Guest Post: On the Rise of Traditional Wet Shaving, by Trevor S.

Note from Barrister and Mann: Trevor contacted us (and a few other vendors) awhile back to get some info for a paper he was writing on traditional wet shaving for a class. We liked it so much that we asked if we could publish it, so here it is, in all its foamy, shave-y glory.

Maybe it’s a nostalgia for a time long lost. A time when, as the saying goes, men were men. They smoked pipes, and went hunting, and drank rye out of hip flasks. They worked in steel mills, in the flashes of fire and darkness, in the dust of furnace rooms, and in the scorching sun of their farmland. It’s a picture of self–reliance: a jawline hard as iron and eyes narrowed into a look that might be challenging, might be skeptical, but could never be afraid.

Or maybe it’s the skin-pampering qualities of natural botanical ingredients like coconut milk, shea butter, and Australian tea tree oil.

Whatever the cause, wet shaving has been seeing explosive growth in recent years. In stark contrast to modern five or six blade razors stuffed with lubrication strips, batteries, rubber grips, and rotating parts, wet shaving utilizes a single, unadulterated blade. And in place of a gooey formulation of synthetic chemicals in a can, the wet shaver works up a lather with a badger hair brush and soap hand-poured by an artisan. Wet shaving is a rejection of the mass produced in favor of the crafted, the cheaply assembled in favor of the skillfully fashioned, and the mainstream in favor of the old-school.

Think wet shaving sounds like an expensive hobby? Actually, many make the switch to wet shaving because it’s significantly cheaper than more modern methods. A puck of good soap can be had for a few bucks and will last for months. Frugal guys tired of spending thirty dollars on a twelve-pack of Gillettes can buy a straight razor, use it for the rest of their life, and then pass it on to their grandson one day.

Although wet shaving may be significantly cheaper, it provides a much better shave. There’s a reason why high-class barbers still use straight razors. They shave closer, tug less, minimize irritation, and leave the skin feeling softer than a baby’s bottom. The majority of wet shavers tout this quality of the shave as the greatest benefit.

“The experience of shaving with a multi-blade cartridge and chemical foam from a pressurized can is less than stellar,” says Joseph Abbatangelo, cofounder of Italian Barber online store. “The internet, social media and YouTube have opened up the world to different experiences we didn’t realize existed. The growth of traditional wet shaving rests on the back of the internet, a real grass roots movement.”

Traditional wet shaving is not a razor blade cutting into a pepper.
Come to think of it, this may not be what Trevor is referring to when he talks about “traditional wet shaving.”

Paula Carius, of Barrister and Mann shaving soaps, agrees that men are beginning to focus more on quality and the experience of a truly great shave.

“We have found that men today are looking for a better overall shaving experience,” Carius says. “Wet shaving with a good artisan shaving soap helps moisturize and soothe the skin. It also helps provide a closer shave.”

Small businesses like Barrister and Mann have been seeing increased growth as wet shaving makes its comeback. While the last three-quarters of a century have been dominated by cheaply made, highly advertised disposable razors, a swelling shift towards the methods of the past has recently begun to hold. Startups, like Barrister and Mann or Stirling Soap Company, scramble to keep up with the demand.

“Year to year, we have grown every year we have been in business, and I’m confident that this year will be no different,” says Rod Lovan, owner of Stirling Soap Company. “I do know that there are still men and women out there who are not happy with their current shaving setup, both in terms of cost and also the satisfaction they get from their shave. It’s our job to find a way to reach those potential customers and let them know that there is a better way if they are willing to put in the initial time investment required to gain the skill and manual dexterity to do it properly.”

Lovan started his business with his wife, Amanda, after realizing the low quality of soaps available at the average American drugstore or supermarket. They set out on a mission to provide clean and natural soaps at an affordable price, and they are now considered a trendsetter in the wet shaving market.

Barrister and Mann has similar roots.

“Will actually started Barrister and Mann during his second year of Law School in Boston,” Paula says. “He has very sensitive skin and found it very difficult to shave every day. Because of this he started experimenting with different ingredients to make a soap that would work for him.”

His “experiment” soon became pretty successful.

“After being in business for about two weeks Will called us [his parents] and said that he could not keep up with the soap orders,” Paula recounts. “We then made the decision to move production to Central New York where it is today.”

Will now owns one of the most respected artisan soap companies in the industry. And as more and more men discover the benefits of wet shaving, business should only continue to gain momentum, both in and outside of the current market.

