Is there anything more flattering then being told that you smell good? Is it a celebrity? Really Is there a celebrity who doesn’t have their own perfume line? Though we can’t answer either of these questions for certain, we can help you find your next favorite perfume.
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Studies show that scent can affect people’s perceptions of each other — whether that’s for better or for worse.Scents follow the same trend cycle as platform Ugg slippers or glazed donut manicures. Although Viral TikToks may highlight the hottest scent of each hour, fragrance is a very personal experience. One person’s experience with fragrance might not be the same for another. To help you pick out the perfect perfume that won’t go out of style like a 2012 Victoria’s Secret body spray (looking at you, Love Spell), we spoke to fragrance expert and the host of Smell Ya Later podcast Tynan Sinks.
“It seems that we’re making our way out of the “skin scent” era of light, barely perceptible scents, and seeing the pendulum swing the other direction to louder, sweeter, more fun fragrances,” Sinks tells PEOPLE.
There’s a reason that fragrance is a go-to gift for special occasions like holidays and birthdays — it’s a personal and intimate present that hints at how well you know someone’s preferences. Some perfumes and colognes do not use the words, “feminine”And “masculine” to describe themselves, we’d like to remind you that scent is genderless — so spritz on whatever smell you most enjoy!
It can be difficult to pick the right one among the many options available in department stores. That’s why we set out to create a comprehensive list of the best perfumes for every preference, including different scent-types, formulations, and price points in our research.
PEOPLE’s top picks of the most popular perfumes on the marketplace will help you find your next fragrance.
Maison Margiela Replica Jazz Club
Warm, smooth, and just a tad sweet — this sexy scent smells so good you might develop a habit of sniffing your own wrists throughout the day (at least, that’s what happened for this writer!). ‘REPLICA’ Jazz Club by Maison Margiela has quickly become a holy grail perfume and a staple on PEOPLE editors’ makeup vanities. This scent is true the name. It is reminiscent of smokey jazz clubs, and the feeling of curling up in front of the fireplace with a cup warm of spiced tea. It is both sensual and comforting, with a depth that will leave you wanting more.
This warm fragrance is carried by spiced pink pepper. Then comes a swirling of neroli, rum, vanilla and smoky tobacco leaf that combine to create a round, complex scent. Jazz Club is housed in a minimalist glass jar that exudes luxury. Its high-quality ingredients make Jazz Club last a long time. This perfume has a great projection which means that people around you will notice the new sexy scent.
‘REPLICA’ Jazz Club earns our designation as the best overall perfume for a few reasons — the scent is at once unique and familiarly cozy and truly lasts all day with proper application. The sweetness and warmth are perfectly balanced by smoke and spice. This is especially true for me, who is sensitive to chemical-y perfumes and has had no adverse reactions. Go ahead and pick up this Eau de toilette spray as a gift for your loved ones, but we warn you — one sniff on someone else and you’ll be tempted to buy it for yourself, too!
Price at the time of publication: $144
Size: 1 oz. | Formulation: Eau de toilette spray | Key Notes Pink pepper, neroli oil and vanilla, as well as rum and vanilla.
Best Overall, Runner Up:
Dossier Ambery Saffron
We think “What are you wearing?” is a more fitting name for this addictingly warm scent — because that’s what everyone will ask when you spritz on Dossier’s Ambery Saffron. This scent is deep, spicy, and mysterious. It would be great in a darkly lit jazz club or speakeasy. Over top notes of orange blossom and golden-y saffron, sweet, lightly floral middle notes such as jasmine and plum are layered with deep, woody base notes such as fir balsam or amber. This scent is slightly sweet and spicy with a trail of spices. Best way.
Perfumery Dossier labels itself as “the fair alternative to luxury perfumes”It is a well-known company that has created affordable dupes for popular scents. Ambery Saffron was inspired from MFK’s Baccarat Rouge 540, a beloved fragrance on our list. This rich and complex fragrance is our go to fall scent. It is the perfect gift idea for even the most discerning fragrance lovers.
Price at the time of publication: $49
Size: 1.7 oz. | Formulation: Eau de parfum spray | Top Notes Saffron and orange blossom, jasmine, cedarwood
Best Unique Scent:
Peppy pink, no-makeup-makeup brand Glossier may have a cult following of Gen Z and Millennial enthusiasts (Olivia Rodrigo is the newest face of the brand), but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’d deliver a simple scent — this fragrance is mature, complex, and unique to every user. Glossier You was deliberately formulated to be different for everyone. The milky-pink glass bottle with its thumb-shaped impression would look elegant on any vanity counter and is the perfect gift for minimalists who’ve tried everything.
The spray formula quickly melts into the skin and releases a sweet and spicy concoction. It is a blend of bright pink pepper, amber and creamy white flowers that creates a sophisticated and timeless scent. Although this perfume is also available as a solid puff, shoppers have noted that the spray formula leaves behind an even longer-lasting scent.
Price at the time of publication: $64
Size: 1.7 oz. | Formulation: Eau de parfum spray | Key Notes Pink peppercorn, ambrette seeds, iris
Chanel CHANCE EAU TENDRE Eau de Toilette
Someone who’s looking for a clean, fresh, citrtus-y scent or those who may be sensitive to strong smells.
