“The Sexiest Scent on the Planet. Ever. (IMHO)” is quite a name for a fragrance, and a tall order to boot, subjective humble opinions notwithstanding. I personally don’t share the sentiment described in the title, but “The Sexiest Scent” (as I shall call it here for reasons of simplicity and speed) from 4160 Tuesdays is not a bad perfume, and has some enjoyable aspects. I can’t say the same for 4160 Tuesday’s other vanilla scent, The Dark Heart of Old Havana, which I shall cover in a different review.
4160 Tuesdays is a small, British house founded in 2013 by Sarah McCartney, who spent 14 years as the head writer for Lush. Her new venture is essentially a one-woman show, as she creates the perfumes, apparently bottles them herself from what I’ve read, and deals with all aspects of the business. On her website, she explains about the history, philosophy, and name of her house:
Sarah had been writing about perfume for 15 years, then started making the scents she’d described in her novel, fragrances that reminded the characters of a happy time. Then friends started asking her to make perfumes to capture their own happy times. […][¶]
The name: if we live until we’re 80, we have 4160 Tuesdays.
That’s all. Let’s not waste them.
Let’s use them to write, think, make and do lovely things. Or, if that sounds great but you don’t have time, to buy lovely things that other makers have put together.
On a Tuesday, do something different.
4160 Tuesdays is all about being creative: mindful observation, nerd-like fascination, endless exploration and – fingers crossed – mixing it all up and having good ideas. At least once a week. If we can’t be bright and brilliant every day, at least let’s have a crack at making Tuesdays interesting.
The Sexiest Scent is one of fifteen eau de parfums released last year by the fledgling perfume house, and its name stems from a remark by a journalist who loved the fragrance. Sarah McCartney explains the story briefly on her website, along with the perfume’s notes:
It started life as the background for a bespoke fragrance event we did with The Gin Garden. It was specially designed to be smooth, unassuming, quiet, sensual and to stay close to the skin. (We would take this, then add the gin botanicals to make a gin inspired scent.) But then we did a special event for two VIP guests, and one was a journalist. She liked it on its own, as did many of the other visitors, and declared it, “the sexiest scent ever!” and so it came to be named.
Hints of citrus, of wood, of soft sweetness and a sensual musky ambergris blend. It’s all heart.
Ingredients: Alcohol, Parfum, Citral, Limonene, Linalool.
top notes: bergamot
heart notes: woods
base notes: vanilla/ambergris
There are two things left off that list, in my opinion. First, and most importantly, ISO E Super. Lots (and lots) of ISO E Super. Second, clean, white musk. I’m not alone in my beliefs, either. On Fragrantica, white musk garners the most votes (19) for any single ingredient in The Sexiest Scent, followed by vanilla at 15. And several commentators find the perfume to have enormous similarities to Escentric Molecules Molecule 01, which is practically 100% ISO E Supercrappy.
Regular readers know my feelings about both those elements, especially the latter when it appears in vast quantities. As I’ve written in the past, some people find ISO E Super to have an aphrodisiac or pheromone-like quality, while others are largely anosmic to its aroma. (Lucky devils). Even those who can detect it often don’t have problems that I do, perhaps because of the fact that the chemical’s very large molecules can block out the nose’s receptors. It is one reason why fragrances with a lot of ISO E Super can be hard to detect when smelt up close for too long, but are easier to notice from a distance or with some time between sniffs. Significant quantities of the aromachemical are thereby sometimes responsible for what I describe as a “ghost scent,” a fragrance which seems to vanish away completely for a while, only to pop back up a few hours later.
As a whole, ISO E Super’s smell can vary, from the “woody buzz” described by Luca Turin, to a very peppered woodiness, or pure rubbing alcohol with a revoltingly medicinal, antiseptic vibe. Some people think it smells of somewhat sweet skin, though that’s never happened to me. On me, the particular aroma varies from fragrance to fragrance, and often depends on the amount that is used. The greater the quantity, the more it smells like rubbing alcohol, and the more that it is guaranteed to give me a raging migraine. I have made it abundantly clear that I do not like fragrances with hefty amounts of aromachemicals or ISO E Super, and that I will criticize them sharply.
It is in this context that I say that 4160 Tuesday’s fragrance isn’t bad, relatively speaking, and almost pleasant on occasion. It don’t find it to be “The Sexiest Scent on the Planet” (let alone “Ever“) and yes, the ISO E Super acts up in all its problematic ways, including its ghostly dance, but I have smelled substantially worse things in my life. I certainly don’t think perfume is anywhere close to being as bad as Molecules 01, the absolutely terrifying Ormonde Jayne Montabaco (which cemented my ISO E Super trauma and whose name pains me to this day), other Ormonde Jaynes, the nightmarish Montale Lime Aoud (which I deem to be an olfactory Chernobyl), or several scents from Andy Tauer, Imaginary Authors, Parfumerie Generale, or Montale.
