My discovery of hair perfume was happenstance. The renowned scent brand Byredo had just opened its first store in New York City around the corner from where I was a beauty intern in 2015. I was obsessed with its famous Gypsy Water but couldn’t afford to splurge on the $190 fragrance at the time. Then I saw it had a mini-me for half the price in the form of a hair perfume.
I’d spritz the bergamot and sandalwood scent into my curls and would catch subtle whiffs whenever the wind tussled it or when I ran my fingers through my hair. These brought unexpected and random moments of joy throughout the day (there’s research that backs the power of fragrance on your mood, after all). Wearing perfume this way also amplifies personal connections — if someone came in close or for a hug they’d always remark, “Wow, you smell so good.” Hair fragrance epitomizes the romance of having a signature scent.
The product category has been even more powerful during the pandemic. Walking around with masks on and unable to interact with others feels lonely and unnatural — but waltzing around with hair perfume has led people to stop me on the street to inquire, “What is that smell?” During a time of immense isolation, it offers chances for small talk with strangers that have otherwise become rare.
These products are different than simply spraying your regular bottle of perfume onto your strands. “Hair perfumes usually have a bit of a lower fragrance concentration than regular perfumes,” Alia Raza, fragrance expert and founder of perfume brand Regime des Fleurs, tells Bustle. “Traditional perfumes use a base of alcohol, where hair perfumes might have water or oil as a base,” adds Dianna Cohen, founder of hair care brand Crown Affair. “Applying too much of anything with an alcohol base in your hair will dry it out over time.” Hair perfumes tend to actually be healthy for your locks — so they usually have moisturizing and nourishing ingredients like castor oil or silicones, which counterbalance the potentially drying effects of the perfume, explains Raza.
The best part of all? Applying your hair fragrance is an intoxicating experience. Personally, I like to pull my curls up off my neck and spray there along with a little spritzed near the crown of my head. Raza recommends spritzing your hairbrush before running it through your strands, or spraying some onto your hands before tousling through your hair. Or you could go with the more traditional method of spraying directly onto your ends and mid-lengths.
Picking a hair perfume, as with a regular fragrance, just comes down to personal preference. Read on for some of the most delightfully-scented ones out there, IMHO.
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The Enchanting Fragrance
Gypsy Water was my first hair perfume love. The first spritz is strong, and then the scent embeds deeper into your hair fibers and crevices of your neck and skin throughout the day. The base notes — amber, vanilla, and sandalwood — are deep and woodsy, while the top notes — lemon, pepper, and juniper — are fresh and cutting. It’s a winning combination.
The Floral Option
Sometimes your hair doesn’t need an actual wash — it just needs some zhuzhing and a refreshed allure. That is where this Acqua Di Parma Rosa Nobile mist comes into play. It’s a feminine scent that combines classic florals and the star of fresh rose petals. Since this is formulated specifically for the hair, it’s a perfume that reacts well to movement.
The Indulgent White Floral Scent
Regime Des Fleurs doesn’t make specific hair perfumes, but their scents work as well on your strands as they do on your body. While it’s hard to pick one fragrance from the brand (I mean, they even have a collaboration with Chloe Sevigny) Gold Leaves is an easy go-to. It’s basically springtime distilled into a perfume bottle. Over the course of a day, this long-wear fragrance has top notes of white lilies that give way to sandalwood.
A Beachy Grab & Go
If you are intrigued by the idea of a hair perfume but want to experiment first, consider this Sol de Janeiro hair and body mist. It’s one of the more affordable options, and its jasmine, vanilla, and black amber plum notes smell like a tropical paradise.
The Bold Musk Option
This fragrance’s combination of tomato leaf, leather, and oud (a woodsy scent) swirl together to form an unexpectedly delightful perfume. Bonus points for the craftsmanship since each bottle is blended, bottled, and boxed by hand.
The Delicate Vanilla Scent
Ex Nihilo’s hair perfume is enriched with keratin to make sure your strands stay luscious and healthy while smelling ethereal. It’s got a base note of vanilla roots while white cedarwood and rose lift it up into a totally sensual infusion that’ll turn heads.