Best women's perfumes and fragrances 2023: hit the right notes

Here is T3's pick of the best women's perfumes, from sweet and girly, to decadent and exotic, or clean and green – all of these fragrances hit the right notes

Hands taking the lid off one of the best women's perfumes against a white background with green flowers and leaves
(Image credit: Getty)

Welcome to T3's guide to the best women's perfumes! You don’t have to have the olfactory detectors of a sniffer dog to know what fragrances you don’t like the smell of, but it’s hard pinpointing the fragrance you want to splurge on when you’re so spoilt for choice.

With every high-profile brand and celebrity churning out a new scent every other month we’re hard-pushed to pinpoint which ones really stand out and which just cause a stink. Of course, heading to your nearest fragrance store can help you narrow down your options as you can smell them and decide what you like.

However, if you prefer to shop online or you're buying for someone else, it can be easier to read about what notes you get from each one and get a look at the style and design of the bottle. We’ve had our work cut out spritzing and sniffing our way through the best female fragrances, but it’s our job to fall on that sword for you...

Looking for men's scents? Try our best men's fragrances and colognes guide

Best women's perfumes 2023 ranking

Why you can trust T3 Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Top Three Perfumes

Best Floral Perfumes

The Floral family of perfumes is, without a doubt, the most popular out of the four families. It is used in a number of well-known perfumes and is a favourite due to its feminine and romantic characteristics. Their mass appeal comes from their familiarity, freshness, and ability to be worn on any occasion.

Best Amber Perfumes

Previously called the "Oriental" family, amber perfumes typically produce a warm, sweet and very deep scent. These perfumes often include herbs, spices, and dry powdery resin notes. You'll often hear these described as sensual, warm and exotic.

Best Fresh Perfumes

The Fresh family does what it says on the tin, these perfumes are light, zingy, and zesty - think citrus fuits and green grasses. These fragrances are perfect for the warmer months and sunny holidays in the Mediterranean.

Best Woody Perfumes

The wood family includes perfumes that are warm and opulent - perfect for the colder months and evenings. They often include notes of sandalwood, patchouli, cedarwood, or vetiver.

How to choose the best women's perfume

When on the hunt for the perfect scent, it’s hard to judge what will suit just by taking a sniff from the bottle. A good fragrance should have a balance of complementary scents, longevity and one that matches your personality. Essential oils deliver more than synthetics in terms of longevity and balance.

It's also important to know the difference between eau de toilette and parfum – if you're curious, EDT is a perfume with a concentration of 4-15% which gives the wearer typically 3-4 hours of longevity, while Eau de Parfum contains a higher concentration, around 15-20%.

If you’re not sure what sort of scent you, or the intended recipient of the perfume, likes, scent types or “families” can provide some guidance. With men’s as well as women’s fragrances, the buzzwords to look out for are floral, fresh, fruity, citrus, oriental, woody and spicy.

If you need more help deciding which perfume is best for you, you can read our guide on how to choose the right perfume. Use these straightforward descriptors as a starting point, and find the notes (for example rose, jasmine, bergamot or vetiver) that appeal to you to narrow it down.

Lisa Shackley, Givenchy Beauty Expert tells us: 

“It’s important not to wear perfume or scented body products when shopping for a new fragrance as this can alter the development of the chosen scent. Always try the fragrance on the skin to see how it develops and how it ultimately matches your personality. I wouldn't recommend trying more than three to four different scents at one time.”

Whilst buying perfume for someone else is often a daunting task, we’ve rounded up the best, so, pick your poison, and if you're looking for the man in your life, you'll find the best men's fragrances. And, if you want your room to smell as good as you do, then you can read T3's guide to the best aroma diffusers.

How we test the best women's perfumes

A selection of three women's perfumes on a wooden table. There is a white wall and dried flowers behind them.

(Image credit: T3)

We've all, at one point in our lives, gone into a shop, sprayed a few different perfumes on our wrists, sniffed them straight away, and then made a snap decision on which one we like the most. This may seem like a good way to test fragrances, but it's not, and you'll be happy to know that at T3 we spend a little more time finding the best women's perfumes. 

We'll either spray the perfume on blotter paper from around 15 centimetres away or test the perfume on our own skin. This will give an accurate representation of what the scent actually smells like. 

We'll take in the strong top notes that hit straight away. Of course, we'll then continue to come back to the perfume to test how it develops over time as the heart and base notes come out. This is important as this 'dry down' is what the fragrance will be like for most of the day.

It's important to mention we don't test women's perfumes in a lab at T3 – we use them just as you would. This lets us know how they develop in the real world and means we can give accurate recommendations based on our experiences.

Abbie Hart

Abbie constantly puts her body on the line to try out the latest beauty and grooming tech. She's reviewed everything from IPL hair removal machines to hair dryers and toothbrushes.

With contributions from