In case you didn’t get the memo, jasmine is here to notify you that spring is officially about to kick winter in the butt. If you ask me, there’s nothing sweeter than those first wafts of the tiny blossom’s hypnotic scent lingering on a suddenly not-icy evening. (I like to think of them as giving an olfactory high-five to frosé, playsuits, and extra helpings of Nars’ Laguna, $57.) Perfume specialist (and fellow jasmine lover) Victoria Frolova of boisdejasmin.com is on the same page: “It’s a complex, rich note with many nuances, such as green, fruity, even leathery. It lends itself to many interpretations.”
In perfume speak, a big part of what gives jasmine its signature cross-the-street-to-sniff character is a curious chemical called indole. Released as jasmine petals start to wilt and brown, it acts as a desperate come-hither to insects that might pollinate the plant’s flowers. Turns out, jasmine-spiked scents have a similar affect on us. “Almost all jasmine perfumes are indolic,” explains Frolova. When isolated in a lab, indole smells more like mothballs than anything else, but “a tiny amount is all it takes to infuse life into a composition of floral notes; to make an abstract, vague petal-y form appear as a lush, nectar-suffused flower.”
In sum, depending on the cocktail of notes paired with jasmine, it can come off as light and pretty, a little musky or straight-up dirty. In celebration of spring’s heroine flower, I’ve pulled together some of the best jasmine scents out there and ranked them on an indole-o-meter from sweet to sexy AF.
Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint Cologne
Now, I’m not saying this smells like toothpaste. (Really, it doesn’t.) But there is something gorgeously refreshing about it, like running your tongue over squeaky-clean teeth. The addition of zingy mint to bright jasmine creates a vibrant cologne that’s rounded out with dry, light cedar and a touch of spice. One spritz totally evaporates even the mere mention of Jasmine’s salacious reputation.
The Body Shop Indian Night Jasmine
This budget-friendly juice is lovely and fresh, opening up with jasmine’s best mate orange blossom. You’ll also smell dewy violet leaf, the flower’s steady companion right through this oriental-on-L-plates scent. Perfect for Saturday strolls or post-gym, this is one you can spray with abandon. Layer it with the matching lotion for jasmine coverage all-over. *winks*
Grandiflora Madagascan Jasmine Stephanotis
Trust a professional flower wrangler to nail jasmine perfume. This is Sydney florist Saskia Havekes’ third fragrance, a collaboration with French perfumer Michel Roudnitska, done pen-pal style. (Havekes sent him jasmine to study, he sent her samples until they nailed the blend). The waxy, fleshy Madagascan jasmine variety of this dreamy bloom creates a soliflore (a perfume dedicated to a single floral note), which is super-sensual but cool at the same time with a moody, lush character like like floating down a moon-lit tropical river.
Givenchy Dahlia Divin Le Nectar De Parfum
Nectar is an apt description of this ambrosial liquid. Once the temperature gauge starts topping out as we head into the summertime, this sensual blend of jasmine, mimosa (that’s wattle flower to you) vanilla, rose, sandalwood and musk will come into its own. (And you will have me to thank for it.) This is jasmine whipped into a swoon-worthy syrup.
Etat Libre d’Orange Jasmin et Cigarette ($185)
This one is not for the faint-hearted, but if you want your jasmine served up a little trashy, accept the dare offered by never-boring Etat Libre d’Orange. Here the jasmine notes have been purified to add an airy lightness, then spun together with dry, acrid notes of smoke and tobacco. Apparently inspired by classic sirens of the silver screen, I’m betting this is what a Madonna film clip set smelled like circa Justify My Love.
This story originally ran on Byrdie as Sweet vs. Sexy: Which Spring Scent is Right For You?