#PerfumeTok is driving new fragrance sales and favourite scent choices
September 6th, 2022
The scoop about #PerfumeTok
Nobody could argue that the pandemic and COVID 19 fundamentally changed the way we think about smell. Not being able to smell was a sign of COVID and, even more disturbingly, the potential possibly of not regaining that key sense was enough to make people stop and think about how important smells and scents really are.
At the beginning of the pandemic every market analyst feared the worst for the fragrance sector and predictions were pretty grim. Consumers on the other hand decided something completely different and home fragrance, and fragrance in general started going crazy. Fine fragrances were affordable, and comforting luxuries, whilst candles and diffusers were used to lift spirits and denote living, relaxing and working from home spaces whilst we were all stuck indoors.
In 2021, perfume sales skyrocketed by as much as 45% according to reports from market research firm NPD Group, thanks to a boom in demand driven by the pandemic, despite the spike in perfume prices by 15% due to the supply chain crisis.
At the same time fragrance on TikTok REALLY started trending, and pretty soon, #PerfumeTok was born.
As we know hashtags are the easiest way to follow anything you may be interested in on any platform that uses them and when they ‘go big’ they do it with style – #perfumetiktok has 3.1 billion views, #perfumetok a very respectable 1.2 billion views and #fragrancetok has 220 million views and counting (as of me writing this in August 2022).
So what’s everyone loving? Well, mostly reviews, nosing around peoples collections and also dupes, dupes, dupes. TikTokkers are sharing the hottest news in fragrance, plus ‘where can I get copy of this fragrance for a tiny fraction of the original price’? So lets explore what’s ‘hot’ on the platform. 2 things which stand out to me? TikTokkers must not be eating (or are maybe sitting in the dark) because some of these perfume collections are Expensive (with a capital E) and also everyone loves a bit of comfort (amber, vanilla, marshmallow, warm woods and coffee are definitely trending). Anyhoo. Let’s go.
TikTok’s Favourite Scents
First up; The viral sensation: Maison Francis Kurkdijan Baccarat Rouge 540 (you can find a bit more about its popularity by clicking here), which sells for around £200 per bottle. Its an amber floral scent (that category is HUGE right now from Gen Z onwards) and includes top notes of Saffron and Jasmine, middle notes or Amberwood and Ambergris and base notes of Fir Resin and Cedar. The perfume that almost broke tiktok though was its ‘dupe’ – Zara Red Temptation (according to TikTokkers) which retails at £19.99.
Next up we have Glossier You EDP – a genderless scent that is designed to smell like you: soft, warm, familiar. the brand says; “We designed everything about it to feel open ended, like it’ll grow with you no matter where you are in your personal evolution. This is not a finished product. It needs you”.
How to describe Glossier You? It’s a floral woody musk with pink pepper—the bright, sparkling, spicy top note that makes a good first impression. Then you get into the woodsy, slightly sweet heart of the scent that comes from ambrette seeds and warm, ambery ambrox (a synthetic molecule that’s comforting, sensual and palatable in equal measure). It’s balanced with iris, a white floral, for a creamy freshness.
Now lets swap to another much loved fragrance sensation – Kayali Vanilla 28 ($118). If you didn’t know, Kayali is the fragrance brainchild of makeup guru, Huda Kattan (beauty entrepreneur and huge social media personality) and her sister Mona. Kayali is an Arabic word that means ‘imagination’ and generally, the fragrances are inspired by the middle east. However, this one doesn’t have any of the oud notes that are perhaps more typical of that genre. This scent is an amber vanilla fragrance with notes of vanilla orchid, jasmine, brown sugar, tonka bean, amber, musk, amberwood and patchouli. TikTokers claim it’s sweet, easy to wear, and works perfectly for layering.
Yves Saint Laurent’s Black Opium is one of the most popular modern fragrances around – in fact it was boosted to the UK’s No1 bestselling scent for women thanks to TikTok. Sales in 2021 were £19.4m and for a scent launched in 2014 that’s quite exceptional. The scent (which is based around coffee and has 24 flankers to date) is classified as an Amber Vanilla with notes of Pear, Pink Pepper, Orange Blossom, Coffee, Jasmine, Bitter Almond, Liquorice, Vanilla, Patchouli, Cedar and Cashmere Wood.
