Columns The Scented Ages of Man: Part 1, Eau Baby!

The Scented Ages of Man: Part 1, Eau Baby!

02/20/17 12:21:31 (15 comments)

by: Elena Vosnaki, Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Figures of men with fragrance bottles in background

Men on a fragrant mission should start early, in our informed opinion. The earlier the better, in order to train their noses and be able to appreciate the many nuances of the world on offer around them. There are of course some cultural differences surrounding fragrance use on younger folks. Whereas some North Americans might view perfume use as sexualizing the infant (and furthermore which scent is more delicious than the one infants naturally own?) giving them a role beyond their years, in Europe or South America, for example, scent use is often disassociated from its erotic subtext and enjoyed as a mere sensual pleasure. It's compared to  consuming something not specifically associated with childhood, like the Italian habit of letting young teens consume milk with a drop of coffee in it; not predictable but not harmful either.

Some fragrant notes have almost a natural leaning into innocence. Neroli and citrus are happy smells, insouciant and carefree. Vanilla in its simpler forms is soft and universally pleasing, recalling comfort and love. Lavender is an herbal note that is associated with entering masculine grooming; so many people have scented their clean linen with lavender that it has become code for propriety and decorum. But its use in masculine colognes and shaving creams is also a popular reference for what is yet to come. Mimosa and powder are soft, fluffy, billowy, the very smells we associate with babies. And of course there is a place for other notes, too, woven into the mix.

The important thing is that scent in young age should stand for well-being, a gesture of simply feeling good, rather than projecting a calculated message meant to express a deeper truth or manipulate one's environment into desired reactions. With that concept and with a duo of writers of contrasting backgrounds we embarked on an 8-part mission to highlight some of the aromas we associate with men at different times in their lives; some are our own favorites, others are fragrances we consider iconic for specific age groups or life phases, and yet others we would proudly gift to the men in our lives. We hope you enjoy our completely subjective choices as a Greek woman and American man and invite you to weigh in with your own thoughts about the scented ages of man.
 

ELENA VOSNAKI,
EDITOR FRAGRANTICA IN GREEK

 

Versace Baby Blue Jeans

Versace Baby Blue Jeans

If Jicky is the imperishable fougere for men (and women with an androgynous desire in their mind), then Baby Blue Jeans is the toddler equivalent. It's the bicycle with training wheels to introduce your little boy into fragrance with a scent that is equal parts soft and inedible. Smelling like lavender-vanilla powder and subtle moss it recalls the grooming ritual of both little infants and grown men: powdering up one's butt and shaving one's face. (Imagine if you mix up the two!) Even a grown man can get away with it because its soft cloud of a scent recalls comfort. 

 

Musti eau de Soin

Musti Eau de Soin

The signature scent of the Mustela infants-aimed products is good enough to cuddle even excluding the baby in question. There's a bright, clean orange blossom and neroli accord (the par excellence European reference for kids' scented products and "wellness" concept) paired with light musk and what seems like a lilac touch that makes them truly addictive. Eau de Soin is the perfect light cologne to use on a little boy which should only complement their exuberant aura, never overwhelming them. 

 

Burberry Baby Touch

Burberry Baby Touch

Despite the oddly conjured name (who comes up with these things? do they ever question the finished result?) this is more of a soft cologne than anything recalling babies. There is an unusual progression from the predictably citrusy neroli top note into a scent of green stalks, fresh rhubarb and a metallic iris soapy smell, which very soon becomes the softest skin scent. It's pretty and simple without becoming too reminiscent of powdering a baby's bottom like so many "baby scent" concepts veer into. It's a light summer spritz that one can use again and again, especially on boys' clothes to retain an aura of cleanliness. And oh boy, do they ever need that, with all the mischief they're up to! Baby Touch is offered in both alcohol-free and traditional eau de toilette versions.

 

Illustration of babies in boxes

 

MARLEN HARRISON,
MANAGING EDITOR

Elena did a great job of introducing our new 8-part series with her explanation above about scents for the baby boy. I'll just add that here in our first part as we focus on the infant and review various scents, we also want to take a moment to acknowledge that there may be health ramifications or even potential aroma-therapeutic benefits to the use of fragrance on young skin. We also wonder how such early use of scent might create aromatic associations and grooming rituals that last a lifetime. I'd like to bring attention to our past articles here at Fragrantica discussing baby fragrances such as The Perfumed Baby from Gina Cardenas.

