Sat. May 18th, 2024

Trends may come and go, but there’s one accessory you can wear that speaks volumes without ever flaunting a logo: Long-lasting, gorgeous fragrance.

The beauty of long-lasting perfume is in both its simplicity and its complexity — simple in that it only takes one or two spritzes to make itself a cornerstone of your wardrobe, but complex in their fragrance formulation and intensity. Extrait fragrances feature the strongest concentration of perfume, followed by eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and cologne. “The higher the concentration, the longer the fragrance will last on the skin,” says Meg Gray, Director of Merchandising at Bluemercury. “This should be considered when shopping for fragrance depending on how strong you want your fragrance to be and how long you want it to last.”

Fragrance “noses” work tirelessly to create perfume blends that are harmonious yet unexpected, edgy yet alluring, exclusive yet approachable. Shopping for your perfect match is an exciting challenge. The only issue? There’s no time to smell them all.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 Eau de Parfum

Nordstrom


What We Love: You’ve probably encountered this viral, celebrity-approved perfume at least once a week.

What We Don’t Love: Depending on your skin chemistry, you may not like how this scent wears on you.

If you’re deep into perfume TikTok, you’ve definitely scrolled past this beloved scent. Baccarat Rouge, blended by iconic perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, has an unabashed presence and impressive staying power.

Although many fragrance houses describe their perfumes as unique, this one truly is. It’s a neither here nor there scent, as it doesn’t truly fit squarely in one fragrance family, but somehow touches them as the layers unfold with wear. Opening with a burst of bitter almond and spicy saffron, the aroma dries down into the floral middle notes of jasmine and earthy cedar, before settling into a deeper musky base of ambergris and fir resin. Because this perfume has such an unusual blend of notes, it smells very different depending on who wears it, from a spicy caramel confection to a sharp metallic aroma.

“This happens because we’re all unique in our body chemistry,” explains Ray Mauro, Brand Manager of Fragrance Development and Marketing at Avon. “Our skin releases oils and the balance of those oils varies from person to person.” For this reason, we’d recommend testing it in person rather than going for the blind buy.

Fragrance Family: Woody amber | Key Notes: Jasmine, cedar, saffron | Size: 1.2 oz

Snif House of 8

Snif


What We Love: This is a rare gourmand that can be worn by any gender.

What We Don’t Love: If you’re looking for something sweet, this might not appeal to you.

Created in collaboration with YouTube creator Larray, this scent is inspired by the eighth house of astrology, which represents relationships, sex, and taboos. Indeed, this expensive-smelling yet affordable fragrance has sex appeal in spades, thanks to its unique blend of notes that’s sensual on any gender.

A cocktail of dark chocolate and creamy vanilla notes are balanced by herbaceous sage as well as powdery iris and feminine lavender. It’s this balance that makes it ideal for all, but if you’re the kind of perfume wearer that prefers to smell like the inside of a bakery, this one may not scratch the itch.

Instead, reach for it if you’re looking for something more intimate and musky — it’s great for a night out. Bonus: The travel-friendly bottle features a magnetic cap that won’t easily pop off in your purse.

Fragrance Family: Gourmand | Key Notes: Chocolate, vanilla, sandalwood | Size: 1.01 oz

Robert Piguet Fracas Eau de Parfum

Saks Fifth Avenue


What We Love: This fragrance is sophisticated, sexy, and — despite its age — positively timeless.

What We Don’t Love: If you’re not someone who likes a bold fragrance, Fracas may not be for you.

This iconic perfume launched in 1948 and has been a cult favorite of Old Hollywood dames, like Ava Gardner, and beauty editors ever since. However, the stars of this fragrance show are heady white florals — tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, and lily of the valley. It also has notes of juicy peach pulp, velvety sandalwood, and earthy vetiver for a luxury scent that is remarkably sultry and striking, with a strong, enduring presence capable of making anyone feel like a femme fatale. It’s the maturity and audaciousness of this fragrance that makes it great, but be warned — that means it’s also not for the faint of heart. Wear this one with confidence and style.

The packaging is also chic, with a sleek black glass bottle (uncommon in perfume) with a subtle pop of pink on the label for a color combo that feels very much of its era without coming across as dated.

