Makeup Perfume: The Fragrance Trend To Help You Smell Like Fave Beauty Products

For makeup lovers, perfumes that replicate the scent of lipsticks, powders, and blushes may be the trend of the year.

For makeup lovers, perfumes that replicate the scent of lipsticks, powders, and blushes may be the trend of the year.

The world of perfume can be an intimidating one. I’ve long loved all things colorful, spangly, silky and blendable (makeup is what I’m talking about), and the comforting thing is, you can usually tell quite quickly if you visually like something or not.

Perfume is a different kettle of fish — because the sense of smell is so weirdly emotive, it really is a lot about how you’re projecting yourself in the world. That’s a lot of responsibility for a beauty product!

But a “trend” (although I think of the perfume world as so cerebral and artistique as to be largely above the earthly manner of trends) that’s been noticed lately is a delightful blending of the makeup and perfume worlds. That is to say, perfume that smells like makeup. Now, I may not know exactly what smells = good, but one thing I do know is that I love makeup, and any excuse to turn my being into a paean of cosmetics is alright by me. Obviously, I am all in. Here are my favorite makeup-perfumes.

The first is from super cool brand Etat Libre D’Orange, and is called Putain des Palaces (roughly translates to Slut at the Hotel — I’m so into it). It’s supposed to be inspired by the inside of a high-class prostitute’s handbag — all crushed-up powder compacts and tobacco and just a hint of something feral. You might think a name like that would suggest a strong, overpowering, tacky scent, but the result is surprisingly subtle. It’s sweet and sort of traditionally perfume-y, but with a hint of something more interesting lurking beneath. It’s like wearing a perfume with a secret, which is, in a way, the sexiest thing of all.

Right, enough of me talking about being sexy. I feel very uncomfortable, so God knows how you guys are coping.

Next is the newest offering from Maison Margiela’s Replica line, called Lipstick On. This is a more self-consciously makeuppy scent, inspired by “Chicago 1952,” and supposedly smelling of “Night Blush and Rice Powder.” While I do definitely get a powderiness from this, for me it is a fragrance of two halves. On first spray it’s a light, airy floral — rose and iris, which I believe are the two holy grails of making stuff smell like makeup. As the floral dies down, though, this fades into an almost fizzy, cherry-esque scent. I absolutely love this, not least for spraying it on and then asking everyone around you what they think you smell like (fun).

A surprisingly similar experience comes from L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Drôle de Rose. This is sort of the original makeup-perfume, inspired, I think, by the getting-ready portion of a girl’s night out (AKA, secretly the best). It’s a greener floral than Lipstick On, and of course more unapologetically rosy, but not in a cloying way — I find it really quite light and fresh. Rather than a fruity cherry base note, this fades to a sweet, warm leathery base. And, although I know it’s kind of irrelevant: dat bottle. I’ll say no more.

For those wanting an even more intense lipstick experience, it’s hard to beat Frederic Malle’s Lipstick Rose. This is sweeter and stronger than the previous two, requiring two sprays at most for all-day lipsticky goodness. It also seems to be slightly more of a “fun” take on the subject — it’s sort of silly and light-hearted, but in the best way. Instead of any sort of green freshness, this is just the sweetest, most feminine take on the makeup perfume genre. I feel an almost emotional love for it.

Finally, for those balling on a budget, I just want to point you in the kindly, comforting direction of Coty’s L’Aimant. While all my other options are mid-price to very expensive, this is a straight up barg, at around $15 for 50ml. While it isn’t as makeup-inspired as my others (this is a fairly new concept, and thus the inevitable trickle-down effect is not yet in play) it is, to me, a perfume which just smells like perfume. It’s aldehydic (which basically, to me, means "smells a bit like Chanel No. 5") and florally-powdery. Honestly, it's just delightful. Vintagey and feminine — it’s of this genre, if not in actual “notes,” then certainly in feel.

Take your makeup love to its logical conclusion via a sensory attack on all fronts. Smelling like old ladies' handbags and young ladies' dressing tables and powder puffs and lipstick bullets has never been so easy as it is right now. It’s the scent family you didn’t know you wanted to be yours until you realized it could be. 

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