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  • Perfume or parfum extrait, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne are all different labels of a fragrance, based on the concentration of the aromatic compounds contained.
  • Perfume/ parfum extrait is the strongest scent concentration, composed of 15-40% essential oils.
  • The four main scent categories of women’s perfumes are floral, oriental, woody, and fresh. And the three main notes of a fragrance are top, middle, and base notes.
  • Store your perfumes in a cool, dry place, and if you want them to last longer, better keep them in the fridge.
Best Perfumes for Women of All Time
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You’re hard-pressed to find a woman – or a person – who doesn’t love perfume. There’s something about fragrance that can boost your mood, give you the confidence to face the day, or help to set the tone for a girl’s night out or a date night. But what are the best perfumes for women?

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While everyone’s preference is going to be slightly different, some perfumes for women have a cult following for a reason. So, we’ve put together a list of some of the most popular perfumes and why they’re such a hit. But first, we’ve created a guide to help you determine the best women’s perfume for you.

Best Perfumes for Women: Contents

39 Best Perfumes for Women for Every Occasion and Season

We guess you are an expert at determining which perfume is the right fit for you. Now is the time to browse through the 39 best perfumes for women of all time and pick up your ideal scent!

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1. Best Mood-Boosting Floral Perfume: Viktor&Rolf Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum Spray

Fashion powerhouse duo Victor & Rolf have proven over and over again that they know how to create designs that turn heads. Their heady perfume continues that trend with a classic warm and spicy floral scent that contains bold top notes of cattleya orchid, freesia, centifolia rose, middle notes of sambac jasmine, and osmanthus over a patchouli and vanilla base. Flowerbomb is the best women’s perfume for traditionalist fragrance wearers who want something soft yet heady. Pick it up at Nordstrom, Sephora or Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Viktor&Rolf Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum Spray

2. Best Rugged Perfume: Maison Margiela ’REPLICA’ By The Fireplace Eau de Toilette Spray

If you’re a non-traditionalist who doesn’t love traditional floral or spicy scents, then Replica By The Fireplace from Maison Margiela is the best women’s perfume for you. This unisex scent is described as reminiscent of sitting near a crackling fire while inhaling the heady scents of vanilla, chestnuts, pink pepper, and clove oil. While this unisex scent might be a winner with many, the scent averse or those who dislike smelling smoky would do best to avoid Replica. Get it from Sephora or Nordstrom!

Best Perfumes for Women: Maison Margiela ’REPLICA’ By The Fireplace Eau de Toilette Spray

3. Best Woodsy Perfume for the Free Spirits: Byredo Gypsy Water Eau de Parfum

These days, “gypsy” isn’t usually a term we use in polite company anymore. But optics aside, Gypsy Water by Byredo is one of the best women’s perfumes for free spirits who want to embrace their bohemian side.

With fresh and wildflower top notes like lemon, pepper, juniper berries, and bergamot, a lovely heart of orris, pine needle, and incense, and a base of vanilla, amber, and sandalwood, this scent can best be described as spicy with a zest. However, if you don’t care for heavier scents like bergamot, and smoky incense, you might want to keep looking. Find Byredo at Net-a-Porter, Nordstrom and Amazon!

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Best Perfumes for Women: Byredo Gypsy Water Eau de Parfum

4. Best for the Classic Fashionista: Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum Spray

Chanel is one of the originators of great Parisian style thanks to its namesake and creator, Coco Chanel. So, it’s understandable that Coco Mademoiselle makes our list of the best perfumes for women.

While it’s a younger reimagining on the iconic Chanel No. 5 scent, you’ll still enjoy expected notes like bergamot, orange, jasmine, rose, patchouli, vetiver, white musk, and vanilla. But again, if musk isn’t your thing, you might struggle to embrace this scent. You can find this fragrance online at Nordstrom, Sephora and Amazon.

