There have always been perfumes that take the world (or at least fragrance lovers) by storm. Those of us who existed in the ’90s and 2000s might recall the hype surrounding CK One, the world’s first marketed unisex scent. We might have begged our parents to buy us a bottle of Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers or Clinique Happy or the iconic Gap fragrances. Back then, we’d catch wind of these fragrances via TV commercials, magazine ads, or during trips to the department store beauty counter. But these days, all you have to do (aside from reading Who What Wear, ahem) is open up your TikTok app and see what’s trending on #PerfumeTok—though, I’m not talking about vabbing.
Granted, there are some major differences between the perfumes that were popular 20 years ago and the ones that are blessed with TikTok virality. One is the price point—a lot of TikTok-famous scents are niche and come with a hefty price tag, which is why I am here to guide you through some of the most popular perfumes on the clock app and help you know which scents are worth it. However, there are also some decently priced fragrance finds that have made it big. It’s really all about what you like. On that note, it’s a good reminder that fragrance is subjective, so a certain fragrance might be worth the money to me, but not to you, and vice versa!
The concept of this perfume is really cool: It’s supposed to remind you of skin, specifically the skin of a lover. Or an ex, perhaps? When I heard that, I was scared it was going to smell like Cool Water and Taco Bell. Now, let’s read the notes: skin musk, bergamot, jasmine, cyclamen, neroli, orange flower, sandalwood, blonde wood, white musk. To me, it smells like laundry and has a more masculine smell, so I suppose it could smell like somebody I used to know (cue Adele). I personally wouldn’t wear it (gourmand queen over here!), but I understand why people would be curious enough for it to sell out repeatedly. Hmm, if all of those people wear it, their lovers will think of them in the future when they smell it, and so on, and so on, so the cycle continues. Almost like a reverse Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Brilliant, if you ask me.
I’ve enjoyed every Ariana Grande fragrance I tried, and this one is no different. (I had two of her other scents on my desk at my old job as my “afternoon sprays.”) There are people out there who believe this to be an affordable version of Baccarat 540 (which we will talk more about in a sec below). While I can’t completely agree, I will say there are similarities. But you have to let it settle into your skin to fully experience it, as it can be intense at 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’d say if you’re on a tight budget but are intrigued by Baccarat 540 and want a good gourmand, start with this one, but know that they are different!
These Sol de Janeiro sprays have me in a choke hold. They are not for the faint of heart, aka people who hate dessert scents. This one literally states “pistachio and salted caramel” on the bottle. I will say that ’71 is my favorite, but I love this one too, especially at $20 for the 90ml. While this one 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 hate extremely sweet scents), you may want to skip, but for the caramel lovers, please enjoy.
The name of this perfume doesn’t have to do with Penn Badgley, unfortunately. It’s named You because of the way that it’s supposed to adapt to your skin, resulting in it smelling different on everyone—almost like a “custom” fragrance. It is a completely different fragrance than anything I own. It’s bright and fresh because of the pink pepper note and also contains ambrette, ambrox, and iris. I like the clean, showery-fresh vibe of You. Although, it’s not my personal favorite. Still, I’ve worn this multiple times. For a gourmand girl, that’s a big deal!
J’adore Miss Dior. This is a classique floral fragrance that got a reboot in 2021 by François Demachy, and the reboot works, honey. Even though this has rose notes (Centifolia rose, to be exact), I haven’t had any headache issues with it, thank goddess. Other notes include iris, peony and lily-of-the-valley, then apricot, and peach, drying down with vanilla, tonka bean, sandalwood, musk. It smells floral, sweet, powdery, and creamy.
Now this isn’t a gourmand, so it isn’t my usual type of scent, but there’s something appealing about Gypsy Water. It initially comes off bright with its bergamot and lemon notes but dries down into incense and then into the amber and sandalwood. I have a big thing for incense; it’s sexy! I feel like if you also have a thing for it, or woody scents in general, you have to add this to your cart.
