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Best Perfumes for Women: 20 Popular Scents for Special Occasions or Everyday

Best Perfumes for Women
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updated: June 3, 2024

Whether you are cupid on a mission to find the perfect perfume for your significant other or buying yourself a sweet-smelling valentine, buying a perfume or cologne, or any scent-based product (any time of year) can be a challenge with so many options on the market.

Perfumes and cologne sales peak on holidays like Valentine’s Day, when perfume makes a lovely gift for the one you love. Over 80% of fragrance sales revenue in 2022 was made in brick-and-mortar shops by those seeking the perfect intimate gift. However, there’s not always time to get out to the stores. In that case, you can count on our list of the best perfumes for women, which feature a range of scents from woodsy to floral, fruity to nostalgic, to help guide your purchase.

Our top picks for the best perfumes for women

Best long-lasting perfume for women: Le Labo Santal 33 Eau De Parfum

Best long-lasting perfume for women
Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum at Nordstrom, Size 3.4 Oz

Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum at Nordstrom, Size 3.4 Oz

Many perfumes are designed to last all day into night, but most scents will fade after seven to nine hours. While I can’t guarantee it because factors like sweat may impact the life of your first spray, this Le Labo Santal 33 Eau De Parfum is a notably (according to reviews) lasting fragrance that won’t let you down. Described as the “spirit of the American West,” this perfume is a unisex scent with notes of cardamom, violet and iris, sandalwood, and leather, among others.

Specifications:

  • Size: 3.4 ounces
  • Notes: Top: Violet accord, cardamom; middle: iris, ambrox; and base: cedarwood, leather, sandalwood.
  • Price on publish: $322

What we like:

  • Can be worn by anyone, not just women
  • Long-standing scent

What we don’t like:

  • It is very expensive

The bottom line:

A long-lasting fragrance with a woodsy base that may appeal to men and women alike.

Best vanilla perfume for women: Ellis Brooklyn Vanilla Milk

Best vanilla perfume for women
Ellis Brooklyn VANILLA MILK Eau de Parfum 1.7 oz / 50 mL eau de parfum spray

Ellis Brooklyn VANILLA MILK Eau de Parfum 1.7 oz / 50 mL eau de parfum spray

Founder Bee Shapiro created the Ellis Brooklyn line of cruelty-free and vegan fragrances known for its complex scents from 9 different fragrance families described as citrus, aquatic, and woods, among others. Vanilla Milk wins our choice for the best vanilla fragrance that’s warm and sweet but not too cloying, which occurs with some vanilla scents.

Specifications:

  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • Notes: Top: Dark rum, davanal; mid: honey (vegan), bran absolute, cinnamon; base: sandalwood, vanilla bean, and cocoa absolute.
  • Price on publish: $108

What we like:

  • Sweet scent and we love Ellis Brooklyn’s long list of fragrances

What we don’t like:

  • May be too sweet for some folks

The bottom line:

Dark rum, sandalwood, and vanilla bean are just some of the warm notes in this vegan perfume.

Best musk perfume for women: Heretic Florgasm

Best musk perfume for women
HERETIC Florgasm Eau de Parfum

HERETIC Florgasm Eau de Parfum

The original musk scent probably isn’t something you want to wear (hint: it came from the sex glands of a Tibetan musk deer, now a protected species), but today, many of these earthy, sensual scents capture smells like dark green woods or rich spices with exotic floral undertones. I love Heretic Florgasm because it smells like crushed flowers and damp leaves—like a walk in a forest after a rainstorm when everything is damp and heavy with botanicals.

Specifications:

  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • Notes: Top: Coriander, bergamot, bitter orange, pink pepper, lemon, and pimento berry; middle: jasmine, linden blossom, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, and tuberose; base: hibiscus seed
  • Price on publish: $165

What we like:

  • The orange blossom notes

What we don’t like:

  • High price

The bottom line:

If you love a spicy and exotic botanical perfume and don’t mind the higher price tag, this one is for you

Best sweet perfume for women: Kensie So Pretty

Best sweet perfume for women
Kensie So Pretty by Kensie 3.4 oz Eau De Parfum Spray for Women

Kensie So Pretty by Kensie 3.4 oz Eau De Parfum Spray for Women

Sweet but not cloying, Kensie So Pretty is a lightweight, sweet perfume that doesn’t overpower. Some users say they catch a whiff of vanilla, but this perfume is built on fruity flavors like apples, bergamot, and tangerine. The bottom fragrance notes are white cedar and musk that help balance out the sweetness.

