Warm up your scent profile with the best vanilla perfumes, from sweet and woodsy to spicy and cosy.
On the hunt for the best perfumes for women or a long-lasting perfume on the sugary sweet side? We recommend investing in a vanilla fragrance. It’s a scent that can be deliciously sweet or spicy and seductive, making for the perfect winter perfume. It’s also great for fragrance layering— offering a warming back-note to everything. "There's a spicy, carnal, slightly feral side of vanilla that becomes addictive and raunchy. So within a perfume, it radiates with a lot of sensuality and confidence," says fragrance writer and presenter Alice du Parcq.
We know there are tons of perfumes on the market, so we’ve done all the hard work and rounded up our tried and tested top favourite vanilla fragrances. There are even gender-neutral options with notes of black vanilla and dried Liquorice that make for the best men’s cologne.
The best vanilla perfumes, chosen by our beauty team
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RRP: £220 for 50ml | Notes: Tobacco leaf, vanilla
It's no surprise that famous perfectionist Mr Ford's take on the best vanilla perfume is very much vanilla, done his way. This is the opposite of what you might expect from a vanilla scent. So instead of being sweet and comforting it is bold, smoky and sexy with a huge kick of spice.
Who should wear it: Those looking for a unique vanilla scent with a smoky edge.
RRP: £65 for 50ml | Notes: Green mandarin, vanilla bourbon
The original YSL Black Opium has become a modern fragrance sensation thanks to its uniquely addictive coffee and vanilla accord—and it's well worth a sniff. It contains fleshy fruits like fig and pear plus the classic vanilla and coffee duo, but this time it's souped-up in what's called a "vanilla bourbon superinfusion."
Who should wear it: Those who like sweet vanilla scents with a fresh, spicy twist
RRP: £98 for 30ml | Notes: Madagascar vanilla bean, kashmir wood
From its glass dropper packaging to its warm, sweet, woodsy scent, our shopping writer, Kenedee Fowler, loved everything about Nest Madagascar Vanilla. It's a long-lasting perfume that also moisturises the skin. And with it being an oil, only requiring a few drops, we feel you get more for your buck in comparison to a spray.
Who should wear it: Those searching for a long-wearing vanilla coconut perfume oil with a warm, woodsy base.
RRP: £68 for 50ml | Notes: Vanilla bean, jasmine, amber
Warm yet fresh, Floral Street's Wild Vanilla Orchid dives headfirst into the vanilla brief but with a floral twist. Top vanilla notes give a nostalgic feel, while sandalwood and patchouli add a more robust spiciness that lasts all day.
Who should wear it: Those who want a strong vanilla scent, and are looking for a vegan and cruelty-free brand to buy from.
RRP: £80 for 30ml | Notes: Lemon, praline, vanilla
A true gourmand, the Akro Bake Eau De Parfum was created in collaboration with iconic London bakery Crumbs & Doilies. Inspired by the brand's lemon cupcakes, Akro combines heady lemon and brown sugar with a sturdy vanilla base that's good enough to eat.
Who should wear it: Those who want a vanilla perfume that will stand out and last all day.
RRP: £12.50 for 100ml | Notes: Gardenia, vanilla
On first glance, we were very impressed with the chic plum-toned bottle, which we would happily keep on display next to our best Chanel perfumes. The scent itself is also surprisingly sophisticated given the minimal price. The vanilla itself is fairly prominent, although it's nicely balanced out by the citrusy fruity perfume top note, and sweet floral heart.
Who should wear it: Those looking for a budget-friendly vanilla fragrance with floral notes.
RRP: £50 for 30ml | Notes: Wild strawberry, Vanilla
We found Daisy is a slightly unexpected vanilla perfume because the first notes that engulf you are super sparkling and green. The strawberry gives it a youthful feel, whilst red grapefruit and gardenia add a fruity freshness that most vanilla scents don’t have. However, when it dried down the vanilla and musk lingered on our skin, which is utterly delightful and certainly makes this the best vanilla perfume to suit a range of ages.
Who should wear it: Those looking for a fresh vanilla perfume
RRP: £70 for 50ml | Notes: Vanilla Orchids, tonka absolute
Get ready to receive endless compliments and questions on what fragrance you're wearing. With notes of brown sugar, vanilla orchids, amber woods, and musk, Kayali's Vanilla 28 is a sweet, warm masterpiece. It's one of those fragrances that's scent will still be on your sweater days later. We also found this scent mixed easily with our other perfumes, making it perfect fragrance layering.
Who should wear it: Those looking for a sweet, rich vanilla scent
RRP: £106 for 50ml | Notes: Lavender, tonka bean
Tonka bean is often used as an alternative to vanilla as they smell almost completely identical. Here it is paired with heady, musky, and sexy myrrh to create one of the best Jo Malone fragrances of all time, and a perfect choice if you are looking for the best vanilla perfume with a bit of a twist. On testing, we found that the lavender cut through beautifully to prevent the overall scent from being too overpowering.
Who should wear it: Those looking for an intense and musky lavender perfume
RRP: £175 for 125ml | Notes: Vanilla, amber
This vanilla perfume is all about confidence, sparkle, and elegance, and that’s not only reflected in the scent itself—it’s teamed with decadent ingredients like amber and patchouli for a full-on glamorous effect. This isn’t a scent that will let you slink into the corner and go unnoticed. We found this one of the most noticeable of the bunch, so it is a fragrance for when you want to be the star of the show.