“We believe traditional wet shaving will continue to grow because now it’s starting to get international exposure,” says Abbatangelo. “The internet has made the world a lot smaller, and now a lot of our new clients are coming from outside of North America. As the global middle class grows, more men seek better experiences and traditional wet shaving is truly an affordable luxury.”

Abbatangelo said that his company grows every year: 25% in 2016 alone. Carius and Lovan also noted this continuous growth. But they all stress that, while they are optimistic, they see the market as far from a sure thing. Competing businesses are constantly emerging, cheap knock-offs flood in from overseas, and, perhaps most threatening of all, big corporations and smothering overregulation loom in the background.

“At some point, if wet shaving continues to grow, the Proctor & Gambles and Gillettes will start getting involved to get their market share back,” says a concerned Lovan. “There will also be regulatory hurdles put in place for smaller companies like us, such as the Cosmetic Safety Act that Diane Feinstein has been trying to push through for years.”

But perhaps they need not worry too much. What wet shavers demand is something fundamentally at odds with what companies like Schick or Gillette could ever offer. Their businesses have become popular for a reason: men are seeking quality, craftsmanship, and customer service, and the cheap knockoffs and corporate giants will never be able to provide.

Fragrance Review: Voyage d’Hermes Parfum, the Amazing Hat Trick

Is Voyage d’Hermes Parfum a grand expedition or a trip to nowhere? Barrister and Mann weighs in.

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Whew! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Big doings at B&M have kept me away from the blog, but I’m back! And I have a wonderful perfume on the docket.

Modern mainstream fragrance is not really the place in which you expect to find surprises. It’s fairly formulaic, chemically “fresh,” and usually pretty damn boring. But, every so often, there’s a surprise waiting in the wings, a sparkling flash of cleverness that’s wholly unexpected. That’s Voyage d’Hermes Parfum.

To be clear, there are two versions of the fragrance: the Eau de Toilette and the Parfum. It largely bucks the common trend of two separate scents with the same name, divided by different fragrance notes in addition to concentration, and the two versions of Voyage d’Hermes are actually quite similar (with a few minor variations).

Designed by Hermes house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, Voyage d’Hermes Parfum is a departure from Hermes’ usual fare. It’s spicy and rich, and its official note list belies the excellence of its structure:

The composition provides lemon, cardamom and spices in top notes. The heart hides hedione, floral notes with accentuated rose, green notes and tea notes, with a strong trail of musk combined with blond wood and warm amber.

I haven’t the foggiest idea what “blond wood” is (edit: a reader has informed me that “blond wood” actually refers to the synthetic musk Cashmeran. I don’t recall Cashmeran smelling that way, but I suppose I shall have to revisit it now), but the rest of the note list is pretty standard for a modern masculine. Yet it’s a testament to Jean-Claude Ellena’s skill that the scent is not boring or derivative, and Voyage d’Hermes Parfum continues to impress many hours into its development.

A photo of blond wood grain. Blond wood is one of the listed notes in Voyage d'Hermes Parfum
This is the first image result when you Google “blond wood.” I definitely expected worse.
What does Voyage d’Hermes Parfum smell like?

It’s more original than you think. Voyage d’Hermes Parfum comes out swinging with a big ol’ tart lemon note, complimented by spicy, woody cardamom by the cartload. The lemon keeps the cardamom from being overwhelmingly spicy or woody, while the cardamom keeps the lemon from being disgustingly sweet. It rounds out with a pleasantly spicy, peppery character, reminiscent of pink pepper but richer. Really quite lovely.

Little touches of ozone and amber (probably Amber X-Treme or some similar molecule) underpin the opening, but aren’t shrill, screechy, or obnoxious. Instead, the slight chemical dryness of such ingredients helps to accentuate the woody characteristics of the spices.

As the fragrance’s development progresses, the lemon and most of the cardamom eventually give way to a remarkably realistic and rich tea note, one of Ellena’s signatures. It pulls off quite a trick: when I originally smelled Voyage d’Hermes, I was caught completely off-guard by the sudden change, and it remains a delight after several wearings.

After some hours of slightly spiced tea, Voyage d’Hermes Parfum fades into a warm, pleasant musk (which smells very much to me like Exaltolide). It stubbornly clings to the skin for the rest of the day, and remains one of the longest-lived designer perfumes I’ve smelled. Unlike some of its louder brethren, the fragrance never becomes harsh or unpleasant, instead maintaining an elegant, pitch-perfect balance for its entire life.

How well does it project and how long does it last?

