address the negative side effects of sweating.” It creates products designed for active men who frequently sweat and shower. OffCourt makes specially-formulated body wash, body spray, and other products designed to support skin health.
Those products come in refreshing and interesting scents, so OffCourt creates colognes to match. This one gives off summery, beachy vibes, and it’s perfect for adding a little freshness to your day. If you like it, you might also like OffCourt’s coordinating exfoliating soap and body wash.
Top: Italian lemon, green apple, grapefruit, mandarin
Middle: sea breeze, green violet leaves
Base: cedarwood, patchouli, white musk
11. Monsieur Balmain by Balmain
Many citrus colognes only include a couple of citrus notes at the opening. But if you want a whole bouquet of zesty citrus top notes, you should definitely check out this fragrance! It’s definitely stood the test of time, too — Monsieur Balmain was released in 1964!
A scan through the notes might make you think this is a loud, attention-getting fragrance. But despite its wide variety of notes, Monsieur Balmain is anything but chaotic. It’s smooth, understated, and a little seductive, making it a great choice for date night.
Top: lemon, bergamot, bitter orange, mint
Middle: ginger, sandalwood, rosemary, caraway, moss, pepper, nutmeg, rose, thyme
Base: vetiver, clary sage, sandalwood, amber, musk
12. The Ghost in the Shell by Etat Libre d’Orange
Etat Libre d’Orange is a niche fragrance company that often gives its scents interesting backstories. This one was inspired in part by “Hyperion,” a science fiction saga by Dan Simmons. Fittingly, Ghost in the Shell combines natural notes with unique ingredients from biotechnology. The result is a distinctive, enigmatic cologne like nothing you’ve smelled before. If you want to take the leap and try this unlikely marriage of natural and synthetic, you won’t be sorry!
Top: Aqual ™, Yuzu HE, hexyl acetate
Middle: jasmine absolute, Mugane™, milky skin accord
Base: Vinylguaiacol, Orcanox™
13. Divine l’été Orange Rouge by Divine
Launched in 2022, this is one of the newest fragrances on the list. It’s sweet, pleasant, and uplifting, so it’s the perfect mood-boosting cologne to wear on cloudy days. This fragrance primarily centers around the scent of orange, but it’s longer-lasting than many citrus-heavy fragrances. This is especially impressive, as citrus notes are almost always the first to evaporate.
If you take a look at Divine l’été Orange Rouge’s note profile, you can see why its citrus accord lasts so long. Bergamot makes a rare appearance as a middle (rather than a top) note. The base also includes orange blossom, which is ordinarily used almost exclusively as a top note.
Top: blood orange, bitter orange, tangerine
Middle: green bergamot, ginger, peppermint
Base: orange blossom, patchouli, olibanum, cistus
14. Clinique Happy for Men by Clinique
This interesting and uplifting fragrance has no shortage of citrus and green notes, but it also includes a surprising wealth of floral scents. That might seem a little surprising for a men’s cologne, but these sweet, delicate scents are balanced out nicely by the masculine scent of cedar, cypress, and musk.
Clinique Happy for Men was developed after the success of Clinique Happy, a fragrance designed for women. The men’s version has been on the market for 15 years, so its enduring popularity is a great endorsement.
Top: mandarin orange, lemon, lime, sea notes, green notes
Middle: jasmine, lily of the valley, freesia, rose
Base: cedar, musk, cypress, guaiac wood
15. Classic Citrus by Banana Republic
You might not imagine Banana Republic when you think of fragrance designers, but this affordable, approachable citrus cologne punches well above its weight. It’s a unisex fragrance that’s smooth and light while still remaining pretty androgynous.
Classic Citrus is a great warm-weather fragrance that’s a perfect choice for spring and summer. With notes like pollen, honey, and honeysuckle, it’s the perfect accompaniment to the summer solstice.
Top: grapefruit, clementine, blackcurrant
Middle: pollen, honeysuckle, honey
Base: musk, pine, ginger, animal notes
FAQs: Getting to Know the Best Citrus Colognes for Men
What are some common citrus notes?
The class of “citrus” fragrances covers a wide variety of perfumes and colognes. And if you have a discerning nose, you might find yourself drawn to some citrus notes over others. Here are some of the most popular citrus notes you might encounter while choosing your next citrus perfume.
