Finding your signature scent is kind of like hunting for the perfect pair of shoes — there are tons of choices available in fancy packaging that might match certain moods or occasions. And you’ll have to kiss a lot of proverbial frogs (or sniff some unpleasant scents) to get your Cinderella moment. But choosing your go-to perfume doesn’t have to be a royal hassle, as there are easy ways (more on that at the end) to pinpoint the one that is the right fit for your needs.
To help you start your scent journey on a high note, we reviewed the best perfumes for women to create this list of 15 for floral fanatics, spice sensationalists, celebrity fragrance collectors, and more. Here’s a hint: Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum takes the top spot for best overall thanks to its universal appeal.
Without further adieu, here are the best perfumes for women that are floral, spicy, fruity, sexy, and undeniably timeless.
Best Overall: Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum
Also available at Ulta
What We Love: It is a classic, youthful blend of orange, patchouli, and turkish rose.
What We Don’t Love: Its spice notes may be too overpowering for some.
Timeless, yet still youthful, you really can’t go wrong with this Chanel scent and it’s easy to see why. Unlike its superstar big sister Chanel N°5, Mademoiselle is suitable for everyday wear thanks to an alluring blend of orange, patchouli, and turkish rose. While it does start off strong and pungent with a deep, musky floral aroma, we love that it eventually unfolds to a subtle, warm patchouli over time. Just an FYI, like other perfumes on our list, just a little bit of this fragrance goes a long way; spritz lightly on your wrists and neck, and let it work its magic.
Size: 1.2 oz.｜Type: Eau de Parfum｜Notes: Orange, Patchouli, and Turkish Rose
Best Value: Sol Janeiro Cheriosa ’62 Brazilian Crush Hair & Body Fragrance Mist
Also available at Sol de Janiero
What We Love: Spritz away! This affordable pick can be used on hair and body.
What We Don’t Love: It may not be as complex, or long lasting, as other finer fragrances.
Thanks to an energizing blend of pistachio, jasmine petals, vanilla, and sandalwood, this sunny fragrance is like a summer vacation in a bottle, sans the sunblock. We love that it’s affordable and can be used on the hair, body, and even clothing whenever you need a refreshening boost. Overall, it’s flirty and beachy without being too overpowering, making it a great pick for those who love sweet summer scents in a less potent formula than a eau de parfum.
Size: 3.04 oz.｜Type: Fragrance Mist｜Notes: Pistachio, Jasmine Petals, Vanilla, Sandalwood
Best Luxury: Tom Ford Lost Cherry Eau de Parfum
Also available at Nordstrom
What We Love: It offers impeccable longevity and features seductive black cherry, tonka bean, and almond notes.
What We Don’t Love: A bottle of this is a true investment.
Strong, musky, and oh-so mysterious, this fragrance is worth the splurge if you’re looking for a scent for all the special occasions on your calendar. After all, it’s blend of black cherry, tonka bean, and almond notes give it a liqueur-like aroma that isn’t too sweet or off-putting. Plus, if you’re after vanity candy, this bottle is surely going be the main attraction on your perfume tray.
Size: 1.7 oz.｜Type: Eau de Parfum｜Notes: Black Cherry, Tonka Bean, Almond
Best Floral: Carolina Herrera Good Girl Eau de Parfum
Also available at Ulta
What We Love: Its floral, yet still fresh and modern.
What We Don’t Love: It may be too strong for those who prefer lighter florals.
This floral perfume is a powerhouse and anything but meek. The seductive mix of tuberose, jasmine, and tonka bean is floral, but not in a little girl way. Name aside, this scent is all woman and sexy with a capital S. “This is one of those floral fragrances that makes a statement,” says Shannon M. Bauer, senior commerce beauty editor at InStyle. “It’s sweet but has a dark, warm layer that keeps it sophisticated. It’s my go-to date perfume and I always get compliments on it. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good bottle and the high heel shape is top-of-the-vanity worthy.”
