I’ve stated on more than one occasion on my youtube channel that I chose the wrong part of Asia to live in. While Japan prefers to politely scent the air, and that’s all good, I’d much more prefer to brazenly perfume the body, and for that, we need to head over the Middle East, where everyone perceptibly smells – in a very, very good way. And it’s not all oud and spices my friends, it’s everything.
Today we have a look at four concentrated fragrance oils from Swiss Arabia, an Emerati brand. These are the first four oils of a series called Private Collection. I have Private Musk, Secret Musk, Hayaa, and Amaami – all sent to me in cushioned little boxes in class bottles with ornate lids. There is a glass dapper stick attached to the lid that can be switched out for a roller ball applicator, should you wish.
I am generally not a fan of fragrance oils for many reasons. They are oily and sometimes sticky, can stain clothes, and are meant only for skin. The tend to live near the skin, too, meaning they don’t project much even if they are strong. Why get oils then? Well, it’s the core format for many perfume traditions, some ingredients don’t mix as well with alcohol I’m guessing, and oil-based perfumes tend to feel more luxurious. More importantly, they are more concentrated with fewer fillers, they stick to your skin longer, and don’t contain dehydrating chemicals. I even put them in my dry, over-processed hair for some scent and moisture.
That said, I would unlikely ever go out of my way to buy fragrance oils. The four I’m sharing with you today were actually sent to me by accident. I had ordered something else from Swiss Arabia and spent several months trying to sort out the mix up. The company never replied to my emails and in the end, I never did get what I ordered, but the good news is that I did get a refund for my order – thanks to my credit card company and not Swiss Arabian, but I did get to keep the fragrances. As I have been enjoying these, I am open to giving the company a second chance in the future, as they have a lot I’d like to sniff.
All four scents I have are supposed to be unisex, but I am guessing that the average Western male might feel that these sway too feminine. Two of the four scents I have are musks, which is a problem for my review as a) I tend to be anosmic to musk and b) I don’t like the soap smell associated with many a musk. But it’s OK, my nose picked up the scent and there was not too big of a soap problem.
So let us begin with Private Musk. This is an amber fragrance, and of the four it’s the one I most easily gravitate to and appreciate. There is a reason for that; after reading the notes below you might be able to guess, as they are similar to a popular fragrance I absolutely adour.
- saffron, orange, jasmine,
- caramel, cotton candy,
- oakmoss, white amber
Yes, this gourmandy oriental musk scent shares a few notes in common with my beloved Baccarat Rouge 540. It’s far from a clone, but I’m certain this concoction was created in hopes of riding the caramel cotton candy saffron wave that BKR540 started. It came out just a little while later, after all. Let me share with you the pitch from the Swiss Arabian website:
Private Musk was inspired by the unique locket of memories that only fragrance can evoke, helping you revisit them in your dreams with a small secret smile. Private Musk is blended using the most precious ingredients. Designed to warm up a winter night, it blossoms on the skin with the scent of saffron strands, delicate orange flower and jasmine. The flowers melt like sugared petals into delectable caramel and candy floss, with mouth-watering vivacity. Taking you to a golden sunset of intimacy scented with silky white amber and earthy oak moss, Private Musk will stay with you long after your perfect moments are locked in your memory.
The memory of BKG540? Ha! It’s not a clone, though. There’s more softness to it and you can feel the musk and sense an Arabian quality to it. I find the longevity suffers, however. In two to three hours it’s gone, and usually oils perform better than this. It doesn’t have a synthetic or medicinal smell, though, and there is a current of sandalwood running through it. I think it’s rich and sweet, but offset by a subtly sharp oakmoss cutting through the amber and florals. Even though it’s sweet, I don’t feel this fragrance is particularly juvenile. I applaud the saffron for that. I think that is the ingredient that gives sophistication the candy and caramel at the core.
Next we have Secret Musk. This is a Floral musk scent, and since florals are not my forte and since I can be anosmic to musk, this is the fragrance I like least in today’s four. In fact, I have a friend in mind who might appreciate it so I think I will pass it on to her.
- peony, geranium,
- white musk, white rose, raspberry, iris,
- musk, powdery notes, cashmere wood, sandalwood
Here are a few words about Secret Musk from the Swiss Arabian website:
Secret Musk is created with the most precious blooms, as if you were walking on a sea of petals. On this magical night, your beauty is enhanced with white roses, iris and white musk. The delicate nuance of raspberry mirrors the blush on your cheek as you luxuriate in the scent of warm cashmere, smooth sandalwood and velvety musk.
