Perfume Directory

Youth Dew (1953)
by Estée Lauder


Youth Dew information

Year of Launch1953
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 404 votes)

People and companies

HouseEstée Lauder
PerfumerJosephine Catapano
Parent CompanyEstee Lauder Companies

About Youth Dew

Youth Dew is a feminine perfume by Estée Lauder. The scent was launched in 1953 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Josephine Catapano

Reviews of Youth Dew

Spice - not too much at first. Slight, bitter fruit. Pungent aldehyde. Dark and rich, colder weather fragrance. I didn't care for Youth Dew when I was younger. I love it, now.

Yes, it's old-school. Yes, it's a multi-note thing. Those qualities are part of its charm. I'm assuming I have a newer version, as I bought this as a decant. I can't compare to vintage anyway, as I stated, I didn't like it then.

Clove and cinnamon show up, adding to bold flowers. Carnation and cassie seem to have their own separate layer close to the skin. The heart grows earthier, and the spices seemingly toasted.

The base is loaded with oriental-specific notes. Mega incense. Brisk balsamic flavor. Syrupy amber, vanilla, and benzoin. Still, earthiness abounds too, with its moss, musk, and patchouli. The heart merging with the base is the main thing with Youth Dew. It's a soup of scent. You can't escape the dark, noir element of this one. On occasion there is some indole from jasmine, that seems to ebb and flow... I believe with YD, you either love it or hate it. I also believe it borders on unisex. Big sillage, long lasting.
28th April, 2019
This would be a gorgeous vintage floral with extreme sillage if it didn’t have this mosquito spray smell (I associate it with lemongrass). Beautiful anyway.
02nd November, 2018
Youth Dew (1953) helped not only establish a dynasty for Estée Lauder, but allowed more domestically-imprisioned women in the mid 20th century have a taste of the wild side, even if vicariously, than any other fragrance. Estée Lauder cleverly introduced it as a bath oil, giving it a semi-practical purpose which allowed Youth Dew to slip past hubby's draconian pragmatism with discretionary spending (outside his own Craftsman tool binges at Sears), meaning women expected to be meek and mild homemakers could indulge. The original bath oil was strong enough to be worn as fragrance, and when the eau de parfum was introduced alongside dusting powder a short time later, full suites of Youth Dew could be purchased surreptitiously, securing it's legacy. The smell of Youth Dew was a classic floriental broadstroke with lines borrowed from past risqué feminines like Tabu (1932), Schiaparelli Shocking (1937), Ma Griffe by Carven (1946), Miss Dior (1947), and other "liberated women" fragrance (once considered "fallen women" in the previous century), and added aromatics with a hefty animalic base. Youth Dew has since slid down the gender spectrum to be quite neutral and almost masculine by 21st century standards, making it quite palatable to a man's nose as well, assuming he likes animalic floriental chypres.

The opening of Youth Dew is quite a scare to the modern nose, with aldehydes, spices, sharp bergamot, and an almost sour peach. Perfumer Josephine Catapano, who would later create or co-create several Lauder scents, unleashed a commanding, almost boozy aldehydic opening laden with oriental spice that later turned into a proper floral chypre after the heart set in. Lots of indolic florals wrapped in cinnamon and cloves greet the wearer after the first five minutes, with rose, jasmine indole, orchid, and ylang-ylang leading the charge. A sweet orange creeps in before a broad-shouldered patchouli comes up, holding oakmoss and ambergris in it's burly arms. All this unapologetic power unfolds in the first hour, with benzoin and styrax adding most of the animal funk alongside musk and frankincense. Vetiver even makes a showing, which is rarely seen in a feminine, and all illusions of this being a dainty housewife toilette water die away by the time the vanilla smooths off the patchouli, moss, animalics, and incense. Youth Dew can still be worn by a woman, but she better be of hardy constitution and commanding personality. I can easily imagine this stuff being a dirty little secret, with the pretty smells of something more pedestrian like Avon being saved for dinner with the ball and chain.