I get roughly 10 hours out of an application of Voyage d’Hermes Parfum, which is quite respectable. Projection is just about right: strong enough that people can smell the fragrance in your wake, but not so strong that they can smell you approaching. It fits the modern standard, but exudes everyday elegance.

When you should and shouldn’t wear it

Voyage d’Hermes Parfum is versatile and easygoing, but lacks a little bit of the polish necessary for, say, a black tie event or board meeting. However, it fits most everything else extremely well. I could see the fragrance working beautifully at networking events, in customer service or retail jobs, at parties, or even in rougher, tougher settings like machine shops. It’s well done and unpretentious, which is just what you want for an everyday scent.

Where to buy it

You can pick up a bottle at Sephora, and the folks there are usually quite happy to provide you with a sample so you can wear it for a few times before you buy. They offer it for $106 for 1.2 oz, so it’s definitely not cheap, but you can also pick it up from FragranceNet (with whom I have no affiliation) for about $60 or so. It might be a bit tough to find at a department store like Macy’s or Nordstrom, but you may be able to find it at a higher end place like Neiman Marcus.

Final verdict

Voyage d’Hermes Parfum is elegant and modern without being pretentious or loud. It’s fairly different from most of the screechy aquatics out there, and uncommon enough that you’ll definitely make an impression wearing it. That said, if you attend a lot of formal functions or executive meetings, Voyage d’Hermes Parfum might smell a little out of place. Still beautiful, though.

Picture of a bottle of Voyage d'Hermes Parfum standing on its end.
I really want to know how they got it to stand on its end like that.
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Chemical Explanation: Vanillin, the Weirdest Little Semi-Natural in Fragrance

What is vanillin? How’s it made? Is it dangerous? Why does it turn soap brown? Barrister and Mann is here to explain!

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We get lots of questions about the fragrance materials we use. People often send me emails asking whether some of our high-vanillin products have separated, so I wanted to cover some background about vanillin to dispel any concerns.

Vanillin is found in TONS of foods, essential oils, synthetic fragrances, and sometimes even medications. It’s a colorless, crystalline powder that smells very strongly of vanilla (with a touch of cotton candy). Unadulterated vanillin is not the rich, dark vanilla scent of vanilla absolute, but instead the sweet, airy vanilla of carnival candy during the summer time.

The atomic structure of vanillin.
Behold the mighty vanillin, browner of soaps and maker of ice creams and marshmallows.
How is it made?

Chemical companies refine vanillin from a molecule called lignin, which they produce from the waste left over from the cellulose (paper) industry. Tasty, right?

Manufacturing teams treat the concentrated waste material, called “mother liquor,” with various alkaline substances (usually lye), and heat it under pressure. The teams then separate out the vanillin through various extraction and distillation processes. Especially cool, the technical methods for manufacturing vanillin have become so precise over the course of the last century that it is nearly impossible, through lab analysis or otherwise, to determine whether the source is natural or synthetic. It’s really that pure.

Is it the same as vanilla absolute/essential oil?

Not even close. Commercial vanillin, as discussed above, is made in a laboratory, but otherwise nature-identical. In contrast, low-boiling solvents like hexylene are used to make vanilla absolute, vanillin’s inedible-and-prohibitively-expensive natural cousin. Distillers soak vanilla beans in hexylene, which they later boil off, leaving behind “concrete” (CON-kreht). They then wash the concrete with alcohol and centrifuge it to separate out the resins and other solids. Those solids are what makes natural vanilla smell dark and rich and wonderful. Thankfully, there’s no hexylene left over at the end, though.

This washed centrifugation product is the absolute, which sells for roughly $150/ounce on the open market. That makes it way too expensive for most commercial purposes.

I’ve heard that vanillin can discolor soap and other toiletries. Is that true?

Vanillin is classified as a non-sensitizing and non-irritating compound, but it’s usually off-limits for commercial soap manufacture. Even small quantities can discolor the product (and the more you use, the darker the color). Tragically, all attempts to employ vanillin derivatives as replacements have been unsuccessful. They either discolor the product like the real thing, or they simply don’t smell like vanilla. Johnson and Johnson actually spent two years and about $8 million trying to fix the problem. They eventually gave up. Nobody puts vanillin in the corner.

Because the various bonded groups of a vanillin molecule react easily, exposure to air causes it to slowly oxidize into vanillic acid. Vanillic acid, in turn, is what discolors soap and other products. Though otherwise harmless, vanillic acid in shaving soaps can occasionally discolor heavily bleached animal hair shaving brushes, especially white badger. The discoloration is generally not permanent, but can be a bit shocking. However, you can easily remove it by soaking your shaving brush in a mild vinegar/water bath (3 parts warm water to 1 part vinegar), cleaning it with soap, and allowing it to dry naturally.

