17 Best Cheap Cologne for Men That Smell AMAZING

These Should Get You Some Compliments

By BeautypertFebruary 20, 2023

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A selection of 5 of the best cheap colognes depicted next to some coins with a hand giving the thumbs-up next to them.

Looking for a list of the best cheap cologne for men? Then look no further.

You can’t get a good cheap cologne, right? The best smelling ones are all expensive, right?


Because we recently spent weeks researching and testing 71 affordable colognes and discovered some amazing hidden gems.

And the beautiful part?

All of our highest rated picks below smell awesome, have good lasting power, and received overwhelming positive ladies’ reactions. All proven compliment-getters.

Even better…

You’ll be pleased to know that some of these little-known gems can even be found for less than 20 US Dollars! (So they also make excellent gifts).

But please do yourself a favor:

Do NOT buy these at full retail price, because you can easily find all these online (or in bargain bins) at a fraction of the price.

So if you’re on a tight budget, this list should serve you well.

Sound good?

Let’s dive right in…

In a hurry?

Our Top 3 Picks:

#17 Davidoff Cool Water Intense

A bottle of Davidoff Cool Water Intense

New & Improved! (And… Completely Different!)

Don’t let the name or bottle mislead you because…

Spoiler alert — BIG ONE:

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this new Cool Water Intense version smells completely different from the iconic original Cool Water. It’s not even in the same ballpark.

(If you’re unaware, the original is one of the best-selling colognes of all time! It’s a green, fresh, aquatic scent which was released in the late 80s. Even so, today it’s still worn and loved by many guys, as it has a timeless, fresh-clean scent profile — its success speaks for itself!)

Cool Water Vs Cool Water Intense

In fact, Davidoff could have easily released this Intense version with a completely new name… and a completely different bottle design. And nobody would be none the wiser. So…

Needless to say, this misleading name ruffled a few feathers with the die-hard fans of the original. Who excitedly rushed out, expecting to get (as the name on the bottle would suggest) a similar smelling or darker Intense version of their favorite scent — only to be heartbroken! I totally get it.

A bottle of Davidoff Cool Water next to a bottle of Cool Water Intense with a not equal symbol in-between them.
Don’t be confused! Cool Water Intense smells nothing like the original Cool Water.

To put that into perspective, this would be like Disney releasing a new Avatar movie… that has absolutely nothing to do with the previous Avatar movies (such as, a documentary about farming) — the fans would go bonkers, right? HOWEVER…

All is not lost:

Because if you forget about the misleading name (and the fact this isn’t an Intense version of CoolWater)… and you just give this a chance — you may be VERY pleasantly surprised (I was!), because here’s the thing…

This actually smells — GREAT! It’s modern, it’s youthful… and it’s LONG lasting! Oh, and it’s also very reasonably priced! (Plus, it was even created by a world-renowned master perfumer: Annick Menardo — she’s a big deal.) What’s not to like?

And, of course, none of this even matters if you’re unfamiliar with the original and/or have no emotional connections to it. Anyways…

Enough chit-chat, let me just tell you how Cool Water Intense smells…

Tropical Creamy Sweetness

Right off the bat, you’re greeted with the semi-sweet and zesty freshness of unripe mandarin orange citrus.

And as the citrus burns off, a light splash of coconut water works in tandem with the orange fruitiness to create an inviting tropical creamy-orange sweetness (not the overly sickly-sweet kind of coconut, by the way).

And as it plays out, the coconut water slowly fades into the background, and is replaced by the warm dusty sweetness of vanilla.

All in all, you get that modern, youthful balance of freshness and sweetness — with a pleasing, clean tropical creamy feel to it.


It’s fresh. It’s sweet. And it’s creamy. And don’t go complaining if you get overwhelmed with positive attention, okay? 🙂

And that, my friend, is the new, so-called, intense version of Cool Water. A BIG departure from the OG. But not bad. Not bad at all.

In fact, I won’t lie, I enjoyed this new modern rendition, even though the naming makes no sense. That said, they did get one part of the name right, because this is pretty…


Because the good news is, this new version is a stronger, longer lasting Eau de Parfum concentration, so expect it to last in the neighbourhood of 6–10 plus hours (depending on your climate etc).

Even better:

This pushes out nicely for up to 3 hours (arm’s length), then slowly recedes giving off gentle wafts of creamy sweetness — leaving people craving for more.

Now, due to the sweetness, this has a bit of a playful edge to it, and therefore is more suitable for casual use… date-nights, nights out, clubbing, that type of stuff.

But it’s not one I would recommend for the office — as it’s quite loud.

And you’ll be pleased to know, this is one that can be enjoyed by all ages (note, it does have a youthful feel to it, though), plus, it can be worn all year (just modulate your sprays.)