Specifications

  • Size: 3.4 ounces
  • Notes: Top Fragrance Notes: Bergamot, Pink Lady apple, tangerine, and anise; middle fragrance notes: Iris and green florals; bottom fragrance notes: musk and white cedar.
  • Price on publish: $55

What we like:

  • It’s affordability and fruity scent

What we don’t like:

  • It may not be sophisticated enough for musk lovers

The bottom line:

Cedar and musk help balance this out the vanilla and apple top notes in this affordable perfume.

Best summer perfume for women: Carter+Jane Surfer Girl

Best summer perfume for women
Carter+Jane Surfer Girl

Carter+Jane Surfer Girl

The essence of summer by the sea and in the surf can be obtained in a bottle. While you won’t find saltwater in the ingredients, it smells like wild grasses or beach flowers in the sand and reviewers say it smells like the shore. If you want to be a surfer girl, but can’t get to the beach, try this summery scent and let your imagination do the rest.

Specifications:

  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • Notes: Top notes: Blue tansy and lemongrass; middle notes: honeysuckle and bergamot; base notes: rosewood
  • Price on publish: $28 for the roll-on

What we like:

  • Affordable and smells like the beach
  • The roll-on option
  • Eco-friendly

What we don’t like:

  • Scent is on the lighter side

The bottom line:

If you want an affordable roll-on perfume that smells like the beach, this should be on your list.

Best perfume for young women: Dossier Gourmand White Flowers

Best perfume for young women
Dossier Gourmand White Flowers

Dossier Gourmand White Flowers

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and this affordable, best-selling perfume by Dossier was created with this adage in mind. It was inspired by the best-selling scent, Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf. While many teens (and adults) can’t afford its price tag (over $100), they can indulge in a similar explosion of scent for under $30. And if you don’t think it comes close enough to the original, all returns are free.

Specifications:

  • Size: 50 milliliters
  • Notes: Top: Bergamot, green tea, freesia, and berries; middle: white flowers, orchid and rose; base: musk, patchouli, caramel, and vanilla.
  • Price on publish: $29

What we like:

  • Affordable but smells expensive
  • Returns are free

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviewers say it doesn’t come close to Flowerbomb

The bottom line:

For teens who love the popular Flowerbomb but can’t afford it, this is a similar scent for under $30.

Best perfume for mature women: Henry Rose Queens and Monsters

Best perfume for mature women
Queens & Monsters - 8ML TRAVEL SPRAY

Queens & Monsters - 8ML TRAVEL SPRAY

This perfume is made to be worn by men or women. I chose it for mature women because it’s sophisticated with musk and woodsy base notes that balance the sweet freesia and jasmine in the middle ones. It’s also EWG-verified and Cradle to Cradle certified, which means the ingredients in this perfume “meet the strictest standards of health, safety, and transparency known today,” making it a smart choice for mature and sensitive skin. Plus, you can share it with your partner—it’s made for everyone.

Specifications:

  • Size: 50 milliliters
  • Notes: Top: Violet leaf, neroli and petitgrain; middle: freesia and jasmine; base: vanilla, coco musk and sandalwood
  • Price on publish: $120

What we like:

  • Eco-friendly and safe for all skin types

What we don’t like:

  • Scent is on the “sweeter” side

The bottom line:

An eco-friendly clean perfume with musk and woodsy base notes that won’t irritate sensitive skin.

