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I was vehemently a one-signature perfume girl a couple of years ago, but now I have a small menagerie. Life is too short and there are too many divine scents to box myself in because of some idea of chic womanhood I probably learned from a magazine as a tween. I’ve been making up for the decade or so of lost time — smelling and testing whatever I can get my hands on. Of the dozens of perfumes I’ve tried, five have really stuck out and now make up my fragrance wardrobe.
Whether you’re looking for something new for yourself or a thoughtful gift for a loved one as the holidays approach, read more about my five favorite fragrances below.
Vacation “Vacation” Eau de Toilette
The incredible ‘80s marketing and aesthetic is what initially got me into the suncare brand Vacation, but now I have a genuine adoration of its products. Its perfume, “Vacation” by Vacation, smells like the nostalgia of childhood summers — spending all day at the pool, eating while still soaking wet and draped in a towel, sunscreen leaking in beach bags, salt water — the list goes on. Plus, I simply like the retro vibe of the bottle on my dresser.
D.S. & Durga Steamed Rainbow
This is potentially the best perfume I have smelled or tried in the last 10 years so bear with me as I try to describe the scent that has me so enamored. Honestly, it smells like nothing in the way that it smells like everything. True to its name, it has the ephemeral nature of a rainbow — from one angle you won’t be able to see anything, but from the right angle you get to see ROYGBIV.
The notes that are the most potent to me when I spray it are green cedar, indigo grass, and red mandarin. But when I smell it on my sister, I get hints of green cedar as well as violet and blue almond flower. That’s another part of its allure —D.S. & Durga’s Steamed Rainbow is one of those perfumes that is very good at adapting to the individual wearing it.
Byredo Bal d’Afrique
There is a Byredo hand soap called Suede that I am obsessed with. I wish I could slug my body in it every day. Alas, it doesn’t come in perfume form, but its Bal d’Afrique fragrance is pretty close. If you’re familiar with Byredo you’ve likely heard of this one, as it’s one of its hero scents with good reason.
This is a strong fragrance, not suitable for the light-hearted. I like it, especially in the fall and winter when perfumes can get buried under the layers of clothing. This isn’t the case here. It has an underlying sweetness cut by a hint of cedarwood and unexpected tinges of floral courtesy of violet.
Yes, this is an expensive perfume, but it’s an investment that will last you a long time. If you are on the fence about the fragrance or the price, an affordable way to test drive Bal d’Afrique is with the $48 scented hand cream.
Chanel Chance Eau de Toilette Spray
I like the smell of the iconic Chanel No. 5 Parfum but if I’m being honest, it reminds me of my grandmothers. I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense at all — my grandmothers all actually wore this. I look forward to wearing it in a couple of decades, but for now, I think Chance by Chanel better suits me. It’s spicy and sweet, floral yet the smallest bit woodsy, indulgent but light. The fragrance notes that are the most pungent on me are jasmine, some patchouli, and bergamot.
DedCool Milk Layering Fragrance
Do you have an oil, a perfume, a scent, or anything fragranced that you love that you wish was just a little bit stronger or longer lasting? Let me introduce you to the solution: DedCool’s Milk Layering Fragrance. Think of this as the perfectly tailored white T-shirt of your fragrance wardrobe. It has very subtle notes of musk and bergamot, but that is not how it’s going to smell on you.
Layered with your favorite perfume, say Byredo Bal d’Afrique, it’s going to make the scent last way longer and make it smell more like you. If you wear it on its own, it’ll smell like you but better. People will never suspect you’re wearing anything; they’ll simply remark (in my experience) that your skin has a divine smell to it.
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