The best vanilla perfume for everyone, every mood and every occasion

Our experts select the best vanilla perfume—from popular bestsellers to unexpected niche finds

Three of the best vanilla perfumes by Atelier Cologne, Jo Malone and Serge Lutens in a collage on a peach backdrop
(Image credit: Future)

The best vanilla perfumes are a perfect example of just how evocative fragrance can be. There are certain perfume ingredients that will always conjure up a specific emotion or a particular feeling, and this is very true with vanilla. 

This note strikes that perfect accord of being sugary sweet but also exceptionally comforting and nurturing. It reminds people of childhood, baking, nostalgia and is like an enveloping, comforting hug wrapping itself around you when you spray it on. It's no wonder so many of the best perfumes for women and best men's cologne include vanilla. It's also perfect for fragrance layering—offering a deliciously warming back-note to everything from flower fragrances to the best rose perfumes.

The best vanilla perfume isn't all sweetness and light though, many have a naughty side too. “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.

Ready to find your perfect sweet yet seductive vanilla scent? Our expert guide to trying and buying will help you select the perfect perfume for any taste or occasion.  

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 perfume: “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. 

The best vanilla perfume, as chosen by our experts

Jimmy Choo Seduction Collection Vanilla Love

(Image credit: Jimmy Choo)

1. Jimmy Choo Seduction Collection Vanilla Love

Best luxury vanilla perfume

RRP : $220/£175 for 125ml
Key notes: vanilla, amber, patchouli
Reasons to buy
+Sexy and seductive+Modern but feels like a classic+Gloriously decadent

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—but in the gold faceted bottle too. 

This isn’t a scent that will let you slink into the corner and go unnoticed. This is a fragrance for when you want to be the star of the show. There's no denying that it has a high price tag, but Kimmy Choo's Seduction Collection is designed with high concentrations of perfume oil and fine ingredients that are a cut above the brand's mainline fragrances. So if you do splash out, you will get plenty of bang for that buck. 

Marc Jacobs Daisy EDT

(Image credit: Marc Jacobs)

2. Marc Jacobs Daisy EDT

Best budget vanilla perfume

RRP: $60/£46 for 30ml
Key notes: wild strawberry, violet leaves, vanilla
Reasons to buy
+Cult fragrance+Iconic bottle +Light and fresh
Reasons to avoid
-Everyone else might be wearing it

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 dries down the vanilla and musk linger, which is utterly delightful and certainly makes this the best vanilla perfume to suit a range of ages. Thanks to its fresh impression and lightness of touch you could easily wear this every day, meaning you'll never have to frantically Google do perfumes expire after retrieving it from the back of a drawer. 

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.15 EDP

(Image credit: Liz Earle)

3. Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.15 EDP

Best unexpected vanilla perfume

RRP: $75.50/£54 for 50ml
Key notes: pink pepper, damask rose, bourbon vanilla
Reasons to buy
+Surprising brand choice+Fresh and spicy +Unisex
Reasons to avoid
-Opaque bottle means you won't know when you're running low 

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 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. 

Mugler Angel EDP

(Image credit: Mugler)

4. Thierry Mugler Angel EDP

Best iconic vanilla perfume

RRP: $85/£78 for 50ml
Key notes: chocolate, caramel, vanilla
Reasons to buy
+The cult vanilla perfume buy+Distinctive+Refillable bottle
Reasons to avoid
-Might be too delicious

Launched in 1992, Angel shook up the perfume world with its first-of-a-kind mix of ingredients. The edibly-delicious food-based flavors became so iconic, they spurred the creation of a new fragrance category; gourmand. 

Gourmand scents smell good enough to eat, and that is what Angel is all about. It’s a 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.

Jo Malone London Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense

(Image credit: Jo Malone London)

5. Jo Malone London Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense

Best alternative vanilla perfume

RRP: $196/£130 for 100ml
Key notes: lavender, myrrh, tonka
Reasons to buy
+Long-lasting on the skin+Intense+Smoky yet sweet
Reasons to avoid
-Might be too heavy for some

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. 

The lavender cuts through to prevent the overall scent from being too overpowering, but this is definitely for those who want to stand out from the fragranced crowd and wear something that will have people asking (perhaps begging) to know what it is.

