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Which winter colognes are best?

With winter just around the corner, many are looking to change up their scent to something more seasonally appropriate. Scents that seem fresh and vibrant in the summer may feel jarring to wear in the dead of winter, which is why many choose to buy a winter cologne to put the finishing touch on a wintry look. Scents can convey and enhance a presence that otherwise would fade into the background. A top winter cologne is the Yves Saint Laurent Y Live Intense, a fresh yet earthy fragrance that’s wintry without being too heavy.

What to know before you buy a winter cologne


There are three layers of scent notes found in colognes: top notes, heart notes and base notes. All three have different properties and combine to make a whole perfume. Winter colognes will have a combination of all three levels of scent notes that make them seasonal and fragrant.

Top notes

Top notes, or head notes, are the first notes you’ll smell when you apply a cologne. They’ll be your first impression of a scent, though they usually fade 10-15 minutes after first putting on the cologne.

Heart notes

Also called middle notes, the heart notes represent the bulk of the fragrance. They’re usually similar in tone to the top notes, though longer-lasting and more intense. They’re often seen as the most important aspect of the scent and usually last for the first hour or so of wear.

Base notes

Base notes are the foundation of the perfume. They’re the longest-lasting notes, so they’re also often the heaviest and richest scents. They have the job of echoing and uplifting the top and heart notes. Base notes can last for up to 6 hours or more, depending on the perfume.


  • Parfum: These are the highest concentration scents, at up to 30% fragrance oil. They can last for up to 12 hours and require just the smallest amount for a strong scent. 
  • Eau de parfum: This is the next highest level of fragrance oil concentration, as well as what most people normally mean when they say “perfume.” At 10-15% fragrance oil, eau de parfum lasts 6-8 hours, making it a good choice for when a stronger or longer-lasting scent is desired.
  • Eau de toilette: Eau de toilette is a lighter fragrance. It’s usually 5-15% fragrance oil concentration and lasts a few hours. For a lighter scent or daytime wear, many people choose eau de toilette.
  • Eau de cologne: Eau de cologne is only 2-4% perfume oil, meaning it generally lasts only a few hours and comes in a larger bottle. 

What to look for in a quality winter cologne


Colognes come in a variety of scents. Most winter colognes will have more masculine, woodsy notes. They’ll often include citrus, woodsy, spicy and even some floral notes to evoke a darker, moodier fragrance that’s perfect for winter. 


For those who want a brand name cologne, there are many options, though the price is going to be higher. There are both dedicated perfumers as well as brands that make other products in addition to perfumes. Dedicated perfumers and designer labels will have the longest-lasting and most complex fragrances, though there are high-quality bargains to be found. 

How much you can expect to spend on winter cologne

The price of colognes can vary immensely, depending on brand, concentration and the ingredients used. Generally, a cologne can cost anywhere from $10-$200 and over.

Winter cologne FAQ

How do I test a new fragrance?

A. Because fragrances change and develop over time, it’s best to wait at least half an hour for the scent to mellow before assessing how you like it. Additionally, colognes will interact with the unique body chemistry of a person’s skin and can smell differently on different people. 

How long will cologne last on my skin?

A. It depends on the scent, but looking at the concentration of perfume oil in the cologne is a good place to start. The higher the percentage of fragrance oil, the stronger and longer-lasting the scent will be. Additionally, the quality of the fragrances and oils used will make a difference. Otherwise, you may find yourself frequently reapplying.

What’s the best winter cologne to buy?

Top winter cologne

Y Live Intense by Yves Saint Laurent

Y Live Intense by Yves Saint Laurent

What you need to know: Eminently wearable while still standing out, this woodsy perfume is the perfect winter scent.

What you’ll love: It has a scent that’s light enough for daytime wear. Reviewers especially liked the notes of ginger and bergamot.

What you should consider: Some reviewers found it didn’t last long enough for their taste and disliked the way the scent profile changed over time.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top winter cologne for the money

Eau de Toilette by Pino Silvestre

Eau de Toilette by Pino Silvestre

What you need to know: As a super affordable, old-school scent with a piney, mature smell, this is a great winter cologne for men.

What you’ll love: It’s surprisingly complex, with a mix of floral, spicy and woody notes. For those who want a classic scent (it was launched in 1955), this is a fantastic choice.

What you should consider: The scent doesn’t last very long on the skin and may require more frequent reapplication for all-day wear.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Replica Jazz Club by Maison Martin Margiela

‘Replica’ Jazz Club by Maison Martin Margiela

What you need to know: This is a gorgeous, high-end perfume full of dark, rich notes meant to evoke the feeling of a jazz club.

What you’ll love: It’s a bit longer-lasting than many eau de colognes. Jazz Club has a smoky, tobacco, leather and vanilla fragrance. It’s marketed as a unisex fragrance, meaning a broader group of people may feel comfortable wearing it.

What you should consider: The price is a little higher than some other colognes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Arabella Matthews writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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