Growing up, the bottles of body sprays, lotions, butters and eau de toilettes that lined my bathroom vanity were far sweeter than a desert-filled episode of The Great British Bake Off. My rotation typically included Britney Spears’s Fantasy (or Curious); a pure-sugar scent that, not surprisingly, was called Pink Sugar; and anything else my collection of glossy magazines was advertising. If it smelled like a frosted cupcake with sprinkles, I was—without a doubt—wearing it.
I’ll always love unapologetically sweet scents, but now my tastes have graduated to fragrance blends that are warm and woody or grounded with spices, leathers or classic florals. That said, signature sweet notes like vanilla are often at the heart of my all-time-favourite perfumes. They’re just far less overpowering.
Being a beauty editor and all, my desk is always overflowing with perfume, so I decided to start a little experiment late last year. Instead of sticking to my normal trajectory of signature fragrances, I went on a perfume-wearing spree, if you will, in which I wore a different scent every day for about of month, taking note of which formulas I liked best and which blends won me the most questions, comments, and compliments. In review, I noticed something intriguing: The top 10 scents all had a common, not-so-secret ingredient, vanilla (a result that very much proved my hypothesis that vanilla is still relevant post–teens and outside the kitchen).
Below, I’m sharing the top 10 fragrances I’m currently obsessed with and which never failed to earn me compliments from strangers and loved ones alike. Keep scrolling! The best vanilla perfumes lie just ahead.