For decades the perfume market has been divided by the boundaries of ‘male’ and ‘female’ scent – floral, sweet, and fruity for women, and spicy, woody and musky for men.
Yet last year saw the clear emergence of a trend that’s set to be even bigger for 2018 – unisex perfumes, which are totally gender-neutral.
Of course, androgynous perfumes aren’t entirely a new concept – Calvin Klein’s citrussy CK One, for instance, has been a firm favourite since its 1994 release – but more and more perfumers are removing the labels from their ranges, and we’re not just talking the niche companies. Mainstream brands like Jo Malone London, Comme Des Garçons and Tom Ford are getting wise to the benefit of unisex appeal; after all, it makes for a much wiser sales strategy than cutting half of your customer base out of the equation.
And what they’re selling, we’re certainly buying – unisex fragrances are leaving the shelves at a growing rate as we seek out a middle ground that’s chic, crisp and clean, rather than overpoweringly floral or woody. Women in particular are moving away from stereotypically feminine notes and instead opting for ingredients such as vetiver and oud, which are found much more commonly in colognes.
While we may have been taught to associate certain notes as being intrinsically feminine or masculine, scents are now shifting more towards mood or personality rather than gender.
Here’s our pick of the very best unisex perfumes, ranging from the trail-blazing classics to new favourites, to keep you (and maybe your partner, if you dare to share) feeling unisexy…
The best unisex perfumes
A light, clean, citrusy scent – the original fragrance to share.
From £23 (50ml), Boots
Escentric Molecules 01
Escentric Molecules fragrances are all famed for smelling slightly different on every wearer, due to the use of the single note aroma chemical Iso E Super, a subtle woody note which melds with the pheremones in your skin.
From £72 (100ml), Escentric
Comme des Garcons Concrete
Fresh and slightly bitter – think sandalwood, rose oxide (lighter and cleaner than the fussy floral rose of old) and black pepper.
From £150 (80ml), Selfridges
L’Artisan Parfumeur Un Air de Bretagne
With notes of neroli, seaweed and ambergris, this unusual scent reminds us of bracing breezes and sea salt spray.
From £109 (100ml), L’Artisan Parfumeur
Louboutin Trouble in Heaven
Patchouli and creamy tonka create a warm, musky, sweet fragrance that works well on both men and women.
From £115 (30ml), Selfridges
Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac
Spicy and smoky, this went down a storm at YOU HQ with anyone who managed to get a sniff!
From £105 (100ml), Miller Harris
Tom Ford Black Orchid
We’ve noticed more men and women sharing EDPs like Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, which is no surprise considering its addictive warmth.
From £82 (50ml), Selfridges
Tom Ford Vanille Fatale
After the success of his Tobacco Vanille EDP (another popular sharing scent), Tom Ford’s newest offering has similar creamy vanilla notes blended with darker smoky wood, earthy myrrh and spicy coriander.
From £158 (50ml), Selfridges
Jo Malone London Wood Sage & Sea Salt
Clean and light with a hint of greenness from the sage, and a wonderful savoury edge.
From £44 (30ml), Jo Malone London
Jo Malone London English Oak & Hazelnut
Succeeding in being both warming with roasted oak and also fresh with green hazelnut, this surprisingly creamy scent has sold particularly well since its September 2017 release.
From £44 (30ml), Jo Malone London
Aside from utterly gorgeous packaging (of course), Boy boasts almondy heliotropin notes with subtle sandalwood and delicious cottony musk accords.
From £140 (75ml), Chanel
Byredo Velvet Haze
Another fragrance using cotton musks, this is lifted by sweet coconut water and velvety cacao absolu.
From £95 (50ml), Liberty
Timothy Han She Came To Stay
A very distinctive scent, this fragrance has delightful green notes coming through with a base of vetiver and oakmoss, warmed up with a heart of clove and nutmeg and topped off with a light bright basil and lemon finish.
From £120 (60ml), Timothy Han
Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur by Maurice Roucel
A very sexy perfume, with musk and sandalwood lifted by amber and vanilla.
From £120 (50ml), Frederic Malle
One of Diptyque’s original iconic unisex scents, a warm base of sandalwood and cloves is brightened with green mandarin and ginger.
From £74 (100ml), Diptyque
Acqua di Parma Ginepro di Sardegna
Part of Acqua di Parma’s popular Blu Mediterraneo collection, Ginepro di Sardegna stands out for its peppery resin notes and pops of bright juniper.
From £66 (75ml), Acqua di Parma
Words by Alice Robertson