Perfume Reviews

Positive Reviews of Cinnabar by Estée Lauder

Total Reviews: 31
Warm, spicy & gorgeous!

I've been wearing this one recently and I must say, it has certainly left an impression on me!

Cinnabar is a very unusual and beautiful fragrance. It is based around cinnamon and deep spices like benzoin, tolu balsam, amber & other resins. These are combined with slight floral notes of rose, lilly and carnation. This gives it a very deep, warm, spicy, slightly powdery smell. It reminds me of red dust. Shimmering red dust with powder and spice.

It is a very opulent perfume. People will notice you in some way or another. I don't think it's loud, but if oversprayed it will project at least 6 feet around you.

It is said that Estée Lauder launched this one to coincide with Yves Saint - Laurent Opium released within months of each other. Other sources say that YSL copied her in releasing Opium. However I find differences between them. This one has a higher concentration of cinnamon, whereas Opium has a whole blend of spices.

Overall, I think Cinnabar is a wonderful fragrance, and an example of a beautiful, warm, emotional type of perfumery which has an old, classic feel of class and sophistication. I imagine the woman wearing this to also be wearing fur and pearls and a hat. I don't imagine an old or middle aged woman either. For me this fragrance would suit anyone in their the late 20's and above. Of course it can also be worn by someone younger, but I think it has a "grown-up" kind of confidence to it which you need to have as well to pull it off. I wear this, and also the men's version Aramis JHL.
26th March, 2018
Spicy, resinous amber perfumes are a feel-good genre in perfumery. The individual components (vanilla, benzoin, labdanum…) are like prefab bases and can single-handedly provide the blueprint for an Oriental perfume. The risk is the kitchen-sink syndrome.

Cinnabar's topnotes juxtapose a bright, aldehyde/bergamot accord against a boozy amber mix, a trick learned from Youth Dew. The segue from citrus to sweet brings out the matte, rubbery side of amber, but it doesn't jibe well with the vanillic undercurrent and the custard doesn't quite settle. Despite aldehydic jazz hands the topnotes don't have nearly enough torque to dig the spices out of the trenches. Little light escapes the cinnamon/clove event horizon and wearing Cinnabar gives me olfactory claustrophobia. It's a quick journey from the topnotes to the perfume’s next and only other phase, drydown, which lasts from the 30 minute mark until about 24 hours later. Cinnabar does grow less dense as the half-lives pass but it never becomes any less opaque.

Cinnabar might have cribbed some tricks from Auntie Youth Dew, but it should have studied history more closely. The pairing of citrus/aromatics and balsams was the compositional coup of the 1920s. Shalimar and Habanita steered the pairing toward leather and Nuit de Noel and Bois des Isles went the cozy fur-coat route but they all share a similar design concept.

The perfumes of the 1970s and the 1920s had a lot in common. Aldeyhydic florals were chic as hell and bitter chypres were all the rage, but the voluptuous orientals were the shit. Cinnabar and its exact contemporaries Yves Saint Laurent Opium and Lancome Magie Noire reinvented animalsim via spice and opened the door to a new style of oriental perfume that Chanel put on the map with Coco, Bois Noir and Egoiste.

The identity of the perfumer of Cinnabar is not 100% certain, but rumor has it that it was Bernard Chant. For the life of me I can't imagine that the perfumer of Cabochard and Aromatics Elixir didn't know how to square the bergamot/amber circle. If he is in fact Cinnabar's author, I have to imagine that the fault lies in reformulation. Chant was just too good to be credited with the murky version of the perfume available today.

The proof will be in the pudding. I've just found an unopened bottle of the original Cinnabar ("Soft Youth Dew") on ebay and it's en route. It'll go head-to-head with a pristine bottle of YSL Opium that I recently found. More to follow.

20th July, 2017
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Review of the original Eau de Parfum:

A peachy-peary fruity start is given a spiciness as if boiled in a spice soup for several hours. A cautious but definite addition of aldehydic undertones add some sparks such as to prevent is from being all too dark.

In the head notes sweetness arisies, a mix of a rich and scrumptious cinnamon that is never too thick or cloying. This is nicely combined with a rich ylang-ylang, and this dyadic partners work together exceedingly well. Jasmine - with a touch of verdant vibrations - is present too.

