Many people have an aversion to perfumes, often associating them with the chemically scent of a malls' fragrance department that puts you in a dizzying haze. Perfume oils, while more concentrated, offer a more understated appeal, and won’t offend anyone in a packed elevator. Many laud perfume oils as a more “sensual” take on fragrance, seeping into the skin for a more personal scent experience. Still not a convert? Oils have a lower price point than most fragrances and are a great alternative for those with perfume allergies. Here are five of those we are coveting!
Founder Susan d. Owens credits InStyle as the launching pad of Child ($59-98, ronrobinson.com), pinpointing Jennie Garth’s declaration in a January 2000 Beauty Talk that, “Guys are all over you if you wear it, so just be prepared,” as when the fragrance “went from an obscure hidden perfume to a well known perfume overnight.” Other celebs, including Ashlee Simpson and Jacinda Barrett have chimed in with their praise for the jasmine-based fragrance, with Simpson telling us, “If I want to throw on a dress at night and go out to dinner-and be a little sexy-then I’ll wear Child.” Not one for white florals? Try Heir ($59-98, robrobinson.com), Child’s male equivalent with notes of woods, leather, and lime.
NOVA fragrance studio, a custom perfumery run by perfumer Julia Zangrilli, collaborated with cool-girl brand Madewell for a limited edition pheremonal oil ($75) available exclusively at the the brand's Williamsburg location. Zangrilli says the scent, comprised of Indian Sandalwood, Keemun Tea and White Musk, is "great for layering."
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen added "perfumers" to their extensive resume with the release of 2013's Nirvana Black and Nirvana White Eau de Parfums under their line, Elizabeth and James. The new alcohol-free perfume oil versions ($35, sephora.com) combine the notes of the original scents with safflower and evening primrose oils.
New York based apothecary brand Malin+Goetz launched its perfumery back in 2007, spawning guy-approved scents like the best-selling Dark Rum Eau de Toilette. The unisex rollerballs (meaning you can steal them!) ($50 each/$140 for set, malinandgoetz.com) are the perfumery’s newest venture, featuring Petitgrain, Cannabis, and Dark Rum scents.
We’ve featured Kai ($48, nordstrom.com), the white flower-based oil, inspired by the tropical vacations of perfumer Gaye Straza’s youth, several times since its debut back in 1988. The fragrance’s cult-like following includes celeb fans like Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Naomi Watts, who told us she liked its subtlety, saying, “It’s fresh, not too strong.”
Kiehl’s has been concocting goodies for body, skin, and hair since 1851, including 122 variations of "essence oils," in its original “Kiehl Pharmacy” location. The musk oil ($26, kiehls.com) is the only one currently being sold by the company, and great for a guy who's wary of standard colognes.