The best perfume for women—10 picks for unforgettable spritzing every time

Our experts review the best perfume for women to help you find a new forever favorite, with options from all fragrance families

A selection of the best perfumes for women featured in this guide from Chanel, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Kilian, Byredo and Marc Jacobs
(Image credit: Brands pictured / Future)

Finding (and wearing) the best perfume adds a whole other layer of memorability to a time, place, or occasion. So for those on a quest to find a new forever fragrance, or simply a bottle they can generously spritz for an upcoming party, vacation or even wedding day, here we've made fragrant suggestions to cover all tastes. 

Every perfume is, of course, different, so depending on whether you want something that subtly lingers or that passersby will notice as you walk down the street, longevity will always factor into a purchasing decision. Branding, sustainability, and packaging—for a touch of luxe on your vanity—are all important when it comes to shopping for fragrance, even if you're simply after one of the best office perfumes.

Take your time and dive into the world of the latest, most sought-after perfumes, and find the one you’ll be repurchasing time and time again. To compile this guide we spritzed and reviewed a plethora of scents from various fragrance families, as well as examined their ingredients and their sillage (AKA how long they last), to give you the vital information you need to make your next purchase. 

At a glance: shop the best perfume for women

The best perfumes for women, as reviewed by our beauty experts

Skin scents

"Skin scents" is a pure marketing term, but seeing as the category has seen a surge in popularity in 2023, it's only right to share some of its best buys. Perfumer Tom Daxon, who has his own eponymous fragrance house, describes these as "scents with little in the way of a top note and more focused on bottom notes, like musks. I think they’re a great option for people who don’t normally like fragrances because they have a subtle, oddly tactile quality to them."

Generally, fragrances classed as skin scents have little projection, meaning that they can be smelled only by the wearer or those physically close enough to them. But little projection doesn’t have to mean that they don’t last. Some of the most popular skin scents are also the best long-lasting perfumes with a seriously long sillage, and change subtly throughout the day. They often feature notes like amber, musk, and ISO E Super.

Le Labo Another 13

(Image credit: Le Labo)

1. Le Labo Another 13

Equal parts hypnotic and mysterious


Fragrance family: Amber, woody
Top notes: Iso E Super
Middle notes: Ambrette seeds absolute, jasmine, moss
Base notes: Ambroxan
Sillage : 4/5
RRP: $289 for 100ml

What does Le Labo Another 13 smell like?

If you're bored of Santal 33—though no judgment here if that's your fave—then it could be time to try a different Le Labo scent. Another 13 is a captivating blend of smart, simple ingredients. Synthetic ambroxan is the star of the show here, delivering an enigmatic and animalic musk which, when combined with moss and ambrette seeds, gives it its "second skin" quality. It's creamy, smooth and, somehow, still clean, thanks to the faintest hint of jasmine that cuts through any heaviness. For something so soft, it delivers impressive sillage that creates magic when it hits your skin.

It's hugely popular in the fashion world, too, which isn't surprising when you consider it was created by Jefferson Hack, co-founder of Dazed Media, and Sarah Andelman, creative director and founder of the—sadly now-closed—Colette store in Paris.

Glossier You Perfume

(Image credit: Glossier)

2. Glossier You

The one that makes people say you smell good


Fragrance family: Amber
Top notes: Pink pepper
Middle notes: Ambrette seeds, ambrox, iris
Sillage: 4/5
RRP: $60 for 50ml

What does Glossier You smell like?

According to Glossier, creators of some of the most sought-after skincare products, it smells "like you: soft, warm, familiar" which sums up the idea of a skin scent. 

Upon spritzing, undoubtedly the words creamy, musky, and powdery come to mind, but it's worth noting that—as with all fragrances—it smells slightly different depending wearer to wearer. For me, the pink pepper is more prominent, resulting in a spicy version of the scent, whereas on a colleague it smells almost soapy, but in a good way. It's the kind of scent that people can't quite put their finger on but they will walk away thinking you smell good—which, incidentally, is exactly how Glossier describes it.

Floral scents

Easily one of the most popular fragrance families in the world of perfume notes, expect to find lots of, erm, florals. The likes of rose, lavender, tuberose and geranium are some of the most popular flowers used in fragrances today. Usually, florals conjure up images of chintzy-wallpapered tea rooms but modern interpretations subvert the traditionally feminine fragrance group with scents that shake off any old-fashioned connotations in favor of greener, fresher scents. 

Escentric Molecules 01 + Iris

(Image credit: Escentric Molecules)

3. Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Iris

The cult-fragrance with a floral twist


Fragrance Family: Floral
Notes: Iso E Super, Iris
Sillage (How long it lasts): 4/5
RRP: $145 for 100ml

What does Escentric Molecules, Molecule 01 + Iris smell like?

Like you, but on a really great day. For this incarnation of the iconic molecule 01, Geza Schön chose to add Iris into the equation. Iris can be identified by its earthy, musky and soapy notes in a fragrance which, when combined with the iconic Iso E Super—the star of the original version—gives depth to this calming, uplifting, and cocooning scent.