A pleasant tanginess leads into the base, and it turns out to be derived from clove with a well-placed component of some ambery orris. This turns into a gently crisp spiciness owing to an underlying layer of darkish patchouli. The ylang-ylang sweetness, however, stands its ground and is now fortified by a dense but not too heavy tonka impression.

I get moderate sillage, excellent projection and a superb twelve hours of longevity on my skin.

A rich oriental and wintery creation, less heavy than Opium and never too overwhelming. This is well-blended out of ingredients of a very respectable quality. The aldehydic notes as well and the spicy-tangy aromas are incorporated in a very balanced fashion. At times it lacks vibrancy and can be a bit dull though. Overall 3.5/5.
24th May, 2017
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This is how I'd hoped Opium pour homme would smell, spicy with a bit of funk in a way that recalls Kouros.
07th June, 2016

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
The haughty Lauder ladies club countenance is swiftly discarded to display a distinctly wanton side. Cinnabar may well be the couture wearing executive from the top floor, but she is not averse to being pressed against a filing cabinet and manhandled by some clammy-handed salesman.

Cinnabar takes a little time to slip the tether of the opening,but its classical seventies construction is certainly no chore to endure. With its clipped aldehydes and antique grade bergamot notes, it’s a high horse formality it quickly climbs down from. The conventional and indeed expected opening is supplanted by a world weariness, subtle cynicism and desire to be much more approachable. Latterly,Cinnabar is allowed to cascade into an accessible, perhaps simplistic, soft, buttery cinnamon experience.

JHL, the male counterpart from Aramis is more anally retentive, and when I want the same sartorial formality, but with the odd casual flourish, Cinnabar is a viable alternative.
22nd September, 2011
I ordered an 11 scent Estee Lauder collection of miniatures, and Cinnabar was one of them. What a little treasure! Like a Youth Dew from another era, Cinnabar is one of those transformative fragrances that will put you directly in touch with the past. You can read through the notes listed, but when you smell this wonderfully abstract elixir, so many emotions rush in.
03rd July, 2011
I love the exotic-chypre classicism of Cinnabar and its touch of flamboyant " antiquity". Cinnabar is a delicious spicy-oriental dramatic aroma based on the combination of spices, animalic oakmoss, fruits (mellow, spicy and salty/sweet) and ambery "smoothness" with the support derived from airy aldehydes that push higher and higher the exotic sophistication exhaled from ylang-ylang, sweet spices and jasmine. Cinnabar is one of the classiest luxurious feminine fragrances of all time on the same range like pillars as Youth Dew (the older, more mossy-balsamic and complex sister), Mitsouko, Knowing, Cabochard, Azuree, Tabu, Aromatics Elixir, Opium, Beautiful, Coco Chanel, L'Heure Bleue, Jicky and other gems. Its (peachy/plummy/honeyed) aristocratic and vintage-chypre boozy/mellow spiciness is divine, massive and enigmatic. The beginning is puzzling with a blast of cloves, cinnamon and citrus linked with the fruity notes of peach and orange and with a "tornado" of molecular aldehydes. This opening is quite ripe, somewhat viney-fruity. Lot of cinnamon, a huge amount of cinnamon. Some mystic exotic/boozy/fruity piquancy is in the air with its charge of almost incensey-mouldy vintage (backstage kind of) background and the deliciously stuffy feel is exuded by a wonderful bergamot/aldehydes/honey/mellow fruits/patchouli/spices-interaction. In this phase the fragrance is still powerful and earthy with the dominant appeal from the cinnamon-neroli-orris combination. As soon as the blast of spices starts losing its strength leaving the scene to the fruity-floral notes, the honeyed and vanillic incense starts to embrace the elements, leading the aroma towards a lighter and delicious sweet, slightly dusty, viney, spicy fluid. The mossy outcome is surprisingly exotic, intriguing, temperamental and smooth with a dominant undertone from orange-cinnamon-peach, the misured roothness from patchouli and vetiver and the controlled mildness from light woods. I see the association with Ysl Opium (vanilla, resins, floral notes, amber, patchouli, spices and more) which is basically more eastern, rough (rooty-earthy-spicy), mystic and austere (probably less sweet too). In my opinion while Cinnabar is a classically chic aristocratic fragrance of this "lofty world", Vintage Opium is the attempt (I don't know if actually matched) to appoint an otherworldly spiritual potion. I smell a further association with another lovable fragrance, the more boise, liquorous and aromatic Le Baiser du Dragon because of the combination of neroli, spices, flowers, amber, benzoin, patchouli and vetiver. The great Coco Chanel jumps on mind as well for several of its aristocratic chypre-oriental hallmarks. Roccobarocco immediately follows. Cinnabar will always be a favourite of mine in this wonderful olfactory universe.
26th June, 2011 (last edited: 31st October, 2017)
Love the potent and decadent opulence of the amber, vanilla and patchouli notes; does remind me of holidays in the sun by the sea...

