New celebrity skin-care and beauty brands seem to be rolling out fast and steady these days, but long before legitimately good lines like Fenty Beauty by Rihanna and Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty could exist, there was the celebrity fragrance boom. Forget serums, sunscreens, and cream blush: For a certain generation, perfumes from 2000s icons like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton (like Elizabeth Taylor before them) dominated shelves and high-school locker rooms.
We’ve come a long way from the flirty and fruity notes of Britney Spears Fantasy and the headache-inducing gourmands of Jessica Simpson’s Desserts collection — in 2023, celebrities are launching perfumes our grown-up selves actually want to wear. And while some of our favorite celebrity fragrances have been long discontinued, we’ve found ways to get those notes in other scents, too.
Ahead, Refinery29 editors share their favorite (or at least most nostalgia-inducing) celebrity fragrances.
“Ariana Grande, in my mind, is my best friend. If she has a thousand fans, I am one of them; if she has one fan, it is me; if she has zero fans, then I am dead. It should be of no surprise that her fragrances rank amongst not only my favorite celebrity fragrances, but fragrances in general. Unfortunately, this story is not All Of The Ariana Grande Fragrances, Ranked (I wish) but I do want to shout out the one I find myself keeping at close hands at all times — ARI. People rave about God Is a Woman, but ARI is my dreamy princess floral. It feels a little more mature than God Is a Woman or R.E.M due to the fruity pink grapefruit and raspberry notes, as well as the floral vanilla orchid and rose in the base. Of course there’s a marshmallow note that brings a gentle sweetness and familiarity to this scent — one of my favorite notes when done well, like it is here — because Miss Ariana loves herself a marshmallow in her fragrances.” - Amanda Mitchell, Senior Beauty Writer + Stories Creator
“I don’t personally wear celebrity perfumes, but Ariana Grande’s Cloud perfume is the most memorable celeb-branded fragrance I’ve ever smelled. I got my first whiff a few years ago when I got into the beauty industry and my friend was reviewing it for a perfume story. The smell, as you might guess from the cotton-candy blue glass bottle, is sweet, but it’s actually not overpowering. In her review, my friend described it as ‘safe for adults who want to smell like vanilla and coconut but only kind of.’ When it hit my nostrils, I immediately thought, Oh, I get why people are obsessed with this.” - Megan Decker, Beauty Editor
“The first time I came across this, it was spritzed onto a blotter at a perfume event, so I wasn’t aware of the celebrity name behind it. The all-encompassing spices, creamy vanilla, and rich woody notes were like breathing in luxury, which convinced me it was either a Le Labo or Byredo creation. It wasn’t until I received three separate compliments on the way home (unprecedented for London, as no one talks to each other on the Tube) that I realised I had to have it. When I found out it was Billie Eilish Eau de Parfum, I was surprised, to say the least. Call me a snob, but so many celebrity perfumes I’ve tried in the past have smelled the same (tooth-achingly sweet or so citrusy, they remind me of bathroom cleaner). This is something else — and it lasts for hours on the skin, getting warmer and cozier as the day goes on. “ - Jacqueline Kilikita, Acting Beauty Director
“Grease is one of my favorite movies, but I fully have no qualms saying Grease 2 is just as good. My obsession with Michelle Pfeiffer is boundless and started in my young, young childhood. The only time I’ve been so starstruck I froze was when she was standing behind me at a party, so it’s no surprise one of my picks comes from her fragrance line. Every scent I’ve tried from Henry Rose is fantastic, but Jake’s House holds a specific place in my heart. Jake’s House is one of my favorite water scents, — encapsulating all of the best things about being a teenager in your friend’s backyard at dusk, hanging out next to the pool — but without the chlorine. It makes me feel like a girl for all seasons.” - Mitchell
“For anyone that knows me in real life, this is no surprise (I’m a massive Swiftie), but I’m not so much of a fan that I would like a perfume just because of the name on the bottle. Simply put, Wonderstruck smells really, really good. It’s hard to describe, but it smells exactly like ‘Enchanted’, the song that inspired it. It’s fruity and floral, sweet without being Britney Spears’ Fantasy levels of saccharine, opening with sparkling green notes of apple blossom and freesia before drying down into warm vanilla, musky amber, sandalwood and peach. I imagine it smells just like stepping through a magic mirror into an enchanted, chandelier-strewn forest in an abnormally large princess ball gown — exactly as Taylor did in the perfume’s advert. So basically, my dream day out. Part of its draw is the nostalgia attached to my Wonderstruck-fragranced teen years (it was released in 2011 to coincide with the release of Taylor’s third studio album, Speak Now), but I still feel it stands the test of time. When occasionally spritzed for a very special night out, Wonderstruck feels fresh, magical, and enticing. It doesn’t dry down to anything too powdery or cloying, has amazing staying power, and is always guaranteed to get compliments. Whilst I carefully savor my OG Wonderstruck collection (I’ve topped up thanks to eBay) and pray that the announcement of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) brings Wonderstruck EDP (Taylor’s Version), I’ll be dipping my toes into the wild world of TikTok-approved dupes. According to the internet, Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb and Bath & Body Works’ Gingham Vibrant are strong contenders.”- Esther Newman, Affiliate Writer & Content Producer
“Let’s be clear: This perfume is not particularly good, but it’s still one of my favorite celebrity perfumes. Released in the 2000s as one of Jennifer Lopez’s first-ever ventures into beauty, the perfume encapsulated the smell of glamour that characterized Lopez early in her career. I first started using it after a friend gifted me a bottle for my 11th birthday (yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds). Given my J. Lo obsession as a kid, I was ecstatic. I’d wear it to school, ballet class, and everywhere in between, carrying with me a scent that was just too grown up for my age. Still, years later, seeing the necklace-adorned bottle makes me feel so nostalgic for that time. I’m certain that my love for strong scents that give an aura of nouveau riche celebrity (my current perfume is YSL Libre) was cemented with J. Lo Glow. “ - Frances Solá-Santiago, Fashion Writer
“As someone who grew up in the ‘90s, I’ve been a fan of the Olsen twins long before they were CFDA award-winning fashion designers and I was a fashion editor. When I was gifted their brand Elizabeth and James’ Nirvana Amethyst fragrance in 2017, I was ready to travel back to my youth. What I wasn’t ready for was how much I would actually love the fragrance, a tobacco scent that was just heavy enough to take me through the night without making me smell like an ashtray (as so many tobacco scents tend to do). Sadly, by the time I was done with my bottle, the fragrance was discontinued. Take my word, though: If it’s ever re-issued, I will buy it in bulk.” - Irina Grechko, Fashion Director
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