Out of all of the different perfume categories, floral is one of the most popular. And gardenia is the scent that most of us are familiar with. Gardenia is a family of small evergreen shrubs or trees that are between one and 15 meters in height.
There are 142 species in the family, but we all know gardenia as one scent — the scent of the flowers that grow on these trees. Gardenia has a natural sweet smell with slight zesty undertones. Because they grow on shrubs and trees, you also often smell a whiff of greens when you walk past blooming gardenias.
If you’re looking for your next gardenia perfume, we have some great recommendations for you!
How I Chose These Perfumes
I conducted this review not based on my preferences but based on YOURS! Yes, that’s right. I searched the internet to find the gardenia perfumes that received the highest accolades from regular perfume enthusiasts and other professional perfume connoisseurs. While I was a little biased in my approach (I mean, have you smelled Gucci’s Gorgeous Gardenia?) I mainly based this review on other recommendations from other reviewers.
Why Trust Me?
I know what you’re thinking; what does this Stephanie girl know about perfumes? Hey, I have smelled lots of perfumes in my day. I even worked at Sephora when I was in college and spent quite a bit of time in the perfume section, where I learned a lot about fine fragrance. I know what separates pungent old lady perfume from, well, Tocca or Versace.
The Best Gardenia Perfumes You Need to Try
Without further ado, try out these perfumes and get the smell your garden will seriously envy!
Royal Hawaiian Gardenia Cologne Spray
Perfume can get expensive, so I’m starting with an affordable one. For under $20, you’ll get a classic gardenia fragrance. This perfume literally only has gardenia notes — nothing else. It’s very pleasant and the absolute best option if gardenia perfumes are your thing. Plus, it’s made in the USA and is not tested on animals.
- Pure gardenia
- Made in the USA (Hawaii, to be exact)
- Not tested on animals
- Very floral and slightly tropical scent
- It isn’t too strongly scented, perfect for the office
- Some reviewers complained about old and stale bottles, so ensure you’re not purchasing an expired bottle
Gucci Gorgeous Gardenia
This is by far one of my favorite Gucci fragrances of all time. This is a very sweet floral fragrance that smells like, yes, gorgeous gardenia. The smell is absolutely irresistible; Gucci also throws in notes of pear and berries to give it more of a fruity kick. This also makes it a very sensual fragrance, perfect for date night.
- Lucious fragrance that’s not too strong
- Gardenia and fruit notes blend seamlessly
- Perfect spring and summer fragrance
- Unless your pheromones love this fragrance, it may fade after only a few hours
Pacifica Tahitian Gardenia
Before anything, let’s talk about the Pacifica brand. This brand is completely vegan, cruelty-free, and natural. That alone is a reason to support this brand. Now for the fragrance, it’s more of a tropical gardenia than anything. Pacifica combines gardenia notes with jasmine, orange, and tea. You can use it daily and it’s long-lasting. For $20 a bottle, that’s a steal. Plus, it’s a good fragrance for those with sensitive skin.
- It doesn’t contain harsh additives, making it ideal for sensitive skin types
- A light tropical-floral scent, ideal for school or the office
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- The perfect fragrance when the weather warms up
- Many reviewers have said that Pacifica changed their formulation and newer variations of this fragrance aren’t as good
Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia
Estee Lauder’s Tuberose Gardenia is a well-rounded floral perfume, but gardenia is its main scent. In addition to tuberose, this fragrance also features jasmine, orange flower, and white lily. It’s a very simple perfume but is still elegant. The bottle features a textured gold top inspired by the necklace Estee Lauder gave her granddaughter, Aerin.
- The perfect mix of gardenia and tuberose
- Perfect summer scent
- Too strong, not a good perfume for the office
- Some reviewers say the scent has changed
Vera Wang Embrace – Marigold and Gardenia
I have to be honest, I got Vera Wang Princess as a gift when I was younger and didn’t care for it. But from my research, it seems like this Vera Wang fragrance is a lot better. Gardenia and marigold are obviously the most powerful notes here, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is a simple floral fragrance that’s ideal for year-round wear.
- The perfect mixture of gardenia and marigold
- Modern fragrance
- Perfect for year-round wear
- Strong alcohol scent, even though it’s a toilette
- Some customers reported broken or leaking bottles when ordered online
Chanel Gardénia Les Exclusifs de Chanel
When it comes to luxury fragrance, Chanel is the cream of the crop. And this one is a truly exquisite gardenia fragrance. It was actually created in 1925 by Ernest Beau (the same perfumer who designed Chanel No. 5) and this gardenia fragrance is a must-have for all gardenia fanatics. In addition to gardenia, this perfume features notes of jasmine, green leaves, orange blossom, tuberose, and a vanilla base.
- Light fragrance, ideal for the office
- Closest perfume to a true gardenia
- It doesn’t last a long time
- Probably the most expensive perfume on this list
While Tocca isn’t my favorite perfume company, one thing I have to say about their scents is they truly transport you to another world. This is true with Florence, which makes you feel like you’re in, well, Florence.
This is a green-centered fragrance that’s very fresh. It takes that traditional gardenia perfume and gives it a modern feeling. Pear and bergamot make this scent a little cleaner. This fragrance is very versatile; you can wear it to the office and spritz on some more perfume before heading out for the night. Or maybe you don’t need the extra spritz — this perfume is apparently very long-lasting!