That said, I would refrain from wearing this in high-heat climates, especially if you live somewhere that’s always hot and humid, as this is quite strong and powdery sweet.

Bottom line:

If you want something youthful, modern, and long-lasting… which smells fresh with some seductive creamy sweetness… (that’s not going to break the bank) — then Cool Water Intense could be for you.

Check Price at Amazon

#16 Guess Seductive Homme

A bottle of Guess Seductive Homme


Guess Seductive Homme opens up with a nice fresh, fruity sweetness with a pinch of pink pepper. In fact, a lot of people say this reminds them of the smell of the candy, Skittles. Yup! I kind of get that, too.

Not complaining, though — as it smells quite delicious!

Anyways, as it dries down, it settles down into a beautiful sweet warm musky-woody base.

But make no mistake:

For the price, this smells GREAT, and is a real crowd pleaser. And is great for dates, casual, nights out — and can be worn by all ages.


This is best for the cooler temperatures, fall and winter (days or nights). But you could use it all year if you simply adjust the sprays.

And for the price, I couldn’t really complain about the 3­–6 hours it lasted. Simply re-spray when needed.

Check Price at Amazon

#15 Missoni Parfum Pour Homme

A bottle of Missoni Parfum Pour Homme

Don’t Underestimate This (As I Did!)

This caught me off guard, for 2 reasons…

First off, I had never heard of Missoni before, so, admittedly, I wasn’t expecting much in terms of scent or quality. (Though, I later discovered, they are a high-end Italian fashion designer. My bad.)

And second off, when I first saw the dark-colored bottle, I was expecting some sort of deep, dark winter/nighttime only scent. But after testing…

I can report to you, I was pleasantly (doubly) surprised!

Because not only, for the price, is the quality and the smell of the scent surprisingly GREAT (and even the presentation!)… But also, this has a perfect balance of bright citrusy-freshness and woody-darkness… which gives you all year usability — for both days AND nights.

And even better, because it has that tried-and-tested, modern, mass-appealing clean soapy scent profile, it makes it a pleasure to wear — for just about ANY situation.

Talk About Versatility!

In fact, its scent profile sometimes gets compared to being somewhat similar to the smell of the iconic Bleu de Chanel by Chanel. (More specifically, the EDT version of it.) Which is awesome, by the way.

Now, my friend, let me be crystal clear:

No matter what you may have heard, Missoni Parfum Pour Homme is NOT a one-to-one clone of Bleu de Chanel.

However, when you first spray the Missoni, you may be reminded of bits of Bleu de Chanel (if your familiar with it, that is), as they share some similar notes (namely: grapefruit, ginger, and lemon). But that’s where it ends.

So this puts them in the same realm, but definitely not clone-like, as the Missoni does its own thing, so to speak.

Tried & Tested Scent Profile

And I’ll be straight with you…

Bleu de Chanel is the superior scent — but comes with the price tag to match, right?

So, with all that being said:

Because you can snag Missoni’s Pour Homme for a fraction of the price, this makes it an excellent more affordable alternative — which will get you nearly close (more like, in the same ballpark).

Hence, it’s on this list!

And, if you rake in the same sorts of compliments Bleu de Chanel commands, I doubt you’ll complain. I didn’t. 🙂

Yeah, all this is cool… but what’s it smell like? I’m glad you asked!

Right off the bat, Missoni Parfum Pour Homme smells bright and fresh with a burst of grapefruit and lemon citrus… and a nice hit of zingy ginger.

Fresh & Zingy

And as the citrus settles, lavender shines through to lend a smooth clean-soapy feeling with a pinch of sweetness.

Then finally, as the citruses fade, underneath the fresh, clean soapiness, you can detect a gentle dark woody undertone.

And here’s the beautiful part:

As I mentioned before, this is a one-size-fits-all solution for anyone over 20… which will have you smelling great all year (just adjust your sprays) no matter what the situation — days or nights.

From casual… to suited-up in the office… or even on a date-night…

This Has Your Back!

Now, although Parfum is in its name… this is actually an EDP concentration. And we found this to project about an arm’s length for up to the 2-hour mark.

It then sits politely close to the skin (making it a perfect fit for the office/work) and, depending on the temperature you wear it, expect a decent 5–8 plus hours of performance.

And hats off to Missoni

As they didn’t take any shortcuts with the presentation. This comes in a classy looking dark brown colored heavy glass bottle — which comes complete with a patterned carved metal magnetic cap.

Which may I add… snaps, satisfyingly, back into place after use.

Nothing not to like!

Check Price at Amazon

#14 Moschino Uomo?

A bottle of Moschino Uomo?

An Easy-to-Wear Clean Fragrance

Uomo is a unique masculine scent — for men who don’t want to be loud.

