Beauty Editors Review Charlotte Tilbury's Mood-Enhancing Perfumes—and Have Mixed Feelings

Can a fragrance ignite feelings from blissed-out calm to come-hither flirtation with just a spray? We tested these scents for weeks to find out.

a collage of six charlotte tilbury fragrances that claim to change your mood in front of a colorful backdrop
(Image credit: Charlotte Tilbury/Future)

You might not need a scientist to tell you that a product you love makes you feel good. But if you want justification to hit "Order" on Rhode's new blush or Charlotte Tilbury's new perfumes, there are studies to prove the general mood-boosting benefits of a good purchase. Clinical psychologists have found that setting skincare and beauty rituals can positively impact mental health, while skin creams and makeup application can have "therapeutic" effects.

Charlotte Tilbury's first perfume lineup, released earlier this spring, wants to go a step (or spray) beyond an "Add to Cart" dopamine hit or a favorite scent family. Titled "Fragrance of Emotions," the six perfumes were calibrated to link specific scents with specific moods. In other words? According to the brand, a spray of its Love Frequency floral scent can make you feel more amorous, a Joyphoria scent can up your sense of happiness and joy, and so on.

Influencing emotions through scent is so hot in beauty right now. One new brand, Neurae, developed a range of creams, serums, and eye rollers informed by neuroscience, where the scents of each product activate neurotransmitters responsible for specific feelings. Charlotte Tilbury's perfumes are admittedly less lab-coat adjacent, but they do offer an interesting promise: an attitude adjustment in a bottle of perfume.

In a crowded field of new perfumes, it's a promise that intrigued me (a big-time scent hound with even bigger feelings). So ahead, I've written an honest review of Charlotte Tilbury's new perfumes, including how they work, what they smell like, and how they really make me (and other editors) really feel.

How Do Charlotte Tilbury's "Fragrance of Emotions" Perfumes Work?

Simply put, one spritz of the six Charlotte Tilbury fragrances intends to make you feel some kind of specific way. The lineup includes More Lust (a heady, musk scent), Love Frequency (a wood-meets-floral scent), Joyphoria (a warm floral aroma), Magic Energy (a wood-meets-citrus scent), Calm Bliss (an aquatic floral scent), and Cosmic Power (a spicy amber scent).

In more granular terms, the Charlotte Tilbury team partnered with the International Fragrance and Flavors (IFF) organization, using its proprietary algorithm to pick out so-called "emotion boosting molecules" that activate when paired with specific ingredients.

In a lab setting, the perfumes did inspire the feelings on their labels—most of the time. The most effective fragrance by an internal study was Magic Energy, with 98 percent of testers reporting the scent boosted their mood. Testers hoping for love in a bottle were the least satisfied: 84 percent of testers for More Lust and Love Frequency found that the scents put them in not just a mood, but the mood.

On TikTok, Charlotte Tilbury's perfume changed hearts and minds only some of the time. Results varied from person to person and scent to scent: Some creators found the energy, joy, and even lust listed on the bottle; others picked up on the specific notes without necessarily tapping into a new feeling.

@littlemissperfume

♬ original sound - Bailee | Perfume & Beauty
@erinduganjurchak

♬ La vie en rose (Cover Edith Piaf) - 田东昱

A blind lab test isn't quite the same as a real-world test-drive, where unpredictable events and emotions can overpower even the strongest scents. So I tested Charlotte Tilbury's fragrances in two ways: First, I asked Marie Claire editors to blind-react to the scents, sharing what the scent made them feel without seeing the vibe on the label. (You can watch the whole experiment on our Instagram.) Then, I also chose three emotions I wanted to tap into in my own life—energy, calm, and joy—and alternated between their corresponding Charlotte Tilbury perfumes for several days over a month-long period. I wanted to see if these aromas could not only change my mood in the moment, but also contribute to an outlook that lasts.

editor Halie LeSavage holds up a bottle of Charlotte Tilbury perfume in front of a painting with coordinating colors

I tried Magic Energy, a citrus-and-wood scent intended to enhance energy levels, over a weekend where I had early-morning news to write and a bachelorette party to attend.

(Image credit: Halie LeSavage)
@rocio.roses

♬ i like the way you kiss me - Artemas

I wore each perfume on days I knew I'd need the feeling they claimed to bottle. Magic Energy was my caffeine substitute over a weekend when I bounced from early-morning Cannes Film interviews with Helen Mirren and Elle Fanning to my older sister's bachelorette party. I also sprayed it on whenever the urge to cancel my plans and just watch Netflix kicked in (which was most Thursday through Sunday nights over my testing window).

