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Traditionally, design houses have made separate fragrances for men and women. Some brands continue to do so. But now, the new trend is to create fragrances that can be worn by anyone, and the world of unisex fragrances is full of intriguing olfactory surprises! If you’re ready to find your next favorite, check out some of the best unisex fragrances available.
1. Atlantis by Blu Atlas
If you’re looking for the perfect fragrance to commemorate spring and usher in summer, Atlantis is it. This jungle-inspired fragrance is a little green and a little citrusy, but it’s grounded by ambrette, oakmoss, and musk. That groundedness makes it great for year-round wear, although the top notes certainly make us think of summer!
We like that Atlantis is vegan, cruelty-free, and formulated with industry-clean standards. It’s the closest a fragrance can get to a trip to Bali!
Top: lemon, bergamot, blackcurrant
Middle: lavender, peach, apricot, clary sage
Base: orris, oakmoss, violet, musk, ambrette seed
2. Ombre Leather Parfum by Tom Ford
If you’re constantly left wishing your fragrance lasted longer, Tom Ford’s Ombre Leather Parfum is a great option. As a parfum, it’s more concentrated and longer-lasting than both eau de toilette and eau de parfum—depending on the weather and your individual body chemistry, it may last 18 hours or more.
It smells a bit different from the brand’s Ombre Leather eau de parfum. The eau de parfum is more of a straightforward leather, but the parfum combines floral and leather notes for a distinctly different, enveloping scent. The floral touch makes it a better warm-weather choice than many other leather fragrances.
Top: violet leaf, cedar
Middle: orris, jasmine sambac
Base: leather, tobacco, woody notes
3. La Fin du Monde by Etat Libre d’Orange
Do you like fragrances that stray far from the beaten path? If so, check this one out! According to Etat Libre d’Orange, this fragrance attempts to answer a peculiar question: What will the end of the world smell like?
If La Fin du Monde is to be believed, the end of the world will smell like gunpowder, popcorn, iris, and sandalwood. But in a fitting nod to the chaos of the apocalypse, this fragrance has a surprisingly complex note profile.
Top: popcorn, carrot seeds, sesame, cumin seeds, black pepper
Middle: freesia, Haitian vetiver
Base: sandalwood, ambrette absolute, styrax, orris absolute, cannon powder
4. L’Ombre des Merveilles by Hermes
This unique fragrance combines the natural charm of woody aromatic scents with the spiced mystery of oriental fragrances. It’s an uncommon blend, but it’s ideal if you’re looking for your next unique “signature” fragrance.
The fragrance itself is artfully done, and so is the star-sprinkled bottle. From the round shape to the metallic stars to the ombre blue finish on the glass, we think L’Ombre des Merveilles (which translates to “The Shadow of Wonders”) looks just as good as it smells.
Top: black tea
Base: tonka bean
5. Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdijian
Of all the best unisex fragrances on our list, this one is probably surrounded by the most hype. Many connoisseurs say it’s overrated, but since 2015, Baccarat Rouge has won over buyers all over the world.
So, what makes it so special? Maybe it’s the fact that it’s such a paradox. Of its creation, Francis Kurdijian has said that “I wanted a heavy perfume that was both bright and light.” It does artfully blend cedar, ambergris, and jasmine to create a smooth, distinctive scent. Some perfume connoisseurs also claim it’s one of the few unisex fragrances that smells great on both men and women. So, does it really live up to the hype? You’ll need to try it to find out.
Top: saffron, jasmine
Middle: amberwood, ambergris
Base: cedar, fir resin
6. A Reason to Love by Gucci
Gucci creates some of the most interesting designer fragrances. This one comes from the brand’s The Alchemist’s Garden Collection, a group of fragrances inspired by the old days when alchemy guided the art of making perfume.
If you skim through its top, middle, and base notes, you might think that A Reason to Love is too floral to be unisex. But while the top (and part of the middle) are ruled by flowers, the deep, rich sensuality of oud and Tolu balsam are more than enough to ground the fragrance fully in unisex territory.
Top: Damask rose, peony, cardamom
Middle: Damask rose, oud
Base: Tolu balsam
7. By the Fireplace by Maison Margiela Replica
Maison Margiela’s Replica fragrances are meant to capture the aroma of familiar experiences. By the Fireplace is one of the most popular Replica fragrances, and it brings together the comforting smells of burning wood and roasting chestnuts. Even if you haven’t sat before a fireplace for years, you’ll be instantly transported back in time. If you’re hoping to find a “cozy” fragrance for the fall and winter, this is the perfect one to get.
