The 14 Best Vanilla Perfumes of 2023 for Every Type of Preference
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Subtle, sweet, spicy, or strong, these vanilla perfumes are modern and all grown up.
Many of the best vanilla perfumes have been around for awhile, and for one big reason: The scent of vanilla is among the most timeless notes in fragrance, offering warmth and familiarity that just about everyone loves. And while fragrance can be notoriously debatable — after all, everyone and their mother has a personal preference — vanilla is often the rare exception, making it a safe bet whether you’re gifting a fragrance or looking to try something new. (In fact, research has found that it’s the scent with the most universal appeal.)
That said, there’s more to vanilla than you might think. While you might peg vanilla as the quintessential winter fragrance thanks to its warm, familiar feel, one of its unique qualities is that it plays well with other notes, which is why you can find a ton of versatile riffs on the original. Pair it with patchouli and it suddenly has a spicy edge, or jasmine for a more floral interpretation.
Related:The 10 Best Woody Perfumes of 2023
Kayali Vanilla 28
What We Love: It layers easily with other scents and the gourmand aspect has mass appeal.
What We Don’t Love: The scent doesn’t have a long wear time, so it may fade throughout the day.
Influencer Mona Kattan kicked off this line of perfumes in 2018 as a way to expand on her love of fragrance — and this eau de parfum quickly became one of its bestsellers. An elegant, grown-up take on vanilla, the perfume balances the built-in sweetness of vanilla with deeper, richer base notes of amber and musk, making for a well-rounded fragrance that’s as easy to love as it is to wear.
“The number 28 indicates the rounds of formulations Kattan took to bring her idea of vanilla orchids, tonka absolute, and amber woods together to create the perfect warm and spicy fragrance,” says Sephora beauty director Melinda Solares. That combo offers a surprisingly sultry yet approachable vibe, making it a great option for a date or an overall signature scent.
Price at time of publish: $125
Size: 1.7 oz | Type: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Vanilla orchid, brown sugar, amber
Ellis Brooklyn Mini Bee
What We Love: It’s sweet without being overpowering or cloying. Plus, the mini bottle is more functional than a rollerball.
What We Don’t Love: It doesn't linger on skin all day.
Ellis Brooklyn’s line of clean fragrances — created by veteran beauty journalist Bee Shapiro when she was pregnant with her first daughter — is known for its sustainably sourced, incredibly complex scents. And this one is no exception: It opens with a sweet, fresh blend of honey and dark rum, which eventually makes way for the warmth of vanilla, cocoa, and sandalwood. Together, they impart a sweet, joyful scent that’s impossible to overdo.
Since the scent subtly changes as you wear it, you’ll get the perks of a like-new fragrance as the day goes by. Even better: The brand recently dropped its lineup of four best-selling fragrances in this mini format, which allows you to not only try the fragrance with minimal risk, but also give a pretty, colorful flair to your vanity.
Price at time of publish: $25
Size: 0.25 fl oz | Type: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Dark rum, honey, vanilla bean
Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille
What We Love: The unisex scent is long-lasting and makes a big statement.
What We Don’t Love: Just like Tom Ford himself, this perfume is a strong personality, so spray with caution if you're headed to the office.
The price point may be steep by any measure, but what you get is a classic Tom Ford fragrance — in other words, one that's unique, bold, and is sure to leave a powerful impression on anyone who smells it. At the heart of this scent is the pairing of tobacco leaf and vanilla ginger, which make for a sweet, smoky, and subtly gourmand fragrance.
We’ve found that the tobacco note takes a backseat to the sweetness of vanilla, tonka bean, and cocoa — no cigar smell here — for a warm, balanced dry down that works especially well for late evenings out and cozy winter days. It’s basically a confidence boost in a bottle.
Price at time of publish: $295
Size: 1.7 oz | Type: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Tonka bean, vanilla, wood sap
Skylar Vanilla Sky Eau de Parfum
What We Love: The long-lasting scent is as clean and irritant-free as it gets.
What We Don’t Love: It’s a little heavy for year-round use.
If you're prone to allergies, you're in the right place with this hypoallergenic fragrance from Skylar. In fact, the brand's entire lineup is hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, vegan, and safe for sensitive skin types. This one leads hard into the inherent gourmand nature of vanilla, amplifying it with notes of cappuccino and cinnamon to impart the cozy feel of a cashmere blanket.
That said, it’s not one of those scents that only works best in winter (after all, iced frappes are a godsend on hot summer days.) Ultimately, it’s an unapologetically feminine scent, and manages to smell sweet and delicious without leaning into dessert territory — which is pretty impressive when you consider the notes within.
