Wearing This Fragrance Always Makes Me Feel Rich—13 Perfumes I Recommend

Testing and trying perfumes for a living means that it becomes easy to jump to conclusions based off of a fragrance’s name, notes, and even its packaging. Spot vetiver and you know the scent is going to be woody, whereas if vanilla features then it’s likely to be sweet. Likewise, it’s possible to tell if a fragrance will veer fresh or floral based on its balance of citrus and flower notes. So what I really love is when a perfume unexpectedly and pleasantly surprises me.

There are certain notes in fragrance that I tend to avoid—and so until recently, I had written oud perfumes totally off. What is oud, I hear you ask? Oud is a fragrance oil typically featured as a base note because it’s rich and woody, and it tends to be used in perfumes that are quite loud and decadent—the type that are best worn at night time. Since I gravitate towards fresh, green fragrances, oud isn’t a note that features in a lot of my favourite scents, and my prior experience with the note led me to believe that it overpowered perfumes and would leave me with a pounding headache

The thing about the fragrance industry however is that it’s full of innovation, and perfumers love a challenge. Attempting to modernise a classic or reinvent an underrated fragrance note is a big trend in perfume right now, which means that oud is seeing a bit of a renaissance. I recently had a fragrance consultation with the perfume experts at Guerlain, and was passed a tester of Guerlain Oud Nude to try. Of course, I wasn’t expecting to like it, which made it all the more interesting when I found that for the first time, I wasn’t put off at first sniff. With notes of almond, raspberry, vanilla, and sandalwood—and just a touch of smoky, leathery oud, it’s sweet, soft, and surprisingly subtle. On skin, it smells even better, and the oud really does take a backseat, while still giving the fragrance the rich warmth for which the note is so famous. It’s undoubtedly one of the best oud perfumes I’ve ever smelled, and immediately inspired me to find more.

If, like me, you’d previously written off oud, here are the 13 best oud perfumes that aren’t at all overpowering or headache-inducing—I promise.

The juicy top note of passionfruit takes centre stage in this perfume, balanced by an oud base note that keeps it the right side of fruity.

Smooth and radiant, this perfume has a perfect balance of rose and oud.

Woody and spicy, this fragrance features notes that are just as loud as oud—coffee, sandalwood, and tonka bean, which prevents the oud from overpowering.

At first sniff, the rose and oud may seem overwhelming, but this scent quickly settles into a sweeter, creamier texture—thanks to notes of tobacco and vanilla.

Spicy and aromatic, this iconic perfume is packed with spicy and woody notes like cypress, bergamot, and grapefruit. Oud features, but without being too powerful.

A soft, sensual oud which subtly enhances skin’s natural scent.

A fresh and modern interpretation of oud, with notes of musk, bergamot, and raspberry.

This scent really surprises—it’s sparkling and woody, perfect if you’re after a delicate, feminine interpretation of oud.

This is a really elegant, sensual scent, with notes of lemon, cardamom, coriander, and geranium. The oud gives it longevity and a richness which makes it ideal for evening wear.

A woody, powdery scent with cardamom, papyrus, and violet. The oud is subtle but intensifies a little more as it dries down.

A fun interpretation of oud which pairs the note with spicy pepper and patchouli.

Those who like sweet and fruity fragrances will love this cherry-based take on oud.

Warm, spicy, and a little sweet, this is another pleasantly surprising oud-based perfume which totally reinterprets the note.

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