I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write this post, to be honest. I’ve written before about the scent of hygge, where I briefly touched on perfume, but I think it’s time for me to dedicate a full post to my combined love of both hygge and fragrance.
The usual caveat that hygge (and, indeed, fragrance) are very personal, and what’s hyggeligt for me might not be for you. But over the years, I’ve built up a micro-reputation as a fragrance fanatic, so I’ve come across all number of cosy, warm perfumes that I’d love to share with you. So, pulse points at the ready – here’s my pick of the best fragrances for hygge…
Noir Exquis by L’Artisan Parfumeur
The first thing I want to say is that I definitely didn’t pay full price for this perfume! I bought it on sale without knowing anything about it but its written description, and WOW it was a great decision!
L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Noir Exquis is supposed to evoke thoughts of a French patisserie with its notes of coffee, glazed chestnuts and maple syrup, and it really does. I also pick up some gorgeous smokiness that gives this a unisex twist. I know that words like ‘glazed’ and ‘syrup’ might make you think it will be sickly sweet, but somehow it just isn’t. It’s a super sophisticated take on a gourmand fragrance, and it is absolutely perfect for cosy winter days.
By The Fireplace by Maison Margiela
I first tried this as part of a discovery set I bought on a whim in Boston, and this was by far the standout scent. I’ve seen Maison Margiela’s By The Fireplace compared to Noir Exquis, actually, and I think it’s that smoky note that brings them together.
This is described as a woody fragrance, placing it firmly in unisex territory (although I really don’t believe in fragrance being gendered – just wear what you like!), and it was designed to smell like a crackling wood fire on a winter morning. I know these smoky scents aren’t for everyone, so if you want a similar vibe but with less smokiness and more sweetness, I must give Maison Margiela’s Coffee Break an honorable mention – it’s reminiscent of a Stockholm café, and I can’t imagine anything much lovelier right now.
Black Opium by YSL
If you’re looking for a heavy, heady nighttime fragrance, this is it. YSL Black Opium is best known for its coffee notes, which play beautifully with vanilla and white flowers like jasmine and orange blossom. It’s one of those intoxicating fragrances that you won’t forget in a hurry – and the good news is that unlike the NEST fragrance above, it’s available absolutely everywhere!
This is a scent for a cosy night in or out. This is for hygge with a partner, or date night hygge. It’s darkly sweet without being saccharine, and it’s also incredibly memorable. Scent and memory are so closely linked, and I think that ‘memorability’ is such an underrated feature of fragrance. You can walk into any department store and spritz 20 perfumes, but there will always be that one that sticks in your mind days later. This is that one.
Mimosa & Cardamom by Jo Malone
To me, cardamom is such a beautiful fragrance note, and it’s so deliciously autumnal. I only wear this scent in autumn, which makes me really look forward to the first spritz every year, and it’s light and fresh enough to see you through one of those stunning golden autumn days.
Jo Malone’s Mimosa & Cardamom boasts notes of sandalwood and tonka on top of the obvious mimosa and cardamom, so it’s really a blend made in cosy heaven. Tonka in particular will always make me feel like hibernating (in a good way), and because, like most Jo Malone fragrances, it’s not especially weighty, it’s an absolute dream for a September tromp around the park or for a chai latte in the sunshine.
Tangier Vanille by Aerin
Part of the reason I love Aerin’s Tangier Vanille so much is because I lusted after it for a long (long, long) time. Then one day, I went to Sketch for a pre-birthday pink paradise afternoon tea with one of my best friends, who gave me a bottle, and it was just the BEST surprise!
The other part of the reason is because it’s so sweet and comforting. This is a true gourmand with its heavy, heady hit of Madagascan vanilla, with amber, sandalwood and soft musk woven through to give it that warmth and cosiness we’re all craving right now. Don’t be put off by all that vanilla, by the way – you won’t be walking around smelling like cake batter all day (not that I’d hate that to be honest…)!
Cocoa Woods by NEST
I put some real effort into tracking down Cocoa Woods by NEST. It’s virtually impossible to get hold of in the UK, so I had to wait until my trip to Boston a few years ago to grab a rollerball. The name really says it all – it’s a mouthwatering combination of chocolate and woody notes. Actually, for me, the sequoia and sandalwood are much more prominent, with just a hint of chocolate, so to me it’s a very unisex scent.
Cocoa Woods really reminds me of walking around Salem, MA, learning about the witch trials and talking myself out of spending a fortune on Halloween-themed candles (I still majorly regret that). It also reminds me of those damp and spooky autumnal walks – it’s late November, the sky is thick and heavy with clouds and you’re sinking into the mud underfoot. I appreciate that it’s not appealing to everyone, but trust me – there’s plenty of hygge to be had here.
Classique by Jean Paul Gaultier
Yet another fragrance I associate with a strong memory! This time, I was on my way to the Christmas markets in Bruges, and I tried a quick spritz of Jean Paul Gaultier Classique on my coat. For the entire trip, I could NOT STOP burying my face in my collar to experience it again.
You’ve absolutely seen this bottle before. It’s that pretty peachy female body with the frosted glass. It is PACKED with notes ranging from anise (bleugh), bergamot, ylang-ylang, plum, orange blossom and vanilla, but more than anything else, it reminds me of… skin. To me, this makes me think of the way you smell when you’re fresh out of the bath – it’s warm, close and sweet, and take it from me – it will stick around on your coat for days.
As we know, hygge is different for everyone. My bonfires, vanilla and amber might be lime, fresh strawberries and pine trees for you. While there’s no real secret to finding your fragrances for hygge, it might help you to start by looking for ‘warm’ or gourmand notes – vanilla, coffee, cocoa, jasmine, nutmeg and sandalwood are all great places to start.
If you want to try one of the fragrances above, I can’t recommend sites like Fragrance Samples UK or Scent Samples enough. You can order a range of tiny sample vials so you can try out various scents without committing to a big expensive bottle, which will help you find the best fragrance for hygge without spending a small fortune.
What’s your favourite fragrance for hygge?