Why All Fragrances Are Unisex According To Experts

Instagram/Maison Francis Kurkdjian

The feelings that a fragrance can evoke are endless. Most, however, are associated with gender. Think about the floral notes you spritz on your wrists come springtime, or the intoxicating musk of your boyfriend's favorite cologne. But now as the notion of gender binaries become a thing of the past, the fragrance world is following behind, crafting masterful scents with everyone in mind. However, it's a little-known fact that most perfumes and colognes are created as begins as unisex fragrances.

"The perfumer’s palette is the same whether you create a female, male, or unisex fragrance," Francis Kurkdjian, co-creator and creative director at Maison Francis Kurkdjian, tells TZR. "Typically, it is not the ingredient that makes the gender of a fragrance, but the way you combine and balance it within the formula." How those formulas come together results in the gender categorization of the fragrance. "Traditionally, feminine scents are built either on a floral scent," Kilian Hennessy, founder of Kilian Paris, adds. "That includes rose, tuberose, and jasmine." On the flipside, masculine scents are notably built on more woodsy scents which include cedarwood, vetyver, sandalwood, and a "fougere," which Hennessy describes as an "accord built on a lavender, geranium, or coumarine structure."

However, in many cases, categorizations of a fragrance are completely decided by the consumer. "Since scent is so subjective, I’ve found that when my perfumes are worn, those categoric generalizations often fly out the window," Chavalia Dunlap, founder of Pink MahogHany fragrances says. "I have been surprised that men gravitate towards one of my perfumes that originally was marketed towards women — a fragrance callled Pas Encore Nommé — and am leaning more towards my next collection being gender-neutral. Sometimes women like to smell darker and men like to smell sweeter, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it."

But what about unisex fragrances? According to Gerard Camme, president of Atelier Cologne, they too have defining notes. "Unisex scents usually have notes of musk or ambroxan, two notes that are very calming and comforting," he tells me. But if you don't have a sophisticated nose, able to sniff out the layers of notes that comprise a fragrance, there's good news: just go with whatever scent makes you feel good. "Once you don’t think of genders anymore, you realize that all fragrances are actually unisex," Hennessy says. "Mozart used to say 'I look for the notes that love each other' and this is exactly how I go when I create a scent."

So if you're on the hunt for a fragrance of notes that "love each other" rather than one marked by gender, check out these beloved unisex fragrances comprised of every note and aroma you can dream of.

We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.