For as long as I can remember, I've always been into woody fragrances. Like a true L.A. woman, I was committed to Le Labo's Santal 33 ($192) for years and have only veered ever so slightly to experiment with similarly spicy scents laced with notes of sandalwood, bergamot, vetiver, and other decidedly savory aromas. Fragrances categorized as sweet or gourmand—the fancy name given to perfumes that smell almost edible with notes of honey, caramel, vanilla, and the like—just never called to me. (A brief stint with one of Paris Hilton's body sprays back in middle school was the first and last time I gravitated toward something that made me smell like I was dipped in sugar.) Too unsophisticated, I scoffed from atop my Le Labo–scented high horse. But that all changed when I finally got my hands on a bottle of Rihanna's favorite perfume, Kilian's Love, Don't Be Shy ($240).
It wasn't until very recently that I started seriously considering leaning into sweet perfumes, but a years-long love affair with Frédéric Malle's Portrait of a Lady ($255) and a more recent rendezvous with Tom Ford's Bitter Peach ($350) got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I'm more into warmer, more syrupy notes than I'd let myself believe. Then, a viral TikTok video reminded me that my queen Rihanna is widely known as one of the best-smelling humans in Hollywood and that her signature scent is the key to this reputation. The candied notes of orange blossom, vanilla, and marshmallow I would have normally turned up my nose at were suddenly so intriguing to me. It's not that I'm naïve enough to believe that a price tag is always an accurate indicator of quality, but at $240 for a single bottle, I had a hunch that this fragrance would be something special. Spoiler alert: It is.
At first spritz, I almost didn't know what to make of the smells swirling into my nostrils. Do I smell… Fruit Loops? S'mores? What the hell is going on here? For so long, I had been concocting an imaginary scent profile of saccharine notes akin to the smells that might waft out of a candy factory, and that wasn't too far off. This stuff smells like cotton candy mixed with earl grey tea and juicy citrus fruit, topped with the confidence of having all your bills set to autopay without worrying whether you've got enough money to cover them all. That's right—this fragrance smells rich in more ways than one. I don't know why I expected anything less, seeing as Rihanna is the human embodiment of wealth, health, and happiness, but it was almost uncanny how quickly those same vibes started to seep into my own reality.
From day one, I couldn't keep my wrists away from my face to take in long whiffs, nor could I pass a mirror without pausing to stare and take in the badassery I suddenly felt. Walking my dog, one of very few interactions with the world outside my home lately, transformed into a welcome opportunity to leave a trail of sumptuous goodness for the world to enjoy. I wanted to wear only my finest sweatpants and even felt more inspired to put on a little makeup from time to time to match the glam vibe of my new aroma. The scent starts off strong, so the first time I sprayed myself, I was seriously intimidated, but within a half hour, it settles into the skin so beautifully and stays there all dang day. This fragrance is life changing, friends.
So in conclusion, I'm into sweet perfumes now. They're so fun and so extra and give a big middle finger to subtlety, which is an energy I can really get down with right now. There's still a time and a place for my woody faves in my scent wardrobe, but for the purposes of lifting my mood and raising my confidence with a single spritz, I definitely won't hesitate to reach for those warm, gourmand scents. If you want to be like me and Rihanna, I'd recommend Love, Don't Be Shy. If you're shopping for other options, keep scrolling for more sweet perfumes to try.