11 Perfumes That Beauty Insiders Agree Are the Best of the Best

While there’s genuinely nothing I love more than sharing my favourite beauty finds with people—whether that’s through my writing here or in a flurry of WhatsApp messages with friends seeking a new moisturiser—I can’t deny that recommending a product always makes me feel a bit jittery. After all, I’m lucky enough to be sent lots of products to try as part of my job. While I’d never advocate for anything that I didn’t genuinely think was great, suggesting that somebody actually part with their hard-earned cash to buy it always makes me nervous because—let’s face it—beauty is incredibly personal. A certain cleanser that I’ve said is brilliant at soothing breakouts might truly work, but if my best friend only likes cream textures and I’ve suggested a gel formulation, then it’s unlikely that they’ll fall head over heels for it. Similarly, a specific shade of orange eye shadow might set my heart aflutter yet fall flat for a colleague who tries it for themselves. However, there’s one type of product recommendation that I always love to give: perfume. 

First up, despite there being some brilliant affordable fragrances on the market now, perfume is generally an investment buy, and this makes it all the more crucial that you get that purchase right. More importantly, however, I adore perfume. In fact, at this point, I’d basically describe myself as a collector of the stuff. When it comes to fragrance, my tastes are wide and varied, so whether it’s a classic scent, designer fragrance or a new launch that you’re after, fresh or floral, I’ll likely have something in my stash already that I’d happily recommend.

While some perfumes come and go, there are certain fragrances that I find myself returning to time and again over the years. Signature scents, if you will. And it’s these perfumes that I recommend over and over again. In fact, I’d say they could be considered the best perfumes for women—hands down. And I’m not alone. Basically, all of my beauty editor friends are equally perfume obsessed, but they all have one key perfume that they swear by above all others. So who better to ask to help me create a definitive list of the most covetable, crowd-pleasing scents? Ahead, keep scrolling for the 11 best perfumes, according to industry insiders.

Courtney Higgs, Who What Wear Beauty Editor. “I am a true lover of fragrance, and my collection of bottles is quite large. As a result, I tend to bounce around a lot in terms of what scent I’m wearing, but lately, I’ve been exploring a deepening love affair with Killian’s Love Don’t Be Shy. I was never a fan of sweet scents until I tried this one. It just smells expensive, and it’s over-the-top sweet in a way that I actually enjoy. Plus, it’s Rihanna’s favourite, so that gives it extra points in my book.”

Shannon Lawlor, Freelance Beauty Editor and Who What Wear Contributor. “I absolutely can’t choose just one signature perfume. My 70-strong perfume collection is full of attention-grabbing scents calling out to be my signature, but I think I can whittle it down to two real stand-outs. Diptyque’s Tam Dao comes out on top when it comes to a day-to-evening classic, despite being an underdog. Like taking a walk through a warm jungle, it’s the sort of deep, woody scent that lingers subtly, becoming one with the skin. It’s the kind of fragrance that leaves people convinced you wake up in the morning smelling just that good. It’s so convincing, in fact, that I had no idea this was my signature scent until a friend caught me spritzing it and said she felt deceived that my natural odour was just a perfume all along. Diptyque, if you don’t mind too much, I plan to carry on deceiving people with this comforting bottle of joy for ever and ever. But as for my everyday spritz of choice, Chloé’s Naturelle is equally as cherished. It’s fresh and floral but has an earthy richness to it thanks to cedar essence that takes away any hint of sweetness. Floral perfumes aren’t typically my thing, but this little bottle is really special.”

Giselle La Pompe-Moore, Spiritual Guide and Who What Wear Contributor. “During the day when I glance over my shoulder and this scent comes up to greet me, I always have that split second where I think I’ve got a clump of Juicy Fruit chewing gum stuck in my hair, as that’s exactly what Tubereuse Nue reminds me of. All of the same bubblegum-scented joy and childlike connotations, minus the pain of an impromptu haircut. This is seriously grown-up, with just the right amount of softness that cascades into being ethereal. Whether I’m typing away on my laptop or frantically rushing out of the house, one inhale of this transports me to smiling bigger, breathing deeper and finding the otherworldly within this hectic world.”