Simply put:

This is a soapy, clean, musky fragrance. Uomo opens up fresh and citrusy, and when it settles, you get a pleasing semi-sweet orange fruitiness.

And finally, it then dries down to a beautiful warm woody cinnamon scent.

It smells very elegant and classy. And the good news…

This can be worn dressed up, dressed down — any time of the year (except in the high summer heat).

Plus, it can be worn by all ages… However, it does lean slightly towards a more mature crowd. So keep that in mind.

And to be clear, Uomo is a subtle scent that sits close to the skin… making it great for office wear. To clarify, if you’re looking for something loud, this isn’t it.

But you’ll be pleased to know, although it sits close to the skin, it can lasts a decent 5-8 plus hours.

Check Price at Amazon

#13 Armaf Hunter Intense for Men

A bottle of Armaf Hunter Intense for Men

Strange Bottle. Great Smell.

This is a very safe scent, which has a youthful, crowd-pleasing DNA. The type that will bag you a LOT of compliments.

Let’s take a look:

Hunter Intense opens up sweet, fresh, and fruity with a smooth grapefruit note. It then dries down into a fresh, semi-sweet, creamy scent with a slightly peppery vibe.

In a word: awesome.

Hunter Intense gives you that clean, fresh-out-of-the-shower confidence feeling. And the beautiful part…

It’s super-versatile: suitable for any age and can be worn all year. However, it shines in the spring and summer. Great for casual use.

Even better:

This projects nicely for the first few hours, creating a nice scent cloud… and sticks to your skin for up to 7 plus hours. Not too shabby.

Check Price at Amazon

#12 Lalique Encre Noire

A bottle of Lalique Encre Noire

Dark & Mysterious

If you don’t know…

Encre Noire is French for “black ink” — and this is a very suiting name. Let me explain…

This is a vetiver-based scent. Vetiver is a grass that has a green, earthy, woody scent.

Speaking of… if vetiver is your “jam” — then I highly suggest you check out our top vetiver colognes to discover the cream of the crop. Anyway…

Here’s the thing:

Not all vetiver colognes are created equal. Some are clean smelling, and some are dark and earthy smelling. And…


Encre Noire falls under the latter dark and earthy smelling vetiver category, and this stuff gives off a dark, wet woody, inky vibe. It’s dark and mysterious.


The vetiver is blended beautifully with some cypress, which adds a green element to the scent, to smooth it out. The result?

Encre Noire is super unique and smells like an expensive niche quality scent. It’s very mature and very elegant.

Now, I’ll be straight with you…

Daring & Complex

This is NOT a typical mass-appealing fragrance. In fact, it’s a daring complex scent, and it would not be wise to gift this to somebody else.

Now, this is best for fall and winter nighttime use. And this is not for the younger crowd — it’s a mature scent, so I suggest for the 25-up.

And to be clear:

This is a formal, special occasion scent. Think: black tie events. Suit and tie. In fact, even the bottle and box look classy.

Check Price at Amazon

#11 Perry Ellis 360 Red for Men

A bottle of Perry Ellis 360 Red for Men

A Super Fresh Spicy Aquatic

I will make it super easy for you:

360 Red smells very, very similar to the iconic, much more expensive, Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio, but with an added slightly spicy cinnamon vibe.

A Fresh, Fruity Ocean Breeze

In fact:

A lot of people in the fragrance community, actually think 360 Red smells better, and the good news – it’s only a fraction of the cost!

Can you say jackpot?

360 Red smells like a fresh, fruity ocean breeze mixed with a slightly woody note, with hints of spicy cinnamon. And garners a LOT of nice compliments.

It’s fresh, clean, and timeless. And also…


As it can be worn by all ages, in all seasons, for all occasions. That said, it shines in the high-heat.

By the way, to discover more fragrances that work well in the high-heat, check out our best summer cologne list.

And the good news:

This has good lasting power, and actually lasts LONGER than Acqua Di Gio. Ain’t complaining. 🙂

Bottom line:

If you’re simply looking for a safe, clean, pleasing fragrance — to wear for almost any situation…

Try this.

Check Price at Amazon

#10 Armaf Tres Nuit Pour Homme

A bottle of Armaf Tres Nuit Pour Homme

Fresh, Clean & Green

Here’s the scoop:

Tres Nuit Pour Homme smells shockingly similar to a super-expensive fragrance by the House of Creed called: Green Irish Tweed. Which actually made it on the #2 spot on our Best Creed Colognes list.

But to be honest:

Tres Nuit Pour Homme has a slightly harsh opening, but once it settles, the two fragrances smell VERY similar.

Are they exact? No.

Obviously, they do not smell identical as Creed use super-expensive natural ingredients — but this costs a fraction of the price!