Fragrance Family: White floral|Key Notes: Jasmine, gardenia, musk|Size: 1.7 oz

Le Labo ANOTHER 13 Eau de Parfum

Saks Fifth Avenue


What We Love: This clean-smelling fragrance can be worn by anyone and everyone.

What We Don’t Love: Because it’s a skin scent, some may be nose blind to it.

Another 13 is an exquisite example of what’s known as a molecular skin scent, meaning it features molecular structures that create a scent that’s odorless in the body, but transforms on the skin like a pheromone fragrance to amplify your natural body chemistry with a clean, fresh, almost indescribable aroma that is bound to earn you many compliments.

Be aware that some people have difficulty smelling this scent on themselves — don’t worry, you smell good. Le Labo also has the expert seal of approval: “Le Labo scents are great fragrances and a great value for the high quality of the fragrance,” says Dsm-firmenich perfumer, Alexandra Monet. “They invest a lot into ensuring the quality of fragrance is very high.”

Fragrance Family: Musk | Key Notes: Jasmine petals, moss, ambrette seed absolute | Size: 1.7 oz

Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower Eau de Parfum

Nordstrom


What We Love: This legendary and massively popular fragrance should be in any white floral lovers’ rotation.

What We Don’t Love: On some, the eucalyptus note can be overpowering.

The nose behind this scent, Dominique Ropion, is a master of the craft, and that’s clear upon first sniff. With tuberose leading the charge, the fragrance boasts a positively elegant mix of white florals as well as unexpected notes of melon, coconut, coconut, and eucalyptus, all resting on a base of musk. It projects and wears beautifully, with no need for spritzes throughout the day.

Remember that perfume projects differently depending on who’s wearing it; while most people get creamy and almost animalic tuberose from Carnal Flower, some skin chemistry amplifies the camphor in the eucalyptus, which may not be your desired outcome. However, it’s that green aspect that makes this white floral more gender-neutral than most. We’d recommend testing this one before committing to a full-sized bottle to make sure it’s a fit for you.

Fragrance Family: Floral|Key Notes: Tuberose, jasmine, white musk|Size: 1.7 oz

Krigler Oud For Highness 75 Eau de Parfum

Krigler


What We Love: This is the most luxurious oud we’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing.

What We Don’t Love: This fragrance is heady with a huge sillage, so it’s not a scent for all seasons.

With the price point to match, Oud For Highness is literally regal: It was formulated for King Hussein of Jordan in the mid-1970s. And while it may have been made for a man, it’s our seasonal go-to for when we want to feel like the powerful women we are. Warm, spicy, and elegant with notes of syrupy honey and indulgent oud (one of the rarest and priciest ingredients used when making perfumes), every spritz will make you feel more confident than the last. If you’re more of a wallflower, note that this spicy scent is bold, both in vibes and strength.

That said, if you feel you are someone who can wear this scent without it wearing you, we highly recommend reserving it for winter. It’s too potent in warm weather, but it stuns in the cooler seasons. Its longevity is so excellent that we look forward to smelling Oud For Highness on our dressier winter outerwear when we take it out of storage.

Fragrance Family: Spicy | Key Notes: Honey, saffron, oud | Size: 1.7 oz

House of Bo Espiritu Eau de Parfum

Saks Fifth Avenue


What We Love: The craftsmanship of this scent and its packaging are truly noteworthy.

What We Don’t Love: The leather note in this one is strong, so you may want to reserve this perfume for cooler days.

From the hand-carved cap to the innovative juice inside, you’ll instantly be captivated by this genderless, modern spin on a classic woody scent. “The packaging is absolutely stunning, and this scent is the hero scent of the House of Bo collection,” says Gray. “The leather, floral, and musk notes are absolutely incredible.”

Mexican oakwood, which nods to the heritage of the brand, is the grounding element, supported by a generous dose of leather, which is enhanced by powdery iris, peach skin-like osmanthus, and earthy carrot skin.

