As far as the best YSL cologne for men goes, you’re spoiled for choices! With nearly a dozen fragrance lines for men, and over 50 years of perfuming experience, Yves Saint Laurent has one of the widest selections of cologne to choose from.
But unless you’ve smelled and sampled all of the 40+ colognes in their long-ranging catalog, how are you supposed to know which is the best YSL cologne for men?
To narrow down your choices, we’ve decided to put together this guide to our five favorite Yves Saint Laurent colognes. Follow along as we introduce our top pick for the best YSL cologne overall, as well as our favorite colognes for each season and special occasions.
Then, to finish things off, we’ll give you a history of this fascinating French company — and a quick trick you can use to determine whether your YSL cologne is the real deal. Let’s get started!
5 Best YSL Cologne For Men 2021
While every Yves Saint Laurent cologne is special in its own way, choosing the absolute best comes down to finding the colognes that hit the sweet spot of value, staying power, and versatility. Each of our top five picks does all that and more, so you can’t go wrong with any of them!
Enticing with its simplicity and elegance, La Nuit de L’Homme may well be Yves Saint Laurent’s most unique cologne. In fact, we’re such big fans of its signature aroma that we think La Nuit de L’Homme is the best smelling YSL cologne for men! Simply put, it smells great on just about any man, at any time of the day or night.
With the strong and unique fragrance of crushed green cardamom pods at its helm, this cologne differentiates itself from more common woodsy and spicy colognes. Leathery, dry, and smoky vetiver is joined by savory caraway in the ever-present base, punctuated only briefly by heart notes of lavender and citrus.
Offering excellent longevity and remarkable intensity, La Nuit de L’Homme makes a long-lasting statement with just a single application. If you’re looking for just one cologne to make your “signature scent” for everyday wear, we definitely recommend La Nuit de L’Homme! It’s just familiar enough for everyone to find something to like, but just different enough to always draw the nose in for more.
The most recent reformulation of YSL’s original cologne for men, Kouros has been a hit with men since its release in 1981. Renowned as much for its delicate touches as its astounding complexity of aromatic ingredients, Kouros reflects a style of fragrance-making that is difficult if not impossible to find in the products of newer perfumers.
A rush of coriander seed and fresh green herbs will meet your nose from the first spray of Kouros, backed up by a heady bouquet of floral and baking spice aromas. Richly earthy vetiver, usually reserved for base notes, makes an appearance in the center of the cologne — while even deeper, muskier tones of leather and amber mingle with honey and vanilla at the base. Overall, Kouros is a one-of-a-kind scent that has never been duplicated.
Intensely masculine in addition to its mind-blowing longevity, you will still be smelling a single spray of Kouros many days after applying it. This means that the cologne is not for the faint of heart! In fact, the powerful dispersion into a room makes Kouros a great choice for wearing around the holidays, but less suitable for everyday wear during the warmer months of the year.
Top notes of aldehydes, coriander seed, clary sage, artemisia, and bergamot
Middle notes of patchouli, carnation, cinnamon, vetiver, geranium, jasmine, and orris root
Base notes of civet, honey, leather, musk, oakmoss, amber, vanilla, and tonka bean
Designed with Generation Y in mind — those men born in the 1980s and early 1990s — Yves Saint Laurent’s “Y for Men” displays a strong freshness. As crisp as one of YSL’s white t-shirts, it’s a curious balance of masculine strength and surprising delicacy. If you’ve ever wanted a cologne as fresh as new kicks straight out of the box, Y for Men is the one for you!
Ginger, mint, and lemon zest form a trifecta of freshness in Y’s top notes, backed up by laundry-crisp aldehydes. The classic combination of green apple and fresh sage fills out this cologne’s center, giving way to intensely musky and woody undertones. Overall, Y for Men’s aroma toes a thin line between masculine intensity and feminine subtlety that makes it a favorite for everyday wear.
Offering only moderate longevity and intensity, Y for Men can be applied with a single spritz for a subtle freshness. With a more generous application, the crisp laundry scents will take center stage, making you smell ultra fresh any day, any time. Given its lack of warm and spicy scents, however, Y for Men may not be your best choice for winter — so plan on rotating to a richer cologne throughout the holidays.
