When I first starting writing EauMG many years ago, I couldn’t get my hands on enough fig-based fragrances. Friends would email me links to every fig perfume they encountered online or in person. I loved fig perfumes and it was great timing – it was one of the trends in niche perfumery at the time. Over the past 9-10 years, I’ve easily sampled hundreds of fig perfumes. I also have bought more than any person would ever need. My obsession with figs started “Pre-Perfume-Era” for me.
I come from a family of fig farmers. Due to the economy and environment, this farm is no longer operating but I grew up eating fresh fruit under leafy figs as my bare toes dug into the dry soil. As you can imagine, there’s a connection there. Fig perfumes are nostalgic for me. I know what the bark, the leaves and the skin-irritating sap of unripe figs smells like. I know what a ripe, warm and juicy fig smells and tastes like. I know that that the fig’s blossoms never see the light of day. The tree has secrets, we don’t get to see how it works but we get to enjoy its abundant harvest¹. Sometimes I feel like this peculiar ecology is what has resulted in the symbolic and religious contexts of figs. For so long, fig fruit seemed like a mystery – leaves everywhere and then it’s like one day there’s a tree full of fragile, pit-less fruit that need picked and consumed immediately before they rot.
Anyway, I could go on and on about tiny fig farms in the Deep South and symbolism but let’s gets back to perfume.
Fig fragrances are based on accords so there’s a lot left up to the perfumer on what sort of direction they want to go. Most of the time we get a green fig leaf fragrance or a lactonic, coconut-y fig…both of these are often paired with dry, astringent woods like cedar or creamy woods like sandalwood. This gives an impression of bark, sap, fruit and leaves. These compositions are “creamy green”. There are a few fruity fig fragrances but if you’ve sniffed fresh fig fruits, this aroma is rather subtle. Like a basket of fresh figs in hot sun doesn’t project in the same way that a basket of peaches in hot sun does. Now if the fig is dried or prepared like a jam/stewed, its fragrance is more noticeable. In perfumery, fruity fig fragrances tend to lean more sugary than fruity. Honestly, I’ve never really thought of 90% of the fig perfumes that I’ve tried as fruity. If anything, fig accords fit more into the genre of woods (like sandalwood) or green fragrances. But, yes, figs are technically a fruit so I see how people expect for most fig perfumes to seem fruity and then be disappointed when they aren’t. Another common theme in fig fragrances is the “Mediterranean” theme where leafy green figs are paired with citrus (or citrus blossoms) and/or salty sea air. These are “Destination Inspiration” figs.
Some notes about this guide: Throughout this guide, you’ll see many references to Diptyque Philosykos and L’Artisan Premier Figuier because these are our “standard” fig fragrance (both launched in the early-mid 1990’s). They’re the ones that most people know and reference. These are like the “OG” fig fragrances.
Next, I’ve tried to focus on perfumes that are predominately fig. I’ve purposely omitted some arguably “fig” fragrances because I wanted to include more straight-forward fig fragrances instead of ever single perfume that contains fig as a note. This guide contains almost 50 perfumes, so it’s already too overwhelming (my apologies). Yet, feel free to add to the list in the comments. I know that I left out some that are currently impossible to find in the US like N-Cigale Figue Fresh and Miller Harris Figue Amere because I’m in the US and hate cruel reminders that there are figs out there that require effort for me to purchase. I also left out limited editions/discontinued perfumes like Marc Jacobs Fig splash and Bath & Body Works Brown Sugar & Fig.
Haus of Gloi Insalata Nocturna Perfume Oil – It’s more of a tangy lemon but it does have bitter greens of fig and basil. It’s a green citrus. It’s only $12 at Haus of Gloi. Review here. The bath products layer nicely under many of the perfumes in this guide and that’s mainly why I included this one in this guide.
Lucy B. Royal Green Fig & Vanilla Woods Perfume Oil – For the price, this is a great fig. It’s sweet with vanilla and coconut but has a hint of green fig leaves. It’s like “creamy green”. It’s one of my favorite beach scents. Retails for $19 at Beautyhabit. An EDP spray is also available but I like how the oil emphasizes the perfume’s creaminess. Review here.
