The 12 best perfumes for women of 2021


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We like to think of the scent as the cherry on the sundae, that finishing touch that brings your look together. But there’s no denying that buying a new perfume can be a difficult experience (not to mention the headaches). To help guide your search, it’s a good idea to think of scents under different categories: floral, fruity, woody, or clean, as most people naturally gravitate towards one of them. This will help you narrow down the options… at least somewhat. But at really Make it easy, we’ve done the hard work for you, sorting and sniffing the options available to select the best of the best in each of these categories, some of which happen to be our personal favorites here at Byrdie’s HQ.

Whether you’re looking for a new signature scent or looking to build your fragrance wardrobe, check out our pick of the best fragrances for women below.

Final verdict

A lot of the best perfume for women comes down to individual preferences. Do you prefer floral notes? Wooded? To clean? Fruity? The options are endless, making it even more difficult to choose a favorite. Team Byrdie stands alongside Le Labo Santal 33 Eau De Parfum (see Nordstrom) as one of the best perfumes of all time for men and women. Le Labo describes it as “sweet, smoky and leathery at the same time”, and you are guaranteed to give you compliments. Another great unisex choice is the Byredo Bibliothéque Eau de Parfum (see Nordstrom), with notes of peach, plum, peony and violet. You can share both of these with your loved ones, partners, and friends, but chances are you want to keep everything to yourself.

What to look for in women’s perfumes

All you like

In short, there really is no right or wrong answer here. The perfume is a totally something personal, so the best thing when choosing is to find one that you (and you alone) really can’t do without, Smith says.


  • Again, while this is totally personal, the main thing is to make sure you try it on yourself first. “The scent of a perfume can vary depending on body chemistry, so it’s important to make sure you like it while wearing it before committing to the full bottle,” suggests Smith.

  • Smith suggests spraying it on your pulse points: wrists, neck, and crook of your arm. (This will help to intensify and diffuse the scent.) But, if you spray it on your wrists, not then rub them together, like so many people do. “It generates heat, which can end up altering the smell,” says Smith.

  • There’s no set answer here, but if your scent is stored properly, it can last for years and years, Smith says. Make sure to keep all your bottles in a cool and dry environment; if and when the scent starts to change or smell bad, that’s when it’s time to replace it, she says.

Why trust Byrdie?

Byrdie’s collaborator, Melanie Rud, has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites. Her scent tastes are on the clean, fresh, green end of the spectrum, and once she finds a scent she loves, she sticks with it. Example: She’s been wearing Jo Malone and Juliette Has a Gun perfume on this list for years.

Meet the expert

Cordelia Smith is a perfume expert and the founder of Form 55, a line of body and home products. She personally prefers more neutral scents, although she loves the notes of rose and beeswax (which is her favorite scent on Earth).

Based on our Diversity Commitment, 15% of the products in our recently released Market Roundups will feature Black-owned and / or Black-founded brands. At the time of publication, we were unable to find enough fragrances from a Black-owned and / or Black-founded business. If you know of one that we should consider, please email us at, and we’ll evaluate the product as soon as possible.

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