This Non-Floral Scent Will Change The Way You Think About Spring Perfumes

It’s subtle and surprising.

by Jessica DeFino
Originally Published: 
Try these non-floral perfumes for spring.

Remember the Crayola shade Spring Green? That color — a light, energizing cross between highlighter yellow and fresh-cut grass — exactly embodies the season of new beginnings. Perhaps that’s why Stem, the greenery-inspired, unisex fragrance from Malin + Goetz, seems perfectly fit for spring — in a non-floral way. “Stem is all of the elements from a plant that are not the flower,” Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz, the brand’s founders, tell TZR — a concept that fits right into the ever-popular trend of non-floral perfumes for spring.

“It's our take on the idea of a garden; it is the residue that is left on your hands,” Malin and Goetz, who are also avid horticulturists, explain. “We specifically chose plants for this that felt and smelled more ‘green’ and focused on the non-floral parts.” The resulting combination of muguet flower stalks and rose stems makes for one of the best spring fragrances that’s floral-adjacent and somewhat familiar, yet totally fresh-feeling.

“Excellent non-floral scents are centered around woody and herbaceous source material,” Bathing Culture co-founder Spencer Arnold tells TZR. “Non-floral compositions commonly fill the vacancy of florals by lifting bass notes or anchoring top notes to let them speak more from the heart position. A classic example of perfumes that drive the bass as the tonic is patchouli-focused perfumes.”

Another herb making splashes in the non-floral perfume world is vetiver, which is at the hart of one of Arnold’s favorites, Vetiverissimo by Bruno Fazzolari. “The perfume is rooted in vetiver and brightens and lifts with notes of cedar,” Arnold says. He predicts naturals to continue to skyrocket this year: “2022 is all about soft, luminous resins, mosses, styrax and, patchouli, [and I] could also see yuzu in more scents as it becomes more available.” If Bathing Culture’s forest-y Cathedral Grove Perfume Oil is any indication, fragrance lovers can expect scents to transport them to places right in the heart of a fresh, serene scene, like the misty redwoods of Cathedral Grove.

“I think there’s something about traditional powdery florals, like an old-fashioned ‘grandma’ perfume, that people aren’t responding to anymore,” Eric Korman, the co-founder and CEO of clean fragrance brand PHLUR, tells TZR. “However, there are really fresh botanical scents that invoke other parts of the flower or plant, like the violet leaves and oak moss in our scent Sandara.” Oak moss is a particularly popular note for non-floral perfumes. Its earthy, dewy aroma makes you feel like you're surrounded by plant life in full bloom, without the cloying quality of overly-feminine florals. In addition to PHLUR’s Sandara, oak moss is a base note in DedCool’s Spring — another unisex fragrance offering.

If you’re intrigued by the anti-floral trend, unisex fragrances may just be your best bet. “Traditionally speaking, florals have always fallen in the female fragrance category,” Carina Chaz, the founder of DedCool, tells TZR. “With DedCool, I’m committed to creating unisex and gender-fluid scents, while still appealing to everyone.” Florals do factor into the brand's formulations — Spring, for example, uses geranium as a mid note — but "they're always accompanied by an earthy or a citrus note,” Chaz says.

Mastering that delicate balance between masculine and feminine is an art form so nuanced, perfumer Sigil Scent has built its entire brand ethos around it. “We formulate for a balance of masculine (animus) and feminine (anima) energy,” Patrick Kelly, Sigil Scent’s founder, tells TZR. “For instance, our Anima Mundi Eau de Parfum juxtaposes so-called ‘feminine’ floral notes like rose and jasmine with heady immortelle, tobacco, and hinoki.” The result? A perfume that's more spicy than sweet.

Ahead, 16 of the best non-floral perfumes — a mix of new releases and classics — that feel oh-so-fresh for spring.

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