Price at time of publish: $90
Size: 1.7 oz | Type: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Cappuccino, vanilla, caramelized cedar
Kilian Paris Angels’ Share
What We Love: The unique notes make for a fragrance that smells a little different on everyone.
What We Don’t Love: As it will smell different on skin than it does in the bottle, so test it in-store before buying.
The eponymous founder’s last name is Hennessy, so it’s not exactly a huge surprise that his fragrance line has an entire collection devoted to liquors — including, in this case, cognac. (For context: The name "angels' share" describes the portion of liquor that naturally evaporates into the air while it ages, like a little offering.)
As expected, it's grounded in the essence of cognac, which is derived from the actual liquor and gives the fragrance its amber hue. While it does smell boozy at first spritz because of that, it transforms into a more spicy and gourmand scent as it dries down — think apple pie filling — thanks to a creamy blend of oak, cinnamon, praline, and vanilla. Together, the notes offer a memorable and appropriately intoxicating scent that is, pun intended, heavenly.
Price at time of publish: $230
Size: 1.7 oz | Type: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Cognac, tonka bean, praline
The 7 Virtues Vanilla Woods Eau de Parfum
What We Love: It has a long wear time, and the fruity note of pear sets it apart from other vanilla scents.
What We Don’t Love: The bottle sizes are limited.
7 Virtues isn't just committed to clean, non-toxic fragrances infused with organic alcohol. Just as important is the ingredients inside, which are sourced from countries recovering from conflict, such as Haiti, Rwanda, and Afghanistan. Take its vanilla, for instance. “The organic vanilla is sourced from a sustainable cooperative in Madagascar that provides families with fair wages that help to provide education and health care,” says Solares, who counts this among her favorite fragrances.
While the blend of vanilla, amber, and caramel base notes makes it most definitely a gourmand, you'll also get more surprising notes of sweet, juicy pear and rose. Plus, you can feel good about smelling good, making it a win-win in your fragrance rotation.
Price at time of publish: $88
Size: 1.7 oz | Type: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Pear, rose, vanilla
Byredo Vanille Anitque Eau de Parfum
What We Love: A little goes a long way, and the complex scent is a totally new interpretation of vanilla.
What We Don’t Love: It's full-bodied aroma is not an everyday fragrance.
This isn't your average, capital-P perfume. Rather, it's one of Byredo's Night Veils scents, which uses luxurious raw materials at high concentrations to create perfume extraits; these, in turn, tend to last longer on the skin, lending both depth and wear — hence the relatively high price point. (You can also get this as part of a boxed set of five, if that's your thing.)
Together, this makes for a statement fragrance. Vanille Antique is a night owl's celebration of vanilla, turning it moody with the addition of musk and cashmere wood. While it still has the warmth and sweetness you'd expect of a vanilla fragrance, it’s not as pronounced as you might expect for something with “vanilla” in the name.
Price at time of publish: $335
Size: 1.7 oz | Type: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Vanilla orchid, brown sugar, amber
Dolce & Gabbana Dolce Garden Eau de Parfum
What We Love: It’s surprisingly light and delicate, making it the rare vanilla fragrance that’s ideal for summer.
What We Don’t Love: You’re limited in sizes, since only the one bottle is available.
One part floral, one part gourmand, this riff on Dolce & Gabbana's original Dolce fragrance is inspired by the Sicilian coast when in bloom. Think Mediterranean beach, fresh flowers, and warm sunlight on your skin — are you feeling relaxed yet?
At the heart of Dolce Garden is a combination of vanilla absolute and coconut, which lend a sunny, uplifting feel, while top notes of magnolia, neroli, and mandarins inspire a fresh, juicy vibe. It’s still heavier and bolder than your average fruity-floral fragrance and if you don’t love coconut, you may want to pass, as the note is definitely noticeable.
Price at time of publish: $126
Size: 2.5 oz | Type: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Mandarin, coconut, vanilla
Dior Vanilla Diorama
What We Love: This is a fragrance wholeheartedly embraces a dessert-like essence.
What We Don’t Love: Wearing a dessert-inspired fragrance on a daily basis may be a hard sell for most.
Instead of shying away from vanilla's rep as a sugary sweet dessert staple, this fragrance leans all the way into it. In fact, it was both inspired by and named for the Diorama Gourmand — a pastry (which purportedly pairs orange-glazed vanilla with bitter chocolate) created especially for Christian Dior himself by the famed Paris restaurant, Maxim’s.
