best perfumes for women - chanel no. 5 bottle

Thank you for stopping by, and welcome to the best-smelling perfume blog on the web. If you are on the hunt for the best perfumes for women, and still haven’t found your favorite, you’ve come to the right place.

As a one-man show perfume reviewer, I don’t just pick random best-selling fragrances often found elsewhere, I test them, explore the best wearing seasons and occasions, and give them a proper evaluation.

Some perfumes on this list have historical importance, while others are the biggest trendsetters. Either way, our senses don’t lie, and I personally believe that one shouldn’t settle for anything less than perfect.

According to the research in NPD article, “Scentiments found that over one-third of women see fragrance as a personal treat, or a pick-me-up to enhance their mood. They tend to choose a new scent based on how well it fits with their personality. At the same time, the study found that women purchase a new fragrance as often as once a month, compared to men who purchase it an average of 1-2 times per year, and typically for the purpose of replenishment. Whereas men typically take about 30 seconds to sample and decide whether to buy a fragrance, women take anywhere from 10-20 times longer.”

So, it’s no wonder that sometimes it could get overwhelming sometimes in that never-ending search for the best one of all time.

No matter if you are looking for signature perfume, new perfume “fix“, or a gift for your loved ones, by the time you read this article, you’ll know which will be your new perfume to try out.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this article:

  • Perfume basics and tips&tricks
  • Best perfumes for women that men love
  • Which is the best-selling perfume in the world
  • Top picks of designers and niche perfumes

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Perfume Basics

fragrance bottle - Best Perfumes For Women

The concept of this extensive 2 part guide was to create something both newcomers to the perfume world can understand as easily as passionate perfume hobbyists.

While I believe that you shouldn’t settle for mediocre scents, I also support the idea that buying perfume shouldn’t get confusing.

This is where my S.P.A. Signature Factor Guide comes into place. S.P.A. stands for Scent, Performance, and Accessibility.

In this guide, you’ll find out if a particular fragrance is worth checking out. By answering 10 simple questions, the road to finding your all-time favorite signature perfume has never been this easy.

Fragrance Strengths & Perfume Concentrations

Have you ever been to a perfume shop and found two identical perfumes sitting on the shelf with the only difference being one is Eau de Parfum, and the other Eau de Toilette?

Immediately, the first thing you thought to yourself which is stronger, pure perfume, or cologne? These and many other questions might come to your mind, which you didn’t want to ask the shop assistant.

Thankfully, both terms only refer to raw material oil concentration. These concentrations may vary from perfume to perfume and affect sillage and projection, but not in all cases.

That’s why it’s important to test the perfume on your skin and see if Eau de Toilette works better for you than for example Pure Parfum Extrait.

If we remove beauty products such as shower gels, and deodorants, all fragrant products fall into some of these main categories:

  • Eau Fraiche 1-3%
  • After Shave/Mist/Splash 1-3%
  • Eau de Cologne 2-4%
  • Eau de Toilette 5-15%
  • Eau de Parfum 15-20%
  • Pure Parfum/Extrait de Parfum 20-40%

For an easy way to visual guide to see the concentration differences, check out the infographic below:


Read more about this topic here.

How to tell the difference between designer and niche perfumes

Up until fifteen years ago, before the fragrance boom, there was a more clear view of what are designer and niche perfume brands. Today, not so much.

The best way to define designer and niche brands would be to place them in simple terminology. Designer beauty brands such as Hermes and Dior are considered designers in the fragrance world.

Such brands not make just perfumes, but also many items and accessories such as:

  • watches
  • cosmetics
  • clothes
  • shoes
  • leather goods

When it comes to niche brands, making perfumes and products that are directly intertwined with perfumes such as fragrant soaps, and body lotions are all they do. That’s why we call them a niche.

Reasons to choose designer fragrances:

  • lower price
  • designers are trendsetters
  • a better choice for beginners
  • brand recognition

Reasons to choose niche fragrances:

  • creativity
  • more expensive equals more exclusivity
  • often better presentation
  • niche fragrances sometimes source better raw materials

Read more about this topic here.

How to start a perfume collection

Some perfume hobbyists take perfumes to another level by collecting scented items such as liquid perfumes or other scented products.

As you may imagine, there are also different types of perfume collectors. Some like to collect every perfume from a single line, others like expensive niche stuff, and the most common group of perfume collectors is something I like to call mix and match group.

No matter in which collector group you belong here are some things to consider what kind and how many perfumes should you buy:

  • think about your job and do your colleagues tolerate heavy or light perfumes
  • it is a hobby – take it easy
  • avoid blind buying
  • sample desired perfume at least 3 times before purchase
  • buy only great perfumes

Read more about this topic here.

How to wear perfume

If you have ever wondered why your perfume may only last about an hour or two, the reason may be that you are not wearing your perfume the best way.

