Update your fragrance collection with our pick of the best perfumes
We know that everyone’s idea of the best perfume is different; some prefer it sweet and mellow, while others are drawn to stronger, heady scents. Whatever your preferences, a spritz of your signature scent can leave you feeling refreshed, put together and ready to tackle the day ahead. Whether it’s a date, job interview or night out, that finishing touch of an invigorating citrus or sensual musk fragrance can give you the confidence you need to make a great first impression.
To help you find that perfect match, we’ve searched low and high to find the best perfumes for a variety of tastes. No matter if you’re looking for a perfect staple scent or something fancy for special occasions, below we’ve compiled a list of our favourites, featuring classics from the likes of Tom Ford to popular launches from Narciso Rodriguez and Gucci.
How to choose the best perfume for you
What perfume should I buy?
Wearing perfume is a form of self-expression, communicating plenty about you as a person. As such, picking a scent is no more complicated than choosing a fragrance you like. Considering it will be following you around all day, every day, there’s nothing worse than an overbearing scent that you quickly grow tired of.
But you don’t necessarily have to stick to one signature scent. Build a fragrance wardrobe, with a range of perfumes that will set the mood for a particular day. Wear a seductive musk or oriental scent on a first date; a fun, fruity number will be perfect for days (and nights) out; and delicate florals will work well as your everyday go-to.
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What is the difference between parfam and eau de toilettes?
Perfumes are the big sister to light and delicate eau de toilettes. Perfumes are pricier, since they have a higher concentration of fragrance oil to alcohol. This means that a tiny dab on your wrist and neck will last for up to eight hours. Some perfumes can still be detected on the skin 48 hours after application.
But we’re fans of eau de toilettes, too. They’re a great alternative to perfume if you’re drawn to subtle fragrances and would rather save a little money. Just be warned that you can spritz your way through a bottle of eau de toilette pretty quickly.
How much should I spend on perfume?
It’s no secret that good perfumes are an investment. If you want a scent that lasts all day, opting for a strong perfume over an eau de toilette will help achieve this, but it will set you back a pretty penny more. However, this will mean that you don’t have to reapply the scent throughout the day, meaning you use less product so you don’t need to repurchase very often.
You may also want to think about how much perfume you want to buy. Larger bottles tend to be better value, but if you’re on a budget and are buying a scent purely for use on special occasions, you could be better off sticking to a 30ml option. To put this into perspective, a 30ml bottle of Gucci bloom costs £68, but you can buy a 100ml bottle of the same perfume for £111. That’s just over double the price, but you’ll get more than three times as much perfume.
If you’re looking to buy a great quality perfume, the options on our roundup start at around £50 per 30ml bottle. It’s by no means a cheap investment, but if you’re hoping to bag a bargain, keep an eye out for sales around Black Friday, as there are often brilliant deals to be had.
The best perfumes to buy in 2023
1. Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede: A musky floral perfume
Price when reviewed: From £55 | Check price at John Lewis
Want to leave a lasting impression? Jo Malone’s beautifully fragrant Peony & Blush Suede lingers long after you’ve left the room. Striking the perfect balance between floral, fruity and sensual, the perfume’s heart notes of peony, rose and honey mix with velvety suede and a hint of red apple for a fresh and flirty scent. Housed in Jo Malone’s signature glass bottle, a spritz of Peony & Blush Suede will instantly give you that well-put-together feel.
You could even create a custom scent, pairing Peony and Blush Suede with one of Jo Malone’s other fragrances. We think it sits particularly well with Grapefruit, which provides a fresh and citrusy kick. This bespoke combining of perfumes offers the possibility of crafting your own signature scent, which could be the stunning final touch to your wedding day or any special occasion.
Key specs – Top notes: Red apple; Heart notes: Peony, rose and honey; Base note: Suede
2. Gucci Bloom: A fresh, clean and natural-smelling perfume
Price when reviewed: From £68 | Check price at John Lewis
If you’re a fan of a well-designed perfume bottle, one that will sit proud alongside others on your dresser, then you’ll want to feast your eyes on Gucci Bloom. Presented in a powder pink lacquered bottle with a minimalist, monochrome applique label, it’s the chicest bottle of the bunch. And the perfume? Bloom is a beautifully rich and feminine scent with top notes of rangoon creeper – a unique flower discovered in South India. This “blooming” scent is enhanced with heart notes of fresh jasmine bud and base notes of natural tuberose.