Size: 1.7 oz.｜Type: Eau de Parfum ｜Notes: Tuberose, Jasmine, Tonka Bean
Best Woody: Maison Margiela Replica By the Fireplace Eau de Parfum
Also available at Nordstrom
What We Love: It starts off spicy and unfolds into a beautiful vanilla base.
What We Don’t Love: It can require frequent touch-ups.
If unique and woody scents are what you’re after, then this fragrance is worth adding to your wishlist. Think of chestnuts roasting on an open fire? It’s not surprising, after all, it is reminiscent of just that thanks to clove oil, chestnut and vanilla accord notes. While it starts off strong with spicy top notes, it eventually dries down to its sweet vanilla base, making it intriguing from start to finish. Bonus: the unisex scent is appreciated by all genders.
Size: 1 oz.｜Type: Eau de Toilette｜Notes: Clove Oil, Chestnut Accord, and Vanilla Accord
Best Citrus: Spitfire Girl Super Sun Potion Perfume
What We Love: It fuses citrus with spice for the perfect summer-ready fragrance.
What We Don’t Love: A fragrance mist isn’t as strong or as long lasting as a perfume.
A fragrance that’s recommended by an expert nose is a surefire bet. “This daytime fragrance screams summer with hints of dusty citrus and spice,” says Kristin Scott, master perfumer and founder of ATUM Fragrance. “Any wearer is sure to radiate power and confidence no matter what their day has in store for them.”
Size: 1 oz.｜Type: Fragrance Mist｜Notes: Sicilian Orange, Cardamom, Saffron, Madagascar Nutmeg, Turmeric, and Indonesian Patchouli
Best Fruity: Ellis Brooklyn Sun Fruit Eau de Parfum
What We Love: It uses fig instead of traditional citrus notes to create the fruit fragrance.
What We Don’t Love: It is fainter than some eau de parfums.
When you hear fruit, you might associate it with sweet. But that’s not always the case. This scent clevely utilizes fresh fig instead of traditional fruit notes to create its unique blendi. And when combined with jasmine and vanilla planifolia, the overall result is a beautiful summer-ready aroma that is light, flirty, and warm — kinda like your favorite sun dress. FYI: this fragrance also meets Sephora’s Clean and Planet Positive standards, so it’s another must-have for clean beauty enthusiasts.
Size: 1.7 oz.｜Type: Eau de Parfum ｜Notes: Fresh Fig, Handpicked Jasmine, Vanilla Planifolia
Best Musky: Juliette Has a Gun Not A Perfume Eau de Parfum
What We Love: This unique perfume contains a singular note.
What We Don’t Love: It may be too musky for those seeking a more balanced scent.
While this scent isn’t as complex as other fragrances, its singular note still packs a punch. Cetalox, the single note, is typically used in perfumery as a base note to create a musky amber layer. Due to its simplicity, it’s a great choice for minimalists who want a fuss-free scent, or for those who like to layer scents together to create a unique fragrance blend. Even better is that it’s also hypoallergenic, so it’s a must try for sensitive wearers, too. The single note makes this a polarizing perfume — you’ll either love or hate it — but it’s definitely worth a sniff.
Size: 3.3 oz.｜Type: Eau de Parfum ｜Notes: Cetalox (Synthetic Ambergris)
Best Fresh: Clean Reserve Warm Cotton Eau de Parfum
Also available at Kohl’s
What We Love: It can be used as a day and night scent.
What We Don’t Love: Its clean smell can be reminiscent of laundry products to some.
Need a quick burst of clean during the workday? You’re in luck — this bergamot, peony, and amber-filled scent is a great pick-me-up worth adding to your bag, as it’s light, airy, and boasts staying power. It has that freshly laundered sheets on a spring day with the windows open kinda vibe, but in the best way possible as it’s neither too musky nor overpowering. The layer of peony and amber keep it from being too citrusy or light, so this scent is appropriate for all seasons and hours of the day.
Size: 2 oz.｜Type: Eau de Parfum｜Notes: Bergamot, Peony, and Amber
Best Date Night: Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum
Also available at Sephora
What We Love: This intriguing blend is sure to get you compliments.
What We Don’t Love: It is not as long-lasting as other fragrances.