In fact, “The Sexiest Scent” is an approachable, almost fluffy, somewhat decent vanilla with fluctuating levels of sunny lemon and dry woodiness. It’s an extremely simple scent, without much complexity or depth, but it’s quite pleasant at times. At least, when I can smell it. And, yes, I actually am as surprised as I seem, because I fully expected “The Sexiest Scent” to be a full-scale trauma between its two problematic notes. What is pleasant about the perfume is that it isn’t a cloying, sugar-fest with saccharine-sweet, candy cane vanilla that will put you into a diabetic coma. It opens with visuals of sunny light from the juicy bergamot, even if its freshness is amplified by a clean, white musk. Then, later, it turns significantly drier and woodier in nature. So, onto the specifics.
“The Sexiest Scent” opens on my skin as lemony vanilla with cedar, ISO E Super, and white musk. There is a sunny, almost child-like innocence in the brightness of its lemon notes and in the fluffy, softness of its airy vanilla. While the latter is thankfully free from the cotton-candy vibe, there is a heavy synthetic feel to the scent as a whole, especially when sniffed up close. In fact, the white musk is almost as prominent as the ISO E Super at first. Yet, to my surprise given the quantities in question, neither one is particularly harsh or strident. In fact, there is only an occasional nuance of antiseptic rubbing alcohol to the aromachemical. By the same token, the white musk never turns into the dreaded hairspray note.
What’s pretty about the start is the juicy richness of the lemon which infuses every part of the vanilla, creating an endless vista of yellow in my mind’s eye. The vanilla is perfectly balanced as a counterpart, even if both notes are sometimes overwhelmed by…. yes, you guessed it. Lurking in the sidelines is the cedar which is initially quite pleasant, though it later takes on a subtle nuance of pencil shavings.
“The Sexiest Scent” changes slowly, though its core essence remains largely the same. The bright bergamot-lemon fades roughly 30 minutes into its development, while the woody notes grow stronger, vying with the vanilla and ISO E Super for dominance. The perfume is now largely a woody vanilla with aromachemicals, white musk, and a touch of citrus. It turns slowly drier in nature, as the cedar and the ISO E Super’s woody undertones become more prominent. By the 2.5 hour mark, it is largely just a dry vanilla fragrance with some woodiness.
“The Sexiest Scent” is an airy fragrance with initially moderate sillage that soon turns quite discreet. Using the equivalent of 2 good smears, the perfume projected about 3 inches, but it weakened substantially after 30 minutes. At that point, it hovered a mere inch at best above my skin. Roughly 75 minutes into its development, the perfume turned into a skin scent that became hard to detect.
And that is due primarily to the ISO E Super. Not its actual aroma, but the way it can turn scents into a ghost act when a lot of it is used. On my skin, The Sexiest Scent in the World starts to fade in and out as early as the end of the first hour. There is so much ISO E that the extra-large molecules overwhelmed my nose, and blocked out the remainder of the notes. I frequently had to take pauses, go aside, or sniff something else entirely and then come back to the scent later in order to detect it. I was almost certain the perfume had permanently vanished from my skin around the 2.5 hour mark, and, in fact, it actually did “disappear” for a good 60 minutes. Then, suddenly, “The Sexiest Scent” returned as a blur of slightly dry, woody vanilla. It lingered as a subtle skin scent for a short while longer, then died away completely right at the end of the 4th hour and the start of the 5th.
On Fragrantica, there is a lot of love for The Sexiest Scent, with some commentators raving about the vanilla’s richness, its woody aspects, or the boozy element that a few posters detected. Others, however, find the cedar to render the fragrance rather masculine in nature; note the perfume’s short duration or skin scent characteristics; or talk about its similarity to the ISO E Super-centric Molecule 01. A lot of people spend a significant amount of time discussing the perfume’s name, or that of 4160 Tuesdays as a whole. There are many critics. I personally really like what 4160 Tuesdays’ name symbolizes, because I think it’s a very positive message about life and living it to its fullest. That said, I do think there is an overly clever, intentionally manipulative marketing aspect to the actual perfume’s title, and it would be disingenuous if anyone were to pretend otherwise.