Yes, Gucci Bloom is pricey, but if you’re a fan of florals who appreciates the finer things, it’s a little bit of luxury that you won’t regret.
Key specs – Top notes: Rangoon creeper; Heart notes: Jasmine bud; Base notes: Natural tuberose
3. Narciso Rodriguez Poudrée: A sweet, summery jasmine-heavy perfume
Price when reviewed: From £87 | Check price at John Lewis
Light and airy, the Narciso Rodriguez Poudrée eau de parfum is a delicate scent that softly lingers on the skin all day. Ideal for summer weddings or picnics in the park, this long-lasting perfume’s heart note of powdery musk blends beautifully with hints of white jasmine petals, delicate Bulgarian rose and woody white cedar. Ideal for people who want a subtle fragrance that isn’t overwhelming; those seeking a floral that makes a statement would be better opting for Opium or Peony & Blush Suede.
Our thoughts? Narciso Rodriguez Poudrée is a timeless, feminine scent that’s perfect for everyday wear. Just keep the dinky, blush-coloured bottle in your handbag to top up on the go.
Key specs – Top notes: White jasmine and Bulgarian rose; Heart notes: Musk; Base notes: White and black cedar with vetiver
4. Tom Ford Black Orchid: A complex unisex fragrance with spicy undertones
Price when reviewed: From £75 | Check price at John Lewis
Tom Ford is famous for its iconic style and glamour, so it comes as no surprise that the brand tops our list as the best perfume to wear on a first date. Black Orchid is rich, dark and alluring, and the perfect scent to capture attention.
A mix of fresh orchid and green lotus, fruity blackcurrant, musky patchouli and woody vetiver with warming base notes of vanilla, chocolate and amber, Black Orchid is a complex and intoxicating scent that will certainly have many people enquiring about the scent you’re wearing. Coming to you in a sleek and fluted black glass bottle, a spritz of Black Orchid will give you an instant boost of confidence.
Key specs – Top notes: Jasmine, gardenia, blackcurrant, lemon, bergamot, mandarin and tuber; Heart notes: Orchid, spicy notes, fruity notes and lotus; Base notes: Vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood, incense, amber, chocolate and vanilla
5. Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire: A warming, berry-rich scent for summer nights
Price when reviewed: From £69 | Check price at John Lewis
Our roundup of the best perfumes wouldn’t be complete without a fruity number, and our pick of the bunch has to be Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire. This fruity/floral mix first hits you with black cherry, sweet almond, berries and fresh bergamot, drying with a hint of rose, tonka bean and smoky black tea.
Making the perfect gift, Guerlain’s perfume comes in a heart-shaped, pink ombre bottle that features an illustration of a little black dress. Fresh, young and flirty – with a spritz of La Petite Robe Noire you’ll be ready to have fun and let loose.
Key specs – Top notes: Black cherry, almond, bergamot and berries; Heart notes: rose; Base notes: Tonka bean, liquorice, black tea and patchouli
6. Memoize Abundantia: Best luxury perfume for a long-lasting scent
Price when reviewed: £177 | Check price at Memoize London
If you’re looking for a perfume that’s a little out of the ordinary, and you don’t mind having people stop to ask what perfume you’re wearing all day, Abundantia from the London-based perfume brand Memoize is our recommendation. This indulgent and unique fragrance has a fun, uplifting scent that lasts all day. It features a gorgeous blend of spicy ginger, citrusy mandarin and floral geranium notes with base notes of Sandalwood and Vanilla that come together beautifully. It sits on the sweeter side of fragrances, but the sweetness is far from overbearing.
As it’s a perfume, you only need a spritz or two to make it last all day on your skin and clothes. That’s where the high price comes in; even for a 100ml bottle, this perfume sets you back well over the average cost, which means most people will only want to use it on special occasions. Luckily, before you buy, you can pick up a handy 2ml sample for £7, which will give you a few days’ wear to make doubly sure it’s the right scent for you.
Key specs – Top notes: Mandarin, Bergamot, Rhubarb; Heart notes: Geranium, Ginger, Osmanthus; Base notes: Caramel, Vanilla, Patchouli, Sandalwood