What Were the Biggest Scent Trends for 2019?

9th December 2019

With the holiday season ramping up, perfume manufacturers are engaged in an all-out advertising blitz to shift products. But what they ultimately sell will depend heavily on current trends.  So what’s hot right now in…

With the holiday season ramping up, perfume manufacturers are engaged in an all-out advertising blitz to shift products. But what they ultimately sell will depend heavily on current trends. 

So what’s hot right now in the world of scents, and what’s not? Let’s take a look. 

Gender Fluid Fragrances

2019 saw the number of genders that people can identify with growing from a paultry half dozen or so to a spectacular one hundred or more, a development that presents something of a conundrum for perfume manufacturers.

In the past, perfumeries made scents along strict male-female lines. Chanel, for instance, made its products for women; Boss for men. With the current LGBTQ+ movement ricocheting through the culture like bullets in a 19-century Californian saloon bar, they’ve had to change tack.

Manufacturers are now making fragrances that are neither characteristic of male nor female. These perfumes are unisex or non-binary, designed to smell great, but not evoke any particular gender. 

Arguably, Calvin Klein CK2 kick-started this trend back in the 1990s, but now we’re seeing a host of new companies up their gender-neutral game. 

Low Waste Glass Bottles

If you are a perfume company, you have more choice of glass bottles than ever before. You can choose tall bottles, tiny bottles, square bottles, round bottles and everything in between. 

Firms, however, are increasingly moving toward low-waste glass bottles: specially designed containers designed to use as little material as possible. The hope is that by using these bottles, they will appeal to the next generation of eco-conscious buyers. 

Around 50 per cent of perfume buyers think that perfume products come with unnecessary packaging. Fortunately, new options exist, designed to cut down on waste and still provide users with a fabulous packing experience that they will love.

Algorithmically-Designed Perfumes

Some commentators argue that fragrance manufacturers could be what saves brick-and-mortar stores from extinction at the hands of online retailers. After all, if there was ever a product that you should try before you buy, perfume is it! 

That rosy future, however, might not come to pass if the boffins have their way. Geeks at perfume companies are now working on algorithms that will select a fragrance for you based on your answers to a series of carefully curated questions. All you do is provide your responses, and the AI will come up with a fragrance that suits you. 


Here’s one to look out for in 2020: layering. 

Perfume creators have begun to realise that their fragrances don’t exist in isolation: they interact with the other products that customers use on their bodies. 

Layering is the idea that certain combinations of fragrance complement each other better than others. With the right fragrances worn together, customers can achieve a better smell profile, unique to them. Expect, therefore, to see a host of online and offline tools people can use to create bespoke scents. 

Ingredient Transparency

In the past, consumers never asked companies what ingredients they were putting in their products. They sprayed away in blissful ignorance. 

Today, however, people want to know how perfumeries are creating their favourite scents for both health and ethical reasons. Consumers want to find out, for instance, whether perfume manufacturers are using any potentially toxic compounds in their proprietary formulations. They also want to know whether they are using ingredients from animals, endangered species or collected using slave labour. 

Some fragrance companies are leading the charge. Sozio, for instance, says that it makes the world’s first “clean” perfume, free from allergens, endangered flora sources, animal testing and gluten-free. 


Sandalwood was once a popular choice of fragrance. It went out of fashion for a while, but in 2019, it’s making a comeback, thanks to its soothing smell and intoxicating aroma. 

In 2011, Jimmy Choo began experimenting with more sandalwood in its scents. Since then, we’ve seen it used in everything from clothes softeners to floor cleaners.


Patchouli is a scented plant that comes from the same family of herbs as mint. While its scent potential has been known since ancient times, it’s only recently that manufacturers have moved sharply to start using it. 

Tom Ford, for instance, now offers White Patchouli – a light fragrance typically associated with free-spirited women, combining the scent of patchouli with white flowers and fragrant spices. 

Going Forward

The world of perfume is changing. We see themes like transparency, sustainability and personalisation coming to the fore. The ones who can position themselves at the centre of this holy trinity are likely to be those that thrive in the year ahead.

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