Do you remember the smell of your school pencil case? That’s really the smell of cedar, which is of course also the wood used for pencils. Of course it smells woody, but that’s just too simple: it also has a freshness, with hints of resin. If you’ve ever walked in an evergreen forest, cedar will transport you back there, too. And so many utterly fabulous fragrances employ cedar to evoke this forest-y wonderment.
It’s mostly the foliage (from trees grown in the Atlas mountains of Morocco, or Virginia in the USA) that is steam-distilled to produce the intense oil, which is also used in aromatherapy for calming and balancing. Sometimes, the roots and the wood of this slow-growing tree are used, putting some environmental question marks over its use today. Partly for that reason, there are now quite a few cedar-like synthetic notes used to give depth and a ‘grounding’ quality across some women’s fragrances – and many men’s.
As ‘nose’ Christine Nagel explains, cedar wood can be used to different effect: ‘Virginian cedar has a dry and almost “nervous” effect in a fragrance, whereas cedar wood from the Atlas Mountains is much warmer…’
Which of these cedar-infused fragrances do you want to try first? We urge you to seek them out in the colder months ahead for the comfort of nostalgia plus the magically spacious quality they can offer in a scent…
Ostens Cedarwood Heart
‘Cedarwood Heart leaves a dry, almost pencil-shavings scent on the skin that’s then softened by an unexpected, slightly creamy and almost vanilla like quality’ they say, and within seconds of this sumptuously comforting scent being on your skin, we know you’re going to fall for it in a big way. The cedar is nuanced, flinty at first then sinking into that deliciously soft creaminess, which has a natural sweetness but stays far away from the ‘gourmand’. Truly woody, with a sense that you’re floating above a forest in a dream, or are somehow living in a storybook treehouse. Magnificent!
Try a sample in the Ostens Discovery Set – £40 for all six scent samples to adore!
Maya Njie Nordic Cedar
Within Nordic Cedar, you truly feel as though you’ve walked into one of the atmospheric photographs Maya Njie is inspired to create her fragrances around. Harking to her part Swedish heritage, although we may never have visited the exact forest this scent evokes, all of us wearing it can feel a sense of towering trees, the shadows thrown by lofty canopies far above our heads, that reassuring comfort of cedar mixed with earthy patchouli – all enclosing us in a hug as cardamom gifts brightness, ambergris adds cool mist, and it feels like we’ve been on a fabulously fragrant walk.
Try a sample (along with five other fragrances) in the Maya Njie Discovery Set – £34 for 6 x 2ml samples
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Experimental Perfume Club Smell Like a King
A brilliant blending of heritage and modernity in which so-clever perfumer/ founder Emmanuelle Moeglin melds ginger, turmeric, salt-tinged woods and mellow tobacco of her Cardamom Moss with the unashamedly magnificent leather and herbaceous depth of the stunning Cedarwood Absinth base (do also try this scent on its own – glorious!) Think wooden-panelled rooms and freshly rolled cigars glinting with a verdant freshness, mellowed with a husky muskiness that exudes confidence. Easy to wear yet stylishly characterful, this really deserves a fanfare.
From £35 for 8ml eau de parfum experimentalperfumeclub.com
Laboratorio Olfattivo Tonkade
This cedar-enriched stunner is from the perfume house’s Nero collection, with an unusual opening of seasonal dried fruits, neroli, tonka bean, and a cool breeze of cardamom spice leading to a crescendo of warm woods – all swirled with that deliciously dry cedar to meld the composition. In the trail, patchouli and soft vanilla add to the moody, woody vibe which positively bursts out of the so-stylish bottle. Then as the pace slows again, enjoy a smoky-sweet base accord that swirls with soft musks – a misty perfumed path you’ll be following (and trailing) all day…
From £110 for 100ml eau de parfum pulseofperfumery.com
COSMOSS Sacred Mist
Kate Moss taps into powerful ingredients to showcase into her spiritual side, embracing meditation and mindfulness with her signature gusto. And we couldn’t be happier with that metamorphosis, expressed via her Cocomoss skincare collection, also offering us an astonishingly accomplished Chypre creation in which subtle jasmine and tuberose fuse with geranium and bergamot. It’s the sense-soothing, calming notes of oakmoss, cedarwood and tonka that we’re spritzing and re-spritzing – on and off the yoga mat.
Try a sample (plus 11 other scents & a body care treat) in our Garden of Delights Discovery Box £23 / £19 for VIPs