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Best Chanel Perfume

Updated August 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 10 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 112 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best Chanel perfumes

    Last Updated August 2018

    Perhaps nothing can stir memories as powerfully as scent. The perfume you wear makes a statement so personal that maybe you’ve worn the same fragrance for years. But if you’re thinking about trying a new perfume or still searching for your signature scent, you would be hard pressed to find a more classic choice than Chanel.

    In 1921, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel debuted her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, and revolutionized the world of fragrance. Since that time, Chanel has continued to release unique and beautiful scents. With so many fragrances to choose from, there is sure to be a Chanel perfume that is right for you. If you’ve decided you’d like to try one but don’t know where to start, we can help.

    BestReviews is dedicated to providing consumers with useful product information so you can find the items you want and need. If you already have your heart set on Chanel, see our top picks in the matrix above. If you’d like to find out more about Chanel perfumes, keep reading our shopping guide.

    Know that various versions of the same perfume won’t smell the same. Later perfumers update classic fragrances while maintaining their signature notes.

    Why Chanel perfume?

    Coco Chanel rose from humble beginnings to open a Paris boutique in 1910, where she first sold hats and later developed her trademark style of clothing, accessories, and fragrance.

    Today, the House of Chanel has a reputation in the perfume industry that is well earned, having developed some of the best-selling fragrances of the last century. Some, like Chanel No. 5, are timeless classics. Others, like Chanel No. 5 L’eau or Coco Mademoiselle, are fresh interpretations of enduring scents created for younger women.

    While you may not be able to dress from hat to pumps in Chanel haute couture, you can wear the famous brand’s sophisticated scents. Whether you prefer a mist as light as chiffon for the office or a dab as rich as velvet for evening, there is a Chanel fragrance to suit your style.

    Fresh twist on an enduring classic

    Chanel perfumer Jacques Polges updated Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum in 1986 to create this modern, sensual fragrance that interlaces fruit with floral notes of jasmine, lily of the valley, and rose. Other notes include sultry sandalwood, vanilla, and leather. Best of all, with a spray you can wreathe yourself in Chanel at a fraction of the cost of parfum.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    In 1920, Ernest Beaux brought five perfumes he had created to Coco Chanel. She chose the fifth sample to give as gifts to her best clients. The number five, she said, brought her luck.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    In 1952, when asked what she wore to bed, Marilyn Monroe famously answered, “Chanel No. 5.” Icons from Catherine Deneuve to Brad Pitt have been the face of the revered perfume over the past 50 years.

    What is Chanel perfume?

    Chanel perfumes are complex compositions made of layers of different scents – there are some 80 scents in Chanel No. 5 alone. In the world of perfume, the different scents are referred to as notes. Ingredients in perfume include the following:

    • Essential oils, also called absolutes or attars, made from plants and fruits

    • Animal extracts, used to make scent last longer, such as musk or ambergris, a waxy substance secreted by sperm whales

    • Aldehydes or organic compounds

    • Synthetic ingredients

    • Alcohol and water in various concentrations

    Perfume notes

    Notes are divided into three categories: top, middle, and base. Taken individually, each note might not be very interesting, but together they become complex, mysterious, and unique.

    • Top (head) notes: These are the lightest scents and what you smell first when you apply perfume. They are also the first to fade. Think of them as a first impression. The top notes in Chanel No. 5 L’eau Eau de Toilette Spray are sheer and citrusy lemon, orange, and mandarin.

    • Middle (heart) notes: These make up the main part of the perfume. Heart notes last longer than top notes and are often a well-rounded combination of citrus, floral, and spicy scents. The middle notes in Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Toilette Spray include May rose, jasmine petals from Grasse on the French Riviera, and fruity, floral lychee.

    • Base notes: These notes take the longest time to develop. If the top notes are the first impression, the base notes are the lasting impression – these are what people will remember after you leave the room. The base notes in Chanel’s Coco Noir Eau de Parfum Spray include tonka bean, sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli, white musk, and frankincense.

    Aldehydes

    All perfumes contain organic compounds called aldehydes. They occur naturally in rose, citrus rind, pine, and elsewhere, and they are also synthesized. Perfumer Ernest Beaux’s use of several aldehydes in Chanel No. 5 wasn’t the first time they had been added to perfume, but the quantity he used (close to 1% of the perfume) changed the industry forever.

    Aldehydes are used to lift and freshen essential oils. These compounds add complexity and layers to perfume and are described in many ways:

    • Metallic

    • Starchy

    • Green

    • Herbal

    • Citrusy

    • Waxy

    • Fatty

    • Soapy

    • Rosy

    EXPERT TIP

    “Sillage” is the term for the aromatic trail that perfume leaves behind. The quality of a perfume’s ingredients helps to determine how long a fragrance will last. You can intensify sillage by applying perfume to your hair and clothes as well as skin.


    Types of fragrance

    Fragrance is made in different concentrations, from parfum to cologne. Each type has unique qualities and uses. The difference lies in the lightness or heaviness of the scent, how you use it, and how long it lingers.

