Milk is the fragrance note du jour this year. Bizarre, we know. But not only does the soft, creamy scent of milk offer a hint of nostalgia to fragrances, making them infinitely more desirable, they also make the wearer smell irresistible too. “Milk is the latest ingredient perfumers are calling on to add a touch of dynamism to their creations. Like gourmand notes, milk notes evoke a sense of comfort and pleasure,” explains perfumer Roja Dove.
Now, I’m not a big milk drinker. I’ll take a splash in my coffee but that’s about it. So, do I want to douse myself in perfume that flaunts hints of dairy? Well, actually, yes I do. Penhaligon’s has two new fragrances out called Agarbathi and Paithani, both contain sulfurol, which the perfumer behind the scents describes as his favourite milky ingredient. “Sulfurol imparts creaminess, volume, and a new type of addiction to a perfume,” he says.
And it’s true: The entirety of Byrdie and Who What Wear HQ are addicted to the perfumes. Not a day goes by without a different team member spritzing them on. In fact, one evening, the office handyman walked in and smelt Penhaligon’s exotic Agarbathi perfume lingering in the air. “What is that?!” he asked, sniffing. Not only did he love the fragrance (a bit more than was probably appropriate), he also asked if he could wear some himself. They’re the kind of scents that you have an almost compulsive and yearning attraction to.
But there's no milk in milk fragrances...
The thing is that none of the milk perfumes actually contain the white stuff. “Due to technical reasons, perfumers cannot use natural milk directly in perfumes. But thanks to our scientists who synthesise perfumery molecules, perfumers have a small palette of ingredients that can help create the olfactive illusion of mil,” explains Lee.
Other milk-like ingredients are known as lactones, “which are found in fruits and tend to smell like coconut or peach on their own, but when mixed with vanilla, they create a milky smell,” Nick Gilbert, director of fragrance consultancy Olfiction, told ThePerfumeShop.com. “Milky notes add a calming element to perfume, and perfumers are always looking at intriguing ingredients to add to their fragrances.”
This isn’t the first time milk aromas have found thier way into scents, Jo Malone lauched Sweet Milk as part of its Tea Collection back in 2011. The 1999 Rush by Gucci contains lactones, while Kenzo’s 2006 Amour famously reminds people of rice pudding. But what’s intriguing is that perfumes with milk notes are launching thick and fast, and have been since late 2016.
Keep scrolling for our top picks of the soothing, creamy and downright addictive new milk-based perfumes.
Inspired by Indian temples, this heady, smoky fragrance with hints of incense, vetiver and suede mingles with the skin for an irresistible aroma that lingers in the air and on your skin.
A seriously addictive and creamy scent, this is inspired by Cleopatra's milk baths. It also features creamy vanilla absolute and notes of almond, musk and benzoin, a resin with a sweet and comforting aroma.
One of the early adopters of the milk note, this launched at the end of 2016. A fresh, citrus scents with hints of wood that take the edge of the fruity notes, this contains an almond milk note that softens the fragrance.
This milky-scented offering opens with almond and sweet, powdery heliotrope and leaves the scent of comforting vanilla lingering on the skin.
Spices (cardamon, nutmeg and pepper), leather and milky rose mingle together for a highly intoxicating and addictive aroma.
With whipped cream and vanilla, this milky-scented perfume is not like the original Angel, derisive. Hazelnut, wood and vetiver blend to create a standout scent.