best target perfume options

Best Target Perfume Options to Sniff on Your Next Shopping Trip

The best Target perfume options might not be what you expect. Most “best of” lists are full of well-known designers and brands we’ve come to recognize over the years.  I’ve been Target-obsessed since at least the mid-2000s, but the fragrance aisle was one place they always seemed to let me down.

They had some of the same perfumes I could get elsewhere, a few celebrity scents, and nothing that made me want to shop there for my next scent more than, say, Kohl’s, Sephora, or Ulta. Target has changed over the past couple of years and, in many ways, their perfume section is a breath of fresh air. These options are budget-friendly. Many of them have clean ingredients and are cruelty-free, too.

A lot of the best Target fragrances can be mixed and matched so you can create the scent of your dreams, featuring your favorite notes. That’s my favorite part. What do you do after you’ve tried so many perfumes you feel like there’s nothing left? You start concocting your own custom scents.

For the average person (even if they’re ga-ga over fragrance), that’s going to take place in an aisle or at a vanity, not a lab. Target makes it easy.

Bottom Line Up Front

It’s difficult to choose just a few favorite perfumes at Target, but you must start somewhere. I recommend giving these a sniff first:

  • Pacifica Island Vanilla
  • MIX:BAR Glass Rose
  • Good Chemistry Magnolia Violet

My Top Picks at a Glance

  • Best vanilla: Pacifica Island Vanilla or MIX:BAR Bourbon Vanilla
  • Most popular: MIX:BAR Glass Rose
  • Best vacation scent: Good Chemistry Coco Blush
  • Best floral: Pacifica French Lilac
  • Best comfort scent: Pacifica Dream Moon Spray
  • Best everyday scent: Good Chemistry Magnolia Violet
  • Best citrus: Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange or Solinotes White Tea

What to Know When Shopping for Perfume at Target

perfume on hands

Go in with an open mind and some time. You won’t find the regular department store fare here, but there are many good options to consider (like the whole Pacifica line). You’ll be able to try a lot–if not most–of the Target perfumes. They have testers out.

Don’t go in hoping to find your department store favorites, but do enjoy the overlooked Pacifica, Solinotes, and Good Chemistry options. A lot of these are layerable, so you have the option to create your own unique fragrance with your favorite notes.

Selection Criteria

When I was choosing the best Target perfume options to add to this list, I found:

  • My personal favorites
  • Popular fragrances (like the ones with major TikTok hype right now)
  • The ones that simply smell beautiful, perform well, and would appeal to a range of preferences

I didn’t have to consider price very much since Target’s perfumes are all on the more affordable end of the spectrum. That’s quite the feat since some of them smell so expensive.

The 12 Best Target Perfume Options

There are so many good scents at Target. Still, if you have a general idea of the types of notes you like or fragrance families you prefer, it should be easy to narrow it down to just a few.

Pacifica Island Vanilla

If you want a sweet, honeyed vanilla, try this one. It’s not so sweet it’s sickening (it wouldn’t have made the list). I had a bottle of this one and mixed it with just about everything. I never got tired of it because it smelled so much like vanilla extract rather than cake.

If I had a perfume that came across as too sharp or screechy, I’d just add this to the mix–boom, all better! It was easy to do because even though there are several notes, it smelled like just one.

That’s much easier to combine with an already-complex perfume than another fragrance that has to work its way through top, middle, and base notes throughout the day. This is not a high-maintenance perfume. It’s the reliable friend you can take anywhere.

The notes include Tahitian vanilla, bourbon vanilla, honey, jasmine, and tea. You’ll probably just smell the vanilla (but that’s not a bad thing!).

Pros

  • Makes a good vanilla base for layering with other Target (or other) perfumes, which I love because it gives me a chance to wear other fragrances that I feel need something to anchor them.
  • Clean and soft, perfect for everyday wear
  • Everything about this is no-fuss, from the fragrance to the bottle.

Cons

  • The name makes it sound more exciting than it is. It’s just a basic vanilla, even though it’s still a beautiful fragrance.
  • As much as this seems like a crowd-pleaser to me, I’m pretty sure my mom wrinkled her nose at it when I let her smell it, so you’ll probably want to try it out before you buy it. I think she just found it boring.
  • It didn’t last long on my skin.