Orange is just what it sounds like! Orange notes typically come from the peel of the fruit. If you’ve ever breathed in that light, fine mist that sometimes appears as you peel an orange, you know what a successful orange note should smell like.
Bitter orange, sometimes referred to as “bigarade,” is a note that comes from the Seville orange. This extra-sour variety is the same one used to make marmalade. Bitter orange is a common note in chypre fragrances (fragrances based around citrus, labdanum, and oakmoss). Because it’s so tart and fresh, it’s also great for balancing out floral fragrances.
Citron is a somewhat uncommon citrus fruit that smells like something between a lemon and a lime. It’s zingy and attention-grabbing, so it’s an excellent top note. It’s a little drier than many citrus notes, and it has more staying power, too.
Bergamot is one of the classic citrus ingredients. The bergamot fruit is small and green, and it smells a bit like lemon. If you’ve ever had Earl Gray tea, you know the scent: it’s somehow between green and floral.
Lemon can add some real zing to any fragrance. It’s the most tart of the citrus notes, so most perfumers use it sparingly. It does well alongside woody and vanilla notes.
Grapefruit is a well-balanced citrus note that is neither too sweet nor too tart. It goes nicely with other citrus fruits, but it also does well with woody and aromatic notes. It pairs naturally with lavender, basil, rosemary, and musk.
Neroli notes are similar to orange notes. That’s because neroli oil comes from the blossom of the orange tree. It smells like a floral version of an orange note. Neroli’s sweetness is a great counterbalance for the tartness of bergamot, so you often see these two notes together!
Mandarin is a scent that’s similar to orange. After all, the mandarin is a type of orange. It smells a little sweeter, and a mandarin note sometimes smells a bit “green.”
Lime is one of the more uncommon citrus top notes. It’s light yet juicy and just sweet enough, so it’s a great opener that floats above other notes. It tends to pair well with other citrus notes, so it’s perfect for adding layers and variety to citrus-heavy fragrances.
Petitgrain comes from the bitter orange tree. It was once made by distilling the immature bitter orange fruit. However, it’s now usually made from leaves and twigs. Petitgrain is the perfect marriage of green, citrus, and even floral accents.
Yuzu may not be as popular as some of the other citrus notes, but it’s been slowly gaining popularity in the fragrance world. It comes from a fruit of the same name, and it smells like a mixture of grapefruit and green notes. It also tends to prolong the life of other citrus notes.
What about other notes?
Many of the notes in the best citrus colognes for men come from familiar things: different fruits, types of wood, and even water. But in the case of some notes, what they smell like is less than obvious.
Pittosporum is a plant extract that adds some extra sweetness to fragrances. Since it smells a bit like jasmine and a bit like orange blossom, it’s a good fit for most citrus colognes.
Ambrette/musk mallow is an oil from the plant of the same name. It’s a natural substitute for animal musk, and it works well in colognes that just need a light touch of musk. Ambrette has a scent that is sweet, floral, and musky all at once.
Aqual™ is an ingredient that smells like water, and it’s often found in citrus and aquatic fragrances.
Amber is a “fantasy” note that is warm, rich, powdery, and a little sweet. It’s often made of a mixture of vanilla, benzoin, and labdanum, although other ingredients like tonka bean are sometimes included, too.
Olibanum, also known as frankincense, is a tree resin with a complex, distinctive scent. It typically appears as a top note, and it smells woody, balsamic, green, and spicy all at once.
Angelica comes from the root of the angelica plant. Although it’s not an overly common fragrance note, it’s the perfect complement to citrusy fragrances. Angelica is earthy, woody, a little spicy, and it has a hint of citrus, so it’s an ideal grounding ingredient for citrus fragrances.
Ambroxan is a synthetic ingredient that smells like a combination of amber and musk.
Papyrus is a common note in Indian fragrances, but it sometimes appears in Western fragrances as well. It’s a type of grass (Cyperus papyrus) that was used to make a type of paper in ancient times. Papyrus has a smell that combines elements of wood, spice, and earth.
Mugane™ is an artificial molecule engineered to give off a powerful floral scent.
Vinyl Guaiacol is a molecule that imparts the scent of a few different accords at once. It can add a hint of vanilla and clove as well as a distinctive, powdery carnation accord.
