Perfume Reviews

Reviews by gimmegreen

Total Reviews: 888

Mon Seul Désir by Jul et Mad

Sheer leather, full of airy musk, with orangey citrus at the top and smooth woody-floral notes with coriander seed at their centre. Air-brushed and attractive, but a bit short on projection. This is a cool, chic take on leather, almost an anti-leather in its chiffon-like feel. I would have been wowed had its presence been a bit more marked.

13th January, 2018

Midnight Datura by Parfums Quartana

Mega-sweetened off-white floral, a kind of Turkish Delight for the nose, although the olfactory impression is closer to bubble gum. Midnight Datura seems to share the same sickly, overfed DNA as some of the more ‘blossom’ oriented recent Amouages, the opulence of the notes somehow achieving little more than a syrupy puddle. An earth and mushrooms dimension in the later stages is somehow less interesting than it sounds.
13th January, 2018

Jãbir by Al Kimiya

Floral ferment! Jabir is a kind of perfumery miso – clears the brain and feeds the jaded nose. It offers a riot of fresh florals with the open, citrusy-sweet overtures of freesia in the lead but also shades of dewy peony and the more persistent presence of lily of the valley, alongside the more traditional sweeter rosy tones, and funks them up with a sourish, curdled, runny cheese like oud. Guess what? The combination is striking, quirky, and perks one up – and reminiscent of the bouquet from a chilled glass of good late harvest Tokaji wine.
Jabir has a strong dose of vague musks – the kind much favoured by the likes of Montale – that create an almost hairspray haze extending the reach and diffusion of the perfume. This can have the unfortunate effect of blearing the whole composition, and that is somewhat the case here – but when the blend has such an effervescence it doesn’t bother me. Side effect of Jabir – makes one itch for a party to go to, it has that kind of ‘wa-hey!’ energy.
(Yup, that price tag is ridiculous – a case of the hangover preceding the party.)
The later stages are more conventional, with Jabir turning into a woody rose in the Arabian style, which is also fine, but for a good four or five hours it is much, much more.
13th January, 2018
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Invasion Barbare / SB by MDCI

What a smoothie! The woody-spicy cliché mates with the lavender-heavy barbershop fougère and – wonder of wonders – no-one’s honour is lost. When playing to such broad audiences with thousands of perfumes riffing on a similar mix of ingredients, it is largely the finish of the thing rather than any claim to originality that matters. So when Invasion Barbare steps out the door with every hair in place and each fleck dusted off its clothes, it means the care that has gone into polishing it is exemplary. This thing is the baby’s (hygienic) bottie.
The cool, sweetly-cooing, sprinkled with talc, lavender fougère half (shades of Rive Gauche) is matched seamlessly with oriental warmth – ginger, that gives a spice accent but with zest, and woods. The other harmonizing notes – a subtle citric fringe, soapy cardamom and gently bracing violet greens – also contribute to the immaculate maquillage.
While I admire the skill, I find the creature Invasion Barbare summons to my mind is boardroom man, a being with whom I share no affinity. I also find the lavender a touch too sweet for my taste – I often do. And the projection is moderate. This will sound like perfection to many – however, it makes me long for a touch of recklessness.
13th January, 2018

Eau Parfumée au Thé Rouge by Bulgari

Sharp, ‘aquatic’ tea with a twist of lime and green fig that smells like those overly synthetic hand wash aromas that drive one to wash again with something else just to get the darn stuff off. Sure, it’s cool and summery, but regrettably on the cheap.
13th January, 2018

Cuir Tabac by David Jourquin

Well-turned out patchouli and cured tobacco jobbie with only a small role for a bit of aged leather. Will prompt all the usual cliché’s of gentlemen’s clubs and aristrocrats’ libraries – reader, pray use your own fantasy, mine is a bit exhausted in this particular area. Of most note is the surprisingly bright aroma profile (judiciously used lavender), that the patchouli is quite juicy with almost fruity nuances, rather than Darth Vader’s armpit (which it sometimes can be), and there’s a feel of vanilla and furry musk lying beneath it all.
Smart and outgoing, and quite reminiscent of many square-jawed designer ‘masculines’ in similar territory, so think twice before paying the extortionate price.
13th January, 2018

