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There’s no better way to put yourself into a frenzy of indecision than shopping for a new cologne. Between the nonsensical descriptions, aggressive salespeople spritzing you as you try to walk by, and the nose fatigue from spraying scent after scent, it’s enough to make anyone throw up their hands in frustration.
Most men start their fragrance journey when they have been gifted a cologne from a family member or significant other, and for many, they stick with that scent for years. But, for those who want to branch out and identify the scents that best fit their personality or mood, the whole process can be overwhelming, which is where cologne subscription boxes come in.
For a monthly fee, these specialized services will send you an assortment of colognes to sample and try until you find something you love. Some will personalize a profile for you through quizzes and algorithms, while others provide you access to some of the most popular designer scents, so you can see for yourself what all the fuss is about. Some even offer you discounted deals on full-size bottles if you find one you like and want to commit.
Here, we've rounded up the most popular cologne subscription boxes for men, including what makes each of them unique and how to find the right one for your scent style.
The 7 Best Cologne Subscription Boxes of 2020
Best Overall: Scentbird
When you think of subscription fragrance services, Scentbird is usually the first one that comes to mind. That’s because it pretty much pioneered the concept back when it launched in 2013.
Many of those that have emerged since have followed in the footsteps of Scentbird’s original business model. Take a quiz to develop your scent profile, find fragrances you want to try, and the company will ship you a 30-day supply of your chosen scent to test out (a new one each month).
Scentbird also does a fabulous job of describing each of its scents and ascribing values to different attributes (i.e. the scent family, personality, occasion, season, level of complexity, and accords). The company's subscription box will set you back around $15 per month, but if you find one you love, you can opt to buy a full-size option at a discounted price.
Scentbird doesn’t have the largest selection per se (it currently offers more than 450 brands), but it stocks some in-demand indie ones that the other services on this list don’t have access to (the perks of being an OG).
Best Budget: Perfume.com
The very foundation of fragrance subscription boxes is that they allow you to try designer fragrances without emptying your bank account for 3.4 fluid ounces. The cost-prohibitive nature of the perfume industry can make it difficult to experiment.
Perfume.com’s Fragrance of the Month program solves that issue by offering you a .27-ounce fragrance atomizer for about $10 per month. As one would expect from a company called Perfume.com, there are tons of brands and scents to choose from—over 500—and the list includes all of the most popular designer scents, from Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry to Giorgio Armani.
Plus, it’s beyond easy to get started—just begin by browsing scents and add them to your queue. If the sheer amount of offerings feels daunting, you can also let Perfume.com’s scent experts curate a selection for you. If you’re not sure a subscription service is right for you, this is a great budget option to test out the concept without breaking the bank.
Best Variety: Scentbox
If you want a mind-boggling array of fragrances to choose from, then Scentbox should be right up your alley. Founded by two SoCal brothers with a love of fragrance exploration, the monthly subscription service costs about $15 per month for the standard plan or around $20 for the premium (with access to additional extra-fancy brands).
Each month, the company will ship you a 30-day supply of a fragrance—a .27-ounce, travel-size atomizer that has been tested to provide four sprays a day for 31 days. There are over 575 different designer fragrances for men and women to choose from with the standard subscription (more than 850 for premium), and the company highlights a new one each month as their "scent of the month," if you’d rather just take recommendations than sort through the extensive library.
You can also fill out a brief questionnaire to filter your results based on your fragrance preferences, which is helpful if you know that you like (i.e. woodsy scents or disliking anything with vanilla). The company will select scents for you based on the quiz, but it also allows you to manually add ones that look interesting to you, but might not have been in your scent profile.
Best of all, if you absolutely detest the scent that arrives, Scentbox allows you to exchange it for another option. It makes the whole experience relatively painless, efficient, and enjoyable.
Best for Fragrance Connoisseurs: Scent Trunk
For those that are deeply involved with their personal scent, you’ll want to skip the mass subscriptions and try something a bit more tailored.
Scent Trunk is a standout in this category thanks to its customizable approach— it doesn’t offer any conventional colognes, but rather creates its own scents based on "the contemporary zeitgeist in art & culture, fashion & beauty, and food & travel." With a rotating roster of perfumers, the scents are all imaginative, fresh, and utterly unique.