Therefore, this makes a GREAT alternative if you want to have the same sort of vibe as Creed Green Irish Tweed, but without having to break the bank. 🙂

Let me tell you how it smells…

Creamy Woods

Tres Nuit Pour Homme opens with fresh citrusy lemon mixed with a clean soapy green vibe (without being overly synthetic).

It then dries down to a sweet creamy fresh woody vibe.

And it smells GREAT. Furthermore…

It’s also super versatile — you can wear this anywhere, anytime, by all ages. Suited up or in a T-shirt and jeans. In the office or casual — you name it.

In fact:

Tres Nuit Pour Homme would make a perfect signature scent, and it also has good lasting power, but, admittedly, not as long as Green Irish Tweed.

Bottom line:

If you want to smell very, very similar to a luxury scent at a fraction of the cost – get this.

Check Price at Amazon

#9 Salvatore Ferragamo F Black

A bottle of Salvatore Ferragamo F Black

An Elegant Masculine Scent

Here’s the deal:

You know you are getting a high-quality fragrance with F Black, because this was composed by world renowned master perfumer Olivier Polge.

In case you don’t know…

Olivier Polge is the man responsible for some of the greatest fragrances created — including D&G The One. And he is currently the head perfumer at Chanel. ‘Nuff said. Anyways…

Let’s break it down:

F Black opens with a burst of sweet powdery lavender mixed with a dose of spicy black pepper. And to be honest, the opening can be a little harsh, but let it settle for the magic to happen. 🙂

The dry down is MUCH better.


When it settles, the sweetness from the tonka beans joins the party to tame the lavender, and you get a nice peppery apple vibe.

It’s warm and classy.

Now, this is more suited for the mature 25 up crowd, for use in cooler weather. Formal suit and tie or semi-formal, work, nights out…

A quick word of warning, though:

Don’t wear this in the high summer heat… and less is better with this one, one or two sprays max — and you’re set. And the good news…

This is still singing for up to 7 plus hours!

Check Price at Amazon

#8 Sean John Unforgivable

A bottle of Sean John Unforgivable

Fresh, Fruity & Boozy

Unforgivable opens up with a nice blast of fresh fizzy citrus and fruitiness. And when it settles, it starts to get darker and sweeter… and dries down to a creamy woody boozy-rum vibe.

By the way:

This is known to smell similar to a luxury fragrance known as Creed Millesime Imperial.

Now, I should point something out:

Unforgivable does not smell exactly the same, as it’s darker, but they share a lot of similarities — making it a great option if you don’t want to spend the extra coin… and get a very similar sort of vibe.

Because Unforgivable can be found online for a fraction of the cost of Creed Millesime Imperial.

Can you say jackpot?

Fizzy Citruses

But, I’ll be straight with you…

Creed Millesime Imperial is far superior in quality. (but far, far more expensive!)

Now, this is more for the spring and summer, but you can use it all year round: Dressed up, dressed down, dates, work, casual, day or night — any age.


Lasting power was not the greatest. We averaged in the 4-5 hour range, and it also sits quite close to the skin. You can’t win ’em all.

Check Price at Amazon

#7 Halloween Man Shot

A bottle of Halloween Man Shot

Trick or Treat?


Now, don’t be put off by the strange name of this fragrance, because this stuff smells amazing.

In fact:

Halloween Man Shot is reminiscent of many other great, much more expensive, designer fragrances.

Inviting Creamy Sweetness

What’s it smell like?

This is a sexy-sweet, spicy boozy cologne.

It has a delicious spicy black peppery and leather vibe, mixed with vanilla and a touch of citruses.


Halloween Man Shot is suitable for the fall, winter, and cooler spring nights.

Great for dates, nights out, bars, clubbing. You get the idea.

This is long lasting, yet it doesn’t scream out for attention… but garners a LOT of compliments.

Check Price at Amazon

#6 Bentley for Men Intense

A bottle of Bentley for Men Intense

Boozy & Sophisticated

Unlike their cars, this Bentley is a bargain. 🙂

But, make no mistake:

Although this can be found for a steal, this smells super-high quality.

And to be crystal clear:

This is not for the younger crowd, because Bentley for Men Intense is a powerful, masculine fragrance for a mature gentlemen. Let’s take it for a spin… 🙂

This opens up with a boozy spicy leather vibe, mixed with a touch of citrus.

And when it starts to dry down, you get a smooth dark woody and sweet vanilla creamy vibe… mixed with leather and a warm boozy rum note.

Elegance & Class

Now, this one’s for the cooler weather only: fall and winter. As this is far too heavy for warm weather.

And it’s worth repeating:

This is not one you younger guys will appreciate. This is a mature, masculine, sophisticated gentlemanly scent – more suited for 25-up.

And it can be worn formally, for upscale events… or even dressed down. Great for dates and nights out.