Top: cloves, pink pepper, orange blossom
Middle: chestnut, guaiac wood, juniper
Base: cashmeran, Peru balsam, vanilla
8. Smoke by Akro
Here’s another smoky fragrance to consider, although this one is inspired by a different type of smoke. Akro says that it’s “inspired by the pleasure of the first drag of a cigarette,” so it’s fitting that it includes tobacco leaves and the smoky aroma of cade oil. It’s an interesting and memorable scent, but it’s not for everyone—if you aren’t a smoker or just aren’t especially fond of the smell of smoke, it might not be the best choice!
Base: benzoin, cade oil, tonka bean
9. Jazmin Yucatan by D.S. & Durga
If you can’t travel to the Yucatan Peninsula, a spritz of this memorable fragrance is the next best thing. This smooth combination of water notes, passion flower, and jasmine sambac takes you from the fresh breezes of the coast to the fragrant, mysterious jungle.
One of this fragrance’s most unique ingredients is copal resin. This sweet, almost citrusy resin was burned in holy ceremonies for hundreds of years. Here, it’s a rich, sweet base note that helps hold this magical concoction together.
Top: water notes, bergamot, passion flower
Middle: cloves, jasmine sambac
Base: snake plant, copal resin, vetiver
10. Smiley Face Garden by DedCool
The best fragrances transport you to other worlds. DedCool says this one lets you “Push past the thicket and enter the cottage core scene of your dreams.” It’s an accurate description—the sweet blooms of rose and neroli float above amber, cedarwood, and guaiac wood, creating the essence of a garden in a woodland clearing.
It can be hard to get a rose fragrance right, but we think DedCool nailed it with this one. You get the delicate sweetness of rose, but it’s never artificial or overly sweet. There’s a distinct earthiness that makes it perfect for men and women alike.
Middle: sandalwood, guaiac wood, neroli
Base: amber, musk, cedarwood
11. Amazingreen by Comme des Garcons
Many “green” fragrances make you feel as though you’re in a peaceful, green forest. Not this one. Amazingreen combines explosive scents, jungle greens, and exotic spices to form a truly unforgettable scent.
Despite the unusual note profile, Amazingreen remains a pleasant and approachable scent. The smoky, gunpowdery notes play well with the greener notes, and this light fragrance is a perfect one for spring or summer wear.
Top: palm tree leaves, jungle leaves, green pepper, dew mist
Middle: orris roots, ivy leaves, silex, coriander seeds
Base: vetiver, gunpowder accord, smoke, white musk
12. Forest Lungs by The Nue Co.
Even the name of this fragrance sounds refreshing. But Forest Lungs is more than that—it’s a fragrance designed specifically to reduce stress. That’s not an advertising gimmick, either. The Nue Co. uses patented technology to create replicas of phytoncides. These are compounds produced by trees that can reduce stress and anxiety.
But what does it smell like? Forest Lungs takes the scents of the great outdoors and brings them together. You’ll breathe in woody, green, citrusy, and even smoky notes. It’s like a woodland camping trip in a bottle!
Middle: pine, benzoin
Base: vetiver, patchouli, cedar
13. Lemon Island by Atelier Cologne
Lemongrass. Jasmine. Madagascan vanilla. This invigorating citrus pretty much smells like paradise. Its top notes are so fresh that they come off as “fizzy.” However, Lemon Island has a certain creaminess that sets it apart from other citrus fragrances. That’s thanks to the warm, soothing vanilla base. We think the citrus, white floral, and vanilla accords make this one a perfect summer wear!
Middle: Indian jasmine
Base: Madagascan vanilla
14. Smoked Vetiver by Clean Reserve
Vetiver, a fragrant grass, commonly appears in fragrances designed for men. However, as this release from Clean Reserve clearly illustrates, it works beautifully as a unisex ingredient, too. Despite the name, Smoked Vetiver includes a rich bouquet of notes. You’ll breathe in fruits, flowers, and the enveloping comfort of woods.
If you’re someone who loves to experiment with fragrance, you’ll probably like Clean Reserve’s fragrance concept. While you can wear each of the brand’s fragrances individually, these scents are designed to be layered. Clean Reserve offers suggestions on its website if you aren’t sure where to start!
Top: pear, bergamot, quince, lemon verbena, bamboo leaf
Middle: cedar, peony, cotton flower
Base: vetiver, moss, woody notes, amber, myrrh, musk
15. Leather Skies by Allsaints
Calling Leather Skies a “leather fragrance” simply doesn’t do it justice. It’s sensual without being suffocating, and it’s leathery but still light enough for warmer weather. Some fragrance connoisseurs say it reminds them a bit of the very popular (and very pricey) Santal 33 by Le Labo. However, this one is distinctly lighter, almost ethereal. Leather Skies is a great choice if you want a truly genderless fragrance that really doesn’t smell like anything else on the market!
Top: smoked black pepper, olibanum
Base: black sandalwood, cistus
FAQs: The Best Unisex Fragrances
What makes a fragrance unisex?
