Just Do It. Got Milk? Share a Coke. Where’s the Beef? Perfume. Cologne.
Throughout the decades, ye olde marketing machine has given us countless catchy nuggets to hang our hats (and wallets) on. But those last two? Surely I accidentally popped those sonsabitches into the conversation, right?
The answer is totally up to you, your olfactory sensors, and your body’s chemical makeup. Regardless of a fragrance’s notes, what smells nice to you smells nice to you. What I’m getting at here is that the best unisex fragrances are not only here now, but they’ve been here forever.
I’ll leave it up to you whether you prefer jasmine and rose or cedar and patchouli. Either way, the best gender-neutral fragrances blur the lines in all the right ways—and here they come now.
The best unisex fragrances are the ones that ignore the fictional boundaries between traditional masculine and feminine scents. Boy Smells does a particularly impressive job of this, as evidenced by my top pick, Boy Smells Tantrum. On the classic side, but no less impressive, are the wide-ranging woody and citrus notes of Calvin Klein’s CK One.
Since 2015, Boy Smells has been deftly and intentionally blending masculine and feminine scents. Not only does this create captivating, come-hither fragrances, but their various combinations of floral and woody scents can be worn year-round.
Standing out in all the right ways is the brand’s Tantrum offering. With cedarwood and vetiver at its base, it makes a strong first impression. Fall and winter scents then give way to crisp bergamot and mint notes. Spritz some on before work, a date, or any time you’re a human out in the world. It’s… pretty versatile.
Top Notes: Peppercorn, Mint | Middle Notes: Bergamot, Galbanum | Base Notes: Cedarwood, Orris, Vetiver | Size: 2.2oz | Type: Cologne de Parfum | Season: All
Trusty, throwback-y CK One made its debut in the mid-’90s and has been gracing the world’s collective nose with its genderless glory ever since. Yes, the world has a collective nose now. The more you know.
It’s a classic, all-season fragrance with predominant notes of orange, black tea, and vetiver—a combination that lends itself to being splashed liberally and splashed daily. Another feature that makes this one of the best unisex fragrances is, of course, its approachable price. CK One is both a perfectly acceptable entry-level option for young men and a quality addition to an already strong collection.
Top Notes: Orange | Middle Notes: Black Tea | Base Notes: Vetiver | Size: 3.4oz | Type: Eau de Toilette | Season: All
House of B?’s gender-neutral fragrances are blended by expert perfumers and created with natural ingredients. This level of care and detail is on full display with Espiritu, a bold, woody scent that emphasizes masculinity, embraces femininity, and would make an outstanding addition to the luxury side of your bathroom vanity.
The oakwood and leather base notes carry a lot of weight here. But to keep them in check, iris, rose, and sage eventually make their presence known. Yep. Those are all women’s names, so that sentence really worked out for me. Anyway, this is a standout unisex perfume that’s best reserved for date nights, cocktail parties, and all manner of nighttime leisurely pursuits.
Top Notes: Osmanthus, Sage | Middle Notes: Iris, Rose, Tobacco Leaves | Base Notes: Oakwood, Leather | Size: 2.5oz | Type: Eau de Parfum | Season: All
Translating to “holy wood,” Palo Santo is a branchless tree that grows throughout South America and has historically been used for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Which is good to know. But what’s better to know is that its piney, minty, citrusy notes smell nice. Really nice.
And as fate would have it, it’s the predominant scent of Cremo’s Palo Santo. Cremo creates versatile, long-lasting fragrances that won’t break the bank and won’t overwhelm a room with over-the-top projection, and this one’s no exception.
Top Notes: Cardamom | Middle Notes: Papyrus | Base Notes: Palo Santo | Size: 3.4oz | Type: Eau de Toilette | Season: All
The summer fragrance is a beautiful thing. Meant to compliment a warm, salty breeze and a devil-may-care linen shirt with just enough buttons buttoned, you’re typically working with floral and citrus notes and a hint of wood.
Byredo’s Mojave Ghost not only has a cool name, but it also happens to (not-so-coincidentally) fit that exact description. Ambergris and cedar make up the base, followed by strong floral notes of magnolia and violet. It’s gentle enough to keep things light and airy during the summer but strong enough not to get swept away by an ocean breeze.
Top Notes: Ambrette, Sapodilla | Middle Notes: Magnolia, Violet, Sandalwood | Base Notes: Ambergris, Cedar | Size: 3.3oz | Type: Eau de Parfum | Season: Summer
The fire is crackling. The toddy is hot. You’re posturing just so hard in a high-backed leather chair and probably shaking some mixed nuts in your hand. Maybe some wasabi peas. Skittles? Your guests are about to arrive, but there’s a problem: you don’t smell like Maison Margiela’s Replica by the Fireplace yet.