Luxury fashion house Chanel has become one of the most iconic names in perfume for a reason — their scents instantly conjure up the image of a well-dressed shopper strolling through the Upper East Side in New York City. Chance is a delicate, fresh scent that smells like a silk scarf blowing in wind. It has notes of grapefruit and quince mixed with jasmine and white muks.
This isn’t your grandmother’s Chanel perfume (not that there’s anything wrong with a classic Number 5), and would smell great on anyone who likes a young, fresh scent — it’s even Emma Stone’s signature scent! Because this perfume is formulated as an Eau de toilette rather than, say, an Eau de parfum, it’s lighter and less intense, which might be preferable for someone who is sensitive to strong smells.
Price at the time of publication: $95
Size: 1.7 oz. | Formulation: Eau de toilette spray | Key Notes Citron, jasmine, teakwood
Best for Someone Who’s Tried Everything:
Juliette Does Not Wear a Perfume, She Has A Gun
This perfume is warm, sheer, and just the right amount of spicy. It is not a perfume) is like nothing we’ve ever smelled before. This fragrance from Juliette Has a Gun is made from just one ingredient: cetalox, a synthetic form of ambergris that’s often used as a base note in perfume but rarely presented on its own. Romano Ricci, the brand founder and perfumer behind Juliette Has a Gun says this about his unique formulation: “This time, I have created a perfume out of this one ingredient. A perfume that won’t be one, in the conventional sense of the word.”This unique scent is best left on your skin for at least 5-10 minutes before you make your judgement.
Price at the time of publication: $140
Size: 1.7 oz. | Formulation: Eau de parfum spray |Key Notes Cetalox
Best Light Citrus
Jo Malone London Blackberry & Bay Cologne
Blackberry & Bay is a cult classic fragrance for a reason — it’s crisp, light, and refreshing in a way that brings to mind the feeling of picking berries in the woods on a warm summer day. Blackberry is the dominant aroma of this fragrance, with hints and swirls of cedarwood and bay leaves. Jo Malone London has a lot of celebrity fans, as does every perfume from the brand. Meghan MarkleThis scent can be layered with light perfumes and is very well-suited to being paired with fig or lotus flowers.
Price at the time of publication: $68
Size: 1 oz. | Formulation: Cologne spray | Key Notes Blackberry, bay leaves and cedarwood
Best Discovery Set:
Diptyque Eau de Toilette Discovery Set
This is a discovery set so there aren’t many of each scent. You can purchase a full-size product if you are certain that you like a particular scent.
This discovery set by Diptyque is a mainstay department story. It contains five of their most popular fragrances. They are: Eau des Sens (a sweet, floral scent), Do Son (a fresh, sweet fragrance), Philosykos (a warm fig fragrance), L’Ombre in L’Eau (a fresh, green scent) and Eau Rose (one of our favourite rose fragrances). We think that this set is the perfect gift for even the pickiest of loved ones — or as a little pick-me-up gift for yourself!
Price at the time of publication: $128
Size: 5 bottles, .25 oz. each | Formulation: Eau de toilette | Key Notes Tuberoses; orange blossom; roses; black currant; roses
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MIX:BAR Vanilla Bourbon Perfume
This rich and complex perfume smells a lot more luxurious than its price tag would suggest. This fragrance is warm and floral with notes of Madagascar vanilla bean and sandalwood. “They’re stunning,”Sinks is a fan of the brand personally. “I absolutely love the whole collection. They literally rival Tom Ford scents.”Target is the only place to find Vanilla Bourbon Perfume, MIX:BAR
Price at the time of publication: $20
Size: 1.7 oz. | Formulation: Eau de parfum spray | Key Notes Madagascar vanilla bean, bergamot, jasmine, sandalwood
Best Warm & Musky:
Le Labo Santal 33 Eau De Parfum
Luxury meets the outdoors in this woody scent that makes us feel like we’re in the Rocky Mountains camping (or glamping) under the stars around an open fire. Le Labo is the perfumery behind one of the most talked about scents in the fragrance industry, and they’re masters at delivering luxurious and unique fragrances. Santal 33 was the fragrance Kate Bock wore for her wedding with NBA star Kevin Love.
Santal 33 contains notes of cardamom (ambrox), iris, ambrox and Australian sandalwood. There are also other musky and smokey compounds. SANTAL 33 is a beautiful and complex option for fragrance lovers who are willing to spend a lot.
Price at the time of publication: $90
Size: 0.5 oz. | Formulation: Eau de parfum spray | Key Notes Cardamom, iris, ambrox, sandalwood
Best Fruity Gourmand
Burberry Her Eau de Parfum
The word “fragrance” is the best way to describe the scent. yummy. This fragrance smells just like a refreshing summer cocktail. Burberry Her has top notes of red and deep berries, layered over fresh-smelling jasmine, and accented by a warm, sensual Amber musk. It smells light, airy, and pretty. The elegant, glass-embossed bottles with shiny gold detailing feel luxurious and easy. This scent is a great gift for someone who likes a fresh, youthful scent with depth. Although some customers complained that the spray left behind a less intense scent than one would expect from an Eau de Parfum, we believe that it is a great starter perfume for those who are just starting to explore the world of fragrance.