Byredo Young Rose

(Image credit: Byredo)

4. Byredo Young Rose

One of the most recent launches from the brand with a cult following


Fragrance family: Floral
Top notes: Ambrette, musk, Sichuan pepper
Middle notes: Damask rose, iris
Base notes: Ambroxan, musk
Sillage : 3/5
RRP: $276 for 50ml

What does Byredo Young Rose smell like?

We are forever fans of the chic, instantly recognizable Byredo packaging, and spritzing this particular fragrance is like smelling an effervescent bowl of confectionery. Plus, it's one of the perfumes which lasts the longest. The initial sweetness tails off quite quickly and develops into a musky, deep, and sensuous fragrance that really lasts.

The rose notes that give it its name aren't instantly recognizable, it's only on the dry-down that you start to get those powdery notes typically associated with this flower—but still, in a very sophisticated way. 

Going out scents

We’ve all got one fragrance that we reach for when we’re heading on a big night out. Shy wallflower types, avert your eyes—because whatever the occasion, these are scents that will get you noticed

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Amyris

(Image credit: Maison Francis Kurkdjian)

5. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Amyris

A warm floral that radiates each note and lasts all day


Fragrance family: Floral
Top notes: Lemon blossom, california orange
Middle notes: Amyris, iris
Base notes: Vetiver, musk, amber
Sillage : 5/5
RRP: $225 for 70ml

What does Maison Francis Kurkdjian Amyris Femme smell like?

As with all MFK scents, this is a complex one—which means that the ingredients aren't instantly identifiable and there's a lot going on. It's floral, woody and fresh. In our opinions, it would make a perfect perfume for bed, too.

Undeniably, the amyris is the star of the show here. According to Fragrantica, amyris, which is part of the wood family: "has a fresh piney balsamic fragrance with a citrus nuance", which is certainly the case when smelled as part of this fragrance. However, here the balsamic nature is really amplified with the addition of iris and lemon blossom.

Kilian Love Don't Be Shy

(Image credit: Kilian)

6. Kilian Love, Don't Be Shy

Just so happens to be Rihanna's favorite perfume


Fragrance family: Floral, woody
Top notes: Neroli, bergamot, pink pepper and coriander
Middle notes: Orange blossom, jasmine, honeysuckle, rose and iris
Base notes: Sugar, vanilla, caramel, musk, civet and labdanum
Sillage (How long it lasts): 5/5
RRP: $250 for 50ml

What does Kilian, Love Don't Be Shy smell like?

Love, Don't Be Shy by Kilian is very famous because it's long been reported as Rihanna's favorite perfume—and, therefore, the very reason why many celebrities have described her as smelling amazing. 

It's marshmallowy sweet but not at all sickly, thanks to the fresh and zingy white flowers like orange blossom and jasmine, which give it a balmy and fresh vibe that's bolstered with pink pepper, neroli, and coriander. As that ingredients list would suggest, it's a real head-turner.

Byredo Mixed Emotions

(Image credit: Byredo)
A captivating scent that's worth every penny


Fragrance Family: Woody, aromatic
Top notes: Maté, blackcurrant
Middle notes: Ceylon black tea, violet leaves
Base notes: Birch woods, papyrus
Sillage (How long it lasts): 5/5
RRP: $196 for 50ml

What does Byredo Mixed Emotions smell like?

Byredo Mixed Emotions captures the essence of the brand perfectly. In other words, highly covetable and super cool, and a real head-turner. With notes of maté and cassis, too, this is a sophisticated way to wear a woody, aromatic fragrance. There are also berry notes at play—without any hint of sickly sweetness—as well as a long sillage, meaning this captivating scent is worth the investment.

Iconic scents that never go out of style

Some things just never go out of fashion, like a crisp white shirt, a sharp tailored-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life suit à la YSL's Le Smoking, or the perfect LBD. In other words, they're timeless. These kinds of scents are classic and icons for a reason. Whether they’ve celebrated their 100th birthday, or contain some of the perfume world's most popular notes, these are scents that have truly stood the test of time. 

Chanel No 5

(Image credit: Chanel)

8. Chanel N°5 Eau de Parfum

The timeless and legendary one that will be here forever


Fragrance family: Floral
Top notes: Aldehydes, neroli
Middle notes: May rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, iris
Base notes: Vanilla
Sillage : 4/5
RRP: $146 for 50ml

What does Chanel No. 5 smell like?

A true masterpiece in every sense of the word. Housed in a seriously chic and timeless flacon, this fragrance has been around for a long time but still manages to draw and retain hordes of loyal followers. 

It tends to smell slightly different depending on your skin, say, for example, how you've applied moisturizer, so it's worth spraying to see how it develops. On me, white flowers burst with creamy freshness, while the aldehydes—a synthetic ingredient that can smell soapy at times—cut through to keep things light and effervescent. And then it comes, the soapy dry down. It's like smelling clean and expensive. 

