Vanilla Fragrance: Why It’s a Fragrance Fan Favorite

When we say vanilla, you might immediately have flashbacks to your go-to sweet vanillabody spray from middle school, or maybe you instantly smell the creamy vanilla splash you add to your latte every coffee break.

No matter what your go-to vanilla moment may be, we want to introduce you to a few of our vanilla fragrances. This way, you can be the “something” that pops up in peoples’ minds when they think of vanilla … because there’s nothing quite like being a fan-favorite.

While you learn about our vanilla scents, remember that Snif believes fragrances are for all. You won’t find words like “vanilla cologne” or “vanilla perfume” used to describe our fragrances. We’re also not going to use those overly-complicated, exclusionary descriptions like gourmand, vanilla notes, or perfume oil to describe our genderless scents.

Instead, we believe that you’re the only one who should get to decide which scents you like. We just want you to trust your own damn nose—not outdated, gendered ideas about “fragrance notes” and who can wear what. 

Now, don’t be shy! Let’s explore all the reasons why people love vanilla so much and how you can rock one-of-a-kind vanilla scents on the daily.

What Is Vanilla Fragrance?

Before we take a close look at some of our favorite vanilla-based scents, it’s important to know exactly what vanilla and vanilla fragrances are. People are pretty sure vanilla as a flavor was first discovered in Mexico by the Totonac people using the Vanilla orchid’s pods.

When the Aztecs conquered the Totonacs in the 15th century, they began to add a dash of vanilla to their favorite chocolate-based drink (the one we’re still familiar with today and like to drink with marshmallows). When the conquistadores arrived in Mexico, they took vanilla back with them on ships to Spain, and just like that, this distinctive, delicious flavor (and scent) had made its way across the sea. 

For hundreds of years, vanilla was simply used as a sweet-smelling additive to chocolate and other treats, but the world of scents was changed forever when vanilla was added to fragrance in the 20th century.

Now, we have bourbon vanilla, warm vanilla sugar ... all variations on the original French vanille or Spanish vainilla. No matter what you think of when you think of vanilla, it's an amazing scent that, when mixed correctly, doesn't overpower the fragrance.

This means that vanilla can be mixed with several other scents to create complex fragrances that won’t leave you feeling woozy after just one sniff. Whether you’re more of a sandalwood and cedar person or you’re looking for a sultry cashmere vibe, there’s a vanilla scent out there that’s made for you.

Vanilla also has a unique molecular composition that allows it to remain on the skin for a long time, making it a useful addition to any scent, whether it’s in a lotion or a white musk-infused fragrance.

What Does Vanilla Smell Like?

We keep coming back to the amazing scent of vanilla, so you might be wondering: What exactly does it smell like? Vanilla has a sweet, rich, and syrupy smell that is totally distinct. Somehow, vanilla manages to smell creamy and comforting while also remaining, unlike other traditional sweet scents. 

If you only think of sugar cookies and vanilla ice cream when you try to imagine vanilla fragrance, think again. Vanilla fragrance is a more complex and intricate scent than thet simple smell of vanilla extract you may know from at-home attempts of mastering a Great British Baking Show challenge. 

In fact, the smell of vanilla is so captivating that it is thought to be an aphrodisiac and is known to be a mood-enhancing smell. Part of the reason for its mood-enhancing powers is that vanilla naturally calms our startle response.

4 Reasons To Wear Vanilla Fragrances

So, now that you know a little more about where vanilla comes from and what it smells like, we want to give you four reasons to wear vanilla fragrances. Of course, your signature scent (or scents!) is totally up to you, but if you ask us, vanilla fragrances are strong contenders for your go-to daily bottle. 

1. It’s a Genderless Scent

If you’ve always wanted to try a vanilla fragrance but you are nervous because it has been branded as a “feminine” scent, we’re here to tell you that vanilla is totally genderless (like all scents). 

We’re tired of traditional fragrance brands that try to categorize vanilla as a scent only fit for perfumes and not colognes. The “best vanilla perfumes” smell delicious no matter who’s wearing them — and at Snif, we believe that vanilla smells amazing on everyone. Period. There’s no need to go back and forth between an eau de parfum or an eau de toiletteor a bunch of other fancy words no one can pronounce. 