Best Perfumes for Women: Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum Spray

5. Best Spicy Perfume for Channelling Old Hollywood: Tom Ford Black Orchid Eau de Parfum

Tom Ford gives us a classic style when he dresses actors on the red carpet. So, it’s not surprising that his Black Orchid perfume makes our list as one of the best fragrances for women. You’ll enjoy notes of black orchid, bergamot, and black truffle that combine with softer base notes like vanilla, dark chocolate, and patchouli. However, if you’re not a fan of spicy earthier scents like patchouli, this might not be the winner for you. Pick it up at Net-a-Porter, Nordstrom or Amazon!

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Best Perfumes for Women: Tom Ford Black Orchid Eau de Parfum

6. Best Flirtatious Floral Scent: Chloé Eau de Parfum

Not everyone wants a heavy or heady scent. If you prefer women’s fragrances that are a bit softer and feel more light-hearted, then Chloé Eau de Parfum is a better choice. You’ll like that softer notes like peony, rose, honey, and cedarwood combine with freesia and lychee to create a powdery floral scent that will put a spring in your step. Get it from Sephora, Nordstrom or Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Chloé Eau de Parfum

7. The Siren’s Song Fruity Floral Perfume: Dior J’adore Eau de Parfum

There has to be a happy medium in perfumes for women between dark and mysterious, and cute and floral. J’adore by Dior is the answer to that demand. This fruity-floral scent pairs exotic florals like jasmine and ylang-ylang, and Damascus rose to create something that’s the perfect balance for fans of traditional soft floral scents and those who prefer something a tad heavier. Grab it from Sephora, Nordstrom or Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Dior J'adore Eau de Parfum

8. Best for the Nontraditional Floral Fan: Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum

Most of us know that floral-based women’s fragrances can be seductive, but they can also be playful. Black Opium from YSL manages to pull this magic trick off by combining traditional floral notes like jasmine and orange blossom with unexpected choices like coffee and pink pepper accords. Black Opium is for the woman looking to make an entrance by wearing a signature scent that sets her apart from the masses. You can find it for sale at Nordstrom, Amazon and Sephora.

Best Perfumes for Women: Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum

9. Best Elegant Perfume for Floral Purists: Frederic Malle Iris Poudre Eau de Parfum

In the best perfumes for women, floral scents are known for usually being softer – something that wears well throughout the day. If you’re a floral purist, you’ll love Frederic Malle’s Iris Poudre, as it combines classic notes to create a truly traditional floral perfume. Sandalwood and vetiver serve as the core notes, while tonka bean, vanilla, and musk help to round out the bouquet. Get this soft and elegant scent from Net-a-Porter, Nordstrom or Amazon!

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Best Perfumes for Women: Frederic Malle Iris Poudre Eau de Parfum

10. Best Modern Fruity Floral: Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau de Toilette Spray

Florals are a popular choice for women’s perfumes because there are so many combinations that can be achieved. Marc Jacobs shows that fruits and florals can play well together with his popular Daisy perfume.

Strawberry, violet leaves, and jasmine anchor this scent, while additional notes of sandalwood create a light-hearted scent that transitions seamlessly whether you’re at the office, going out with your girls, or on a date night. You can find this cheerful scent at Sephora, Amazon and Nordstrom.

Best Perfumes for Women: Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau de Toilette Spray

11. Best Classic Clean Scent: Philosophy Amazing Grace Eau de Toilette

There are so many options when it comes to the best perfumes for women, but there is a niche that prefers a clean scent. Something that isn’t dripping in spice or musk, or isn’t cloyingly sweet from too many floral notes. Amazing Grace from Philosophy is an enduring scent with a cult following because it’s not too heavy and wears well throughout the day.

The base of musk is balanced with the top note of bergamot, and the middle accords of muguet blossoms to create an enduring scent that continues to wow women around the world. You can find this fresh scent at Nordstrom, Amazon and Sephora.