We like to call this scent the date clincher. Wear it on a first (or second) date and that person will be calling ASAP to ask you on the next one. Why? The opening note is coffee — and I know that scent sure brings a smile to my face. Then it melts into a sophisticated vanilla and white flower layer. It’s easy to liken it to the LBD tucked in your closet — it’s sleek, iconic, and too intriguing to resist. However, sexiness is not this fragrance’s only strong suit. The warm gourmand and spicy combo is well-balanced enough to make a memorable impression without being cloying.
Size: 1.9 oz.｜Type: Eau de Parfum｜Notes: Coffee, White Flowers, and Vanilla
Best Daytime: By Rosie Jane Dylan Perfume
What We Love: Its woody and earthy aroma of cedar, frankincense, and musk make it suitable for daytime use.
What We Don’t Love: It is a softer scent and can fade quickly.
There’s no denying this earthy scent is a daytime delight, as it’s crisp, clean, and inviting. That being said, whether you wear it to work or Sunday brunch with the family, rest assured it won’t be too overpowering or headache-inducing. We love the fragrance’s combination of frankincense and sweet musks, making it equal parts earthy and warm. Even better is that it’s unisex, so don’t be surprised if your S.O. ends up borrowing it from time to time.
Size: 1.7 oz.｜Type: Eau de Parfum ｜Notes: Cedar, Frankincense, and Musk
Best Perfume Oil: Palermo Beauty Vitality Aromatherapy Oil
What We Love: Its coconut oil base ensures the scent sticks to the skin all day.
What We Don’t Love: Essential oils can be irritating to those who have sensitive skin.
Rollerballs are a great choice when you want to target your perfume application and an oil takes that concept to the next level. “This blend is like spring in a bottle, with all the lusty, blossoming excitement the season brings,” says InStyle deputy editor Lauren Norkin. “The sandalwood and jasmine is floral in a bursting-from-the-ground way. It’s made with essential oils and a fractionated coconut oil base which helps it cling to the skin and stick with you all day, rather than wafting around you in a cloud. The brand promises a burst of confidence and a sense of romance, and I have to say I’d agree.”
Size: .33 oz.｜Type: Oil｜Notes: Jasmine, Sandalwood, and Cardamom Oils
Best Clean: The 7 Virtues Vanilla Woods Eau de Parfum
Also available at The 7 Virtues
What We Love: It’s free of phthalates, parabens, sulfates, and synthetic dyes.
What We Don’t Love: It’s muskier than you may be expecting from a vanilla perfume.
As it’s free of phthalates, parabens, sulfates, and synthetic dyes, this is one clean scent to nab if you’re looking for perfumes that cut down on the filler ingredients. However, being ‘clean’ doesn’t mean this fragrance is weak or that it fades quickly — it packs a powerful punch of fresh pear, rose, and sustainably-sourced vanilla. Overall, it’s warm and romantic, and its vanilla note is not overly sweet (like that suspect candle you were gifted last Christmas). Phew.
Size: 1.7 oz.｜Type: Eau de Parfum｜Notes: Pear, Rose, Vanilla
Best Celebrity: Ariana Grande Cloud Eau de Parfum
Also available at Amazon
What We Love: The blend has a little bit of everything — clean, sweet, and sultry — to suit a range of palettes.
What We Don’t Love: It is long-lasting, but may be too strong for sensitive noses.
Let’s be real: it’s impossible to shop for fragrances and not stumble upon celebrity scents. It’s the new sketchers collaboration of the early aughts. While Britney Spears, Billie Eilish, and Dolly Parton have scents we love, we had to name Ariana Grande as the winner for the celeb category. Why? This scent is suitable for everyday-wear and a wide range of scent preferences thanks to a blend of clean, sweet, and sultry notes. The top is bright and fresh with lavender, pear, and bergamot, then it fades to a coconut, praline, and musk finish. Oh, and we can’t go without mentioning the bottle — the dreamy light blue and cloud design is eye candy for your vanity.