Because Bentley Man Intense is an Eau de Parfum concentration, you’ll be happy to know this rolls for hours! On top of that, it jumps off your skin for the first few hours, so stick with 1–2 sprays.

Bonus: The bottle matches the scent as it looks very classy.

Check Price at Amazon

#5 Missoni Wave

A bottle of Missoni Wave

A Solid Aquatic Freshie!

You may have never heard of Missoni before (I hadn’t)… Apparently, they are a luxury Italian designer clothing brand. Anyway…

Missoni Wave is a GREAT bang-for-your-buck! Here’s why:

I’m just going to be straight…

This little-known release smells remarkably similar to 2 other blockbuster colognes on the market:

  • Chanel’s Allure Homme Sport, and
  • Versace’s Pour Homme.

The latter, incidentally, sits on the #3 slot of our best Versace colognes showdown. Anyway…

Both of these I already own and familiar with. (Both smell awesome, by the way.)

(So if you own either one of these, you may want to skip this. But if you don’t or you’re running low and thinking of picking up another bottle, read on…)


If Versace Pour Homme and Chanel Allure Homme Sport had a baby (Yikes!). Imagining it? Great. Now you understand Missoni Wave. 🙂

More specifically, to my nose, Wave smells like a hybrid of the best bits from both of them. And it flat out works! In fact, let’s examine…

Quick side-by-side sniff test:

Ok… I have the Versace sprayed on my left forearm and the Chanel sprayed on my right forearm… and Missoni Wave on the back of my left hand….

Yup, Wave unmistakably smells like a mashup of them both — which is NOT a bad thing! Because…

You get the best of both worlds… the sparkling freshness of the Versace… combined with the luxurious creaminess of the Chanel — for a more affordable price. I’ll take that!

The Best of Both Worlds

To be honest, I would say Wave smells more similar to the Chanel than the Versace, though.

And what’s more, I would say the quality of Missoni Wave is on par with the quality of the Versace, but dare I say — Wave is better smelling (and lasts longer). I said it.

However, I’m not gonna lie by telling you the quality or smell of Wave is on par with the Chanel. The truth is, the Chanel is superior in EVERY way — including the price tag!

But because Missoni Wave can be found for, literally, a fraction of the cost of the Chanel, this makes it an absolute steal!

Now, of course, if you have no idea how these 2 other scents smell, then none of this will make any sense, right? So let me quickly tell you how Wave smells…

Fresh Tang of Sea Air & Citruses

This opens up lively, with an uplifting blast of bright citruses — mixed with the fresh tang of salty sea air.

And when this settles, juicy mandarin orange starts to shine through the aquatic freshness with a kiss of fruity sweetness. Underneath all this is a hint of greenness.

The citruses gradually fade, and as it dries down on your skin… the mandarin is joined by a hint of slightly powdery vanilla with soft woods sitting underneath — which lend a nice creamy woody feel to the scent.

All in all, it’s nothing groundbreaking — just fresh, clean, and VERY pleasant.

And because it smells so similar to the previously mentioned A-list scents, it too gets the same sort of “You smell nice!” type compliments that they deservingly receive. Not gonna complain about that, though. Anyway, season wise…

Fresh, Clean Confidence

Because of its fresh, aquatic profile, this is a pleasure to wear in the warm weather — this is where it shines!

However, you can make use of this all year as a dumb reach, do-it-all scent for when you want that fresh out-the-shower confidence feeling. (Although, it won’t perform outdoors in winter.)

A Missoni Wave bottle depicted in the sand at the beach
Comes in a gorgeous blue colored heavy glass bottle with a carved magnetic cap.

And more suitable for daytime use, say: Casual, work, the office, doing errands. In fact, just about any situation — and GREAT for the gym.

Furthermore, it’s also one all ages can appreciate, as you can’t really put an age on smelling nice, fresh, and clean, right? That said, it does have a youthful feel to it.


Missoni Wave comes in an EDT concentration… and during our tests, it lasted in the neighbourhood of 4–7 plus hours (We tested during warm weather — so your mileage may vary).

On first spray, this projected softly (within arm’s length) for up to 1.5–2 hours. It then dials back and hovers just above the skin. (For application, 3-5 sprays is the sweet spot.)

And to state the obvious, if you’re looking for a powerhouse — this ‘aint it.

But here’s the cool part:

Not only does this come in a premium looking heavy glass bottle (which is aptly colored with a gorgeous oceanic blue gradient), but also has a handy magnetic cap which is carved with the brands signature pattern. Top marks. So… the takeaway…

If you’re looking for an affordable modern fresh aquatic, with decent performance and hyper versatility, then Wave could be for you.