    Parfum

    This is the most expensive and long-lasting form of fragrance. It is also the most concentrated, although parfum, too, has been diluted to a degree with water and alcohol. Chanel No. 5 Parfum remains a timeless classic and is perhaps the most recognized and revered fragrance of all time. Used judiciously, parfum makes a statement and is ideal for evenings out and special occasions.

    • Contains 20% to 40% pure perfume essence or essential oils

    • Thicker, oilier consistency than other forms

    • Comes in stopper bottles, for dabbing

    • Most expensive form

    • Scent lasts 12 hours or more


    Price: Chanel parfums range from $100 per ounce (Coco Mademoiselle Parfum) to $480 per ounce (Allure Parfum). Chanel No. 5 Parfum costs $340 per ounce.

    Eau de parfum

    This formulation is less concentrated than parfum but more than eau de toilette. Released in 1996, Chanel Allure Eau de Parfum Spray has warm passion fruit and peony notes. Eau de parfum is intended to be used more generously than parfum, making it a good choice for everyday wear.

    • Contains 15% to 20% pure perfume essence

    • Comes in stopper bottles or sprays

    • Scent lasts up to eight hours
       

    Price: Chanel eau de parfums range from $34 per ounce (Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum Spray) to $38 per ounce (Coco Noir Eau de Parfum Spray and Chanel Allure Eau de Parfum Spray).

    Eau de toilette

    Contrary to what some people think, eau de toilette is not just a weaker version of eau de parfum. It is less intense but also composed of different notes. When Chanel perfumer Olivier Polge debuted Chanel No. 5 L’eau Eau de Toilette Spray in 2016, it was heralded as more modern, more delicate, and fresher than its namesake, yet it retained the spirit of the original. Eau de toilette is suitable for liberally misting over the skin and clothes. If you’re looking for a fragrance to wear to the office, this is a good choice.

    • Contains 10% to 15% pure perfume essence

    • Comes in spray bottles

    • High alcohol content

    • Scent lasts about six hours
       

    Price: Chanel eau de toilettes range from $33 per ounce (Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Toilette Spray) to $52 per ounce (Chanel No. 5 L’eau Eau de Toilette Spray).

    Eau de cologne

    This is the lightest, most diluted, and least expensive fragrance formulation, with the highest percentage of water and alcohol. You’ll rarely find cologne versions of expensive perfumes. Les Exclusifs de Chanel Eau de Cologne is a light citrusy and floral scent. Intended to be used generously on skin and clothes, eau de cologne is good for daily wear.

    • Contains 2% to 5% perfume essence

    • Usually the least expensive form

    • Scent lasts up to four hours
       

    Price: Les Exclusifs de Chanel Eau de Cologne Spray costs $44 per ounce.

    A spirited bouquet for the young at heart

    This fresh, seductive, and feminine scent, which debuted in 2001, combines heady spice notes with delicate bergamot and floral tones of May rose and jasmine. Mist it generously over skin, hair, and clothes for a deliciously light and sexy finishing touch before heading out the door.

    Tips

    • Apply perfume carefully. Use caution when applying perfume near clothing because it can discolor or stain delicate fabrics like silk or satin.

    • Get sample sizes. If you want to try a perfume or cologne but don’t want to spring for a full-size bottle, ask for a sample. Many stores are happy to oblige. Also, trade samples with friends, or find fellow perfume lovers through blogs and online forums devoted to fragrance.

    • Mix it up. There are many ways to wear Chanel perfume beyond dabbing it behind your ears or spraying your wrists. Add a few drops of perfume to your bath. Mist your hair with eau de toilette. Spray eau de cologne on pillows and sheets.

    • Make your own scented lotion or oil. You don’t need to buy expensive lotions or oils in your favorite Chanel fragrance. Add a few drops of eau de parfum to an unscented body lotion, shea butter, or neutral oil like jojoba, let it sit for a few days, and enjoy your bespoke emollient.

    • Change with the seasons. It’s a good idea to switch fragrances when the temperature changes. Heat intensifies dense, heavy scents like musk. Try a lighter citrus or floral fragrance in the summer months.

    If perfume seems expensive, consider the ingredients. It takes 4,000 pounds of rose petals to produce one pound of attar of roses. Ambergris can sell for $20,000 per pound, and many essential oils cost hundreds of dollars per ounce.

    FAQ

    Q. What’s the best way to try a perfume to see if I like the scent?
    A.
    When you try on perfumes, don’t wear fragrance or lotions. Spray or dab the perfume on your arm. Fragrance takes time to develop on warm skin, so wait for the alcohol to evaporate. The base notes can take up to half an hour to develop. Only then will you be able to experience the true character of the perfume and decide if it’s what you want to wear.

    Q. Why do fragrances smell differently on different people?
    A.
    The warmth and moisture of your skin affect how a perfume smells on you. You may wear the same fragrance as millions of others, but it will smell uniquely and subtly different on you, which is why it is so important to sample perfume before you buy.

    Q. What’s the best place to store my Chanel perfume?
    A.
    While it seems natural to store perfume in the bathroom, the steamy heat and moisture can cause the perfume essence to break down more quickly. As the components break down, the perfume will begin to smell differently than originally intended. You also don’t want to store your perfume in direct sunlight or in extreme temperatures. A dry, cool spot is the best place to store perfume.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Writer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director