7 Fresh Perfume Trends For Spring, Predicted By A Fragrance Expert

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“I don't follow trends, personally. I hate trends. In everything — whether it’s fashion, fragrance, beauty... Just do you,” Mona Kattan tells me as we catch up over Zoom. This is ironic considering that her perfume brand, Kayali, often sets the tone for what comes next in the world of fragrance.
Take one of its recent scents: Yum Pistachio Gelato 33 Eau de Parfum (so good that we honored it with an R29 Beauty Innovator Award). Since its buzzy launch in 2023, countless perfumes with similar sweet-meets-savory notes have come to the fore, including DS & Durga Pistachio Eau de Parfum and Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Crush Cheirosa 62. This makes Kattan the ideal person to predict exactly what we’ll be wearing in the future, and with spring right around the corner, lots of us are probably on the hunt for something different.
This makes Kattan the ideal person to predict exactly what we’ll be wearing in the future, and with spring right around the corner, lots of us are probably on the hunt for something different.
Florals are set to make an appearance, of course, but they’re nothing like the cloying, heady versions of the past. Then there are the surprising fruity notes that are slowly but surely making their way into perfumers’ imaginations...
So if you’re after a brand-new signature scent or simply prefer something lighter for the longer days, here’s all the perfume inspiration you need, courtesy of Kattan.

Smoky Oud

For just a moment, forget sandalwood (a key note in Le Labo Santal 33) and cedarwood (a top component in Phlur Somebody Wood). This year, it’s oud — a fragrant, resinous wood harnessed from the agar tree — that commands Kattan’s burgeoning fragrance dynasty. Though the ingredient is especially popular in Middle Eastern fragrance, there are references in Chinese history which show that oud was extracted for incense in the third century. Burning oud to release its luxuriously sweet, spicy, and smoky scent is nothing new, but we’ve certainly been sleeping on it in perfume.
Kayali has already served up Vanilla Oud (oud, vanilla sugar and praline), Café Oud (oud, cappuccino, and mandarin) and Rose Oud (oud, damask rose and pear). This time around, it’s all about Smoky Oud 07. “Smoky notes are so sexy and different,” says Kattan of the new gender-fluid fragrance. “I’m always looking for something that has not been used too much, so that we can switch it up; smoky oud is one of these notes.” In fact, if you want to catapult a fragrance, says Kattan, add oud at the base. “It helps with projection and longevity and it gives a string to your personality; when I wear oud, I feel bold and strong. It’s very intense.” Smoky, peppery, and leathery, Smoky Oud launches on March 5 — around Ramadan, when burning oud is especially meaningful.

Milky Notes

Moreish and comforting, vanilla fragrances reigned supreme last spring. This time around it’s all about the subtle sweetness of milk, or “lactonic” notes to Kattan. “Similar to vanilla, the memories of the scent of milk are very comforting and nurturing,” says Kattan. “We think of our childhoods and having milk and cookies; it’s a very cozy note, and it adds a cocooning vibe to your fragrance.” Kattan suggests Commodity Milk Expressive Eau de Parfum, £130, which combines marshmallow, tonka bean (nutty and sweet like vanilla), and “cold milk accord” (equal parts fresh and buttery). Also try Phlur Not Your Baby Eau de Parfum, with vanilla milk and spicy cardamom, or Ellis Brooklyn Vanilla Milk Eau de Parfum, with cocoa shell and milk accord.

Solar Notes

To usher in the warmer weather, Kattan predicts that milk perfumes with warm nuances will be everywhere: “Lactonic solar notes,” she says. “I’m so excited for this trend.” Think warm, sun-drenched skin mixed with coconut-scented sunscreen. “Lactonic solar notes give you that cozy, skin-like effect,” says Kattan, much like Kayali Utopia Vanilla Coco 21 Eau de Parfum, with coconut, vanilla and musk, Mugler Alien Eau de Parfum, with jasmine, warm cashmere and amber, and The 7 Virtues Coconut Sun Eau de Parfum with milky coconut, vanilla and frangipani.

