The best vanilla perfume options to try range from sweet to fresh, sexy to comforting. Vanilla perfumes can envelop you in a cloud of coziness and feelings of love and warmth. Vanilla is usually used as a base note in perfumes and pairs well with so many top and middle notes, it’s one of the most versatile notes in the world of fragrance.
Why Choose a Vanilla Perfume?
The short answer: vanilla is a crowd-pleaser, and it can be sweet, sexy, comforting, or fresh. It plays well with so many other notes, vanilla is quite versatile. You can find it in fresh spring scents, cozy winter ones, and everywhere in-between.
How to Find the Best Vanilla Perfume Options to Try
With so many vanilla perfumes on the market, it can feel daunting when you’re trying to figure out where to start. Here are some of the categories vanilla perfume options may fall into. Vanilla is anything but boring, in most cases. Check out the variety of interpretations of vanilla fragrances:
Warm and Creamy Vanilla
These somehow manage to even smell “smooth” but they’re not overly sweet. They’re comforting, but not cake-like.
This is where you’ll find your gourmands and dessert-like vanilla perfumes. Cake, pudding, specialty coffee drinks…they’re all here.
In this case, you’ll find a vanilla fragrance that smells like you dabbed on a vanilla essential oil or vanilla extract.
Smoky or Spicy Vanilla
These are heady and delicious, and perfect for date night. This is where you’ll see other notes, like tobacco, incense, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, etc. You’ll see amber here a lot, as well.
These tend to be feminine, flirty, classic, and good for all ages and most situations. You’ll see vanilla paired with a variety of florals, from lavender to jasmine, simply because they work so well together to create a lovely, light cloud of fragrance.
You may see vanilla paired with pine, oakmoss, cedar, patchouli, sandalwood, and amber to create a warm, not-too-sweet scent reminiscent of a relaxing morning spent in the forest.
The Main Differences Between Vanilla EDTs vs EDPs
When you start looking for the best vanilla perfume options to try and comparing them, you’ll see that some are marked EDT (eau de toilette) while others are EDPs (eau de parfums). In most cases, the notes are the same. What’s the difference?
- Vanilla EDTs are generally lighter scents, whereas EDPs are stronger fragrances.
- Vanilla EDTs, on average, are best during warmer months, whereas EDPs are best during winter months.
- Vanilla EDTs usually don’t last more than about five hours on the skin, whereas EDPs may last all day.
- Vanilla EDTs are less concentrated, whereas EDPs are more concentrated.
Advantages of Vanilla Perfume
Who doesn’t love a good vanilla perfume?
- They’re usually sweet, unobtrusive, and comforting.
- Vanilla perfumes, as a whole category, are quite versatile, and if you really love vanilla as a note, you can find one for any occasion.
- Vanilla perfume is considered one of the most attractive scents.
Disadvantages of Vanilla Perfume
Vanilla perfumes aren’t perfect though:
- Some vanilla perfumes can be overbearing or cloying to those around you (or even aggravate allergies!).
- Some people may not find them very imaginative or inspiring since vanilla is such a popular note in perfumes.
The 15 Best Vanilla Perfumes
These are some of the best perfume options to try. If you don’t love the first one, try another. Though vanilla perfumes all have that one note in common, vanilla complements such a range of other notes so well, there can be vast differences from one to the next.
Dior Hypnotic Poison
Hypnotic Poison by Dior Notes: Bitter almond, sambac jasmine, vanilla, caraway, tuberose, rose, sandalwood, and musk
- Not too sweet
- Very smooth
- Widely available
- Beautiful, unusual packaging
- Some people may be put off by the “playdough” scent (others love it)
- Though the scent doesn’t fade especially quickly, others last longer
Dior Addict Notes: Vanilla, tonka bean, sandalwood, jasmine, orange blossom, rose, blackberry, mandarin leaf
- Beautiful scent that skirts the gourmand category but maintains a sexiness that makes it great for date night
- Creamy and warm
- Can be overwhelming if you spray more than once or twice
LaVanilla The Healthy Fragrance Pure Vanilla Perfume
LaVanilla Notes: Vanilla, tonka bean, patchouli, freesia, heliotrope
- Fresh and sweet, like pure vanilla extract, and good for everyday
- Perfect for those just diving into the vanilla perfume world (not overwhelming)
- Inexpensive, comparatively speaking
- Easy to layer with other scents for your own customized fragrance
- Doesn’t last as long on the skin as others
- Not an especially complex scent, since it’s mostly “just” vanilla, but it smells delicious anyway
Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille
Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille Notes: Vanilla, ginger, tobacco leaf, cocoa, dried fruits
- Warm and spicy unisex vanilla
- Perfect for fall and winter (but may be too heavy in spring and summer)
- Good lasting power