In the best possible way, this luxury fragrance smells like a well-loved, high-quality leather handbag that’s long been a staple of your wardrobe; similarly, this perfume is also bound to become a go-to in your routine. Remember that leathery scents tend to perform best in cooler weather as heat and humidity can make a perfume wear you, rather than the other way around.

Fragrance Family: Woods | Key Notes: Carrot seed, tobacco leaf, Mexican oakwood | Size: 2.5 oz

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Eau de Parfum

Sephora


What We Love: This light, breezy, dreamy scent is easy to wear all year round.

What We Don’t Love: While it does last all day, it’s an airy, subtle scent.

This unisex fragrance is an indulgence right off the shelf, from its beautiful gilded box and stunning turquoise bottle to the alluring fragrant cocktail inside. From the first spritz, you’ll observe how effervescent citrus notes give way to creamy white florals like neroli, orange blossom, and jasmine supported by a gentle, warm amber base, giving an overall effect of sun heating up citrus fields along the coast of Italy. Molto chic.

While we especially love wearing this scent in spring and summer, Neroli Portofino is one of those fragrances that smell like your cleanest, freshest self, so feel free to mist it on with abandon all year round. It is on the lighter side, so remember that you may need to keep applying it to continuously enjoy its delicate aroma  —  or you can pair it with the brand’s coordinating body lotion.

Fragrance Family: Citrus floral|Key Notes: Lemon, bergamot, neroli|Size: 1.7 oz

Kilian Paris Angels’ Share

Nordstrom


What We Love: A sexy, sweet, spicy delicacy, this fragrance is housed in an equally bold, see-and-be-seen, bottle.

What We Don’t Love: It may lean too syrupy sweet for some.

This daring scent has strong notes of cognac, which is very intentional for Kilian Hennessy  —  emphasis on his last name, Hennessy. The perfumer is an heir to the renowned French cognac-making family, so it’s only natural that his fragrances would wink at his luxury liquor heritage.

Alongside the cognac accord are candied notes of cinnamon, tonka bean, vanilla, and creamy praline, culminating in a decadent gourmand fragrance, balanced with a dash of spicy sandalwood and mossy oak. All together, you’ve got a woody, spicy, and sweet cocktail that wears all day  —  although it does its best work at night.

Fragrance Family: Spicy gourmand | Key Notes: Cognac, vanilla, oak wood | Size: 1.7 oz

Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum

Sephora


What We Love: This gourmand artfully toes the line between being delicious and being sexy.

What We Don’t Love: It’s very popular, so don’t expect to be the only person wearing it.

Gourmands are fragrances with “foodie” type notes, and this one from YSL is one of our faves. It doesn’t smell like a food so much as it does like a beverage  —  more specifically, a vanilla sweet cream cold foam iced coffee.

However, thanks to sultry notes of jasmine, cashmere wood, and cedar, the perfume is perfectly balanced between “yummy” and “yowza,” making this scent a nice pick for a romantic night out. Yet, if it’s important to you that you are the only person in the room wearing this perfume, you’ll have the best luck wearing this on an intimate date spent indoors — many people wear this classic perfume as their signature scent, because it’s that good.

Fragrance Family: Gourmand|Key Notes: Coffee, jasmine, vanilla|Size: 3 oz

Chanel No°5 Eau de Parfum

Sephora


What We Love: This is one of the most legendary and beloved fragrances in the history of perfume.

What We Don’t Love: So iconic, so ubiquitous — if you make it your signature scent, others will be wearing it, too.

Famously worn by Marilyn Monroe (in fact, the only thing she wore to bed) and immortalized by pop artist Andy Warhol, Chanel No°5 is a total classic, and has been since it was created over a century ago. The complex and robust blend of notes features sparkling aldehydes, powdery iris, and warm sandalwood and vanilla that remain as relevant today as they did in the 1920s.

Believe the hype — the instantly recognizable glass bottle deserves a spot on your vanity for both the packaging and the scent inside. Even better, you can enjoy bar soap, body wash, and a variety of other iterations of the scent so you can completely surround yourself in it.

However, keep in mind that this is possibly the most famous perfume of all time, so if you like being the only person wearing a scent, Chanel No°5 may not be for you.