Learning the proper way to apply your perfume is the best way to experience olfactive magic. Here are useful tips you can apply and improve perfume longevity and projection:

  • choose the right perfume concentration
  • choose the scent for the right occasion/season
  • spray perfume on the skin
  • spray perfume after taking a shower or bath
  • moisturize your skin before applying perfume

Wearing perfume the best way is only half part of the business. Learning how to store perfume may be even more important. Here are my tips to store your perfumes:

  • store perfume in a dark and dry place with a consistent temperature
  • decant only poor-performing perfumes(exposure to air is a no-go for perfumes)
  • keep the original cap on

Read more about this topic here.

How to find your signature scent

A signature perfume is one scent by which other people recognize you. Not only this, but a signature is also a scent that works best with you and your body chemistry.

This perfume boosts your mood, makes your day better, and occasionally garners you a compliment or two.

Furthermore, it can also help define who you are as an individual, project your personality, and reflect your perfume taste.

Before start chasing thousands of perfumes, it’s good to know that perfumes are divided into families, also classified as fragrance combinations that consist of major groups and are based upon similarities and differences in their scent profile.

Main fragrance groups:

FRESH – citrus, fruity, green, water
WOODY – woods, mossy woods, dry woods, aromatic
ORIENTAL – soft oriental, oriental, woody oriental
FLORAL – floral, soft floral, floral oriental

This is where the fragrance chart wheel comes into place. With the fragrance wheel, you can easily see which fragrance group works best with another, and a great tool to determine what kind of scents you may like.


Read more about this topic here.

20 Best Perfumes For Women: The List

Now that you have read through the practical part of this ultimate guide about the best perfumes for women of all time, it’s for the list.

If you have been reading this blog for some time now, you know that I always say that often we ignore the fact that the best perfumes are usually the ones most talked about.

Simply, perfumes that have stood the test of time are the best ones in my opinion and something I go by. This guide is made on two separate pages. I present to you my pick for the best perfumes for women.

Since everyone’s taste is different, there is no real number 1 or number 20 on this list. That’s up to you to choose.

1. Chanel No. 5

The reasons to pick No. 5: Chanel No. 5 is the most popular and best-selling perfume of all time.

No. 5 opens up gloriously with those biting aldehydes at the top which to my nose, smell like the finest clean sheets.

After five to ten minutes, the fragrance dries down to its powdery heart. I can feel the rose and jasmine’s quality absolutes, but the most dominant flower has to be ylang-ylang.

The dry down is warm, woody, and beautifully musky. The wearer gets the lush scent of creamy sandalwood, amber, and vibrating powderiness still present from the heart notes.

Read the full review here.

  • Perfumer: Ernest Beaux
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Edp
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Aldehyde
  • Release Date: 1921
  • Target Audience: Women
  • Most dominant notes: Aldehydes, Ylang-Ylang, Amber
  • Age Group: 30+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business and Leisure
  • Wearability: Experienced
  • Longevity and Sillage: 6 – 8 hours with moderate projection

2. Guerlain Shalimar

The reasons to pick Shalimar: Shalimar opens up with a punchy and powdery Bergamot note. Underneath it, the zesty Lemon stops it going to straight powder and announces the sensual floral heart.

The scent development stage embraces you with a powdery bouquet of flowers that overtake the fragrance. Iris and Rose play a major role here, and it is the most sensual part of the experience.

The fragrance dries down to delightful Ambery Vanilla, and Incense making it the best perfume for women that men love to smell.

Read the full review here.

  • Perfumer: Jacques Guerlain
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Edp
  • Fragrance Type: Oriental
  • Release Date: 1925
  • Target Audience: Women
  • Most dominant notes: Bergamot, Vanilla, and Incense
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business and Romantic
  • Wearability: Experienced
  • Longevity and Sillage: 8 to 10 hours with decent projection

3. Tom Ford Black Orchid

The reasons to pick Black Orchid: Arguably the best perfume released for ladies in the 2000s, Black Orchid perfume is one big statement-making perfume.

The Black Orchid opens up with effervescent citrus and orchid notes. An incredibly distinctive truffle note joins up in the mid and transitions to the bittersweet chocolate base.

You like it or you don’t. It is long-lasting and strong but subtle to those near you. Apply lightly if working in the office. There is no perfume quite like the mysterious Black Orchid.

  • Perfumer: n/a
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Edp
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Oriental
  • Release Date: 2006
  • Target Audience: Unisex
  • Most dominant notes: Chocolate, Truffle, and Orchid
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business and Romantic
  • Wearability: Experienced
  • Longevity and Sillage: 12 – 16 hours with moderate projection

4. Thierry Mugler Angel

The reasons to pick Angel: One of the most recognizable perfume bottles and perfumes Angel pawed the way for many sweet oriental perfumes that dominate today’s saturated fragrance market.

It is a very distinctive fragrance, that requires a certain taste to enjoy to the fullest. Angel opens up fruity, red berry-like, and quickly transitions to its warm oriental heart.

The base is made from chocolate, patchouli, amber, and vanilla which make this an unforgettable fragrance.

