The Best Unisex Perfumes Were Made to Be Shared

Yours, mine, and ours.

mean and woman wearing unisex perfumer in a white hallway
(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

All fragrances are genderless at their core. As long as you like a smell, it's the smell for you. Diving into the best unisex perfumes is a great place to start if you need a new fragrance to love, free from the confines of feminine or masculine tropes.

Instead of focusing on sexuality, many perfumers and indie fragrance brands emphasize exploration and personal connection in their creations. They encourage clients "to discover scents that resonate with their unique preferences, regardless of perceived gender associations," explains Frank Voelkl, principal perfumer at dsm-Firmenich.

Gendered fragrances live on a spectrum. While some may lean floral or woody, a so-called neutral profile lies in the nose of the beholder. "Since the fragrance experience is so personal, a ‘neutral fragrance’ can mean something different from one person to another, which means there isn’t truly just one true neutral fragrance," adds the perfumer. "While the idea of a neutral fragrance exists, its definition remains subjective, as perceptions of gender neutrality can vary greatly among individuals."

With that being said, the neutrality of a perfume is up to interpretation. Ahead, experts share their picks for the best unisex perfumes—plus what to look for when shopping.

What to Look For in a Unisex Perfume

  • Style

All perfumes can be unisex, so it's really up to you to decide what style you're going for when making your selection—it's not as easy as, say, searching for a citrus perfume or wedding day scent.

"Within my creative process, I am not required to think of gender, which gives me a little bit more freedom not to have to respect certain structures or fragrance families. Rather, I am able to create disregarding those codes," says Voelkl. I like to wear fragrances mainly for how they make me feel, meaning they are comfortable and they have a feel-good factor."

Kristi Moe, a scent expert and founder of Zodica Perfumery, says one of her favorite fragrance-related memories is when an overtly masculine customer fell in love with a scent that would "be generally perceived as highly feminine" with its rose base. "He happened to be single and wanted to attract a woman who smelled like the perfume!" she shares.

  • Notes

While a few specific notes often come up in fragrances dubbed "unisex" (bergamot, vetiver, and almond are all great examples), you can play with any fragrance family you crave.

"Notes as such don't have a gender," explains fragrance expert Izzy Yilmaz. "They don't lean into masculine or feminine direction from themselves. It's tradition that categorizes them into one of the two."

Yvan Jacqueline, Parfums de Marly's President of the Americas adds that while the idea that florals and botanicals are inherently feminine runs rampant in the fragrance community, similar notes, like lavender, are also seen in masculine-leaning creations. The same goes for gourmand ingredients, like vanilla. There are no rules here.

  • Versatility

While we all have our tastes, a good unisex perfume should allow some versatility in your scent wardrobe.

"Most fragrances, especially of designer brands, can be categorized into feminine or masculine scents. However, some unisex fragrances aim for a balanced blend that appeals to both genders without leaning too far in either direction," shares Yilmaz. "Shopping for unisex fragrances offers versatility, allowing individuals to express their unique identity without conforming to traditional gender norms."

The Best Unisex Perfumes

Also Recommended

What Makes a Perfume Unisex?

Forget the fancy packaging for a moment and think about this: when it comes down to it, we're projecting a story onto our fragrances. All the scent can do is smell how it does.

"Conceptually, unisex fragrances can exist. But nature may still influence you to perceive gender-neutral scents as gendered," explains Moe. We can blame a lot of this on hormones. Estrogen is a female hormone that nourishes the nasal tissue, and when this fluctuates, a woman may pick up on notes that are more sweet, fruity, or floral."

Voelkl adds that, rather than a note used, it’s probably more the absence of gender coding or use of gender-specific ingredients that makes a scent "unisex." For example, the use of, say, florals or fruity ingredients for women and aromatic fougere-type ingredients for men that are typically associated with those ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ codes," he adds.

Russell Wilson and Ciara hold hands on the red carpet.

Couples like Russell Wilson and Ciara have even crafted scents together. Their perfume R&C The Fragrance Duo features two separate bottles that perform wonderfully when mixed.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to Wear Unisex Perfume

The easy answer is to spritz on your pulse points, and more importantly to be open to sharing. A scent will show up differently on your partner than it does on you.

"It’s not necessarily a matter of gender, it’s more a matter of our personal body chemistry which can vary from person to person and can be based on several factors like nutritional habits and environment," explains Voelkl. "Through the development of fragrances we test and do experience people having the fragrance wear differently on them. Some tend to push top notes versus bottom notes on their skin for example. But again, it's not because of gender, just because we all have different body compositions."

Meet the Experts

A man with glasses and a black suit smiling at the camera.
Frank Voelkl

After graduating from ISIPCA, Frank Voelkl composed his first fragrance, a tiare flower. This creation galvanized his career and paid loving homage to his Tahitian wife. Today, as a contemporary ‘adventurer’ Frank relishes the chance to discover the world, especially his travels to French Polynesia, where its intoxicating air is redolent with the colors and scents of nature in its purest form. These paradisiacal islands – flamboyantly rich in nature and plenitude - are perhaps his greatest inspiration of all.

A quiet yet charismatic man, Frank believes “in creating fragrances that connect with your soul. My goal is to craft scents that will evoke a profound emotional connection – with the power to elicit pure, unadulterated happiness.”

A man wearing a light blue shirt and dark blue jacket smiles softly at the camera.
Izzy Yilmaz

Izzy Yilmaz is a fragrance expert who shares his wisdom with the masses on social media, helping viewers "build their perfect fragrance collection."

A woman with dark middle-parted hair wearing a green dress.
Kristi Moe

Zodica Perfumery is a small-batch and artisanal line of celestial-inspired fine fragrances. Each perfume reflects the emotion and season of its sign as designed by founder Kristi Moe.

Kristi Moe, a national beauty industry veteran, perfected each scent over the course of three years with the world's finest perfume ingredient suppliers. The result is a collection that honors both the sign's essence and seasonal month.

A man wearing a white shirt and dark blue jacket smiles at the camera.
Yvan Jacqueline

​​For the past 11 years, Yvan Jacqueline has been at the helm of the luxury brand Parfums de Marly and holds the position of President of the Americas.

Prior to his current role in the Americas, the charming and charismatic Yvan worked extensively with retailers and department stores across the globe. He is responsible for opening many countries across Europe, Middle East and Eastern Europe. Initially establishing the footprint and brand identity of Parfums de Marly on a global scale was imperative prior to creating a stronghold in the US Market.

Freelance Writer

Sophia Vilensky is a freelance beauty writer at Marie Claire, where she writes about the latest and greatest skincare launches, hair colors, and Cardi B manicures. Her work can also be found at Byrdie, Bravo, and Us Weekly. You can find her on Instagram @sophiavilensky.