Top notes of aldehydes, bergamot, ginger, mint, and lemon
Middle notes of violet leaf, green apple, sage, pineapple, and geranium
Base notes of ambergris, musk, cedarwood, incense, balsam fir, and vetiver
Any cologne named after an exotic sedative had better live up to its name! Fortunately for Opium by YSL, their cologne for men certainly meets expectations — offering a heady and intoxicating blend of spicy, oriental fragrances that’s sure to turn a few heads. If you’ve been looking for the perfect cologne for the fall and winter, we recommend adding Opium to your list.
Star anise, a more refined sort of licorice aromatic, pairs with juicy black currant to create Opium’s signature top notes. A wild mix of peppercorns and galangal, a more aromatic relative of ginger, suffuse the entire fragrance. But deep within the fixative layer, Opium’s intensely woody and sweet combination of vanilla and wood resins gives it remarkable staying power.
With just a single application, the scent of Opium for Men will stay with you for upwards of 12 hours. It’s not for the faint of heart, with a robust diffusion that will definitely draw attention. Save it for the coldest months of the year, and you’ll be able to warm up the mood on any date night.
Fresh, youthful, and masculine, L’Homme Libre truly is a cologne for “The Free Man”. Embodied by the spirit of the French ballet dancer, it’s one of YSL’s lightest and airiest colognes. Perfectly inoffensive in every way, L’Homme Libre could be the all-purpose cologne to wear to the office and the gym that you’ve been looking for.
From the first sniff, “green” is the dominant note of L’Homme Libre. From green violet leaves, to fresh basil, and unripe citrus peel, freshness is a key player here. Vibrant pink peppercorns and delightfully sweet nutmeg fill out the cologne’s small center, while fragrant patchouli and grassy vetiver give it subtle base notes.
Overall, L’Homme Libre is as light on its feet as a professional dancer — always leaving you with an impression of wanting another sniff, yet never asserting itself too strongly. We like it best for daytime wear in the spring and summer, where it’s green and fresh notes blend perfectly with the feel of the seasons themselves.
Top notes of violet leaf, basil, star anise, and bergamot
Founded in 1961 by Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, Yves Saint Laurent (commonly abbreviated YSL) is a French fashion house known for its innovative and daring takes on classic fashion and fragrance.
Starting his career in fashion at age 17, Saint Laurent was briefly sidelined by drafting into the Algerian War of Independence before returning to France with dreams of leading his own fashion design empire. First gaining notoriety with intricately detailed women’s suits, YSL became a household name with the introduction of the first women’s tuxedo.
Beginning their fragrance lines in 1964 with “Y for Women”, YSL did not produce its first men’s fragrance until 1981’s “Kouros”. Since then the fragrance division has expanded to include many cologne lines, routinely attracting new followers with both its classic scents and new releases.
As recently as the past five years, YSL has also shifted towards a focus on unisex scents — seamlessly blending masculine and feminine aromas to create incredibly versatile fragrances.
What Does YSL Cologne Smell Like?
With nearly 50 years in the cologne and perfume industry, as well as hundreds of signature fragrances to their name, picking out just one smell for a YSL cologne is quite the challenge! In fact, YSL is better known for its variety of cologne styles than any single signature smell.
The smell of YSL cologne ranges from the lightest and airiest scents for summer to dark, heavy, brooding fragrances that shine in the depths of winter. Still, each respective style will share some characteristics in common.
Lighter YSL colognes are almost always focused around freshness: Citrus, fresh herbs, and crisp laundry-like aldehydes are perennial favorites. Heavier YSL colognes, on the other hand, are rich with baking spices, vanilla, wood, leather, and musk, making them heavier and sexier for wintertime wear.
Here’s the deal: Online shopping is excellent for many things, from household goods to electronics and appliances. But when you order a cologne or perfume online, how can you know that what you’re getting is the real deal? It’s not uncommon to hear stories of scammers repackaging cheap fragrances in expensive bottles — meaning you’ll need to know how to avoid this.
The easiest way to tell if your YSL cologne is real is to compare it to a bottle of the scent that you know is the genuine article. If the option is available, we definitely recommend sampling a variety of YSL colognes at your local department store before ordering one online. That way, you’ll know you like the scent and get the best price possible.
If that’s not an option for you, though, one quick trick will confirm whether your YSL cologne is real. Simply take note of how long the fragrance lasts on your skin. As with most high-quality colognes, YSL will rarely if ever last less than 4 hours, with most YSL colognes lasting upwards of 6 hours. If your online purchase is totally faded before that time frame, it’s likely not the real deal.