Check Price at Amazon

#4 Al Haramain Detour Noir

A bottle of Al Haramain Detour Noir partly revealed through some torn paper

Hidden Gem Alert!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret here…

This little-known scent is one of the fragrance community’s jealously guarded secrets. In fact, probably 99% of all guys have never heard of it. That is — until now.

However, I’ve purposely hidden the bottle from you (for now). Why?

It has to be this way — trust me…

Because if I had shown you the bottle, I’m almost certain, you would have immediately skipped this scent and totally disregarded it. And if you did, I feel I would be doing you a massive disservice. Let me explain…

This smells insanely good! Because here’s the scoop:

Detour Noir smells very, VERY similar to a much, MUCH more expensive luxury fragrance called Layton by the house of Parfums de Marly (which I own and LOVE). We’re talking “almost clone” like. (What’s going on here? Hmm.)


As you may or may not know, Layton is an elite-level fragrance which has a proven track record in the online fragrance community — for having a HUGE compliment-factor.

(That’s a tough crowd to please.)

Oh, before I forget… If you’re unaware, Al Haramain are a Middle Eastern brand. And for context: Layton is a warm, spicy-sweet woody scent. To keep it simple…

It starts off smelling of fruity apple sweetness mixed with a menthol note… and eventually, ends up almost resembling a delicious spiced, warm apple pie with lots of vanilla and some underlying woodiness. Smells fantastic.

Warm Spicy Apple Pie

And it deserves its reputation — but it ain’t cheap! But the good news, Detour Noir is a fraction of the price! Literally. (It’s not even close!)

Making Detour Noir a RIDICULOUS bargain! So why hide the bottle, then?

I am just going to be blunt:

The Detour Noir bottle looks (and feels) absolutely horrendous.

Full stop. Period.

(Sorry, Al Haramain.)

And if I had shown it to you above, chances are, the bottle would have scared you away… and you would NOT be reading this right now — so I needed a way to get your attention (as I don’t want you to miss out).

Okay, now I’ve got your attention, let me reveal the bottle…

A bottle of Al Haramain Detour Noir
Don’t underestimate this!

Yup, it’s pretty bad, right? (You still here?) 🙂

In fact, not only does it look cheap, but it also feels even cheaper… The cap is light plastic, and is VERY difficult to put on/take off from the bottle (and sometimes feels like it’s going to pull the top part of the bottle apart with it. Yikes!).

Top tip: Just throw the cap away — problem solved. You’re welcome.

Furthermore, the bottle is strangely shaped which makes it awkward to hold and spray. And to round it all off, the lettering on the front of my bottle rubbed off after only a few uses.

A close-up of the partially rubbed-off lettering on the front of an Al Haramain Detour Noir bottle.
The lettering on the front of the bottle started to rub off. No biggie.

Let’s just say, it ain’t gonna win any design awards. (One consolation, though, the box is a lot better than the bottle.) Anyway…

No biggie. Because at the end of the day:

It’s what’s inside that matters, right?

And laugh all you want, but trust me, the juice inside the bottle smells a LOT better and a LOT more expensive than the presentation would lead you to believe (or the low price you can snag it for, for that matter). All this to say…

Never Judge a Book By its Cover

And let’s be real, if you dazzle someone with your new scent, they are hardly going to march you home and demand that you show them the bottle. Imagine that? That said, they may demand to know the name of it. 🙂

Now all this, begs the question:

Does it really smell “that” similar? It sounds too good to be true!

Short answer: You bet….

Better answer:

To silence the alarm bells going off in your head, let’s be perfectly clear:

Detour Noir Vs Layton

Detour Noir is NOT an exact one-to-one clone of Layton. But it’s super close. In fact, hold up, let me do a quick side-by-side comparison for you…

Okay, I have Layton freshly sprayed on the back of my left hand… and Detour Noir on the back of my right hand…

Immediately, of course, I notice the superior blending and quality of the ingredients in Layton (understandable).

Detour Noir, on the other hand, is rougher and needs about 20 seconds to air out before going in for a sniff. But after a few minutes, it’s a LOT better.

And as they dry down on my skin, smelling them right up close, I can still noticeably pick up differences in smell and quality…

Detour Noir is slightly fresher and lighter, and simply does not have the complexity, depth, or richness of Layton. Not gonna lie.

Also, in our tests, Layton performed noticeably better (I’ll touch on this in a minute). But to be honest, they…

Smell VERY Similar in The Air

Smelling them in the air from a distance, they are VERY close. And as time goes by, from a distance, they become even more similar. Impressive.

And let’s be honest, other people are not going to be digging their noses right into your scent… They, too, will be smelling it from a distance, right?

And to the average person (untrained nose) on the street, from a distance, it would be difficult for them to tell these apart.

