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Marlene Stang

Professional Fragrance Expert

Best Unisex Fragrances & Discount Fragrances for Men and Women

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As the last moments of winter give way to the promise of warmer days just ahead, you may soon find yourself in the mood for an altogether sheerer fragrance. A change in temperature can absolutely impact your experience of a scent, and many people find that even the most exquisitely constructed Orientals can turn cloying in the spring and summer. The unisex fragrance category is the perfect realm to explore if you are interested in wearing something lighter and fresher, not to mention sexy since many unisex scents contain a compelling combination of euphoric citrus and animalic notes that leave others wanting more. They are also generally designed to be applied with abandon, so you will often find that many unisex fragrances are sold in quantities of 3.4 ounces or more.

It is worth mentioning that fragrances in this category can push the envelope at times, particularly by featuring floral notes that one might traditionally think of as being feminine and then juxtaposing those essences against more bracing, earthy notes. And because men’s and women’s individual body chemistries differ quite markedly, it is not uncommon for a somewhat masculine scent to turn “soft” on a woman or a fragrance with feminine qualities to become more masculine when worn by a man. My point in stating this is, as always, to stress the importance of trying a fragrance on before you decide whether or not it will work for you. Note descriptions can only reveal so much, so do read the following reviews on the understanding that exploring this fragrance category requires an open mind!

Best Unisex Fragrances by Marlene Stang

The Best You Can Get

  • Acqua di Parma Eau de Cologne

    Marlene says: Since its creation in 1916, herbaceous Acqua di Parma has been a favorite of fragrance connoisseurs and iconic personalities such as Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. It features an intricate mélange of notes that includes bergamot, verbena, Bulgarian rose, lavender, cedarwood, oakmoss, and vetiver, with a compositional intricacy that is at once bright and undeniably sophisticated. Just when its initial explosion of citrus notes has you convinced that it is the ultimate morning through afternoon fragrance, an elixir perfectly suited to carrying you through the demands of the day, it unfolds to reveal a fresh green floral accord that then tumbles into a compelling woodiness that comfortably befits a night out. This fragrance is still distilled by hand, and its evolution on the skin is so very characteristic of an artisan brand. One can say that it is statement making in what is ultimately its very natural subtlety, so do not be surprised if you find people leaning in to ask you what you are wearing.

    • Sophisticated
    • Complex
    • Herbaceous
    • Earthy
    • Part of a range
  • Un Jardin En Méditerranée Eau de Toilette by Hermes

    Marlene says: Un Jardin En Meditterranee, which was created by Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena in 2003, is what I would call the olfactory equivalent of sunlight and shade. Its designer has proven to be quite vocal in his belief that simplicity in composition can be a greater feat than redundant complexity, which might explain why this fragrance so pointedly evokes its name – a stroll through a Mediterranean garden. Bergamot’s light bursts on the skin before deferring to a cool, leafy blend of fig, orange blossom, and white oleander. These notes then settle into a warm arrangement of woody notes that accent an orange-blossom infused musk. On my own skin, I detect a barely there saltiness that I personally love, reminiscent as it is of the way your skin smells after a day at sea. Ocean water on skin is an alluring smell that many other fragrances on the market have unsuccessfully tried to achieve, while this blend captures it perfectly.

    • Sparkling
    • Woody
    • Crisp
    • Green
    • Excellent Sillage
  • Gendarme Eau de Toilette

    Marlene says: Described as a fragrance “made for a man because women love it,” it is a scent that many, many women love enough to wear. This blend of citrus, verbena, jasmine, thyme and leather has earned devotees ranging from Tom Cruise and Hugh Grant to Sharon Stone and Janet Jackson, and epitomizes a spirit of minimalist modern chic. Sheer and second-skin like, its lemony top note gives way to a jasmine heart that is only airily suggestive of the flower and does not (at least on most wearers) evolve into a floral note that is full or “bloomy”. The fragrance’s musky, leather-tinged base is decidedly sheer and fresh, evoking very subtly the clean yet compellingly animalic scent of a brand new wallet. It is by far one of the most intriguing “clean” scents on the market - an abstract yet very natural take on the concept of “just out of the shower” fresh.

    • Luminous
    • Sheer
    • Subtle
    • Clean
    • Part of a range
  • Gris Clair by Serge Lutens Eau de Parfum

    Marlene says: Gris Clair, which translates as “clear grey” in French, is a paradoxical fragrance that is at once cool and warm, an open window and a smoldering ember. It begins with a thin curtain of smoky incense that gains strength and rises until it parts to reveal the star of this scent – a crisp lavender note that startlingly conjures the serene, unmistakable scent of lavender buds that have been rubbed between one’s fingers. The fragrance’s warm, resinous base note of amber, tonka bean (a relative of the vanilla bean), and woods is delicately sweet and deep, and eventually either overrides the lavender note or coexists with it permanently, depending on your body chemistry. It is a mysterious and meditative creation that is quite unlike anything else out there.