Best Perfumes for Women: Philosophy Amazing Grace Eau de Toilette

12. Best Original Signature Perfume: Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum Spray

Whether you’re trying to find your way or you’ve decided to make a serious impact, the iconic Chanel No. 5 is where you begin and end your search. This classic women’s fragrance manages to combine a dizzying amount of florals into one seamless and enduring fragrance.

Heavier notes like vetiver, musk, and sandalwood are played against softer notes like jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, ylang-ylang, bergamot, and aldehydes to create one of the best perfumes for women of all time. Find it online at Nordstrom, Amazon and Chanel!

Best Perfumes for Women: Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum Spray

13. Best Earthy Exotic Jetsetter Scent: Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois Eau de Parfum

If you’re always here and there, you need a fragrance that’s inspired by travel. Féminité du Bois was conceptualized by travels to the exotic Marrakech. Intense notes such as cedarwood are paired with plum and cinnamon for a bolder fragrance, while vanilla and musk help to soften it. Those who don’t typically wear a spicier scent may not appreciate the unique scent profile of this women’s fragrance. You can grab it online at Net-a-Porter or Nordstrom.

Best Perfumes for Women: Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois Eau de Parfum

14. Best Fresh Citrus Perfume: Lancôme Idôle Eau de Parfum

Citrus is definitely a common note in women’s fragrances – especially if you’re a fan of bergamot. But it isn’t always the most promoted note. Lancôme’s Idôle makes citrus the star of the show with bold bergamot that’s paired with additional fruits like pear before balancing it out with soft floral notes like rose and jasmine. The result is a gentle yet fresh fruity-floral scent that’s perfect for people who don’t want their perfume to do the talking for them. Get this one from Nordstrom, Amazon or Sephora!

Best Perfumes for Women: Lancôme Idôle Eau de Parfum

15. Best Romantic Perfume for Lovers: Yves Saint Laurent Mon Paris Eau de Parfum

Imagine creating a woman’s fragrance that perfectly encapsulates the vibe of an entire city. Yves Saint Laurent manages to achieve this feat with Mon Paris, a bold romantic scent that features more intense floral notes like orange flower, jasmine, and white peony. These are paired with heavier base notes like patchouli, white musk, cedarwood, before being rounded out with bergamot, strawberry, and raspberry. This is definitely not a scent for the timid. Find it online at Nordstrom, Sephora and Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Yves Saint Laurent Mon Paris Eau de Parfum

16. Best Long-Lasting Classic Floral Scent: Gucci Bloom Eau de Parfum

Wearability is always a big concern with women’s fragrances. No one wants a scent that’s missing in action a few hours later, or that changes into something unrecognizable. Gucci Bloom is designed with longevity in mind. Core notes of Rangoon creeper, jasmine buds, and tuberose are combined to create the perfect bouquet that continues to release a fragrant scent as the day draws to a close. You can find this one online at Sephora, Gucci and Amazon.

Best Perfumes for Women: Gucci Bloom Eau de Parfum

17. Best Cologne for the Clean and Earthy: Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne

Some people can be intimidated by a perfume that carries a laundry list of notes. If this is you, then Jo Malone London’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne is here to make life easier. Three ingredients are all that’s needed to create – truthfully – a unisex fragrance that’s ideal for the carefree obsessed.

Sea salt, wood sage, and ambrette seeds are combined to create a unique scent that can be worn alone or used as the base fragrance before you add your other preferred scent to create unexpected combinations. Pick it up online at Nordstrom, Amazon or Sephora!

Best Perfumes for Women: Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne

18. Best Dramatic Fashionista Scent: Carolina Herrera Good Girl Eau de Parfum

Imagine a woman’s perfume that’s as intoxicating as its packaging. Carolina Herrera shows us that your perfume can look nice on your vanity and complete your look with Good Girl. This stiletto-inspired packaging houses a dichotomous floral scent that features heavy and light notes. Tonka bean, almond, and coffee help to anchor lighter notes like jasmine, tuberose, and velvet almond. It’s available for purchase online at Nordstrom, Sephora and Amazon.