- Lovely gardenia-based perfume
- Not the most expensive perfume on this list, but it is pretty pricey for the size
- Some powdery notes in this perfume that some reviewers don’t like
Byredo Casablanca Lily
Byredo is known for its unique scents, including this one that was inspired by the Moroccan city. In addition to gardenia, this perfume has notes of carnation, black plum, tuberose, honey, and wood. You can describe this scent as spicy yet sweet, with plenty of floral notes. This vibrant nighttime fragrance represents change but also embodies the classical elegance that we all strive to have.
- Delicate fragrance, ideal for both day and night
- Luxurious fragrance — with a price that matches
- Classy and not too loud
- More honey and tuberose notes, not enough gardenia
- Very expensive
- The smell is so delicate that some don’t smell the individual notes
- Not long-lasting
Versace Crystal Noir
Versace Crystal is one of my favorite fragrances, but now I really want to try Versace Crystal Noir. As you can tell, this is the sultrier version of Versace’s classic Crystal perfume. They take a warmer approach to the gardenia scent with ginger, tuberose, and amber scents. This is the perfect perfume to wear during a night out!
- Fragrance lasts all-day
- Some reviewers complained it smells too much like their grandma
Cartier La Panthère
This is probably the fiercest fragrance that Cartier ever released. As you can see, “la panthère” is French for “panther” and represents a woman’s grace, yet independence. Gardenia is the main scent, but you’ll also smell musk, rhubarb, and patchouli. Cartier released this fragrance in 2014 and they have already redesigned this bottle numerous times — the one that features the unique panther design is my favorite.
Keep in mind, be careful when ordering this perfume online. It seems like the Amazon link I included is okay, but be safe and buy it from Nordstrom. I didn’t link Nordstrom because their website isn’t working for me now.
- Warmer fragrance, perfect for the fall
- Great perfume for people of all ages
- It’s floral but sweet
- Strong scent, will last all-day
- Sketchy ordering this perfume online
- Some reviewers complained it has an old smell
Chantecaille Parfums Pour Femme Tiare
This is a more tropical floral fragrance. Tahitian gardenia mixes with jasmine and freesia, leaving you to feel like you’re on an exotic beach. Ambergris, cedar, musk, and sandalwood serve as the base and make this perfume more sensual. This is perfect as a date night fragrance or even the perfume to wear to your wedding.
- Extremely unique scent
- It has been in and out of production ever since it debuted in 1997
Guerlain Cruel Gardenia
If you’re looking for a warm floral, you should choose this fragrance. This scent combines white florals with a unique creaminess. In addition to gardenia, this perfume also features jasmine, peach, and tuberose. It fades down to a sensual musk. Even though it’s an expensive perfume, it’s not as overpowering as other luxury scents tend to be, making this perfume very versatile.
- Not an overpowering fragrance yet still lasts a long time
- Glorious scent; white flowers with a powdery creaminess
- A vintage scent, but not an old lady scent
- Gardenia isn’t as noticeable with all of the other notes
- It may not be the best perfume for young women
Heretic Dirty Gardenia
I never heard of Heretic Parfum, but now I’m very curious. They’re known for their expert perfume blends, focusing on one scent but morphing them only slightly. For Dirty Gardenia, they take a crisp approach to this classic scent. The scent is greener, with notes of moss mixed in. It’s known to be a very modern yet calming fragrance.
- Incredible floral and green fragrance
- Not for those who don’t like green fragrances
Question: Does Jasmine Smell Better Than Gardenia?
Answer: This is completely based on preference. I personally love the smell of jasmine more and jasmine reacts better with my pheromones. But again, the next person can say the same thing about gardenia.
The one thing I will say is gardenia is a more distinct scent compared to jasmine. Gardenia is also famously considered a more feminine scent, which is why it has been famously featured in various perfumes. Jasmine has similar earthy undertones, but I think it has a sweeter scent compared to gardenia.
Question: But Does Gardenia Have a Nice Smell?
Answer: Gardenia is not only a lovely-smelling flower but also has a very complex scent. That’s because the gardenia flower changes scents throughout the day. From a zesty/spicy green smell to a softer velvety smell, gardenias scent evolves. This is why you may also confuse the smell of gardenia with another flower, such as jasmine.
Question: Does Gardenia Work Better as a Top Note?
Answer: First, this section requires a little bit of fragrance knowledge. The first whiff of a perfume you smell is called the top note. As the fragrance settles into your pheromones, the middle notes come out and they last between 20 and 60 minutes.
The base notes are what’s left of the fragrance once the middle notes evaporate. I personally think the base notes are the most important part of a fragrance because they make up the full body of the perfume and dictate how and if the fragrance will last.
Now back to the main question. Does gardenia work better as a top note? Or is it best suited as a middle or base note? It depends. Gardenia is a stronger scent, but not so strong that it causes headaches or other negative effects. For example, sandalwood as a top note does that, I’ve noticed.
Even though gardenia is powerful, it’s very balanced and works well with a variety of other scents. With that being said, I think gardenia can work well as the top note and even as middle and base notes. It all depends on the fragrance.
Best Gardenia Perfumes Guide: Bottomline
Floral perfume is the most popular fragrance category and is my personal favorite. It’s also no surprise that gardenia is one of the most common scents featured in perfume. That’s why we compiled a comprehensive list of the best gardenia perfumes.
My personal favorite is Gucci’s Gorgeous Gardenia. It takes traditional gardenia notes and makes a sweeter scent. Berries and pear give the scent a fruity feeling, so it’s more flexible than your grandma’s gardenia perfume. The jasmine notes also make this perfume more sensual. This scent isn’t too strong, so you can also wear it to school or the office.
Next time you’re perfume shopping, make sure you try Gucci Gorgeous Gardenia or one of these other fragrances.