The 20 Best Perfumes for Women of All Time (and 2022)

Signature scents from Le Labo, Byredo, Gucci, Jo Malone, and more

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Byrdie / Danie Drankwalter

Shopping for new perfume can be a challenging (not to mention headache-inducing) experience. But once you find a signature scent, you'll use it for years to come. And keep in mind—Even though we call this roundup the best perfumes for women, fragrance is for everyone. So no matter how you identify, the most important thing to know is how to choose the best perfume for you. 

We sorted, spritzed, and sniffed our way through the most popular options to select the best perfume in each fragrance category—floral, fruity, woodsy, and clean—many of which are our favorites here at Byrdie HQ.

Whether you're in the market for a new signature scent or are looking to build out your fragrance wardrobe, check out our picks of the best perfumes.

Best Overall: Le Labo Santal 33 Eau De Parfum

4.6
Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum

Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

What We Like
  • Unisex

  • Doesn't 'feel' like perfume, rather natural

  • Vegan

What We Don't Like
  • Overpowering to some

Who else recommends it? Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Women's Wear Daily all picked the Le Labo Santal 33.

What do buyers say? 73% of 700+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

A favorite among team Byrdie, this gender-neutral fragrance is a must-have. Rich and woody, it combines smoky and woody accords with a touch of spicy cardamom for a blend that is truly intoxicating and extremely memorable. (Our editors also love the brand's Rose 31 eau de parfum.)

What Our Editors Say

"Every time I wear it, I get a compliment. I've actually had Uber drivers ask me to write it down for them so they can buy it for their wives. The fragrance is actually considered unisex, so everyone can wear it. Le Labo describes it as 'at once gentle, smoky, and leathery,' and I agree. The fragrance has so much depth that the more you breathe it in, the more it changes. I'm a Le Labo Santal wearer for life." Kelly Gallagher, former Senior Social Media Editor

Free of: Parabens | Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 1.7 oz. | Top Notes: Violet, cardamom | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Price at time of publish: $215

Best Unisex: Byredo Bibliothéque Eau de Parfum

Byredo

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Minimalist packaging

  • Unisex

  • Has a comforting appeal

What We Don't Like
  • Scent can lean masculine on some wearers

A library-inspired scent may sound strange, but trust us, it works. Originally one of the brand’s best-selling candles, it was shoppers’ demand that inspired the fragrance version. Peach, plum, peony, and violet are at the forefront, though the base notes of leather and patchouli are strong enough to make it totally unisex, as is the clean and minimalistic packaging.

Free of: Parabens, Sulfates | Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 1.7 oz | Top Notes: Peach, plum | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Price at time of publish: $196

Best Classic Floral: Gucci Bloom

Gucci Bloom

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Has a sophisticated appeal

  • Long-lasting with a slow, gradual build

  • Layerable

What We Don't Like
  • Might be overpowering to some

This full-on floral is classic without ever veering into grandma territory, blending jasmine and tuberose with Rangoon creeper, a south Indian plant with a slightly powdery finish that rounds everything out. The fragrance is strong and long-lasting—as many Sephora shoppers point out—though in a good way, and also wears nicely, fading slowly and gradually.

Free of: Parabens | Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 1.6 oz.| Top Notes: Rangoon creeper | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Price at time of publish: $118

Best Woody Floral: Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540

Maison Francis Kurkdjian

What We Like
  • Sophisticated and complex blend

  • Travel-friendly

  • Decadent smell

What We Don't Like
  • Might be too intense for some

Notes of amber and cedarwood balance out the jasmine that’s out the forefront of the fragrance, making for a well-balanced, woody floral. It’s sophisticated and complex, an unexpected pairing that blends beautifully and is sure to appeal to those who like either woody or floral scents alike.

What Our Editors Say

"The brand would say it has notes of jasmine, saffron, and cedarwood, but for me, it just truly smells like nothing else I've ever come across in the best possible way," she says. "Every time I spray it on, I immediately feel like a more luxurious version of myself. It's not cheap, so I do try to save it for more special occasions rather than everyday wear—though sometimes I spray it on myself when I'm not even leaving the house, just for the joy of it." Karli Bendlin, Senior Editor

Free of: Parabens | Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 2.4 oz. | Top Notes: Jasmine, saffron | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Price at time of publish: $325

Best Modern Floral: Decorté Kimono Yui

Decorté Kimono Yui
What We Like
  • More affordable

  • Modern take on classic Japanese-inspired floral scent

What We Don't Like
  • Scent may be too light for some

The top notes of this fragrance are citrusy—lemon, mandarin, orange—along with a touch of pink pepper, while the middle notes are where the florals come in. A combo of neroli, orange flower, and rose to add that floral hit, though the initial citrus effect, coupled with a musky dry down, make this an extremely modern and fresh take on the classic floral.