Easy fix. Because here comes one of the best unisex fragrances for spritzing on during those bone-chilling winter months. Warm things up with vanilla, chestnut, wood oil, and orange flower. They’re the perfect compliments to the aforementioned scenario, minus all that posturing.
Top Notes: Pepper, Orange Flower, Clove Oil | Middle Notes: Chestnut, Wood Oil | Base Notes: Vanilla, Balsam, Cashmeran | Size: 3.4oz | Type: Eau de Toilette | Season: Winter
A fragrance with soothing, calming qualities can help put you in a zen state of mind. But even a slight projection can also bring whoever’s in the room right along with you. Cannabis from the ever-popular Malin+Goetz combines subtle wafts of cannabis with patchouli, sandalwood, and bergamot.
This is another eau de parfum that won’t make a great standalone option. Think of it instead as a unique addition to your arsenal best reserved for après-ski shenanigans, dessert-and-a-nightcap dates, and the occasional fire pit-adjacent get-together. Basically, don’t overthink this one, and it’ll serve you well.
Top Notes: Bergamot, Black Pepper, Orange | Middle Notes: Cannabis Accord, Muguet, Magnolia | Base Notes: Cedarwood, Patchouli, Sandalwood | Size: 1.7oz | Type: Eau de Parfum | Season: All
Just because the TSA has a bone to pick with your grooming and personal care routine doesn’t mean you can’t still travel in style (and smell your best). This tiny bottle of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Gentle Fluidity Gold eau de parfum will see your travel woes and raise you notes of musk, amber, vanilla, and nutmeg.
It should be noted that this isn’t an ideal profile for spring and summer use. But it’ll definitely help keep things toasty during the fall and winter, whether you’re leaf-peeping in the northeast or traveling to icy lands far away.
Top Notes: Nutmeg, Vanilla | Middle Notes: Juniper Berry, Smber Woods | Base Notes: Coriander, Musk | Size: 0.5oz | Type: Eau de Parfum | Season: Fall, Winter
Acqua Di Parma has a longstanding reputation for creating excellent fragrances capable of sticking with you throughout most of the day. The best unisex cologne in its stable in terms of lasting power and breadth of notes is Blue Mediterraneo.
Though vetiver and musk make up the base, citrus and floral notes power through, making this a nice spring and summer play for indoor or outdoor use. But when day turns to night and it’s time to freshen up, this is a versatile enough scent to make the transition without it seeming forced or out of place.
Top Notes: Bergamot, Citron | Middle Notes: Ginger, Cedar, Flowers | Base Notes: Vetiver, Musk | Size: 5oz | Type: Eau de Toilette | Season: Spring, Summer
Remember when we talked about how cologne and perfume gender lines have mostly been drawn by brilliant marketing teams throughout the decades? You’ll especially need to keep that in mind for this one. Polo makes some outstanding fragrances ranging from old-school to elegantly modern. And though they’re largely masculine, they wear many hats.
And what better way for a lucky giftee to try them all on than by tearing into this 4-pack gift set featuring Polo Red, Blue, Black, and Green. They’re sure to please the uncle, brother, and dad crowds. But chances are, the enlightened women in your life would not only wear the stuff but applaud the bold gifting move.
Top Notes: Varies | Middle Notes: Varies | Base Notes: Varies | Size: 0.5oz | Type: Eau de Toilette | Season: All
What To Look For In The Best Unisex Fragrances
As fate would have it, the scent of a fragrance is important—but unisex perfume doesn’t play by the rules. The best unisex fragrances seamlessly blend citrusy and floral notes with the likes of musk, leather, and cedar.
Though many fragrances are neither masculine nor feminine, not all of them are right for every season. During the warmer months, opt for base notes that match the easy breezy days of summer, like citrus and flowers. And come winter, you can’t go wrong with woody, musky notes.
How Long It Lasts
Before choosing a unisex perfume, consider how long it’s going to stick with you. Looking to smell your best all day at work? Prioritize long-lasting colognes. Want to make a good impression on your date without the fragrance wearing out its welcome if things progress to the next level? Look for options with shorter burn times.
The best men’s colognes and the best women’s perfumes, turns out, are one and the same. It’s all about what you like and what smells nice to you. My top pick, Boy Smells Tantrum, blurs the olfactory lines in all the right ways with a skillful blend of cedarwood, bergamot, and mint.
Now more than ever, unisex perfumes are a popular choice. Leaning neither masculine nor feminine, these fragrances blur all the right lines in all the right ways. Wear them with confidence and let nature take its course.
Gender-neutral scents are neither masculine nor feminine. The best unisex fragrances combine traditionally masculine scents like musk, spice, and wood with traditionally feminine scents like jasmine and rose.