The scent is one of the most unique aspects of beauty. It’s evocative, personal, creative, and has more range than any other beauty product. This makes fragrances one of the hardest topics to write about, so bear with me here.
As the seasons change, great opportunities to switch up your routine present themselves. While there’s a practical aspect to this (i.e. you need more moisture as the temperature drops), the more exciting side of seasonal switch-ups comes in the form of fragrances. When winter starts to roll around, you no longer want a light, summery scent. There’s something cosier in order, and for that, I have an array of excellent recommendations for you.
My first suggestion is the most overtly wintery fragrance out there: Margiela’s ‘By The Fireplace’. I mean, c’mon—the clue is in the name. It smells so cosy: a blend of sweet toasted marshmallow and smoky, burning wood.
It also has some of the best-lasting power I’ve found in a fragrance. This is a great “staying home” fragrance.
On a similar though less edible vibe, Diptyque by Eau Duelle is your girl. It certainly has a vanilla note but also offers a slightly incense-y, perfume-like aroma. Like a delicious, sexy church if you will.
Comme des Garçons
Speaking of sexy churches, Comme des Garcons makes an amazing collection of religion-based wood fragrances. It may sounds weird (although, quite frankly, what do you expect from CdG?) but it smells incredible. The best two are Incense Kyoto and Incense Avignon, based on Shintoism and Catholicism, respectively. Both are truly fantastic options if you like a wood-based scent. The former is fresher, the latter smokier—but both are undeniably warm, cosy, and wintery.
Chanel No. 5
A classic when it comes to cold weather fragrances is Chanel No. 5. It’s kind of vintage-smelling but in a really, good way.
If you want to smell like a femme fatale in an old movie, this is the one for you. It’s undeniably classy, but somehow never boring. No 5 is an investment piece so if that price tag is simply out of your budget, I point you in the direction of Coty’s L’Aimant.
Coming from a brand that is so markedly uncool, this fragrance is shockingly lovely. It has the same vibe as Chanel No. 5 without trying too hard to be a dupe. It gives you a sense of sophistication, even if your bank balance begs to differ.
I’m also extremely partial to a winter musk. There’s something both icy and cosy about a musky note. It’s like snuggling under a furry blanket while riding in a sleigh. The best musk out there is Serge Lutens Clair de Musc. Where traditional musks can stray into “dirty animal” territory (seriously—look it up!), Serge Luten’s scent remains light and sparkly. The quality, like with any Serge Lutens fragrance, is second to none.
It’s definitely a treat though, so if you want a similar vibe, I absolutely love Jovan’s ‘White Musk’. It’s a very simple scent, but for the price it most certainly gets the job done. When that job is smelling nice, it’s kind of important to do it right.
If you like the idea of musk but find them a little too sharp or harsh, then you may wish to consider Glossier’s ‘You’. It has a hint of musk but is also sweet and creamy. It’s surprisingly subtle, and has a strangely metamorphic quality, giving each person a unique (but delightful) custom scent.
Sometimes wintery scents can veer too far into the cloying territory. If you prefer a sharper, fresher fragrance yet still want something appropriate to the cold weather, Clean Sel Santal is a fantastic choice.
It has a slightly sour and cucumbery note which is honestly mouth-watering. If you like Le Labo Santal 33, you’ll love this slightly more wearable sandalwood scent.
My final recommendation is a little offbeat, but hear me out. Imaginary Authors is an independent brand that makes scents inspired by works of literature, combining two of my greatest loves. They make a graphic novel-inspired scent called A City On Fire, and it offers the best “recently burned match” scent of your wildest dreams. While I don’t tend to wear it alone (it’s a little too on-the-nose in terms of a fire fragrance) it’s absolutely perfect to layer up with sweeter fragrances to add a wintery twist. Combine this fragrance with any gourmand to add a hint of sexy danger.