Nowadays, many fragrances are marketed as “unisex” or “genderless.” Most won’t say this on the bottle, but a quick read through the product description will tell you. Unisex fragrances tend to sit somewhere in the middle of traditionally feminine or masculine fragrances. They won’t be as sweet as the sweetest florals or as earthy as the heaviest musks.
That said, there really aren’t rules when it comes to fragrances. If you’re a guy who likes a fragrance marketed to women (or a woman who likes a fragrance marketed to men), there’s nothing wrong with that!
What do all these notes smell like?
You probably already know what peony, lemon, cedar, and other familiar notes smell like. But the complex world of fragrance is full of ingredients that are exotic, rare, and sometimes downright strange. If you don’t recognize some of the notes listed above, you’re not alone! Here’s a quick guide to what they mean.
Orris is a captivating ingredient that’s rare and hard to make. It’s distilled from the root of the bearded iris in a years-long process (the roots have to age before distilling). It smells a bit like a mixture of violet, raspberry, and pepper.
You sometimes see this ingredient listed as “orris absolute.” An absolute is an extract that is thicker and more concentrated than an essential oil. If you see the absolute version of a note, that note may be more present and long-lasting.
Blackcurrant is a fruit that helps create the scent of green or fruity notes. It’s best left to skilled perfumers. When used in excess, blackcurrant has an ammonia smell that’s similar to cat urine!
Ambrette seed is the seed of a flowering plant called the musk mallow. As the name suggests, the oil from the seeds has a pleasantly musky scent. When obtaining musk from animals was outlawed, ambrette seed became a popular musk alternative.
Oakmoss is not actually moss—it’s a lichen that just looks like it. It can smell bitter and even “inky,” but it’s a great way to ground high-flying citrus and floral ingredients.
Jasmine sambac (Jasminium sambac) is a variety of jasmine different from Jasminium grandiflorum, the type most often found in fragrances. Jasmine sambac isn’t as sweet, and it has faintly smoky undertones. It’s also a more potent smell, so it’s perfect for making head-turning fragrances!
Styrax, also called “benzoin,” is an oil obtained from the Styrax benzoin tree. It’s a little bit sweet and sometimes has a touch of smoke, and it can add “body” to make fragrances fuller-smelling.
Saffron can be used as a spice, but it’s also a beautifully nuanced note in fragrance. It comes from the stamens of Crocus sativus flowers. It’s a bit leathery, soft, bittersweet, and earthy all at once.
Ambergris is a waxy substance produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. After aging, ambergris smells salty and a little musky. It’s an outstanding fixative, meaning it can “anchor” more volatile ingredients and prevent them from evaporating as quickly. Today, ambergris in perfumes is synthetically created.
Amberwood is a trendy, relatively new ingredient with lasting power and warm character. It’s a synthetic scent that’s similar to ambergris but with a woodier character.
Damask rose is a note that smells like a mildly sweet rose. It’s a great way to create floral character without making a fragrance overly sweet.
Tolu balsam comes from the Myroxylon toluiferum tree. It smells different from many other balsam scents. You’ll notice hints of cinnamon, vanilla, and floral notes.
Cashmeran is a somewhat unusual synthetic accord designed to smell like cashmere wool. It smells like a blend of amber, musk, and even wood.
Guaiac wood is also known as palo santo. Its scent can vary quite a bit. Some varieties smell smooth, sweet, and even a little like vanilla. Other varieties smell woody, smoky, and leathery.
Cade oil comes from distilled juniper. It smells smoky and tar-like.
Peru balsam is a tree resin with a warm, soft feel. It’s also good for extending the life of floral notes in fragrances. It smells a bit like vanilla with some cinnamon, though it’s also earthy and even a little bitter.
Passion flower is a beautiful and exotic flower with a sweet, tropical scent. Some people say it smells a bit like grapes.
Snake plant has a strong, pleasant scent that’s a bit like jasmine or vanilla. It’s a great ingredient for jungle-inspired fragrances.
Copal resin comes from trees in the Bursera genus. “Copal” means “incense” in Nahuatl, an ancient Aztec language. It’s sweet, powerful, and smells a bit like both pine and lemon.
Silex is another word for flint. It’s often used to impart a slightly “mineral” scent to fragrances. It’s also earthy and moist, so it’s great for fragrances that evoke woods or the outdoors.
Olibanum is also called frankincense. It’s a tree resin with a uniquely paradoxical scent. It smells somewhat spicy and woody, but it also has a green, fresh aroma. It’s something you really need to smell to understand!
Cistus is a flower also called the rock rose. However, its aroma isn’t completely floral. It smells a bit balsamic, dry, earthy, and even herbal.
How do I know what kind of fragrance I’ll like?