Fragrance Family: Floral | Key Notes: Jasmine, aldehydes, sandalwood | Size: 1.2 oz

D.S. & Durga Rose Atlantic Eau de Parfum

Saks Fifth Avenue


What We Love: This hyperrealistic fragrance is a unique and modern take on rose.

What We Don’t Love: It’s not your classic rose.

Too many rose fragrances smell dry, powdery, and dated — like old drawer liner paper — but not this refreshing one from D.S. & Durga. It’s inspired by time spent sipping spritzers cruising the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, and that really comes through when you smell the aroma.

Notes of fresh citrus, salt air, and dune grass are grounded by the aroma of freshly-bloomed beach roses wafting from the shore. The briny notes are perfectly blended by the fruity and floral ones, resulting in a scent that’s truly transportive, but still evokes all the romance you’d expect from a rosy scent. One spritz of this aromatic little number is almost enough to let you tell yourself you’re on a real vacation (even if you have no PTO in sight).

Though the whimsical perfume makes more sense when worn in summer, it’s light and airy, so we do enjoy wearing it all year round, whether that’s solo or layered with one of our other favorite fragrances.

Fragrance Family: Aquatic | Key Notes: Rose hip, dune grass, salt water | Size: 1.7 oz

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum

Sephora


What We Love: It’s sweet, sexy, spicy, feminine, and powerful, all at once.

What We Don’t Love: This is one of the most popular women’s fragrances of all time, so keep that in mind if you want a unique signature scent.

Made collaboratively by four different master perfumers, this award-winning fragrance has been a bestselling and best-smelling perfume since it launched in 2005. The bottle is inspired by a grenade, and when you spritz it on, you get a total explosion of heady florals like jasmine, rose, freesia, and orange flower, as well as funky patchouli and sweet vanilla.

This sweet floral is a total head-turner, with great sillage that’ll last the whole day. Wear it to feel more confident in the office or bolder on a blind date  —  no matter the setting, Flowerbomb can match the mood. Just remember that the perfume is legendary at this point, so you won’t be the only person to have this fragrance in your scent wardrobe.

Fragrance Family: Floral|Key Notes: Patchouli, vanilla, rose, freesia|Size: 3.4 oz

Maison Margiela 'Replica' Jazz Club Eau de Parfum

Amazon


What We Love: This scent is truly unisex.

What We Don’t Love: The smoky qualities of this perfume won’t be for everyone.

Boozy, smoky, spicy, sexy — you’ll get all of that and more from this speakeasy-inspired scent. It starts strong, with bold rum, piquant pink pepper, and sweet neroli, then melts into creamy, sweet vanilla and smoky, expensive tobacco.

Equal parts sultry and sensitive, it’s a very intimate fragrance, especially for cooler weather. It’s also easily worn by any gender, and sharing it with your partner kicks up the intimacy quotient.

While many find that the tobacco notes smell sweeter, like pipe tobacco, some find it wears like a smoky cigar, so consider buying this in its mini iteration to give it a try before going for the full-sized bottle.

Fragrance Family: Woody spicy | Key Notes: Pink pepper, vanilla, tobacco | Size: 1 oz

Bobbi Brown Beach Eau de Parfum

Sephora


What We Love: The aroma of this long-lasting fragrance will make you feel instantly nostalgic.

What We Don’t Love: It’s on the subtle side.

PTO spent soaking up sunshine and air-drying hot skin made salty from a dip in the sea — the delicate blend of notes in Bobbi Brown Beach evoke all of these summer memories and more.

For such a light fragrance, it boasts an impressive lasting power, and you’ll catch a whiff of it whenever you move. We especially love giving our summer wardrobe an olfactory boost by spritzing it over our hair and onto our clothing, especially sunhats and linen beach coverups.

That said, this perfume’s floral and citrus notes rest on a truly oceanic base of seawater and sand, which gives it an aroma reminiscent of old-school SPF for a nostalgic quality that we enjoy, but may not appeal to all. If you’re a beach bum, though, be sure to add this perfume to your fragrance wardrobe.

