Let’s talk about the best perfumes in the business. Securing a spot as a global best-seller in the perfume and fragrance world doesn’t happen overnight. With literally thousands upon thousands of scented competitions out there, achieving that cult classic status is an accolade only bestowed onto a certain few.
And those that do get it, well, they’ve achieved the fragrant holy grail.
Indeed, perfume is undoubtedly the most personal sector of the beauty world. While lipstick might achieve cult classic status because it hits the sweet spot for formulation and shade combination, our tastes for perfume depend on primal elements, deep-rooted in our psyche and highly influenced by our personal experiences and memories.
Olivia Jezler, CEO of Future of Smell, explained to qz.com, ‘Our sense of smell is rooted in the most primal part of our brain for survival. It’s not linked through the thalamus, which is where all other sensory information is integrated.’ Instead, it’s transmitted to ‘the amygdala’, a part of the limbic system that helps process our everyday emotions. ‘None of our other senses have this direct and intimate connection to the areas of the brain that process emotion, associative learning, and memory,’ Jezler adds.
So, yes, the scents we’re drawn to and subsequently choose to spritz on our wrists are VIP (very important perfumes) indeed.
So how, then, with our sense of smell so markedly personal, do perfumes gain a mass following and appeal worldwide, with millions of bottles flying off the shelves from London to Australia?
We chart some of the best-selling perfumes for women in the world and dissect why they’re worth every single spritz…
1. Dior J’adore
A sophisticated spritz that has rightfully earned its place in the perfume hall of fame, J’Adore combines ylang-ylang, Damascus rose and jasmine for a hearty and complex floral. As for the bottle: dressing table GOLD.
2. Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady
A niche classic, Frederic Malle’s best-seller is not only a head-turner but a scent that many won’t be able to put their finger on – ideal for those who prefer their scents to be mysterious. It’s entirely unique and timeless thanks to a heady cocktail of Turkish rose, patchouli, sandalwood, and frankincense.
3. Kilian Paris Love Don’t Be Shy
Once an under-the-radar go-to for those in the know, this scent was popularised when it was revealed as Rihanna’s signature scent in 2016. It is rich with sweet notes of marshmallow, vanilla, and caramel, and utterly delicious.
4. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540
This single scent has become somewhat of a sensation in the perfume world and counts endless fans, from celebrities like Molly Mae to fragrance aficionados everywhere. Last year, the cult favourite gained 5,967,000 annual Google searches and 477.8M views on TikTok.
5. Ariana Grande Cloud
The world is not short of celebrity perfumes, but not all are created equal. Ariana Grande’s Cloud has emerged as one of the category’s biggest standouts, amassing a whopping 122.9M views on TikTok alone. It is creamy with coconut and vanilla, yet sweet with pear and praline. Like a cashmere blanket, it envelopes and hugs the senses.
6. Glossier You , USD$68 (about SGD$92.50)
Millennial favourite brand Glossier’s only scent is an industry-backed classic. Neatly nestled in the bags of beauty editors the world over, Glossier’s You is made up of bright pink pepper, powdery iris and warm ambroxan, and is widely considered as one of the best skin scents on the market.
7. Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium EDP
A gourmand (sweet) floral, YSL’s best-selling spritz comes with an interesting combination of coffee, vanilla and white flowers, that keeps diehard fans coming back time and time again.
8. Giorgio Armani Si EDP
Launched in 2013, Si is fairly new in the power perfume stakes but quickly turns noses for its fresh and interesting take on chypre.
9. Lancôme La Vie est Belle EDP
Fruity pear and blackberry make way for orange blossom and a kick of patchouli in this spritely little number. A guaranteed mood-booster.
10. Le Labo Santal 33 EDP
Known as the ultimate ‘fash-pack’ perfume, Santal was on the Cartier-laden wrists of every big-name fashion editor in the business. Now, it’s gained momentum worldwide, with its head-turning concoction that truly lasts all day long.
11. Byredo Gypsy Water
With the scent of fresh soil, deep forests and campfires, the vibrant and subtly woody Gypsy Water is perfect for those who aren’t into florals. Enchantingly unique without being overpowering.
12. Guerlain Mon Guerlain EDP
With Angelina Jolie as the face, Mon Guerlain was always going to have flair. The standout? A touch of lavender that lends an old-school Parisian flare.
13. Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 EDT
A best-selling fragrance in Liberty, Molecule 01 is the musky, woody fragrance that led the unisex perfume movement. Launched in 2006, it consists of the molecule Iso E Super – a comforting note that settles onto the skin like a dream.
14. Chanel No.5 EDT
This skyrocketed to stratospheric heights when Marilyn Monroe announced she wore ‘five drops of No.5’ to bed and nothing else. Decades of dedicated fans followed, with an unwavering love of the unique powdery floral, which combines rose and jasmine with aldehydes and vanilla.
15. Jo Malone London Lime Basil and Mandarin Cologne
Jo Malone’s best-seller, Lime Basil and Mandarin, is a cool and confident scent that will transport you to a world of calm. Notes of amber wood, peppery basil and aromatic white thyme make for a signature classic.
16. Calvin Klein Eternity for Her
As eternal as its name suggests, the clean, floral notes in Calvin Klein’s Eternity make it a timeless fragrance to fall in love with. Also available for him with additional layers of mandarin and sage, wear your complimenting fragrances together for scent-sual harmony.
17. Tom Ford Black Orchid
Rich, dark and moody, Tom Ford’s Black Orchid is not for the fainthearted. Black truffle, plum and patchouli (with a hint of spice) smell luxurious and decadent, a confident fragrance for when you’re feeling your most powerful. We also happen to love the chic architectural bottle.
This article originally appeared on Grazia International