Key Features

"Kimono Yui is floral, citrusy, and peppery. It's one of my favorite perfumes of all time for the way it smells delicate and feminine while keeping its edge. It lasts a long time without feeling heavy." Kathryn Vandervalk, Editorial & Strategy Director

Free of: Parabens | Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 1.7 oz. | Top Notes: Lemon, mandarin, orange | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Price at time of publish: $75

Best Earthy: A.N. Other WD/2018

A.N. Other WD/2018
What We Like
  • Unisex

  • Vegan

  • Modern appeal

What We Don't Like
  • Moderate longevity

Fragrance expert and founder of Formulary 55 Cordelia Smith says she’s “obsessed with this brand.” This is one of her current favorites, a gender-neutral option that combines touches of fruit and floral to round out earthier notes of cardamom, sandalwood, and velvet Madagascar. Bonus points for the fact that all of the ingredients used are clean and ethically sourced.

Free of: Parabens, phthalates, dyes, toxins, and preservatives | Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 50 ml. | Top Notes: Pear sparkle, cardamom spice, violet leaves | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Price at time of publish: $85

Best Crisp & Clean: Jo Malone London Earl Grey & Cucumber Cologne

Jo Malone

 Courtesy of Jo Malone

What We Like
  • Layerable

  • Fresh, unassuming scent

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Cucumber note is faint

The best perfume for those in search of a fresh, minimalistic scent, this fragrance is straightforward, with an emphasis on clean and crisp cucumber and bergamot, offset with the teeniest touch of musk. Plus, all of the fragrances from this brand can be easily mixed and matched and layered if you want to play perfumer.

Free of: Parabens and phthalates | Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 1.0 oz. | Top Notes: Bergamot | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Price at time of publish: $80

Best Soft Woody: Chloé Atelier des Fleurs Papyrus

Chloé Atelier des Fleurs Papyrus
What We Like
  • Fresh, light appeal

  • Classically feminine

  • Can work for day and night

What We Don't Like
  • Scent doesn't last long

Dry, smoky, and woody, the top of papyrus reign supreme here. Still, because they’re complemented with touches of fresh and green notes, the result isn’t too heavy but rather light enough to wear even during the day.

Free of: Parabens | Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 1.7 oz. | Top Notes: Papyrus | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Price at time of publish: $148

Best Fruity: Burberry Her Eau de Parfum

Burberry

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Fun and bold scent

  • Smooth curved glass body for easy holding

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't last long

Black currant, raspberry, and blueberry make up the top notes of this fruity gourmand scent, hitting you with a punch of sweetness. Floral jasmine and violet keep it feminine and flirty, though, like all the Burberry scents, it still has a touch of the brand’s signature amber and musk.

Free of: Parabens | Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 1.6 oz. | Top Notes: Red and dark berries | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Price at time of publish: $112

Best for Summer: Dior Joy

Dior Joy

Amazon

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Mix of floral and musk

  • A little goes a long way

What We Don't Like
  • Scent might be too powdery for some

This soft silky scent is floral forward, but it also has a touch of musk that makes it sensual. It's the ideal fragrance for a summer night that will linger until morning. 

Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 1.7 oz. | Top Notes: Bergamot, mandarin orange | Byrdie Clean?: Yes | Cruelty-Free?: No

Price at time of publish: $118

Best for Non-Perfume Lovers: Juliette Has a Gun Not A Perfume

Juliette Has a Gun Not A Perfume

Sephora

What We Like
  • Layerable

  • Unisex appeal

What We Don't Like
  • Scent may be too faint for some

The name really does say it all. This perfume is formulated entirely differently than any other perfume, ensuring it smells like no other perfume and is sure to please even those who don’t like wearing fragrances. Rather than having top, middle, and base notes, it’s made of just one note—cetalox, a woody and earthy scent that’s usually used as the base in most fragrances. It’s hard to explain, but it makes this a perfume that really doesn’t smell like a perfume. It just makes you smell great, and isn’t that the ultimate goal after all?

Free of: Parabens | Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 3.3 oz. | Top Notes: Cetalox | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Price at time of publish: $140

Best Set: Maison Louis Marie Perfume Oil Discovery Set

Maison Louis Marie Perfume Oil Discovery Set
What We Like
  • Layerable

  • Affordable

  • Vegan

What We Don't Like
  • Incense-like smell might not appeal to some

“More and more brands are coming with discovery sets, featuring a variety of scents and notes for all preferences,” says Smith. It gives you the option to experiment before fully committing, she adds, noting that this is one of her favorite sets. It comes with five of the brand’s best-selling perfume oils, a mix of different woody, tropical, and earthy fragrances.