Who should wear it: Those who want a long-wearing, fresh and warm vanilla scent.
RRP: £62 for 50ml | Notes: Pink pepper, bourbon vanilla
Liz Earle is probably not a brand you would think of when looking for the best vanilla perfume—or buying fragrances in general—but that needs to change immediately because after trying it we can confirm that this perfume is an absolute sensation. It combines sexy, sultry notes of vetiver and benzoin that give it that musky, smoky edge, with fresher notes of bergamot, pink pepper, and rose. The result is a scent that is ultra-wearable for everyone, wherever you’re going and for whatever you’re doing.
Who should wear it: If you're looking for a musky, sweet scent that'll make a statement.
RRP: £78 for 50ml | Notes: Chocolate, vanilla
Gourmand scents smell good enough to eat, and that is what Angel is all about. While we aren't usually a huge fan of sweet perfume, we couldn't help but love this familiar, sugary, comforting moment of vanilla, chocolate, and caramel-based deliciousness in a perfume bottle. And providing you've got a sweet tooth, you can’t get better than that.
Who should wear it: Someone who wants to smell almost edible
RRP: £58 for 50ml | Notes: Mandarin, vanilla
Whilst this is most definitely a vanilla-based perfume, that's not where our nose instantly went when first smelling it. There's a powdery, nostalgic feel to this fragrance. It's when this dries down that it turns into a far more modern scent with a delicious vanilla undertone.
Who should wear it: If you're not into overbearing fragrances but still want a little hint of comforting sweetness
RRP: £125 for 50ml | Notes: Black vanilla, sandalwood
This is the best vanilla perfume on our list for true gender-neutral appeal. There’s an almost leathery element to this fragrance, which pairs with the buttery vanilla beautifully and prevents it from becoming too rugged or too sweet. We love the slick, minimalist black bottle, which will appeal to everyone and the fragrance can either be dabbed directly onto the skin or spritzed on by inserting the spray top.
Who should wear it: Those who dip and dab in their partner's fragrances.
RRP: £22 for 90ml | Notes: Pistachio, vanilla
This warm, delicious, sweet masterpiece is one of our favourite Sol de Jainero scents. I was a bit nervous because it's not an Eau de parfum so I didn't think it would last more than one hour, but it's an intoxicating spray filled with warm notes of salted caramel, pistachio, vanilla, sandalwood, almond, and jasmine petals that lasted all day. It's perfect for layering and one of the best fall fragrances that can be worn year-round.
Who should wear it: Those looking for a warm, gourmand, long-wearing body spray
RRP: £60 for 30ml | Notes: Apple, vanilla
This Hugo Boss fragrance is vanilla but not too vanilla and is very nicely balanced with fruity and floral notes. We found this was a great everyday perfume, meaning it suits a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, just as it does your most glam little black dress. We wore it for the school run, the office, coffee with the girls, and date night. Once you’ve smelt it and worn it, you’ll wonder how you survived without it.
Who should wear it: Those looking for fruity yet woodsy scent to wear from morning to night
RRP: £56 for 30ml | Notes: Water jasmine, salted vanilla
Right from the first sniff we were convinced that it would be hard to not like this fragrance. It begins a little bit floral, with exotic white botanicals such as jasmine, but then an unexpected and very welcome salty vanilla hum kicks in. Once it’s dried down we found the sultry woody notes linger the longest. A younger wearer will feel sophisticated wearing it and an older woman will feel emboldened. Win-win.
Who should wear it: Someone looking for a fresh and floral vanilla scent
RRP: £84 for 50ml | Notes: Tonka bean, vanilla
After wearing it on several occasions, we'd call this the best vanilla perfume for anyone with a 'more is more' life philosophy. The vanilla is fairly bold then doubled-down upon thanks to the inclusion of vanilla's scent-twin tonka bean. The fresh, juicy top notes of pear keep it fun and youthful too. It’s the sort of perfume that you might think to save for special occasions only, but then again, that’s not what life is about anymore so we say wear it every day with your head held high.
Who should wear it: Those who want an intense, musky, yet sweet scent
woman&home thanks Alice du Parcq for her time and expertise
How to pick the best vanilla perfume for you
When it comes to choosing perfume it’s all about what you like. But, when dealing with vanilla, there are some things to know, advises Alice:
- Stick with perfumes: “High-quality vanilla essence—whether natural or incredible synthetic variations—has a spicy, smokey feel to it, so you won't tip into pudding land. I would avoid vanilla-flavored body products as those tend to be way too sweet.”
- Get ready for a reaction: “One of the coolest things about our brains is they're designed to recognize fight or flight smells; ie food or fire. If you have a spike of vanilla in your perfume, your brain is wired to be highly aware of it, so perfumes with that gourmand aura will smell prominent to you and people around you—reinforcing the idea that it's long-lasting and worth the money!”
- Don't scrimp: “Cheap vanilla will smell sickly sweet, so my best tip is to invest the money you would have usually spent on a new handbag and spend it on a great quality perfume.”
So if you were wondering which perfume lasts longest, Vanilla has much to offer in that department.
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Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith has worked in the beauty industry for more than 15 years and, as well as woman&home, has contributed to titles such as Stylist, The Daily Mail and The Times.
As a mum of two little girls she has limited time to spend on herself, so if you’re looking for hard-working multi-tasking products, she’s the one in the know.
Her top three products she has on her at all times are a glow-giving tinted moisturizer, brow pencil and a tinted lip balm. Oh, and she’s never far away from a hydrating face mist.
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