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What Does Cedar Smell Like in Perfumery?

Cedar has been prized for its rich, soothing scent since the earliest days of humanity. In ancient Mesopotamian myth, the Cedar Forest was even the home of the gods.

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In perfumery, cedar is a common note in many woodsy fragrances. It is not mossy woods or dry woods – it is simply woody. It harmonizes well with masculine, feminine, and unisex scents.

What Does Cedar Smell Like in Perfumery?

What does cedar smell like? Does cedarwood smell good on everyone? 

Read on to learn more about the various cedarwood scent benefits as we run through nine of our favorite cedar fragrances!

Our Top 9 Cedar Fragrances

Whispers in the Library by Maison Martin Margiela

Best for Cedar Newbies

Whispers in the Library by Maison Martin Margiela is great for those dipping a toe into cedar. This 2019 unisex fragrance sticks to the Replica Collection’s theme of bottling memories and is perfect for those who enjoy delicate, powdery fragrances.

Fernweh Editions Fern & Petals Candle

A light cedar note melds with vanilla, pepper, and other woodsy notes to evoke the feeling of browsing an old library or used bookstore. 

If you like Paper by Commodity and would not mind a richer vanilla note, check this one out.

PROS: Light enough for warmer weather, great for powder lovers

CONS: Might be too vanilla-heavy for some

  • Sillage: Good
  • Longevity: Very good
  • Appropriate for: The office, everyday wear
  • Price: $$$

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06 Cabin Retreat by Memoire Archives

Best for Nature Lovers

06 Cabin Retreat by Memoire Archives is perfect for those who want to lean into the camping trip vibe. This 2020 fragrance for women is great for wearing on your summer vacation and is also complex enough for date night.

Cedar is the top note here, with funky oakmoss in the middle and sandalwood in the drydown. 

This is not a good blind buy, as the vegetal oakmoss scent is not for everyone. But if you want to smell like a forest hike, this may be the one for you. Take note though – after oakmoss was shown to be an allergen the industry’s international trade association severely restricted its use.

PROS: Heavy cedar scent

CONS: Leans masculine for some, oakmoss note does not suit all wearers

  • Sillage: Good
  • Longevity: Good
  • Appropriate for: Date night, vacation
  • Price: $$

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Hero by Burberry

Best Masculine Cedar

Hero by Burberry might be what a lumberjack smells like on a night out. This 2021 fragrance by Aurelien Guichard is both classically masculine and broadly appealing, making it an appropriate daily wear fragrance for the colder months.

A top note of bergamot moves into middle notes of black pepper and juniper. Three different cedars – Virginia, Atlas, and Himalayan – form the base. 

What does cedar smell like when paired with other evergreen notes? Try this perfume to find out.

PROS: Masculine, strong but not off-putting

CONS: A bit middle-of-the-road

  • Sillage: Very good
  • Longevity: Good
  • Appropriate for: The office, colder weather
  • Price: $$$$

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Chopard Rose Malaki by Chopard

Best Rose and Cedar Perfume

Do not dismiss Chopard Rose Malaki by Chopard if you are not a rose fan – this is not an old lady perfume! This 2014 unisex scent from Amandine Clerc-Marie is a bold and intriguing mixture of slightly smoky cedar and jammy, rich, velvety rose.

The top note of saffron is a bit too strong for some. But for others, this is the perfect perfume for day-to-evening wear or even a special night out. 

If you are a man looking to try out floral notes, this one is definitely worth a shot.

PROS: Rich, complex scent

CONS: Not a safe blind buy

  • Sillage: Very good
  • Longevity: Very good
  • Appropriate for: Day-to-evening, date night
  • Price: $$$$

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Tam Dao by Diptyque

Best Spicy Cedar

Tam Dao by Diptyque shows off cedar’s spicy side. A 2003 unisex scent, Tam Dao smells a bit like an old wooden church or drinking a cup of chai tea in the forest.

Fernweh Editions Candles

Top notes of Italian cypress and rose move into a heart of sandalwood and cedar. The drydown has rosewood, musk, ginger, and coriander. 

This is a perfect cold-weather scent and works well for date night with its intimate sillage and sexy, truly unisex feel.