Free of: Parabens, alcohol, and phthalates | Type: Perfume oil | Size: 5 x 0.5 oz. vials | Top Notes: Varies | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Price at time of publish: $49

Best Floral Aldehyde: Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum Spray

Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum Spray

Chanel

What We Like
  • Makes a great signature scent

  • Long-wearing

  • Works well day or night

What We Don't Like
  • Can be overpowering

Often considered the world's first "abstract" fragrance, the best-selling Chanel No. 5 is not for wallflowers. The blend of aldehydes and florals is layered over a base of vetiver, sandalwood, amber, vanilla, and patchouli to create a complex, lasting scent that definitely leaves an impression. When applied to skin, the perfume reacts with the wearer's body chemistry to create a highly subjective effect—though many women love it, others find it overwhelming. Our reviewer suggests trying a sample before you buy the full-sized bottle.

Type: Eau de toilette | Size: 1.2 oz. | Top Notes: Aldehydes, ylang-ylang, neroli, bergamot, lemon | Byrdie Clean?: No | Cruelty-Free?: No

Price at time of publish: $90

Best Subscription: Luxury Scent Box Discover Your Scent

Luxury Scent Box
What We Like
  • Various scents to choose from

  • No contract required

  • Exclusive brands

What We Don't Like
  • Can't modify shipping frequency

For those who aren’t quite sure what they like, Luxury Scent Box offers an easy way to try a wide variety of options. How it works: Every month you get a 0.3-ounce sampler size of a fragrance (either selected by you or on recommendation from one of the brand’s fragrance specialists). There are both mainstream brands to choose from, as well as smaller, more niche options. Find one that you love? You can then buy the full-size bottle at a discounted price.

Free of: Unknown, Varies Based on Fragrance | Type: Varies | Size: 0.3 oz. monthly | Top Notes: Varies | Byrdie Clean: Varies | Cruelty-Free: Varies

Price at time of publish: From $10 a month

Best Patchouli: Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum

 Courtesy of Walmart

As its name suggests, this best-selling scent is floral-forward, though the bouquet is balanced by base notes of patchouli, musk, and vanilla. It's a versatile but heavy perfume that's made for nighttime wear and better suited for the winter months.

Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 3.4 oz. | Top Notes: Tea, bergamot, Osmanthus | Byrdie Clean?: No | Cruelty-Free?: No

Price at time of publish: $168

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • May be overpowering to some

Best for Date Night: Carolina Herrera Good Girl Eau de Parfum

Carolina Herrera Good Girl Eau de Parfum
What We Like
  • Sweet without being cloying

  • Complex blend of floral and musk

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't last long

As the stiletto-shaped bottle suggests, Good Girl is a study in contrasts. It's a blend of bright florals like tuberose and moody notes like tonka bean and coffee, making it a great pick for date night. 

Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 1.7 oz. | Top Notes: Almond, coffee, bergamot | Byrdie Clean?: Yes | Cruelty-Free?: Yes

Price at time of publish: $103

Best Citrus-Forward: Chanel Coco MadeMoiselle Eau de Parfum Spray

Chanel Coco MadeMoiselle Eau de Parfum

Chanel

What We Like
  • Fragrant yet subtle

  • Versatile enough to wear year-round

What We Don't Like
  • Made for (and marketed to) younger women

This citrusy scent is youthful and effervescent, with top notes of orange and mandarin and florals like Turkish rose and jasmine at its heart. It's strong yet fresh. 

Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 1.7 oz. | Top Notes: Orange, mandarin orange, bergamot, orange blossom | Byrdie Clean?: No | Cruelty-Free?: No

Price at time of publish: $116

Best for Winter: Maison Margiela Replica By the Fireplace

Replica

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Unisex

  • Woodsy but not overpowering

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Smoky scent may not appeal to all

This unisex offering from the eclectic designer is sweet, warm, and familiar, all without being overdone. It's an iconic cold weather fragrance—essentially cozy vibes in a bottle.

Type: Eau de toilette | Size: 3.4 oz. | Top Notes: Cloves, pink pepper, orange blossom | Byrdie Clean?: No | Cruelty-Free?: Yes

Price at time of publish: $144

Best Trendy: Glossier You

Glossier You

 Courtesy of Glossier

What We Like
  • Subtle scent

  • Unisex

  • Mixes with wearer's natural scent to create a unique effect

What We Don't Like
  • Iris note is unappealing to some

Glossier's signature scent has a bit of spice yet a beautiful floral aroma. The perfume blends with each person's natural scent differently to create an effect that is unique to you.