  • Perfumer: Olivier Cresp and Yves de Chirin
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Edp
  • Fragrance Type: Oriental Woody
  • Release Date: 1992
  • Target Audience: Women
  • Most dominant notes: Chocolate, Patchouli, and Honey
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Romantic and Leisure
  • Wearability: Experienced
  • Longevity and Sillage: 24+ hours with strong projection

5. Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison

The reasons to pick Hypnotic Poison: Dior’s masterpiece perfume is still one of the most popular women’s choices around the world and for good reason.

It’s sweet, warm, and has a timeless scent profile. The notes are really well blended with powdery vanilla and almond delight acting as the main player.

Seductive and sexy. Recommended for special occasions.

  • Perfumer: Annick Menardo
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Edp
  • Fragrance Type: Oriental
  • Release Date: 1998
  • Target Audience: Women
  • Most dominant notes: Vanilla, Coconut, and Almonds
  • Age Group: 18+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Romantic and Leisure
  • Wearability: Anyone
  • Longevity and Sillage: 24+ hours with very very good projection

6. Frederic Malle Portrait of the Lady

The reasons to pick Portrait of the Lady: POTL perfume is named after the novel by Henry James from 1881.

This perfume reinterprets the definition of chypre and oriental themes in a modern way. Elegant rose, combined spices such as cinnamon and cloves dominate the heart notes, while the bed of patchouli leaves sits at the base.

Dark, and sexy composition suited for daring men and women with a romantic heart.

  • Perfumer: Dominique Ropion
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Edp
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Woody
  • Release Date: 2010
  • Target Audience: Unisex
  • Most dominant notes: Patchouli, Rose, and Incense
  • Age Group: 30+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business
  • Wearability: Experienced
  • Longevity and Sillage: 15 – 20 hours with great projection

7. Dolce&Gabbana Light Blue

The reasons to pick Light Blue: Easy to wear and casual composition that evokes the easy-going Mediterranean life.

The uplifting and sophisticated composition is dominated by Sicilian lemons, with a touch of woody-spicy goodness, and watery bamboo accord.

Light Blue is a summery choice for everyday use every woman should have in their collection.

  • Perfumer: Olivier Cresp
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Edt
  • Fragrance Type: Citrus Floral
  • Release Date: 2001
  • Target Audience: Women
  • Most dominant notes: Lemon, Cedar, and Bamboo
  • Age Group: 18+
  • Seasons: Spring and Summer
  • Occasions: Any occasion
  • Wearability: Anyone
  • Longevity and Sillage: 4 to 6 hours with moderate projection

8. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540

The reasons to pick Baccarat Rouge 540: Baccarat Rouge is currently the most popular trendsetter in the perfume world.

As with Aventus, many are desperately trying to be Baccarat, but there is only a place for one. The fragrance combines unusual floral and ambery notes, backed up by ambroxan.

BR540 sweet, spicy, and warm scent trail comes from the fir resin and ambroxan. Handsome and alluring.

  • Perfumer: Francis Kurkdijan
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Edp
  • Fragrance Type: Spicy Floral
  • Release Date: 2015
  • Target Audience: Unisex
  • Most dominant notes: Ambroxan, Saffron, and Fir Resin
  • Age Group: 18+
  • Seasons: Any season
  • Occasions: Any ocassion
  • Wearability: Anyone
  • Longevity and Sillage: 8 – 10 hours with great projection

9. Yves Saint Laurent Opium

The reasons to pick Opium: Black pepper, cloves, and incense are the most prominent notes from the start which slowly transitions to the warm heart.

The notes are masterfully blended, and certainly, if one wanted, almost every note could be detected if you look for them.

As the opening settles down, the fragrance gets more oriental and floral with myrrh resin, and the bouquet is made of carnation, jasmine, and rose.

The dry down is warm, full, and addictive. A superb spicy amber oriental finish.

  • Perfumer: Jean Amic, Jean-Louis Sieuzac and Raymond Chaillan
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Edp
  • Fragrance Type: Oriental
  • Release Date: 1977
  • Target Audience: Women
  • Most dominant notes: Myrrh, Carnation, and Incense
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business and Romantic
  • Wearability: Experienced
  • Longevity and Sillage: 24+ hours with strong projection

10. Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille

The reasons to pick Tobacco Vanille: This oriental creation has been loved at first sniff by countless fragrance enthusiasts.

If Guerlain Shalimar was the top vanilla choice for the 20th century, then Tobacco Vanille is one of the top contenders for the best vanilla choice for modern times.

The perfume is constructed from rich and warm vanilla, backed up by cherry and sweet tobacco. Delicious and one of the few scents that transport you to the festive time of year.

  • Perfumer: Olivier Gillotin
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Edp 
  • Fragrance Type: Oriental Woody
  • Release Date: 2007
  • Target Audience: Unisex
  • Most dominant notes: Dried Fruits, Tobacco, and Vanilla
  • Age Group: 30+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Romantic and Leisure
  • Wearability: Experienced
  • Longevity and Sillage: 15+ hours with great projection

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