Cape Heartache by Imaginary Authors

Fire and ice. The chilly greens and clear mountain air feel of conifers combined with wood smoke and the resinous warmth of pine sap demonstrate that this is a trick worth pulling. Recommended for winter with its core of heat and frost-touched crust. Over time an odd player emerges – first, just a juicy sweetness, then something that resembles a candied strawberry. Perceptions of this note weave in and out of the largely coniferous feel of the rest – it should be out of place but somehow isn’t. Like a successful cocktail made of ingredients that nobody thought of mixing together before.
I shouldn’t sing its praises too highly, as it remains a pine dominant scent and if that doesn’t appeal to you, then you’re unlikely to be won over.
13th January, 2018

Alahine by Téo Cabanel

Old school creamy balsamic amber with such smoothness one expects it to moisturize one’s skin. Resins provide warmth and a heartbeat, but don’t mess with the overall silkiness. Floral aspects are veiled and gauzy. And in the base there’s a small nod to power – something that smells of worn leather and crumbled wood lurks within.
All in all this is a supremely easy wear, it slips on like a flowing robe, suggestive of effortless if not inexpensive chic in a bygone style. However, when it settles it also deflates and one realizes that all the emphasis on smoothness results in a flattening out – the vanillic notes in Alahine perhaps drape the thing a bit too much so that contours are lost, and a sweet orangey opoponax-like feel (I’m thinking of Les Néréides’ Opoponax) makes it all seem a bit mono.
13th January, 2018

Firedance by Ruth Mastenbroek

The most unusual rose of 2017 and one that really rings my bell – tingaling-lingling. This is the full joss stick experience, an amazingly smoky and cindery rose perfume that is also packed full of the creamy woods and musky freshness that form the odour profile of Indian agarbathis. The patchouli here has an expansive almost mentholated embrace and the whole experience is halfway between the flowers and smouldering joss sticks laid at a shrine and the silky languor of an old faithful’s boudoir. It pricks the senses and relaxes in equal measure.
I can imagine this may be somewhat polarizing, its scent leans so decidedly towards Indian notions of what makes a good fragrance, rather than a Western interpretation of the East. But for a deep, dusty and smoky rose backed with finely milled dark wood, Firedance is beautifully judged and just right. In the late stages the rose opens up and brushes the wearer with a damask softness.

24th December, 2017 (last edited: 28th December, 2017)

J'ai Fait Un Rêve Lui by Majda Bekkali

Strange opening that first reads like a back alley Montale – cleaning product lemon meets vague saffron spice and light woody-oudy notes. But it settles quickly into a sheer linden-like cloud backed by buffed woods and spice (the diffusive woody musky cashmeran playing a significant role). It has a proper presence while still seeming to be suspended and nebulous as a burst of aerosol. Coming to this now, I can see it is a clear precursor to Micallef’s similarly under-rated Akowa which wowed me with its originality. J’ai Fait is a bit less piercing and single-minded, and Akowa doesn’t have its subtle spice and faint suggestion of oud, but this is clearly where this short family line begins. Unusual and enchanting.
Now goes by the name J'ai Fait Un Rêve Obscur.
24th December, 2017

Santal Tislit by Maison Incens

It’s interesting what passes for sandalwood these days. In this case it is a measly deposit of slightly sweetish wood shavings with a few puffs of heliotrope-scented hairspray. The chief failing of Santal Tislit, however, is its utterly pants projection. Some perfumes one can wear and forget, but few actively solicit such forgetting as this does, as, despite liberal spraying, you are unlikely to smell very much at all.
24th December, 2017

La Belle Hélène by MDCI

La Belle Hélène works with an old-fashioned, slightly dowdy, powdery floral base and gives it a lighter, enlivening twist with fresher notes of linden and pear. The latter cannot escape a synthetic destiny – indeed I have yet to come across a perfumery pear that doesn’t smell a bit plastic. Combine this with the lactones that that are standard issue with Bernard ‘Milky Veil’ Duchaufour and you have a perfume that plays incredibly safe, dressed in pastel pinks and mauves, but on the wrong day will irritate the hell out of you. For something that has its sights set so definitely on the comfort zone, it instead inspired existential ‘is that all there is?’ thoughts in this wearer.
24th December, 2017