Why does Barrister and Mann even use vanillin, then?

The answer’s pretty simple: there aren’t really any good replacements that are soap-stable, and we feel that it’s important to our brand to continue to push the fragrance envelope. Because vanilla is not a common scent in shaving otherwise, we’re willing to deal with the problem (unless we can find some other way to do it, which is not especially likely) in order to continue to advance and refine our work.

That said, we don’t make many soaps that use high levels of vanillin. To date, only Lavanille and Night Music have used enough to become seriously dark, and only Lavanille remains in constant production.

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Fragrance Review: Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel, the Gentleman’s Violet

Can the modern guy wear Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel? Barrister and Mann weighs in.

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Fragrance these days is largely a matter of incremental innovation. Everyone is racing to do something just a little bit better, a little bit smarter, a little bit more inventively than everyone else. It’s rare for a genuinely different fragrance, one that doesn’t imitate one of its forebears, to make it onto the market. But, then, Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel is no ordinary fragrance.

Designed by the otherwise unknown Roure (now Givaudan-Roure) perfumer Andre Fromentin, Grey Flannel was officially released in 1976, though some sources claim that stock was available as early as 1975. The idea was to design the fragrance equivalent of Beene’s signature fabric, the soft grey flannel from which he cut his famously beautiful suits. This was reflected in its understated, elegant marketing, which made heavy use of the distinctive texture of the material as a backdrop.

A magazine ad for Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel
Something about this image makes me want to adjust the antenna on my TV.

I can find no official note list for Grey Flannel, so I have to rely on the one given by Fragrantica:

Top notes are galbanum, neroli, petitgrain, bergamot and lemon; middle notes are mimosa, iris, violet, sage, rose, geranium and narcissus; base notes are tonka bean, almond, oakmoss, vetiver and cedar.

Seems like a relatively pedestrian list, right? As with everything, there’s more to this fragrance than meets the eye. Geoffrey Beene, pioneer that he was, wanted to create something new, something genuinely original. You really have to smell Grey Flannel to believe it.

What does Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel smell like?

It opens with the sharp bitterness of petitgrain, the tiny, green, unripened fruits of the bitter orange tree. This is brought into sharp relief by subtle flashes of shrill, intensely green galbanum, a plant whose oil smells like nothing so much as fresh celery juice. The galbanum imparts a fleshy, petal-like character to the opening, reminiscent of burying your face in a patch of wild violets. Beneath all of this rests the soft, silvery powder of an elegant iris note, dry and dusty and fabulous, like the olfactory reflection of a 1920s feather boa.

Wrapped around the entire top-note architecture is an assemblage of oakmoss and violet leaf, expertly blended with subtlety and style that you just don’t often see from designer houses these days. At ~$16/oz, there is absolutely no way in Hell that Grey Flannel contains any real violet leaf absolute, and the IFRA’s 43rd revision of its Code of Practice basically guarantees that there’s no real oakmoss in it either.  Instead, the oakmoss note is created through the use of synthetic Veramoss (also sold under the name Evernyl). The violet leaf accord is almost certainly produced with the incorporation of methyl heptine carbonate (a peppery, swampy aromachemical) combined with leaf alcohol, a strange compound produced naturally by most plants that smells of freshly cut grass and crushed leaves.

Curiously, Grey Flannel was, as nearly as I can tell, the very first fragrance ever to incorporate violet leaf as a listed note. While many often point to Creed’s massively overpriced (and unremittingly harsh) 80s flagship Green Irish Tweed as the source of what eventually became a flood of violet leaf scents, Pierre Bourdon and Olivier Creed are believed to have gotten the idea from Geoffrey Beene and Andre Fromentin, who had released Grey Flannel nearly a decade before.

The galbanum and violet leaf eventually fade into the background, allowing a more floral violet and the aforementioned iris to come forward. At this point, the fragrance strikes a lovely balance and develops an almost humid quality, rather like the inside of a greenhouse. I’ve wondered over the years whether the composition includes geosmin, the molecule that creates the smell of damp soil after rain, but, given the fact that geosmin clocks in at around $40/g, it’s not terribly likely. Pretty convincing effect anyway, though.