Pacifica Dream Moon Spray

Pacifica Dream Moon Spray

There are two things I love about Pacifica fragrances across the board. First, their bottles are cute and uniform without being boring. This bottle, for example, is a blue that fades to soft magenta. The other thing I love is that the notes are listed right there on the front, so you know whether it’s a scent you might like. In this case, it’s patchouli, sandalwood, and pink rose (yes, please).

Pros

  • It tells you exactly what to expect on the bottle, which I appreciate for that whole mixing-and-matching thing.
  • Speaking of the bottle, it’s still got that signature Pacifica simplicity, but this one is especially beautiful (those are some of my favorite colors).
  • It’s a dupe for Ariana Grande Cloud, which costs a lot more and doesn’t smell right on my skin for some reason. This one just smells sweet and earthy on me. Oddly enough, my daughter says this one smells like pickles on her. (Ariana Grande’s other perfume, Thank U, Next, happens to smell like pickles on me, so maybe there’s some roundabout logic here that means if one doesn’t smell great on you, the other one will.) 
  • It’s sweet and woodsy, not a patchouli bomb, so don’t let that note scare you off. This is one of my favorite types of scents and always has been. I’m so in love with sandalwood and always have been, it’s not even funny. 
  • Vegan, clean, and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Doesn’t last as long as I’d like. I’d be more annoyed if this were more expensive, but I’d still rather not reapply once I’m done getting ready for the day.
  • Some may think it’s too sweet.
  • I’m on the fence about how soft it is. In some ways, I wish it could be more intense, but that might make it overpowering. If it were much stronger, it might lose part of its appeal.

MIX:BAR Bourbon Vanilla

BAR Bourbon Vanilla

The MIX:BAR fragrances are Target exclusives, so you can’t find them anywhere else. The beauty of these is how easily you can wear them alone or layer them up. This one’s got a sexier edge to it than the cleaner, straightforward Pacifica Island Vanilla. To me, it needs to be layered with a more feminine fragrance, but just barely.

Almost every time I try to wear something that can be unisex, it feels out of place. I’m not all gourmands and florals, but I need the scent profile to tilt more toward the feminine side–some flowers, a little bit of fruit, maybe some sweetness, but not like baked goods–for the product to mesh well with my skin.

Notes in this one include bergamot, jasmine, apple blossom, Madagascar vanilla bean, and sandalwood. There’s a tobacco/smoke undertone to it, too, that isn’t listed in the notes.

Pros

  • Clean, cruelty-free, and vegan
  • Delicious, rich vanilla that’s not overly sweet–in fact, if you’re looking for a vanilla that leans a little masculine, this could be it. 
  • Good projection
  • It smells so much like a high-end vanilla perfume I had a sample of at one point, but I can’t remember what it was. It, too, was unisex. I remember that much. Needless to say, this Bourbon Vanilla perfume smells like it costs more than it does, though.

Cons

  • Doesn’t last all that long
  • The hint of smoke might be too much for some noses (again, I wouldn’t want to wear this one alone because of it).
  • The pepper is too much for some people, but I enjoy smoky, peppery fragrances.

MIX:BAR Glass Rose

BAR Glass Rose

This has become a TikTok hit–people claim it smells much more expensive than it is (I agree!). It’s a lively, warm(ish) scent with raspberry, bergamot, rose, peony, and amber that comes in a regular bottle or brush-on fragrance pen.

The mix of florals, woods, and hint of warmth (just a hint–it’s still ideal for spring and summer) makes this one of my favorite kinds of scents. I’m not usually big on berries in my perfumes, but this one has some balance. It’s heavier on the citrus and rose than anything else. I wouldn’t hate it if there was a little more amber, or even some woods or vanilla.

It’s fresh, not jammy, and it kind of reminds me of some of the other rose scents I have in my collection, like Chloé. That, too, is just a little too fresh for me some days, but it’s still a sparkling rose I appreciate.

Scents like this tend to be my best friends when I feel a little “off,” like it wouldn’t take much to trigger a headache or nausea. It takes a lot for me to skip perfume (going out without it makes me feel like I forgot my pants!), so I love having fragrances like this available.

