What are they?
Skin scents do what they say on the tin (or, more likely, the highly Insta-worthy bottle): perfumes that smell like you, like skin. This might seem confusing, when the whole point of perfume is to make you smell less like skin.
Perfume has been around in different formats since 1200 BCE, but frequently carries the (kinda gross) history of being what french ladies used to cover up their B.O. in the 1600’s when they couldn’t afford to bathe frequently. Yum! So fragrance scented like skin turns the generally accepted usage of perfume on its head. But these light and relatively nondescript scents make for perfect daily wear, or a great alternative for people who don’t like smelling too heavily of ‘something’.
Why are they relevant?
The concept has been around for a while now – but it’s really blown up recently with the whole Glossier ‘You’ thing (the pink-and-red perfume you’ve been seeing on every It-Girl’s social media page lately). Up until now, because of the ‘skin’ scent being fairly ubiquitous, and the fact the whole thing sounds like The Emperor’s New Clothes, only more ‘niche’ perfumiers have explored the concept (I’ve never seen something being marketed as smelling like ‘skin’ in the Debenhams fragrance hall).
Do I need one?
Personally, I love skin scents. If you were to ask me what ‘kind’ of perfume I like, I couldn’t tell you. I like fresh scents, but I also like some oomf to a perfume. I like fruity, but I don’t want to smell like Hubba Bubba. I like sweet – but too much and I feel nauseous. I like masculine, but I also want to smell ‘girly’ (whatever that means). ‘Skin scents’ are therefore perfect. They’re all – and none – of the above. They’re hard to explain, but they just make you smell good – without really smelling of anything in particular. Skin scents are the fragrance equivalent of when a lipstick describes itself as ‘your lips but better’, they’re you, smelling your best. If this sounds like it might be your jam: you need one. Because the scents often rely heavily on your own bodily chemicals to create a unique scent, it’s actually difficult to pinpoint anyone who would dislike them.
What are your recommendations?
Best for: Looking great on the ‘gram.
Smells like: A fancy cosmetics hall. Being fresh out the shower and in your sexiest lingerie.
(Actually smells like): “ambrette: comfy, warm. ambrox: smooth, salty, animalistic. musk: long-lasting, addictive. iris root: earthy, green, woody. pink pepper: spice, sparkling”.
Escentric Molecules ‘Molecules 01’
Best for: Stealing from and/or sharing with your boyfriend.
Smells like: Fresh bedsheets and supermodels (probably).
(Actually smells like): “A woody, floral musk for women”.
Clean Reserve ‘Skin Blend’
Best for: Gifting to a skin scent skeptic.
Smells like: A comforting hug from a relative. The way your mum gets your washing to smell nice that you can’t quite replicate.
(Actually smells like): “Top notes: fresh musks, middle notes: warm skin accord, tonka beans. dry notes: salted praline”.
Do you have a favourite ‘skin’ scent? How would you describe them?