Demeter Fig Leaf Cologne – This one gets compared to Diptyque Philosykos a lot because it’s a green fig leaf with sandalwood. I really like it but it does wear like a cologne (1 to 3 hours max wear). I don’t complain about it because it’s $20 at Demeter.
Pacifica Mediterranean Fig EDP – This is another one that isn’t bad at all for the price. It’s a greener fig over sandalwood. Retails for $22 at Pacfica. Review here. The bath and body products are great too.
Infusion Organics Buddha’s Fig EDP – It surprises me that I don’t hear more about this brand because their perfumes are a great value. This fig is surprisingly Diptyque Philosykos-ish. It’s warm woods with milky figs. Retails for $35 at Infusion Organique. Review here.
Comptoir Sud Pacifique Coco Figue EDT – This is a super sweet fig. It’s more coconut tanning lotion with a gourmand nuttiness. But, it does have a fruity, jammy fig thing going on in there. Retails for $36 at Sephora.
Fragonard Figuier Fleur EDT – This is a dry, green fig with spices and sheer florals. Retails for $48 at Beautyhabit.
Roger et Gallet Fleur de Figuier EDT – This is like a sheer, fruity fig that reminds me of fig jam. Retails for $51 at C.O. Bigelow.
Laura Mercier Eau Gourmande Fresh Fig EDT- This is one of those rare figs that focuses more on the fruit. It’s a sweet fig with stone fruits. Retails for $55 at Nordstrom.
Sonoma Scent Studio Fig Tree EDP – A dry, woodsy fig that a lot of people that usually dislike figs end up liking. It’s a fig tree so this one leans more woodsy. Retails for $75 at Sonoma Scent Studio. Review here.
DSH Perfumes Wild Fig EDP – A milky, sweet fig with creamy woods and tonka. Retails for $80 at DSH Perfumes.
Atelier Cologne Figuier Ardant EDP – It’s a familiar theme of spices, green fig and cedarwood. It’s a theme that works so that’s why we keep seeing it. Retails for $85 at Sephora.
Marc Jacobs Men EDT – Gourmand, coconut-ish fig marketed to men with an addition of sweet tonka and evergreens. For a designer masculine, I think it’s great. Retails for $86 at Nordstrom.
Diptyque Philosykos EDT – This is like the “go to” fig for so many people. It’s what they think of when they think “fig perfume”. At this stage, it’s become the standard. Retails for $90 at Nordstrom. It’s also available as an EDP which is slightly different. Full review here.
Bvlgari Eau Parfumée Au Thé Rouge EDP – This is mostly a zesty tea with citrus but the fruity fig and spices are noticeable. It’s so refreshing so it’s excellent for summer. Retails for $97 at Sephora. Review here.
Mugler Womanity EDP – It’s a love it or hate it fragrance, I love it. It’s fruity fig and red berries, ozonic florals, candy floss and sea salt. This is exactly what I wanted Mugler to do with fig. Retails for $98 at Nordstrom. Review here.
Hermès Un Jardin Un Méditterranée EDT – It’s an abstract citrus fig that comes across as a refreshing tea fragrance. Green, dewy and crisp. Retails for $99 at Nordstrom.
L’Artisan Premier Figuier Extreme EDP – This is another one of those that people think about when they think of fig perfumes. It’s green but sweeter with notes of coconut and vanilla. There’s a non-“Extreme” version which frankly, I do’t like because it disappears so quickly on my skin and doesn’t have the depth and dimension of this one. Extreme goes for $120 at Beautyhabit.
Lubin L’Eau Figaro EDP – It’s an astringent fragrance with fig. It’s sharp citrus, sharp evergreens and sharp woods. The fig in this is fruity and sweet, balancing this composition. Retails for $120 at Beautyhabit.
Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger Figue Fruitée EDP – It’s a creamy fig with leather and stewed plums. It’s a “darker fig”. Retails for $128 at Beautyhabit.
Chabaud Fleur de Figuier EDP – This is a green, herbal fig with fig leaves and lavender. Retails for $135 at Osswald.