Best Perfumes for Women: Carolina Herrera Good Girl Eau de Parfum

19. Best Soothing Scent Inspired by Nature: Carine Roitfeld Aurélien Eau de Parfum

There’s nothing more relaxing than taking a stroll through a park or say a grove of orange trees. Aurélien by Carine Roitfeld Parfums will transport you to a citrus wonderland thanks to a simple balance of notes. Citrus is combined with myrrh and davana oil to create a heady yet grounded earthy experience. Try it by snatching it from Net-a-Porter!

Best Perfumes for Women: Carine Roitfeld Aurélien Eau de Parfum

20. Best Unisex Perfume for the Wild Child: Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum

Nothing represents freedom and a “wild at heart” mentality like pictures of the American West from a bygone era. Santal 33 is a unisex fragrance that will have you ready to hit the road or travel by horseback. Earthy notes like cardamom, sandalwood, cedarwood, leather, and iris combine to create a groundbreaking fragrance that will stand out from the traditional musky and floral scents you’re used to. Grab it online at Nordstrom, Net-a-Porter or Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum

21. Best Warm & Spicy Unisex Perfume: Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille Eau de Parfum

Not every woman is looking for a fragrance that’s “girly.” If this is you, Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille is one of the best perfumes for women that have an edge. Bold notes of tobacco, ginger, and cocoa are combined with softer notes like tonka bean, vanilla, and sweet wood sap for a mellow yet intoxicating scent. Perfect for fall and winter, you can find it online at Sephora, Nordstrom and Amazon.

Best Perfumes for Women: Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille Eau de Parfum

22. Best Bridal Perfume: Valentino Donna Born in Roma Eau de Parfum

If your wedding day had a smell, it would be Valentino’s Donna Born in Roma. This bold, yet fresh fruity fragrance for women features top notes of bergamot and black currant with jasmine and vanilla for a scent that wears well throughout the day from prepping with your bridesmaids until the last glass of champagne is drunk at your reception. It’s available online at Nordstrom and Sephora.

Best Perfumes for Women: Valentino Donna Born in Roma Eau de Parfum

23. Best Lightweight Perfume for Summer: Byredo Sundazed Eau de Parfum

If you prefer a barely-there scent, Byredo’s Sundazed is the best women’s fragrance because it’s a floral and fruity selection. It combines citrus undernotes with fresh floral top notes for a perfectly balanced summer fragrance. Feel the sun in your face wearing this perfume that can be found online at Net-a-Porter, Nordstrom and Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Byredo Sundazed Eau de Parfum

24. Best for the Whimsical Soul: Lancôme La Vie est Belle Eau De Parfum

You need a fragrance that matches your personality. If you’re the type who embraces each day with vigor, then Lancôme’s La Vie est Belle is one of the best perfumes for women. It features a full bouquet of floral notes that includes jasmine, Tunisian orange blossom, iris, and patchouli. You can find this fresh and bubbly scent online at Nordstrom, Sephora and Amazon.

Best Perfumes for Women: Lancôme La Vie est Belle Eau De Parfum

25. Best for the Young at Heart: Miss Dior Absolutely Blooming Eau de Parfum

It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting out in life or are ready to adopt a signature scent, Dior’s Miss Dior fragrance for women is a smart choice. This bold and colorful perfume prioritizes floral and fruity notes. Most prominently, you’ll recognize peony, red berries, white musk, and roses. Find this delicious floral scent wrapped inside this cute bottle at Nordstrom, Amazon and Sephora!

Best Perfumes for Women: Miss Dior Absolutely Blooming Eau de Parfum

26. Best Citrusy Perfume for Classicists: Frederic Malle Eau de Magnolia Parfum Spray

If you’re in the market for a scent that evokes a classic and timeless image, Frederic Malle’s Magnolia is a must-have. Designed by the famous master perfumer Carlos Benaïm, this fresh citrusy scent features bergamot, Haitian vetiver, and patchouli. Perfect for summer, find it online at Net-a-Porter and Nordstrom!

