The Major Trends Shaping The Fragrance World Right Now

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Finding a signature fragrance is a highly personal process, and there are many factors to consider. How does each formula work with your unique body chemistry? Does it match your energy and personality? Should you switch your fragrance seasonally to match trends or the weather? Just like every other fashion and beauty staple, fragrances are subject to trends each season. How much you let these trends affect your selections, of course, is up to you.


Winter 2022 is no different than any other in its ushering in of hot new fragrance trends. Whether you're a fragrance lover or a newbie dipping your toes into the perfume pool, you may find yourself rather curious about what types of scent trends are growing in popularity this season and how you can incorporate them into your life — or give them as treasured holiday gifts (via Sylvaine Delacourte). If this is you, here is your guide. 

The classics

Certain fragrances have remained popular year after year, decade after decade. These classics basically never go out of style and top every trending list regardless of what else is experiencing a surge of popularity at the time. If you or the person you're gifting is the type of person who believes that black never goes out of style and purchases high-quality timeless pieces for your wardrobe, a classic fragrance is probably the right choice. At this point in history, these scents smell more like taste and sophistication to most people than their actual scent notes (via Psychology Today).


If you're interested in trying your first classic or branching out to one you haven't given a chance to yet, start by doing a little research. If there is a classic you know and love, look for one that shares some of the same notes or undertones. If you haven't tried a classic before, the same trick will work using whichever perfume you normally wear. For example, if your current favorite fragrance features floral, citrus, and vanilla notes, you'll probably love Chanel No. 5.

Eco-friendly blends

It seems that each generation becomes more and more conscious of the effects humanity can have on the planet. Sustainability is becoming a trend across the board and fragrances are not in any way immune. In fact, the industry is known for being part of the problem when it comes to global warming. Many perfumes contain synthetic fragrances of unknown origin, which equates to a volatile organic compound (VOC). These VOCs emit so much air pollution that it was concluded by a 2018 study that they are responsible for half of all fossil fuel VOC emissions (via Science in the Classroom).


The way to avoid VOCs is to purchase and use only scented products with natural ingredients. However, that creates the potential for overharvesting certain vulnerable plants. Some of the most popular perfume brands of 2022 are tackling these environmental issues by creating and using recycled or alternative natural ingredients in their formulas. For example, Issey Miyake A Drop D'Issey Eau de Parfum features cedarwood notes distilled from sawdust. 

Gender-neutral scents

Just as each generation becomes more conscious of environmental issues, each year seems to pluck another brick from the foundation of the social construct that is gender. No longer are feminine presenting people expected to stick to fragrances that feature sweet, floral, or citrus notes. Masculine presenting people are free to stray from musk, cedarwood, tobacco, and sage. It seems obvious that everyone should simply wear the scent that they enjoy most or feel most connected to, but society tends to interfere.


The gendering of fragrances rose to popularity alongside the newly emerging middle class in Europe in the 19th century, as detailed by Howstuffworks. Since scent is strongly associated with memory, it is theorized that gendered fragrances were reinforced by people's childhood memories of the way their mother and father smelled. If you're ready to buck the separation of men's and women's fragrances, check out a gender-neutral formula like Off-White Solution No. 1 Fragrance, which is touted as an interpretation of the scent of sand (via Nordstrom). 

Unique combinations

Another fragrance trend that promotes bucking societal norms in 2022 and beyond is mixing and layering scents. If you prefer specific formulas or certain notes that are marketed as being for men or women, you can layer them together to create a personalized and/or unisex scent. The same is true for any notes or undertones you enjoy that might not be commonly paired in commercial formulas. For example, try layering a sweet vanilla or chocolate-based scent with one that features fruit, citrus, or spicy cinnamon notes, if your dream is to smell like something you'd find in a gourmet bakery.


If you're looking for the individuality of a custom scent but you're not confident in your abilities to layer fragrances and end up with what you're looking for, try an artisanal blend. These fragrances tend to feature mixtures of scents that you won't find in more widely available formulas. Case in point: The Harmonist Hypnotizing Fire Parfum, which blends floral notes with Madagascan vanilla, Bulgarian rose, benzoin, pimento berries, and Indonesian patchouli.

Warm notes

As the cold, ice, and snow begin to envelope much of the Northern hemisphere, it's no surprise that people are turning to warm, comforting scents for refuge. While this might sound like hocus pocus, there is actually science behind the way the human brain processes certain scents as associated with a warm or cold temperature. The phenomenon is called trigeminal perception, referring to the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for scent-triggered tactile perception. Why humans evolved to have this particular ability is still undetermined (via Frontiers in Psychology).


Scents that are perceived as warm are the ones that feel like you're being wrapped in a cozy imaginary blanket or standing outside an oven full of sweets. Think amber, vanilla, honey, musk, ginger, cacao, coffee, and juniper berries. If you're unsure, try creating a simmer pot with some of these scents in your home. The warmth that surrounds you will have you convinced in no time. Excellent examples of warm winter blends include Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Extreme and Marc Jacobs Perfect Intense.

Spicy undertones

Warm notes are often accompanied by the aroma of spices. These spices can take a scent like honey, vanilla, or cacao and kick it into high gear, taking it from light jacket warm to electric blanket hot. Chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven smell delightful, but a steaming spiced pumpkin pie offers a whole different olfactory experience. Fragrances that are heavy on spice often feature prominent notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, black or pink pepper, cardamom, coriander, saffron, and chili pepper. Since spices are processed as food, they can elicit particularly strong memory and mood reactions (via Scientific American).


If you're looking to relive your happy childhood memories of standing outside the oven, peering in at your mother's famous pies on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning, breathing in the spicy smell of the holidays, spice-centered fragrances are for you. Try Maison Margiela Replica by the Fireplace or Snif's Burning Bridges.