The 12 Best Woodsy Perfumes That Are Unexpectedly Sultry of 2022

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While each person is different regarding their taste in fragrance, there's no doubt that woodsy scents feel sophisticated and cool. Maybe it's because they're a departure from the overly sweet perfumes of our youth, or maybe it's just something that happens to your olfactory system as you grow up (much like our taste buds). Either way, there's no denying the sultry appeal of a scent that's laced with notes like cedar, amber, bergamot, or sandalwood.

According to Nick Smart, director of Libertine Parfumerie and CEO of Agence de Parfum, woodsy perfumes are typically defined by the presence of earthy notes such as amber, cedar, patchouli, and sandalwood. These have a dry, warm smell—evocative of, well, the woods.

In celebration of the chicest fragrance category ever, we're rounding up our favorites that appeal to every mood, outfit, and personality. 

Keep scrolling to shop for the best woodsy perfumes.

Best Overall: Le Labo Santal 33 Eau De Parfum

Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum

Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Not too strong

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

In 2015, The New York Times called this fragrance "the scent you smell everywhere," and we'd have to agree wholeheartedly. Santal 33 is the perfume that popularized the niche fragrance category and has basically filled every hotel lobby bar, creative office, and concept store since. An ode to the "spirit of the American West," it's a memorable blend of cardamom, violet accord, leather, and sandalwood, making for a woodsy scent that's intoxicating and cool.

Type: Eau de parfum | Top Notes: Violet accord, cardamom | Free of: Parabens | Size: 0.5 fluid ounces, 1.7 fluid ounces, 3.4 fluid ounces, 16.9 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Organic: Skylar Willow Eau de Toilette

Skylar Willow Eau de Toilette
What We Like
  • Can layer with other scents

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Not as long-lasting as other options

Clean, natural fragrance brand Skylar is making waves in the industry for its sophisticated olfactive offering an accessible price point. Willow specifically is an interesting but beautiful blend of benzoin tree, cedarwood, and galbanum, giving it a woodsy, earthy quality we can't get enough of.

Type: Eau de toilette | Top Notes: Benzoin tree, cedarwood, galbanum | Size: 1.7 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Floral Lovers: Maison Margiela REPLICA Springtime In A Park Eau de Toilette

Margiela Springtime in a Park
What We Like
  • Not too strong

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • May be too sweet for some

Margiela fragrances are unique in that they evoke a specific place or experience, in this case, a blooming park in Shanghai on the first days of spring. Floral fragrance lovers will fall hard for the notes of lily blossoms, pear, and a touch of musk, but the woody, rich base gives it depth.

Type: Eau de toilette | Top Notes: Pear accord, bergamot essence, blackcurrant accord | Size: 0.34 ounces, 1 ounce, 3.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Sweet: Dolce & Gabbana The Only One Eau de Parfum

DOLCE&GABANNA The Only One Eau de Parfum

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Warm

What We Don't Like
  • May be too sweet for some

If you just can't stray from sweetness, this Dolce & Gabbana classic is the perfect middle ground. It has a syrupy caramel hint to it, but with added lightness from citrus and violet. And after a few hours of wear, you'll be able to smell the rich, coffee base notes. In a word, it's delicious.

Type: Eau de parfum | Top Notes: Violet, bergamot | Size: 0.33 ounces, 1.6 ounces, 3.3 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Lasting: BYREDO Bal D'Afrique

BYREDO Bal D'Afrique
What We Like
  • Warm

  • Romantic

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • May be too strong for some

This iconic fragrance is a delightful mix of African marigold, bergamot, black amber, cedarwood, and musk, making for a fragrance that's warm, romantic, and complex. And like all Byredo blends, it's got incredible staying power, too.

Type: Eau de parfum | Top Notes: Bergamot, African marigold, bucchu | Free of: Oil, parabens | Size: 1.7 ounces, 3.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What We Like
  • Feels expensive

  • Unisex scent

What We Don't Like
  • Not as long-lasting as other options

The latest from Diptyque is all of our woodsy, Parisian fragrance dreams realized. Inspired by the stylish intellectual set of Saint-Germain in the early 1960s, the rich, tobacco-laced scent feels expensive and opulent. A hint of juniper gives it an aromatic, gin-like quality, while cedarwood adds some freshness.

Type: Eau de parfum | Top Notes: Tonka beans | Size: 2.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Dry Wood: Tom Ford Oud Wood Parfum

Oud Wood
What We Like
  • Unisex scent

  • Not too strong

What We Don't Like
  • Not as long-lasting as other options

Oud purists will be enamored with Tom Ford Oud Wood. The dry, smoky redolence is made up of sandalwood, rosewood, eastern spice, and Chinese pepper, giving it a really bold, genderless feel.

Type: Eau de parfum | Top Notes: Rosewood, cardamom, Chinese pepper | Size: 0.3 ounces, 1 ounce, 1.7 ounces, 3.4 ounces, 8.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge: Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540

Maison Francis Kurkdjian

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Great for gifting

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If you can move past the eye-watering price tag, this really is one of the most unique, memorable scents we've ever come across. It gets its woody depth from cedarwood and ambergris, but jasmine and saffron add an addictive, feminine quality. It's one of those scents that's hard to discern a single note too, which is probably why so many people are enchanted by it (us included).