Best Perfumes for Women: Frederic Malle Eau de Magnolia Parfum Spray

27. Best Luxurious Fruity Perfume: Giorgio Armani Si Eau de Parfum

Fruity perfumes for women don’t have to be subtle, and Giorgio Armani’s Sí is the best fragrance for women who want to make a statement without saying a word. Citrus combines with deep black currant nectar, musky blond wood and is accented with florals for a balanced effect. Get this fresh and classic scent from Nordstrom, Sephora or Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Giorgio Armani Si Eau de Parfum

28. Best Clean Beauty Perfume: Maison Louis Marie No.04 Bois de Balincourt Perfume Oil

Everyone wants to know what’s in their beauty products these days, and women’s perfume is no different. Maison Louis Marie proudly announces that their fragrance is free from 50 known harmful ingredients, including sulfates and parabens. This soft earthy scent features sandalwood, vetiver, and amber wood. You can find it online at Sephora and Amazon.

Best Perfumes for Women: Maison Louis Marie No.04 Bois de Balincourt Perfume Oil

29. Best Musky Perfume: Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Parfum

Just because you want a modern scent doesn’t mean that you don’t appreciate a hint of what’s made classic perfumes for women so popular. Narciso Rodriguez’s For Her is the perfect example of this. This floral and musky scent combines cyphre with orange blossoms, vanilla, amber, musk, and woods. Get this elegant scent from Nordstrom, Sephora or Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Parfum

30. Best Fresh Date Night Perfume: Chanel Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Toilette

It’s date night, and you want to wear the best perfume for women that’s intoxicating yet delicate. Chanel’s Chance Eau Tendre is a fruity and floral combination that highlights green grapefruit and pairs it with jasmine and teakwood for a truly unique scent. Pick up this effortless scent from Sephora, Nordstrom or Chanel!

Best Perfumes for Women: Chanel Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Toilette

31. Best Scent That Evokes Travels: Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Vitae Eau de Toilette

Some perfumes for women transport you to a specific place in time, and if this is your goal, Maison Francis Kurkdijan’s Aqua Vitae is perfect for you. This fragrance blends mandarin with guaiac wood along with vanilla and tonka beans for a scent that feels perfect for your next vacation. Get this luxurious vacation scent from Net-a-Porter, Nordstrom or Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Vitae Eau de Toilette

32. Best Warm Floral Perfume for Free Spirits: Chloé Nomade Eau de Parfum

Some women prefer a lively scent that brings excitement with every whiff. Chloe’s Nomade is the best perfume for women who love bolder scents. This floral fragrance features freesia, mirabelle plum, and oakmoss for a warm floral scent you can wear year-round. Pick up this elegant bottle from Sephora, Nordstrom or Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Chloé Nomade Eau de Parfum

33. Best Exotic Oriental Perfume: Parfums de Marly Delina Exclusif Eau de Parfum

No one wants to walk into a room and find that everyone else is wearing the same thing. This is just as true for women’s fragrance as it is for clothing. If you want to stand out from the crowd, Parfums de Marly’s Delina Exclusif features a unique bottle that encapsulates the freshest and most mysterious fragrance. The oriental scent includes lychee, pear, and apricot with balancing notes such as Turkish rose, vanilla, amber, and wood. Grab this exclusive scent from Nordstrom or Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Parfums de Marly Delina Exclusif Eau de Parfum

34. Best Perfume for Getaways: Aerin Mediterranean Honeysuckle Eau de Parfum Spray

Some of the best fragrances for women are designed for epic vacations. And Aerin’s Mediterranean Honeysuckle will transport you to a Greek paradise. This rich floral fragrance is balanced with fruity notes. Honeysuckle and grapefruit combine with additional notes, such as mandarin oil, lily of the valley, and gardenia. Find it online at Sephora, Nordstrom or Amazon!

