10 Best Perfumes, Candles, and Scents of 2021 | Allure Best of Beauty Awards

Do you smell that? Long, green plumes of clary sage stretching through the corridors of an upscale wellness retreat? Tingly cognac, sprinkled across a bed of velvety tonka bean? How about a small assortment of pocket-size rollerball essential oils, specifically intended for gastrointestinal relief, that you rub on your belly after a large meal? You’re just picking up traces of this year’s Best of Beauty winners in the Scent category: Seven genre-defining fragrances, five oils, one candle, and a diffuser that looks like the Guggenheim.

If it sounds like a headache, that’s because it kind of is. The fragrance industry has reached dizzying new heights. The perfume you loved in high school has had multiple generations of children since then — bright and moody children, forward-thinking, and gorgeously bottled. There are new and refillable modes of packaging. They’re doing patchouli in a way patchouli hasn’t been done before.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of scent, but here’s a shot: A pandemic boom in fragrance sales, coupled with pandemic mask mandates, led some to wonder if perfume hasn’t replaced the “lipstick index” that explains, in times of crisis, why people shop for beauty. 

But that may pose more questions than it answers. Is a fragrance a feeling? Is it a place to escape? We don’t know — we just love it. Well, we love some more than others. For the rest of Allure‘s Best of Beauty winners, click here. —Brennan Kilbane

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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