For context, if I had to say a percentage of how similar they are, I would say:

  • Smelling right up close they are, ballpark, 80% similar, and
  • In the air from a distance they are, ballpark, 90% similar.

Pretty impressive if you ask me, considering the price difference!

(Please keep in mind, though, these are just rough estimates to give you an idea.)


With Detour Noir, you get something that smells VERY close to something that is much, MUCH more expensive — for a fraction of the cost. That, my friend, is the definition of a bargain, right?

It’s “cheating” … but… it works!


And as they share the same scent profile, Detour Noir can be worn pretty much whenever Layton would shine its magic, such as:

Date nights, nights out, clubbing, bar-hopping, special occasions, work/office, or just for casual use and more. A lot of usability here.

Similarly, I would stick with using this in cool weather (fall/winter/and early spring). Just avoid high-heat situations and you’ll be golden. (For ages, I suggest: 20-up.)

Now, Detour Noir is an EDP, and for the first 2 hours, you can pick it up really well (radiates just over arm’s length).

Rolls For Up to 8 Hours!

It then slowly recedes and is still rolling for a good 6–8 plus hours. (For context, Layton projects strongly for 3–4 hours and gets me around 8–10 plus hours.)

Bottom line, if there has ever been a fragrance, NOT to miss… it’s this one. But…

Just a quick heads-up:

Detour Noir is getting harder to find lately, as it seems to instantly sell out — as more and more people are slowly becoming aware of it. Sadly, this has also caused it to creep up a little in price.

So pounce on this before they decide to jack the price up again.

(Apparently, they have improved the box it comes in. Hopefully, the bottle will be next.) 🙂

Check Price at Amazon

#3 Nautica Voyage

A bottle of Nautica Voyage

Amazing Value

Here’s the scoop:

Nautica Voyage was created by World renowned master perfumer Maurice Roucel. He’s responsible for creating some super expensive masterpieces in the fragrance industry. Simply put…

You’re in good hands. 🙂

Anyway… How does Nautica Voyage smell?

Fresh & Clean

Nautica Voyage opens up with a fresh crisp apple note… mixed with a salty marine vibe. It smells just like a fresh and salty sea breeze carrying the scent of freshly cut apples.

Simple but extremely pleasing.

Nautica Voyage gives you that fresh-out-the-shower vibe. It’s sweet, light and refreshing.

Any Age

Best for casual use in the spring/summer daytime. Great for work, dates, sport, vacations… and suitable for any age.

The best part?

This is SUPER affordable and has great lasting performance for an aquatic. Oh, and it also garners a lot of compliments.

Can you say jackpot? 🙂

Check Price at Amazon

#2 Afnan 9PM

A bottle of Afnan 9PM

A Party, Clubbing Banger

Ah, Jean Paul Gaultier’s Ultra Male… you just gotta love it. Huh? What the heck does Ultra Male have to do with Afnan 9pm?


Spoiler alert:

Afnan 9pm smells RIDICULOUSLY similar to Ultra Male. Which, by the way, is a good thing, because anyone who’s been in the game for a while knows… Ultra Male is a proven compliment monster.

If you’re not familiar, it’s a youthful, attention-grabbing, sweet-sexy type of scent. And it has long been heralded as one of the best clubbing/party/night-out style scents on the market. Period.

So what? Why should you care about all this?

Well, my friend, here’s the beautiful part:

Because not only does Afnan 9 pm smell shockingly similar… but also you can sometimes find this little-known gem for up to 1/3 of the price of JPG Ultra Male (maybe even ¼! — depending on where you live).

Bingo! So this, then, makes 9pm

An Absolute Steal!

Do they smell identical?

No. Not gonna lie. But it’s close… extremely close. Same-same — but different.

(Put it this way, if you already own Ultra Male, you don’t need this. Oh, and Afnan are a Middle Eastern brand, in case you’re wondering.)

In fact, let me spray them both on now, side-by-side, and tell you how 9pm smells… Plus, I’ll let you know how close they smell, percentage wise (and how they differ).

A bottle of Afnan 9pm facing off with a bottle of Jean Paul Gaultier Ultra Male, depicted in front of a boxing ring.
Fight: Afnan 9pm vs Ultra Male — these 2 scents smell mysteriously alike!

Addictive Sweetness

OK… As soon as you spray Afnan’s 9pm, you almost think you must have picked up the Ultra Male bottle by mistake… Oops, my bad — sorry. Let me get the right one… 🙂

OK… got the correct bottle this time. (Kidding. Mostly.)

Let’s try again… As soon as you spray 9pm, you’re greeted with a burst of fresh fruity apple mixed with a pinch of cinnamon — with some lavender and warm friendly vanilla buried underneath.

This gives off an addictive bubble-gummy fruity-sweetness. Nice.

