It's easy to find the one with our guide to the best perfume on the market right now
With millions of perfumes to choose from it can be a daunting, almost impossible, task to find the best perfume for women – let alone the ‘one’ you’ll use as your signature scent.
Whether you’re looking for a new scent, or drawing inspiration from the most popular perfume on the market to choose your signature, here are all the best perfumes for women you need to know about in 2021.
How to choose a new scent
You can endlessly spray yourself at perfume counters, but it’s more likely to leave you with a headache rather than your new signature scent. So how do you discover the scent that almost seems like it’s been made for you?
‘You should always be looking for the notes that resonate with you, and only you’, says fragrance supremo, and founder of the Fragrance Society, Lorna McKay.
‘For instance, if you enjoy the smell of freshly cut flowers, you should look for notes of white flowers. If you prefer something warm, that almost hugs you, try something with amber.’
So whether you’re a jasmine fragrance fanatic, a musk perfumes aficionado, or like a fragrance so light it’s barely even detectable, take stock of what you enjoy. What have you smelled in the past and loved? What memories resonate with particular aromas? All these things will help you choose a signature scent or wedding day perfume.
Once you’ve got that down, then you can spray – but take your time. Don’t spray several fragrances within close distance to each other. Scents have the ability to travel and so will mix together, resulting in an aroma that’s not even close to what you’ll take away when you spray your fragrance on its own. Fragrance combining is a whole different ball game altogether.
Essentially, you have to take your time before heading to a different fragrance counter. But perfume is all about appreciation. After all, there’s a few surprising facts about perfume and the ingredients contained in them that everyone should know, including how to make perfume last longer.
Once you think you’ve found the one, spray it on a blotter. If it’s still appealing, spray it on your skin. If it’s still appealing (and not just something that will do), you’ve found the one. It might seem like a long process, but it’s worth it.
And don’t worry about being without your favourite fragrance when you’re off on your travels, the best travel fragrance kits will see you through.
The best perfume for women in 2021
To get you started, we’ve pulled together the best perfume for women on the market right now, along with everything you need to know about them. From the go-to Bvlgari to super cool Byredo, as well as Aesop (you’re probably obsessed with their hand wash) and one of the most popular perfume brands, Jo Malone London, let us help you find a new scent the year ahead. And when you’re done here, read how perfume became the soundtrack to one editor’s lockdown.
Consider the hard work done for you.
The latest addition to the fabulous Comms Des Garcon fragrance house is Rouge. An enigmatic blend of beetroot (yes, you read that right) which delivers an earthy tone, pink peppercorn which adds brightness, incense and patchouli which adds the spice. This is not a fragrance for wallflowers. For me, captures the energy of a cold evening and the excitement of getting dressed up for a big celebration - which quite frankly, is a welcome thought.
Top Notes: Beetroot, pink pepper
Middle Notes: Ginger, mint
Base Notes: Incense, patchouli, labdanum
The unmistakable quality of Escentric Molecules has again been captured in the two new launches to the house, Molecule 5 and Escentric 05. Molecule 05 is a woody aromatic fragrance from Geza Schoen that celebrates Cashmeran. Feels like a warm cozy hug that lingers. Another one to add to the must-have list.
Ostens is a fragrance house like no other. Founded by Laurent Delafon and Christopher Yu, two guys obsessed with perfum, they encourages you to explore the range by playing with the scents, layering to discover new and unique ways to wear them. With ingredients course by LMR these are some of the best (and most sustainable) in the world.
For Cashmerean Velvet, they teamed up with Sophie Labbe and have created, in my opinion one of the best fragrances in the world. Cashmeran for me, bridges the gap between wood and amber. And is slightly creamy but not wet. It’s the kind of fragrance that lingers on your scarf and becomes part of the wearer. A true masterpiece.
Top Notes: Amyris Oil, olibanum Oil, cashmeran velvet
Heart Notes: Cedarwood oil, sandalwood oil, orris accord
Base Notes: Vanilla bean extract CO2 LMR, patchouli heart LMR, musks
A warm spicy rose scent. The rose is kept light and green with the addition of pepper and vetiver. Perfect for the colder months.
Top Notes: Spice, Black Pepper
Middle Notes: Rose
Base Notes: Vetiver, akigalawood, ambrette
The latest olfactory masterpiece to the Aesop brand is a celebration of floral fragrance, the rose to be precise - but not as we know them. Rōzu - Japanese for ‘Rose’ is a complex rose scent, think less powdery boudoir and more sophisticated and green. A fragrance by Barnabé Fillion, the same nose that created both Marrakesh and Hwyl for the brand, expect the similar divine herbaceous notes.
So if you’re after something green that evokes qualities of mystery with equal amounts of luxury, then look no further.
Top notes: Rose
Middle Notes: Florals, spices, Guaiacwood.
Base Notes: Vetiver extract, patchouli, myrrh
A contemporary take on the classic floral fragrance. Equal parts fruity (the right kind) and woody - Lil Fleur sits on the intersection between sweet and creamy with an effervescence delivered by notes of cassis and saffron. Unabashedly
A little bit gourmand (vanilla), a little woody with a dash of leather - a lot of deliciousness.
Top Notes: Cassis, tangerine, saffron
Middle Notes: Damascan rose (oil), leather
Base Note: Blonde woods, amber, vanilla
Part of the La Route de la Soie (Silk Road) collection, Levant is a fresh floral scent. Opens with a soapy effervescence thanks to light citrus notes of Tangelo and orange blossom, is grounded by the creaminess of Lily of the valley and lightness of peony that all sits on a base of musk. A seriously smart and refreshing scent that lingers, which for me, is an Ormonda Jayne trademark.
Top Notes:Bergamot, mandarin, tangelo, rose petals.
