Perfumes So Good You Can Eat Them? Actually, Yes

Getty / Arnaldo Magnani

Sweet, syrupy vanilla. Rich, buttery caramel. Earthy, nutty chocolate. At this point, you’re used to notes on your perfume bottle resembling an ingredient list at your favorite Parisian bakery. In fact, this isn’t anything new – just ask any millennial who grew up religiously spritzing on fragrance extraordinaires like Britney Spears Fantasy or Jessica Simpson Dessert Treats. (For the record, I still proudly display Fantasy on my vanity.) These scents do more than make us smell good, they make us feel seductive, flirty, and downright scrumptious. But what if there was a world where you could actually eat these delectable scents, not just wish you could? Cue edible fragrances.

While it isn’t clear what actually kickstarted the trend, companies are not afraid of taking the gourmand perfume category to new heights, delivering formulations that not only make you smell edible, but that can (quite literally) satisfy that taste for something sugary, too.

Exhibit A: ice cream chain Salt & Straw’s range of culinary perfumes. The trio of fragrances offer dual functionality: use them as an ice cream topper (to give your scoops a mouth-watering aroma), then spritz them onto your body and lick them off anytime you’re craving sweetness. They’re even housed in perfume bottles similar to what you’d pick up at a beauty store, and you’ll find something for every taste bud and scent preference, including A Cloud of Cocoa (a mix of Ecuadorian chocolate, malted milkshake, and Japanese whiskey), A Plume of Blooms (which carries notes of jasmine, and honeysuckle), and A Swoon of Citrus (featuring notes of key lime pie, lychee, and Italian lemon grove).

Other companies like Haute Sauce Beauty market its vanilla and strawberry glaze perfumes as being 100 percent edible, vegan, sugar-free, and made with food-grade ingredients that are safe to wear and taste. Amoretti ‘s perfume sprays are another example – flavors like orange, rose, wild strawberry, and Pina Colada are made to garnish desserts, packaged goods, and beverages, but fragrance aficionados may see this as a window of opportunity to smell and taste like a bakeshop.

Experts Featured in This Article

Rosie Johnston is the CEO and founder of By/Rosie Jane.

Jeriel Sydney is a scent maker and fragrance brand founder of Fablerune.

Generally speaking, gourmand fragrances are designed to evoke the sweet smells associated with food and desserts, using notes of vanilla, chocolate, caramel, and various fruits and spices, says Rosie Johnston, who founded By/Rosie Jane, the beauty company responsible for Dulce, a non-edible gourmand fragrance that mimics the scent of a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a shot of whisky on the side.

“The term ‘gourmand’ comes from the French word for ‘greedy’ or ‘gluttonous,’ highlighting the indulgent nature of these scents,” Johnston tells PS. And indulgent they are, with there being a 139.6 percent year-on-year rise in searches for ‘foodie fragrances,’ according to consumer trend platform Spate. Clearly, the appetite for such scents has no plans of slowing down.

As we know, gourmand fragrances are not a new phenomena. The early 2000s saw wafts of hyper-sweet, candy-like fragrances including the aforementioned Fantasy by Britney Spears (which saw notes of kiwi, quince, and white chocolate) and Delicious by Donna Karen (a bright scent carrying notes of cucumber, green apple, and grapefruit). This begs the question: What attracted us to this fragrance category in the first place? For fragrance brand founder Jeriel Sydney of Fablerune, the scents from this decade were about capturing the idea of innocent femininity, affirming gender roles, and symbolizing feminine beauty as elegant and sweet. There may have also been an element of marketing at play, too, as gendering the fragrances opened up the floodgates for two separate demographics in the fragrance market.

Admittedly, some present-day noses may call the cake batter-like scents of Y2K overpowering, but that doesn’t change the fact that beautiful things happen when food and fragrance intersect. “Just as food can evoke powerful memories and emotions, gourmand fragrances aim to create an olfactory experience that is comforting, indulgent, and often nostalgic,” Johnston says. “They tap into the sensory pleasure we get from tasting and smelling delicious foods.”

Just as food can evoke powerful memories and emotions, gourmand fragrances aim to create an olfactory experience that is comforting, indulgent, and often nostalgic.

Nowadays (and unlike the single-note gourmands of previous decades), you can find gourmand fragrances that yes, you can actually eat, but that also carry a depth and sophistication when worn on the body. “Today, there is so much variation and complexity to the gourmand family – it can be woody and heavy or light and fruity,” says Johnston. And while gourmand does come with the expectation of being sweet, it doesn’t always have to be. “Perfumers have been using savory gourmand notes for a very long time to complement and balance out some of the most commercial fragrances,” says Sydney. “Even though the idea of savory notes are still a little bit of a novelty, they are gaining momentum and popularity.”

The options are endless when it comes to wearing an edible fragrance. For an eau de parfum, Johnston recommends doing an all-over spritz. Perfume oils can be rolled onto the wrists, behind the ears, and over the collar bone for even dispersal. Finally, if you’re seeking longevity, Johnston is a fan of layering two different mediums of perfume, such as a perfume oil with an eau de parfum, or a body oil with a roll-on perfume. And when you feel that craving for sweets coming on, go on and give it a taste.

Michelle Rostamian is a Los Angeles-based beauty and wellness contributor with over 10 years of experience in the industry. She began her career as a publicist, content writer, and social media manager, representing beauty brands and industry professionals. Currently, she is a writer and editor on all things makeup, beauty, skin care, and lifestyle.

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