When I packed up my Culver City apartment last November in order to move into my new place in Santa Monica, it became immediately clear that I had an obscenely large, completely unhinged perfume collection—
58 if we want to chat specifics. I’m a Taurus through and through, so even though I stubbornly insisted on packing every last one and taking it to my new, much smaller apartment, upon arrival, I was deluged with regret. Suffice to say, I quickly abandoned my packrat ways and painstakingly downsized my perfume collection from 58 to 13. (However, I will say that I have about 20 additional bottles hiding out at my parents’ in Arizona, so I can’t act all that high and mighty.)
Of course, I only kept the perfumes that I wear most often and consider prized possessions, all of which are handily available in
nibble-friendly travel sizes to boot. People frequently ask me about my fragrance collection or what my favorite scents of all time are, and if you keep reading, you’ll uncover the answers. And, since the majority are pretty steep investments if you spring for the full size, I led with their more affordable travel size alternatives. Keep scrolling, the 13 best travel size perfumes, according to me, are just ahead.
Key notes: ambrox, ambrette, musk, iris root, pink pepper. Glossier You is already an iconic fragrance in its own right, and it definitely has to be in my top 10 favorite perfumes of all time. The brand somewhat recently relaunched the cult-loved scent in solid form, so you can bask in its milky, ambery, musky perfection, any time, anywhere. I actually have the full size and two of the solids—that’s how obsessed I am with this perfume.
Key fragrance notes: Centifolia rose, Sicilian lemon, musk, patchouli, peony, rhubarb. I own eight, yes eight of Ellis Brooklyn’s stunning clean and sustainable perfumes; Bee, Salt, Sweet, Super Amber, Après, Fable, Fawn, and Rrose, but if I had to choose a favorite child, I’d easily select the latter. It’s beautiful, classic, and entirely luxurious. It’s the kind of scent I can imagine wearing on my wedding day. I actually received the travel size from the brand when it launched, and I loved it so much that I bought the full size as soon as it was available. I highly recommend it for the floral perfume connoisseurs out there.
Key fragrance notes: peche de vigne, blood orange, patchouli. Bitter Peach is my favorite fragrance of all time. I have never smelled something so juicy, complex, and all-around addicting. It lingers and melts into your skin for a really warm and beautiful finish, but the mix of peach, davana (an aromatic herb native to India), and patchouli is so unique—I’ve never smelt anything like it. I can’t get over it, and the second I spritzed it, I knew it was over for me and every other perfume I ever claimed to love. Buy the travel size (and perhaps eventually the full size), and it will be the best thing you gift yourself maybe ever. Normally, I say fragrance and perfume are extremely subjective, but this bottle just might be the exception.
Key fragrance notes: juniper berries, pomelo, saffron, accord cuir, black violet. cristal rose, blonde woods, raspberry vetiver. I love this perfume from sustainable, nontoxic, and vegan fragrance brand DedCool, and it’s been a heavy hitter in my rotation ever since I discovered it a little more than a year ago. (Also, if you care about this kind of thing, it’s the most-loved perfume in my collection whenever I ask guys to rate their favorites.) The brand says: “You attract what you are. This scent smells like you’ll get stopped on the street when you walk by—a smell that everyone around you will be thinking about all day,” and honestly, I couldn’t agree more considering that’s pretty much been my experience with it!
Key fragrance notes: tuberose absolute, jasmine, narcissus, orange blossom, osmanthus. No one’s fragrance wardrobe is complete without one of Kilian’s bewitching fragrances. The brand makes numerous favorites beloved by celebrities and beauty editors alike, but if I had access to your shopping cart and credit card, Good Girl Gone Bad is the poison I’d pick for you, and I can’t imagine my scent collection without it. I sure do have a type, so, surprise surprise, this one, which is a member of Kilian’s “Narcotics Family,”—fruity and floral with starring notes like orange blossom, osmanthus, and tuberose. Try it in the handy travel size first if you want the dent in your wallet to be less dramatic.
Key fragrance notes: ambrette seeds, sichuan pepper, orris, damascena rose, musks, ambroxan. If I had to describe my fragrance MO in one word, it would be pretty. I tend to like light, floral, semi-sweet scents, but they have to have enough of a base to not lean too saccharine. I love rose perfumes, and this one balances Damascus rose with spicy Sichuan pepper, and headier hits of musk, Ambroxan, ambrette seeds, and orris, It’s floral but far from basic. People always want to know what I’m wearing when I’m wearing this and they hug me, and if you ask me, it definitely deserves a spot atop your vanity this season.
