Perfume Directory

Chemistry (1994)
by Clinique

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Chemistry information

Year of Launch1994
GenderMasculine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 62 votes)

People and companies

HouseClinique
Parent CompanyEstee Lauder Companies

About Chemistry

Chemistry is a masculine fragrance by Clinique. The scent was launched in 1994

Chemistry fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of Chemistry

Clinique barely steps out from behind their theme as an exclusive brand for Women under the Estée Lauder umbrella of companies, much like it's exclusively-male counterpart, Aramis. However, both companies do cross over to the other side (dare I say Clinique does it more), and when it happens, interesting things are afoot. Chemistry (1994) isn't the first masculine scent to roll out from Clinique, that distinction goes to Tailoring (1984), a long-gone lavender citrus fragrance that was extremely staid even for its time, which has always sort of been Clinique's point: playing it safe. Everything is supposed to be allergy-free and their fragrances are no exception, so Clinique scents are very "in the pocket" whether for women or men, with the exception of maybe Calyx (1987), which was originally by Prescriptives and moved over to Clinque later on. Chemistry proves to be similarly subtle and safe, but it isn't necessarily a bad thing in this instance considering the context in which the stuff saw release, the relative style at the time overall, and the purpose behind the fragrance. Chemistry is designed to be a fragrance that works with the body's own natural "chemistry" to custom-tailor itself to the wearer. I don't know how true this ends up being, but for what it's worth, this is one smooth operator that gets the job of being sexy and subtle done.

Chemistry opens with some lemon, lavender, and mint, offering both a cool introduction and something comfortable enough to not feel challenging. Whenever mint is done in a fragrance I'm always left a little leery because either it's screaming peppermint or a sweet woodsy mint that goes unnoticed to my nose, but with Chemistry, it's a smooth spearmint like the kind found in Live Jazz (1998) but more subtle. From this opening, a delicate cyclamen and wild ginger note manifests, leading into a bit of coriander spice and pepper to make it a bit more piquant. Chemistry is no ordinary freshie in that it stays too comfortably in its bright citrus lane, coming more into a peppery floral bouquet after the minty lemon opening. Everything is very controlled, very meted out, and a tiny bit of orris root creeps in to provide a soapy smell that is also really uncommon in a 90's perfume, making Chemistry feel like a minimalist Paco Rabanne Pour Homme (1973) in a sense. The base of amber, oakmoss, cedar, and sandalwood is everything but fougère for lack of tonka/coumarin, but might as well be in the final effect. There isn't a lot of personality to Chemistry, but there also is a lot of uniqueness too, so I can see how the perfumer was banking on the natural "musks" of the wearer to fill in the gap here since the white musk note in it is so slight. I'd say this wears best in an office, with a 6+ hour wear time that is suited for medium to hot weather, but is also generalist enough for all occasions outside extreme cold weather. If you have any "chemistry" with this scent, you'll know within moments of trying it. As for being sexy, well maybe in 1994, but definitely not as much in the 21st century.