Carthusia IO EDP – It’s a dry, bitter fig with tea. Not sweet at all. Retails for $140 at C.O. Bigelow.
Byredo Pulp EDP – It’s like a rotting/too ripe fruit orchard in late summer/early fall. It’s more of a fruity fig with other fruits. It’s another one of those that reminds me of childhood. Retails for $150 at Luckyscent.
Malin + Goetz Moroccan Fig EDT – It’s a sheer green fig with cedarwood. It’s like Philosykos-Lite. Goes for $150 at C.O. Bigelow.
Slumberhouse Pear & Olive EDP – Disclaimer, this perfume has been messed with a few times so I can’t say the current bottle is anything like the bottle that I own. Even though fig isn’t listed, no other perfume has reminded me of childhood and fig trees, fig fruit and summer malaise more than this one. Retails for $160 at Luckyscent.
Giorgio Armani Privé Figuier Eden EDT – It’s that reoccurring theme or bitter, green fig and citrus. This time it’s paired with a soapy iris. I think of this perfume like fancy Italian bar soap. Retails for $165 at Neiman Marcus.
Andree Putman Figue en Fleur EDP – Woodsy, green fig with woods that is less creamy than the classics like Diptyque‘s. Retails for $175 at Beautyhabit.
Le Labo Thé Noir 29 EDP – It’s like black tea and green fig leaves. Retails for $175 at Nordstrom.
Parfumerie Generale Bois Naufragé EDP – It’s a salty, seaside fig with fig and ambergris. It manages to be fresh ut also really cozy. Retails for $179 at Osswald.
Aftelier Fig EDP – I don’t really think of this one as a fig but I know that someone is going to mention it, so here it is. It’s like a dried, chewy fig and evergreens. Retails for $180 at Aftelier. Review here. Also, I think it’s the only all-natural perfume in this guide.
Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka EDP – In comparison to most in this guide, this one is more complex so it’s not as straight-forward on the fig front. It’s an aggressive blend of green fig and incense. It’s bittersweet. Retails for $235 at Luckyscent. Review here.
Profomum Ichnusa EDP – I love this one because it’s a green, grassy fig. It’s the perfect marriage of refreshing vetiver and fig. It’s a must try for those that like green perfumes. Retails for $250 at Osswald.
To simplify this guide for beginners, here’s my “Fig Must-Tries” to show the range of fig are:
- For “classic” creamy green figs: Diptyque Philosykos, L’Artisan Premier Figuier Extreme or HEELEY Figuier
- For fruity figs: Byredo Pulp or Roger et Gallet Fleur de Figuier
- Green, grassy figs: Profumum Ichnusa or Terveer Green
- Woodsy figs: Sonoma Scent Studio Fig Tree
- Gourmand, sweet dessert-y figs: Laura Mercier Fresh Fig or the weirder Mugler Womanity
- Mediterranean vacation figs AKA figs with citrus: Acqua de Parma Fico de Almafi, Annick Goutal Ninfeo Mio or Hermès Un Jardin Un Méditterranée
If you choose one to sample from each of these categories, you’ll have a better understanding of figs in perfumery.
Also, if you haven’t had a ripe, fresh fig get on that. There are many different varieties of figs which is an entirely different conversation than this, but please, taste a fig that hasn’t been dried and doesn’t feel like chewy grit in your mouth.
When it comes to fig perfumes, my least favorites are those dried, gourmand fig fragrances mainly because dried figs are my least favorite way to consume figs. I called these “mummified figs” growing up. However, I’ll wear those gourmand figs, occasionally. I prefer my figs green and leafy as if I’m exiting Eden.
If you are a fan of fig perfumes, do you have a “type”? Do you like the green figs? Citrus, seaside figs? Gourmand figs? If you aren’t a fan then I don’t know why you would click on a post dedicated to fig perfumes.
*Prices based on what many US retailers charge for the smallest full-size bottle as of summer 2016.
¹After I had this post ready to go and scheduled, a friend shared with me this wonderful article in The New Yorker that celebrates the mysteries, symbolism and joy of figs.