8 Beauty Editors on the Scents that Make Them Feel Powerful
Confidence in a fragrance bottle? It’s possible.
When you’re getting ready for an important day, whether it’s a meeting, a date, or a new job, we’d wager that you spend a good deal of time deciding on what to wear. And obviously you’ve showered and perfected your hair and makeup look, but what about deciding on how you’re going to smell that day? Never forget that a delicious scent can not only impress the person you’re meeting, but also provide you with a dose of courage to take on the day. Maybe you wore it during your college graduation or when you received your first promotion. Or maybe strangers constantly demand to know why you smell so great. Whatever it is, scent association is a very powerful thing.
Few people understand this better than beauty editors, since they’ve often amassed an impressive collection of fragrances and whittled it down to their favorites for a big event. That’s why we polled eight of our beauty pals to share which scents make them feel the most confident and why. Check them out below.
Beauty Director, Women’s Health
“I wear Kilian Love, Don’t Be Shy for one reason alone: It’s Rihanna’s signature scent. A Twitter thread on just how amazing Rihanna smells according to other celebs went viral over the summer, and a spiral down the internet black hole brought me to this video where I found out it’s this Kilian fragrance (a sweet and sexy mix of orange blossom, vanilla, and marshmallow). Recently, at a launch for another Kilian fragrance, the perfumer himself who met Rihanna several times confirmed to me that it’s true. All this is to say that if I smell the same as the world’s most confident woman, there’s no room for feeling insecure (I wear Savage lingerie and Fenty Beauty for the same reason). I wear it whenever I have a big event, presentation, or date night, and it boosts my morale every time. Love, Don’t Be Shy is ‘power posing’ in a bottle.”
Senior Beauty Editor, Byrdie
“I’ve been wearing Le Labo’s Santal 33 for as long as I can remember. It’s warm, woody, and sexy all at once—it smells like leather and musk (as well as cardamom, iris, and violet). At this point, I sort of just think it smells like me. And I know, I know: it’s not exactly indie or unknown. In fact, the scent is so ubiquitous passersby will call it out on the sidewalk everywhere I go. But it’s a beautiful blend of just about every scent profile I’m attracted to all at once.
“I use the room spray and the candles in my home as well. I want to bathe in it. All that aside, fragrance penetrates people differently (pH, pheromones, and all that). I think Santal smells differently on my skin than it does anyone else. That’s what’s so powerful about all fragrance, but especially one that’s so widely recognizable. It’s like purchasing a trendy designer item and tailoring it specifically to your body. Your body very literally creates a bespoke scent free of charge.”
Grooming Editor, Esquire.com
“I’m a big fan of a vacation fragrance—a specific scent you wear during a trip so that every time you smell it, you’re transported back to that time. It’s like hacking your own mind. I chose [Aztec Noir] to wear when I was in Tulum a few years ago because it’s heavy on palo santo and wood smoke; it was inspired by the Aztecs, after all. It literally smells like the inside of a shaman’s hut and that’s what I want in a fragrance—mystery and mysticism. Now it takes me back there every time I spray it. I wear it when I’m stressed or need to remember a time when I was more chill. It makes me feel powerful and grounded, like my third eye is open and ready to receive the wisdom of the universe.
“I wore this Kiehl’s musk for years. It’s dead simple—almost straight up musk—but for some reason it smells completely different on everyone. On me, it gets real deep and almost oud-y. It’s by far my most complimented fragrance and when I tell people what it is, they are always surprised. Sometimes you don’t need to go super expensive to feel fancy.”
Beauty Editor, MarieClaire.com
“I’m undoubtedly a moody woman, and scent has such a strong effect on my emotions. I even wear fragrance to bed because I swear this gem from Aerin—which is blended with notes of vanilla, amber, and sandalwood—helps me sleep better. When it comes to a fragrance that makes me feel in-charge, I tend to date around. I have a steady rotation of scents I entertain, but I keep coming back to Byredo’s Black Saffron. Its unexpected combination of dark and dry leather accords, black violet, cristal rose, and juniper berry notes is what I’m obsessed with. On me, it smells spicy and fresh, plus it’s proven to be such a conversation starter. I’ve been complimented on it by celebs I’ve interviewed, Uber drivers, elevator friends, and more. When I’m particularly nervous for a big meeting or interview, a few spritzes makes me feel like I’m 100% that bitch. So yeah, it’s confidence in a bottle.”
Beauty & Health Director, Elle Magazine
“I secretly call the new Dior Joy Intense my ‘maneater’ fragrance. I’ve had multiple men stop me and write down the name of it for their female partners. I don’t derive my confidence from male attention, of course, but… it does make me feel pretty powerful.”
Beauty Editor, Nylon.com
“To put it bluntly, AllSaints Sunset Riot makes me feel like a bad bitch. It has all the trappings of a good perfume (it’s both woody and floral) and feels like the grown-up version of my favorite pre-teen Bath & Body Works scent, Midnight Pomegranate. The two fragrances share the same pink pepper note, but Sunset Riot is for the me who isn’t afraid to make friends when I show up to an event and is always wearing the flyest outfit. The first time I wore it I received no less than three compliments from perfect strangers which were all the validation my little Leo moon needs.”
Beauty Director, Cosmopolitan
“Honestly, I wear the same kind of scent whether I’m running an errand on the weekend or about to present during a big meeting: something that smells warm and musky with woody notes and a hint of vanilla. The blend makes me feel like I have my life together; like I’ve thoughtfully curated whatever I’m wearing—even if it’s a workout look with Nikes. Fragrances I turn to: Commodity Gold, All Saints Metal Wave, Tom Ford Metallique.”
Associate Digital Beauty Director, Allure
“Never have I ever had so many people approach me for my... fragrance. But every time I wear Proenza Schouler’s Arizona, a warm floral scent with notes of jasmine and musk, nine times out of 10, a stranger (hi, neighborhood barista!) will sniff me and ask what I’m wearing. Smelling good (and knowing others think I smell good) makes me feel the most confident.”
Want more stories like this?