Chemistry doesn't feel like a huge breakthrough despite its promises, but has somehow held on enough to stay itself from discontinuation, unlike Clinique Tailoring, even if it is seen few places outside maybe Ulta or a Clinique counter. Chemistry epitomizes 90's beige minimalism on one hand, but also showcases some unusual inventiveness on the other, and even if it is a typical soft-spoken 90's fresh fragrance, it has that weird 70's aromatic soapy throwback edge that makes it somehow more masculine than most things in this category. I am torn, but will give Chemistry a thumb up for being enjoyable, and thoroughly original, even though my opinion on the stuff will likely be unpopular. Everything about Chemistry from the packaging to the smell is meant to scream "safe", but at the same time, it dares to try and use the body essence of the wearer as pieces to a puzzle in a way not seen in a masculine designer fragrance since Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme (1971), which is worth some merit. Most looking for more distinction from their fragrance will skip onto Happy for Men (1996), and rightly so, but this "skin cologne" (perhaps borrowing a gimmick from 1988's Aramis New West) is something of an underdog survivor from the 90's that needs to be experienced at least once if one is to understand the extreme back-to-basics zeal that struck the decade. Definitely test before running in blind, but I'd say if you want something irrefutably 90's but also not the usual blue or geranium-filled juice from the period, Chemistry is a good reasonable choice to stand apart while still reliving some 90's nostalgia. Very interesting indeed.
23rd December, 2018 (last edited: 13th January, 2019)
Chemistry gives the impression of doing the minimum work necessary to convey the 90s version of cliched masculinity. It reminds me of a number of things: the concoctions that my father used to wear post-shave; as well as any number of cleaning products. In fact, my neutral rating is closer to negative than it is to positive; Chemistry just doesn't make the effort to distinguish itself from substances not intended to make humans smell good. Is it safe for the office? Oh, you bet - it's so suitable for the risk-averse it's almost painful. It doesn't smell bad for all that, and I understand from the existing reviews that there are reasons to favour Clinique products other than the quality of the scent, so neutral it is. The scent itself? Linear, unconvincing spice from the ginger and an adequate musky amber drydown. Below average longevity and sillage.
25th October, 2016
Bought it blind and this blind buy went quite well!
I love the warm citric dry down.
The longevity is good. So is the sillage.
I also expect no allergy issues - Clinique is known for non-allergic products. Because of allergy all my grooming products are by Clinique - so the fragrance will complement the line.
05th September, 2015
Not a fan, I don't like the way this one smells on my skin or on the tester. It is very cheapie and synthetic to me. I like Happy for Men just fine, but this one is off the mark. I wouldn't pick it up if it was in a bargain bin.
23rd April, 2013
Chemistry is another fragrance I used upon its UK debut in 1994. I went through a couple of bottles and then completely forgot about it. I knew it had been discontinued, now only available on-line or at selected shops, but since joining Basenotes I've been revisiting fragrances from my past and was compelled to give Chemistry another try.

I was 21 when it first came out and simply put, Chemistry isn't a youth scent. I liked it very much, but those were the days of nightclubs and wild partying and Chemistry gets lost in loud, sweaty atmospheres; it simply isn't strong enough. (You could just spray on a lot more but Chemistry isn't a scent that lends itself kindly to over-application.) Also, as somebody who back then bathed in Antaeus and has always tended to favour more noticeable fragrances, to me Chemistry seemed...well, a bit throwaway.

I'm 36 now and rediscovering Chemistry has been a true pleasure. A very simple scent with no other aspirations than to make you smell fresh and clean, it's a real pleasure to wear. This is a fragrance to lend you a generally pleasant air, only revealing itself totally when somebody comes very, very close...it's the perfect date or bedtime scent. And maybe it's because I'm older or maybe it's because Chemistry is no longer widely-available, but I certainly wouldn't label it throwaway now.

It won't go over with the CK crowd, of course, completing lacking frivolity. But I'm of the mind that it's how the individual wears a fragrance that's most important. If you can wear it deftly with confidence then any fragrance can be made suitable for any occasion - if it's a particularly strong fragrance one squirt on one wrist delicately applied to other areas can even make it suitable for work or a quiet dinner. I couldn't pull Chemistry off way back when but that shouldn't stop younger guys from giving it a try although, in fairness, most will probably find it a little too serious.

As it is, I spray one squirt of Chemistry on my heart before dressing, one each side of my neck and one on each wrist. The initial gingery blast suggests this may be too much but within minutes it significantly mellows. There is no pretension with Chemistry, you catch it occasionally throughout the day - a simple, warm and comforting fragrance which works its magic through subtlety.

As much as I love fragrance I'm horribly allergic to it. Unless I use a barrier cream, almost any fragrance brings me out in a disfiguring, maddeningly-itchy rash - something that I'm actually prepared to put up due to my love of fragrance. However, Chemistry does not cause my any reaction at all on my skin - probably due to Clinique's stringent anti-allergy policy - so it's ideal for anybody else who suffers with sensitive skin.

Give this forgotten little gem a try. Rewards may be plentiful.
06th October, 2010
Initial blast is a bit chemical and alcohol-y, but it dries down to a very simple, clean gingery amber melody, citrus in there somewhere. Lasted the better part of 2 hours on my skin. Very 90's, but not outdated by any means. Certainly pleasant.
05th October, 2010

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