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6 Best Cheap Colognes for Men Loved by Scent Experts

In search of the best cheap cologne for men, we asked six industry experts, including a founder and perfumer, and a CMO, for their top picks and tips. 

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From opting for citrus and bergamot blends to using the “sniff test,” here are the six best pieces of advice they shared.

  • Opt for Citrus and Bergamot Blends
  • Match Scent with Personality
  • Bring a Friend for a Second Opinion
  • Consider Ingredients and Scent Type
  • Choose Versatile and Affordable Options
  • Use the “Sniff Test” 

Best Cheap Cologne for Men

6 Best Cheap Colognes for Men Loved by Scent Experts

Opt for Citrus and Bergamot Blends

David Beckham’s Instinct EDT is a good choice for everyday usage. It has light citrus notes mixed in with vetiver for a hint of a dark, woodsy finish. This scent works well in seasons like fall and spring because it does not require someone to apply a lot, with the citrus and bergamot notes leading the way.

David Beckham’s Instinct EDT can be worn anywhere without the scent being overbearing to others. The key to more affordable colognes is to not spray a lot, as it contains a higher alcohol base than EDP colognes. 

For colognes under $50, you’re likely getting EDT, which has 5-8% less fragrance load concentration than EDP. In this situation, anything that has a citrus and bergamot blend is always a winner, as citrus-based scents are intense and are comparable to more expensive offerings. Aqua-based scents are also a good option.

Fernweh Editions Fern & Petals Candle

Chuck Holliday / Founder and Perfumer / Made Lifestyle Collection

PROSCONS
An inexpensive distinctive men’s scentSome find it too light, and it doesn’t have staying power
  • For: Masculine
  • Sillage: Good
  • Longevity: Good
  • Seasons: Appropriate for warmer weather, especially summer
  • Scent potency/Appropriate for: A subtle scent suitable for either a romantic evening out or the workplace
  • Price: $
  • Launched: 2005
  • Perfumers: Alain Astori & Beatrice Piquet

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6 Best Cheap Colognes for Men Loved by Scent Experts

Match Scent with Personality

The Versace Pour Homme Eau De Toilette is a personal favorite for budget-friendly colognes. We can have it for under $50 for 3.4 fl. oz. It’s timeless, super fresh, and just the right amount of masculine. It also has this lightness that never feels too strong but still gets noticed. Hundreds of compliments have been received for Versace Pour Homme Eau De Toilette, and they keep rolling in.

The top tip when picking a cologne is to always go with what feels like “you.” Matching your scent with the personality you have is important. If you’re outgoing, maybe a bold, spicy scent is your thing. If you’re more conservative, then a mellow, woodsy aroma could be a better choice. And remember, there’s no rule saying you can’t change it up depending on your day or mood. So mix it up and enjoy!

Danilo Miranda / Managing Director / Presenteverso

PROSCONS
Wearable on a daily basis, perfect for any occasion and for outdoor environmentsNot a year-round fragrance, and it’s overly common 
  • For: Masculine
  • Sillage: Good
  • Longevity: Good
  • Seasons: Appropriate for warmer weather, especially summer
  • Scent potency/Appropriate for: Ideal for a night out or the office
  • Price: $$
  • Launched: 2008
  • Perfumers: Alberto Morillas

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6 Best Cheap Colognes for Men Loved by Scent Experts

Bring a Friend for Second Opinion

Only the Brave Diesel—I love this cologne because of the smell and the feedback I get from other people. It’s always nice when you know that everyone appreciates how you smell, rather than it just being nice to you and no one else. My top tip is to take a friend with you when going; it’s always good to have a second opinion, as it’s everyone else that will be smelling the cologne on you.