Type: Eau de parfum | Top Notes: Saffron, jasmine | Size: 0.37 fluid ounces, 1.2 fluid ounces, 2.4 fluid ounces, 6.8 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Oriental: Yves Saint Laurent Opium

Yves Saint Laurent Opium
What We Like
  • Warm

  • Sexy

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • May be too strong for some

Opium has got to be one of the most iconic fragrances of all time, and we get why. Mysterious and evocative, it uses the power of plum, clove, myrrh, and sandalwood to turn heads and solicit the ultimate beauty compliment: "What fragrance are you wearing?"

Type: Eau de parfum, eau de toilette | Top Notes: Mandarin, bergamot | Size: 1 ounce, 1.6 ounces, 3.0 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No (parfum), Yes (toilette)

Best Unisex: COMME DES GARCONS Wonderwood

COMME DES GARCONS Wonderwood
What We Like
  • Unisex scent

  • Dry

What We Don't Like
  • May be too strong for some

If you like a neutral scent that errs on the masculine side of things, Wonderwood is made for you. Similar to Tom Ford Oud Wood, it's incredibly dry and clean—in part thanks to notes like oud, sandalwood, cypress wood, and gaïac wood.

Type: Eau de parfum | Top Notes: Madagascan pepper, bergamot, Somalian incense, nutmeg | Size: 1.7 ounces, 3.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Niche Perfume: Hive Luxury Fragrances Trust

Hive Luxury Fragrances Trust
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Warm

What We Don't Like
  • Bottles are smaller than other options

Want to top up your scent throughout the day? These purse-sized atomizers from Hive are great, and Trust, in particular, is a great pick-me-up off the back of a stressful workday. A compilation of tobacco, leather, gunmetal, violet, and whiskey, it's strong and assertive—exactly how we want to feel walking into a big meeting.

Size: 0.25 ounces, 0.06 ounces

Best Classic: Pehnhaligon's London Lothair

Pehnhaligon’s Lothair
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Warm

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Fun fact: Pehnhalogon's Lothair was actually the late Prince Phillips' fragrance of choice. It's what we could call a fresh, woody scent with hints of citrus, fig, black tea, grapefruit, ambergris, and oakmoss. While it's spritely and masculine at first, it settles into the skin, revealing a soft, creamy base. And while a men's scent categorically, we love it across the board.

Type: Eau de toilette | Top Notes: Pink pepper, juniper berry, red berries, cardamom, bergamot, grapefruit, fig leaf | Size: 3.3 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

Fragrance is about as intimate as it gets in the world of beauty, so choosing a perfume is a personal endeavor. But if we had to call out a few standouts, we'd name Santal 33, simply because it's iconic and delicious; Baccarat Rouge 540, for being one of the most unique and sophisticated scents on the market; and finally Oud Wood, for its commitment to the woody fragrance category (the fact that Tom Ford is incredibly chic doesn't hurt, either).

What to Look for When Buying a Woodsy Perfume

Test the Fragrance

The best way to trial a fragrance is to actually wear it. If you can, Smart suggests choosing a few you like on paper cards, spraying one on each wrist and a third on the inner elbow. Smart explains you should allow at least half an hour for the notes to develop, and judge them accordingly.

Classic Scents

If you want to seek out some woody benchmarks, Smart has called out the following as his go-to’s: Penhaligon's Lothhair, Lubin Idole, and Mizensir Perfect Oud.

Application

When it comes to actually wearing your fragrance, the application is important so as to not damage the delicate notes. Smart explains we should always spritz in a sweeping motion across the skin. He also points out you should never rub your wrists together. Instead, allow the fragrance to slowly evolve on the skin.

FAQ
  • What is a woodsy scent?

    A woodsy scent is one that smells like wood. Some examples of that include cedar, sandalwood, and patchouli. Wood-scented candles are very popular in the fall and cooler months. Think of ski resorts, wool blankets, and snowy mountaintops. Woody scents belong right in that picture.

  • How do I know what perfume smells good on me?

    A single perfume can smell different on everyone who wears it, despite smelling the same in the bottle. Fragrance expert Michael Donovan, founder and creative director of the luxury perfume line St. Giles, told us that you should "always check the effect of a fragrance on your skin before parting with your money."

  • How do you make your perfume scent last all day?

    There are indeed ways to get the most out of your fragrance. Try not to rub your perfume on pulse points—your body heat will zap some of the notes—and instead spray your scent onto moist, damp skin to lock it in.

  • Should I spray perfume on clothes or skin?

    Spraying perfume on your clothes may make the scent last longer, but you might not be able to smell all of it—and first, you'll want to be positive that the fabric won't be stained by it. Matthew Milèo, a chemist, former in-house fragrance expert for Chanel, and founder of the luxe oud-based skincare line, Milèo New York, told us that "because of the nature of fabric, it only catches some parts of the perfume and not the entire accord—which is why fragrances can smell more powdery on clothes."

Why Trust Byrdie?

If you grouped Byrdie's collective team fragrance collections, you'd be floored at the sheer volume. But in all seriousness, Emily Algar tests and trials new scents all the time, not to mention she has spent time over the years picking the brains of experts. She has also tapped the expertise of Nick Smart for this piece, one of the industry's most well-versed experts in the field.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15 percent of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any woodsy perfumes from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

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