There’s something almost intoxicating about the right fragrance, but with so many on the market, how do you narrow in on your own signature scent?
“Popular fragrances change just like any trend, and fragrance is so personal,” says Bayly Ledes, President and CEO of Fashion Fragrances & Cosmetics. But right now—and for the past few years—American women are largely leaning toward huge floral perfumes and sweet gourmands, she explains. “I like to call it the three ‘Fs’—flowers, fruit, and food.”
There are also plenty of women leaning towards less traditionally feminine scents, too, though, says fragrance expert Aimee Majoros. “I think fragrances are becoming far less delineated in terms of masculine versus feminine. There are so many women who love fresh scents that you’d normally associate with something a man would wear—citrus, herbal, or ozonic scents.”
And you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a luxurious perfume. “The key to finding a budget-friendly fragrance is to look past the marketing and packaging,” explains Majoros. “The master perfumers behind your favorite higher-end fragrances are very often also the creators of far less expensive scents marketed to a younger audience.” If there is a higher-end fragrance you already love, head over to Fragrantica.com and type in the name of the perfumer. This will pull up a list of all of the scents created by that person, she explains. “You’re bound to find some fantastic scents that this perfumer created that are more reasonable.”
Of course, you could also take the easy way out and take a hard look at this list of top-sellers, which was wholly curated with the help of our fragrance experts.
Our Top Picks
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Souvenirs de Tunisie Eau de Parfum
There’s more to love than the sleek gold bottle. “This perfume is beautifully floral and bright with a subtle nutty creaminess,” says Ledes.
Ledes calls this perfume “legendary,” and says it has an alluring combination of pear and chocolate.
Tom Ford makes this extremely likeable perfume, which includes “delicious amber and solar notes with cocoa and spices,” says Ledes.
Hello Summer Eau De Toilette Spray
This feminine spritz is a steal, but doesn’t smell like it, thanks to notes of translucent flowers with beachy coconut and vanilla.
Best Celebrity Perfume
Cloud Eau De Parfum
Ariana Grande makes this incredibly affordable perfume, which Ledes says is “skin-like with white musk and a soft floral/praline heart.”
Best Citrus Perfume
Colonia Eau de Cologne
“If a woman says she doesn’t like fragrance, I always recommend this, and it works every time,” says Majoros, who calls this the ultimate classic Italian fragrance. It “sparkles with the citrus notes so often used in Italian fragrances: lemon, bergamot, sweet orange, but also has an herbaceous touch,” she explains.
Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum
This combination of jasmine, orange blossom, and patchouli has been a crowd-pleaser for years.
Best Chanel Perfume
COCO MADEMOISELLE Eau de Parfum Spray
This classic Chanel fragrance is at first fresh and vibrant, thanks to notes of orange. But as it settles on skin, you’ll get hints of jasmine, may rose and even patchouli, which lends a sultriness.
Best Iconic Perfume
Black Opium Eau de Parfum
This perfume is more than a fun bottle—it has a woody floral scent that has an incredibly fresh blend of petit grain, cardamom, lemon, orange, jasmine, rosemary, rose, and lily of the valley.
Best Sustainable Perfume
Le Petit Skunk Mini
“If you’re looking for a luxurious, all-natural fragrance, this is wonderful,” says Majoros. “It has a unique spicy, green, and resinous scent with ten essential oils that promote wellness—all without coming across overwhelmingly hippie.
Irresistible Eau de Toilette
A twist on the average floral fragrance, this perfume has a slight spice from pink peppercorn and warm musk.
This classic rose-scented perfume leaves the wearer with a long-lasting combination of violet, jasmine, musk, rose, mandarin, and patchouli.
It may be incredibly affordable, but this fragrance hits all the right notes. The vegan formula has crisp notes of peony and pink grapefruit, plus grounding sandalwood and Tonka bean.
Yes I Am Delicious Eau De Parfum
This budget-friendly pick was created by Honorine Blanc, a perfumer behind many extremely popular high-end fragrances, says Majoros. And it’s exactly what you’d expect from a master—a heart of cocoa and hazelnut with notes of green tangerine and jasmine.
“Functional fragrances—scents that use principles of neuroscience to elicit feelings of calm, energize the senses, or help us sleep, are a huge trend right now,” says Majoros. And you can’t go wrong with this blend of peach nectar, water lotus, and orange flower essence if you want to feel more serene and relaxed.
Donna Born in Roma Eau de Parfum
A top-seller from famed fashion house Valentino, this feminine perfume has top notes of blackcurrant accord and bergamot essence and finishes with deeper scents like bourbon vanilla, cashmeran, and guaiac wood essence.
Brazilian Crush Body Fragrance Mist
Another budget-friendly pick, but this time one with an “addictive” blend of almond, vanilla, and salted caramel.
Vanille Extreme Eau de Toilette
Majoros calls this affordable pick “happiness in a bottle” and says its tropical and playful scent that’s perfect for layering. Try it in the dead of winter to “transport” yourself to another locale.
It doesn’t get much more classic than this signature floral scent from Marc Jacobs, which has key notes of strawberry, violet leaves, and jasmine.
This fragrance is “beautifully floral that features Turkish rose at its heart,” says Majoros. But it’s not at all old-fashioned, thanks to a tart rhubarb top note that adds a special, modern twist, she explains, “At $335 per bottle, it is, of course, a luxury purchase, but the longevity and silage (the scent trail left behind you as you move) is unbelievable, so you don’t need to spray as liberally as you might with other fragrances.”
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