And as it dries down, the slightly powdery vanilla starts to ramp up, adding a nice spicy warmth to the scent.

And just like its brother, this, too, was made for compliments and never fails to delight those around you.

But don’t be too surprised if somebody asks if you’re wearing Ultra Male, though.

OK, so now for Ultra Male… Wait… Do I really need to repeat myself? 🙂

Seriously though, the breakdown is just about the same, so I will spare you. But here are the main differences we found:

Afnan 9pm vs Ultra Male

The main differences are…


  • Has a fruity apple accord and no pear
  • Is less sweet and more fruity
  • Starts off lighter and fresher
  • Is an EDP concentration (more potent)
  • Is a LOT more affordable

Ultra Male:

  • Has a juicy pear accord and no apple
  • Is sweeter and less fruity
  • Is darker, denser, and has more depth to it
  • Is an EDT concentration (less potent)
  • Is a LOT more expensive

And the percentage of smell similarity (ballpark!):

  • 90% similar — smelling in the air from a distance
  • 80% similar — smelling them right-up close, side-by-side

To be fair, although they are different concentrations, in test after test, they both projected and lasted about the same (more on this in a minute).

Furthermore, quality wise, they are both about on par with each other. You might be wondering…

When & Where Can I Rock 9PM?

Afnan’s 9pm is more geared towards the younger crowd (under 30), especially single guys “looking for some action” — so to speak. Yup, this is true “player” stuff.

And as the name suggests, this was designed to be a nighttime scent and works like gangbusters for: clubbing, parties, outside events, nights out, date nights… You get the idea.

However, that’s not to say you can’t wear this casually in the day. Though, it’s a bit too loud and playful to be used in the office or for work etc.

Player’s Stuff

Now, I should point something out:

To my nose, this is unisex, so if you’re looking for a butch, man’s man cologne — this ain’t it.

Because some of the women we showed it to, said they loved it so much — they wanted it for themselves! So keep that in mind.

And, before we move on to performance, there’s one thing you SHOULDN’T do…

Is wear this outdoors in the high-summer-heat. Monster mistake. Why? It becomes sickly-sweet and projects like crazy! — trust me.

So in terms of seasons, because of its sweetness, this is cool weather juice (fall/winter and spring nights).

That said, for summer nights, if the club (or venue) has air-conditioning — you’ll be golden.

Sleek Heavy Bottle

Afnan’s 9 pm comes as an EDP and projects nicely (say 2–3 ft), for up to 1–3 hours, leaving a nice scent trail in its wake.

It then recedes and sits closer to the skin — and in our tests, lasting power was in the 6–8 plus hour range. And even longer on clothes, of course (days!).

(By the way, don’t go bonkers with the sprayer, as this has the potential to fill up a room!)

Oh, and hat tip to Afnan

For not trying to cut costs with the presentation. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised it comes in a sleek heavy (and, I mean, heavy!) glass bottle, with a matching heavy cap. Very nice.

Now, when all is said and done:

I’ll be super honest with you; I slightly prefer JPG’s Ultra Male, simply because I love that juicy pear note. But a lot of people prefer 9pm for the apple note (to each his own, I say). But…

You’re here to pick up an absolute bargain, right? So — 9pm is a no-brainer.

Check Price at Amazon

#1 Armaf Club De Nuit Intense Man

A bottle of Armaf Club De Nuit Intense Man

A Sweet & Fruity Sexy Masculine Scent

I will make it super easy for you:

Club De Nuit Intense Man smells remarkably similar to an ultra-expensive cologne called Creed Aventus.

Is it as natural smelling and as complex as Creed Aventus?


I’ll be straight with you…

Creed Aventus is crisper, brighter, and more effervescent… and smells more natural.


In the air, they are VERY close. And the craziest part…

Club De Nuit Intense Man costs a FRACTION of the price, making it a great option if you want to save a TON of money, yet still experience the same sort of vibe as Creed Aventus.

To be honest:

The opening of Club De Nuit Intense Man is slightly harsh, but when it settles down, after about 15 minutes – that’s when the magic starts.

Fruity Freshness & Woods

It smells fresh and fruity with a combination of pineapple, blackcurrant and apple… with underlying smoky woods and musk.

Plus, you can use it in all seasons and for all occasions, days or nights. In fact, it works amazing for nights out and dates (this is where it shines).

And to top it all off:

This has good lasting strength, so for best results: do not overspray this — less is definitely more with this one.

Oh, and better still… it’s a brutal compliment getter.

Works like a charm. 🙂

Check Price at Amazon

Now, over to you…

We would love to hear from you:

Do you know of any budget colognes that smell amazing?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, please let us know by leaving a comment below right now.

Where to go from here?

I highly recommend checking out our Top 10 best Acqua di Parma fragrances for some more awesome recommendations.

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