Vanilla is a genderless scent that’s the perfect addition to our fragrances and can be worn by anybody, anytime—and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

2. It Layers Well With Others

Obsessed with tonka bean? Living for orange blossom? Wondering if coriander and cardamom would fit in a menage a trois of scents?

Another reason to choose a vanilla fragrance is that this smell layers well with others. Whether you want to try a more complex scent or blend a few of your favorite fragrances at home, adding vanilla to the mix will enhance the mixture without overwhelming the senses. 

There are some scents that have the power to take over a fragrance (and sometimes even a room). Although the smell of vanilla is distinct, its subtle and powdery elements make it an easy addition to any fragrance mixture.

3. It’s Timeless

In case you’re not already convinced, let’s not forget that vanilla fragrances are timeless. The sweet, complex musk of vanilla is a scent that has captivated people for centuries. Although we understand the fun of experimenting with new scents better than anyone, we also know that sometimes it can be refreshing to go back to beloved scent basics — and vanilla is certainly one of them. There’s really no replica for this universal fan-favorite.

4. It’s Subtle but Distinct

Last but certainly not least, vanilla is a subtle yet distinct scent. A lot of the time, the more subtle a scent is, the easier it can get washed into the background without packing a punch. Vanilla is unique because it can stand out without concealing other scents, from grapefruit to tobacco and everything in between. 

Our Favorite Vanilla Scents

If you think you’re ready to try a vanilla fragrance, we have some favorites to recommend. All of our scents use premium-quality ingredients, so you don’t need to worry about our vanilla scents making you smell like a pack of store-bought cookies. That also means that you’re never going to find preservatives, phthalates, parabens, or paraffin in our fragrances.

If you’re interested in either of the scents we’re going to introduce, you can order a Snif Trial Kit to test them out for seven days before you commit. Or don’t. It’s totally up to you. 

Vanilla Vice 

Vanilla Vice is a big, bold scent designed for the vanilla lover. If you're ready to ditch the simple, one-note vanilla scents, Vanilla Vice might be the perfect upgrade. This fragrance features a complex, rich base of ice cream, Madagascar vanilla, amberwood, musk, and orcanox, sprinkled with sparkling sugar and jasmine.

Burning Bridges

Our Burning Bridges scent knows how to make a subtle statement. This fragrance contains Madagascar vanilla, tobacco, iris, rose absolute, spices, oakmoss, and freesia. Freesia is a fresh and fruity flower that blends perfectly with vanilla to make this bold and addictive scent. 

Sweet Ash

Our low-key Sweet Ash fragrance was voted “Best Woody Fragrance” by New York Magazine — and for good reason. You’ll want to carry Sweet Ash around so that you can get your fix whenever you feel the craving, thanks to its sweet and earthy scent. 

Made from juniper, bergamot, fir balsam, tonka, vanilla bean, white moss, and patchouli, this fragrance goes from inviting to addictive without ever missing a beat. 

Tart Deco 


Tart Deco is a juicy, sophisticated scent that muddles cherry, rose, and mimosa with a blend of birchwood, vetiver, and vanilla. It’s luxurious and indulgent with a youthful, rebellious side. If you love vanilla and fruity scents, this could be your perfect match. 


Give Vanilla a Sniff

Vanilla is an ingredient that’s been known and loved for a long time. Vanilla fragrances are subtle enough that you can layer them with other scents but distinct enough to hold their own in a complex blend — making vanilla a genderless and timeless addition to any fragrance.

But where do we love smelling vanilla most? Well, vanilla is a cornerstone of our Burning Bridges and Sweet Ash fragrances. Where Burning Bridges is addictive and bold, Sweet Ash is a little more low-key, sweet, and earthy. If either of those descriptions sounds a little like you,take the plunge and try a vanilla fragrance. 


Influence of Fragrances on Human Psychophysiological Activity: With Special Reference to Human Electroencephalographic Response | NIH

The Smell Report - Vanilla | Social Issues Research Center

A Master Perfumer's Reflections on Patchouli and Vetiver | The MIT Press Reader

← Previous How To Clean Candle Jars & Repurpose Them Next → Find Your Scent: What Does Sandalwood Smell Like?