Ultimately, however, none of that is particularly relevant to the issue of how “The Sexiest Scent” actually smells or to its quality, so here is a sampling of the various opinions about the fragrance itself:
- I’m surprised to see the iso-e-super isn’t used in this perfume as it smells very similar to Escentric Molecules Molecule 01, but with a dash of vanilla. Anyway if you don’t know what iso-e-super smells like, it’s basically a peppery, woody, musky smell. I like that this has vanilla, but I think if I were to buy either of these I’d go with Molecule 01 simply because it has better sillage and longevity.
- I find this quite masculine with a cedar type of note the most persistent. It does seem to want some top note so I layered it with some Rose cologne and that set it off quite well. Not very strong and only the darkest woody notes persist beyond an hour.
- Drydown smells like Molecule01 with spicy vanilla. Sexy by association.
- IMHO; this is one of the best vanillas out there, and I have many! It’s a gorgeous, woody vanilla with a slight boozy note. Very cozy, and comforting. It kind of reminds me of sitting beside a campfire on a cool evening. Perfect for fall, and I would love to get a bottle. [¶] Vanilla lovers, you’re missing out if you haven’t tried this one. It’s amazing!
- This is a beautifully addictive citrus and vanilla that has me sniffing my arm all day. Clearly high quality ingredients and great longevity on my skin.
- It’s crazy but occasionally you open a sample and go YES. This is it, I love this. […] Straight away my husband said bonfires, and now I read that we are not alone in thinking this. It’s familiar, comforting, simple, complex, creamy, uplifting, cozy, known, and yet different and unique.
- this, in my opinion, is done very very well. Goes on smooth, rich, “full”, it is not at all watery or insipid. Lovely natural smelling vanilla, this smells expensive, the bergamot lifts it and makes it light and airy, and the woody notes give it a firm grounding and depth preventing it from floating off into the total fluffy-bunny arena! The musks add a warm sensuous note, and all together, with the 4160Tuesdays base recognisable in all their scents this makes for a really good perfume.
On Basenotes, there are two reviews which are split down the middle. The first one is sharply negative, and talks about how the “dreadful” white musk ruins the scent with its resemblance to “those god-awful plug-in air fresheners,” as well as the perfume’s linear nature and short duration:
This is definitely overhyped, I think.
On initial application, there is a full, fresh bergamot, not too sharp, but smooth and clean. After about 15 minutes this goodwill is utterly destroyed by a dreadful, off-key white musk that reminds me of those god-awful plug-in air fresheners. Luckily, vanilla arrives to smooth this off and finally vetiver lingers in the background. The sillage is weak after the bergamot and the longevity only around 2-3 hours.
This is very much a feminine scent (and this comes from a guy who wears Black Orchid) and is linear in delivery and execution. All mouth and no trousers, IMHO.
The second review is more positive, though:
Cedarwood seems to be the main player here but the whole fragance has a ‘musky’ feel. I’m a little worried about the longevity — I need to give it a proper day’s wear. [Snip irrelevant part about the perfume’s title.]
Very nice indeed and, yes — it is sexy
On MakeupAlley, there is only one review thus far which rates The Sexiest Scent with 2 lipsticks out of 5, and essentially finds the perfume to be pleasant, over-marketed kitsch that is more boring than anything else. The review reads, in part:
It’s likeable and smells . . . nice. But this is sexy only in a very obvious, well-it-has-vanilla-so-it-must-be-sexy way. There’s nothing complex or interesting to it, and ultimately I don’t recommend it because the lasting power is terrible, and it’s . . . well, BORING. The scent is good enough, and I probably will use up my sample, but I wouldn’t buy a full bottle of this frgrance. In MY honest opinion, I’ve tried a few samples from this line, and I think it’s more kitsch and marketing than substance.
There are many more reviews out there for The Sexiest Scent, most of which are almost entirely raves from British bloggers.
My assessment is that The Sexiest Scent is pleasant, incredibly simplistic, and terribly over-hyped. It’s better than what I thought it would be, but that may well be because I braced myself and expected to be brutalized, thanks to all the comparisons to Molecule 01 and my personal aromachemical issues. Still, it’s not a bad scent, and there are some nice bits that float in and out of the woody haze. On the other hand, I do not think it smells particularly expensive, and $90 for 50 ml of heavy aromachemicals with vanilla and a fleeting touch of lemon seems a little high. I also wonder if perhaps a few of the rave reviews have been subconsciously influenced by the perfume’s name.
At the end of the day, The Sexiest Scent is not my cup of tea, but if you enjoy woody vanilla scents and don’t mind a lot of synthetics, then give it a sniff. You may like its initial lemony sunniness and its subsequent dryness, especially if you’ve been looking for a vanilla scent that isn’t extremely sweet or cloying.
Disclosure: My sample was kindly provided by Luckyscent. That did not influence this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.