HOW WELL DOES IT PROJECT AND HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel falls down on the longevity and projection thing. From what I’ve read about its vintage formulations, it used to be a 70s powerhouse, intensely tenacious and strong. There are reports that the fragrance habitually lasted between 12 and 18 hours for most people, likely due in no small part to the presence of real oakmoss and vetiver, both of which are powerful fixatives.

Tragically, that’s no longer the case. Countless reformulations by the various IP holders of the fragrance, combined with increasingly tight restrictions from IFRA, have robbed Grey Flannel of most of its tenacity and projection. You have to wear quite a bit of it these days in order for it to behave as anything more than a skin scent after a few hours. Thankfully, it’s inexpensive enough that this isn’t as much of a problem as you’d think. But it’s a terrible shame to see a once mighty powerhouse robbed of most of its teeth.

You can recover some of the performance using the so-called “layering” technique: apply 2-3 sprays in the same place to boost projection and longevity.

When you should and shouldn’t wear it

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel is refined, understated, elegant, genteel, and wholly without pretense. Honestly, anyone who likes it can wear it quite easily, and its reduced strength actually makes it appropriate for the summer, where its cool violet leaf/iris character makes for a refreshing change from more modern and chemical designs.

This is a cologne that’s at home in any situation. It’s beautifully crafted and smells far more expensive than it is, and it’s plenty interesting enough to keep you from smelling like everyone else. The low projection makes it hard to over-apply, but, like any proper cologne, try not to do it anyway.

Where to buy it

Forty one years after its original release, Grey Flannel is still easy to find. You can pick it up in any Walgreens, CVS, or Walmart, and it’s easy to find online as well. CVS sells a 1 oz (30 ml) bottle for around $16 USD, which is a ridiculous bargain. FragranceNet sells a big ol’ 8 oz bottle for about $22.

Final Verdict

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel remains a masterpiece, even with the nibbling away at its core that has resulted from years of reformulation and regulation. It’s brilliantly sophisticated and remains one of the most original and distinctive fragrances I have ever smelled. If you buy it blind and don’t like it, you can easily give it away, and its minimal cost ensures that the risk in buying it is pretty low.

One particular note: In 1997, Geoffrey Beene released Eau de Grey Flannel, a bright blue,  shrill, horribly derivative fragrance in the vein of Cool Water and various other aquatic scents, but completely devoid of any charm or particular quality. Skip it and go for the original.

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel Comparison
Stick with the one on the left. The one on the right is icky.
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For artisanal shaving soaps, visit Barrister and Mann. For the best smelling and feeling aftershave you’ve ever put on your face, check out Barrister’s Reserve.

Fragrance Review: Versace Eros, or the Fragrant Appeal of Apples

Is Versace Eros the forbidden fruit? Or something less exotic?

Sweet, fresh, bursting with vanilla, and… masculine? Forget what you thought you knew about men’s fragrance. Mannscents by Barrister and Mann breaks down the history and composition of Versace Eros cologne so that it’s accessible to everyone.

Versace Eros was designed by Aurélien Guichard and released in 2012, positioned as one of those “erotic, unrestrained, passionate” fragrances that the haute couture fashion houses seem to love to throw out every so often. Per the Versace website:

“Eros is the fragrance that interprets the sublime masculinity through a luminous aura with an intense, vibrant and glowing freshness obtained from the combination of mint leaves, Italian lemon zest and green apple. An addictive sensuality delivered by Oriental, intriguing and enveloping notes like Tonka Beans, Amber, Geranium Flower and Vanilla. A racy virility symbolized by woods such as Cedarwood from Atlas and Virginia, Vetyver and Oak Moss, providing intensity and power.”

A picture of the man in the Versace Eros ad with a caption about how ridiculous he looks without pants.
Let’s call Versace’s marketing for this one “a little over the top” and save some embarrassment.

“Addictive” might be a bit strong. Eros is pleasant enough, in a synthetically mainstream sort of way, but it’s not really what I think of when I think “sexy enough that I never want to smell like anything else.”

What does Versace Eros smell like?

It opens with a big hit of vanilla, tonka bean, and the synthetic compound ethyl maltol, which smells like nothing so much as fresh cotton candy. It’s pretty sweet when it first starts out, likely due to the fact that creative directors these days seem to be convinced that sweet = sexy. Fairly overwhelming at first, but, thankfully, the sweetness burns off early, allowing the rest of the fragrance to come forward.

