There have always been perfumes that have taken the world (or at least fragrance lovers) by storm. Those of us who existed in the ’90s and 2000s may remember the hype surrounding CK One, the world’s first marketed unisex fragrance. Maybe we begged our parents to buy us a bottle of Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers or Clinique Happy or the iconic Gap fragrances. Back then, we got wind of these fragrances through TV commercials, magazine ads, or during trips to the department store beauty counter. But these days, all you need to do (aside from reading Who What Wear, ahem) is open your TikTok app and see what’s trending on #PerfumeTok — I’m not talking about vabbing, though.
Admittedly, there are some major differences between the perfumes that were popular 20 years ago and the ones blessed with TikTok virality. One is price: many of TikTok’s famed fragrances are niche and come with a hefty price tag. That’s why I’m here to walk you through some of the most popular perfumes on the clock app and help you know which scents are worth checking out. However, there are also some reasonably priced fragrance finds that have made it big. It’s really about what you like. On that note, it’s a good reminder that scent is subjective, so a particular scent might be worth the money to me, but not to you, and vice versa!
The concept of this perfume is really cool: it should remind you of the skin, especially the skin of a loved one. Or maybe an ex? When I heard that, I was afraid it would smell like Cool Water and Taco Bell. Now let’s read the notes: skin musk, bergamot, jasmine, cyclamen, neroli, orange blossom, sandalwood, blond wood, white musk. To me, it smells like laundry and has a more masculine scent, so I suppose it could smell like someone I used to know (cue Adele). I personally wouldn’t wear it (gourmand queen here!), but I can see why people would be curious enough to repeatedly sell it out. Hmm, if all those people wear it, their loved ones will think of them in the future when they smell it, and so on and so forth, so the cycle continues. Almost like a reverse Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. Brilliant, if you ask me.
I’ve loved every Ariana Grande fragrance I’ve tried, and this one is no different. (I had two of her other fragrances on my desk at my old job as my “afternoon sprays.”) There are those who believe this is an affordable version of Baccarat 540 (which we’ll talk about more later on). While I don’t completely agree, I will say there are similarities. But you have to let it soak into your skin to fully experience it, as it can be intense on the first spray. Top notes are lavender, bergamot and pear, then it turns into coconut, praline and vanilla orchid, ending with musk and woody notes. I would say if you are on a budget but are intrigued by Baccarat 540 and want a good gourmand then start with these but know they are different!
These Sol de Janeiro sprays have me in a stranglehold. They are not for the faint of heart, i.e. people who hate dessert smells. This one literally says “pistachio and salted caramel” on the bottle. I will say ’71 is my favorite, but I love this one too, especially at $20 for the 90ml. While this is body spray, you can also get the EDP. It’s definitely something I would have worn a lot more in my youth, but I can still appreciate it now. If you’re looking for more of a standard perfume (or hathe extremely sweet smells), you may want to skip, but for the caramel lovers, enjoy.
Unfortunately, the name of this perfume has nothing to do with Penn Badgley. It’s been named You because of the way it’s supposed to conform to your skin, making it smell different on everyone – almost like a “custom” fragrance. It’s a very different scent than anything I own. It is bright and fresh because of the pink pepper note and also contains ambrette, ambrox and iris. I like the clean, shower-fresh vibe of You. Although, it’s not my personal favorite. Still, I have worn this several times. For a foodie girl, that’s a big deal!
J’adore Miss Dior. This is a classic floral fragrance rebooted in 2021 by François Demachy, and the reboot works, baby. Even though this has rose tones (Centifolia rose, to be exact), I haven’t had a headache with it, thank goodness. Other notes include iris, peony and lily of the valley, then apricot and peach, drying off with vanilla, tonka bean, sandalwood, musk. It smells floral, sweet, powdery and creamy.
This is not a gourmet one, so it’s not my usual scent, but there’s something appealing about Gypsy Water. It initially comes across as bright with its bergamot and lemon notes, but dries down into frankincense and then into amber and sandalwood. I have a thing for incense; it’s sexy! I feel like if you have a thing for it too, or woody scents in general, you should add this to your basket.