Pros

  • There are different application methods, depending on whether you go for the full bottle or brush-on pen, which can make it easy for travel.
  • It’s a bright, fresh fragrance that’s good for spring and summer.
  • Layerable (Hmmm…I might want to try it with Bourbon Vanilla, now that I think about it…)
  • This bottle looks like all the others in the MIX:BAR line, but the blush and gold combination on this particular scent absolutely glows.

Cons

  • If you just read the notes, you might be expecting something a little different and end up disappointed.
  • I wish there was more depth and warmth to it to make it more of an all-year kind of fragrance, but I guess that’s where the layering comes in. Still, I like it when layering feels like an exciting opportunity more than a necessity.

Good Chemistry Magnolia Violet

Good Chemistry Magnolia Violet

Of course, with two of my favorite notes right there in the name, I had to include this one on the list. It smells like Marc Jacobs Daisy, which isn’t what I expected.

If you just look at the notes, you might be surprised too. It’s got a fresher scent than I imagined it would when I looked at the name. Floral? Sure. Fresh…not so much. It’s feminine, pretty, and can go anywhere, but I’d choose something warmer and sexier for date night.

Target lists the notes as magnolia, peony, and amber (it looks like they forgot violet!).

Pros

  • If you like Marc Jacobs Daisy, you might be happy spending less on this one. This one’s actually better on me than Daisy. Daisy does something a little funky on my skin, even though it smelled good on everyone else I shared my bottle with. 
  • Still comparing it with Daisy, this one’s a little more grown-up, which I can appreciate.
  • Good for layering
  • Clean fragrance (no parabens, phthalates, artificial dyes, GMOs, or propylene glycol)

Cons

  • I was hoping for a more potent magnolia fragrance supported by violet and other notes.
  • Doesn’t last all day
  • It’s all about the notes that hyped me up about it and then let me down–I wanted a warm, ambery magnolia fragrance with a kick from the peony. Based on the name, I had built up something completely different in my head, but it still smells good.

MIX:BAR Blackberry Tonic

BAR Blackberry Tonic

This fragrance works for men or women, thanks to the woods and musk. Based on the list of notes, you wouldn’t think so. They’re blackberry, lily of the valley, jasmine, musk wood, and vanilla.

I like that I can smell the blackberries but they’re not too sweet. They really do have more in common with muddled blackberries in a beverage than the ones in a jar of jam. I smell something green and almost minty/herbal, but I think that’s just the lily of the valley coming through. 

Pros

  • This one is enjoyable to layer because it does have that slight masculine edge to it. You can fully embrace that or layer a more traditionally feminine scent on top.
  • Clean, vegan, and cruelty-free
  • Smells like a high-end fragrance, but it’s a budget pick. Once it’s dried down, it really does smell like something from a niche brand or high-end designer to me (the alcohol smell is overpowering at first). It smells smooth, not “fuzzy” the way a lot of cheaper fragrances do, as if their notes are competing instead of working together.

Cons

  • It’s one of the lighter fragrances from the line.
  • Doesn’t last all day. 
  • Unisex fragrances can be challenging for me to pull off, so this one’s a little weird on me by itself. It’s another one that performs best on my skin when it’s paired up with a floral or sweet vanilla.
  • It really could use something else in the base notes, like more vanilla or amber, in order to stand on its own; I don’t like that I’d need to purchase a bottle of something else to feel comfortable wearing this one.

Pacifica French Lilac

Pacifica French Lilac

This is one of the best lilac fragrances I’ve ever tried. It smells just like what you’d expect–no other notes get in there and muddy up the experience, even though there are some additional ones listed. It’s a fresh, beautiful floral.

I’d like to wear this one with an A-line, sort-of-casual dress in a solid neutral color. I feel like that would be a good match. (Do you match your perfumes to your outfits, too?) Maybe navy blue. I like that this is a feminine, floral fragrance, but it still has a serious, grounded side.

You can layer it with other fragrances, but that’s the beauty of this–you’re in control. Target says this perfume has lilac, magnolia leaves, heliotrope, ylang-ylang, hyacinth, and nectarine notes. I just smell lilac.