Arabians by Montale

Puzzling over the name of this one. What next? Slovenians? Australians? But wait, there’s a horse on this bottle, so we are not exoticizing people after all. I expect Montale could go with Dachshund or Vietnamese Pot-bellied and turn it into a series.
The perfume itself – well, it is certainly mane-to-the-wind with a camphoraceous gale of ‘freshness’ blowing through it. The old Montale theme of a bright musk charged rose-patchouli-‘oud’ combo is here polished with traditionally refreshing and soapy notes of lavender and cardamom. This is a thoroughly sudsed horsie, if indeed a horsie it is at all – little hints of leather and a humid saltiness in a manner of ambergris notwithstanding.
Arabians falls into the bloated middle category of serviceable Montales – long-lasting, powerful, but by now riffing on over-familiar themes, so that they come across as a bit stolid to the experienced user. Newbies may still go ‘oh baby, wow!’ at the power-surge delivery of the notes. Old hands will wonder if they need to resort to the Dewey Decimal System to mentally organize yet another offering that seems to be but a tweak to pre-existing landmark perfumes (in this case a breezier version of Black Aoud).
24th December, 2017
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Hemlock by Parfums Quartana

Hemlock conjures the rather unique olfactory terrain of weed sap – greenish, somewhat lactonic, with an undertow of dustiness that I associate with pesticides. After an opening bright with bergamot and light, almost rain-soaked, green notes, a very dry and almost rubbery vanilla emerges supported by a cast of desiccated spice and resins. It has a powder puff quality to it, with traces of the skin such a thing touches, while the lingering greens have now turned a bit waxy, darker and brittle. How all this signifies weed sap, beats me; maybe I am being susceptible to its name.
A tempting oddity, if a tad demure. However, all the fun of this perfume is in the first couple of hours, after which it settles into a too-soft spicy vanilla.
24th December, 2017

Cedar by 1907

Revoltingly screechy floor-scouring aquatic in which the usual watery and melon notes are filtered through a mesh of industrial grade chemicals. A generous sprinkle of dry thyme catches in the throat and adds to the ghastliness. The olfactory equivalent of radio static.
20th November, 2017

Farnesiana by Caron

Farnesiana is like falling asleep in a warm room on a winter’s day and being visited by a loving presence in a dream. It is cosy, creamy and comforting – its complex layers falling like a halo of warm orange-amber light around the wearer. Despite the impression of a multitude of notes surging within it, it feels trusted and instantly familiar.
After a beautifully pliant and doughy-buttery opening marked by a gentle and ambery vanilla and sweet hay-like tones, the florals begin to breathe little by little – wisps of mimosa and syringa, the sweet haze of violets, all treated with restraint and respect, and with the assurance of a complex Caron base (think refined resins and powders) to back them up. This is perfume that feels like a silken foam, full of air and light, and yet luxurious and caressing.
Farnesiana has a palpable warmth to it. These are spring flowers miraculously transported to what feels almost like a Christmas interior gently fragrant with potpourri and candied fruit, and they feel perfectly at home.
Sometimes I am tempted to give up other perfumes in winter and subsist solely on Caron extraits; they feel like old friends you want to hug and hold close, and yet they always give you your space.
Review is for current extrait formulation and there is a big catch – Farnesiana disappointingly cycles through its stages to the muted base in just a couple of hours. Still, glorious for that short while.

20th November, 2017

Pluie de Soleil / Burst of Summer by Phaedon

A perfectly decent light-yet-honeyed freesia let down by gumdrop fruitiness. If the fruity end had held its own, we would be talking but it’s just too vague and drenched in syrup. Sadly not a tropical fantasy in the design style – you know, all sunburst flowers, slices of yellow pineapple, citrus and what have you, juice droplets spraying in artistic arcs. That’s the illustrator’s version; the real tropics being beastly hot, with sweat, humidity and decay just as evident in their odourama as heady blossoms and overripe fruit.
If I could get that freesia accord on its own I’d be tempted to spend much more time with it. But as this heads off into total fruit-sludge ignominy after a couple of hours, there’s really no redemption.
20th November, 2017