Best floral perfume for women: Jo Malone London Basil and Neroli Cologne

Best floral perfume for women
Jo Malone London™ Basil & Neroli Cologne at Nordstrom, Size 3.4 Oz

Jo Malone London™ Basil & Neroli Cologne at Nordstrom, Size 3.4 Oz

This perfume is like smelling a late spring garden with top notes of aromatic basil rounded off with neroli smelling of bitter orange blossoms. While there are more floral perfumes full of roses and gardenias, I love this one for its fresh, clean scent. Some reviewers say it doesn’t last as long as other perfumes, but that’s because it is a cologne, which unlike a perfume (which has more oils), doesn’t hold its scent for long periods. And it’s expensive, so if you are on a budget, I recommend skipping this perfume. Shopping tip: Jo Malone’s Wood Sage Sea Salt scent made our list of the best colognes for men.

Specifications:

  • Size: 3.4 ounces
  • Notes: Top: Basil grand vert; middle: neroli; base: white musk
  • Price on publish: $165

What we like:

  • Simple list of ingredients

What we don’t like:

  • The scent doesn’t hold as long as a perfume
  • Expensive

The bottom line:

This Jo Malone cologne may not last as long as a traditional perfume, but it smells like an English garden after the rain

Best fruity perfume for women: Replica Under the Lemon Trees

Best fruity perfume for women
Maison Margiela 'REPLICA' Under the Lemon Trees 3.4oz/ 100mL

Maison Margiela 'REPLICA' Under the Lemon Trees 3.4oz/ 100mL

If you dream of strolling among the lemon trees in Sicily, this fruity perfume may be your new favorite. A nice departure if you want a break from grapefruit and lime notes (equally nice) often found in fruity perfume. Under the lemon trees is not overpowering in its citrus scent, making it a good everyday, lightweight

Specifications:

  • Size: 3.4 ounces
  • Notes: Top: Lime, petitgrain and cardamom; middle: green tea, mate and coriander; base: white musk, cedar and Rock rose.
  • Price on publish: $160

What we like:

  • Smells like lemons (even though it is made from lime)
  • Good everyday scent

What we don’t like:

  • If you don’t like the smell of citrus, skip it
  • Expensive

The bottom line:

Great for everyday wear if you love citrus scents, but it doesn’t come cheap.

Best everyday perfume for women: Philosophy Amazing Grace Eau de Toilette

Best everyday perfume for women
Philosophy Amazing Grace Spray .5 oz. - Philosophy Amazing Grace Perfume and Fragrance

Philosophy Amazing Grace Spray .5 oz. - Philosophy Amazing Grace Perfume and Fragrance

Amazing Grace is a popular daily perfume for women who like a subtle, long-lasting floral scent with bergamot, lily of the valley, and musk. One reviewer said: “It smells like you're having your best day ever, and then you found money on the sidewalk.” It’s hard to beat that description, but we also found it a wonderful perfume to layer with other scents or wear independently. And if you love the scent, it also comes in a three-in-one bubble bath, shower gel and shampoo, plus a scented firming body cream.

Specifications:

  • Size: 2.0 ounces (comes in three sizes: .05, 2.0, and 4.0 ounces)
  • Notes: Top: Bergamot; middle: muguet blossoms; base: lasting musk
  • Price on publish: $60

What we like:

  • Affordable and comes in three sizes
  • Lightweight scent

What we don’t like:

  • May not last as long all day

The bottom line:

Affordable perfume that works well alone or layered with other scents.

Best designer perfume for women: Gucci Bloom

Best designer perfume for women
Gucci Bloom Eau de Parfum

Gucci Bloom Eau de Parfum

An affordable designer perfume that smells like a garden, Gucci Bloom offers all of this and more. Natural tuberose and jasmine scents create a lightweight white floral scent on the skin, but doesn’t lack staying power. One reviewer said it is a recent revolving standard in her perfume rotation because of its flowery scent, which can be worn day or night.

Specifications:

  • Size: 1.6 ounces
  • Notes: Top: Jasmine; middle: tuberose; base not: Rangoon creeper (a vine and flower native to tropical Asia)
  • Price on publish: $123

What we like:

  • It’s a versatile day-to-night scent

What we don’t like:

  • May be too floral for some wearers

The bottom line:

A versatile scent that works for day or night; if you love white florals, this one is for you.