Size: 1.0 oz.｜Type: Eau de Parfum｜Notes: Lavender, Blossom, Juicy Pear, and Bergamot
Best Perfume Solid: Glossier You Solid
What We Love: It is compact, affordable, and controls how much fragrance you apply onto the skin.
What We Don’t Love: It has a creamy, spreadable texture, which may be too messy to those who prefer a sprayable mist.
Looking for a compact perfume that won’t take up too much space — or spill— in your travel bag? Then look no further, this perfume solid is not only portable, but also brings a creamy, warm, and undeniably sexy aroma right to your neck and wrists. We love that this perfume solid allows you to control how much fragrance you apply, and that it falls right under $40 with a refill option, so you can use it again and again to your heart’s content.
Size: 0.11 oz.｜Type: Perfume Solid｜Notes: Ambrox, Ambrette, Musk, Iris Root and Pink Pepper
What to Keep in Mind
While it’s easy to assume that bigger means better, perfume size only really matters for value and convenience, according to master perfumer and Rosie Jane founder, Rosie Jane Johnston. That being said, to determine which bottle size is best for you, she said to ask yourself if you want a beautiful big bottle on your dresser or something that is more portable. That way, you know exactly what you need before you shop.
The type of fragrance you choose is based on personal preference, Johnston says. However, she says that “it is important to consider the type of perfume you choose, as it may affect the longevity and the scent strength.
A fragrance mist or body spray is the least powerful with a lower concentration of fragrance oil and more alcohol and water. However, you can apply more of this type of scent before becoming overwhelming. A pro for heavy spritzers. An eau de parfum is the most potent with the highest concentration of fragrance oil and an eau de toilette sits right in the middle. An eau de toilette typically has four to six hours of wear time, whereas parfum has eight to 10. But good to know: the concentration changes the intensity and duration, but shouldn’t change the way your favorite scent smells.
Top notes are also known as head notes, they are what pull you into the perfume, Johnston tells InStyle. Top notes are also the first notes to fade. “However, keep in mind that the top note is not always representative of the way your perfume will end up smelling,” she adds. “It normally takes about ten minutes for a perfume to reveal most of its notes.” The middle, or heart, and base notes are what combine to form the main theme of a perfume. These notes are often more rounded, less flashy, and linger long after the top notes have faded.
Selecting a perfume you like can take a lot of trial and error to learn the language and the notes that work for you. Some scents you may like in the bottle or sprayed on a tester, but may smell completely different on your body. Identifying the things you like will guide you to a signature scent.
Your Questions, Answered
How do you pick a new perfume?
While the perfume selection process may seem intimidating, professional perfumer Kalliope Amorphous suggests uncomplicating your search by paying attention to the top notes of any fragrance of interest first. “Top notes are the first notes you smell when you apply perfume,” she tells InStyle. “A simple way to break it down is by asking yourself if you typically prefer florals, citrus, woody, or clean notes. Then, try fragrances that feature those notes as top notes.” Amorphous then advises considering the base notes, as she explains that “they are the notes that will linger the longest on your skin after the top and middle notes have dissipated slightly. Base notes are typically woods, leathers, vanillas, ambers, and musks.” By narrowing down your preferred top and base notes beforehand, Amorphous says that it ultimately can speed up the fragrance selection process. “If you dislike florals and woods, you can skip right over those fragrances and move onto clean or citrus perfumes,” she adds. And remember: the process should be fun! Finding your signature scent can be a journey, but finding that perfume that fits is a huge confidence booster.
How do you apply perfume?
“Always apply perfume to the pulse points first (the wrists, neck, inside of the elbows, and back the knees), because these are the warmest areas of the body,” says Amorphous. “This allows the fragrance to amplify and diffuse more thoroughly. However, when applying stronger and heavier perfumes, she suggests spraying the perfume a short distance in front of you, and then walking into the mist rather than spraying it directly. “This prevents the fragrance from going on too strong.” If you have a lighter fragrance or one that seems to disappear quickly, spread a dab of Vaseline on your pulse points before applying it to add longevity to the scent. Perfume doesn’t stick as well to dry skin, so the ointment holds the fragrance to your skin for longer.