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Why does everyone keep talking about solid perfumes?

IMAGE VIA GLOSSIER

WORDS BY JASMINE WALLIS

A new wave of fragrance is taking scent-er stage.

Before we snapped bougie beauty shelfies and spritzed bottles of Byredo, there was solid perfume. In fact, the alcohol-based liquid perfumes we’ve come to know and love ever since our gateway bottle of Impulse body spray are actually quite a new invention. 

According to the world wide web, at some point between 7000 and 4000 B.C.E Neolithic tribes discovered (probably accidentally) that when you melt plants and fragrant leaves into animal fat, it gives off an aroma. 


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As civilizations progressed scents such as essential oils, incense and aromatic waters became commonplace for religious, spiritual and health reasons. Now? Perfumes can help us gain confidence and present different versions of ourselves to the world. But as we enter a new decade and new era, perfume seems to be having a solid makeover. 

With solid scent brands like Odesse, Narrative Lab and Glossier’s You fragrance taking over our Instagram feeds and hot girl side tables, I wanted to know; what’s solid perfume all about? Lara Florenini is the marketing director at the new beauty brand on the block, Odesse. The solid reusable perfume brand launched in February of this year and has begun to pop up on the feeds of beauty gurus and influencers recently. 

The perfume looks like a compact mirror and is chic enough to have on display on your bedside as much as it is a must-have handbag accessory. Described as “Perfume but not as you know it”, I asked Lara to help decipher this growing fragrance movement. 

“Odesse is applied with a swipe rather than a spritz and it’s designed to be both kinder to your skin and the planet. It’s alcohol-free, unlike traditional spray perfume, and is completely refillable using recyclable aluminium trays.” 

 

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Lara tells me that these aluminium trays are “the most recyclable material available” which is important for a brand that is marketing this new wave of perfume as more environmentally friendly.  “Odesse is plastic-free, refillable and recyclable. She’s also free from unnecessary fillers making her carbon footprint just a fraction of traditional beauty products.” 

The brand’s founder Anthony Nasr – who has more than a decade of experience in the beauty biz – told Broadsheet that when it comes to liquid fragrance, consumers can be buying products made up of 80 to 90 per cent ethanol and sometimes as little as 5 per cent fragrance”. 

I ask Lara if this was a reason why Odesse was started; to get back to the basics with fragrance. It wasn’t a vendetta just against ethanol – more against unnecessary fillers. In the case of perfume ethanol is the main culprit, but if you flip any of your favourite beauty products around and check out the ingredients, the filler is generally water.” 

With the rise in consumers wanting to buy eco-focused products, solid perfume does seem like a friendlier choice. Janelle Donnelly is the CEO and co-founder of luxury perfume studio MetaScent. The artisan fragrance boutique has a store in Melbourne and also hosts perfumery workshops. I ask Janelle if she’s seen a rise in solid perfume sales.  

It definitely is a trend in recent times. Solid perfume tends to be produced in smaller quantities and is taking off post-COVID with the proliferation of eCommerce platforms. It’s easier and cheaper to ship solid perfume than conventional spray perfumes, [which means they can] reach a wider customer base.”

Janelle tells me there are other benefits too, such as the longevity of the scent and the fact that a broader demographic of people can use it. People with sensitive skin or those who are sensitive to allergens should consider solid perfume as it’s generally applied to a smaller area of the skin. Even with the same fragrance and the same quantity used, solid perfume will last longer. However, the sillage of the fragrance will be greater with a spray perfume.”

 

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Beauty content creator Bianca Hill is one fragrance fan who, despite the luxe marketing and benefits of creamy, solid scent, will be sticking with spray. “If I had to choose, I would still pick a spray,” she says. “There’s something about the experience of buying a fresh bottle of perfume, looking at it on my vanity every day and spritzing it all over as I’m walking out the door. It’s probably my main character complex.” 

Bianca tells me that despite being engaged in the beauty world, she hasn’t seen many solid perfume brands around. “I’ve only ever seen them from luxury brands like Diptyque or internationally, Glossier. So they’re definitely not mainstream or easily accessible! I don’t think the demand for spray perfume is going to change.” 

I’m still intrigued by the aesthetic of Odesse’s solid perfume, but like Bianca, am a veteran spray fan. I ask Lara why people should choose a solid scent over a spray bottle. 

“If you’re always on the go or conscious about the impact your beauty products are having on the planet give solid perfume a try. Solid perfumes are great carry companions and they last forever.” Consider me intrigued.

Find out more about Odesse here.

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