The spotlight is entirely on the vanilla here. Similar to its namesake sweet, the fragrance is enhanced with notes of fresh citrus and warm cocoa. You'll also get rum and patchouli for a bit of spice, just to mix it up. While these note pairings may be a study in contrasts, somehow, it all works in a very delicious way. The only catch: It’s pretty intense, so you have to really, really love vanilla to make it worthwhile.
Price at time of publish: $125
Size: 1.35 oz | Type: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Bourbon vanilla, cocoa, rum
Maison Margiela Replica By the Fireplace
What We Love: It comes in a variety of formats, including a rollerball and refill option.
What We Don’t Love: It’s such a love-it-or-hate-it scent that you might want to test it out before buying a whole bottle.
While some fragrances' names aren't so literal (see: Dior's Poison), that's not the case for this one, which really does evoke the scent of sitting by the fireplace. If anything, it might actually be a little too realistic, with smoky notes cutting through the sweetness. Although we love to wear it and imagine ourselves at a lakehouse in fall, the unwavering scent can inadvertently contribute to headaches, which is worth keeping in mind).
Yet, if you're game for something to warm you up in the colder months, or a smoky sweetness is your jam, this complex perfume could easily become a unique, go-to signature scent. The smokiness comes courtesy of cloves in the top notes before you get the woodsy lineup of chestnut, juniper, and balsam. Vanilla pulls its weight here as the sole gourmand note, but it’s not front and center, which can be either good or bad, depending on your preference. We've found that it smells just as cozy and comforting as the name suggests.
Price at time of publish: $85
Size: 1.0 oz | Type: Eau de toilette | Key Notes: Clove, chestnut, vanilla
Diptyque Eau Duelle Eau de Toilette
What We Love: Its soft, mellow profile makes it a great daytime fragrance for year-round wear.
What We Don’t Love: There’s no travel-size available, making it tough to pack (and test-drive).
While you might know Diptyque best for its luxurious candles, its fragrance offerings deserve a little commotion, too. Take this genderless fragrance, which is directly inspired by the spice route that for centuries wound its way from Asia to Europe. Naturally, this international little number brings together the best spicy notes while still feeling fresh and easy to wear.
Rich without being overpowering, it suspends vanilla between a lineup of other rich exports, like spicy cardamom, woody frankincense and warm calamus, while smoky vetiver and cypriol culminate into a playful, mysterious sensibility. It does smell a little boozy when you first spritz it on, but eventually dries down to a soft, super-wearable spice.
Price at time of publish: $125
Size: 1.7 oz | Type: Eau de toilette | Key Notes: Pink peppercorn, calamus, bourbon vanilla
Nest New York Madagascar Vanilla Perfume Oil
Best Perfume Oil
What We Love: The oil-based format extends the wear time, so the scent will stay with you all day.
What We Don’t Love: Since it’s an oil versus a spray, application takes longer (and is more likely to spill).
If you're worried you're going to smell like a baking mishap, rest easy: This perfume oil won't make you smell like you dropped a bottle of vanilla extract all over yourself. While it does contain heady Madagascar vanilla, it's paired with the softer vanilla orchid — the actual plant on which vanilla bean grows — and touch of coconut for a low-key tropical vibe.
The fragrance's foundation is composed of hydrating baobab oil, which not only feels luxurious and nourishing on the skin, but it also encourages the formula to sink into skin and impart the warm, rich scent all day long. We especially love the dropper, which allows you to apply as much as you want. And since it's a silky, serum-like oil, you can scrunch it into hair, too, to go all in on the scent — just in case you, like us, can’t get enough of it.
Price at time of publish: $98
Size: 1.0 oz | Type: Perfume oil | Key Notes: Vanilla bean, vanilla orchid, coconut
Heretic Dirty Vanilla Eau de Parfum
What We Love: The clean, vegan formula offers an unexpected take on vanilla, which is refreshing.
What We Don’t Love: That take is definitely not for everyone.
Forget the vanilla you think you know. Instead of drawing inspiration from the dessert table, this takes a different approach by highlighting Vanilla Planifolia, the orchid species at the source of vanilla bean. As a result, instead of offering the usual gourmand flavor, it gives a more earthy interpretation on the note, resulting in a perfume that’s much more sexy than sweet. However, it's still billed as a unisex fragrance.
Vanilla, which appears as both the heart and base notes, is surrounded by collection of powerful wood scents, including cedar, sandalwood, and patchouli. This cocktail of notes delivers an incense-like sensibility, which feels modern and definitely smells unique. It's certainly outside the traditional vanilla box, so if you're not a huge fan of classic vanilla, but you rather want something striking, this might be a good one to try.
