There’s no other type of beauty product that is more personal than fragrance. Individual scent preferences aside, even the same fragrance will smell slightly different on every individual, based on how it interacts with your skin’s chemistry and pH. The list of perfumes that are universal crowd-pleasers is short, but there’s perhaps no better example than Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540. It was intended to be a limited-edition launch when it first hit the market in 2016, when only 250 bottles were released. Flash forward to today and it’s arguably one of the most cult-classic fragrances out there.
What makes Baccarat Rouge 540 so special? For starters, it’s surprisingly versatile. “It’s exotic and luxurious, yet balanced enough to wear everyday,” says fragrance expert Leila Zagwolsky. (Clipboard that luxurious part, because we’ll come back to that in a minute.) In stark contrast to many other perfumes, it’s made of only seven ingredients, but blends a variety of notes that make it hard to put it into one olfactory category. Floral jasmine, spicy saffron, fresh cedarwood, and sweet ambergris are all combined together into one unique end result that has at least one element most people will gravitate toward. Now, back to the luxury part. It not only smells expensive—TikTokers have described it as “swimming in Scrooge McDuck’s vault”—it is expensive. Bottles range from $325 to a whopping $625 depending on the size. So, if you’re looking for a more affordable alternative—and/or just want something a little different than what everyone else is wearing—keep reading.
The notes in this perfume are almost identical to the ones of Baccarat Rouge 540, namely saffron, jasmine, and ambergris. (Many Amazon reviewers comment on how similar the two are.) It has the same warmth and sweetness to it, and it doesn’t hurt that the gold bottle is chic and expensive-looking, too.
Price at time of publish: $67
Key Notes: Saffron, amber wood, ambergris, jasmine | Size: 60 mL | Cruelty-Free: Yes
“This performs and projects just like Baccarat Rouge 540,” says Zagwolsky. It has similar notes and a full-bodied profile, combining jasmine and amber with rose that adds a touch of softness to the middle notes. There’s saffron in the top notes, but it’s paired with citrus and ginger to make this slightly lighter and more refreshing.
Price at time of publish: $105
Key Notes: Saffron, citrus, amber, jasmine, rose | Size: 60 mL | Cruelty-Free: Unknown
According to Zagwolsky, this is a nice unisex option. Tonka bean cuts the sweetness (which comes from a brown sugar base note), but it still has notes of amber and saffron, she explains. Opening bergamot also gives it a pleasant freshness to further balance out the sweetness.
Price at time of publish: $220
Key Notes: Bergamot, saffron, rose, oud | Size: 100 mL | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Another one of Zagwolsky’s picks, this is an amberesque-oud that’s warm and spicy but also very sweet; credit the notes of date oil, which she says is very unique to any fragrance. It does dry down slightly less sweet, but keep in mind that it does have an intense silage that Zagwolsky says may turn heads.
Price at time of publish: $167
Key Notes: Saffron, oud, rose, dates, halva | Size: 50 mL | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Baccarat Rouge 540 is many things, but ‘fresh’ is not necessarily one of them. That’s why this is a nice alternative. It’s effervescent, thanks to top notes of bright orange blossom, says Zagwolsky. Additional citrus notes add to the freshness, which is balanced by rose and warmer amber and musk, which hearken back to those Baccarat Rouge 540 vibes.
Price at time of publish: $220
Key Notes: Citrus, orange blossom, rose, amber, musk | Size: 50 mL | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Spicy and woody, this is a twist on other ouds with top notes of fruity rhubarb and raspberry. Subtle touches of rose oil and precious woods in the base further round this out
Price at time of publish: $349
Key Notes: Rhubarb, raspberry, oud, amber, vanilla | Size: 100 mL | Cruelty-Free: Unknown
Ambergris, saffron, jasmine…here’s another pick that has almost the same notes as Baccarat Rouge 540. Where it differs: The addition of blackcurrant, moss, and rose, which make this come across as slightly lighter. And because the rose is fairly prominent, this also skews toward the more floral end of the spectrum (although not overtly so).
Price at time of publish: $100
Key Notes: Saffron, blackcurrant, rose, jasmine ambergris, moss | Size: 100 mL | Cruelty-Free: Yes
We’re not quite sure how they do it, but this brand is known for making inexpensive alternatives to some of the priciest fragrances out there—and this is no exception. It has all the usual suspects (including that oh-so important amber and saffron), but with some unique additions such as a plum and oakmoss to give it an ever-so-slightly different dry down.
Price at time of publish: $100
Key Notes: Saffron, orange blossom, cedarwood, amber, plum | Size: 50 mL | Cruelty-Free: Yes
For those who are intrigued by how warm Baccarat Rouge 540 is, this is another good option. You definitely have to like amber, as it’s the primary note here, combined with cedarwood and vanilla orchid that lend a slightly gourmand touch. It’s, in a word, cozy, a great choice for fall or winter.
Price at time of publish: $108
Key Notes: Amber, cedarwood, vanilla orchid | Size: 50 mL | Cruelty-Free: Yes
While not necessarily as directly similar to Baccarat Rouge 540 as some of the other options on this list, this is a great pick for anyone looking for cleaner, more natural fragrance. The brand discloses all of its ingredients (rare in the fragrance world) and is EWG-verified. It contains some of the same notes as Baccarat Rouge 540, just used differently; for example, jasmine is used as a middle note rather than at the top and amber woods are at the base rather than the middle. Peach and bergamot add a slightly fruity element that balances the other notes nicely.
Price at time of publish: $120
Key Notes: Peach, bergamot, musk, jasmine | Size: 50 mL | Cruelty-Free: Yes
If you’re looking for an alternative to Baccarat Rouge 540, you have options. The Al Haramain Amber Oud Rouge Eau De Parfum Spray and Mancera Instant Crush Eau De Parfum are two nearly identical choices, as is the Dossier Ambery Saffron, the latter of which also rings in at a fraction of the price.
What to Look for in a Perfume Similar to Baccarat Rouge 540
According to Zagwolsky, amber is a key part of the scent profile you’re looking for so make sure to seek that out. “From there, if the fragrance also has woods, saffron, and floral notes of jasmine or rose, you’re likely on the right path,” she says.
This is the French word for “wake” and essentially refers to the scent a perfume leaves behind as it evaporates. Baccarat Rouge 540 has a long sillage—generally associated with heavier or more intense perfumes—so if you want something that’s close to it, look for fragrances that also have a long sillage.
What are the key notes of Baccarat Rouge 540?
Saffron, jasmine, amberwood, ambergris, and cedarwood are some of the key notes.
What does Baccarat Rouge 540 smell like?
It’s hard to describe, given that it has so many different notes that all blend together. But it’s warm and multi-dimensional, slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and slightly woody.
Why is Baccarat Rouge 540 so popular?
“It’s both timeless and unique, and has the perfect balances of notes, projection, and longevity,” says Zagwolsky, who adds that the scent is also very alluring.