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The Vanilla Renaissance: Gen Z’s Favourite Scent is Making a Nostalgic Comeback

A hand spraying perfume onto another wrist in front of a white background

The vanilla fragrance renaissance is upon us. The warm scent of everyone’s go-to body mist of the early aughts is spiking in popularity again – but with a modern twist.

While the days of walking through the mall with friends and testing out the quintessential Warm Vanilla Sugar Bath & Body Works fragrance have been on the backburner for quite some time now, Gen Z’s favourite scent is ready to make a nostalgic return.


KAYALI VANILLA, Sephora, $113.

It’s no surprise that we’re leaning on nostalgia for the latest trend in perfumes and fragrances, considering the rise of marinated makeup and these ‘90s comeback cosmetic trends. Fragrance brands like By Rosie Jane and Kayali have been launching their very own vanilla fragrances, with more of an upscale edge to them.

Related: Zodiac scents: A fragrance for each zodiac sign.

“What I love about the revival of vanilla is that it’s sort of taking it back to that idea that it is this very sensual, beautiful, easy to love smell,” By Rosie Jane’s Rosie Jane Johnston tells Glossy. Johnston’s version of the ‘90s-era vanilla spray boasts refined notes of hinoki wood and musk for an elevated twist.

What is the number one scent among Gen-Z beauty shoppers?

A survey from Gen-Z media company Kyra found that the number-one scent for Gen-Z beauty shoppers was vanilla, surpassing beloved smells like rose, lavender, citrus and fruit.

Since, as Kyra VP of beauty and wellness Marina Mansour explains, vanilla reminds users of “body sprays” of the “early noughties,” it’s a nostalgic scent that reminds you of “your first serious fragrance or the fragrance that people would gift you.”

See also: A Vitamin C and Niacinamide combo could be the key to perfect skin.

The downfall of vanilla in the early aughts

According to Johnston, the popularity of vanilla in the ’90s and early aughts was actually its downfall. As mass brands hopped on the trend, they exploited vanilla “to the point where it just became the cheap version of it.”


“It was all synthetic, designed for maximum impact with very little cost,” she explains. “So you started to get this not-great-smelling product that people associated with something cheap and not good.”

Now, luxury brands are reclaiming the scent with high-end versions of vanilla fragrances, pairing them with complex, upscale ingredients. In fact, celebrities are even starting to enter the mix with their very own vanilla-scented fragrances.

Ariana Grande’s vanilla fragrance

Not only did Ariana Grande unveil her brand new blonde ‘do in a retro video promoting her “first ever fragrance duo,” according to Billboard, but she also revealed her very own vanilla-inspired scent.

Out December 1st, shoppers will be able to purchase Grande’s pair of fragrances: Mod Vanilla and Mod Blush. But, in the meantime, where can you find the perfect modern-day vanilla spray for you?

Related: The richest celebs who own beauty brands.

Our favourite vanilla perfumes

Since the rise of vanilla really lies in luxury brands, a lot of the modern day vanilla scents – which channel a more complex palette – are on the pricier end.

The 7 Virtues Vanilla Woods Eau de Parfum in front of a cloud, purple and pink background

The 7 Virtues Vanilla Woods Eau de Parfum, Sephora, $105.

But, if you’re looking for something warm and spicy, The 7 Virtues’ Vanilla Woods Eau de Parfum has notes of pear, rose and vanilla.

Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum

Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum, Sephora, $138.

Meanwhile, Yves Saint Laurent’s extremely popular and well-loved Black Opium Eau de Parfum accompanies the vanilla scent with elevated notes of black coffee and white flowers.

Valentino Donna Born In Roma Eau de Parfum


Valentino Donna Born in Roma Eau de Parfum, Sephora, $139.

To really lean into luxe, check out Valentino’s Donna Born In Roma Eau de Parfum. The Roman street style-inspired fragrance not only comes in a stunning, spiky pink bottle, but boasts notes of blackcurrant, jasmine grandiflorum and bourbon vanilla.

You may also like: Sephora Canada celebrated its 100th store opening by donating $100K to Native Women’s Association of Canada.

All products featured on are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy through links in this article, we earn an affiliate commission.

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