I am a huge fan of Parfums de Marly Oriana ($175) and was excited about this sweet, floral scent. I understand why it is so popular on TikTok. It smells divine! There are notes of rhubarb, lychee, bergamot, Turkish rose, peony, vanilla, musk, cashmeran and vetiver. Unfortunately, I can be sensitive to heavy rose scents! I’m so stupid. But I still think it’s beautiful. If you like rose scents and have the chemistry for it, I can’t recommend this enough. I’m really devastated that I can’t wear it. Did they invent some kind of injection (like allergies) that desensitizes me to dandruff? I do it…
Where are all my fruity fragrance lovers? This is a fantastic fragrance from Vilhelm Parfumerie that lives in the fruity gourmand category. Although it’s called Mango Skin, it’s not super easy with the main fruit like Tom Ford’s Lost Cherry for example. Instead, it’s a combination of fruit and sugar, but doesn’t come across as an overdose of fructose. The blackberry note is also evident and dries up in the dessert: patchouli, vanilla and pink sugar. It is a dream fragrance, especially in warm weather.
This newer perfume from the YSL fragrance family was a nice surprise for me. At first you are hit by the lavender note, which I have found to be one of my favorite non-gourmand notes. Then it settles into a warm, woody atmosphere thanks to the vanilla musk. It’s the perfect balance of floral and sweet. It’s sleek and not at all grandma-ish, which people often think of when it comes to lavender. Plus, the bottle is so chic! Definitely recommended for the flower gourmand fiends.
Baccarat Rouge 540, a collaboration between Maison Francis Kurkdjian and the French fine crystal brand Baccarat, is known among the TikTok girls as the perfume that makes you ‘smelling rich’. And for almost $350, I can see why! It definitely takes a journey through on my skin – it can be floral, woody and sometimes even a little medicinal, but overall it’s sweet. While not technically gourmet, it is a very sweet and sugary scent, most likely because of the ambroxan. There are similar fragrances out there (some people would argue that Ariana Grande Cloud, which I talked about above, is quite the dupe), but it’s definitely a world unto itself. It’s mysterious and complex, but not for everyone.
An old favorite of mine (I gave it a Beauty Crush Award when I was at HelloGiggles), Black Opium is a sophisticated fruity, vanilla and amber fragrance to die for. I put it in my “going out perfume” category because it’s the kind of perfume I put on when I know I’m going to have a good time.
When Lost Cherry first debuted in 2018, I remember it being a bit controversial because the thought of a cherry-scented perfume made people pause. (A friend worried it would smell like cough medicine.) The thing is, Lost Cherry isn’t sickly sweet, nor does it remind me of cherry lip balm. While it is undoubtedly an uncomplicated cherry scent, it is darker, more mature and dries down to a warm, woody scent. I love how unique that is. When it first came out I wore it every day for months and I still reach for it often. If you’re not into cherries, skip it, but if you are, this is a special scent that should be in your fragrance box if you’re willing to splurge on the dough.
I like the smell of being in the woods and sitting around the campfire, except I hate it when the smoke gets in my hair. By the fireplace is the answer to my dilemma. It envelops you in a comforting, warm, woody cloud that captures the essence of being in a cabin in the woods without all the dusty smoke. The notes of clove, orange blossom and vanilla are a glorious symphony to my nostrils. No joke. I am so obsessed with this fragrance and have been for a few years now. My husband and I even share it.
I will be honest. When I first heard the rumor that Love, Don’t Be Shy was Rihanna’s signature fragrance, I was immediately intrigued. Who wouldn’t want to know what you are RiRi smelled like? But then I read the notes (orange blossom, neroli and marshmallow, my favorite) and knew this was going to be a summary in person. After all, I am a gourmand lover! I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll always be looking for an “adult version” of Aquolina Pink Sugar, my own late s signature scent, and Love, Don’t Be Shy is currently that for me. After getting a sample and quickly using it up, I knew it was my perfume soul mate. I bought it as a gift “from me to me” (I did the exact same thing with Rihanna’s real fragrance, Fenty Eau de Parfum) and never looked back. If you have the exact same fragrance preferences as me: dessert-y-gourmand or marshmallow-nut fan, this is totally worth the moola.
Next, the proof is in the data: the most sought-after fragrances of 2022, period