From Lancôme Idôle to Guerlain Harvest Mandarine Basilic, ahead, a fragrance enthusiast rounds up the best perfumes she’s tried all year
Fact one: A lot of us, myself included, prefer looking at product reviews on TikTok.
Fact two: As a generation, we’ve somehow collectively decided it was about time we started looking into a signature scent or deep dive into the world of fragrances.
Fact three: I’ve smelled over 150 perfumes and own over 70 bottles.
Just like you, I’m a victim of #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. I’ve tried several perfumes that got raved about in the online space, and I’m sharing what TikTok got right—limited to the ones that gained popularity this year alone. Read on to learn about my 2023 perfume favorites that are worth the hype.
P2,000 and below
What better way to begin this list than with offerings from the Filipino market? Around the world, the trend for clean and fresh scents has sailed in 2022, and Filipino fragrance brands have been keeping up and arguably doing musk-based scents well.
Ahead, these are the most budget-friendly options, perfect for beginners, but expect a few Arabian fragrances scattered on the list as well, which have made a lot of noise on #PerfumeTok.
Luxxr PH Bergamot & Luxury Musk (P549, Shopee)
Luxxr PH’s fragrances are perfect for people who enjoy the likes of Jo Malone and Diptyque. They’re not exactly bound by gender in their creations, and they do green scents really well. Bergamot & Luxury Musk, reminiscent of Byredo Gypsy Water, lasts fairly well as a freshie though it performs better on my clothes.
Notes: The scene is soft citruses with Amalfi lemon and bergamot, with a gentle waft of jasmine and rose, that ties together with musk and woody notes at the base.
Smells like: Coming out from a fresh, luxurious everything shower—IYKYK.
Watch the full review here.
Scent Therapy Second Skin (P580, Shopee)
Scent Therapy cemented its name in the Filipino fragrance market as a dupe-house but has since introduced two original scents to their product lineup. For a skin scent, this doesn’t smell cheap. Second Skin reminds me of the likes of Glossier You, Diptyque Fleur de Peau and Phlur Missing Person.
Notes: This opens with mandarin and bergamot for a fresh citrus touch, followed by a very smooth and hard-to-distinguish Turkish rose, pink pepper, amber and patchouli mix so it sticks a little closer to the skin.
Smells like: Elevated skin—your skin but better.
Ard Al Zaafaran Bint Hooran (P1,498, Shopee)
People compare Bint Hooran with Carolina Herrera’s Good Girl, but I find this one a lot more pleasant as it doesn’t lean too heavily on the sweet notes.
Notes: The brightness of the jasmine and tuberose flowers blends smoothly with the vanilla, sweet almond and tonka bean to give it a perfectly creamy, but delectable vanilla. Just add a dash of cacao pod and woody notes to add a little bit of depth.
Smells like: A flirty vanilla.
Lattafa Fakhar Rose (P1,300, Shopee)
Fakhar Rose is not only viral for how it smells, but for how it compares to Givenchy’s L’Interdit Eau de Parfum. I find that Lattafa’s version sits just perfectly in between the OG L’Interdit and my favorite flanker, the L’Interdit Rouge.
Notes: As tuberose and jasmine are at the heart of this fragrance, it’s very white-floral-forward. The addition of aldehydes and juicy fruits and florals like rose, honeysuckle, gardenia and lily help to keep the white florals from smelling too indolic. Don’t worry, though, while it is heavy on the florals, it’s grounded by vanilla, ambroxan, white musk and sandalwood.
Smells like: A clean makeup or minimalist pretty girl.
Maison Alhambra Infini Rose (P1,698, Shopee)
Taking inspiration from Initio’s Atomic Rose, Maison Alhambra’s take on such a classic perfume note—the rose—is refreshing and perfectly balances the rose generations have come to love, with a rose that doesn’t lean “grandma.”
Notes: The roses and jasmine are very feminine and floral-forward, but mixed in with the bergamot and pink pepper, it gives this fragrance a more youthful approach to the classic powdery florals. The vanilla and amber at the base give this scent just the right amount of edge.
Smells like: A feminine, pretty floral.
P3,000 and above
Designer and niche fragrances are becoming more accessible as more are being brought into malls and retailers in the Philippines. Now, it’s much more convenient to test and try out these scents! In case you’re ready to splurge, something designer or niche could be your pick.