Perfume Oils

“Perfume oils are a huge part of the culture here [in Dubai] — and I’m obsessed,” says Kattan. Typically, perfume oils are much more concentrated than eau de parfums, which makes them the obvious choice if your fragrance fades quickly. “I would advise people to apply fragrance oils on their pulse points [wrists and neck] but dabbing it behind your ears is also a really nice place, especially if you’re greeting people,” says Kattan. If she wants her fragrance to last well into the evening, Kattan often layers an eau de parfum on top: “Perfume oil makes for a great sticky base; it allows your skin to hug onto the fragrance and extend the wear time.”
Try the new Tory Burch layering oils: Essence of Sandalwood, (sweet and woody), Essence of Vetiver, (green and earthy) and Essence of Rose (rich and musky). If you’d rather spend less, try Maison Louis Marie Mini No.13 Nouvelle Vague Perfume Oil with coconut, Tuscan fig and amber.

Dirty Florals

Florals are firm fixtures in most spring fragrances, but we’re going to lean into something grungier this year, predicts Kattan — starting with the “dirty” floral, which basically involve harnessing the roots of these much-loved flowers to lend an earthy depth to the typical sweetness of the petals. “I’m a huge lover of floral fragrances — they’re essential,” says Kattan. “I love white florals, especially [think creamy jasmine and rich tuberose] but they are very polarizing,” she adds, “so it needs to not feel overwhelming.” Try Vyrao Witchy Woo Eau de Parfum, with rose and green, woody orris root, which lends balance, Christian Dior Lucky Eau de Parfum, with white flowers and crushed leaves, and Tom Ford Rose Prick Eau de Parfum with Bulgarian rose and Sichuan pepper.

The Signature Scent Profile

The concept of the signature scent — having one perfume you wear every day — feels exclusive, but it’s nice to have a choice. Instead, Kattan suggests creating your own signature “scent profile,” which consists of two or three fragrances that you can mix and match or wear alone. You don’t have to spend a small fortune, though. & Other Stories and Zara both have affordable fragrances, many of which are eau de parfums and last a lot longer than body sprays and eau de toilettes. “My scent profile has evolved over time,” says Kattan. “Now, I like something woody, something rosy, and something spicy. Having a scent profile means you can layer your fragrances, which gives you more room to not only experiment but create your emotion and mood for that day.”
Building a scent profile is all about trial and error, says Kattan, who suggests asking: What makes me feel best? What makes me feel confident? Above all, what feels authentic? “I would definitely go into the store and try things on or try brands that have sampler sets,” says Kattan. “Our Discovery Layering Set, features eight 1.5ml perfume samples, but lots of brands now do this.” A non-negotiable is testing the fragrance on your skin first. “I think everybody should wear the fragrance on their skin for at least 30 minutes before they either buy it or write it off entirely,” says Kattan. “A lot of people will smell perfume straight out of the bottle without spraying it or on a blotter. That’s not a great representation of the fragrance at all.”

Banana is the new vanilla.

We’ve seen juicy apple, bitter peach, and black cherry, but it’s the humble banana that will rule fragrance trends this spring. “I’m really excited about the banana note,” says Kattan. “I know it’s weird, but I’ve fallen in love with it; like vanilla, there’s something very nostalgic about bananas, and they remind me of being a baby. The fruit works beautifully alongside florals, too.”
Try Miller Harris Coeur de Jardin Eau de Parfum, with vanilla, peach, and rose, or Kayali Eden Sparkling Lychee Eau de Parfum, with a dash of Kayali Vanilla 28 Eau de Parfum, which smells like a banana split when layered.

Hair Scenting

Hair scenting is also a big part of Middle Eastern culture, says Kattan, but there’s a key difference between spraying your signature perfume into your hair versus a dedicated hair mist. The former tends to contain more alcohol, which can be drying on your scalp and strands, especially if they are subjected to heat and color. While there are countless hair mists out there, like Gisou Honey Infused Hair Perfume, and Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia Hair Mist, tailoring your application means you can make the most of the eau de parfums or eau de toilettes you already own: “Spray [your perfume] into a brush and brush your hair,” advises Kattan. “You can also spray [your perfume] into your towel and wrap your hair when you get out of the shower. It’ll soak in the fragrance. Do both if you’re extra.”

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