Marc Jacobs Daisy

(Image credit: Marc Jacobs)

9. Marc Jacobs, Daisy Eau de Toilette

The right side of fruity


Fragrance Family: Floral, fruity
Top notes: Violet leaf, strawberry, grapefruit
Middle notes: Violet, gardenia, jasmine
Base notes: Musk, vanilla, sandalwood
Sillage (How long it lasts): 3/5
RRP: $86 for 30ml

What does Marc Jacobs Daisy smell like?

A perfect interpretation of a fruity and floral fragrance, Daisy opens with sparkling notes of grapefruit and strawberry while florals such as gardenia and jasmine keep things on the right side of sweet. It's nice and light to wear, which is why it's many people's first-ever fragrance, and holds a special place in the hearts of many millennials as an object of nostalgia—us included. 

Scents that transport you (AKA holiday scents)

Sometimes, fragrance manages to capture the essence of a place perfectly. From bright and crisp citrus notes that bubble with effervescence and whisk you away to the Amalfi coast, to subtly piquant florals and plump fruits like blackcurrants and raspberries that say English countryside and clotted-cream-and-raspberry-jam-topped scones, scent can conjure the feeling of somewhere new and exciting or a well-loved memory. 

Tom Daxon Iridium

(Image credit: Tom Daxon)

10. Tom Daxon Iridium

A spicy but exceptionally light fragrance perfect for the cooler months


Fragrance family: Musky, aromatic
Top notes: Juniper, angelica, carrot seeds
Middle notes: Iris
Base notes: Vetiver, cedarwood, Iso E super
Sillage (How long it lasts): 3/5
RRP: $155 for 50ml

What does Tom Daxon Iridium smell like?

When you spray Iridium, you'll probably smell the Iso E Super first—that rounded, woody and clean smell—followed by a sprinkle of spice from the carrot seeds and a touch of fruitiness from juniper. For me, one spritz makes me feel like I'm stepping into an achingly cool Scandinavian country, wrapped in the softest cashmere jumper, which is the next best thing to a cozy candle that smells like your favorite celebrity

Meet the experts on perfume

  • Tom Daxon is a perfumer who founded his eponymous perfume house in 2013. Here he's advised My Imperfect Life readers on finding your signature scent, as well as application tips to get the most out of it.  
  • Emma South is fragrance and lifestyle expert for Jo Malone London, who has also shared her expert advice for choosing and applying your new perfume. 

How to find your signature scent

Actually, you don't have to have just one

The idea of having a signature scent is nothing new, especially with the vogue of celebrity perfumes; people have crafted entire personalities out of the fragrance they wear. But Daxon suggests that there could be a downside to this. "Having one 'signature' scent has its appeal but can lead to fatigue where you’re sure it’s getting weaker," he explains. "It’s not, you’re just getting used to it. I would recommend having at least a couple to rotate." 

Understand if the fragrance suits you 

Emma South, fragrance & lifestyle expert from Jo Malone London, recommends really getting to know your fragrance and "wear it for some time and really live with it to understand how it suits you. It is the only way to know if it perfectly fits you." This is where grabbing a sample or two before purchasing the full-sized deal comes in handy.  

It's all about emotional connection

As South goes on to say: "There are a lot of excellent perfumes, but it is only when a fragrance touches you emotionally that you will be able to intimately adopt it."

How to apply fragrance

Think about where you’re spraying it

South recommends applying scent to your skin. "Fragrance will be most effective when applied on pulse points or where there is good circulation and warmth," she says. "Apply a generous spritz on your wrists, neck, and inside the elbow."

Don’t overdo it

"Err on the side of caution quantity-wise [with] a few sprays on the wrists and neck, rather than a dousing," Daxon recommends. "If you feel the longevity isn’t there then a spray on the hair or on dark, non-delicate clothing should help."

How to get more from your fragrance

"Spritzing your scent on your clothes can emphasize a different element of the fragrance and create a cloud of fragrance around you," says South. "A light mist in your hair is another effective way to empower your scent and leave a lasting impression wherever you walk."

Sunil Makan

Sunil Makan is the digital editor of Marie Claire UK. With over 12 years of publishing experience, working on print publications and their digital counterparts, national newspapers, and digital pure plays he is an Editor, Strategist, Content Producer, and Creative Director. In his most recent role, Sunil was deputy editor of My Imperfect Life and before that, he was the Associate Editor of British Marie Claire. Prior to that he worked at ELLE, InStyle, Shortlist Media and freelanced at titles such as Mr Porter, Saks Fifth Avenue, Floral Street fragrance, and The Times. 

Sunil’s specialisms include Fashion, Beauty and Grooming, Lifestyle, and Culture. He has reported and covered fashion trends at International fashion weeks in London, Milan, and Paris, smelled and tested countless fragrances, beauty treatments, slathered on more serums, moisturizers, and masks than he cares to mention plus reviewed some of the best hotels in the world—and the worst. 

Sunil has appeared on and led workshops and panels like the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Creative Diversity roundtable, the British Fashion Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Board, and Fujifilm reader events. A lover of—in no particular order—fragrance, fine wine, champagne, Dior, food, and chicken wings.