What is the smell of a man? Or of a woman? The truth is there is no defining characteristic that makes a scent intrinsically masculine or feminine.
It’s all a result of gender ideology and years of powerful marketing. The idea that women should smell of delicate florals and a man of creamy wood is outdated and overruled by the rise of unisex and made-to-share fragrances.
To save you the bother of scouring department store shelves we’ve sourced some of the best gender-neutral scents on the market.
1. Tom Ford Black Orchid
It may be marketed towards women but Black Orchid is anything but girlish. It combines black truffle with fresh bergamot and vanilla to create a sensual, opulent aroma. First launched in 2006 this seductive scent with staying power has stood the test of time for both sexes.
2. Calvin Klein CK2
One’s light, citrusy, herbaceous scent was a best-seller. Now, the brand’s launched a follow-up. This time around it has created a woody, fresh scent using an unusual combination of wasabi, jasmine and wet cobblestone accords. If lighter, more natural smells are your thing then you won’t be disappointed by this youthful approach to androgynous cologne.
3. Valentino Uomo
Despite simply translating as “man” in Italian, Uomo’s soft, smoky accords are well suited to both men and women. With hints of bergamot, coffee and hazelnut, this is a smooth, leathery fragrance that carries a subtle sweetness over time. The bottle, reminiscent of a whisky decanter, is one to keep out on the dressing table.
4. Escentric Molecules Molecule
If you like the idea of creating a bespoke scent, but don’t want to spend hundreds, then try this. Molecule 01 contains no fragrant ingredients other than the aroma-molecule, Iso E Super, which is traditionally a perfume basenote. With subtle woody notes, it melds with your natural pheromones to create a smell that’s different on everyone.
5. Yves Saint Laurent Tuxedo
This luxe scent is one of five unisex fragrances in a collection inspired by iconic pieces of Yves Saint Laurent clothing. Tuxedo seems to represent its namesake with a combination of traditionally bold, masculine notes with a feminine edge. Sharp black pepper and smoked patchouli contrast with fresh bergamot and lily of the valley.
6. Aesop Marrakech Intense
This is a tweaked version of the cool Australian brand Aesop’s original fragrance launched in 2005. Inspired by the scents of the Moroccan city, this reinterpretation is intensely woody with an exotic blend of fresh florals and lingering spice.
7. Byredo Black Saffron
It comes as no surprise that this fragrance was inspired by the aromas of Indian spices and incense. Saffron features heavily and is integral to the scent’s warm, peppery undertones together with notes of black violet and leather. But, it is the flashes of raspberry and juniper that invoke Indian summertime and make this an exotic-feeling choice.
8. Gucci Guilty Pour Homme
It appears a typically masculine fragrance. Given time, the powerful mix of cedar wood and patchouli softens to reveal a cool blend of Amalfi lemon and lavender. An intense yet sophisticated scent with subtle citrusy features, this is best suited to those who prefer strong, musky aromas.
9. Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir
Malone’s colognes are designed to be worn by both genders and layered to create a signature scent. Pomegranate Noir seems instantly familiar as a combination of patchouli, frankincense and spicy wood warm the skin, but it is the sour-sweet undertone and spikes of intensely rich fruitiness that make this fragrance stand out. It’s heady yet tart all at the same time.
10. Kiehl’s Original Musk
An updated version of Kiehl’s Since 1851 Musk, this is a fragrance that lasts. Despite a slight evolution in floral undertones, it smells exactly the same hours after application. With citrusy bursts of orange blossom and soft and silky notes of rose and lily, this is a mild and sensual approach to modern musk.
Verdict with so many gender-free scents on the market it’s hard to pick just one but if you’re looking for something intense and super sensual we’d have to recommend Tom Ford’s Black Orchid.
It’s ideal for both men and women but therein lays a problem: is it too good to share? We think so. However, if you’re a little wary of the whole idea then opt for something a little more subtle such as Calvin Klein’s CK2 or Valentino’s Uomo which delicately blur the line between masculine and feminine.