I’m a big fan of Parfums de Marly Oriana ($175) and was excited for this sweet, floral scent. I understand why it’s so popular on TikTok. It smells divine! There are notes of rhubarb, lychee, bergamot, Turkish rose, peony, Vanilla, musk, cashmeran, and vetiver. Unfortunately, I may be sensitive to heavy rose fragrances! I’m so bummed. But I still think it’s wonderful. If you love rose scents and have the chemistry for it, I can’t recommend this enough. I’m actually heartbroken that I can’t wear it. Have they invented some sort of shot (like allergies) that will desensitize me to rose? I’ll do it…
Where are all my fruity fragrance lovers at? This is a fantastic fragrance from Vilhelm Parfumerie that lives in the fruity gourmand category. While it’s called Mango Skin, it’s not super straightforward with the main fruit like, for instance, Tom Ford’s Lost Cherry. Instead, it’s a combination of fruit and sugar but doesn’t come across as a fructose overdose. The blackberry note is also evident, and it dries down into dessert: patchouli, vanilla, and pink sugar. It’s a dream scent, especially for warmer weather wear.
This newer perfume from the YSL fragrance family was a nice surprise for me. At first, you get hit with the lavender note, which I’ve discovered to be one of my favorite non-gourmand notes. Then it settles into a warm, woody vibe thanks to the vanilla musk. It’s the perfect balance of floral and sweet. It’s sleek and not at all granny-like, which people tend to think of when it comes to lavender. Plus, the bottle is so chic! Definitely a must for the floral gourmand fiends.
Baccarat Rouge 540, a collaboration between Maison Francis Kurkdjian and the French fine crystal brand Baccarat, is known to the TikTok girlies as the perfume that makes you “smell rich.” And at almost $350, I can see why! It definitely goes through a journey on my skin—it can be floral, woody, and even a little medicinal at times but overall is sweet. While it is not technically a gourmand, it is a very sweet and sugary fragrance, most likely due to the ambroxan. There are similar fragrances out there (some people claim that Ariana Grande Cloud, which I talked about above, is a decent dupe) but is definitely in a world of its own. It’s mysterious and complex, but not for everyone.
A longtime favorite of mine (I gave it a Beauty Crush Award when I was at HelloGiggles), Black Opium is a sophisticated fruity, vanilla and amber scent that is to die for. I have it in my “going-out perfume” category because it’s the type of perfume to 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 little controversial because the thought of a cherry-scented perfume made people pause. (One friend was afraid 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 a straight-forward cherry scent, it’s darker, mature, and dries down into a warm, woody smell. I love how unique that is. When it first came out, I wore it every single day for months and still reach for it often. If you aren’t into cherries, pass, but if you are, this is a special scent that should be in your fragrance closet if you’re willing to spend the dough.
I love the smell of being in the woods and sitting around the bonfire, except I hate 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 log cabin in the woods without all the dusty smoke. The clove, orange blossom, and vanilla notes are a glorious symphony for my nostrils. No joke. I’m so obsessed with this fragrance and have been for a few years now. My husband and I even share it.
I’ll be honest. When I first heard the rumor that Love, Don’t Be Shy was Rihanna’s signature scent, I was immediately intrigued. Who wouldn’t want to know what thee RiRi smelled like? But then I read the notes (orange blossom, neroli, and marshmallow, my favorite) and knew this was going to be sumthin’ personal. After all, I am a lover of the gourmand! I’ve come to terms that I am always going to be searching for a “grown-up version” of Aquolina Pink Sugar, which was my own signature scent from the late aughts, and Love, Don’t Be Shy is currently that for me. After I got a sample and used it up fast, I knew it was my perfume soulmate. I bought it as a gift “from me to me” (I did the same exact thing with Rihanna’s actual scent, Fenty Eau de Parfum) and never looked back. If you have the same exact fragrance preferences as me: dessert-y gourmand or marshmallow note fan, then this is absolutely worth the moola.
Up next, The Proof Is in the Data: 2022’s Most Sought-After Fragrances, Period