Once the vanilla/tonka/maltol opening quiets down, you can smell some of the mint accord beneath, which lends a touch of fresh greenness to the opening. I wouldn’t really call it a “minty” fragrance so much as one that happens to feature certain facets of the smell of common garden mint. Despite Versace’s description, I get absolutely nothing recognizable as lemon from Eros, and it doesn’t strike me as a citrusy fragrance overall. Honestly, a good lemon accord would have evened it out a bit, so I’m rather confused as to why Monsieur Guichard chose to incorporate it at such a low level. Maybe the creative director believes in a “less is more” philosophy when it comes to citrus. Whatever.

I’m not necessarily sure that they did it on purpose, but Versace actually managed to create a perfect example of “transparent” perfumery for the apple note in Eros. Transparent colognes and perfumes are basically the equivalent of olfactory mosaics: they’re greater than the sum of their parts, and, while you can smell the individual notes, the cologne gives an overall picture as soon as you stop focusing on the particular pieces. Eros accomplishes this quite well, and I find the apple note most apparent when I stop paying attention to any specific bit of the structure. Truth be told, I didn’t actually recognize it as apple at first, and I don’t think it’s especially obvious that apple is supposed to be part of the design, but I can see how the overall scent might give that impression. It smells kind of like apple pie a la mode at some points, and remains very sweet for several hours.

Eventually, a touch of ozonic freshness starts to work its way through the sugar, in this case courtesy of the synthetic compound norlimbanol. Norlimbanol is one of those things that you have to smell to believe; the scent of dryness, of absolute desiccation, it’s used to cut the sweetness of many masculine fragrances these days. It’s harsh and sticks at the back of your throat when smelled at full strength, but it works really well when used in trace amounts, as it is here. It’s kind of a tired trope, though, and I wish that perfumers would start using other methods to cut sweetness (or, better yet, just stop making sickeningly sweet colognes). The use in Versace Eros is a little bit obnoxious, permeated with a feeling of “Haven’t I smelled this already, in, like, a dozen other places?” (Edit: See the author’s note below regarding norlimbanol)

As the scent starts to fade, you can smell the geranium a little better too. If you’ve never smelled synthetic geranium, it’s usually made up of several different molecules (particularly geraniol and geranyl acetate), and buttressed with little shots of licorice and mint. That’s especially obvious here, and Eros starts to pick up a mossy, licorice-mint character as it goes. It’s not obviously geranium, but it does work pretty well to close out the scent, which otherwise fades to a nondescript sweet muskiness by the end of its run.

How well does it project and how long does it last?

Versace Eros is pretty long-lived, even as designer fragrances go. I get about 8 hours on my skin, which is quite respectable.

The projection (how well people around you can smell it) is remarkably balanced; not so little that it hangs on to your skin and no one around you can smell it, but not so much that people can smell you coming from 50 feet off.

When you should and shouldn’t wear it

I’d wear Versace Eros as an evening scent or during a casual day at the office, but it’s really not appropriate for a business meeting or a formal event. It’s good for date nights, and a little will go a long way. One or two sprays is enough that you will smell good, but your date will still want to get closer.

Where to buy it

I got my sample at Sephora and, honestly, the best thing you can do is check out your local Sephora, Macy’s, Nordstrom, or whatever other store you can find that will let you smell it, and give this juice a sniff. If you wear it for a day or so and really like it (and if other people like it on you), then pick up a bottle from FragranceNet or some other online fragrance retailer for much cheaper.

Except Amazon. Never buy fragrances from Amazon. More on that in a future article.

Versace Eros packaging
This is what it looks like in the wild.
Final verdict

Eros smells good, and lasts awhile, but it’s kind of generic, and some of the marketing/note list is nonsense. It’s also not really the sort of scent you’d want to wear to work (unless you work in a very casual office). It’s sexy in a bland, very sweet kind of way, but, if you’re looking for something with a bit more sophistication, I’d look elsewhere. Still, you could do a lot worse these days, and guys who are just starting out can wear it without any trouble.

Edit: Author’s Note

I had originally thought that the slight ozone character was the result of the inclusion of norlimbanol, but, upon further reflection, I think it’s actually a feature of International Flavor & Fragrance’s (IFF) Amber X-Treme, a captive perfume molecule that imparts a warm, fresh, amber-y character to fragrances in which it’s included. It’s less harsh than norlimbanol, but has a similar effect.

Knowing how popular it has become in modern masculine fragrances, my guess is that Amber X-Treme is the actual source of the characteristic.

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For artisanal shaving soaps, visit Barrister and Mann. For the best smelling and feeling aftershave you’ve ever put on your face, check out Barrister’s Reserve.