Trending now: The anti-perfume perfume

Trending now: The anti-perfume perfume

Uncommon scents

Text: Renée Batchelor

Image: Sephora; Glossier

If you're tired of perfumes that are seemingly over-designed and artificial, the new craze for fragrances that are pared-back and more natural might resonate with you

If you haven't heard of the beauty brand Glossier, started by Into the Gloss founder and former Vogue intern Emily Weiss, where have you been? The brand has started the trend for minimalist beauty products and cooler-than-thou packaging that seems tailormade for millennials. On a recent trip to New York, Buro Singapore's Editor-in-Chief Norman, even came back with Balm Dotcoms for the whole team (thanks Norman!), along with a sample of the new scent Glossier You.

Whether intentionally or not, the scent reminded us a lot of Juliette Has a Gun's Not a Perfume, that we used to wear religiously some seven years ago when it was first launched. Like Glossier You, Not a Perfume stripped-down the many layers of a perfume — which let's face it can almost make a scent smell nauseatingly candied and artificial at times — to use just one note, cetalox, which was actually used in perfumery as a base note. The result? A clean, quietly intoxicating fragrance that almost smells like you... only better.

Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume

After trying out Glossier You on our skin, we had to conclude that though there were similarities, the two fragrances had very different notes. Glossier You was created by perfumers Frank Voelkl and Dora Baghriche. Voelkl co-created the cult favourite, Le Labo Santal 33, so Weiss was certainly looking to create a standout fragrance with Glossier's first offering. It has base notes of ambrette, ambrex and musk, and top notes of iris root and pink pepper. On the site, Glossier says,"Each note was chosen and balanced to allow the juice to be both long-lasting and true to how it smells at the beginning, without changing as it dries down. In other words, it's heavy on the base notes. Mostly it smells like you: That familiar human-y note that makes up the body of what you're smelling." The scent description is creamy, sparkling, clean and warm — think baby powder and a freshly-soaped body. Thus far, Glossier You seems to be a hit, but unfortunately it doesn't ship worldwide, you'll have to grab it overseas or by other ingenious methods. Luckily Juliette Has a Gun, started retailing in Sephora stores here earlier in 2018.

Glossier You

Cult haircare brand OUAI has also created roll-on scents that were inspired by the fragrances of its haircare and styling products. It's the first time we've heard of a hair product serving as inspiration for a perfume, but when you hear how much thought goes into each product's scent, it makes perfect sense. Says founder Jen Atkin when she was here in October for her brand launch, "Most haircare smelled like little girl or old lady. I wanted something with modern tones and scents. We spent the most time and money on the fragrances because we used the same company as Tom Ford does for his fragrances." They have been recaptured into tiny fragrance oils that you can carry in your purse with the three scents are named after famous shopping streets: Melrose Place, Rue St. Honore and Mercer St. The notes are not hugely different, from what you might experience in your typical perfume — violet, ylang ylang, iris, rose and white musk — but again they're meant to be rubbed into your skin to combine with your own natural scent and body temperature. Seen as a limited venture, these are only available on the OUAI website which sadly, doesn't ship here. Plus you'll have to sign up on OUAI's site, if you don't want to miss the final drop. Hopefully you have nice US-based friends who will send them over, if you ask nicely.


It seems like a lot of these new, cult fragrances are pretty hard to get your hands on, but there are other options available here. Escentials stocks Byredo, which has its own 'anti-perfume' the Kabuki Perfume that is a powder fragrance you brush on with an attached kabuki brush. These come in three scents, Blanche, Gypsy Water and Bal D'Afrique, and it can be dusted on hard-to-reach areas without feeling heavy and obtrusive on the skin. A note of warning: These scents are very, very subtle. But like the others on our list, the're the perfect antidote to heavy, heady scents that knock you over the head like sledgehammer. 


Byredo Kabuki fragrances in Bal D'Afrique, Gypsy Water and Blanche, $79 each