Key fragrance notes: rose, violet, pink and black pepper, musk. According to the Serge Lutens website, Lutens considers the perfume-making process an art, not a job—something you’ll instantly understand the second you get a whiff of any one of his remarkable French-made fragrance masterpieces. La Fille de Berlin leads with rose, but more unorthodox additions like violet, musk, plus pink and black pepper, reveal said rose’s thorns. Rumor has it that Berlin It girl Marlene Dietrich was the inspiration for this scent. It’s a masterpiece, and it always rakes in the compliments when I wear it.
Key fragrance notes: pink pepper, orange flower petals, clove oil, chestnut accord, gaïac wood oil, cade Oil, vanilla accord, Peru balsam, cashmeran. Say hello to Replica’s best-selling perfume, and my personal top pick from the collection, By the Fireplace. While it might incite cozy thoughts complete with a crackling fire, roasted chestnuts, toasty marshmallows, and a floppy cocker spaniel shrouded in plaid fleece (I’m having fun with this—can you tell?), it’s surprisingly perfect all year round. It is, in fact, obsession-worthy.
Key fragrance notes: ginger, bergamot, neroli, pepper, clary sage, sandalwood, palo santo, vetiver. Every perfume St. Rose makes is a treat for any perfume lover, and while I quite honestly where all of them (I own the discovery set!), Desert Nomad is the one that I wear the most and requested in its full size glory. The brand categorizes the scent as “smoky woods”—think a warm yet haunting mix of ginger, bergamot, neroli, pepper, iris, clary sage, sandalwood, palo santo, and vetiver—a composition of notes that I wouldn’t think I’d like if I hadn’t smelled this perfume. That said, it’s positively intoxicating, and the way it plays out once it’s on your skin is incredibly unique and special. This is a fragrance that has already burrowed itself deep into my heart. Oh, and as if it even needed more brownie points, it boasts over 98% natural and naturally derived ingredients, so you can feel that much better each and every time you imbibe.
Key notes: ambrette seeds, sea salt, sage. This beloved Jo Malone London cologne, which is the next best thing to visiting the Cliffs of Dover—complete with windswept hair and salt-crusted skin—is timeless. The scent it leaves behind is so natural and dewy, like how you’d smell if you spent the afternoon outside soaking up the grass, fog, and salty seas. If you’re someone who wants something more woody and earthy, but still velvety and luxe, it’s the perfect antidote. It makes me feel nostalgic, I just can’t pinpoint why. Which almost makes it even more enchanting?
Key fragrance notes: iris, violet, rose. jasmine, lily of the valley, orange blossom, vetiver, orange blossom. This delicate perfume smells like a bouquet composed of florals from all around the world: patchouli from Indonesia, Iris from Florence, Rose from Grasse, and jasmine from Egypt. Maison Francis Kurkdjian makes lots of very iconic scents—most notably Bacarate Rouge 540—but this dark horse scent is the one I slyly wear and recommend the most.
Key notes: bergamot, Tuscan leather, galbanum, patchouli, black amber. I like to have a variety of perfumes for every mood and occasion, and while I’m not typically a huge fan of ultra-green or fresh scents, this one is such a winner in my book and treads lighter and juicier thanks to the hits of black amber and bergamot. I liken it to the olfactory equivalent of the perfect white T or a luxe set of leather trousers. It’s my top recommendation when people ask about Vilhelm’s library of scents and is inspired by the grassy Swedish coast.
Key fragrance notes: magnolia, musk, tangerine, Bulgarian rose, vanilla, blueberry, coconut, geranium, patchouli. Is there anyone on this planet who doesn’t want to smell like Rihanna I feel like the only answer there is no, right? The bottle itself is beautiful and so is the scent. Interestingly, it’s comprised exclusively of middle notes and it has a unique, ultra-fine mist that rains down evenly on an entire area of skin—like your chest—without over-saturating. The smell itself is hard to describe, and unlike so many fragrances, it doesn’t translate as purely floral, fruity, or saccharinely warm and sweet. It balances magnolia, musk, tangerine, blueberry, and light whiffs of Bulgarian rose absolute, geranium, and patchouli. In my opinion, it’s one of the best fragrance launches in the past few years, grab the travel size, and you’ll easily understand why. (Plus, I guarantee you’ll come back for more!)
Up next, I’m Notoriously Impatient—13 Transformative Beauty Products That Work Fast