Joyphoria's warm florals were my shortcut to (temporary) happiness when I had stacked days of doctor's appointments and budgeting chats with my husband—that is, places where I expected to be put in a less-than-sunny mood. And Calm Bliss was my designated weekend and end-of-day wind-down scent: the one I sprayed when I felt frazzled and wanted to just chill.

I could see with each spray why Charlotte Tilbury associated a scent profile with a certain emotion. Joyphoria's florals are reminiscent of a meadow dappled in sunshine; Magic Energy is easily the best citrus fragrance in my repertoire now, with an invigorating effect on the first spritz. But at the end of a month, I couldn't say these potion-like bottles worked lasting magic. On days when things went haywire (I'll spare you the details), taking a whiff of my wrist wasn't quite enough to get my emotions back in check. SSRIs might be more effective. They were pleasant to put on, but I can't definitively say they changed my mood.

a bottle of charlotte tilbury joyphoria perfume in front of a vase of hydrangea flowers and on a table

Charlotte Tilbury's floral Joyphoria perfume conjured feelings of happiness in 91% of testers. For me, it wasn't quite so straightforward.

(Image credit: Halie LeSavage)

Are Charlotte Tilbury's Perfumes Worth the Splurge?

Fragrances and feelings are both highly personal. For $150—a not-insignificant price for a 3.4oz perfume—you'll want to know that you're tapping into the emotion you're paying for with each spritz.

While some Marie Claire editors who blind-reviewed Charlotte Tilbury's perfumes found an instant connection without even reading the label, others felt the notes didn't match the emotion on the bottle. (See our video review on Instagram for the team's full thoughts.)

In my case, I gravitated toward Calm Bliss's seaside-meets-musk scent on the notes alone, and the coastal clean fragrance aligned with scents (and settings) that helped me unwind before they were put into bottle form. It helped that I knew what I was getting into. So, stopping by a Sephora or Charlotte Tilbury counter to try each scent in person is the shortest route to finding one that's worthwhile for you. Or, you can gamble and order the brand's scent sampler kit.

a bottle of charlotte tilbury perfume sitting in front of a shelf of multicolor books

Charlotte Tilbury's Calm Bliss bottled the feeling I have curling up with a good book and a cup of tea, with cool aquatic and musk notes.

(Image credit: Halie LeSavage)

Investing in Charlotte Tilbury's perfumes might also be a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy (or the placebo effect in action). When you're primed to feel more sexy, or joyful, or calm by looking at a label embossed with an aura, you might coax yourself into experiencing those emotions while wearing the associated scent. In some cases, our favorite perfumes already make us feel like a better version of ourselves when we spray them on.

If you want a shortcut to a heightened emotion—and you test the scent in person to confirm they're on the right frequency—Charlotte Tilbury's fragrances might just work. Beauty editors like me can tell you which products we enjoy, but we can't tell you how to feel.

Shop Charlotte Tilbury's Fragrance Collection of Emotions

Halie LeSavage
Senior News Editor (Fashion & Beauty)

Halie LeSavage is the senior fashion and beauty news editor at Marie Claire, where she assigns, edits, and writes stories for both sections. Halie is an expert on runway trends, celebrity style, emerging fashion and beauty brands, and shopping (naturally). In over seven years as a professional journalist, Halie’s reporting has ranged from fashion week coverage spanning the Copenhagen, New York, Milan, and Paris markets, to profiles on industry insiders including stylist Alison Bornstein and J.Crew womenswear creative director Olympia Gayot, to breaking news stories on noteworthy brand collaborations and beauty launches. (She can personally confirm that Bella Hadid’s Ôrebella perfume is worth the hype.) She has also written dozens of research-backed shopping guides to finding the best tote bags, ballet flats, and more. Most of all, Halie loves to explore what trends—like the rise of doll-like Mary Janes or TikTok’s 75 Hard Style Challenge—can say about culture writ large. (She justifies almost any purchase by saying it’s “for work.”) Halie has previously held writer and editor roles at Glamour, Morning Brew, and Harper’s Bazaar. Halie has been cited as a fashion and beauty expert in The Cut, CNN Underscored, and Reuters, among other outlets, and appears in newsletters like Selleb and Self-Checkout to provide shopping recommendations. In 2022, she was awarded the Hearst Spotlight Award for excellence and innovation in fashion journalism. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard College. Outside of work, Halie is passionate about books, baking, and her miniature Bernedoodle, Dolly. For a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting, you can follow Halie on Instagram and TikTok.