The Results Are in: These Are the Best Genderless Fragrances to Try in 2023

Of all the products in the beauty space, I think fragrance is probably the most personal. Scent is so evocative that just catching a trace of a stranger's perfume as they pass you in the street can be enough to transport you back to a long-forgotten moment or evoke the memory of a special time or place.

And the fact that it's so very personal means that I have long been baffled by the constraints that we seem to have accepted as standard when it comes to experimenting with perfumes. Whether it's florals described as innately feminine scents or leathery, woodsy notes assumed only to appeal to men, there is no doubt that the perfume industry has taken a fairly cliched approach to perfume for some time.

But that all seems to be changing. Whilst fragrance is innately genderless and the notes that appeal to us have as little to do with us being "female" or "male" as our favourite colour does, there is a fresh wave of perfumers and fragrance houses rejecting the notion of gender-based perfumes entirely. Enter: the era of genderless fragrances.


(Image credit: @emmahoareau)

"I think we're done talking about gender in scent for a while," explains perfumer and D. S. & Durga co-founder David Seth Moltz. "People are open. It's old fashioned for a brand to say what gender an aroma is—you decide." Created with his wife Kavi Moltz, D.S. & Durga is a Brooklyn-based fragrance brand that is one of the names turning this idea of gendered perfumes on its head.

"I make what I want and don't even consider it being made for one group of people," explains Moltz. "It's everyone's choice to dress how they want and fragrance is even easier to go any direction. We're not saying woods for men, flowers for girls." Instead, D.S. & Durga's approach to the olfactory is to treat fragrance like a story. Each scent that they create is blended to act like an aromatic soundtrack to your day, embodying everything from music and art to nature and design.

But, interestingly, rejecting the arbitrary notion of gender-prescribed notes isn't an entirely new approach to scent.


(Image credit: @_jessicaskye)

"Historically, the same types of perfumes would have been worn both by men and women alike. It wasn't until the late 19th century that the separation of men’s and women’s perfumes began as a marketing tool," explains Beckielou Brown, perfume creator at Altra. This separation played into the idea that "men should act, look and smell strong, macho and powerful, and women should act, look and smell soft, pretty and demure." And this continued into recent decades. "However, as these social constructs change, so too does our openness to exploring perfumes, cosmetics and styles that allow us to explore our identity beyond binary norms," says Brown.

So, where does that leave the future of fragrance as we know it? "There is something almost ambiguous about the term 'genderless', but I think that new-to-market scents will be anything but," says master perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek, founder of Ruth Mastenbroek Perfumer London. "I believe it will become acceptable to wear scents that push the boundaries and to experiment with new scent combinations. We have so many facets to our identities and personalities, it is time to stop playing it safe and enjoy expressing ourselves."


(Image credit: @micaricketts)

Indeed, the chance to throw out the fragrance rulebook is liberating and paves the way for new perfume discoveries. "I expect to see more radical and unusual scent combination, agrees perfumer Nic Mastenbroek. "We are already seeing brands wanting to challenge the traditional stereotypes of what can and cannot be included in a fragrance. Why can't a men's fragrance be based around rose, for example? I think we will see traditional notes incorporated with cutting-edge ingredients to challenge gender norms around fragrance."

Ahead, 11 of the best genderless fragrances to discover now.

1. D.S. & Durga Steamed Rainbow

2. Vyrao I Am Verdant 

3. Escentric Molecules Molecule 01

4. Maison Margiela Replica Matcha Meditation

5. Byredo Bal D'Afrique

6. Boy Smells Italian Kush

7. Argentum Become

8. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Cologne Forte

9. Phlur Lost Cause

10. Altra Profuture Altra Skin

11. Jo Loves Cobalt Patchouli & Cedar

Mica Ricketts