If you use social media, chances are you’ve seen ads for Dossier Perfume. The brand makes fragrance affordable by creating dupes of expensive designer scents in vegan, cruelty free formulas without the costly mark-up. The brand has some seriously lofty claims (I mean, a Le Labo dupe for $29?!) but does it live up to the hype? I tested it out to we could know for sure.
THE SCIENCE OF SMELL
I love fragrance. In my opinion, there are few compliments greater than being told you smell good. I’m not alone in this. In fact, wanting to smell good or enjoying nice smelling things is more than just vanity — it’s actually neuroscience.
If you (like me!) are curious about how scent works, wonder no more: Your ability to smell comes from specialized sensory cells, called olfactory sensory neurons, which are found in a small patch of tissue high inside the nose. Olfactory neurons in your nose have evolved some 400 odor receptors and these cells connect directly to the brain. Microscopic molecules released by substances around us—whether it’s coffee brewing or pine trees in a forest—stimulate these receptors. Once the neurons detect the molecules, they send messages to your brain, which identifies the smell. There are more smells in the environment than there are receptors, and any given molecule may stimulate a combination of receptors, creating a unique representation in the brain. These representations are registered by the brain as a particular smell. To organize all this information, your olfactory neurons wire into an “olfactory map” on your brain’s olfactory bulb. Olfactory neurons are one of the few types of neurons that are born throughout your life, and each of the roughly 10,000 such neurons born each day in your nose subsequently wires into the olfactory map in your brain.
How much does the nose know? Well, physical attraction itself may literally be based on smell.
CHOOSING A FRAGRANCE
Fragrance is deeply personal, both because smell and memory seem to be closely linked because of the brain’s anatomy—and because fragrance will smell different on each person due to a variety of reasons, ranging from the pH balance of the skin to hormones and even differences in diet.
For that reason, finding a scent that works for you can be difficult. Buying something without trying it makes it even more so. One thing I love about Dossier is that they have risk-free system that allows customers to try perfumes before committing to it. Every bottle comes with a small sample that you can can try and wear, before unsealing the 50ml bottle. If you do decide to return the scent, they offer a standard 30 day return period, in which customers can return any unsealed 50ml Dossier perfume and get a FULL refund, no questions asked. How cool is that?
I’ve been experimenting with fragrance for nearly a decade at this point, and feel like I have a pretty distinct idea of what I like and what I don’t. If you’re just starting to dip your toes into the pool that is perfumery, here are some basic things you should know:
There are four main olfactive families (or basic scent categories) that exist in all fragrances: fresh, floral, spice and woody.
Characterized by citrus notes, like lemon and grapefruit, fresh fragrances have refreshing, zesty and vibrant smells. this category can also have aromatic notes, like rosemary, basil or lavender (referred to as aromatic fougère fragrances). Think: your grandma’s clean laundry hanging on a line in the backyard.
Floral fragrances are one of the most popular and iconic families, and one of the broadest. Any fragrance that has a sweet and flowery scent will belong under this family, using notes such as roses, jasmine, lilies and peonies—think anything romantic and feminine. Floral fragrances can range from being light and delicate, to more complex and intense (like violet and berries).
This is one of my favorite categories of fragrance. This scent family is associated with incense, smoke, warm spices and leather. It is very luxurious, rich and sensual often made with interesting notes of cardamom and cinnamon alongside the likes of jasmine, orchid and orange blossom. In addition, fragrances classified as “oriental” can have notes of vanilla, but not the vanilla you’re used to at say, Bath and Body works (aka sugary sweet)—a true vanilla is really earthy, like tobacco.
Woody fragrances are another warm family (and my other favorite!). With a mysterious and captivating scent that is often considered as more “masculine,” these notes are chock-full of smells associated with nature, like cedar wood, sandalwood, vetiver and amber. Another sexy scent family, it’s a great choice for wearing in the evening. Woody fragrances are split into mossy woods which has an earthy, sweet undertone, and dry woods which often have a smoky, leathery smell to them (think either hot guy or leather bound books).
Give It A College Try
I would recommend testing out 2-3 perfumes at a time. Wear one for a full day, let it marinate on your skin and see what you think. With perfume, you can only really know if you like something by actually wearing it (spraying it on those little strips or sniffing it just won’t do any justice to what the scent will smell like on you). In my opinion, Dossier is great for test driving scents because of their great return policy and because they offer bulk deals on their website— up to 25% discount and free shipping for 3+ bottles.
Like I previously mentioned, I know what I like. With that in mind, I got two perfumes from Dossier, Woody Sandalwood (inspired by Le Labo Santal 33) and Floriental Almond (inspired by Carolina Hererra’s Good Girl). Both smell absolutely amazing and, at a fraction of the cost of regular retail, I feel like you can’t go wrong. The most expensive bottle of Dossier perfume is $49 (the most expensive bottle of perfume I have ever purchased is nearly 3x that).
I have been loving my Dossier perfumes. I put them on every single morning even though I just sit around at home all day. After all, fragrance is deeply personal and I like to smell nice for myself, anyway. 🙂 Would you ever purchase something from Dossier, or have you? Let me know!