Bergamot, saffron, incense oil and night blooming jasmine—delightfully witchy ingredients for casting a love spell, or eau de parfums from Clean’s new collection, Clean Reserve? Actually, it’s all of the above, because Amber Saffron, Sueded Oud and Skin are pure olfactory magic.
The Clean company arrived on the scene in 2003, and you’re probably familiar with one of their signature scents, Original eau de parfum. Original was inspired by the fresh, clean scent of soap, and was groundbreaking in its very simplicity.
Since then, Clean has expanded the line to myriad other offerings, but their commitment to sourcing sustainable ingredients and using eco-friendly packaging has remained consistent. With the Clean Reserve line in particular, each parfum is blended with a renewable core ingredient, like sandalwood from Sri Lanka or vetiver from Haiti. As a result, Clean’s earth-friendly philosophy is crystallized into scents that are pure and natural but also softly, deliciously glamorous.
Aesthetically, the packaging is clean and appealing; the scents are housed in fat glass bottles with simple labels and tops of reclaimed wood. But it’s what inside that truly won me over. All three parfums are cozy and warm, and exceedingly soft. These aren’t the kind of scents that shout and do cartwheels the second you enter a room; rather, they announce their presence in a subtle whisper.
First up is Amber Saffron, a floral oriental. Top notes are bergamot, armoise artemisia, (a varietal of sage) and mandarin oil (cultivated in Brazil); middle notes are rose, lily, and raspberry, and base notes are musk, saffron, and amber. Amber Saffron reminds me of a cashmere sweater worn by Marilyn Monroe, meaning sweet and cozy but with sex appeal to spare.
The bright, sunny sweetness of raspberry and mandarin predominate upon first application, but then the smoky, sultry base emerges at dry down, and you have something like—ok, let’s go back to Marilyn for a sec. So Marilyn is wearing cashmere and a cherry red lip, she’s reading a novel, and Arthur Miller is typing and smoking a cigar in the next room. Sweetness, smoke, and a hint of sin, in short.
Next up is Skin Reserve Blend, a floral musk (not to be confused with the original Clean Skin parfum). This one has notes of fresh musks, warm skin accords, Tonka bean, and salted praline, and the formula is made with copaiba oil sustainably sourced from the Amazon. Incredibly subtle, Skin would be a wonderful choice when you need something low key and subdued—it’s the kind of scent that’s like a secret, only detectable to someone very close to you.
The musk and skin accords infuse this with…well, the scent of skin, like the top of a baby’s head minus the baby powder; the salted praline lends a bit of complicated depth, almost a faint note of ocean brine, while the vanilla and cinnamon notes of the Tonka bean sweeten things up. Of all the Clean Reserve scents, this one was the most fleeting for me, in terms of staying power, but this also means you can basically bathe in the stuff and not offend anyone’s nose.
Lastly, we come to my favorite—Sueded Oud, a woody musk. Lately, I’m all about spicy, rich, woody scents; I just want to smell like a glamorous forest witch all the time, basically, and Sueded Oud is getting me one step closer to that goal.
Top notes are incense oil, blue cypress, birch wood, red pimento, and honeysuckle; middle notes are temple oud, night blooming jasmine, white magnolia, fir balsam, Bushman’s Candle (a shrub harvested sustainably by the nomadic Himbas tribe of Namibia), and base notes are soft suede, gold patchouli, black amber, praline, skin musk and olibanum tears.
Oud is a big favorite of mine—it’s also called agarwood, and it’s a pricey and prized wood resin often used in religious ceremonies. Here, it blooms on the skin with notes of pepper and clove and tilled earth. Add the incense oil (smoky sweet), the birch wood and fir (fresh, green, spicy) and the patchouli (mysteriously, darkly rich) and you have a singular and scintillating parfum. Sueded Oud calls this scenario to mind: you stumble upon Baba Yaga’s hut in the deep dark forest—but you smell so good she invites you in for tea, instead of devouring your bones. It’s THAT good, you guys: Baba Yaga approves.
My one small caveat is that the sillage and longevity of each parfum is not super intense. For me, this isn’t a big deal; there are some scents meant to be worn close to the skin, and these fit the bill beautifully. Plus, many of the Reserve parfums can easily be layered with each other, and cocktailing them in this way seems to increase the staying power. Another silver lining is that you could layer them with your other favorite perfumes, as well.
Overall, these fragrances have won a coveted spot upon my parfum altar. Between the delectable scents and the sustainable core ingredients, Clean Reserve has captured magic in a bottle.
Each bottle is a hefty 3.4 oz and retails for $90.
We heartsters: Any of these parfums piquing your fancy? Have you tried any other Clean scents?
Amity writes and teaches in Central PA. Her obsessions include: Rodarte (she can’t afford any Rodarte, mind you, but a girl can dream), espresso, books, vintage/thrift fashion and fountain pens. She thinks you should dress like a weirdo once in a while, just to shake things up.