Given the choice, I will always pick an oil-based fragrance over an alcohol spray.
Not that this option arises very often, mind you. But I much prefer the softer, longer-lasting effect of an oil, which seems to sink into your skin better and stay close throughout the day. Alcohol sprays have better diffusion, but they can be a bit over-powering (#rude) and at least on me, wear off faster.
Sadly, I've only got a few oils in my collection (such as the inimitable Child—people STILL greet me asking if I'm wearing it). So I was excited to try the new Nirvana perfume oils from Elizabeth and James.
Okay, kinda excited. Elizabeth and James is a fashion line created by Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, so I'm always a bit wary when celebrities are involved. But they're pretty cool girls, and at least their brand doesn't obnoxiously have their names in it.
And I really like their longtime hairstylist, Mark Townsend (I'm in the middle of transcribing another interview with him, so stay tuned!). In fact, he was JUST telling me how much they love oils for their hair. So it makes total sense that they'd do oil versions of their perfumes (which I hadn't tried before this).
Nirvana Black is the more intense, I suppose "evening" one:
I was sure it wasn't going to be for me, upon first application. The notes are violet, sandalwood and vanilla. Too rich, too heavy, I thought. I'm more of a sparkly, clean, fruity-vanilla girl.
But NO. I love this sooo much now. Just give it about 20 minutes to dry down, and you'll end up with the most beautiful, softly sexy, warm scent that stays close to your skin. I don't know if this applies to the alcohol version as well, but I feel like the oil is making it better. It really fuses with you, and isn't overpowering at all. I just want to keep smelling my wrists, with the yummy, wintry vanilla that is the perfect balance between masculine and feminine.
The other one is Nirvana White:
Now you see, I thought I'd love this one more, because it's quite feminine and light upon the initial dab. The notes are peony, muguet (lily of the valley) and musk, and I figured they would be more "me."
I like it, but surprisingly, I like Nirvana Black tons more. What's weird is that the White one ends up being the stronger of the two, with a very pronounced floral note that just sits on top of my skin and lingers like you wouldn't believe. I think it just doesn't agree as well with my body chemistry, and comes off a little strong/mature compared to how I like to smell (sexy, sweet).
In terms of size, these guys fit in the palm of your hand (so great for popping in your handbag):
And there's a little dropper in the cap (you only need one drop per wear):
I'd say, give 'em both a go to see which one you prefer—but make sure to assess after a good 30-minute dry-down period, because they really need to sink in before you make your decision.
The best part is, they're only $42 each ($35 in the U.S.), so in fragrance-land, a pretty sweet deal!
Where To Buy
Find Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black and Nirvana White Perfume Oils at Sephora.