Best Perfumes for Women: Aerin Mediterranean Honeysuckle Eau de Parfum Spray

35. Best Playful & Wearable Scent: Trish McEvoy No. 9 Blackberry & Vanilla Musk Eau de Parfum

Sometimes there can be a fine line between bold and overwhelming, but Trish McEvoy’s No. 9 Blackberry & Vanilla Musk strikes that perfect balance. Bold blackberry, plum, and mandarin oil are combined with vanilla, velvet musk, and cashmere woods for a playful fragrance that delights and elicits excitement. It’s available for purchase at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Amazon.

Best Perfumes for Women: Trish McEvoy No. 9 Blackberry & Vanilla Musk Eau de Parfum

36. Best Floral Musky Perfume with a Bite: Cartier La Panthère Eau de Parfum Spray

Cartier is another one of those impressive brands known for creating the best perfumes for women that stand the test of time. This soft floral musky scent is designed to linger as gardenia is combined with musk to create the ultimate fragrance that no one can forget. You can get your hands on this luxurious scent online at Nordstrom or Amazon.

Best Perfumes for Women: Cartier La Panthère Eau de Parfum Spray

37. Best Active Fruity Perfume: Creed Aventus For Her Fragrance

Imagine wearing a women’s perfume that perfectly encapsulates your life goals. Creed’s Aventus for Her is meant to represent women breaking through barriers like glass ceilings. This fruit-infused fragrance features Egyptian green apple, sweet peach, and pink berries with bergamot, Bulgarian and Turkish rose, cassis, ylang-ylang, and lilac. It’s available online at Nordstrom.

Best Perfumes for Women: Creed Aventus For Her Fragrance

38. Best Luxury Statement Perfume: Hermès Eau des Merveilles Elixir des Merveilles Eau de Parfum

Nothing says luxury like an iconic bauble in an orange box. Hermès has been a leader in luxury goods across handbags, scarves, and even fragrances. The Eau des Merveilles Elixir des Merveilles fragrance is a sensual and heady perfume with amber as the prioritized top note. You can grab it online at Nordstrom or Amazon.

Best Perfumes for Women: Hermès Eau des Merveilles Elixir des Merveilles Eau de Parfum

39. The Ultimate in Femininity: Gabrielle Chanel Eau de Parfum

We round out our list of the best perfumes for women with a classic floral from a brand that’s always been at the top of the list for must-have fragrances. Chanel’s Gabrielle is a bold yet not overwhelming floral scent that combines jasmine, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, and Grasse tuberose into one fragrance. Find this radiant and purely feminine scent at Sephora, Nordstrom and Chanel!

Best Perfumes for Women: Gabrielle Chanel Eau de Parfum

How to Find the Best Perfume for Women

One of the most common questions people ask about fragrances includes what they are and how to tell them apart. It’s important to note that perfumes can usually be divided into categories and varying concentrations. To find your favorite perfume or fragrance, you need to know these details.

Fragrance Concentrations

Deriving from the Latin word “perfumare,” which stands for “to smoke through,” perfume is a fragrant liquid comprised of aromatic essential oils, solvents, and fixatives. Depending on the concentration of the aromatic compounds, perfumes can have a different scent intensity and accordingly different names.

Often, you’ll hear the words perfume (also known as parfum extrait), eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne. Outside of the beauty industry, people use them interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing. Each label refers to the fragrance’s scent concentration and how long you can expect it to last throughout the day. Note that the stronger or longer a fragrance is said to last, the more expensive it will be.

Parfum Extrait vs. Eau de Parfum vs. Eau de Toilette vs. Eau de Cologne Differences

Perfume Extract/ Parfum Extrait

Parfum is the strongest concentration you can find, composed of around 15-40% of essences. One application can last all day long. True perfumes are also the most expensive on the market.

Eau de Parfum

Eau de parfum is the second strongest type of fragrance concentration, featuring 10-20% concentration of oils. One application will last for roughly six hours.