Lancôme Idôle (P7,950, Lazada)
The L'Oreal Group just brought the prestige brand Lancôme into the Filipino beauty market, finally introducing their iconic skincare, makeup and fragrances to the country. I call Idôle my “If I smelled this off of someone, I want to protect them” scent because of how beautiful and dainty it smells. For a freshie, this also lasts quite well, even on my skin, which eats up most fragrances!
Notes: Imagine juicy pear, bergamot and white musk for that light and airy feel, tied together with pink pepper, rose and jasmine for that no-fuss girly vibe.
Smells like: A very unproblematic pamper sesh with roses.
Watch the full review here.
Diptyque L’Eau Papier (P9,250, Diptyque)
Diptyque reminds us of the art in the craft of perfumery with L’Eau Papier, an ode to paper and ink, where imagination and creativity are free to take place. This deep dive into the essence of white musk is a special one because I find that it links the 2022 musk phase to the 2023 vanilla phase—at least with the releases I’ve been seeing.
Notes: Multi-faceted musk and white musk are introduced with a bright mimosa, plus the accords of blonde wood and rice steam. It’s gentle, cozy, soft and inviting, and yet…leaves a lasting impression as a skin scent.
Smells like: A sweet comforting hug after a long day.
Dolce&Gabbana Devotion ($148, Sephora)
Dolce&Gabbana brings back Olivier Cresp to create a scent with citrus notes, so Devotion doesn’t stray too far away from D&G’s most iconic and bestselling scent, Light Blue. But the dry-down is where the magic really happens. This gives off the vibe of niche fragrances in scent and performance.
Notes: Cresp’s vision for citrus includes a very interesting nuance with the candied lemon, giving the opening an almost cough drop candy type of feel. But then the scent blossoms into a sweet and creamy orange blossom, rum and vanilla blend that’s just so addicting yet reassuring.
Smells like: A wearable but just as comforting lemon pound cake.
Giardini di Toscana Bianco Latte (€125, Giardini di Toscana)
This perfume almost broke the internet, with sellers and resellers restocking and opening batch orders by the week because of how popular Giardini di Toscana Bianco Latte became. This is my most long-lasting perfume yet! I sprayed it on my clothes for an entire day of activities, and when I got home, and I could still smell it almost as strongly as when I first sprayed it. This truly is a beautiful scent and is one of the most intoxicating and addicting vanillas I’ve smelled in a really long time; I can’t expect any less from the most viral gourmand perfume.
Notes: This creamy almost sticky goodness is rich with vanilla, caramel and honey (which can be cloying for some). There’s something almost teasing about such a sweet mix when balanced out with white musk, making it such a staple for any cool weather occasion.
Smells like: A walking sweet treat.
Watch the full review here.
Prada Paradoxe (P11,000, Fresh)
While this was a big 2022 release, we now welcome the refills at Rustan’s this 2023! 2022 was big on white florals, which explains why fragheads would say this DNA isn’t new, and they’re right. But Prada Paradoxe is a white floral done really well. This is definitely a reliable compliment-getter. It not only boasts the iconic Prada shape but is also the first refillable packaging Prada has to offer in their perfume line.
Notes: The pear, tangerine and bergamot opening gives this scent such a youthful and playful touch to the paradox that is the sweetness of bourbon vanilla and amber. Blended with the familiar orange blossom and jasmine, everything is tied together into this beautiful white floral fragrance that just works.
Smells like: A go-getter sweet floral.
Guerlain Harvest Mandarine Basilic (P11,400, Rustan’s)
This year, the Harvest line was established for the Aqua Allegoria perfumes from Guerlain, which feature a wide range of fresh perfumes perfect for everyday use. This line features exclusive harvests and select raw natural materials. I find that the Harvest Mandarine Basilic uses Marzolo mandarins from Calabria, Italy in place of the regular Mandarine Basilic’s mandarine note.
Notes: Harvested before they’re completely ripe, the Marzolo mandarins from Calabria give this scent an almost bitter sweetness, combined with the freshness of basil leaves and generous green tea with a woody base.
Smells like: A citrus that doesn’t turn sour.
Filipino noses are growing to love more fragrances than the classic citrus-clean scents, which I’m excited about because there are so many scents yet to explore! I’m excited for your fragrant journey—after all, smelling good helps make you feel good.
Words Jessy So
Art Macky Arquilla