Chocolat by Il Profumo

I first came across this on a visit to a perfumery where the owner regards me as a kindred spirit. She indulges me by spraying all the new releases on blotters and then we chat about them – it feels like going to a perfume event catering just for me. In between, other shoppers come and go – they are usually after something specific, and while the owner deals with them, I tend to browse further. So, in walks this couple, and the woman was craving her Il Profvmo Chocolat which she had once bought on holiday and which had become her signature ever since. A blotter was sprayed just to relive the ‘ooh ahh’ of her fondness and to my surprise, standing a few feet away, this wave of dark and enticing chocolate of undeniable quality curled up to my nostrils.
What wasn’t evident then was that this chocolate was a bonbon, containing a soft centre full of plummy fruit, delicate spice (nutmeg) and jammy florals – sheer indulgence. People have spoken of this perfume as Angel plus chocolate – possibly, but without the obnoxious pushiness that such a thing may have. The other perfume it vaguely recalls is the delicately erotic Missoni which is, alas, no more, in which a bone dry cocoa note is played off against gorgeous orange and a feather-light woodsy backdrop. Again, apart from differences in the scent profile, there is also a difference in degree here – Missoni is a marvel of dynamism, of playing off dark against light; Chocolat, on the other hand, seems to gather all its treats into the same comfortable mid-range.
Nonetheless, it is pure pleasure, and when in the later stages the cocoa fades a bit, the underlying fulsome fruity floral comes into view but with the compensation of dusky woody and vanilla notes preventing the whole thing from doing a Disney. Then there is a further surprise in the late drydown which reveals a sophisticated and gauzy mixed floral – it is as if with each layer that falls from this offering, it remains fully realized and beautiful, with comfortable projection.
20th November, 2017

Oud Stars : Alexandria by Xerjoff

Note: this review is for the current version which goes under the name of Alexandria II, not the 2012 release which was a limited edition.

Putting the bomb into bombast, Alexandria II’s opening is so loud and diffusive it will make you want to sit down and rest your punched hooter. Here are hugely diffusive musked-up florals – soapy rose amplified to a flood of suds and fresh lavender of a solar brightness –, a storm cloud of cinnamon, a stream of treacly amber, all backed by smooth, powdery woods. While other Oud Star offerings have a similar will to power – any more than one spray of Gao and you’re harming the environment – this has a decked-out, blinged-up, look at me character to it which is frank, OTT and not for snobs.
Alexandria’s smile reveals two rows of gold caps and wafts a month’s supply of mouth freshener. The essence of this perfume in its first few hours is its turbo-charged lavender played off against an almost toxic dose of cinnamon, a battle royale conducted under layers and layers of transparent laundry musks so thick, they are panes of ice.
However, once this phase is passed, Alexandria goes the way of Atlantis – major subsidence. The whole thing deflates, projection drops and now what emerges is a dry and spicy take on oud that one can encounter in almost every budget-friendly Arabic or Middle East-oriented house’s offerings. Not special – we wuz robbed.
20th November, 2017

1270 by Frapin

A fruity woody that could have been a contender, except for its somewhat hesitant character. After a delicious, juicy, pineapple dominated opening, 1270 settles into a pleasing mix of sweet fruity notes with a bit of warming ginger and a musked woods backdrop. Slight developments of interest are dusky cocoa shadings and hints of tobacco and leather – all kept unobtrusive, functioning as gentle support.
Still, there is a lacklustre quality about the proceedings and a default ambery setting which drags this into pretty generic territory when it could have been so much more.
20th November, 2017

Wolfsbane by Parfums Quartana

Unusual in a very well turned out manner – not fizzbang and screaming rockets but tailored to fit, almost discreet, and yet resolutely unusual.
Wolfsbane turns on an axis of great promising fattiness – at its heart is a dense accord that is alive with impressions but whose ‘feel’ is like orris butter, beeswax and finely milled coconut fat, giving a rich, unctuous, bound-to-be-good-for-your skin impression. Within lurk nuances of earthiness, humidity and a strange kind of herbal greenness, signifying plant origins without the usual fresh or sharp elements. This is a nocturnal greenery, shade upon shade of dark, veiled green, but without any gothic heavy-handedness.
In time the main note around which Wolfsbane slowly revolves comes more clearly into view – a sultry, waxy and even somewhat rubbery tuberose, placed bang in the centre from which a profusion of other directions seem to be followed. The resinoid vanillic accent of benzoin further congeals its thick blood. This is a perfume of slow motion and hidden sorcery; dense as fog but surprisingly easy on the wearer.
Many hours in much of the novelty is departed and Wolfsbane joins the ranks of warm and creamy tuberose perfumes.
20th November, 2017