Pros

  • What you see on the label is exactly what you get.
  • It’s fresh and floral.
  • Though it’s not “me” and I’d never choose it as a signature scent (I don’t really do those anyway because there are far too many to sample in the world), it does make me feel pretty when I wear it and I’d like to mix it with other simple fragrances to see what I can come up with.

Cons

  • It’s a little soapy.
  • It may smell too “green” and fresh for some people’s preferences.
  • It doesn’t last more than few hours, at least on me.

Good Chemistry Coco Blush

Good Chemistry Coco Blush

This is a clean, fruity, summertime scent that’s begging to be paired up with a light, fluffy beach read. It’s sweet, floral, and fruity–to me, it smells pink. There’s just enough depth to it to make it interesting. Oddly, it’s not what I expected when I saw the bottle and the name. I thought it’d be a pink pepper, floral scent with an amber or musk (or both) base. Sometimes I still think I smell the pink pepper.

Notes include coconut water, pineapple, and driftwood. It’s a vacation in a bottle and reminds me of some of the summertime scents I’ve picked up at Victoria’s Secret over the years.

Pros

  • Good projection–the best of all the Good Chemistry fragrances I tried.
  • Uplifting fragrance
  • I love that this is so much more than a generic tropical scent. It does smell carefree and like joy in a bottle, but it’s not the mediocre piña colada by the sea you might expect when you read the notes. It’s a light, fruity, floral scent with just enough warmth to make me like it.

Cons

  • It won’t last all day, and I really want it to.
  • It is kind of generic, but in a way that means you can wear it anywhere and it most people will probably enjoy the scent.

Pacifica Tahitian Gardenia

Pacifica Tahitian Gardenia

Because I’m such a fan of the tiare flower (Tahitian gardenia), this one is right up my alley. It’s an unapologetic, creamy white floral with a tropical edge that makes it reminiscent of balmy summer nights.

The notes are gardenia, jasmine, and tea leaves.

Pros

  • Amazing projection
  • It’s a bright, happy scent that feels like a vacation fragrance.
  • It’s more intense than I expected, and I like it. It’s not watered down at all.
  • It reminds me of a Monoi de Tahiti product from Yves Rocher I used several years ago that I stopped buying because I always had to order it online.

Cons

  • Not the same as the gardenia flower, so it could be disappointing if that’s what you’re looking for.
  • It might be too intense for some people. I love it. I would like to be surrounded by this scent on an island right now. Mostly because I’d be on a tropical island, but also because the fragrance goes right along with that experience.

Good Chemistry Queen Bee

Good Chemistry Queen Bee

One thing about some of the best Target perfumes that keeps throwing me off is how the names don’t seem to match the notes they list. That’s the case with this one, too. I read the name and think honey, but the notes are black currant, peony, and amber. To me, that sounds like a perfect pick for the end of summer and into fall. That’s not what this is.

It’s a pretty fruity-floral with a hint of honey you might not pick up if you didn’t know the name. It’s good for summer. It’s smooth and feminine, but I can’t say I detect any of those notes except maybe the amber.

There’s a honey undertone at the end (probably the amber), but it’s not pronounced. I wanted it to smell similar to LUSH’s Honey I Washed the Kids, with a little something extra to take it from “just honey” to “pretty” but it doesn’t. However, it’s still one of my favorites from the Good Chemistry line. It does smell good, but it’s not intense enough.

Pros

  • It’s a crowd-pleasing scent, so if you tend to like the fruity florals that are popular, there’s a good chance you could safely buy this without testing it first.
  • When I smell it, it makes me feel optimistic and brightens my mood, but it’s not a whole experience the way some perfumes can be (you know the ones that take you to another time and/or place?).
  • Average throw, but I wish it were stronger.
  • It’s light, pretty, and feminine–a little sweet, but nothing like Prada Candy or Aquolina Pink Sugar. 

Cons

  • Probably not ideal for year-round wear. I have only used this in the summer, but I can’t imagine it would perform well at all in the winter. You’d barely notice it.
  • The name is a little misleading for the fragrance in the bottle, but people will probably look it up or sniff it before making a purchase, so it’s not that big of a deal.

Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange

Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange

I used to have a bottle of this, and I’m pretty sure I had the matching candle, too. It’s just a good, juicy citrus layered with berries. I could see pairing this up with a vanilla perfume or something spicy for an extra-special, custom scent. 

The list of notes is short and sweet: blood orange, strawberry, and raspberry. See what I mean? It just smells juicy.

Pros

  • It smells delectable and juicy on its own–one of the best citrus perfumes I know of–but it’s also suitable for layering.
  • It’s a clean fragrance.
  • It’s less likely to trigger headaches and allergies than some other types of fragrances. I feel like citruses are the best bet when you are prone to headaches and allergies.

Cons

  • It doesn’t last as long as I’d like.
  • It’s best worn in the spring and summer; it feels out of place for cooler months (though you could layer it with something and keep wearing it year-round that way).

Solinotes White Tea

Solinotes White Tea

This one’s a little out of the norm for modern women’s fragrances, and that’s why you have to try it. It’s a calming, zen scent in a world of fruity florals and warm vanillas (not that there’s anything wrong with those). I don’t own this one yet, but I wish I did. I don’t know why there are some perfumes I keep going back to that I never actually buy a bottle of, but then there are others I’ll purchase without obsessing over them for long.

Solinotes White Tea sounds like it’d be so boring, you’d have to mix it with something else to ever want to wear it, but I love it by itself. I could see mixing it with other things, too.

If the calm, refreshed feeling you get after a quick meditation session in sunlight had a scent, it would smell like this White Tea perfume. Maybe I’m too high-strung to commit to a fragrance like this and that’s why I keep flirting with the idea of buying it but never just do it. Maybe that’s why I need it on my dresser.

When you want something different than your average modern perfume, check this one out. Notes include bergamot, cardamom, white tea, sage, osmanthus (which, admittedly, is a fruity-floral note), and white musk.

Pros

  • It smells clean and more interesting than your average fragrance release these days.
  • It’s refreshing and calming.
  • Even though a lot is going on in the list of notes, you could still layer it with something else. 
  • Clean scent

Cons

  • May not last all day
  • If you’re not naturally a calm person, you may be drawn to this fragrance in the store but feel like you can’t commit to it. I’m starting to think I could use more scents like this in my life, though.

FAQs

Question: What is the number 1 best-smelling perfume?

Answer: Of all time, based on sales, Chanel No.5 is the top seller and most famous perfume in the world. As far as Target perfumes go, it looks like Pacifica Dream Moon Spray and Island Vanilla are two of the most popular and most reviewed perfumes, followed by Ariana Grande Cloud and MIX:BAR Vanilla Bourbon.

Answer: Good Housekeeping reports Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb at the top of the 20-item list, followed by Estee Lauder Pleasures, YSL Black Opium, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle (one of my long-time favorites), and Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet Eau de Toilette.

Question: Where is perfume at Target?

Answer: Check the beauty section. It’s usually with the makeup. Target stores don’t all have the same layout, but I’ve found perfumes stocked in makeup aisles.
Fragrances will usually take up about half an aisle, so check all the way down to the ends. If you just walk past the beauty section and glance down each aisle, you might miss them.

Question: Does Target sell fragrances?

Answer: Yes, Target sells quite a few fragrances!

Question: Can you return perfume at Target?

Answer: Yes, they offer refunds for up to 90 days on most items. You get 120 days if you used your RedCard.

Conclusion: Yes, Spend Some Time on Target’s Perfume Aisle

Next time you’re shopping, don’t miss out on the Target perfume options. There are so many gems on that aisle that it’d be easy to overlook. I recommend taking some time to sniff several of them and try layering some of your favorites. 

I love that Target has affordable, clean fragrances to offer. Suppose you have to narrow your selection down to one because you’re in a hurry or want to try a Target perfume but are doing curbside pickup. In that case, I recommend starting with Pacifica Island Vanilla.

If you dislike vanilla, go with Solinotes White Tea for something refreshing or MIX:BAR Glass Rose for a crowdpleaser that layers well with other simple fragrances.

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