Price at time of publish: $165
Size: 1.7 oz | Type: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Vanilla, sandalwood, coriander
By Rosie Jane Dulce Eau De Parfum
What We Love: If you love the scent, you can also try it in a body wash, perfume oil, and other formats.
What We Don’t Love: One too many sprays can overdo it, so it’s key to start small.
Why settle for one form of vanilla when you can have two? That's the thinking behind this fragrance, which (like all the scents from By Rose Jane) draws from natural ingredients. “It’s like a deep dive into the world of the warm and sweet gourmands scent type with two kinds of vanilla, chocolate, and Hinoki wood, which ground the sweetness perfectly,” says Solares.
Founder Rose Jane designed the fragrance to feel nostalgic and youthful — hence the vanilla — but it's a softer, airier version than some of its super-sweet peers. If the thought of following up a bite of sugary hard candy with a sip of smoky bourbon strikes your fancy, this one's a winner.
Price at time of publish: $70
Size: 1.7 oz | Type: Eau de parfum | Key Notes: Vanilla, chocolate, musk
What to Keep in Mind
Not all fragrances are created equal — vanilla or otherwise. If you’re trying to determine between an eau de toilette, eau de parfum, and perfume oil, that decision can ultimately impact how your vanilla perfume smells. “The concentration of a perfume is the percentage of pure fragrance oil to ethanol and stabilizing ingredients, which determines how it will wear and how long it will last,” says Solares.
If you prefer a light vanilla scent, she suggests sticking with an eau de toilette, as “it is the lightest concentration.”
If, on the other hand, you want more intensity from your fragrance, you can't go wrong with an eau de parfum, which are known to be rich, full-bodied aromas.
Finally, she says, “it is possible that you might just love vanilla and want the most potent concentration, in which case a pure perfume at 20% or more perfume oil may be right for you.” Due to their high concentration of fragrance, perfume oils, like the Nest New York and Byredo Vanille Antique options on this list, will typically last the longest and offer the most potent scent.
Complementary Fragrance Notes
Vanilla is one of the most popular notes on the shelf, in part because it plays nice. “It is a very versatile scent that marries with lots of other notes,” says Marypierre Julien, naturals innovation perfumer at international fragrance and flavoring firm Givaudan; she loves to pair it with musky notes as well as amber scents, such as cinnamon.
With that in mind, you can pair them strategically to get the specific vibe you want, too. “For a soft and delicate scent, vanilla pairs well with florals,” says Solares. “For a rich and warm scent, vanilla pairs best with spicy or woody notes.”
The thing about vanilla is that you can trust it to smell good. “It’s the most universal ‘feel good’ ingredient I know,” says Gabriela Chelariu, senior perfumer at international fragrance and flavoring firm Firmenich. “It transcends age, culture, gender, and background.”
What can take it into different directions from there, though, is how it’s formulated. As we mentioned earlier, florals can add a lightness ideal for daytime wear, whereas spices and woods might make for a special-occasion scent. With that in mind, how you want to wear your fragrance can guide your decision accordingly.
Your Questions, Answered
Is vanilla perfume seductive?
While its inherent familiarity and approachability can definitely be considered seductive (which, we should add, is pretty subjective), certain vanilla combinations can also up the ante. Paired with woods and amber notes, for instance, “brings sexiness and addiction to a perfume,” says Julien. “This is how I like to use it — for its absolute femininity, seduction, and long-lastingness.”
How do you apply perfume so it lasts?
Ideally, you should “apply perfume on the warmest part of your body directly so that it keeps evaporating throughout the day,” says Julien. “Re-apply once if necessary.”
Those warm parts of your body would be the nape of your neck or pulse points, like your inner wrist. As it evaporates, that’s when you — and those around you — are likely to smell its scent, like a time-released effect.
Should I spray perfume on clothes or skin?
It depends on what you’re going for. Hands down, a spritz of perfume onto skin is the best way to get the most out of your fragrance. That’s because fragrance interacts with the heat and pH of your skin, which can help bring out different aspects of the scent. Pro tip: For the best possible effect, make sure you moisturize before spritzing on your fragrance. “Hydrated skin is a better carrier for perfumes,” says Julien.
However, if you're simply looking for a hint of fragrance, misting onto your scarf is fair game.
Why Shop With Us
Deanna Pai is a freelance writer and editor who has been covering beauty, health, and wellness for more than a decade. She not only has an extensive fragrance collection but opinions about all of them. For this story, she interviewed three experts, including Melinda Solares, beauty director at Sephora, Marypierre Julien, naturals innovation perfumer at international fragrance and flavoring firm Givaudan, and Gabriela Chelariu, senior perfumer at international fragrance and flavoring firm Firmenich.
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