Price at the time of publication: $112
Size: 1.6 oz. | Formulation: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Red and dark fruits, jasmine, musk amber
Dossier Fruity Almond
If you prefer a sweet, nutty scent (reminiscent of Carolina Herrera’s Good Girl perfume), then you’ll love this fragrance.
Dossier’s dupe masters have created a fragrance that is inspired by Carolina Herrera’s Good Girl perfume. It is sweet, floral, and nutty. This dupe is described by shoppers as smelling just like Good Girl. It has notes of orange blossom, tuberose and peach. The sweet, pretty scent also contains vanilla and cocoa.
Price at the time of publication: $29
Size: 1.7 oz. | Formulation: Eau de parfum | Key Notes Peach, almond, tuberose, orange blossom, tonka bean
Best Perfume Solid
diptyque Eau Rose Solid Parfume
Roses are one of the most classic scents in perfume, but powdery rose scents can sometimes feel too mature for more youthful shoppers — that is, until Diptyque’s Eau Rose hit the scene. The waxy balm formula can be applied easily with your fingertips. The pretty tin case makes it easy to carry around and add your favorite scents throughout the day. This fruity, fresh, and vibrant rose fragrance is a winner for those who are sensitive to traditional perfumes.
Price at the time of publication: $68
Size: 3g | Formulation: Solid| Key notes Damask roses, cabbage roses, lychee and ambroxan
How to Choose the Right Perfume
Everyone looks for slightly different things in a favorite scent — and every scent smells slightly different on each person’s skin. You can find fragrances in a variety of forms, including oils, solids, and sprays. Spray-on perfumes attract sinks. “I think every formulation has its place and its consumer, but I’m a spray person,”Sinks “I think they sit on the body the best and give you the most beautiful wear.”
Eau de parfum is the most common form of spray-on fragrances. Generally speaking, the difference lies in the concentration of the perfume — Eau de parfum typically has a higher concentration of scent and gives off a stronger smell, while Eau de toilette has a lower concentration of scent and often smells lighter and less intense.
If the abundance of buzzwords feels confusing and you don’t know where to start when picking out a scent, you’re not alone. Here are some definitions to help you get started.
Sweet: “Often, when people think sweet, they think vanilla, which makes sense,”Sinks. “But there are many other notes that can serve up sweetness in different ways. Tonka, caramel, honey, praline, honey, and even Nutmeg are just a few examples. Even flowers can be sweet.
Woody: Think about the different ways that wood can smell: fresh and verdant while it’s alive and growing, or smoky and rich when being burned in a campfire.
Gourmand: This word is often used to describe fragrance notes that resemble things that you can eat — think chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, or rum.
Fresh: Fresh is often used to describe citrus scents like grapefruit and lemon verbena.
Musk: If you’ve ever smelled a perfume that felt instantly distinct and sensual, it’s base notes probablyInclude musk, which is a compound that was originally extracted from glandular secretion of deer (AKA deer skin). But don’t fret — the musk used in fragrance today is synthetically made.
“I think at the end of the day, too cheap or too expensive is all relative to the person and their wallet,”Sinks “We are lucky to be in a time where beautiful, quality fragrances have become very affordable and accessible, so there’s no reason to turn your nose up (no pun intended sorry) at a $30 perfume. And I think that’s great. Beauty should be affordable.”
Frequently Asked Question
What’s the best way to apply fragrance?
“In fragrance, it’s important for the juice to make contact directly with the skin,”Sinks “So don’t spray it on your clothes, spray it on your body. It needs that contact with your skin, to heat up and meld with your body chemistry to really blossom into what it’s supposed to be on your skin.”Sinks prefers to apply the scent on the skin instead of clothes. He also prefers to apply it to his chest and wrists. “If you spray your wrists or arms, you can tap to distribute the fragrance, but never rub, because you’ll break down the chemical composition of the scent. Honestly the less contact or friction you can put on a freshly sprayed fragrance, the better.”
What scents are in fashion right now?
“I think that coming out of a pandemic, people have a different relationship with scent after being trapped inside for so long,”Sinks “They want to smell and be smelled, they want to wear something fun and sexy that has a lot of personality and all of these fit the bill. Also, more than ever, we’re seeing a lot of vanillas come to market. I think this is also a response to the pandemic and sort of the state of the world right now. Vanilla is comforting and homey.”
How long can my perfume last?
There are a few things that can affect the longevity of your perfume. Your body chemistry and how perfume is applied can all affect how long your scent lasts. You can’t control the body’s chemistry but you can control how it reacts to perfume. can Control what perfume you use and how much.
Eau de parfum has the highest scent concentration and lasts the longest. Some people believe that perfume applied on top of lotion or vaseline will help it last longer. However, this is a largely unproven theory.
Take our word for it
Cai Cramer is a PEOPLE commerce writer. She covers the most popular products in the beauty, fashion, health and lifestyle space. To help her determine which perfumes merited top marks, she smelled 60 of the most popular perfumes at department stores and beauty shops.