Eau de Toilette

Eau de toilette is the third strongest fragrance concentration with 5-15% aromatic essence and a more affordable option for most consumers. This type of fragrance will need to be reapplied throughout the day if you want your scent to last longer.

Eau de Cologne

The lowest concentration is eau de cologne with just 3-8% concentration of essences used. In addition to being the cheapest option, it’s also the fragrance category that lasts the least. One application will typically only last for two hours before needing to be reapplied.

How to Find the Best Women's Perfume

Scent Categories

So now you know how to determine a fragrance’s strength, it’s time to understand the different types of fragrance scents that exist. Normally, fragrances can be divided into specific scent categories. The most common scent categories among women’s perfumes are floral, oriental, woody, and fresh.

These scent categories are also divided into subcategories. Thus, the floral scent family can include floral, soft floral, or floral oriental notes, the oriental category includes soft oriental, oriental, and woody oriental options, the woody family comprises of woods, mossy woods, and dry woods, while the fresh scent category is totally aromatic, including citrusy, fruity, green, and watery notes.

Some of the most feminine and freshest women’s perfumes would typically be based on floral or fruity notes. As the names imply, a floral perfume will include flowers as the primary notes, and fruity perfumes will include fruit notes.

Spicy perfumes are typically the most exotic, including notes such as cinnamon or star anise. Even though musk is usually reserved for men’s cologne, many of the best perfumes for women do include musk notes such as leather or pine. But what is a fragrance note?

How to Find the Best Perfume for Women

Fragrance Notes

The simple answer is that a note is as important to a fragrance as an ingredient is for a recipe. Depending on the concentrations, and what other notes are included, you can create a unique fragrance.

Fragrance notes can be further divided into three specific divisions – top, middle, and base. And it’s important to understand that smelling fragrance is much like smelling a glass of wine – different notes can be detected at different stages as you wear a scent.

Top Notes: These are the first scents you smell when you open a bottle of perfume or spritz it on your wrists. But these usually tend to fade the fastest. Common fragrance top notes are citrusy, woodsy, floral, oriental, and herbal.

Middle Notes: Also known as heart notes, middle notes are the core notes that you’re most likely to notice as you wear a fragrance throughout the day. But in reality, these are the notes that help to transition the fragrance from the top notes that evaporate quickly to the base notes that linger. Some of the common heart notes of a perfume are jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, lavender, lemongrass, and nutmeg.

Base Notes: Base notes are the final notes that help to round out the fragrance and are the ones most likely to last as you wear a scent throughout the day. They usually combine with the middle notes to create a lingering scent. This reaction between the middle and base notes can also explain why you might feel a scent changed from when you first applied it to how it smells throughout the day. Vanilla, musk, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, and cedarwood are some of the most popular base notes of a fragrance.

Best Perfumes for Women

Finding Your Perfect Perfume

So now you know what goes into a bottle of perfume, and how to differentiate the various notes. So, how do you go about finding the best perfume that doesn’t just smell nice but fits your personality?

Start by Considering Your Personality

Are you a traditionalist or are you free-spirited and ready to run through the wildflower fields? Or, maybe you prefer to be understated and don’t want an entire room looking at you when you enter it. As you’ll see in our breakdown below, some of the best perfumes for women put a lot of thought into their note profiles so that it’s clear just from the descriptions who would most benefit from wearing that particular fragrance.

Soft florals or fruity scents are ideal for women who prefer to keep a low profile. Meanwhile, someone who’s a traditionalist might opt for a truly classic scent like Chanel No. 5. And if you’re the type who abhors “girly” scents, opting for earthier or musky notes like leather, coffee, or wood can create a great unisex option.

Follow Your Nose

If you’re at a store like Sephora or Ulta, where you can easily sample perfumes, that’s one of the best ways to find which scents speak the most to you. But for the best results, be sure to follow these important tips.

• If you’re browsing through multiple scents, using a paper tester strip is fine. But avoid touching it to your nose, as it will make it impossible to detect other notes in future fragrances you sample.