Poudre de Riz by Huitième Art

I’ll take powder, yes please, great clouds of it, no problem. Old make up? Sometimes it too can float my boat, if well-executed. But hairspray? That usually doesn’t do it for me, bar the occasional gem like Tocade. Maybe it’s the acetone tendency that perfumes going down that route display.
Fortunately, Poudre de Riz’s off-putting hair varnish opening dissipates pretty quickly , yet the promised powder doesn’t materialize. Instead delicate, honeyed florals reveal themselves – a coochiecoo rose and little dabs of white floral something or other. Served on a cushion of musked-up honky tonka and vanilla. It’s subtle and sweet and won’t scare any horses – and by that same token a bit of a yawn. A shame, mainly due to its execution in pastels. Because there’s something right about this composition that gets me thinking that a gutsier approach to the same elements could have yielded stunning results.

03rd November, 2017

Palo Santo by Carner Barcelona

From melting toffee to sweet and salted wood, Palo Santo is a strange one, but it’s a familiar kind of strangeness. The odour profile from start to finish is dense and buttery, but as the projection is a bit tentative, it doesn’t overwhelm. This toffee-impregnated woody with slightly boozy breath has a kind of maple syrup and bacon meatiness about it which is perhaps aiming to achieve an olfactory umami sensation. If Jeux de Peau rocked your boat, then this may also be worth your while.
03rd November, 2017

'Ilm by Al Kimiya

A multi-layered oud for sure, with notes of old leather, dried cow pat and sodden, mouldering wine cask vying for attention. Of these, it’s the last that most appeals to me as it brings with it suggestions of drowned florals and decadent decay, and, strangely, relaxes the mind. There’s depth to this for sure – but whether it is depth worth the over 300 euro price tag…?
Over the course of the wear Ilm took on a somewhat fruity leather aspect (strongly suggestive of the osmanthus-oud pairing in Xerjoff’s Najaf/Zanzibar) over peppery woods. For all that, it is a restrained oud and that quality may appeal to some, but for something that smells this cured I miss the turbo jets that a more brazen house like Montale would have gone for.
03rd November, 2017

La Douceur de Siam by Parfums Dusita

At first I couldn’t understand the avalanche of praise for this one. As a tropical floral it seemed to partly hit the mark – the champaca evocation is heady, strong, with a decent greenness to it that imparts the sense of a real flower. But the syrupy rose that is also a part of the bouquet jars somewhat, particularly as it seems to have an overly synthetic gloss about it and a clingfilmed clove nestling within. There are elements of this perfume that smell of rubber, bread crumbs, raw vegetables – all intriguing things but out of place with its predominantly floral character.
However, I had been a bit impatient with it. As the drydown began La Douceur de Siam began to redeem itself. The composition became a bit breezier, the greens livelier, and hints of ripe fruitiness that are contained within the scents of some yellow flowers began to emerge. But there also seemed to be bilge water lapping in the background which I wish had been drained.
It was only a good hour and a half into the wear that things fell into place with the tropical fruitiness (mango and passionfruit) growing more pronounced and seamlessly blending into the florals – sunny, tangy, moreish, all the odd distractions were now discarded. There are shades of the Body Shop’s infamous Dewberry lurking within this altogether more sophisticated creation.
03rd November, 2017

L'Histoire Oubliée De Dunhuang by Auphorie

I have one major grouse against Auphorie – they often release perfumes of enchanting beauty as limited editions. This plays havoc with my wish list. Auphorie perfumes have a sneaky habit of jumping that particular queue as otherwise they could be gone before their number came up. Their Shambhala seemed to be created just for me; it brings joy with every wear and doesn’t set a foot wrong. I felt I should spread the love and get a bottle for a loved one, but – pouf! – it had vanished.
Now L`Histoire Oubliée De Dunhuang is rubbing up against me and the wish list is once again looking susceptible. This is a perfume of great transparency, a stained glass window of a thing through which light pours in shades of orange and pinky-red. Beginning with a lovingly realized sweet orange with not a trace of anything bitter or sharp about it, the perfume shades into a mixed floral bouquet so light, fresh and airy it seems to have been plucked from some fairy meadow. This is a combination designed, it would appear, to induce good cheer. Underneath the floral dance is a restrained base of hay-like and creamy tones.
All of which does make me wonder about the oriental notes listed – a bunch of spices (Fragrantica users seem to think star anise is the most prominent note), vanilla, amber – none of which register particularly to my nose and I don’t miss them. Instead of a warm and spicy wintry composition, this seems like a herald of a clear late spring day.
Auphorie extraits are powerful things – all dayers, a spray or two is plenty. This, however, seems to require a few more and then has moderate projection, before diving to a skin scent about 3-4 hours in. Maybe the wish list needn’t fear after all.

