Shopping for the best perfume is no mean feat. Unlike when browsing for, say, the best mascara, the best eye cream or even the best foundation, emotional connection is an overwhelming key factor when shopping for the perfect scent. As a beauty editor who specialises in all things fragrance, I can tell you now that some of my most cherished and worn perfumes don't always please everyone around me.
However, it's important to note (pardon the pun) that, over my years of writing about fragrance, I have learned what makes the best perfumes, well, the best. I have to put personal preference aside and, instead, think about how each perfume might appeal to a wide group of people. And while it's true that there is no such thing as a totally crowd-pleasing scent, whether you lean towards floral perfumes or woody scents, I can safely tell you which perfume out there right now is most likely to impress you.
Frankly, I (along with the rest of the Marie Claire UK beauty desk) have spent all year testing every perfume that has landed on our desks in order to compile this definitive list of the best perfumes for women. In order to make the cut, any given perfume had to prove long-lasting, evoke some sort of joyful emotion, not be too polarising, showcase exemplary craftsmanship and generate a significant amount of compliments. So, whatever your taste in fragrance, here is a definitive guide to the best perfumes for women 2023 (including some handy shopping tips).
Best perfume for women 2023
1. Chanel Chance Eau Fraîche Eau de Toilette
Chanel Chance Eau Fraîche Eau de Parfum
This is, hands down, one of the best perfumes in existence. While I have long been a fan of the original Eau de Toilette for its expensive-smelling freshness, this newer Eau de Parfum version is more lingering and slightly more intense. It is green, biting and undeniably fresh, but it sparkles like a diamond-clad necklace, screaming luxury everywhere it goes. Chanel Chance Eau Fraîche is, without question, in my top three best perfumes ever created.
2. Glossier You
Glossier You Eau de Parfum
When it comes to the best skin scent, Glossier You wins every time. It's warm, inviting and a total compliment magnet. The best part about this perfume is that it smells ever so slightly different on everyone. Marie Claire UK's Senior Beauty Editor, Katie Thomas says, "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 on you, there’s no doubt that the intoxicating quality will leave you smelling great and everyone asking what you’re wearing."
3. Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Crush Cheirosa 68
Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Crush Cheirosa 68 Perfume Mist
This year has proved the year of the perfume mist, and Sol de Janeiro's Brazilian Crush Cheirosa 68 has categorically led the pack. Some say it smells similar to Maison Francis Kurkdjian's Baccarat Rouge 540. And while I will say it possesses the same unique magic in the way that it smells, it certainly doesn't possess the same luxury or longevity. Having said that, this sweet, floral fragrance is easily the most beautiful affordable scent (and perfume mist) out there right now.
4. Dior J'adore l'Or
Dior J'adore l'Or Eau de Parfum
While Dior's iconic J'adore perfume is no doubt up there with the most timeless and iconic perfumes of all time, the latest iteration, created by Francis Kurkdjian is, in my opinion, an upgrade. Unlike the original, which I would describe as a light, powdery floral, l'Or is deep and intense, like a large bouquet of dark-petals dripping in gold.
5. Maison Margiela Replica On A Date
Maison Margiela Replica on a Date Eau de Toilette
I know I have said that a totally crowd-pleasing scent doesn't exist, but this guy is about as close as you can get to one. It is warm and fruity, and I like to think of it like a bowl of grapes placed in the middle of the most luxurious dinner-table feast you can possibly imagine. It is totally palatable and not in the least bit offensive, just delightfully pretty.
6. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Media Cologne Forte
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Media Cologne Forte Eau de Parfum
You might be most familiar with Maison Francis Kurkdjian for the house's iconic Baccarat Rouge 540, which is sweet, warming and creamy. This scent, which is the latest creation from the brand, couldn't be further away from Rouge 540's DNA. It is crisp, fresh and crystalline—like just-picked, crunchy herbs infused in a glass of ice-cold sparkling water. It's a green, citrusy, watery masterpiece.
7. Valentino Voce Viva
Valentino Voce Viva Eau de Parfum
Fronted by Lady Gaga, Valentino’s 2021 perfume hit is unapologetically bold and fierce—meaning it gets to keep its spot on our list of the best perfumes for 2023. "It has a distinctly crisp citrus scent, defined by Italian bergamot and mandarin essences at the top, which are then undercut with orange blossom absolute at the heart, and a creamier, cooler feel (with vanilla and tonka bean) at its base. You’ll be just as proud showcasing this bottle on your dressing table as you will be to wear the glorious elixir within it," says Senior Beauty Editor, Katie.
8. Jo Malone London Wood Sage & Sea Salt
Jo Malone London Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne
Again, this perfume might not be new, but it can't not feature on our definitive list of the best perfumes. Every time I smell Wood Sage & Sea Salt on somebody, I end up complimenting their scent, often without even identifying it (which is a party trick I usually pride myself on). This perfume is the one for you if you like fresh, marine-like smells with a hearty dose of expensive-smelling luxury. It's the sort of perfume that makes you want to throw open the windows, spring clean your house, do a fresh load of washing and then snuggle up under a blanket with a good book when it's all done.