Gypsy Water Notes: Vanilla, sandalwood, amber, juniper, pine, lemon, bergamot, pepper, incense, orris root
- An earthy, grounding vanilla perfume that isn’t too sweet and has a freshness to it
- Warm and comforting without being sweet or seductive—good for everyday wear
- Not as widely available as other vanilla perfume options to try, so you may have to order without smelling it first or track down a sample (also online)
- Sillage and longevity may be lacking for some
Guerlain Mon Guerlain
Mon Guerlain Notes: Vanilla, iris, sandalwood, lavender, sambac jasmine, bergamot, pear, mandarin, neroli
- Lasting power
- Warm and sweet, but not like a bakery
- Feminine and sexy
- Can be overwhelming in some circumstances (small spaces, for example)
- May not be available in stores (for example, Ulta only offers it online)
Dolce and Gabbana The One
Dolce & Gabbana The One Notes: Vanilla, amber, musk, moss, peach, lily, plum, bergamot, mandarin, solar accord, fruits, jasmine, vetiver
- There’s a lot going on here, so it’s likely to smell slightly different on everyone
- Warm, slightly spicy, and sweet vanilla, but still doesn’t smell too sweet
- Because it smells different on everyone and has so many notes, some notes may be more prominent on some people, making it less vanilla or less appealing to them overall
Atelier Vanilla Intensée
Atelier Vanilla Inscense Notes: Vanilla, lime, amber, jasmine, oakmoss, vetiver, citron, coriander
- Unexpected mix of vanilla and herbs/earth
- Light and fresh
- Not heavy or cloying the way some vanillas are
- Some buy this expecting a feminine scent, but are disappointed to find it’s more masculine than they anticipated
- Seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it scent, with not much of a middle ground
Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium
Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Notes: Vanilla, coffee, jasmine, orange blossom, pink pepper, cedar, woods
- Warm, spicy, sexy, and mysterious
- A little goes a long way
- Easy to find in stores
- Can be heavy and cloying in some situations and on hotter days
- Coffee and vanilla can drown out the other notes at first, while the drydown tends to be mostly floral and woods
Juliette Has a Gun Vanilla Vibes
Juliette has a Gun Notes: Vanilla, sea salt, sandalwood, orchid, musk
- Unusual, as it’s somehow vanilla and a beach scent at the same time
- Layerable with other scents
- Not heavy or overly sweet
- Not as widely available as other vanilla perfume options
- Not a year-round scent, but is appropriate for spring and summer
The 7 Virtues Vanilla Woods
Vanilla Woods The 7 Virtues Notes: Vanilla, caramel, amber, rose, pear
- Perfect for those who like sweet, gourmand vanillas
- One of the more affordable options
- There’s a smokiness to it that some users don’t care for that you wouldn’t expect from the listed notes
- Linear scent, so you don’t get to enjoy a major fragrance transformation on your skin as the day goes on
Lancôme La Vie Est Belle
La Vie Est Belle Notes: Vanilla, praline, jasmine, orange blossom, patchouli, iris, pear, black currant
- If you’re looking for a very sweet scent, this one may be the one for you
- Somewhat affordable, comparatively speaking (also available in a mini size for around $30.00)
- Warm and cozy
- Impressive sillage
- Some may find it heavy or cloying
- Not great for spring and summer, as it can easily become overpowering
Nemat Vanilla Musk Fragrance Oil
Nemat Vanilla Musk Fragrance Oil Notes: Vanilla, musk
- A little goes a long way
- Sweet, gourmand scent
- Lasts all day
- Not a spray (may not be a con for everyone)
Skylar Vanilla Sky
Skylar Vanilla Sky Notes: Vanilla, cappuccino, caramelized cedar
- Warm and cozy
- Not especially expensive (though not inexpensive, either)
- Some reviewers were disappointed to find that it reminded them of less expensive fragrances that were less vanilla and more amber or clean
Guerlain Paris Notes: Vanilla, iris, incense, patchouli, vetiver, rose, lemon, cedar, jasmine, sandalwood, tonka bean, musk
- Smells like true, clean vanilla (not too sweet, but there is a smokiness to it)
- Excellent sillage and longevity
- Complex scent that evolves as the day goes on, and even as time goes on (so bonus points if you find a vintage bottle!)
- Some may find it too mature
- Some may find it too strong
Tips for Choosing and Wearing a Vanilla Perfume
Not all vanillas will work for everyone who loves vanilla because vanilla pairs with so many other notes. There’s a vanilla perfume for every mood, personality, and situation.
Choose Based on Your Personality or Mood
If you’re lighthearted, playful, and flirty, you may feel most comfortable in the vanilla scents that match. Look for the ones that have citrus or white florals to try first. Want something seductive, sexy, and mysterious? Head straight for the spicier vanillas with amber, sandalwood, and other woods.
Shift with the Seasons
Just as there’s no vanilla that’ll suit every personality, though it’s one of the most universally pleasing notes a perfume can have, some fragrances are best for warmer months while others are better for colder ones.