Best luxury perfume for women: Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle by Annie Flippo

Best luxury perfume for women
Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle by Annie Flippo

Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle by Annie Flippo

A fashionable friend told me once that perfumes by Frédéric Malle are all she ever wears, and there are a lot to choose from. Visit his website to find your new favorite scent based on creations and mood. You can also find an olfactive map to help you understand the different compositions of his collection of perfumes created by a variety of perfumers. I love Synthetic Jungle's nod to scents like patchouli and black current. If you want to get your Daisy Jones and the Six vibes on, this scented homage to the ‘70s is the perfect (perfume) accessory.

Specifications:

  • Size: 50 milliliters
  • Notes: Top: Lily of the valley; middle: jasmine; base: patchouli
  • Price on publish: $225

What we like:

  • The simple ingredients that deliver a subtle, sultry smell

What we don’t like:

  • It is extremely expensive

The bottom line:

Extremely expensive but expertly crafted perfume with simple ingredients, like jasmine and patchouli.

Best mini perfume set for women: Snif’s mini bestseller bundle

Best mini perfume set for women
Snif’s mini bestseller bundle

Snif’s mini bestseller bundle

This adorable bundle of three bestsellers from scent-master Snif (Tart Deco, Sweet Ash, and Way With Woods) is a great way to introduce new scents to yourself (or the one you love). These genderless scents are small enough to get through security at the airport or tuck into your smallest clutch when you head out for the night. All of Snif’s products are vegan and meet industry clean standards, without parabens, preservatives, or synthetic dyes. Packed into a cute min case, you can wear each one alone or mix and match if you must to find your new favorite scent.

Specifications

  • Size: 10 ml
  • Notes for each one: Tart Deco: Black cherry, raspberry, rose, jasmine, mimosa, birchwood, vetiver, and vanilla. Sweet Ash: Juniper, bergamot, fir balsam, tonka, vanilla bean, white moss, and patchouli. Way With Woods: White tea, mandarin, sandalwood, amber woods, vetiver, and musk.
  • Price: $65

What we like:

  • Travel-friendly
  • Diverse scents
  • Clean perfume

What we don’t like:

  • Wish there were more samples offered

The bottom line:

This mini collection from Snif meets industry clean standards and allows you to try three best-selling scents before you commit to a whole bottle.

Best Valentine’s Day (budget) perfume gift set for women: Sol de Janeiro Beija Flor™ Jet Set

Best Valentine’s Day (budget) perfume gift set for women
Sol de Janeiro Beija Flor Jet Set

Sol de Janeiro Beija Flor Jet Set

If you want to surprise your sweetheart with Valentine with lotions and potions, this floral-forward smelling gift set comes with body wash, body cream, and perfume mist all in one pretty-in-pink package. Good for all skin types, too. Featuring Sol de Janeiro’s Cheirosa 68 scent, if you like tropical smells, this has notes of Brazilian jasmine, pink dragonfruit, ocean air, and a touch of Tropicalia vanilla.

Specifications

  • Size: 1.01 ounces of perfume, 1.7 ounces of body cream, and 3 ounces of body wash
  • Notes: Brazilian jasmine, pink dragonfruit, ocean air, and a touch of Tropicalia vanilla.
  • Price: $30 for the set

What we like:

  • Inexpensive

What we don’t like:

  • May be too floral-forward and sweet, f you prefer earthier or woodsy scents

The bottom line:

An inexpensive gift set that includes body wash, cream and perfume in a sweet and floral scent.

Best Valentine’s Day perfume splurge gift for women: Bond No 9, The Grand Bon Bon Box

Best Valentine’s Day perfume splurge gift for women
Bond No 9, The Grand Bon Bon Box

Bond No 9, The Grand Bon Bon Box

Skip the chocolates and seriously indulge in a box of sweet smells when you purchase these bonbons. If you can afford it (this is a big splurge) Bond No. 9 Grand Bon Bon Box is packed with 30 brightly wrapped foil perfume samples in a gold-lined coffret. They look pretty enough to eat, but these sweets span a wide range of Bond No. 9’s most popular eau du parfums, many named after New York streets and neighborhoods, from Madison Avenue (which includes notes of apple, bergamot, blackcurrant, rose, jasmine, magnolia, patchouli, ambroxan and praline) to Coney Island (lime, tequila, melon and guava; caramel, dark chocolate and cinnamon; cedar, musk, vanilla and sandalwood). The other 28 are too numerous to name here, but if you love Bond No.9 or are curious about it, this is the box for you.

