Perfume Directory

Cinnabar (1978)
by Estée Lauder


Cinnabar information

Year of Launch1978
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 190 votes)

People and companies

HouseEstée Lauder
PackagingIra Levy
Parent CompanyEstee Lauder Companies

About Cinnabar

Cinnabar is a feminine perfume by Estée Lauder. The scent was launched in 1978 and the bottle was designed by Ira Levy

Cinnabar fragrance notes

Reviews of Cinnabar

The current version is a will-o'-the-wisp compared to its original self. I recently bought a bottle for old times' sake, and expected to like it in spite of reformulation, but no. It's pleasant, but it barely even smells spicy to me and I can't differentiate any of the dissonant notes that used to make it interesting. Very little remains of the storied olfactory resemblance between Cinnabar and Opium or Youth Dew. Such a shame.
16th December, 2015 (last edited: 27th December, 2015)

Another great fragrnce by Estée Lauder.CINNABAR is a mysterious realm of temptation and intrigue. everything about it says of seductive.It is similiar OPIUM but less strong and hypnotic than it. A real head turner for a femme fatale.Complex, Heady,Spicy, bewitching,timeless,Rich,Sensual, and Classic.

A heady and strong opening of spices,peach,bergmot and Orange blossom into a floral heart of rose,lily, jasmine,ylang-ylang and cinnamon,can reveal some of its alluring potential.finally an sensual base notes of incense,vanilla,amber,patchouli and sandalwood bring sex appeal to this perfume.

This sensual timeless classic is for a cold evening in a dark cabaret as this perfume is absolutely intoxicating.I absolutely love this perfume and recommend it to any woman who wants to leave a lasting impression on those she meets.sensuality in a bottle.


Longevity?Very good on my skin.

13th June, 2015
A very similar type perfume to Opium, but sweeter, softer and sickly. I remember that when Cinnabar was first made, it had the subtitle "Soft Youth Dew", on the box and bottle. (I haven't smelled Youth Dew for a long time, and I remember it as almost identical to Opium, but less sweet; and not cloying like Cinnabar).

Though I used to love Opium in the 1980s, I have never been fond of Cinnabar, despite their similarities. Pungent and not very pleasant - I'm afraid I have to give Cinnabar a thumbs down.
31st July, 2014
Genre: Oriental

Cinnabar is a product of the same grand scale oriental aesthetic as Opium and Chanel’s Coco. Which is to say that it’s a dense, sweet, spicy scent with a heavy amber foundation. The heart is an opaque blend of cinnamon, clove, jasmine, patchouli, and vanilla with a highly uniform texture and a syrupy olfactory consistency. Like Opium and Coco it is extremely potent, but of the three it is perhaps the least angular, with more emphasis on floral notes in the heart and a more powdery vanilla, amber, and opoponax drydown. While it is a measure less garish than Opium, it can also feel somewhat dull or nondescript by comparison. Prettier in conventional terms perhaps, but leaving less of an impression once it’s gone. On the other hand, Cinnabar is decidedly more dense than Coco, next to which it strikes me as a little bit blocky, crude, or awkward.

I’ve read it posited on Basenotes and elsewhere that Cinnabar may have been the template for Aramis’s JHL. If that’s the case, more conspicuous woods and more differentiated spices lend JHL a sharper and more distinctive profile, and now that it’s once again available, I recommend JHL as a viable alternative to Cinnabar for both men and women. For a more nuanced approach to the spicy oriental, I also advocate Parfums de Nicolaï’s Maharanih and Maharadjah or Diptyque’s magnificent Eau Lente. Then of course there’s still always Shalimar…
11th June, 2014
Spicy Oriental similar to Lauder's own Youth Dew and Dana's Tabu

Like her own Youth Dew of the early 1950s, and the darker Tabu of Dana, this is a spicy oriental, perhaps an attempt to cash in on YSL's classic 1976 oriental, Opium.

Cinnabar, from 1978, does manage to float a light peachy, plum, clove, cinnamon cloud over its solid amber, patchouli, vanilla base that differentiates it from the more linear Youth Dew.

Its only drawback, and this is slight, is its price. Not terrible, but twice as much as what Youth Dew and Tabu are asking for in the current market.

I see Cinnabar as a middle ground between Youth Dew and Opium, straining to duplicate the classy sophistication of the latter, but using the former as its starting point.

Recommended for any lover of spicy orientals.

Pros: Wonderful spicy oriental scent
Cons: Too similar to Youth Dew and Tabu, both less expensive

21st June, 2013
Thumbs up for a small vintage Cinnabar perfume--a very dark juice that smells like a smiling (American) version of original Opium.

Thumbs down: I found a just-before-the-most-recent reformulation of the edp on a dusty bottom shelf of an Ulta in the middle of nowhere and excitedly tested out the still oakmoss-laden classic hoping to score a large bottle to use with abandon. While the original radiated warmth and depth and a deceptively wholesome sensuality, this formulation came on with no subtlety. The top notes: a cacophany of citrus and citronella. The drydown grew stronger by the hour somehow, wilting into Christmas potpourri. I believe synthetic sandalwood was mixed with the still real oakmoss extract to dissonant effect. Or perhaps the known enforced reduction of oakmoss content created an imbalance in the formula? At any rate a jarring asymmetry made this Cinnabar unrecognizable.

The neutral: the newest formulation with more synthetics is in fact more cohesive and post-drydown is recognizably some kind of take on the original Cinnabar, but best of all vintage Cinnabar remains a retro-70s comfort scent for a siren; this penultimate formulation, though, needs an ambulance and is better left unsought. In any incarnation, this is remarkably long-lasting (all day), large (fill a room), fire and spice, and ideally for cold weather and dramatic personalities. A diva doing fondue at a ski lodge.
01st October, 2012

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