Fragrance Family: Aquatic | Key Notes: Jasmine, mandarin, seawater | Size: 1.7 oz

La Perla Let the Dance Begin Eau de Parfum

Nordstrom


What We Love: The gorgeous bottle is refillable, making the luxe scent sustainable.

What We Don’t Love: If you prefer a more feminine scent for date night, keep in mind that this one is more unisex.

This perfume from La Perla definitely deserves more attention — inspired by a sultry slow dance, it’s as sexy as the brand’s lingerie (and if you think sustainability is sexy, you’ll love the fact that you can buy huge refills to decant into the sensual glass bottle).

A masterful blend of fresh florals and a delectable whiff of tonka, cinnamon, and caramel are tempered by a bevy of spices as well as woods like cedar and sandalwood. The patchouli is artfully measured here, so it gives supporting actor vibes here, rather than taking center stage over the fragrance.

The result? An ever-evolving scent that starts out fairly feminine, but wears down into a long-wearing, unisex-leaning fragrance. We don’t mind this — we love the versatility — but it’s worth noting for those who prefer a more traditionally feminine scent.

Fragrance Family: Amber floral | Key Notes: Black pepper, tuberose, patchouli | Size: 4.0 oz

Parfums de Marly Oriana Eau de Parfum

Parfums de Marly


What We Love: This fruity-creamy confection is a sweet scent lover’s dream.

What We Don’t Love: We prefer a transparent perfume bottle so we can see how much is left.

If you like the idea of smelling like a cream puff infused with orange blossom and dotted with fresh berries, snag yourself a bottle of Oriana. It’s sweet and flirty, thanks to marshmallow notes, and features subtle powdery undertones that prevent the olfactory creation from being sickly or overpowering. This ultra-feminine scent is housed in an equally girly bottle made of frosted fuchsia glass topped off with a cheeky pair of tassels.

Trust us — when we say that if you’re into Barbiecore, this bottle needs to be a mainstay of your vanity. Note that the opacity of the glass, along with its heft, may make it a challenge to determine how much of this sugary juice you have left, but once you have finished the bottle, we’re confident you’ll be keeping it around to use as a flirty decorative accent in your home.

Fragrance Family: Gourmand | Key Notes: Black currant, chantilly cream, marshmallow | Size: 1.0 oz

Kai Eau de Parfum

Nordstrom


What We Love: This effortlessly wearable floral smells like a tropical getaway.

What We Don’t Love: It may be a bit too heady to wear on very hot days.

We recommend wearing a new perfume on your wedding day to mark one of the most special moments of your life, but also to remember the happiness every time you wear the scent. And this perfume from Kai is perfect for the job (just ask one of the dozens of celebrities and countless beauty editors who adore it).

It was developed over two decades ago by founder Gaye Straza, whose inspiration for the scent was her childhood spent in Hawaii. Just a spritz of this scent will envelop you in lush, velvety gardenia with fresh green notes, making you smell sophisticated, stylish, and a little bit sexy.

Fragrance Family: Floral|Key Notes: Gardenia, green notes|Size: 1.7 oz

Ellis Brooklyn Apple Love Eau de Parfum

Sephora


What We Love: This is an elevated take on a classic fruity fragrance.

What We Don’t Love: While the notes read as very sweet, a confection-loving gourmand aficionado may not think it smells that way.

While you might associate fruity scents with teenage nostalgia, don’t get it twisted — this NYC-inspired perfume is a super sophisticated spin on apple that doesn’t smell like a body wash of yesteryear, but an elegant woman walking down cobblestone streets on a brisk fall day.

That’s due to the balance of notes here: Red apple, peach skin, and mandarin essence are quickly tempered by florals like osmanthus, plum blossom, and lily of the valley, as well as a light dose of sugar cane. It’s all grounded by sandalwood, vanilla, musks, and a caramel-like praline.

While these notes might imply a scent that skews sugarbomb, it’s actually anything but — the musks take this fragrance from being a standard gourmand to more of an amber scent. If you’re looking for a fragrance that’ll give you a cavity, this isn’t it, but if you want to smell chic and a little bit cheeky, give this one a sniff.