PROS: Sexy and unique, strong cedar notes

CONS: Not a safe blind buy, sandalwood feels boring to some

  • Sillage: Good
  • Longevity: Very good
  • Appropriate for: Cold weather, date night
  • Price: $$$

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Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker

Best Value Cedar for Women

Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker lives up to the name in every way possible. It is rare to have a woody fragrance with cedar notes feel so girly, but this 2005 fragrance by Clement Gavarry and Laurent Le Guernec achieves it.

Top notes of lavender, bergamot, and rosewood build to a heart of orchid, narcissus, and patchouli. Cedar, musk, and woodsy notes form the drydown. 

This perfume is soft enough to wear to the office and light enough for summer wear.

PROS: Soft and girly, great value

CONS: Feels mature to some, lavender can be overwhelming

  • Sillage: Very good
  • Longevity: Very good
  • Appropriate for: Everyday
  • Price: $

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CK Free by Calvin Klein

Best Value Cedar for Men

If you are looking for a light but woody fragrance for summer, check out CK Free by Calvin Klein. This 2009 fragrance by Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Ellen Molner is aromatic, fresh, and masculine.

Top notes of juniper, star anise, and wormwood lead to a heart of suede, tobacco, and coffee. The drydown is cedar, oak, and patchouli. 

You can wear this one year-round. It is a great, non-offensive fragrance for the office.

PROS: Excellent value for the price, masculine, but fresh

CONS: Too nondescript for some

  • Sillage: Good
  • Longevity: Good
  • Appropriate for: Everyday, the office
  • Price: $

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Opera by Xerjoff

Best Luxury Cedar

Like its namesake, Opera by Xerjoff weaves together multiple notes into something more than the sum of parts. This 2019 unisex fragrance by Chris Maurice is not for wallflowers – the drama is the point here.

Top notes of fruit and Turkish rose lead to a heart of ylang-ylang, amber, nutmeg, and leather. The cedar comes through in the dry down, along with patchouli, musk, and green Haitian vetiver

If you’re looking to make a big splash on a night out, reach for this bottle.

PROS: Bold, attention-grabbing

CONS: Can be overpowering

  • Sillage: Very good
  • Longevity: Very good
  • Appropriate for: Date night, parties
  • Price: $$$$

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Laudano Nero by Tiziana Terenzi

Best Niche Cedar Fragrance

Tiziana Terenzi is known for bold, intricate, and singular fragrances, and 2014’s Laudano Nero by Paolo Terenzi is no exception. This complex fragrance is not for everyone, but it really showcases all sides of cedar – rich, smoky, spicy, green, and woody.

Top notes of cognac, tobacco, and rosemary build to a heart of cedar, honey, ash, and slate. Oud, oak, and incense round out the dry down. 

Much like Rome under Nero, this perfume is a decadent party that ends in spectacular flames. 

PROS: Rich, complex, keeps developing

CONS: Too dark and gothic for some

  • Sillage: Very good
  • Longevity: Excellent
  • Appropriate for: Date night, parties
  • Price: $$$$

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What Are Cedarwood Scent Benefits?

Cedarwood scent is used in aromatherapy to soothe stress and anxiety. Cedar also has some antimicrobial effects and can repel moths and other insects.

What Does Cedar Smell Like in Perfumery?

Sandalwood vs. Cedarwood Smell

Cedar used to be considered downmarket and a bit of a “poor man’s scent.” Fancier perfumers dismissed it in favor of vetiver, sandalwood, or cashmere wood. 

Recently, though, fragrance makers have come around to embracing cedar’s unique qualities.

So, what about sandalwood vs. cedarwood smell? 

First off, let us answer the question, “What does sandalwood smell like?” Sandalwood is a woody amber scent that feels quite warm and cozy; it is also fairly subtle.

Cedar, on the other hand, has a stronger wood scent and is much greener. Does cedarwood smell good? It is all a matter of preference, of course, and some people find that cedar scent can turn sour with their body chemistry.

Final Thoughts

To recap: what does cedar smell like? It is a bracing, strong, and woody scent, but it is also surprisingly versatile. 

There is a wide range of cedarwood fragrances to explore, meaning there is something for just about everyone.

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What Does Cedar Smell Like in Perfumery?

Selena Marc is a fragrance enthusiast, freelance writer, and dog mom living in Houston, Texas. When she's not writing about her favorite new perfumes, you can find her enjoying yoga or a morning hike.