What will daily desk-side fragrance trials get you? In most offices: fired. But in this one, it’s a necessary step toward discovery. At Allure, we know there’s no easy way to navigate the search for the perfect scent, particularly in our pursuit of naming the year’s very best picks for our Fragrance category of the 2023 Allure Best of Beauty Awards. The road is too emotionally charged and too paved with personal memories and cultural preferences to appeal to every taste and mood. But the winning scents on this page share one significant quality: They all feel a little more tangible and a little more revelatory than other perfumes we’ve tried.
These irresistible fragrances come in every format, including traditional bottles (for spritzing), long reeds (for diffusing), and sets (for experimenting), plus candles, essential oils, and even detergents to add a unique bit of oomph to laundry duty. Whether the inspiration behind each of these fragrances is conceptual (the reflection of trees on water) or literal (a tart black cherry), they allow us to dwell in the essence of a mood, a feeling, a moment — and then make it our own. And that’s a little exercise we can all get behind.
Keep scrolling to read about our absolute favorite scents of the year. And don’t forget to check out our full list of 2023’s Best of Beauty winners, including top picks in the Skin Care, Clean Beauty, and Splurges categories.
Best of Beauty Awards 2023: Fragrance
Jump to your favorite category or keep reading to see the gourmand scents, citrus spritzes, and floral hair mists we deemed worthy this year:
Best Floral Fragrance
Eauso Vert Purple Noon
Why it won: A bouquet such as Eauso Vert Purple Noon occurs once in a blue moon. The combination of ginger and tuberose achieves brightness and depth — that rarest of flower-forward scents. “Floral with a hint of mystery,” commerce editor Sarah Han calls it.
Best Woody Fragrance
Matiere Premiere Parisian Musc
Why it won: The notes of cedar and ambrette in Matiere Premiere Parisian Musc are surprisingly upbeat, producing an airy alternative to dark, leafy compositions.
Best Spicy Fragrance
Byredo Eyes Closed
Why it won: Senior news editor Nicola Dall’Asen‘s nickname for Byredo Eyes Closed is “sexy carrot cake.” And with its moody interplay of cardamom and patchouli, we can see why this scent begs to be sniffed near the curve of the neck.
Best Gourmand Fragrance
D.S. & Durga Pistachio Eau de Parfum
Why it won: In a nutshell, D.S. & Durga Pistachio Eau de Parfum is the fragrance equivalent of ice cream spiked with the nut: lusciously smooth and playfully sweet.
Best Citrus Fragrance
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Media Cologne Forte Eau de Parfum
Why it won: Like the reflection of cypress trees on water, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Media Cologne Forte Eau de Parfum is both green and transparent; it positively shimmers with verbena, bergamot, and fennel.
Best Fruity Fragrance
Snif Tart Deco Fragrance
Why it won: An uncanny illustration of a black cherry, Snif Tart Deco Fragrance pits dewy rose and sweet vanilla against a tangy backdrop of raspberry and birchwood, creating a “subtle but longwearing” fruity finish, says former editorial contributor Bianca Alvarez.
Best Solar Fragrance
Phlur Solar Power
Why it won: Phlur Solar Power is nakedly sexy (and we do mean naked). The part briny, part creamy blend of orange flower and sea salt is redolent of sun-warmed skin. “It blends with your body chemistry for a pleasant musky scent,” says senior editor Jesa Marie Calaor, who gets at least one, “Wow, you smell amazing” every time she wears this scent.
Best Musk Fragrance
Diptyque L’Eau Papier Eau de Toilette
Why it won: Like a brushstroke on your pulse points, Diptyque L’Eau Papier Eau de Toilette is almost featherlight. The lucid arrangement of musk, mimosa, and steamed rice comes alive on bare skin.
Best Solid Perfume
State of Joy
Why it won: Infused with a blend of nourishing oils (coconut and olive), State of Joy looks like the world’s teeniest deodorant, feels like a pillowy balm, and smells like a dew-drenched bloom. And, thanks to its bitsy breadth, you’ll want to take it everywhere to reapply — and we do. (A lot.)
Best Fragrance Set
Aeir Mini Discovery Set
Why it won: Containing a TSA-size quartet of distinctly different scents (Wet Stone, Grand Rose, Suede, and Virgin Olive), Aeir Mini Discovery Set allows us to match any mood, anywhere. Any one of the four will leave you saying, “loooove,” much like our enthusiastic testers.
Best Hair Fragrance
Crown Affair The Signature Scent
Why it won: Crown Affair The Signature Scent releases a fresh burst of lemongrass, water lotus, and sandalwood with the slightest turn of the head. Wear it alone on your hair or layer with another favorite, this one plays well with others.
Best Perfume Oil
Soma Ayurvedic Mysur Sandalwood
Why it won: Unlike some oils that feel greasy on your pressure points, Soma Ayurvedic Mysur Sandalwood evaporates on contact, leaving behind nothing but the clean impression of sandalwood.
Candle, Fresh and Zesty: Nest New York Wellness Lime Zest & Matcha Classic Candle
Why it won: The Zen-like notes of green tea and clary sage in Nest New York Wellness Lime Zest & Matcha Classic Candle make an aroma that welcomes, not overwhelms.
Candle, Beachy: “Vacation” by Vacation Black Label Candle
Why it won: Until we can manifest a bungalow in Malibu, the stylish mix of coconut water and swimsuit Lycra in “Vacation” by Vacation Black Label Candle will tide us over.
Candle, Personalized: Scent Lab Personalizable Candle
Why it won: Designing our own signature home scent no longer requires a degree in organic chemistry. With its personalized approach, Scent Lab’s Personalizable Candle makes noses of us all. Just take a 60-second online quiz, selecting your favorite scent families (i.e., floral, sweet, woody) and where in your home you usually light up. Based on your responses, you’ll be matched with an already-existing Scent Lab candle or you can DIY (and name) your own.
Cozy: Maison Margiela Fragrances Replica By the Fireplace Diffuser
Why it won: Maison Margiela Fragrances Replica By the Fireplace Diffuser gives off the inviting scent of woodsmoke and chestnut, creating an après ski mood — even on a random workday.
Clean and Fresh: Lake and Skye 11 11 Reed Diffuser
Why it won: The Lake and Skye 11 11 Reed Diffuser conjures open plains of blue with an ethereal blend of white musk and amber.
Room Spray: Homecourt Room Deodorant
Why it won: Homecourt Room Deodorant is eminently inviting. Each sleek bottle neutralizes odor molecules with a blend of zinc, yeast ferment, and charcoal (so, no chemical fumes). And while every scent could easily pass for a high-end fragrance, we have a soft spot for Steeped Rose — a floral infusion with a tea-like delicacy.
Best Essential Oil
Saje Connection Heartwarming Oil Blend
Why it won: Not to get all New Age-y, but Saje Connection Heartwarming Oil Blend becomes one with your skin. The botanical oil blends seamlessly, ensuring the invigorating mix of grapefruit, sage, and spearmint stays put.
DedCool Dedtergent 01 “Taunt”
Why it won: DedCool Dedtergent 01 “Taunt” is packaged in easy-to-source aluminum (making it a dead ringer for a supersize can of olive oil) and scented to replicate the fragrance it’s named after (and for which the brand is better known). Oh, and it keeps your clothes spotlessly clean.
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