Specifications

  • Size: 30 x 7 ml (sample size)
  • Notes: Various for each sample
  • Price: $550

What we like:

  • Beautifully wrapped and designed
  • An abundance of high-quality perfumes

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive

The bottom line:

A high-end luxury item containing 30 individually and beautifully wrapped bottles of 7 ml perfumes from upscale Bond No. 9, who specialize in high-quality scents.

Best travel perfume for women: OUAI Mini North Bondi Eau De Parfum

Best travel perfume for women
OUAI Mini North Bondi Eau De Parfum 0.34 fl oz/ 10 mL

OUAI Mini North Bondi Eau De Parfum 0.34 fl oz/ 10 mL

This clean, citrusy scent reminds me of high summer and comes in an easy-to-tuck away mini size (.34 ounces) of perfume from OUAI. North Bondi has a long-lasting scent. So a little roll-on goes a long way, which is exactly what you need when you are away from your full-size beauty products. And if you love the fragrance, you can also pick up shampoo, conditioner, and other hair products with the same scent.

Specifications

  • Size: .34 ounces
  • Notes: Bergamot, Italian lemon, rose de mai, violet, and white musk. (Top, middle and bottom not mentioned)
  • Price: $26

What we like:

  • The clean, lightly floral smell
  • Easy to pack
  • Roll-on form

What we don’t like:

  • If you don’t like roll-on perfumes, this isn’t for you

The bottom line:

A travel size roll-on perfume that smells like summer in a bottle.

Best perfume to give your mom: No. 5 by Chanel

Best perfume to give your mom
No. 5 by Chanel for Women, Eau De Parfum Spray, 3.4 Ounce

No. 5 by Chanel for Women, Eau De Parfum Spray, 3.4 Ounce

Chances are you could find generations of family members who adore or wore this scent created in 1921. A heavier perfume than some of the lighter Chanel offerings, but this scent has been beloved by millions since the Roaring Twenties. Sophisticated but not overpowering, the scent is recognizable and relatable. Dab it on your pulse points—a little or a lot—depending on how you like to wear it. If you are not sure of what to buy your mom, this classic may be on the mark.

Specifications

  • Size: 3.4 ounces
  • Notes: Top: Aldehydes, Bergamot, Lemon, Neroli. Middle. Jasmine, May Rose, Ylang ylang, Iris, Lily of the Valley. Base notes. Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Oakmoss, Vetiver, Amber, Patchouli, Musk, Vanilla, Civet, Ambergris.
  • Price: $147

What we like:

  • Its sophisticated scent
  • Rich history
  • Variety of scents in notes

What we don’t like:

  • If you (or your mom) prefer a light perfume, skip this

The bottom line:

A sophisticated classic perfume by the legendary Chanel, worn by women worldwide since 1921.

Best perfume to give your new friend: Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Best perfume to give your new friend
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Mini Fragrance Wardrobe for Her

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Mini Fragrance Wardrobe for Her

Called a mini-fragrance wardrobe, this collection of scents makes a great gift for someone you are still getting to know. A collection of eight minis (.002 ounces), you are likely to find something that appeals, with a mix of notes from woodsy and earthy to floral and musk. With all the lovely scents, if you want to keep it for yourself, I won’t be surprised.

Specifications

  • Size: .002 ounces
  • Notes: Varies on min
  • Price: $55

What we like:

  • Variety
  • Easy to take on trips
  • Relatively affordable

What we don’t like:

  • Samples are very small

The bottom line:

Collection of packable perfumes in min-bottles that won’t break the bank.

Best perfume subscription box: Scentbird

Best perfume subscription box
Scentbird

If you love to get monthly surprises and scents are your favorite thing, Scentbird is a subscription service offering a wide variety of perfume and colognes in sample sizes small enough to throw into your carry-on bag or clutch. Create a profile online with Scentbird and choose your subscription—12, 6 or 3 months of products you pick delivered to your door in an 8 ml spray bottle.