• Instead of inhaling directly with the strip in front of your nose, let the scent waft up from a distance. This will prevent the scent from overwhelming your senses.

How to Apply Perfume

Sampling Scents

After you’ve browsed a few scents, ask for a sample. This will give you a chance to test how the fragrance wears throughout the day. For the best testing experience, apply the fragrance to your wrist in the morning and don’t apply it more than once more in the afternoon.

Opting for this method will ensure that you’re able to determine whether the middle and base notes appeal to you as the day progresses. For the best results, do this experiment twice with every fragrance you’re considering. If after two days you like a fragrance, you’ve found the best women’s perfume for you.

Take Seasons into Account

While you can absolutely wear your favorite perfume year-round, it’s a great idea to switch your fragrances from season to season to always smell fresh. Generally, the temperature has a great impact on the way a perfume is perceived, with the hot weather of summer intensifying fragrance notes, and the cold weather making it more difficult for the perfume to evaporate.

With that said, take these tips into account while looking for the best seasonal perfume for you:

Spring Perfumes: In spring, you should focus on lighter, fresher scents with green citrusy notes, including basil, mint, orange blossom-based fragrances. Consider trying Lancôme La Vie est Belle or Gabrielle Chanel for spring.

Summer Perfumes: Your summer perfume should be airy, cool, and light, evoking the sea and floral-infused summer nights out. You can also consider getting a body mist in summer. Floral scents with notes like rose, jasmine, lavender, bergamot, and mimosa are some of the best summer perfumes for women. Byredo Gypsy Water, and Philosophy Amazing Grace are two amazing summer perfumes for women.

Fall Perfumes: Fall fragrances should be moody, romantic, and woodsy, just like the season is. Look for warm and musky fragrance notes, such as amber, sandalwood, patchouli, or oakmoss. Hermès Eau des Merveilles Elixir des Merveilles, and Narciso Rodriguez For Her are some of the best fall perfumes for women to try.

Winter Perfumes: In winter, you can go for heavier scents, like strong and exotic oriental perfumes. Consider cinnamon, vanilla, amber, or spices as the fragrance notes you’ll choose for winter. You can pick up Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois, or Maison Margiela ’REPLICA’ By The Fireplace as your next winter perfume.

How to Find the Best Fragrance for Women

Other Fragrance Tips for Women

Once you have finally picked up your signature scent, it’s time to know how to wear it to smell your best!

Applying Perfume

The right way of applying perfume is at pulse points, such as the inside of wrists, the nape of the neck, behind the ears, or on the elbows and knees, as the pulse warms the scent and releases fragrance continuously.

There’s often a debate about which method is best when you’re applying your perfume. Should you spritz or dab? The answer is, either is fine, as long as you’re not bathing yourself in fragrance. This can be overwhelming, especially in enclosed spaces like airplanes, trains, or conference rooms.

And when it comes to reapplying, this is going to depend on which type of fragrance you own. A true perfume can leave you with a scent that lasts all day. In contrast, the other categories (eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne) will fade faster with eau de cologne needing to be reapplied as frequently as every two hours.

Should I Layer Fragrances?

Another common question is whether you can layer perfumes. While there are a few from our list of the best perfumes for women that specifically promote themselves as ideal for layering, this typically is not recommended. This is because the notes within each perfume might interact in ways that create a less than ideal final scent.

Differences Between Perfumes for Women

Properly Storing Your Fragrance

Just like makeup, fragrance has a shelf life. While we can’t always pinpoint the exact time frame that each of the fragrance categories will “turn” or go bad, most experts say that you’ll know by the smell.

To prevent this from happening, store your perfumes in a cool, dry place where they’re less likely to be touched by direct sunlight or heat sources. But if you want them to last the longest, keep your fragrance in your fridge with the veggies.

Photos via @ohuprettythings, @_hollyt, @laura.craffey, @janicejoostemaa

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