Whether you're seeking warm and woody or fresh and delicate, keep the compliments coming with our pick of the best vanilla perfumes
Vanilla is one of the most popular scents, so choosing the best vanilla perfume is no easy task. Instantly recognisable and unmistakable, vanilla evokes many different emotions for those who wear it. Some people may associate the scent with nostalgic cold evenings or a seductive mood, whilst others find it calming and cosy.
Studies suggest that vanillin – the molecule that gives vanilla its distinct smell – is responsible for the world’s favourite scent. The scent of vanilla is uniquely sweet, rich, and almost syrupy – with a sense of creaminess and comfort that sets it apart from other conventional sweet fragrances.
Whether you’re looking for a fresh vanilla scent that you can wear daily or something with a rich aroma that’s more suited to evenings out, you’ll love our round-up of the best vanilla perfumes that you can buy right now.
Best vanilla perfumes: At a glance
|Best vanilla perfume overall
|Yves Saint Laurent Libre Eau de Parfum | £52
|Check price at Look Fantastic
|Best vanilla perfume for everyday wear
|Floral Street Wild Vanilla Orchid | £68
|Check price at Space NK
|Best luxury vanilla perfume
|Byredo Bal D’Afrique Eau de Parfum | £140
|Check price at Space NK
How to choose the best vanilla perfume for you
How should I go about choosing the right vanilla perfume?
Perfume is one of the most intimate and personal things a person can choose for themselves. Scents can remind us of loved ones, holidays, childhood homes and lift our mood on solemn days. Like with any perfume, finding the right vanilla perfume for you can feel like a difficult task. But it’s not that difficult when you remember a few simple things.
Scent profiles of perfumes are all about how the fragrance smells rather than paying too much attention to what ingredients are in the bottle. Fragrances are split into two groups – the fresh group, containing citrus, floral and aromatic scents, and the warm group, containing oriental, leather and fougere. Woody and chypre scents are a mix of warm and fresh.
You’ll then want to consider how the scent smells on your body when combined with your unique chemistry, how it makes you feel and what occasion you’re planning on wearing it for.
Why is vanilla perfume so popular?
The scent of vanilla has a remarkable versatility, which can mix up an array of exotic blends, effortlessly harmonising with so many other scents and ingredients. It is cherished among many wearers and perfumers, as it possesses a timeless quality that transcends eras and trends.
Vanilla fragrance makes you calmer, as shown by a study at Tubingen University in Germany. “The study showed that vanilla fragrance reduced the startle-reflex in both humans and animals, perhaps due to some more essential property of the fragrance than the ‘positive childhood associations’ usually invoked to explain its universal popularity.”
Isn’t all vanilla perfume quite heavy?
Perhaps you’ve always been put off from wearing vanilla perfume because you find it heavy or too sickly sweet. In many scents, however, citrus and floral notes add freshness to the sweet scent of vanilla, which prevents it from feeling too heavy on the nose.
What other ingredients pair well with vanilla in fragrance?
When it comes to finding a perfect blend for you, it really depends on whether you want something strong and woody, rich and warm or fresh and floral. If you’re looking for something to wear every day, you may choose a vanilla perfume that’s paired with scents of floral notes like rose or jasmine or perhaps something fresh like sea salt or bergamot. Conversely, if you like to smell warm and sensual, you should look for notes of pepper, ginger and coconut.
How we test vanilla perfume
At Expert Reviews, we know that there’s no way better way to test a product than to try it out ourselves in everyday situations. To try and find the perfect vanilla perfumes, we tested a selection of the most popular on the market over several weeks. Basing our reviews on the cost, wearability, compliments and how long the scent lasts, we garnered information on each scent to bring you the best you can buy.
READ NEXT: The best perfumes to buy
The best vanilla perfumes you can buy in 2023
1. Yves Saint Laurent Libre Eau de Parfum: Best vanilla perfume overall
Price when reviewed: £52 (30ml) | Check price at Look Fantastic
This beautiful fragrance from Yves Saint Laurent is bursting with femininity and can be worn every day or kept for special wear. A YSL favourite, it has an intense smell that evolves throughout the day, giving the perfume longevity. It doesn’t give off the traditional vanilla burst of sweetness that others might, however the level of Madagascan vanilla in each bottle is what, as Goldilocks would say, ‘just right’.
