Why Barely There Scents Are the Next Big Thing

By | 2017-11-07T19:13:29+00:00 November 7th, 2017|The Beauty Edit|

Here are the brands helping you smell like you, only better.

When you ask someone what their favourite smell is, most people respond with a scent that reminds them of their favourite person. Not the fragrance that person wears, but their skin. Their sweat. Their specific smell. “There is nothing more sensual than the scent of clean skin,” says Greta Fitz, vice president of global marketing for Clean Reserve Fragrances. No wonder brands have been trying to capture that skin smell in fragrance for years — it’s because we all love it.

Fragrance is by nature a very personal purchase, but “skin scents” take it a step further, offering up a complement to popular trends, like I-just-woke-up-like-this bedhead and no-makeup makeup. It’s you — just slightly more polished and put together. Fitz suggests that people aren’t looking to necessarily make a statement with their fragrance any more, but are looking for something simple to satisfy themselves instead. “Consumers want to invite people into their space and are being more considerate to the environment around them,” she says. “Not just of the earth, but of the people around them as well.” Someone noticing and complimenting how you smell is great, but the truth is, “You smell great” is a much better compliment than, “What perfume are you wearing?”

So what’s the trick to choosing the right barely there scent? Simple formulations are key. Anything with too many or competing notes isn’t going to smell like skin. “Our skin is already comprised of musky qualities, so musks are big,” says Fitz. Brands often try to mimic that salty and sweet effect of skin in their formulations, too, so look for sweet notes (like vanilla) mingling with salty or watery accords. And skin scents tend to lean warm, so soft florals and notes like amber are noticeable.

Here, some of our favourite skin-inspired fragrances.

Glossier You, $75 at glossier.com.

Glossier You

The latest launch to join the skin scent category, Glossier You has notes that wear consistently — no dry down or changing over time. They include warming ambrette, salty ambrox, sensual musk, earthy iris root and spicy pink pepper. Combined, they are familiar and warm.

Clean Reserve Skin Fragance
Clean Reserve Skin, $130 at Sephora.

Clean Reserve Skin

Clean Reserve Skin is all about the subtle sweetness of the skin. It’s unfussy and completely wearable, with musk, soft florals (orchid and peony), tonka bean and salted praline. They mingle for a salty and sweet effect that envelops like cashmere.

Issey Miyake L'Eau D'Issey EDP
Issey Miyake L’eau d’Issey, $113 at Hudson’s Bay.

L’eau d’Issey

Your skin is 64% water, so it makes sense that a fragrance named water would make the skin scent list. The most favoured of aquatic perfumes, L’eau d’Issey, gives skin scent a fresh and slightly floral twist. Freesia, peony, lily, carnation, wood and osmanthus hit the skin with a zest, then dry down to a soft, subtle floral scent. It’s your skin after a day on the coast.

Narciso Rodriguez For Her EDT
Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Toilette, $125 at Sephora.

Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Toilette

Warm and sharp, this is the skin scent of seduction that transforms into a soft and powdery fragrance upon drying down. Top notes of bergamot, orange flower and osmanthus melt into a heart of amber and musk. Patchouli, vanilla and vetiver at the base offer up softness upon settling.

Serge Lutens Clair de Musc
Serge Lutens Clair de Musc, $150 at sergelutens.com.

Serge Lutens Clair de Musc

A stronger, muskier take on skin scent is this pick from Serge Lutens. Iris, musk, neroli and bergamot mingle for those who skin-like fragrance with a bit of kick. Not for wallflowers, this scent finds a way to make a statement without being in-your-face.

Escentric Molecules Molecule 01
Escentric Molecules Molecule 01, $135 USD at net-a-porter.com.

Escentric Molecules Molecule 01

This science-y scent contains one note: Iso E Super. It’s a molecule that is akin to cedarwood and happens to smell different to everyone. Reviewers claim that this fragrance gets more potent with age, and that you can hardly smell it on yourself upon first spritz. The brand says the scent comes and goes as it bonds with receptors in the olfactory system. The bottom line? You have to try this one for yourself to get your own unique skin scent.