    • Smoky
    • Elemental
    • Aromatic
    • Long-lasting
    • Deep
  • Silver Mountain Water by Creed Eau de Parfum

    Marlene says: Inspired by the smell of “mountain air and the purity of cascading mountain streams,” this favorite fragrance of Master Perfumer Olivier Creed opens with a burst of tart, slightly floral black current and evolves to reveal both the delicate freshness of green tea and the more piquant bite of black tea. Fresh musk and a subtly oceanic ambergris note in the base result in a drydown that is decidedly watery, yet so different from what you will find amongst the now very commonplace array of ozone-inspired scents on the market. The reason for this is that here, those clean notes retain traces of the black current’s succulence while the teas impart to them a definitive character. This fragrance has an almost drinkable quality that is elevated instead of simply “yummy” and equally intriguing on men and women alike.

    • Bright
    • Lush
    • Vibrant
    • Crisp
    • Subtly sweet

You will be happy with any of these

  • 4711 Eau de Cologne

    Marlene says: Acknowledged as the world’s first eau de cologne, this classic, gorgeously-packaged elixir was created in the early eighteenth century and has long been revered for its aromatherapeutic qualities. The official website for this scent announces that “it banishes the trials and tribulations of everyday life in a flash,” and countless fans have proclaimed its ability to lift the spirits and even cure headaches. A headache sufferer myself, I can vouch for this. A blend of bergamot, lemon, orange, lavender, rosemary, and neroli (also known as orange blossom), it utilizes essential oils and is still manufactured in Germany as it has been for centuries. Initial application of this tonic is bracing and aromatic, but it evolves to become a pleasingly mild veil of scent that is actually very long-lasting for the concentration and a perfect choice for individuals who are easily overwhelmed by fragrance.

    • Light
    • Citrusy
    • Aromatic
    • Clean
    • Part of a range
  • Clarins Eau Dynamisante Treatment Fragrance

    Marlene says: Jacques Courtin opened the first Clarins Institute in Paris in 1954, and the company was among the first to halt all animal testing as well as the use of animal derivatives in its products. Eau Dynamisante is a toning, moisturizing, and non-photosynthesizing skin treatment/fragrance that is specifically designed to energize and uplift the wearer. It is nearly impossible not to feel revived by this marriage of lemon, patchouli, white thyme, and rosemary that is very well balanced throughout, with the patchouli note’s very distinct presence grounding its sparkle without ever becoming the sort of thick, heavy, “dirty” patchouli that reminds many people of a head shop. On the contrary, this scent evokes a spa experience or a drive through the south of France – it is crisp and elegant enough to be worn only as a fragrance, although the abundance of plant extracts it contains do beg to be utilized all over the body for their skin benefits.

    • Aromatic
    • A skin treatment and fragrance in one
    • Invigorating
    • Earthy
    • Part of a range
  • Roger & Gallet Vetyver Eau de Cologne

    Marlene says: Inspired by the uniquely scented oil that is distilled from the root of the grass that bears the same name, Roger & Gallet Vetyver is an aromatic blend that features a dynamic spiciness not often found in herbaceous scents. It begins with a vivid note of mandarin orange (a mildly spicy citrus fruit) that then lifts to reveal an “overgrown”, somewhat-earthy, green middle note of wild artemisia spiked with nutmeg. These notes then meld into a woody and very sensual base note accord of warm benzoin (a note used to make amber), powdery vetiver, cedarwood, and sweet myrrh. This is an invigorating fragrance with a dramatic presence, and as the nutmeg note renders it somewhat unconventional, it is not for anyone who is afraid of making a statement.

    • Citrusy
    • Spicy
    • Woody
    • Herbaceous
    • Part of a range
  • Calvin Klein CK Be Eau de Toilette

    Marlene says: Developed with renowned creative consultant Ann Gottlieb, this darker, less straightforward sibling of the more popular CK One has become something of a cult classic since its debut in 1996. Hints of mint and juniper berry lend a curious green coldness to the scent’s bergamot and mandarin top notes, while in the middle note flourishes of spice and lavender lend a sharpness to notes of magnolia and peach. A very alluring and familiar thread of white musk is woven through out the entire fragrance, but it only comes to full fruition in the base where accents of tonka bean, sandalwood, and opapanax (a resin reminiscent of balsam and lavender) impart to it a marked depth and complexity. If this fragrance were a person, it would be an eternally cool, heavy-lidded observer standing amongst the sunny, wide-eyed faces that are so often found in the unisex genre.

    • Musky
    • Powdery
    • Clean
    • Excellent sillage
    • Part of a range
  • The Original Eau de Toilette by the Gap

    Marlene says: The best way to explain an encounter with this fragrance would be to compare it to a subtle shift in barometric pressure – you might not consciously register the occurrence, but its effects can be felt. Those who desire a fragrance with a lot of “throw” should definitely not reach for this one, which is far better suited to individuals who prefer to wear a scent that others can smell only when they are leaning in very, very close. But we all know you people are out there, so this review is for you! This fragrance is one of six in the Gap’s new “Individuals” collection, a homage to the concepts of unique personal essence and spirit. Featuring notes of plum, black leather, and cedarwood, this scent is not nearly as dark as it sounds. Initially, the plum and cedar notes display a vivacious and intoxicating presence on the skin, only to quickly become more ethereal as they merge with the dominant leather note that serves as the base. The black leather that the Gap refers to reminds me more of a buttery, slightly musky suede, and as it evolved I found it hard to discern where the fragrance ended and my skin began. Once again, this is a perfect choice for anyone who would just as soon forget they are wearing anything at all, with their scent creating only the minutest of shifts in the atmosphere.

    • Light
    • Textured
    • Woody
    • Subtly sweet
    • Part of a collection

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