Flower by Kenzo EDT

(Image credit: Kenzo)

6. Flower by Kenzo EDT

Best subtle vanilla perfume

RRP: $72/£58 for 50ml
Key notes: mandarin, rosewater, vanilla
Reasons to buy
+Subtle+Light and fresh+Minimal but striking bottle
Reasons to avoid
-Might not be vanilla-y enough

Whilst this is most definitely a vanilla-based perfume, that's not where your nose instantly goes when first smelling it. There's a powdery, nostalgic feel to this fragrance. In fact, there are notes in here that might remind you of your Grandma (which is no bad thing—think timeless, not fusty) 

It's when this dries down that it turns into a far more modern scent with a delicious vanilla undertone. This makes it likely to be the best vanilla perfume for those who just want a little hint of comforting sweetness, rather than a full-on vanilla overload.

Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille EDP

(Image credit: Serge Lutens)

7. Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille EDP

Best unisex vanilla perfume

RRP: $150/£110 for 50ml
Key notes: coconut milk, liquorice, black vanilla
Reasons to buy
+It smells like nothing else +Not sickly sweet+Your other half can steal it too
Reasons to avoid
-Quite pricey

Technically, all perfume is unisex—it feels retro to say a man can't smell like flowers or a woman shouldn't smell like woodsmoke if she likes. With that said, this is definitely 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.

The slick, minimalist black bottle will appeal to everyone and the fragrance can either be dabbed directly onto the skin or spritzed on by inserting the spray top—it may be a bit spendy, but the luxurious concentration of perfume oils included ensures it will last the day. 

Boss Alive EDP

(Image credit: Hugo Boss)

8. Hugo Boss Boss Alive EDP

Best everyday vanilla perfume

RRP: $98/£72 for 50ml
Key notes: apple, cinnamon, Madagascan vanilla
Reasons to buy
+Modern but smells like a classic+Mood-boosting +Works on everyone

If there was an ‘everyman’ of vanilla perfumes, then this is probably it—and we mean that in the best possible way. It’s vanilla but not too vanilla and is very nicely balanced with fruity and floral notes, making it the ultimate adaptable perfume to fit in everywhere.

It suits a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, just as it does your most glam little black dress. It’s perfect for the school run, the office, coffee with the girls, or date night. Once you’ve smelt it and worn it, you’ll wonder how you survived without it. 

Paco Rabanne Olympéa EDP

(Image credit: Paco Rabanne)

9. Paco Rabanne Olympea EDP

Best mass-market vanilla perfume

RRP: $84/£66 for 50ml
Key notes: cashmere wood, water jasmine, salted vanilla
Reasons to buy
+Floral and fresh +Sexy+Familiar and comforting
Reasons to avoid
-Might be overly familiar to some

It would be hard to not like this fragrance. Within the round, laurel-adorned bottle lots of different fragrance notes are ticked off, meaning that with just one spray there’s something for everyone. 

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 the sultry woody notes linger. A younger wearer will feel sophisticated wearing it and an older woman will feel emboldened. Win-win.

Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensée

(Image credit: Atelier Cologne)

10. Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee

Best niche brand vanilla perfume

RRP: $142/£98 for 100ml
Key notes: Madagascan vanilla, English oak, lime
Reasons to buy
+Completely unique scent+People won't have smelt it before+Ultra classy for gifting
Reasons to avoid
-It is pricey

This utterly gorgeous fragrance is everything a great vanilla perfume should be. A little bit sweet and comforting with a hint of sultriness from the woody notes of English oak. 

We love this brand for creating some of the most beautiful citrus-based scents on the market—they are masters of taking joyful, almost frivolous ingredients and crafting beautiful grown-up perfumes from them. On that note, this manages to be both energetic and classic all rolled into one. Run, don’t walk, to go and buy it.

Jean Paul Gaultier La Belle Parfum

(Image credit: Jean Paul Gaultier)

11. Jean Paul Gaultier La Belle Parfum

Best musky vanilla perfume

RRP: $94/£73 for 50ml
Key notes: pear, tonka, vanilla
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant bottle design+The LBD of vanilla perfume+Very glamorous
Reasons to avoid
-Fans of the original might not like it

As with all things Jean Paul Gaultier, this is a fragrance that’s 'a bit much' in all the best ways possible. From the iconic perfume bottle design to the full-on, glamorous, sweet, and indulgent scent that’s inside. 

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.

woman&home thanks Alice du Parcq for her time and expertise

Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith

Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith, or SJ as she’s known, is a freelance Beauty Director. She 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 moisturiser, brow pencil and a tinted lip balm. 

Oh, and she’s never far away from a hydrating face mist.