03rd November, 2017

L'Attesa by Masque

Exquisite iris in the delicate, subdued way that only iris can be, as uplifting as a baby’s kiss and as tender.
That’s me done about L’Attesa, actually – I’ve succumbed totally, it’s a perfume that immediately belongs on me. But for those who like a little more detail, here goes:
Wearing L’Attesa is like being brushed by the finest of suedes, powders, and the gentlest lips. The aura of its iris is softly sweet, its butteriness just an indication of how smooth it is, never fatty. There’s a lifting effervescence within (perhaps the so-called champagne accord) and the airiest suggestion of floral notes which gain in body during the course of the wear. The introduction of complementary bitters is similarly restrained, suede, perhaps woods, but not the vegetal rootiness that pushes many an iris to the wrong side of odd.
L’Attesa’s main player, the iris, has a reputation for wan ethereality, its delicacy can easily be insubstantial. The perfume, subsequently, wears like a haze, but what an impressionist haze it is – full of soft colour gradations, slight changes in light and shade, and suffused by an almost ghostly tactile quality. L’Attesa gives the iris presence without forcing it to raise its voice.
Impressively tenacious, lasts a full 24 hours on me – possibly longer, but I can’t be certain as I shower every morning.
03rd November, 2017

Figment Woman by Amouage

Figment Woman’s first half captures the humid nocturnal tropicality of the traditional heavy hitters of white florals – tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, lily. Lactonic tones overlap, though the indoles are kept in check, and a mood of sultry languor pervades it. There’s no escaping a certain foghorn quality about it, and the blurring of the notes doesn’t help. But if being suspended in a pool of white floral unguent is your thing, then Figment is for you. Although the floral elements are rounded and feel natural to the nose, the almost complete lack of definition in this perfume is like being fed a diet of pap.
In the late stages, this is mainly about the, sadly unexceptional, tuberose which drones on and on like a party bore.
03rd November, 2017

Oscent Rouge by Alexandre.J

What starts as a novel yet logical take on fig (we’re talking the leaf and sap smell now so common in perfumery, rather than the fruit), namely brightening it’s associations with summer by injecting a tart and cooling streak of bergamot and lime, then goes on to flirt with floral sweetness, before plumping for a pretty down-the-middle figgy scent. Passable, but the problem is that there are now scores of those and this thing seems to have been created on a shoestring, with little overall polish.
03rd November, 2017

Rose Absolue by Annick Goutal

I cannot pass a rose bush of the open petalled variety without leaning over for a sniff, and the familiar scent (despite some variation) remains surprising – deep, nectarous, narcotic but somehow also soft as down, airy and cooling. Each time, it is a love renewed.
I have yet to come across a perfume that gets this contradictory balance of a natural rose right – and why should it? Artistic perfection must aim for different standards of excellence and modes of expression to natural perfection, imitating which is a thankless task.
Rose Absolue is a successful rose perfume, but lest we forget, it is a perfume not a rose. Its opening is strongly reminiscent of rose water, which has that delicate but strong quality that is so bewitching, and a huge dose of the sweets. It’s ringed by a faint whiff of mothballs – perhaps indoles were employed, as they often are, to plump out the floral bouquet. Given time, all indolic suggestion vanishes and the rose becomes cloud-like, super soft, and floats from the skin like a comforting aura – it has traces of both soapy and deeper attar roses to it, but it’s the gossamer, lilting quality that lifts it above many another perfumery rose. A visual analogy helps – Rose Absolue is like a canvas with a thin band of deepest crimson and a huge fade of feathery pink bordering on white.

A skin scent after 4 hours.
21st October, 2017