Orcanox™ is an engineered molecule that can be described as woody, powdery, and green all at once. Some people say that it smells like a mix of clary sage, labdanum (an extract from the rock rose plant), cypress, and ambroxan.
Guaiac wood comes from the heart of the palo santo tree. It smells a little bit smoky, with notes of birch tar and tobacco. Some people say it even has a faint rubbery scent.
Hexyl acetate is a compound that smells like a combination of jasmine and green notes.
What are top, middle, and base notes?
Most fragrance designers won’t just list all the notes in a given cologne. Rather, they’ll usually be divided into top, middle, and base notes. This isn’t a gimmick — some notes actually evaporate faster than others. A good cologne will evolve throughout the day, gradually revealing its true character. If you pay attention, you’ll be able to notice the shift between the notes.
Top notes are the notes you smell immediately after spraying cologne. They usually smell “fresh” or “light.” Citrus (like bergamot, lemon, or grapefruit), other “light” fruits (like blackcurrants and berries), and even herbs (like basil and sage) are some common top notes. They usually only hang around for about 15 minutes before revealing the middle notes.
Middle notes, also known as “heart notes,” are the center of the fragrance. They’re typically a little richer and heavier than top notes, but not as rich or heavy as the base notes. Middle notes have the important job of connecting the top notes and base notes, so they need to be able to go with both. Otherwise, the cologne will smell chaotic and disjointed. Some common middle notes are rose, jasmine, neroli, lavender, clary sage, and pine. These notes usually stick around for two to four hours (or longer with longer-lasting fragrances).
Base notes may seem subtle at first, but as the top and middle notes evaporate, they gradually become more present. These are notes that are commonly characterized as “rich” or “dark,” and they usually last from four to six hours. Some common base notes are musk, cedar, vanilla, and sandalwood.
Can you wear a citrus cologne year-round?
In the warmer months, a spritz of citrus cologne can be as refreshing as fresh-squeezed lemonade. Wearing citrus colognes makes sense in the spring and summer, but what about in the colder months?
Some people find that citrus colognes are the perfect antidote to dreary winter days. Citrus fragrances are certainly versatile enough to be worn year-round, but it’s up to you to decide whether you want to wear one or choose something a little heavier.
Are citrus colognes long-lasting?
Lots of people complain that their citrus colognes don’t seem to last long at all. Unfortunately, much of that is due to the volatility of the molecules. The essential oils used to make citrus fragrances evaporate very quickly.
If you want to make sure you get a cologne that lasts, you might try looking for an eau de parfum or parfum as opposed to an eau de toilette. Eau de parfum formulas are more concentrated than eau de toilettes colognes, and fragrances labeled “parfum” are even more concentrated.
However, even if you have a long-lasting cologne, the citrus notes themselves may still be fleeting. Generally speaking, high-quality citrus fragrances contain more citrus oils, so they tend to last longer than budget fragrances.
How can I make my citrus fragrance last longer?
When you apply any cologne the right way, you’ll be able to make it realize its full potential. But careful application is especially important for citrus colognes. When you apply your cologne correctly, it will linger on your skin and last longer.
Cologne tends to last longer on moisturized skin. If your skin is naturally oily, you may not have to do anything beyond spritzing on your fragrance. But if your skin is dry, try using moisturizer or lotion before putting on your cologne.
If you apply fragrance while your pores are steamed open from a shower, you may also find that it lasts longer. Make sure your skin is dry (but still warm) and apply it to pulse points or warmer parts of your body (like your neck, wrists, inside of your elbows, behind your ears, etc.).
Most cologne aficionados will tell you to never spray cologne on your clothes. Fragrance needs contact with your skin oils to evolve and change, after all. But if your main goal is making a citrusy cologne last longer, it might be worth it to try spritzing a little on your clothes.
Word of warning, though: colognes can stain some fabrics (like silk). Don’t hold the bottle too close — otherwise, you might end up with a noticeable wet patch on your clothes!
One other thing to consider is how you store your fragrance. Light, heat, and humidity can all shorten a cologne’s shelf life and cause it to break down prematurely. And since citrus scents are the most volatile, they’re usually the first ingredients to be affected. Make sure you store your citrus colognes (and your other colognes, too) in a dark, cool, dry place.
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