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Vanilla Fragrance Notes: A Guide to Vanilla Perfumes

Idole Nectar vanilla perfume with notes of bourbon vanilla

When it comes to your perfume, vanilla is far from boring. A warm, enticing note – vanilla serves as a key scent in many Lancôme fragrances from La vie est belle to Idôle. In order to understand vanilla perfumes and how vanilla works as a fragrance note we called upon Tripta Holtz Senior Fine Fragrance Evaluator, L’Oréal USA to teach us all about vanilla perfumes.

What is the scent profile of a vanilla note in perfumes?

“Vanilla absolute is a rich and complex raw material. It has a variety of characteristics, from sugary, warm, addictive, spicy and smoky to creamy, animalic, woody, powdery and leathery. Depending on where it comes from, certain facets are accentuated: Madagascar vanilla tends to be more sugary sweet, vanilla from Uganda has a more pronounced leathery facet while the Tahitian vanilla possesses a slightly more floral character.” - Tripta Holtz

What other perfume notes does vanilla pair well with?

“Vanilla is the star ingredient of the amber family. It is also a key ingredient in the floral amber family. Vanilla is a very versatile ingredient and pairs well with so many different perfume notes. Vanilla pairs particularly well with red fruits and berries (like in La vie est belle Intensément), florals (especially solar flowers like monoi, frangipane, tuberose), dry woods, ambery notes (like resins, balms, incense), warm ambery woods and gourmand notes (like chocolate, coffee). In a fragrance vanilla brings comfort, addiction and finesse to the existing accords by wrapping them in a warm sweet embrace. It can be used in both masculine and feminine fragrances.” - Tripta Holtz

Where does vanilla typically sit in the layers of a perfume (top, middle, base?)

“Vanilla is a base note and you will find it at the bottom of a fragrance pyramid. As a base note, you might not smell it right away, but know that it is working to prolong the olfactive appeal of your fragrance. It does this by modulating how fast the top and heart notes waft away – it acts as a fixative on skin – making the fragrance last for a long time. It brings an incredibly complex layer to a fragrance by its interaction with the other ingredients.” - Tripta Holtz

What kind of mood does vanilla evoke as a fragrance?

“Vanilla is one of the most recognizable ingredients across cultures and traditions. It is no wonder that the first mood it evokes is nostalgia from its sweet, sugary facets. Depending on the other ingredients in the fragrance mix vanilla can evoke a completely different mood. Vanilla can be dark, mysterious and sexy with a leathery, ambery, incense accord (like Idôle L’Intense Perfume). It can also be exotic with solar flowers and ambery woods (like Idôle Aura perfume). It could be yummy and addictive with the sugary warm notes and decadent accords like chocolate and coffee (like Idôle Nectar Perfume with a delicious note of caramel popcorn) The creamy, woody, and leathery facets (in combination with other ingredients) evoke a strong sensuality and a decadent opulence for the wearer.” - Tripta Holtz

Vanilla Bean sticks used in perfumes for a vanilla scent.

How to Choose Your Favorite Vanilla Perfume

Vanilla features as a note in our star iconic perfumes. From warm vanilla to sweet vanilla to salted vanilla and bourbon vanilla you can find vanilla as a perfume note in our La vie est belle and Idôle scents, each of which have a different twist and take on vanilla.

Salted Vanilla: A sweet and slightly salty vanilla note features in our Idôle Aura perfume. The most decadent Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla melts into a pot of musks and crystals of salt for a deep salty decadent treat. The salted vanilla sits at the base note of this fragrance and is layered with White Jasmine & Bergamot at the middle and Isparta & Centifolia Roses at the top to create a comforting and energizing sun-kissed floral scent.

Bourbon Vanilla: A rich, irresistible and decadent vanilla note features in our Idôle Nectar Perfume. The vanilla flower used in the scent is carefully hand-picked within 24 hours of blooming and is left to mature for 18 months to achieve a rich and exceptional vanilla scent. With Bourbon Vanilla as the base note the fragrance also layers in a caramel popcorn note and a multi-faceted rose bouquet for deliciously decadent sweet and floral fragrance.

Warm Vanilla: A sensual warm vanilla note features in our iconic La vie est belle perfume. A sweet gourmand of delicious spun sugar and sensual warm vanilla layer with iris spring flowers, earthy patchouli and a dash of orange blossom to create craft a complex and modern warm scent with a floral twist.

Sweet Vanilla: A sweet vanilla note features in our Idôle L’Intense Perfume (a variation of our classic Idôle scent that stays true to its icon status but has a deeper intensity). A Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla sits at the base of scent with an interesting woody cedar note. Radiant and sensual roses with three variations of jasmine sit at the top and middle notes and are caressed with the warm musk and sweet vanilla note to present a fragrance with a unique warm and sensual twist.

Classic Vanilla: A classic vanilla note sits at the base of Idôle alongside white musk for a sultry depth with a subtle vanilla perfume finish. The base of vanilla, white musk (in addition to cedarwood and patchouli) is layered with a burst of floral roses, jasmine, citrus bergamot and juicy pear to create a sophisticated yet unapologetically modern fragrance with a freshness and youthfulness.

Find Your Perfect Vanilla Perfume

Curious on how to find your perfect scent which includes vanilla as a note? You can look to our Idôle fragrance guide or discover how to find your signature scent with our comprehensive guide.

For a quick and easy way to find a fragrance for you use our short fragrance finder quiz to answer a few quick questions to determine a fragrance for you based on your mood and desired perfume intensity.

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