This is a soft and nuanced very powdery musk scent. There is a jammy opening of rose water and smashed raspberries. It’s very sweet, but the floral elements within elevate it beyond the Body Shop’s musk. It smells clean rather than just soapy. And yes, there is some soapiness that surfaces after the top notes have settled, which is to be expected with a lot of musks. But if you are a musk fan, you’ll probably like this. It is well blended and goes well with the rose, peony, and geranium. There is a sensuality to this scent and when I sniff at it I can see a young woman in a sundress playing with a bunch of non-hungry wild cats in a field of flowers. Longevity and projection are low to medium. Luckily these bottles are small enough to put in your purse or pocket.
Now we venture deeper into the Arabian genre with Hayaa. This is an ambery chypre floral fragrance with a simple structure that I rather like it.
- white amber,
- agarwood (oud), rose, white flowers,
- woody notes, white musk
This is a burned smoky and ashy incense with fruit, although you don’t see fruit in the notes listed. It’s sweet and woody and rather wonderful. You’ll immediately identify it as falling into the Middle Eastern style of perfumery. Although I don’t detect the oud listed per se, there is an attar or bakour effect in this. It’s a very rich, syrupy, concentrated smokey musk with a touch of amber. almost chypre-like. Amber is one of my favourite notes in perfumery. This also smells a bit synthetic, and for the price, the ingredients would have to be synthetic. Not a bad thing – just saying. I would be careful of wearing this in the heat, as you might give yourself and others a headache.
Hayaa apparently means modesty, which I feel is an appropriate trait to associate with a floral chypre. Here is what the Swiss Arabian website says:
Hayaa is designed to embody the beauty of love on a wintry day. The fragrance will capture the memory of heartfelt and unforgettable radiance. Hayaa awakens your deepest dreams, with its alluring scent of silken white amber. The notes of rose make a perfect symphony with a delicate blush. You hold creamy buds of white flowers in your arms as a golden aura of oud enrobes you. The smooth woods and soft musk surround you in a velvet glow. You start and end your day in a soft embrace, narrated by the scent of Hayaa.
If you like fruity and smoky incense, you’ll like this. It’s not your typical Middle Eastern rose oud. The longevity with this is better than the previous musks, but not fantastic, and yes, it’s still more of an intimate scent.
Last in the lineup is Amaani, which is fresh leather woody concoction.
- lavender, citruses, thyme, saffron, raspberry,
- leather, cypriol oil (nagarmotha), olibanum,
- patchouli, amber, musk and agarwood (oud)
There are a few note overlaps between this and Hayaa, and these are the amber, musk, and oud. But the opening in this fragrance is not as bright or sharp, though it is also a little medicinal. Overall it’s just as strong and smoky, but smoother and more herbal. Both Hayaa and Amaani are oils that I would wear in my hair – why not kill two birds with one stone? – a little moisturizer and a little scent. I suspect it might last longer on hair as well. Just imagine the sillage if the wind blows through your hair or if you simply toss it! Here is some copy from the website:
Amaani reminds you of the precious moments that are close to your heart. Designed to bring an inner glow to your soul, it wraps you in a golden aura of scent as you bask in its unique fragrance. The lavender, thyme and precious saffron bring out a dawn of sylvan grace, filling the day with vivid blooms and colour. Juicy raspberries lead this magical day into bolder territory. Leather, resins and inky nagarmotha tempt the radiant fruit towards a sultry afternoon. A velvet cloak of oud and musk enrobes you on this crisp, cold day, making your heart flutter for reasons you will only share in secret.
The dry-down for this one is dense and leathery, and not too sweet, probably thanks to the patchouli. This is a classic-smelling Arabian scent but not “dated” and it’s not as feminine as Hayaa, probably thanks to the lavender and leather. Longevity is moderate, but actually, I can smell this the next morning if I applied it in the right places and later on the previous day. This is indeed a wintery, boozy, forest type of smell for me. I’ve worn Hayaa more, but I think I should pull this out more often. Be warned though if you are prone to headaches from some of the materials in here. I would hesitate to use in warmer weather.
Now I have no idea who the perfumers are for these fragrances. I imagine that the people at Swiss Arabian have their own in-house perfumers and that they can pull from a bigger pool of talent in that part of the world anyway since perfumery plays a more prominent role in Arabic cultures and has a long tradition. I also cannot recall the release date of these scents, but I don’t think that any of them are more than a few years old, at least in these travel-friendly, fun-size bottles. I remember seeing the campaign for all four together on their website when I was troubleshooting my order mix up.