There’s just something about woody fragrances. While I’m, of course, partial to the gourmands and the florals, wood fragrances offer something in the way of understated cool that other fragrances don’t. A slightly unisex vibe offers a fragrance that never feels obvious, overdone, or sickly sweet. Whether you’re an old hat at the wood-based perfume or want to dip your toe into a whole new world of scents, here is a selection of the best.
The Top Scents
Let’s start with an undeniable classic: Comme Des Garcons Wonderwood. The clue is in the name, really – this fragrance offers wood, nothing more and nothing less. It’s a total delight for those who enjoy cedar, sandalwood, cypress, and oud, and it has a soothing yet slightly spicy vibe.
Another of my top choices is Byredo’s famous Gypsy Water. The sandalwood and juniper combo is undeniably woody but also has a fresh and slightly citrusy note. If you want something similar but cheaper, Tocca’s Colette is near-identical to all but the most refined of noses.
One which is a delightful cacophony of wood is Heretic Perfumes’ Smudge. Alongside a spectrum of different woody notes, it also has hints of sage, patchouli, and vanilla, which make it a little more accessible to those new to the wood-scent scene.
Something Woody With a Twist
For those looking for something woody but with a twist, I point you towards Maison Margiela’s Replica Jazz Club. I’m a huge fan of this entire fragrance line, which takes inspiration from particular scenes and recreates them in an olfactory sense. Jazz Club smells exactly like a vintage wooden cigar box – but in the most pleasant way possible.
If you’re into the idea of a wood scent, but don’t want anything too heavy or cloying, one of my all-time favourite scents is Clean Fragrances’ Sel Santal. This is light, fresh, and deliciously sour – like a sip of a mojito on a boiling hot day. But underneath all that citrus, there’s a palpable hit of sandalwood, which adds unforeseen depth to the scent.
A Creamier Fragrance
Another woody fragrance with a twist is Diptyque’s Philosykos. This is a sweeter, creamier take on the world of wood, thanks to its figgy overtones. It’s gourmand without ever feeling sickly, and although it is definitely sugary, it’s not necessarily “girly.”
I find Byredo’s Bibliotheque actually has quite a similar vibe. Alongside the woody notes, it also has hints of vanilla and plum, which help make it a bit more accessible to those who enjoy a sweet scent. FYI, the candle version is also out of this world.
Kiehls Vanilla & Cedarwood is also a great option for those looking for something wood-inspired but not full of old-furniture vibes. It has that cedarwood wardrobe scent, but (as the name suggests) it’s also cut with vanilla, which makes it feel more classically “perfumey.”
My final woody rec is for those just starting out on their wood fragrance journey. Glossier’s You. This is just a perfect all-rounder fragrance – I’ve never met a soul who doesn’t like it. But underneath that sparkly pink pepper and soft musk, there’s a deliciously subtle woody note that makes it feel more mature and well-rounded – while still being fun and pretty, too. Truly, the best of both worlds!
Shop the Edit
Comme Des Garcons Wonderwood
Byredo’s Gypsy Water
Heretic Perfumes’ Smudge
Maison Margiela’s Replica Jazz Club
Clean Fragrances’ Sel Santal
Kiehls Vanilla & Cedarwood
Annie Walton Doyle is a writer based in Manchester, UK. She typically writes about beauty and other "personal aesthetics," with a healthy dose of both social commentary and stupidity. When not touching makeup, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature, and mysteries. Find her on Instagram @anniewaltondoyle.