Back in November 2020, we launched our premium fragrance, Amber. Our goal was to create a sustainable, unisex fragrance that would be loved by people of all genders. Since then, we’ve had some fantastic feedback from our customers, with many of you telling us that before discovering Amber you had struggled to find a truly unisex scent.
In the process of creating Amber, we experimented with many different options before we decided on the right formulation. So, we want to share our findings on the best unisex fragrance notes.
Remember that the more diverse scent profile a fragrance has, the more risk it has of straying into either a masculine or feminine territory. For example, while Amber is unisex, a dash of sandalwood could push it in one direction, or a little lavender in the other.
In nature, amber is the fossilised resin from trees, in fragrance, amber is a fairly unique scent that is created by combining three other notes. Not to be confused with ambergris, which is sourced from sperm whales, amber is the result of mixing labdanum, benzoin and vanilla, all of which are sourced from plants or created synthetically.
- Labdanum – plant resin from the cistus plant.
Smells: warm, leathery, honey, touch of plum
- Benzoin – plant resin from the bark of the styrax tree.
Smells: sweet, balsamic, spicy, animalic, slightly smoky
- Vanilla – from vanilla pods, or created synthetically.
Smells: creamy, sensual, sweet
Together, the resulting smell is rich, powdery and ever so slightly sweet – an ideal blend for a neutral, unisex fragrance. It’s warm characteristics mean amber is an incredibly popular base note, particularly in the oriental family of fragrances.
Woody notes are present in the vast majority of fragrances in some form, particularly those targeted at a more masculine nose. Confusingly, woody notes can differ hugely in scent, due to the wide range of aromas created by different types of wood.
With so many variations, if you’re looking for a woody fragrance, we’d suggest refining your search to focus on a particular type of wood. A few of the most popular in unisex scents are:
Leather is another unusual note in that it doesn’t come directly from leather, but from a combination of notes used to create the essence of leather. While the exact formulation is left to the perfumier to decide, it may include birch tar, labdanum, cade oil or cassia. In perfume, leather notes smell smoky, tar-like or even reminiscent of tobacco.
Confusingly, suede, which is another form of leather, smells very different. Unlike leather, suede evokes a softer musky feel, with warm, powdery notes that are better suited to feminine perfumes.
Another category of fragrances that has two very different ways of presenting, musk and white musk are two incredibly popular perfume ingredients.
Originally obtained from deer, musk is now predominantly plant-based or synthetic. Some people describe musk as “like your own skin, but better” – it’s an earthy, animalistic, slightly woody scent that gives a fragrance depth and longevity.
Meanwhile, white musk is a formulated scent popularised by the Body Shop in the 1980s that could be described as being clean, soapy, floral and slightly herbal – synonymous with fresh laundry.
As you can see, the variation even within fragrance notes can be broad, and a great example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Over the last year, we’ve experimented with more perfume notes than we’d care to admit, to create a fragrance that is truly unisex. Try it for yourself, or learn more about Amber.