The 8 Best Vanilla Perfumes Ever Created

Prepare for the compliments to roll in.

Collage of vanilla perfumes by the 7 virtues, henry rose, kayali, and nest overlaid a yellow gradient background
(Image credit: Future)

Fragrance is an incredibly personal beauty product. The best perfumes to me are likely going to be different for you. For instance, some people like to smell seductive and mysterious, while others want to smell like a freshly baked dessert. I, for one, fall into the latter camp. In middle school, I would douse myself in body sprays like Victoria's Secret Vanilla Lace or the ever-nostalgic Warm Vanilla Sugar from Bath and Body Works just so I could smell like a cupcake personified. Now all grown up, my tastes have come a long way and so have the sickly sweet vanilla perfumes of the early aughts. 

Nowadays, the best vanilla perfumes are combined with a variety of notes to create fragrances with nuance and sophistication. Faye Harris, Co-Founder and CMO of the eco-conscious luxury fragrance brand, Eauso Vert, says as much. "Vanilla is an incredibly versatile ingredient and there are so many fragrance compositions that can be made with it to give it an entirely unique personality," she explains. So whether you're into spicy, woody, or floral fragrances, I'm willing to bet there's a vanilla perfume out there waiting to be your next favorite. 

As a vanilla lover myself, I made it my personal mission to find the best vanilla perfumes on the market and my search did not disappoint. Ahead, you'll find my all-time favorite vanilla perfumes, tested by yours truly. Don't let the thought of sugary sweetness deter you, either. I've made sure to include a wide variety of vanilla scents that work for every season, so whether you're looking for something floral for summer or a warm perfume for winter, I've made sure to cover my bases. 

What to Look For in Vanilla Perfume

  • Complementary fragrance notes 

Long gone are the days when vanilla fragrances are confectionary overloads. Nowadays, Harris explains that vanilla is often paired with woodsy, citrus, or spicy notes to help balance the sweetness of vanilla while still letting it shine through. Consider a vanilla fragrance that combines other favored notes for a more sophisticated take on the gourmand scent. "Citrus can add a freshness while spicy and woody notes can particularly enhance the warming and comforting aspects of vanilla," adds Harris. "Soft florals and musks can enhance the creaminess and sensuality, creating an incredibly smooth, lactonic effect." 

  • Ingredients

All perfumes are mainly composed of three ingredients—water, alcohol, and perfume oils. As I'm sure you could guess, the combination of perfume oils is what makes a fragrance unique and the types of oils can play a huge role in the outcome of a perfume. When it comes to vanilla in fragrances, Harris explains that it can either have natural or synthetic origins depending on the fragrance's desired character. "Synthetics tend to be used to give a more sweet, addictive quality, while the natural extract brings a more animal, leathery, or spicy dimension," she says. When shopping for a vanilla perfume, the ingredient list can shed light on its overall sense. 

  • Concentration of fragrance

Not all perfumes are made equal, and that's a good thing! On fragrance labels, you may run across different names such as eau de toilette, eau de parfum, or perfume oil. The difference here is the percentage of perfume oil and its concentration, which can affect the longevity and character of the fragrance. Choosing between the three is a matter of personal preference and skin and nose sensitivity. Here, Harris breaks down the pros and cons of each type of fragrance. 

Types of Fragrance

  • Eau de toilettes (EDTs) typically contain five to 15 percent perfume oil and are often much lighter than eau de parfums. Harris says that since EDTS tend to be less potent and clingy on the skin, they give you the flexibility to reapply when necessary without having to stick to the same scent all day. 
  • Eau de parfum (EDPs) have a much higher concentration of perfume oil than EDts, at around 15 to 20 percent. "They are perfect for those seeking to express their taste in scent more outwardly, as these formulas are more concentrated and will have more longevity than an EDT," says Harris. 
  • Perfume oils are also made of a high concentration of oils and natural extracts, except they don't contain any alcohol and typically come in rollerball form as opposed to a spray. Harris says these are a great option for those sensitive to alcohol, but still want to enjoy a fragrance. 

The Best Vanilla Perfumes

Meet the Expert

Faye Harris, Co-founder and CMO of Eauso Vert headshot
Faye Harris

After meeting during their 10+ years working in beauty marketing, Faye connected with Eauso Vert Co-Founder Tanya Gonzalez over their love of the simple pleasures and beautiful complexities of life: culture, connection, and the subtle art of doing more with less. Together, they created a brand new 5-fragrance collection rooted in the idea of celebrating sensuous experiences through the power of sustainable scent. 

Brooke Knappenberger
Associate Commerce Editor

Brooke Knappenberger is the Associate Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she specializes in crafting shopping stories—from sales content to buying guides that span every vertical on the site. She also oversees holiday coverage with an emphasis on gifting guides as well as Power Pick, our monthly column on the items that power the lives of MC’s editors. She has over three years of experience writing on fashion, beauty, and entertainment and her work has appeared on Looper, NickiSwift, The Sun US, and Vox Magazine of Columbia, Missouri. Brooke obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with an emphasis on Magazine Editing and has a minor in Textile and Apparel Management.