For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been into
woody fragrances. Like a true L.A. woman, I was committed to Le Labo’s Santal 33 ($192) for years and have only veered ever so slightly to experiment with similarly spicy scents laced with notes of sandalwood, bergamot, vetiver, and other decidedly savory aromas. Fragrances categorized as sweet or gourmand—the fancy name given to perfumes that smell almost edible with notes of honey, caramel, vanilla, and the like—just never called to me. (A brief stint with one of Paris Hilton’s body sprays back in middle school was the first and last time I gravitated toward something that made me smell like I was dipped in sugar.) Too unsophisticated, I scoffed from atop my Le Labo-scented high horse. But that all changed when I finally got my hands on a bottle of Rihanna’s favorite perfume, Kilian’s Love, Don’t Be Shy ($240).
It wasn’t until very recently that I started seriously considering leaning into sweet perfumes, but a years-long love affair with Frédéric Malle’s
Portrait of a Lady ($255) and a more recent rendezvous with Tom Ford’s Bitter Peach ($350) got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’m more into warmer, more syrupy notes than I’d let myself believe. Then, a viral TikTok video reminded me that my queen Rihanna is widely known as one of the best-smelling humans in Hollywood and that her signature scent is the key to this reputation. The candied notes of orange blossom, vanilla, and marshmallow I would have normally turned up my nose at were suddenly so intriguing to me. It’s not that I’m naïve enough to believe that a price tag is always an accurate indicator of quality, but at $240 for a single bottle, I had a hunch that this fragrance would be something special. Spoiler alert: It is.
At first spritz, I almost didn’t know what to make of the smells swirling into my nostrils. Do I smell… Fruit Loops? S’mores? What the hell is going on here? For so long, I had been concocting an imaginary scent profile of saccharine notes akin to the smells that might waft out of a candy factory, and that wasn’t too far off. This stuff smells like cotton candy mixed with earl grey tea and juicy citrus fruit, topped with the confidence of having all your bills set to autopay without worrying whether you’ve got enough money to cover them all. That’s right—this fragrance smells rich in more ways than one. I don’t know why I expected anything less, seeing as Rihanna is the human embodiment of wealth, health, and happiness, but it was almost uncanny how quickly those same vibes started to seep into my own reality. From day one, I couldn’t keep my wrists away from my face to take in long whiffs, nor could I pass a mirror without pausing to stare and take in the badassery I suddenly felt. Walking my dog, one of very few interactions with the world outside my home lately, transformed into a welcome opportunity to leave a trail of sumptuous goodness for the world to enjoy. I wanted to wear only my finest sweatpants and even felt more inspired to put on a little makeup from time to time to match the glam vibe of my new aroma. The scent starts off strong, so the first time I sprayed myself, I was seriously intimidated, but within a half hour, it settles into the skin so beautifully and stays there all dang day. This fragrance is life-changing, friends.
So, in conclusion, I’m into sweet perfumes now. They’re so fun, so extra, and give a big middle finger to subtlety, which is an energy I can really get down with right now. There’s still a time and a place for my woody faves in my scent wardrobe, but for the purposes of lifting my mood and raising my confidence with a single spritz, I definitely won’t hesitate to reach for those warm, gourmand scents. If you want to be like me and Rihanna, I’d recommend Love, Don’t Be Shy. And if you’re shopping for other options, keep scrolling for more sweet perfumes to try.
Key fragrance notes: Neroli, orange blossom, rose, marshmallow. This new, limited-edition launch is a more intense version of Rihanna’s favorite Kilian scent, calling in stronger notes of rose and orange blossom for a crisper take on the ultra-sweet classic.
Key fragrance notes: Jasmine, saffron, cedarwood, ambergris. This is a great starter scent if you want to dip your toe into the sweet scent pond without sacrificing woody notes in the process. It’s the perfect middle ground.
Key fragrance notes: Mandarin oil, orange, jasmine accord, caramel. This indulgent scent is sweet without veering into the cloying territory. Plus, how pretty is that bottle?
Key fragrance notes: Musk, vanilla, almond, star anise, bergamot, orange. Reviewers of this unisex scent liken it to the smell of a root beer float. Intriguing!
Key fragrance notes: Vanilla orchid, vanilla liqueur, vanilla musk, heliotrope, daylily, bourbon vanilla, sandalwood, vanilla. It doesn’t get more vanilla-y than this. Layers upon layers of different elements of the sweet note come together for a warm and enveloping scent.
Key fragrance notes: Cotton candy accord, raspberry jam, strawberry jam, candy apple, cream, hazelnut, vetiver, vanilla, praline. You may need to remind yourself that this one isn’t edible. It’s at once herbal, spicy, and sweet.
Key fragrance notes: Caramel, musks, vanilla, benzoin. The name says it all. This one straight up smells like candy.
Key fragrance notes: Iris, patchouli, vanilla. This scent brings in powdery, floral elegance combined with earthy, musky, and sweet aromas for a full-bodied experience.
Key fragrance notes: Tonka bean, caramel, hay, praline. If you could imagine a perfect balance of warmth, milkiness, and smoke, this would be it. It marries a complex blend of spicy scents together with vanilla for a true gourmand experience.
Key fragrance notes: Coffee, white flowers, vanilla. This fragrance is warm, spicy, and intense. It’s the kind of scent that enters the room before you do.
Key fragrance notes: Tobacco leaf, spices, tobacco flower, vanilla, cocoa, dry fruit accord, wood sap. Spray this one in the morning and it will remain on the skin well into nighttime. It’s creamy, fruity, and woody all at once without being confusing.
Key fragrance notes: Tuberose absolute, India Orpur, Szechuan peppercorn, suede accord. Soft and musky, this soft floral fragrance evokes a walk through a lush garden bursting with white flowers.
Key fragrance notes: Salted caramel, pistachio, vanilla, sandalwood, almond. It smells like vacation. Point blank period.
Key fragrance notes: Ginger, green tea, marshmallow. If you’re worried Love, Don’t Be Shy might be too sweet for your liking, here’s a similar, but more spicy option to try.
Key fragrance notes: Vanilla orchids, tonka absolute, amber woods, musk, amber, patchouli, brown sugar. This quintessential vanilla perfume is pure and sweet without being sickly.
Key fragrance notes: Pear, orris, marshmallow. The name of this one might be slightly deceiving in that it might lead you to expect an overly sugary scent when in reality, sparkling fruits jump out first. The sweetness is really in the finish,
Key fragrance notes: Grapefruit, Italian lemon, lime blossom, lychee, mango flower, freesia, sandalwood, tonka bean, amber. There’s nothing better than a mix of sweet and citrus.
Key fragrance notes: Mandarin, magnolia accord, neroli, frangipani flower accord, coconut essence, ylang-ylang, vanilla absolute, almond silk accord, sandalwood accord. A spritz of this sweet and floral fragrance will transport you to the Sicilian gardens that inspired its conception.
Key fragrance notes: Orange, patchouli, Turkish rose. If Chanl No. 5 is too overpowering for your taste, this warm, floral mist is a great alternative. It’s definitely sweet but takes on a more cologne-like identity on the skin.
Key fragrance notes: Almond milk, coconut, cashmeran, vanilla. This one is almost bitter to start, but soon gives way to a creamy, smooth, and sweet scent that melts so beautifully on the skin and wears close to the body. Up next, You’ll Always Get Compliments When You Wear This Type of Perfume in the Winter