Fragrance Family: Fruity floral | Key Notes: Red apple, osmanthus, praline | Size: 1.7 oz

What to Keep in Mind

  • Rare Ingredients: There are a lot of factors that go into the price of a perfume, including its strength, performance, and structure, but the raw materials are the largest determinant in what can cause a fragrance to err on the costly side. Other times, says Monet, it’s all about perception. “White florals, for example, tend to read more luxury than fruity scents.”

    Typically, though, it’s individual notes. “Oud is an ingredient that is extremely expensive because it comes from the agar tree, of which only about two percent actually produce oud, therefore making it very exclusive and rare,” explains Gray. Interestingly enough, rose and jasmine are also pricey, because it takes a great deal of flowers to produce just a small amount of essential oil.

    Perhaps the most expensive raw materials used in perfumery is orris root — and because it’s so costly, you’ll have a hard time finding it in most fragrances today. “The ingredient itself requires two to three years to yield the oil from its roots, resulting in a cost of around $80,000 per kilogram,” says Mauro. Orris is an iris root, and while it has a very distinct scent — it smells like a blend of violets, suede, and skin with powdery and woody notes.

  • Fragrance Type: A variety of acronyms, mostly EDP and EDT, refer to eau de parfum and eau de toilette. You might also see the words “cologne” (especially on men’s fragrances) or “extrait.” All of these terms signify the concentration of the perfume oil in the bottle. “This should be considered when shopping for fragrance depending on how strong you want your fragrance to be and how long you want it to last,” says Gray.

    Often, extraits and eau de parfums will be pricier than other formats of fragrance as they use more raw materials. However, that doesn’t mean one is necessarily better than the other.

    “The forms of fragrance will really depend on the construction of the fragrance, so there are really no set rules,” says Mauro. Choose a scent by how you enjoy it or even the setting in which you wear it.

Your Questions, Answered

How do you find your signature scent?

Mauro recommends starting with a bit of research. “Begin by determining if you like fresh or warm fragrances, then consider when you want to wear it,” he says, while Gray recommends to just get out there and start spritzing. Ask yourself, she says, if it makes you happy, makes you feel like your authentic self, and giving you a boost of confidence?

It’s absolutely imperative that you actually apply the fragrance before coming to a final conclusion. “You need to wear the fragrance and try it on your skin, not just on a blotter,” insists Monet. “You need to be able to wear it and live with it for a few hours or a few days — this is when you will know you found your signature.”

But don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to just one scent, says Mauro. “Be open to expanding your fragrance wardrobe to include a range of fragrance families,” he recommends. “Experiment with your fragrances and create your own signature combination.”

How can you make perfume last longer?

Once you’ve made the investment in a long-lasting, luxury fragrance, you want to do everything you can to extend its longevity, both on your skin and in the bottle.

For better wear, make sure you’re applying it correctly — and believe it or not, that starts with hydrated skin! “Perfume will last longer on skin that has been moisturized,” says Gray. “Start with a scented lotion for a fragrance layering experience or an unscented lotion to let your fragrance shine.”

Then, consider how you spray it on. You’ll want to focus on pulse points, most commonly the inner wrists, but dab instead of rub. “Rubbing the pulse points too aggressively can cause friction and potentially change the intended character of the top notes,” says Mauro.

To make your scent last longer in the bottle, you’ll need to store it correctly, so if you’ve been keeping your perfume in the bathroom, consider this your warning. “Keep your bottle out of light and in cooler temperatures,” says Monet. The extreme fluctuations of a bathroom — varying levels of heat, light, and humidity — can quickly kill a bottle of fragrance.

“The best thing is to keep them in the fridge if possible,” she adds. If you don’t have the space for this, consider getting a mini skincare fridge in which to store your most precious perfumes.

Why Shop With Us

Emily Orofino is a beauty writer, editor, and consultant with more than a decade of experience in the industry. She has been hoarding perfumes for years and trolls fragrance message boards to find her newest picks. For this piece, she interviewed Meg Gray, Director of Merchandising at Bluemercury, Ray Mauro, Brand Manager of Fragrance Development and Marketing at Avon, and Alexandra Monet, a perfumer at Dsm-firmenich, for their encyclopedic knowledge of fragrance.

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