Specifications

  • Size: 8 ml
  • Notes: Various by perfume pick
  • Price: Subscription prices vary

What we like:

  • Pick your subscription and your scent
  • Comes in travel sizes
  • You can purchase other products on the site

What we don’t like:

  • Only one product per month (unless you pay extra)

The bottom line:

Build a scent profile online and enjoy a three- six- or 12-month subscription and have perfumes delivered to your door.

What to consider when buying perfume for women

When shopping on Valentine’s Day or another special occasion, consider the way a perfume is created and how the notes build the scent. Looking at the notes on a bottle can help you decide whether you want to try it, but smelling it yourself is usually the best way to decide. Buying a perfume for a special occasion or a loved one as a gift on Valentine’s Day is a way to show intimacy and love because scents are so personal and smells are linked to memory.

  • Top note: This is the first smell that hits you when you open a bottle of perfume and take a whiff. These notes last the least amount of time.
  • Middle note: This is the main body of the perfume, and you can usually smell it after your senses take in the initial scent.
  • Base note: Base notes are the smells that stick around for hours. Musk, sandalwood, or other heavier scents will often live in a perfume’s base notes.

How to pick a perfume

When picking a perfume, what you smell when you open the bottle may smell different to your friend. Your sense of smell is processed by the brain’s areas also used to process memories and emotions. This means when you open a bottle of perfume and inhale the honeysuckle that reminds you of your childhood garden, you may gravitate toward it over one that smells of violets. And to make matters more complicated, according to research from Duke University, it’s common for people to experience smells, like perfume, spices, or foods, differently.

When you shop for perfume, make sure to smell it in a few different ways, in the bottle, on a test strip, and via a sample, ideally outside the store, to determine if you like the scent. This is important because shops that carry perfume often have many smells floating around in the air, making it difficult to pinpoint what your particular scent actually smells like.

Now that I have told you perfumes may smell slightly differently to (and on) everyone, we have created a list of popular scents with very different notes to help you find your new favorite fragrance.

How I chose the best perfumes for women

I researched our selection by smell tests, speaking to friends and colleagues, and reading hundreds of reviews of perfumes and eau de toilettes. When I made our top list, I further analyzed them by conducting more in-person testers and delving into customer reviews. I tried to choose only true perfumes, but there are some eau de toilette and cologne options on the list, and some scents are considered unisex by the perfumer.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the right way to use perfume?

How you apply cologne or perfume depends on your personal preferences, but most perfumers will say you should use perfume on your pressure points, wrists, behind the ears, and neck. Some people like to put perfume between their breasts, as well.

What is the best-smelling perfume that people will like?

It is impossible to know how someone will react (romantically or otherwise) to your perfume. One may love the smell of cut green grass and flowers; others are attracted to a dark, musk scent. Wear whatever perfume makes you happy. If you are looking for a universal favorite scent, vanilla is often a top contender.

Which perfumes are suitable for everyday wear?

Scent is personal, so what you want to wear daily is subjective. Perfumes made from natural essences with lightweight scents may be better than heavy musk for a daytime office or school setting.

How do I choose the right perfume that suits my personality?

Shopping for a fragrance is a little trickier than, say, shopping for the best eyeshadow palette—since you’re matching your own mood or personality instead of choosing something that works with your undertones. Some perfumers recommend perfumes based on the elements: air, earth, water, and fire, with scents dedicated to one or the other. Think about what smells you like out in the world. For example, a scent with rich jasmine or gardenia notes might be a good fit if you love rich floral gardens. An earthy scent with moss or sandalwood notes could be a good fit if the forest calls your name. Some shops let you “create” your own perfume, like Olfactory NYC, where scentologists can help you create a signature fragrance.

What is the difference between eau de toilette and eau de parfum?

While it may vary from perfumer, overall, eau de parfum usually has a percentage of essences between 10 and 15%. Still, eau de toilette (the least concentrated scent) usually only has 8 to 10% of essences. Perfume or eau de parfum usually lasts the longest of all the scents.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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