What's the best cheap aftershave? And are they really a cheaper option to the real deal?
Cheap aftershaves don't have to be poor quality, there are options out there that don't cost the earth and it doesn't even mean that you have to get stuck with an eau de toilette that only lasts for an hour or two. You want to smell great all night, meaning that you want an eau de parfum. The long and short of it means it's not watered down.
The next thing you'll want to look for is something that smells good, and there's a few ways to go about this. We typically don't recommend going after the watered down versions of the designers. For example, Dior Sauvage comes in three versions, an eau de toilette, eau de parfum and a parfum. The quality of the ingredients increases as does the amount of perfume oils and the cost increases quite dramatically.
- Executive - Aventus Clone
- DS - Dior Sauvage Clone
- 299 - Bleu De Chanel Clone
- Leather - Tuscan Leather Clone
- Joop Homme
This means if we're looking for something good below £50's we've got two options. To look for the diamond in the rough brands, or the copycats. The fact is that it doesn't cost £100s to make these fragrances, and it's pretty easy to reverse engineer them with modern technology, so we've got a few options here that will allow you to smell expensive, without breaking the bank.
We're going to be rating the fragrances, on scent quality, staying power, value and talking about what situations they're most suitable for. We'll be looking at both clones and the best cheap aftershaves that are originals in their own right.
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If you're wondering what we mean by notes, there are typically 3 sets of notes in aftershaves, we refer to these as the top notes, the mid notes and the base notes. The top notes are what you smell first, mids second and base, are well the base of the fragrance. The sweeter notes tend to be what we notice first, with your muskier scents being the base.
You want to smell rich, but you don't want to drop £300's on Creed, that's where Executive comes in. Aventus is an iconic smell that a lot of people can pick out from a distance. Copycat nailed their copy of this one a few years ago and managed to recreate Aventus to a tee at a fraction of the price.
Executive matches the Creed Aventus scent profile You’ll notice that it is, immediately, a very sweet offering, with fruit notes of apple, pineapple and blackcurrant, which makes it a great choice for the summer when you’re out and about although simply due to the fact Aventus seems to be so popular with the fairer sex a lot of men use it all year round.
The mid and based notes do help it work for the autumn months with some noticeable earthy tones of oakmoss and ambergris. This helps to build some much-needed depth and create an aroma which is rich and masculine. Although we still typically prefer it as a summer option.
Lots of guys use it as a signature smell because it’s got a bit of everything, which does mean if you can only have one aftershave then creed is a safe bet.
In terms of staying power Copycat's version lasts as long as the Creed original, and if we really sniff for it, the top notes come through a little stronger than the original after about 3 hours, but that's in line with how different people's skin would effect the scent profile anyway, so nobody would ever be able to tell.
It's another set of full marks for CopyCat's Aventus, the only real complaints that we've come across are the odd couple about the product getting damaged in shipping, but looks like CopyCat addressed that and resent out fresh fragrances.
In terms of value, you're getting 100ml of full Parfum for £49, we'd say that's a solid price point as even with daily wear this should last a few months, and considering it will make you smell like you're wearing something that costs 6 times that much it's top marks for longevity.
Executive is possibly the best cheap aftershave all round.
So, the next option on the list is something inspired by Bleu de Chanel. Still popular, but a little bit against the grain in that not everyone is going to know the scent profile straight away. You're more likely to get asked about what you're wearing.
There are cheap options of Bleu, and sure you can always buy the Bleu eau de toilette, but it’s going to wear off in about an hour, hardly suitable for a night out. And to be honest, it really doesn't even smell as good as the Parfum, sadly, the clone 299 is actually closer smelling than the EDT is. That’s why the best cheap cologne clones are becoming so popular. At least if you’re looking for something that’s as strong as the Parfum or the Bleu EDP.
So, if you’re not a big fan of the original price tag that comes with Bleu de Chanel, then you should probably take a quick look at 299, a smell which has been pioneered by The Essence vault. They used to list it as inspired by Bleu de Chanel, but it's so close to the original that they've gone on to remove all such branding. We suspect this may well be due to some legal issues. In a way that's a ringing endorsement from Chanel.
You’ve got the typical nutmeg and grapefruit, as well as cardamom, which helps to make this a fairly nice smell which is oozing with masculine sensuality. It’s got a citrusy, spicy scent which helps to really echo the brooding and deep vibes of the original offering.
The fragrance is on the crisper side which does make it more suitable for warm weather, but it's definitely a going out scent. It does work quite well as a signature scent, but it wouldn't be our go to in winter.
As an EDP (or a full Parfum if you get the black version), it can last for 4-8hours respectively at a fraction of the cost. In terms of longevity, it matches or arguably beats out the original.
Strangely we couldn't find too many customer reviews of 299, but the ones that we could find were overwhelmingly positive, mostly echoing our sentiments of the clone perfume.