Steven Wright / Co-Founder and Chief Editor / Lifestyle to the MAX

PROSCONS
Perfect for men with a touch of sweetness, energetic summerish scentLacking distinction, too sweet for some, and overly common
  • For: Masculine
  • Sillage: Good
  • Longevity: Good
  • Seasons: Appropriate for warmer weather, especially summer
  • Scent potency/Appropriate for: Perfect for any occasion 
  • Price: $$
  • Launched: 2009
  • Perfumers: Alienor Massenet, Olivier Polge, Pierre Wargnye

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6 Best Cheap Colognes for Men Loved by Scent Experts

Consider Ingredients and Scent Type

The best cheap cologne for men I like is Kenneth Cole Reaction by Kenneth Cole. It has a unique scent that I find appealing, and it is priced within the range of $10-$50. The top notes are melon, watermelon, green apple, lemon and lime which create a refreshing aroma that combines hints of spicy sweetness. The base notes for the Kenneth Cole Reaction cologne are musk and sandalwood, which add an earthy yet woodsy scent. 

When choosing a cheap cologne, it is important to consider a few factors. First, look at the quality of ingredients used, as this will influence the overall scent of the cologne. Second, consider what you are looking for in terms of scent. Different colognes will provide different scents, such as woody, spicy, or fruity.

Keith Sant / CMO / Eazy House Sale

PROSCONS
Airy, invigorating, and summer cologneToo generic with weak projection
  • For: Masculine
  • Sillage: Good
  • Longevity: Good
  • Seasons: Perfect for warmer weather 
  • Scent potency/Appropriate for: Warm summer date nights
  • Price: $$
  • Launched: 2004
  • Perfumers: Frank Voelkl

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6 Best Cheap Colognes for Men Loved by Scent Experts

Choose Versatile and Affordable Options

Nautica Blue is a great workhorse option. I have used it for years – being the best cheap cologne for me. It’s not overpowering and feels completely appropriate for almost any occasion that is not at the black-tie level. 3.4 ounces comes in around $20, give or take, so it’s incredibly easy to justify using it often.

Trevor Ewen / COO / QBench

PROSCONS
A reasonably priced fragrance with a fresh and invigorating aroma, it features a crisp profile with woodsy undertonesIt is highly synthetic, and there are other distinctive choices within the price range
  • For: Masculine
  • Sillage: Very poor
  • Longevity: Good
  • Seasons: Perfect for warmer weather 
  • Scent potency/Appropriate for:  A delicate and invigorating scent, ideal for daily use
  • Price: $
  • Launched: 2005
  • Perfumers: Maurice Roucel 

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6 Best Cheap Colognes for Men Loved by Scent Experts

Use the “Sniff Test”

One of my personal favorite colognes for men on a budget is Hugo Boss’s The Scent For Men. It’s a modern yet timeless scent that contains notes of lavender and ginger, balanced with nuanced cardamom and exotic Maninka fruit.

A tip when choosing cologne is what I like to call the “sniff test.” Put simply, find something that smells good, and don’t be afraid to ask for honest opinions from friends. Everyone has their own preferences, so getting those initial reactions can help narrow down what works best for you in the long term.

James McNally / Managing Director / SDVH [Self Drive Vehicle Hire]

PROSCONS
A rich nighttime fragrance combined with more delicate, invigorating elementsPoor longevity and sillage
  • For: Masculine
  • Sillage: Good
  • Longevity: Good
  • Seasons: Perfect for fall
  • Scent potency/Appropriate for:  Soft, subtle, masculine, with a touch of sweetness, ideal for every day
  • Price: $$
  • Launched: 2015
  • Perfumers: Bruno Jovanovic & Pascal Gaurin

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Final Thoughts

After gathering insights from six fragrance lovers we’ve learned a few pearls of wisdom. David Beckham’s Instinct EDT and Nautica Blue are clearly budget-friendly colognes that pack a citrusy punch. A burst of freshness without breaking the bank.

We’ve learned that choosing your fragrance is like choosing your soulmate. Are you the bold and spicy type or are you feeling more mellow? And remember, it’s perfectly legal to change your scent identity whenever you like.

To find the best cheap cologne for men, we’d need to consider ingredients and scent type. Be that fragrance detective, and examine the clues (or in this case, notes) to crack the cologne case. 

Much like the “sniff test” where a fragrance audition is held. Getting honest opinions from friends as though they’re the judges panel at a cologne talent show.

Fernweh Editions Candles

While our experts have their own favorites and quirks, we’ve uncovered a treasure trove of cologne wisdom. So, go forth, fellow scent adventurers, and may your budget-friendly cologne quest be fragrant and successful.

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Writer

Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.