Men that love powerhouse fragrances or just the idea of heady indolic florals on a bed of strong patchouli, moss, and styrax could easily wear this, saving hundreds on a comparable niche scent made almost exactly like this but marketed towards men. I could easily see something like Youth Dew coming out of a house like Diptyque, Montale, Tom Ford, or Amouage, sold as a masculine-leaning unisex fragrance, and marketed with a dark, brooding name. Instead, this 1953 wonder comes in a bottle shaped like a conservative woman's dress, with a cutesy metal bow around the waist, and sells for peanuts by comparison. Honestly, the only thing truly keeping this from being a modern niche scent is the lack of an oud note, and it's take-no-prisoners sillage definitely pegs it masculine in a modern world of synthetic shoe gazing. The name "Youth Dew" may be a misnomer, but make no mistake: this venerated "grandma's perfume" is anything but weak or timid, and will put youthful spring in your step if you enjoy it's pungency, while simultaneously putting your sister's Tommy Girl (1996) to shame. Wear with caution as it's a virile trail that Youth Dew leaves, but definitely recommended for the bold, regardless of gender.
17th September, 2018 (last edited: 18th September, 2018)
This was my paternal grandmother's perfume, which in our house should rightly be an Eau de Can of Worms. But as an adult I found myself following old women down the street, like a child lost in a supermarket, and I knew it was worth more than memory.

In the perfume, and the bath oil, this is pure luxury. It seems designed to cut through frying oil, cigarette smoke and any guff spouted in stuffy old houses. Its name is a reminder that what we now think of as "old lady" perfumes were once young themselves, and the sweet cloves and oily orange peel are still defiantly standing out among the wallflowers. This one is for booze, bold lipstick, and speaking one's mind. Just like Nana.
05th August, 2018
In the 1980s I would have described heavy oriental fragrances, particularly Opium pure perfume, as my favourites. Since then my tastes have changed in favour of chypre and floral fragrances. However, recently I have fancied revisiting Opium, but have found many online reviews which refer to its recent, and apparently very inferior reformulation very offputting, and also the pure perfume seems to have been discontinued. Therefore, I have bought Youth Dew (which I had never tried, but had seen described as similar to Opium many times), in the Bath Oil strength, as I read on the Estee Lauder site that it can be worn as a pure perfume strength skin fragrance, as well as being used in the bath. I'm wearing it for the first time today and I have to say, I'm thrilled with it: I'd describe Youth Dew as somewhere between the original formulation of Opium and Cinnabar: a little sweeter, lighter, and a little less pungently spicy than Opium, but heavier and definitely not nearly as sweet as Cinnabar, which I have always found rather sickly. Very impressed, especially as I have never been an Estee Lauder fan. The body cream is next on my list.
21st March, 2018
I look forward to winter, not for the rain and the cold and the miserably cut off days, but for the chance to dig down to the bottom of my wardrobe and bring out some thick, resinous, spicy oriental; a rich, full bodied composition that would be too heavy and stifling in the heat of July but makes an ideal comfort blanket in January. And among them, one of the stand outs must be Youth-Dew.

It's an amber composite of pale sweet powder, sour-dry orangey resins, and cinnamon. At first there is a nuance of white floral, but that soon fades and incense comes through to back up a cold black spice that adds bite to the cinnamon. Later, a peculiar waxy note emerges, resembling the one that can be found in some 1920's aldehydics - which may show that Lauder haven't messed with the original formula too much. Finally a white musk down at the bottom suggests they may have tweaked it after all...

It's a bit pointless to speak of a traditional head and base structure to Youth-Dew, there isn't much to separate one from the other, it's mostly one long flow of balsamics, powder and spice, and what makes this stolid profile a success is the contrast set up by the two opposing chords of sweet powder and dry resin. They create an internal tension which is then supported by a secondary contrast between the sweet cinnamon and the cold black spice & incense. This allows Youth-Dew to continue in the same vein for hours without becoming dull or boring; it all depends on striking - and then maintaining - the right balance, and perfumer Josephine Catapano has got it spot on in this, her chef d'oeuvre.

This sub-genre of oriental - the spicy resinous amber, first appeared in the guise of Tabu by Dana. Now that a decent formulation of Tabu is a collectors item, it's fair to say that Youth-Dew has become the de-facto grandmother of the lineage. There are two reasons why Youth-Dew has acceded to this status: firstly, Estée Lauder still produce a good formulation of Youth-Dew, and it's available everywhere, and the second reason is that the perfume has benefitted from the way our olfactory tastes have changed since it was released in 1953. Today, it feels not so much like an antiquated feminine but more like a gender-neutral spicy oriental in the manner of Serge Lutens' Arabie or the resinous balsamics of Comme des Garçons Parfum. The similarity between Y-D and these two is palpable.

Because of its age (sixty four this year) Youth-Dew may not be so popular any more - it's not on the cutting edge of fashion after all, but this sweet and comfy feelgood fume could still be worn by anyone looking for an alternative to the Shalimar style oriental.

Youth-Dew the veritable old timer is like a camel coat - a timeless classic. It deserves to be known better.

21st December, 2017

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