As a general rule, EDTs are better for spring and summer and EDPs are best for fall and winter, but that will vary a bit from fragrance to fragrance and person to person. Citrus and floral vanillas generally perform well (without becoming cloying) in the summer months, while it’s safer to use the heavier earthy, spicy, and gourmand scents when it’s cooler outside.
Try Samples or Minis
Don’t feel obligated to run headlong into a perfume purchase. Take your time. Request samples from stores or order a few from a reputable seller online. A vanilla perfume you try one day could give you a headache the next, so giving yourself a week or so to compare scents and see how they wear on your skin will help prevent buyer’s remorse.
Where to Buy
You can find the best vanilla perfume options to try in full bottles or sample sizes—and sometimes even at a discount—if you know where to look.
Scent Split allows you to purchase samples of perfumes you may not be able to try before you buy elsewhere, like when it comes to niche scents that aren’t sold in very many stores. Prices will vary based on the perfume, size of sample you prefer, and the type of vial you’d like.
You may not be able to find every vanilla scent you might want on Overstock.com, but you can find fantastic discounts on perfumes that may not have the packaging or could be missing a lid. If you want the packaging and lid, you can get those, too. You just won’t save as much. You won’t be able to sniff them first, since you can only shop Overstock online. In some cases, you may be able to get almost three times the perfume for the price you’d pay at other stores.
Ulta has quite the collection of vanilla scents from tons of brands and designers. Unfortunately, you can’t easily get samples of any scent you’d like there, but you can spray some on their test strips, narrow it down to your favorites, spritz yourself, and give the fragrance time to develop to see what you think.
Sometimes they offer specials where you get several times the regular number of points on your Ulta rewards membership when you purchase a fragrance. Those points turn into dollars you can spend in the store or online, effectively giving you a belated discount on the perfume.
Sephora has a wide range of the best vanilla perfume options to try. The best part? You can request a sample of any of their fragrances. You’ll get a tiny bottle with enough for a few days, so you can test it out and make absolutely sure you love it before you purchase a whole bottle.
They sometimes sell samplers, too, where you can try several scents over the course of a few weeks, then use the voucher inside for a full bottle of your favorite one.
Just about any department store has a selection of designer perfumes (vanilla included!) to choose from. In some cases, they may have samples available, but you’ll usually be limited to spraying the fragrance on a card or yourself, then letting the scent develop over the next few hours to see how you really feel about it. You can find the newest fragrances here, as well as others that have stood the test of time.
Question: What designer perfumes smell like vanilla?
Answer: Dior Addict, Dolce & Gabbana The One (and flankers), Guerlain Mon Guerlain, Giorgio Armani Sì, Guerlain Shalimar, and Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille are just a few.
Question: What scents work with vanilla?
Answer: Vanilla works so well with just about anything. It adds depth to citrus and other fresh scents, complements florals, and rounds out spicy scents, too.
Question: How can I always smell like vanilla?
Answer: Layer your scents. If there’s a vanilla fragrance you like that comes in body wash, lotion, and perfume forms, apply your lotion after you shower with the body wash, then apply the fragrance to your pulse points. Any lotion helps perfume last longer, especially if you have dry skin (fragrances tend to evaporate more quickly in that case). You can also spritz the perfume on your brush before you do your hair. That will distribute the fragrance through your hair, too.
Question: Is vanilla the most attractive scent?
Answer: Although no one type of fragrance is attractive to everyone, vanilla does tend to rank pretty high on the list as one of the most attractive scents.
Question: Do guys like the vanilla scent on a girl?
Answer: Guys do tend to like vanilla fragrances on girls. These scents are generally warm, comforting, and fairly simple and approachable, so that might be why.
Question: What is the most popular vanilla perfume?
Answer: There are a few classic vanilla perfumes that have been popular for several years (or even decades): Guerlain Shalimar, Dior Addict, LaVanilla The Healthy Fragrance Pure Vanilla Perfume, and Giorgio Armani Sì come to mind.
Question: Is vanilla a feminine scent?
Answer: It could show up in fragrances marketed towards men, but it’s more prominent among perfumes designed with women in mind. That said, don’t worry about feminine or masculine scents too much. Fragrances react differently depending on your body chemistry, so wear what you think smells good on your skin.
Conclusion: How to Find the Best Vanilla Perfume
My personal favorite is Dolce and Gabbana The One. I prefer vanilla perfumes that are somewhere between sweet and fresh, with a hint of spice and sensuality. Tall order, I know. I’m not big on sticky-sweet vanilla scents, though I do enjoy them on others.
This one doesn’t become overwhelming the way some vanilla perfumes do, in my experience, and I’ve successfully worn it in a variety of settings, in all seasons. There are others I love for fall and winter, but none have been as versatile or uplifted my mood the way The One has.
When you start your search for the best vanilla perfume options to try, I recommend making this one of the samples you acquire.