Very well done...

Big thumbs up...!
18th March, 2011
I recently had a bottle of this given to me, a friend bought it and hated it. I used to wear it as an evening perfume back in the eighties, it brought back some fun times when i was first dating my husband. I don't think i'd wear it again now as it seems so heavy, I'll keep it and just smell once in a while.
18th October, 2010
Smells very classy, perfect evening perfume
27th March, 2010
I just bought a bottle on Saturday and I love it! I first wore this in high school. It was my introduction into grown up scents after wearing Wind Song and Love's Baby Soft. In college I moved on to Opium. More recently I wore Omnia by Bvlgari. I looked down on Cinnabar as unsophisticated. I wasn't even sure they still made it. I was at the Estee Lauder counter buying some lipstick and I made a joke about Cinnabar. The clerk said it is still very popular, especially in winter around the holidays.
Then I began to remember how much I loved this scent and all my fond memories associated with it. All of a sudden I had to have some. I ran back to the department store and bought a fragrance and lotion combo. I wore it to a fancy holiday party. It is a winner. I love spicy orientals and this certainly suits my body chemistry. I guess enough time has passed and this old fragrance seems new again to me.
14th December, 2009
Launched the year of my birth, this scent takes me all the way back and into the present-bohemians getting dressed up. I remember this scent filling the house when company was comming over. It is approachable, friendly, and earthy.
28th October, 2009
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Launched the year of my birth, this scent takes me all the way back and into the present-bohemians getting dressed up. I remember this scent filling the house when company was comming over. It is approachable, friendly, and earthy.
28th October, 2009
Oh, how I love this scent. It's bold, it's sexy, it's unashamedly seductive. It lasts and lasts. You need a bit of attitude to wear this perfume. I used to wear this and Byzance in my rocker girl days, and this was always the more rock and roll of the two scents. Warm incensey, sandalwoody, patchouli, floral, WOW kind of scent. It makes a strong statement. I used to wear this with my boots and my black leather bike jacket, and a whole heap of rock chick attitude. I still wear it from time to time, even with more, er, classically elegant clothing. I only wear it when I'm going out, though... this is an evening and into the next morning sort of fragrance. Definitely not for the office or anyplace you want to blend in a bit, or to feel a bit demure. But when you want a scent that's strong, a bit flamboyant, feminine without a hint of sweetness or strong floral, this is your first choice.