Pricewise it’s great, as a scent match you can tell if they’re side by side, and the top notes are perhaps a little bit too strong after about 4 hours compared to the Bleu original, but it’s not a big difference, this really is a winner.
The Essence Vault did a really good job here.
Leather is a pretty stylish material, and that is fairly well-known. The feel of leather is something which most of us know and can describe pretty well - it’s very rugged but also sleek at the same time, and it has a distinct smell which makes it very endearing.Lots of people wear leather for that reason - it has a unique presence which manages to do well and stay appealing all year round. Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather scent is a good replication of the typical leather aroma, and it is one that people enjoy quite heavily. The price, however, is much like leather in other settings - higher than you’d like, so we've got a Tuscan Leather clone to give you a hit of their classic scent.
It has the smooth, classy and overall refined smell of leather, with a woody, warm scent. Following on to a long-lasting, refined sense of saffron and jasmine. This is an unashamedly masculine fragrance.
It’s a great smell which is good for warmer days - the kind where wearing leather is just impractical. But, we wouldn't say it's an everyday for most people, unless you're really into the rugged smell.
This one goes strong for a good 8 to 10 hours.
Again the customer reviews for leather were good, excluding people who just didn't like the smell overall, but they didn't compare it to the original, so we're not sure if they just don't like Tuscan Leather or if they didn't like the copy, for our part there's complaints here.
You're getting a full parfum for £50, that's good value. You can also get a smaller bottle for around £20, so you can take a smaller risk.
Another Winner From CopyCat
If you’re a fan of Dior fragrances, then you’ll know that this is a great little number. Sauvage is a smell brimming with wild, natural tones. It smells great and is charismatic, with a radiant emerald blue colour. However, you also know that with something like that comes a pretty heavy price tag. At least if you want a version that's going to last more than an hour like the eau de toilette.
Well we've got CopyCat coming a better alternative, they have created their own budget version of the fragrance, which is pretty affordable and still has the same aroma and profile, it costs less than Dior's EDP, but lasts longer than their Parfum (and is closer to their elixir version).
This is a great transitional scent, meaning it works for most situations, although we'd tend to slightly favour its woody fragrance for evening use against other cheap cologne options. And DS is definitely faithful recreation of the original, and in side by side tests we really couldn't tell the difference, at all. And we do mean not at all, if you were looking for it and had them side by side, some other copies are noticeably different, even if it's barely. Honestly this is probably the best cheap cologne if you're looking for something that smells the same as the original.
Dior Sauvage is at this point an iconic sent that's become almost an expected addition to a mans bathroom. It's become a signature fragrance for a lot of men, so it's not one of the best cheap colognes if you want to stand out from the crowd, but it's a safe choice for all situations.
As we already mentioned DS is a great cheap alternative cologne choice because it holds up against the dior parfum, that means it keeps going for around 10 hours. This is way better than the dior eau de toilette sitting it squarely near the top of our best cheap colognes.
These were all pretty much glowing. Honestly this was probably the best reviewed product we'd found.
Unbeatable value, Copycat's DS is the best perfume clone we've come across and it's price point it fantastic. We'd recommend trying a tester sample if you're not sure, but DS is as good as the original.
Joop Homme eau de toilette can sometimes come off as a little too sweet and sometimes even juvenile, the Parfum however is a fair bit different in its scent profile, this isn't one for the high schools. It seems Joop grew up a bit with it's audience when they released the Parfum and that's why it makes it onto our list, coming in at just £45 for 75ml. This version of joop manages to be both sweet and floral yet a distinctly masculine fragrance. It's something that will evoke a hint of nostalgia for a lot of women and yet they probably won't quite be able to place it as it holds up a fair bit differently against the eau de toilette.
The top notes lead with lavender fading into a tonka bean base note, so it is quite different to the honey and orange blossom that the eau de toilette uses. This is a lot muskier and a lot more grown up, despite the floral top notes this is a very masculine fragrance.
Surprisingly adaptable, the floral top notes make it suitable for summer, but perhaps more interestingly it fades in almost the exact right way that if you put it on in the morning, come evening it will lead more with the iris midnotes and tonka beans making it a great evening option. This makes it a great cologne for the office.
It hangs round for 10-12 hours (they claim 12+, we noticed it being more like up to 12), it does change scent profile quite a bit through the day, but in the way you'd want it to getting more evening friendly as time progresses.
In general the customer reviews are great, with most people being pleasantly surprised at how the cheap perfume holds up in comparison to what they've come to expect from other men's fragrances. It holds 4.5* on Amazon, which is pretty high as far as male fragrances go.
This is fantastic value for money, at £45 for an original fragrance that holds up against the best cheap colognes and clones on the market. We're massive fans of Joop Home Parfum and, personally to inject a completely biased perspective, it does see a lot of use around our office. It's well worth a punt.