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Fig Fever: Why This Fragrance Note Is Everywhere + The Best Products

Hannah Frye
Author:
December 21, 2023
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
fig perfume
Image by mbg creative
December 21, 2023
We carefully vet all products and services featured on mindbodygreen using our commerce guidelines. Our selections are never influenced by the commissions earned from our links.

We curate our days according to what pleases our senses—we pick what movies we watch, what music we listen to, what clothes we wear, the flavors we taste, and when we can, the fragrances we smell. 

Wearable fragrance is just one way to enhance your mood and bring about pleasure, but knowing which bottled scents fit your personality isn't quite as easy as declaring your favorite movie. 

If you feel lost when it comes to the vast world of modern fragrance or you're ready to try something new, let me spotlight a previously overlooked, minimalist-approved note: fig. To come, what to expect from this fruit-meets-wood aroma and the best products to test out, along with expert insight on the trending note.

What does fig fragrance smell like?

If you can't perfectly imagine what a fig smells like right now, you're not alone. This is by no means a familiar scent like vanilla or rose but rather a complex and niche note. 

Each part of the fig tree (the fruit, wood, and leaves) has a unique scent—so fig at its core more diverse than many florals or fruits. 

"The leaf is the most inspiring for perfumers because of its range as a scent. Naturally, the leaf has a green fragrance, but it's also crunchy and milky with a coconut inflection. The fig leaf also exudes woody nuances of sandalwood and cedarwood, making it a diverse ingredient utilized in some of the most popular perfumes and colognes," explains fragrance expert and VP of Operations at Dossier Ines Guien. 

Sometimes fig falls into the category of the green fragrance family but not always. "Whether the scent is green is more so dependent on whether the perfumer has intended to create a young fig with green notes, as opposed to a ripened fig with more sweet notes," says perfume manufacturer, consultant, and fragrance developer Darryl Do

Since the scent of fig can't be extracted from the fruit itself, Do explains that the fig accord is made by combining base notes of gourmand, honey, and berry raisins with a slight green top note. Of course, every brand puts its unique spin on the fragrance, so these may be swapped in for others like coconut or sandalwood.

Why is it gaining popularity?

There are a few different expert theories as to why fig fragrance is gaining prominence, all of which point to the unique scent experience fig brings to the table.

Do suggests the revival of gourmands as a larger category is to blame, while Guien says it's more about where the fragrance takes you mentally.

"Figs are reminiscent of summer, of nature, and for some, holidays in warmer regions such as the Mediterranean and the southern coast of Italy," Guien says.

Frank Voelkl, the perfumer behind Phlur's dynamic fig fragrance Father Figure, says this product was created from a similar vision: "This fragrance is inspired by hidden gardens. There is a contrast between the vivid greenness and something more skinlike. The milky nectar of fig complements buttery suede qualities of orris to create a naturally sensual effect," he says.

A quick look at the major trends of 2023 includes both the Mediterranean diet obsession, the European cottage-core inspired "tomato girl" TikTok micro-trend, and the overarching theme of wanting to live like the centenarians in the Blue Zones—a simple life, chock-full of natural foods and, by default, accompanying fresh scents. 

AI-driven fragrance brand Noteworthy launched a limited edition, travel-size fig fragrance earlier this year called n,415 that sold out in just two weeks, reaffirming the obsession (don't worry, it'll be back in stock by summer 2024). According to co-founder Ashley Boyce, the success of this product points to the yearning for individuality in fragrance.

"Based on a longitudinal study that we did of over 600 women, 74% of women would like a signature scent that is unique and different from other people," she says.

Moreover, "So much of the fragrance market is dominated by florals or woods or citrus. Fig offers a completely different olfactive experience to a more commercially popular fragrance," she adds.

So whether it's the European summer vibes, the desire to differentiate your signature scent, or just excitement around an often ignored fruit, fig scents are playing a leading role in the fragrance industry and don't seem to be taking a back seat anytime soon.

Who fig fragrances are best for

There's a wide range of fig notes to choose from thanks to the option to embrace the fig tree wood, leaves, or fruit itself, so fig can really be dressed up or down to fit a plethora of preferences.

If you typically lean toward something sweeter, opt for a fragrance that's juicy and fruit-forward, even paired with additional citrus notes. If you're craving something more skinlike, prioritize additional woods and vanilla notes to add depth.

Below, some of the best fig fragrances on the market right now to get you started.

Phlur

Father Figure

$96
I've received countless compliments when wearing this fragrance because of its unique and multi-faceted profile. Lush fig is accompanied by notes of waterlily, cassis buds, jasmine, skin musk, and vanilla (just to name a few). This one is ideal for those who love a unique fragrance that isn't too overbearing.
Phlur Father Figure

Dossier

Woody Sage

$29
Woody Sage (inspired by Jo Malone's Wood Sage & Sea Salt) combines fig, grapefruit, and sea salt for a breezy base. Driftwood and sage add an earthy element to the mix, making it a fresh and lively scent reminiscent of a favorable oceanic aroma.
Dossier Woody Sage

Ellis Brooklyn

Sun Fruit Eau De Parfum

$108
This one truly does smell like vacation. The fruity floral base is sweet but in a natural way, paired with surprising features like bergamot and vanilla for a smoother finish. Consider this an ideal match for the fruit fanatic craving something a bit more elevated.
Ellis Brooklyn Sun Fruit Eau De Parfum

By Rosie Jane

James

$75
The earthy scent fans are sure to adore this scent. James is a gender-neutral fragrance that uses fig, amber, and gardenia to create an equally warm and light vibe. It's a cozy scent that's simultaneously fresh—think staying in on a rainy day with the window open.
By Rosie Jane James

Boy Smells

Woodphoria Eau de Parfum

$98
This is a great example of a fig fragrance that brings about a new element marrying ripe fruity scents with sandalwood and burly cedar. As noted by the brand, this one celebrates strength and softness.
Boy Smells Woodphoria Eau de Parfum

The takeaway

As a fragrance note, fig brings a fresh and unique element to any perfume. Each part of the fruit has a unique scent, from deep woods to aromatic leaves and of course the juicy fruit itself. Given the increased adoration of fig fragrances in recent months, there's likely to be even more to choose from in the near future. Ready to shop for perfume? Here are our favorite products for every scent preference.

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