13th October, 2009
My close friend in h.s. used to wear this when we would go out to parties. It was her mother's. I am thinking of buying it for her just because. It smelled so sophisticated on her.
06th December, 2008
Cinnabar was clearly created to compete with the wildly successful Opium which debuted a year before it. They are both heavy spicy Orientals. But if Opium is of The Air, then Cinnabar is of The Earth. Opium floats above your head like the remnants of incense from some Xanadu. Cinnabar seeps up from the spice mines. Cinnabar's musty sweetness manages to outsex Opium (if that's possible) in a very literal way. Cinnabar has always put me in mind of a womans panties after a long day at work, under her panty-hose and tweed skirt. Good heavens Miss Sakamoto! You smell beautiful...
25th October, 2008
My mother's signature scent in the early 80's was Cinnabar. I remember it being deep, exotic, and very spicy. It just screamed "grown up" to me, and I used to sneak a spritz on occasion. I would love to revisit it today and see if it still smells like the quintessence of sophistication.
21st July, 2008
Don't remember how I discovered Cinnabar, but took a bottle with me when I went to work in Italy and Greece for two years. Found it utterly comforting in the autumn and winter, a touch of home and home land. I've discovered other lovelier scents since then, but asked for a bottle for Christmas and find that a little goes a long way in invoking that same comfort, loveliness and "home" feeling. Every perfume review says this, I think, but for what it's worth, I repeat the same chestnut: "When I wear this, people say, 'Oooooh, you smell delicious.'"
08th January, 2008
Cinnabar and Opium do smell a lot alike in the opening. All that cinnamon. But then they take very different roads. Opium is more complex and on the right person with the right body chemistry it is magnificent. Unfortunately my body chemistry is not the right one for Opium, which makes me cry.... but...Cinnabar I can wear and it smells great on me. Someone said cozy? Yes, definitely and spicy and warm. Love it. And I have worn it off and on ever since its debut in 1978. Like all Estee products a little goes a long way and it lasts a long time, ten or twelve hours.
11th December, 2007
I love this type of scent, spicy and cozy. I can see the comparisons to Opium, but they are each unique. Cinnabar is more of a 'comfort' scent, whilst Opium is a seducer. Overall, I think Opium is a much more complex scent. Cinnamon does dominate Cinnabar, so if you don't care for that note, you probably won't like it. Opium, Cinnabar, and Kenzo Jungle L'elephant are all great choices for cool weather and perfect around the holidays.
26th July, 2007
Didn't like at first. Dry cinnamon incense(like head shop), (oops put on heavy) washed it off right after. Still there! Then I liked it. Sweet but not foody, wow, long lasting, more of a mello spicy after opening. So now I love it, sprayed very lightly.
16th July, 2007
All of the notes in here I love, so why do I not wear this more often. I guess that it reminds me of BAD 80's fashions, big shoulder pads, bad perms, and cheap package hols when I was a student. Great to look back on and smile, but not experiences you would like to repeat!! More a winter/Autumn frag and definitely worth a try if you are sure it is not going to evoke confusing semi weird memories.
09th May, 2007
rickie Show all reviews
United States
I agree, this seems to definately be a fall-winter fragrance. I do like it, but it is a heavy fragrance. I use to wear it alot in the early 80's.
17th March, 2007
29th August, 2006
kewart Show all reviews
United Kingdom
I took a while to warm to this heady, spicy scent, but now appreciate it's charms. The opening is reminiscent of a clove-studded peach whilst the drydown is both sultry and contemplative. You need to be quite a confident person to pull this one off, I suspect,- it is certainly not for the faint-hearted. You would need to be wearing high heels and a red cashmere sweater to carry it off (metaphorically speaking.) I definitely see it as an evening scent, not necessarily just in colder weather. It would come alive on a warm summer's night just as effectively. The only disappointment is the cheap, uninspiring bottle. This one definitely needs a re-vamp.
17th June, 2006
There is a note of clove within Cinnabar that is also one of Opiums distinctive spice notes...I love them both for it! These two seem to go hand in hand, and each posesses incredible sillage ~ so apply carefully. Then ENJOY!
13th June, 2006
This is the kind of scent I would wear if I were a woman.
28th April, 2006
I love Cinnabar. It's rich and full-bodied like a good Merlot. Cinnabar is one of those scents that smells great on fabric as well. It reminds me of Christmas. The only down side is that someone I have bad memories of wears this constantly.
13th February, 2006
Sweet Cinnabar - I will always think of this as Opium on training wheels, a gentler take on a heavily spiced oriental and one without Opium's stalking, brooding darkness or intensely binding, almost engulfing base of half a dozen competing resins. In the very early Eighties, when I was still quite the tomboy and just starting to dabble in "grown up" fragrances, I started out by sneaking sprays of my sister's Cinnabar and then, once I had gotten used to it, turned to swiping off my mother's bottle of Opium for a new, more thrilling and dangerous-smelling fix. Cinnabar opens more aggressively than Opium and in a less insidious way; instead of sneaking up on you in the louche way Opium does, the Cinnabar's brighter and friendlier, more upfront with its spiciness. Opium says, "Psst, come here, I've got something to show you" where Cinnabar's all "Hi, I'm a spicy sweet fragrance - nice to meet you!" Note to note, the two fragrances are not that far off from each other at all, but Opium's got a dash more of something here and something there that give it many more directions, like a seductive maze. With Cinnabar, you can pretty much tell where it's going, all the way through the spicy opening to the rich floral heart to the quite soft amber-benzoin based drydown with accents of incense and patchouli. No animalic basenotes here either, which further defines this as a refined lady's version of Opium. So, in short, when in situations that call for restraint, reach for the Cinnabar; save the Opium for when you really want to walk on the wild side.
21st September, 2005