We all know that celebrity scents lost their sparkle and skin care is the thing now in celebrity land, but one scent that seems to have made it through is Ariana Grande’s Cloud. The perfume is constantly flying off the shelves, which is no surprise given the singer’s hold on Gen Z and its affordable price tag. It’s classified as a floral-fruity gourmand scent. At first spray, you get the lavender blossom, juicy pear, and bergamot, but creamier notes like crème de coconut, praline, and blonde woods soon creep in. This gourmand is an absolute crowd-pleaser that is affordable without smelling super synthetic – according to the TikTokkers.
YSL Libre was described by Allure magazine as a scent that ‘smells like the kind of woman whose finances are together’, and with a campaign that was fronted by singer, Dua Lipa – this is definitely a punchy, powerful fragrance. TikTok’s Pearl from Perfumed To Death describes it as ‘absolute elegance’ and the perfect perfume for the professional. This warm floral scent includes notes of lavender and orange blossom with a touch of vanilla extract. It’s easy to wear, refined, and still accessible — all the trappings of a solid signature scent and an easy must have in the TikTok world.
Talking of sophistication TikTokkers are loving gender neutral Replica’s Jazz Club (and so do I – I’ve just spritzed it to remind me). The idea behind this scent is that with one spray you will be transported back to a dark, smoky, boozy New York jazz club in the 1920’s. It does just that. Rum, tobacco, and vanilla are brightened with the addition of primofiore lemon, neroli, sage and pink pepper in one of Maison Margiela’s most adored offerings from its Replica line.
Tom Ford Lost Cherry (launched 2018) versus Zara Cherry Smoothie (launched 2022) made the rounds on TikTok filling up feeds as the majority of people declared it a good alternative to the uber pricey scent. Tom Ford’s version tops the chart among TikTok users. heady-meets-fruity fragrance with Top notes of Sour Cherry, Bitter Almond and Liquor, middle notes of Plum, Turkish Rose and Jasmine Sambac and base notes of Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Peru Balsam, Cinnamon, Benzoin, Sandalwood, Cloves, Cedar, Patchouli and Vetiver.
Gypsy Water (£127) is the smell of fresh soil, deep forests and campfires. It wants to evoke the dreams of a free and colourful lifestyle, surrounded by nature. It has top notes of Bergamot, Juniper & Pepper. Heart notes of Incense, Pine Needle & Orris. Base notes of Amber Sandalwood & Vanilla. Created to be a homage to Romany life, this unisex cult fragrance combines outdoorsy notes of pine and sandalwood as well as subtle moments of citrus to cut through any heaviness. It smells just as fresh and relevant now as it did when it launched 14 years ago.
Now who the heck doesn’t want to smell like Rihanna. Apparently no-one on TikTok. Kilian Love, Don’t Be Shy Eau de Parfum (£185+) is widely known as one of Rihanna’s favourite fragrances. The scent is described as a sticky-sweet floral gourmand that marries neroli and orange blossom with a sugary marshmallow accord. If it’s good enough for Rih/RiRi, it’s good enough for us all as per #perfumetok rules.
Delina is one of Parfums de Marly’s best sellers. This unapologetic floral brings together bergamot essence, rhubarb, and lychee with Turkish rose, peony, cashmerean, and musk. It’s super-refined but still playful and slightly mysterious. She’s pricey at around £205 but TikTokkers say if you like florals (especially for the peony fans out there), you will no doubt fall in love with this.
Last, but not least, just in case you thought TikTokkers only had a sweet tooth/nose, we get a blast of tropical fruit that is on every good #perfumetokkers collection shelf; Vilhelm Parfumerie Mango Skin Eau de Parfum. The scent launched in 2018 with notes of Mango, Orange and Violet, Frangipani, Mango Blossom, Ylang-Ylang, Black Currant, Musk, Red wine and Civet.
Want to find out more about fine fragrance trends? Download one of our quarterly Fine Fragrance Trend Stories Reports