Type: Eau de parfum | Size: 1.7 oz. | Top Notes: Pink pepper | Byrdie Clean?: No | Cruelty-Free?: Yes

Price at time of publish: $64

Best for Teens: Marc Jacobs Fragrances Daisy

4.6
Marc Jacobs Daisy

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Not overpowering

  • Layers well

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't last long

An eau de toilette, Daisy only contains 4-8% of pure fragrance, making it lighter and less intense than other perfumes on the market. 

Type: Eau de toilette | Size: 3.4 oz. | Top Notes: Strawberry, violet leaves, jasmine | Byrdie Clean?: No | Cruelty-Free?: Yes

Price at time of publish: $120

Final Verdict

The best perfume for women largely boils down to individual preferences. Do you prefer floral notes? Woody? Clean? Fruity? The options are endless, making it even harder to choose a favorite. Team Byrdie stands by Le Labo Santal 33 Eau De Parfum as one of the best perfumes of all time for men and women alike. Le Labo describes it as "at once gentle, smoky, and leathery," and it's guaranteed to score you compliments. Another great unisex pick is Byredo Bibliothéque Eau de Parfum, which boasts peach, plum, peony, and violet notes. You could share both of these with significant others, partners, and friends, but chances are you'll want to keep it all to yourself.

What to Look for in Perfumes for Women

Your Signature Scent

What smells good to you may not appeal to someone else. The effect of a perfume depends on factors as varied as how it interacts with your unique body chemistry and your favorite smells from childhood. Consider which fragrance category—floral, fruity, woodsy, or clean—you want. Knowing that will help you narrow down your search. Sampling should also be part of the experience since there's no better way to tell how a perfume wears than taking it for a test drive.

Scent Concentration

Parfums have the highest scent concentrations, followed by eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne. Perfume oils—which usually come in a roll-on applicator—have high scent concentrations, but even though they will last longer than most sprays, they don't have the same "throw," which means the effect is more for the wearer than for those around them. 

Quality and Wear

Perfume is considered a luxury item, which means that the price you pay depends not only on the ingredients but also on factors like the packaging and the name brand itself. Less expensive perfumes often contain fewer notes and lots of sweet-smelling florals, which are abundant and easy to source. Pricier fragrances use rare essences that can run the price up to thousands of dollars per ounce. And while some dupes can almost replicate the smell of more expensive scents, they usually don't have the staying power.

Clean and Cruelty-Free

In general terms, perfume is "clean" if it contains natural extracts and is free of potentially harmful ingredients like phthalates, parabens, and artificial dyes. (Be sure to read the list of ingredients if you have specific sensitivities—even natural fragrances can cause allergic reactions.) If you're searching for a cruelty-free perfume, consider brands that don't test their products on animals and can prove that their ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced.

FAQ
  • How do you choose a perfume for women?

    While perfume choice is totally personal, the key thing is to make sure you try it on yourself first. “The way a fragrance smells can vary based on body chemistry, so it’s important to make sure you like it while actually wearing it before committing to the full bottle,” suggests Smith.

  • How do you apply perfume for women?

    Smith suggests spritzing it onto your pulse points: the wrists, neck, and crook of the arm. (This will help intensify and diffuse the scent.) But, if you’re spraying it on your wrists, do not rub them together, as so many people do. “This generates heat, which can end up altering the scent,” explains Smith.

  • When does perfume for women expire?

    There’s no set answer here, but if your fragrance is properly stored, it can last for years and years on end, says Smith. Make sure to keep all your bottles in a cool, dry environment; if and when the fragrance starts to change or smell ‘off,’ that’s when it’s time to replace it, she says.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the most popular and best-selling perfumes available today, evaluating their key features—like ingredients and sourcing, ease of application, and wear time—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We also polled our team of beauty editors, writers, and perfume lovers for their tried-and-true favorites.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Her perfume tastes fall on the clean, fresh, and green end of the spectrum, and once she finds a fragrance she loves she sticks with it. Case in point: She’s been wearing the Jo Malone and Juliette Has a Gun perfume on this list for years.

Meet the Expert

Cordelia Smith is a fragrance expert and the founder of Formulary 55, a line of products for body and home. She personally prefers more gender-neutral fragrances, though she loves notes of rose and beeswax (which is her favorite scent on Earth).

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough perfumes from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP. 

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. The 19 best perfumes of all time. Harper's Bazaar. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/beauty/makeup/g38284762/best-perfume-for-women

  2. Best women's perfumes: 31 you're guaranteed to fall in love with at first spritz. Cosmopolitan. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/beauty-hair/g12464323/womens-perfume

  3. The 45 best perfumes for women, according to experts. Women's Wear Daily. https://wwd.com/shop/shop-beauty/best-perfumes-for-women-1235007146

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