This is a bold scent that will get you plenty of compliments and can easily sit on your dresser for years to come – that’s if you don’t get through a bottle within a few months. Just a few dabs on the wrist and behind the ear will leave you smelling sweet all day long.
Key specs – Top notes: Tangerine, neroli, lavender; Heart notes: Jasmine sambac, orange blossom; Base notes: White musks, vanilla extract
2. Floral Street Wild Vanilla Orchid: Best vanilla perfume for everyday wear
Price when reviewed: £68 (50ml) | Check price at Space NK
A bold and sophisticated scent packed with a fresh blend of vanilla and florals, this Floral Street perfume includes notes of vanilla bean, cashmeran, cassis, lemon, ambroxan, vanilla blossom, bamboo, sandalwood, jasmine, red orchid and patchouli fraction.
Crafted with a balance of sweet vanilla against fresh sandalwood and bamboo, Wild Vanilla Orchid is a distinctive fragrance that leaves a confident and daring impression. It’s quite powerful, which may seem overwhelming at first, but within a few minutes it settles into a very wearable scent that isn’t cloying or too intense, making it perfect for everyday wear.
It’s an enchanting fragrance that smells great on the skin. Although it doesn’t last a whole day without a top-up like some of the more expensive options, it’s perfect for a day at the office or evening out. Better still, Floral Street make 10ml vial sprays of their fragrances, which are great for topping up throughout the day.
Key specs – Top notes: Vanilla Flower, cassis and citruses; Heart notes: Bamboo, flowers and jasmine; Base notes: Vanilla bean, sandalwood, orchid and patchouli
3. Byredo Slow Dance: Best luxury vanilla perfume
Price when reviewed: £140 (50ml) | Check price at Space NK
A stunning fragrance from Byredo, this intense and woody perfume is genderless and timeless. As Byredo puts it, the slow dance is an essential rite of passage that bridges the transition from childhood to adulthood, equally significant for girls and boys. It’s a moment that blends exhilaration with awkwardness, where innocence meets experience, and the realms of uncertainty and understanding collide. So, that’s exactly what they’ve done here with this fragrance – bottled up a timeless scent that is as rich as it is intoxicating.
A fragrance that could easily become your all-time favourite, the sweet, warm scent is perfect for evening wear and the colder months. For the price point, you’ll be pleased to learn that it does linger on the skin all day long and transitions into a very romantic scent throughout the day.
Key specs – Top notes: Opopanax; Heart notes: Geranium, labdanum, violet; Base notes: Patchouli, vanilla
4. & Other Stories, Punk Bouquet Eau de Toilette: Best vanilla eau de toilette
Price when reviewed: £28 | Check price at & Other Stories
Not everybody who wears perfume wants to invest in an eau de parfum for everyday wear, or perhaps you’re looking to try something new with vanilla perfume and want something more cost-effective. If that’s the case, you’ll love & Other Stories’ Punk Bouquet eau de toilette, a delicate fragrance with notes of vanilla soda that will remind you of happy days in quaint cafes and summery afternoons. Just as you’d imagine the scent of one of your most cherished summer days to smell, this fragrance transforms from a light floral scent to an earthy vanilla one.
Mixed with a punchy rose bouquet, each bottle of this fragrance is packed full of happy memories. If you’re looking for something a little lighter to wear that still packs a vanilla punch, this is the scent you’ve been looking for.
Key specs – Top notes: Almond, tangerine, green apple; Heart notes: Cyklamen, tiger orchid, lotus flower; Base notes: Vanilla, tonka beans and treemoss
5. Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense: Best rich and sensual vanilla perfume
Price when reviewed: £106 | Check price at Look Fantastic
A best seller from Jo Malone and part of the Cologne Intense range, this beautiful fragrance is packed with rich ingredients to create a grounding, sensual scent. Jo Malone describes this fragrance as “the golden sand dunes of the Namib desert: home of distinctive myrrh trees. The resinous scent of the tree sap travelling on the hot air; mingling with the warm almond and lush vanilla notes of the tonka bean”.