Iman Leila, Founder of Lima Comms and So You Want to Network. “My signature scent has to be Jo Malone’s Vetiver & Golden Vanilla Cologne Intense. When I walk into a room, everyone knows I’m there because of this scent. I discovered this perfume a year ago, and during quarantine and numerous lockdowns, I caught myself spraying it often to bring some sense of normality to my life. The scent is the perfume equivalent of a warm hug. It’s very strong, lingers on all my clothes and is a true representation of me. I’m warm and friendly, my wardrobe is bold, and I’m memorable, so I’ll always linger in your mind!”

Erin Jahns, Who What Wear Senior Beauty Editor. “You know a perfume is one in a million when you fork out over £100 for the real thing less than 10 seconds after getting a whiff of a sample. I had an immediate ‘where have you been all my life’ reaction to this stunning fragrance, and I think you will too—especially if you’re someone, like me, who goes weak in the knees for rose-led scents. The aforementioned is anchored by violet, musk, plus pink and black pepper. It’s delicious, and it’s quickly become my signature.”

Mica Ricketts, Who What Wear Beauty Editor. “I’d be hard-pressed to think of a perfume that I’ve recommended more than Byredo Velvet Haze—possibly the most delicious scent in my entire perfume collection and undoubtedly the one that I now wear most frequently. Like all of Byredo’s cult fragrances, it’s distinctive and unique, yet it isn’t overpowering in the slightest. Ask me what it smells like, and I’d say it’s a comforting, musky scent with a hint of almost vanilla-like sweetness and a healthy hit of floral patchouli. It’s cosy without being heavy (I happily wear this all day and all night, whatever the season or weather), and it’s wonderfully grown-up. I always feel like I have my act together when I wear this. Simply put, I adore it. It’s unlike any other perfume in my stash, and I highly doubt I’ll smell anything like it again.”

Rebecca Fearn, Freelance Beauty Journalist. “When someone asks me what my favourite fragrance is, I find it almost impossible to answer. I’m a big perfume person who can feel and almost even see scents, so it’s hard to choose just one, especially out of the rather ridiculous collection I’ve built over the years. I use scent to evoke memories; some fragrances I can no longer wear because they remind me of an ex-boyfriend, and others are comforting time capsules that transport me to my travels in faraway lands. If I had to choose one classic combination that I always return to, though, it’s probably Jo Malone London’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt and Nectarine Blossom & Honey. I started wearing this pairing when I’d just moved to London five years ago at the peak of my independence and freedom. It’s cool and warm all at once, is somewhat unique to me (given that it’s layered) and just smells like home.”

Keeks Reid, Beauty Journalist and Who What Wear Contributor . “I have always been obsessed with the idea of having a signature scent, and I knew I’d finally found one when a co-worker told me she knew that I was in because she had smelt my perfume in the kitchen. I’ve been wearing Le Labo Thé Noir 29 for about three years now, and while I try other scents occasionally, it’s my number one. I layer it with the body lotion to help the scent stick around, and it means I only need a little spritz, as the scent can be quite overpowering. Overall, it’s a pretty woody scent with warmth from the mix of fig, cedar and musk, but it’s not at all feminine. In fact, my friend says it smells like a sexy man, which makes me love it more.”

Grace Day, Beauty Editor and Personal Shopper. “When you’re in the business of testing out new products every day, it can be hard to find a signature anything, but regardless of the hundreds of fragrances I’ve tried over the years, there is one that I always find myself returning to: Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Ginepro di Sardegna. It’s one of those perfumes that transports you to a sun-soaked Italian courtyard in one sniff, so it simply cannot be worn at any other time of year. Its juniper and bergamot heart give it a woody vibrance, and the notes of pepper, cedar and cypress almost seem to radiate their own form of aromatic heat. It gets its first spritz on that first warm, bright, ‘here’s a little taste of what’s to come’ spring day of the year.”

This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated. Up next, The British Perfume Rosie HW, Victoria Beckham and Meghan Markle Have in Common