The right fragrance can boost your confidence and even shape the way other people think of you. But there are thousands of fragrances out there, so it can be hard to know where to start. It’s of course a good idea to try on a fragrance before you buy one, but how do you even know which types to try?
One of the best places to start is with fragrance families. Families in fragrance are much like genres in music. Once you know what genres you like, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you will like a given artist.
Some fragrances can technically belong to more than one family. But generally speaking, there are four families:
Floral fragrances are just what they sound like: they smell flowery and powdery. Within this family, you might see fragrances labeled as “fruity,” “floral,” or “soft floral.” Rose, peony, jasmine, and orange blossom are some common ingredients.
Amber (or oriental) fragrances are warm and often spicy. You might hear them described as “exotic.” Within this family, you can find “amber,” “soft amber,” and “woody amber” fragrances. Some of the most common amber notes are vanilla, orris, frankincense, and myrrh.
Wood fragrances prominently feature notes of various types of trees. Some of them may be layered with floral, citrus, or amber notes. Woody fragrances include “mossy woods,” “dry woods,” and simply “woods.” Patchouli, palo santo, cedar, and sandalwood are a few common notes.
Fresh fragrances are bright and can smell like water, citrus, or greenery. Within this diverse family, you can find “aromatic,” “green,” “citrus,” and “aquatic” fragrances. Some common notes include sea water, bergamot, and jungle greens.
Paying attention to fragrance trends can help, but it’s important to not rely on trends alone. Certain notes can become wildly popular for a time, and certain fragrances can suddenly get lots of attention on social media. Even if something is popular, it’s not a great idea to blind buy it—you might find that you hate it! Understanding the kinds of scent profiles you like will get you farther.
How do I choose a fragrance?
Whether you’ve smelled a few different fragrances or have just gotten an idea of what fragrance families you gravitate toward, the next step is to sample. You can buy a full-size fragrance without trying it first, but if you hate it, you’re stuck with a fragrance you don’t like and potentially out $100 or more.
If you’re considering a few different scents, get a sample or travel-size bottle if you can. Some perfumers offer sample sets that let you try several of their fragrances at once. There are also some third-party companies that sell decanted samples.
It’s tempting to judge a fragrance off of the very first spray, but resist the temptation to do this! Fragrances evolve throughout the day. When you first spray it on, you’ll be hit by the lighter top notes. And as the day progresses, the heavier middle and base notes will become more apparent.
However, to really reach their full potential, fragrances need to interact with your unique body chemistry. Our body chemistry can shift from day to day, so you might find that a fragrance smells slightly different from one day to the next. Try wearing and paying attention to a fragrance for a few days to a week before buying a full-size version.
How long will my fragrance last?
Once you find the best unisex fragrance for you, you might feel like you could smell it day in and day out! Lots of people complain that their fragrances don’t last as long as they want. If you don’t want to have to re-spray your fragrance every couple of hours, it’s wise to pay attention to the concentration of your fragrance. Here are five of the most common concentrations:
Eau de toilette (EDT) fragrances are common, and they have a concentration of 5-15% of fragrance oils. An EDT will usually last about 2-4 hours after applying. Because it’s less concentrated than eau de parfum and parfum, eau de toilette is less expensive per ounce.
Eau de Parfum (EDP) has about 15-25% fragrance oil concentration. As a result, it tends to smell a bit stronger and last longer than EDT. On average, eau de parfum will last about 6-9 hours. Thanks to the higher concentration (and usually higher performance), EDP is usually more expensive than EDT.
Eau de Cologne (EDC) has a very low (2-4%) concentration of fragrance oil. It only lasts about two hours, and since you need to spray on more (and apply it more frequently), it’s generally very inexpensive. (Note that “cologne” and “eau de cologne” mean different things. “Eau de cologne” describes a specific concentration. “Cologne” is a word often used to describe men’s fragrances of any concentration.)
Parfum is usually more intense and longer lasting than EDT, EDP, and EDC fragrances. A parfum fragrance has a concentration of 25-35% fragrance oil. Many parfums will last 18 hours or even more! A word of warning, though: parfum is intense enough that you may only need one or two sprays.
Extrait de Parfum is even stronger than parfum. An extrait de parfum is 35-45% fragrance oil, and it’s often so powerful that you can still smell it on your clothes after a wash/dry cycle. Extraits are somewhat uncommon, and they’re usually formulated with rare ingredients. Consequently, you’ll usually only see very high-end fragrances in this concentration.
Are fragrances designed specifically for day wear vs. night wear?
Some fragrances do have “night” on the label, but there are no rules when it comes to when you wear a fragrance. However, in the daytime or in warmer weather, fragrances tend to be more noticeable. As a result, some people choose to wear less concentrated fragrances by day and more concentrated fragrances at night.
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