Middle Notes: Lily of the Vallery, peony, orange blossom, jasmine.
Base Note: Cedarwood, amber, musk.
Don’t you just love the bottle? The juice inside is pretty special too. Inspired by the Golden Citrine, expect slightly sweet notes from Ylang-ylang and peach, freshness delivered by way of Sicilian mandarin and a base of golden benzoin that radiates warmth and transports us instantly to sunnier climes. The scent of summer bottled
Top Notes: Sicilian mandarin, white peach accord.
Middle Notes: Ylang-ylang essence, jasmine duo absolute.
Base Note: Rein of golden benzoin, cedar wood essence.
Just a glance at the amber hued bottle gives you an indicated of what lies inside. Fans of Narcisso perfume will recognise the signature musc notes that run through the brand, but this time things are amped up with the tropical and sweet qualities from frangipani and ylang-ylang ontop a warming amber base. Truly captivating.
Top Notes: Frangipani, ylang yang.
Middle Notes: Musk.
Base Note: Amber, cedarwood, vanilla, cashmeran.
An aquatic floral fragrance that conjures up visions of waterfalls and meadows. Think freesia with their fruity qualities and creamy lily and osmanthus with notes of succulent peach. It’s no surprise that 1 bottle is sold every 14 seconds - it really is THAT good.
Top Notes: Lotus, freesia, rose.
Middle Notes: Lily, osmanthus.
Base Note: Sandalwood cedar, ambrette.
This is the anti-floral scent. Not because it isn't inspired by flowers, but because the fragrance comes from the stem, soil and earth that create the fragrance. This is a fresh, spring day in a bottle. Divine.
Top notes: Mandarin leaves, wild freesia greens and hyacinth
Middle notes: Muguet flower stalk, rose centifolia stems and jasmine bud
Base notes: White cedar, vetiver, ambrox and musk
This is a floral explosion. Rather than your typical top, middle and base notes, this fragrance opens all at once with three punchy, highly-concentrated flowery notes: jasmine bud extract, tuberose and Rangoon Creeper. From the moment you spray, you're hit with the strength of these three flowers and even though it's an EDT it lasts really well.
Inspired by a lost garden in the middle of the water city, Venice, this fragrance encompasses everything the perfumer smelt as she stepped through the gate into the garden. So much of what makes this fragrance beautiful is its story, but the scent itself is just as enthralling. It's white floral, meets damp woodiness.
Top notes: Madonna lily
Middle note: Pittosporum
Base note: Magnolia
Everyone’s favourite Instabrand Glossier made much noise when it announced a fragrance was coming. We waited with anticipation and when we finally got our hands on this, we fell-in-love. On me, the juice smells soapy clean and warm thanks to the ambrette, and on a colleague it was the perfect blend of musky and powdery with sparkling pink pepper.
Whilst it may be hard to pin down exactly how this smells, there’s no doubt that the intoxicating quality will leave you smelling great and everyone asking what you’re wearing.
Top notes: Pink Pepper, Iris Root
Base notes: Musk, Ambrox and Ambrette
Admittedly fruity fragrances have somewhat of a bad rep, but Louis Vuitton has come up trumps with, in our humble opinion, the most sophisticated way to wear fruit in a scent. It’s a real triumph; from the first spritz where zesty orange peel comes to life, followed by the-right-side-of-creamy magnolia and that satisfying lift that you can expect from Iso E Super.
Le Jour Se Léve not only smells expensive but it looks and feels it too. This is, quite possibly, the best orange perfume ever.
Top notes: Mandarin, Blackcurrant, Bergamot, Grapefruit
Middle notes: Magnolia, Jasmine Sambac
Base notes: Iso E Super, Vanilla, White Musk
For those that like their florals (Vanilla Orchid and Jasmine) with a sweet edge (Black Plum Nectar), Jimmy Choo Fever is the perfect signature scent.
Top notes: Black Plum Nectar, Lychee, Grapefruit
Middle notes: Vanilla Orchid, Jasmine
Base notes: Tonka Bean, Benzoin, Sandalwood
You’ve probably heard about this scent already and everything is true, it’s rather fabulous. With notes of Orris Root (think grown up and super posh Parma Violets), creamy but bitter almond and smooth leather this is a real head turner.
Top notes: Clary Sage, Lavender
Middle notes: Leather, Vanilla, Bitter Almond
Base notes: Tonka Bean, Amber
Full of fresh florals notes in full bloom but a classic Aquatic scent at the heart.
Top notes: Rose,
Middle notes: Violet, Orange Blossom
Base notes: Patchouli, Musk
Freshly plucked buds of Jasmine float above warm, rich and spicy notes of benzoin, Jo Malone’s Jasmine Sambac and Marigold is s seductive scent with seriously impressive silage.
Top notes: Jasmine
Middle notes: Vanilla
Base notes: Amber, Benzoin
A sexy fragrance packed full of personality. The creaminess of almonds are given a injection of energy with the addition of orange blossom, which atop a base of patchouli and tonka bean feels fresh. A real game-changer.
Top notes: Mandarin, pear and pistachio
Orange blossom, magnolia and almond
Patchouli, cashmeran, tonka bean, almond milk
This is pretty much Scandinavian style, bottled. It's initially quite sheer, but once it settles smells more of cedar than before, giving you a nice kick of scent when you least expect it.
Top note: Rose
Middle notes: Virginian cedar
Base notes: Musk, Hatian vetiver
Think of this as the subtle sister of cult classic, Neroli Portofino. The androgynous fragrance is said to have been inspired by the endless skies of the Italian Riviera, but we mainly noticed the delicious aromas of Amber and citrus fruits.
Top note: Citrus
Middle note: Neroli
Base note: Amber