As is the process: You start by ordering the "Discovery Palette" (about $8), which features six scents representative of the classic fragrance families—Citrus, Wood, Aromatic, Floral, Amber, Chypre. You test each of the scent bases, then provide your feedback on what you like and what you don’t, and the olfactive artists at Scent Trunk create a signature scent for you based on your comments.
You’ll receive the .17-ounce spray of your custom fragrance. If you don’t love it, you can send it back with additional commentary, and they will mix up something new, free of charge. Once you’ve got the perfect scent, the company will send you a new, .17-ounce bottle for roughly $16 a month.
While you can’t buy full-size bottles of your bespoke scent, the company does offer its own artisan fragrances at about $16 for a 5-milliliter bottle. New ones are introduced each month and you can shop past editions.
Best For Trendsetters: Olfactif
If the thought of smelling like every Tom, Dick, and Harry you pass on the street makes you shudder, then you’ll want to head to Olfactif and expansive an array of ultra-niche scents. We’re talking colognes that very few people have ever heard of, the kind that someone will get a whiff of and go out of their way to ask you what you’re wearing.
There are more than 300 fragrances from indie gems like Etat Libre D’Orange, Blackbird, Imaginary Authors, Amouage, and YOSH. The subscription service will send you three, deluxe-sized samples a month for about $20 and will give you discounts off any purchases you make from the site: That’s roughly 20 percent off a full bottle of any featured scent and about 10 percent off all other full bottles.
Olfactif is a standout because it brings niche perfumery to a wider audience—many of these fragrances are impossible to find unless you live in a city with independent perfume shops. It’s a great way to discover just how artistic and nuanced scent can be and to find something that feels special and personal to you.
Whether you like a fragrance wardrobe or are on the hunt for a new signature scent, Olfactif is a great place to find something that’s truly new.
Best Clean Fragrances: Phlur
Do you prefer your products to be clean (free of parabens, phthalates, and other questionable ingredients), vegan, and cruelty-free? If your answer is "obviously," then you’ll definitely want to check out Phlur.
The unisex line promotes "conscious choices," which means thinking about the creation, ingredient sourcing, and effect that the products we use has on our bodies and the environment. Phlur's nine-scent collection uses responsibly sourced, natural extracts without any potentially harmful ingredients and features post-consumer recycled/recyclable packaging.
The company's Sampling service is around $18 and lets you choose three scents to try at home in 2-milliliter sample sizes. Find one you like, and Phlur will put about $18 of credit toward the purchase of a full-sized bottle. While the current selection of scents is small, they are some of the most beautiful and unique ones we’ve come across. And, the fact that they are clean and hypo-allergenic only makes it that much more impressive. Dark and moody Hepcat and spicy Moab are two standouts worth snagging.
Best for Busy Guys: Debonair Scent
If you’re the type of guy who just wants to find something that smells nice with minimum effort, Debonair is for you. From the slick (yet minimalist) site to the personalized quiz, Debonair knocks it out of the park when it comes to helping you discover your new favorite scent.
And the best part? You don't have to spend hours telling someone what you like and don’t like. The four-question profile consists of identifying the fragrance notes you tend to gravitate toward, how you want your cologne to make you feel (i.e. Adventurer, Bad Boy, Regular Guy, or Romantic Guy), how often you wear cologne, and the name of your favorite current scent.
Debonair's experts will get to work curating scents that fit your profile. You then get three of those colognes in 3-milliliter bottles sent your way for about $15 per month. You can also save when you prepay for three, six, or 12 months. Quick, easy, and direct—just the way we like to do our shopping.
How We Chose the Best Cologne Subscription Boxes
Unlike the perfume market, the options for men's cologne subscription boxes were a bit less robust. Many of the usual suspects, like Scent Trunk and Scentbird—who stock all-time bestsellers and popular designer brands—had offshoots aimed at men, but we had to dig deep to find options for those guys that like a little more adventure and surprise with their fragrances.
That's how we uncovered gems like Olfactif and Debonair, who carry colognes from more niche perfumers. Also important was how easy the process was for every level of cologne enthusiast, from newbies to experts. Finally, we rounded out the selection with a legitimate clean fragrance company for those guys who are concerned about the environmental impact of their products, but still want to smell fantastic.