An intoxicating fragrance, the top note of this fragrance is lavender, with fresh accents of camphor, honey and hay – you instantly get a nose full of aromatic scent. Following that, the heart notes are of the omumbiri myrrh, a uniquely rich scent with a balsamic note of amber and vibrant sensuality. Finishing off with base notes of tonka bean that linger in the nostrils for hours, this part of the fragrance is wonderfully warm. Accents of almond and vanilla add richness to the overall fragrance.
Key specs – Top notes: Lavender; Heart notes: Myrrh; Base notes: Tonka Bean, vanilla and almond
6. Sol de Janeiro Sol Cheirosa ‘62 Eau de Parfum: Best summery vanilla perfume
Price when reviewed: £78 | Check price at Sephora
Inspired by the vibrant joy of the Brazilian way of life and attitude, each product that Sol de Janeiro releases becomes an instant hit because of their sun-drenched fragrances that linger on the skin for hours, making you feel warm and full of happiness.
The key notes of this perfume begin with pistachio, vanilla and salted caramel, followed by lighter and sunny notes of creamy sandalwood, creating a true summer-inspired nuance. A bottle of this perfume is an iconic blend of the warm gourmand scent of Sol de Janeiro’s Cheirosa 62 scent in a concentrated version, perfect for long-lasting wear.
Even if you’re surrounded by cold weather, you can feel sunshine around you year-round with this warm and irresistible scent. A sun-soaked aroma that only requires a touch on the pulse points to last all day long. You’ll absolutely get endless compliments when wearing this fragrance.
Key specs – Top notes: Pistachio, almond; Heart notes: Heliotrope, jasmine; Base notes: Caramel, vanilla, salt and sandalwood
7. Penhaligon’s Eau The Audacity: Best timeless vanilla perfume
Price when reviewed: £195 | Check price at Selfridges
In this stunning bottle of perfume from Penhaligon’s, boldness is complemented by delicate touches of florals and fruitiness. The bold scent of orange blossom is made more vivid by the surprising addition of vanilla and incense in this rich, potent fragrance. Not one for those who like something simple, this perfume is instantly recognisable and will turn heads for all the right reasons.
Head notes of black pepper, orange blossom and elemi leaves lead this leathery fragrance before the addition of smoky incense, rose absolut and saffron flower for the heart notes and a creamy combination of vanilla, leather and ambergris notes at the base. The mixture of ingredients in this captivating perfume settles it into an intense yet timeless scent, evoking spicy notes – feeling like a big, warm hug.
Designed to make wearers feel more bold and confident, this fragrance exudes audacity in a bottle.
Key specs – Top notes: Black pepper, orange blossom, elemi leaves; Heart notes: Saffron flower, incense, rose absolute; Base notes: Vanilla, leather and ambergris
8. LUSH Vanillary: Best cosy vanilla scent
Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at LUSH
This LUSH fragrance is packed with comforting vanilla, seductive jasmine and sweet tonka notes – just the ticket for those looking for a truly classic, cosy and warm vanilla scent. Described as “fudge-like and deliciously sweet”, this fragrance will leave you wanting to spritz more all over your body. It’s so addictive.
Although powerful and long-lasting, the Vanillary fragrance has a refined aroma that is understated despite creating an impression. Wearing this fragrance brings so many compliments, and despite it having vanilla in its name, it isn’t too sickly or overwhelming. It’s a classic perfume that will linger on your skin, clothes and hair throughout the day whilst making you feel sexy and fresh.
If you’re looking to double up on your scent, you could even use the LUSH body wash and pack the solid bar in your handbag to top up throughout the day. After a few hours of wear, the scent starts smelling like toasted marshmallows on a cool, autumn evening.
Key specs – Top notes: Jasmine; Heart notes: N/A; Base notes: Vanilla, tonka