Vanilla perfumes are having a moment and there’s no denying that the most popular among them is Kayali’s Vanilla 28 perfume. The fragrance is constantly out of stock and has countless rave reviews on PerfumeTok and Sephora. But is Vanilla 28 actually worth the hype? Because listen, finding a good vanilla perfume can be tough. There’s a certain Goldilocks quality to vanilla perfumes; some are too sugary sweet, and some are a bit too mature.
So to make sure Vanilla 28 is deserving of it’s cult-like following, I tested the perfume for weeks, read hella reviews, and even compared it to other favorites in my collection. Keep scrolling to learn more about Vanilla 28, as well as what it smells like, what everyone on the internet has to say about it, and whether or not it’s worth putting on your fragrance wishlist.
A quick primer on the brand first. Kayali was founded by Mona Kattan, whose name you might recognize if you’re a beauty lover, as she’s the sister to Huda Kattan, founder of Huda Beauty. Kayali actually sits under the Huda Beauty umbrella, so you can buy the perfumes directly from the Huda site and bundle your favorite setting powder with your perfume.
Mona is Middle Eastern and lives in Dubai, which often inspires many of the brand’s scents. There’s a huge focus on ultra-rich fragrances, and most perfumes are designed to be layered with other scents.
What does Kayali Vanilla 28 smell like?
“Vanilla 28 is like putting whipped cream on your favorite dessert,” says Mona. “It’s sweet and delicious, due to the incredible ingredients—vanilla orchid, tonka, and brown sugar.” Raise your hand if you just got hungry reading this.
The scent itself is a very elevated vanilla scent, layered with musk and amber, so it isn’t a an overly sweet sugar cookie vanilla scent by any means. Like, if vanilla were a person, this isn’t vanilla as a child (sweet and sugary) but rather vanilla going through her teenage Tumblr era (dark, complicated, and spicy). I immediately get whiffs of the vanilla and brown sugar in this fragrance, which comes off both ultra-warm and cozy. But then I get hints of the deeper notes, like patchouli and tonka bean. But there’s also a little lightness in the opening from a lil floral-y jasmine. It’s definitely sweet, but also a bit more layered. (Wink: This is exactly why Cosmo beauty editor Beth Gillette ranked this as the best vanilla perfume in 2023.)
Mona notes that it’s perfect when worn alone or layered with any of your current fragrance favorites if you want to sweeten the scent or make it extra cozy. “Vanilla as a note is nostalgic and comforting, which is why it’s such a popular note in fragrance,” she explains.
Are Kayali perfumes long-lasting?
Yes, in my experience, Kayali perfumes, including Vanilla 28, are super long-lasting. “Kayali fragrances are made with high-quality ingredients such as natural vanilla, as well as a high concentration of perfume oil to ensure they last all day and night,” explains Mona. For the newly initiated, perfume oils are typically more concentrated and, therefore, linger on the skin much longer.
Here’s a pro tip to make your perfume last longer: Apply the fragrance to your pulse points, which will help intensify the fragrance and encourage a lil more projection. Plus, I also always spritz my Kayali Vanilla 28 on my clothes to majorly increase the staying power (like, I typically get a day or two of wear on my clothes if I don’t wash them!).
My Kayali Vanilla 28 review:
I love the warm, cozy scent of this perfume and notice a little goes a long way. I’m pretty sensitive to fragrance, so it’s usually difficult for me to indulge in rich perfumes like this one for the most part. Since this scent is so rich, I’ll spray just a lil bit on my skin so it’s not overpowering or intense (otherwise, I’ll get into headache territory).
But I am majorly loving it as a layering fragrance with other perfumes. I’ll just spritz a little bit on my skin, then immediately spray on more of another fragrance. It’s the easiest way to create my own, unique signature scent. Majorly giving It-girl status.
Overall, I’d say Kayali Vanilla 28 is especially perfect for those who crave a vanilla scent that has a lil more sophistication and depth than say Bath & Body Works’ Warm Vanilla Sugar (no shade to Bath & Body Works, as a child of the suburbs I did line up for their sale every year).
Here are a few other glowing reviews from Sephora testers:
“When you spray this perfume it smells super floral at first. But let her cook, y’all. Fifteen to twenty minutes later, you’ll smell divine!!! I hated this perfume when I smelled it when it came out, but it smells much better on me now. If your skin tends to pick up floral notes, you may not love this perfume. However, on my skin, I don’t smell the floral notes at all. I love this!”
“I’m a cleaner in a huge office building, and I’ve been told by multiple people they know if I’ve been in their section of the building recently due to the lingering scent of chocolate-chip cookies! Fair warning though: You might make a lot of people crave cookies/sweet chocolate, hahaha!”
“I do not find this find this to be a typical, bland vanilla. The brown sugar and amber are reminiscent of mall bath-shop fragrances. However, this is elevated and refined. The sweetness has been toned down. This is a beautiful composition of vanilla and complementary warming scents. One spritz of the sampler, and I was hooked. Well done!”
“Kayali Vanilla 28 is ideal for vanilla lovers looking for their next favorite. It’s warm, creamy, and utterly captivating. With its sweet aroma and incredible lasting power on mu skin, it could easily become your signature scent. It’s definitely one of mine!”
Love Kayali Vanilla 28? Try one of these other top-rated vanilla perfumes:
Why trust Cosmopolitan?
Iman Balagam is a beauty contributor at Cosmopolitan with nearly three years of experience writing beauty stories that range from curling irons to mini flat irons. She’s an authority in all beauty categories, but is an expert when it comes to perfumes, thanks to years of personally researching and testing different scents and brands.
Iman Balagam is a freelance writer who has been in the beauty industry for nearly five years. She has written for and contributed to top women’s magazines and digital brands such as Harper’s BAZAAR, Allure, Byrdie, Elle and more. She will try *nearly* anything and spends a lot of time looking for new ways to store her beauty products in a small New York apartment.