 

Ptisenbon Tartine et Chocolat

Ptisenbon Tartine et Chocolat (Givenchy)

A light citrus-floral from the Ptisenbon brand developed by Givenchy back in 1988, Tartine et Chocolat is a little gem that smells almost as good as an actual baby does with its notes of honeysuckle, lily of the valley and citrus. I've actually used this as an adult male albeit with a heavy hand as the alcohol-free formula is incredibly gentle (in other words brief longevity and quiet sillage). This is clearly intended to refresh a baby perhaps after a diaper change or before a formal event like a briss or baptism, and is not really intended to be worn as a fragrance in the same way a typical fragrance might be. Tartine et Chocolat also offers a Lemon Pie version which focuses on vanilla and citrus, and a Lovely Cherry version which is focused on rose and citrus. There is also an Eau d'Amour pour Maman focused on violet, orange and rose.

 

Bvlgari Petits et Mamans

Bvlgari Petits et Mamans

Similar in overall style to the Musti, Givenchy and Burberry aromas is Bvlgari's own alcohol free baby scent titled Children and Mothers, intended to be worn by baby boy, his mom, or both! Whereas so many baby scents are focused on citrus, Petits et Mamans is vanillic powder with iris, chamomile and vanilla. With similarly brief longevity, this baby powder-inspired aroma recalls one of my favorite herbal teas (Vanilla Chamomile) and is indeed incredibly comforting despite brief longevity and subtle sillage. The creamy-powdery aspect of Petits et Mamans assuredly taps into the associations we have with baby powder and infant skin.

 

Baby Lavanda from Johnson & Johnson's

Johnson's Baby Lavanda

I live in south Florida at the moment, and am happy to report that many south Floridians are originally from Brazil. Having enjoyed spending time with a friend's infant son I couldn't help but notice how good he smelled. I know that South Americans are much more accustomed to using baby colognes than North Americans and assumed that my friend was spraying her son with cologne. When I asked about his scent I was surprised to learn that actually it wasn't any brand name (I had assumed it might be O Boticario or something) but Johnson and Johnson's Baby Lavanda! With notes of lavender, chamomile and citrus, I wanted it for myself, perhaps a great cooling treatment after a day of sand and sunburn. Sadly, it's nowhere to be found and seems to be available only in the South American market. I did discover Jafra Tender Moments Lavendar & Camomile Baby Cologne at Amazon and wonder how similar it might be.

Next month Elena and I will be back with a discussion about boys' first mature fragrances. Until then, please do join the conversation in a comment below!

 

 

Elena Vosnaki

Editor & Columnist

Elena Vosnaki is a historian & perfume writer from Greece and a Writer for Fragrantica. She is the founder & editor of Perfume Shrine, one of the most respected independent online publications on perfume. Her writing was recognized at the Fifi Awards for Editorial Excellence in 2009 and in 2011. She is consulted as a fragrance historian & expert, and has been curating fragrance installations at museum exhibits at the Milan Expo 2015 and elsewhere. She also contributes to publications around the world.

Image of the author

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Managing Editor & Columnist

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison’s journalism in the fragrance industry has appeared in international print and online publications such as PlayboyMen’s JournalMen’s Health and the New York Times. Marlen is also a regular contributor to BeautyAlmanac.com and works as a graduate professor, thesis advisor and faculty supervisor for MA programs in TESOL, Education, Writing and Literature. Learn more about Marlen by visiting:  www.MarlenHarrison.com.



Previous Columns Next


Advertisement

matty64
matty64

Creed has a new baby fragrance but to my nose it's too close to Bvlgari's. That said, the Creed Pour Enfants is still a very nice, quality fragrance. Just 10x more expensive.

Apr
01
2017
vintage.doll
vintage.doll

I'm loving this article because Ive been partial to baby colognes/powdery light fragrance all my life. Some people don't understand it, others assume it's cruel for companies to create fragrance for infants and toddler. Well, in reality moms and teenagers are the main people buying them (for self indulgence & relaxation) and shts&giggle ^_^

Personally, I have dry skin and allergic reactions to basically anything and everything. I learned to love natural products and light cosmetics at a young age because it was my only option. My mom started me on aveeno and dove and I still use it.

When I got a little older all of my peers were rocking heavy trendy perfumes. I wanted to check it out so I bought a few (remain unnamed). That was when's i realized mass market strong fragrance were not meant for me. But I still wanted to smell like something! I've come to realize plenty of niche houses do a good job with subtle barely there scents and all natural ones too. But I still ended up resorting back to pre-K (haha) and buying more of my beloved baby fragrances. There's just something about them.

Unicorns: Givenchy lemon pie...need you back in my life
Guerlain petit (new)blue and pink bottles

Apr
01
2017
finanna
finanna

Interesting article (as always from you guys) but it is still difficult to understand why anyone would want their babies to smell anything else than their own gorgeous "baby aroma".

With that being said, although my 3-year-old has used only unscented products, she is pretty keen on my perfumes, loves to sniff everything and tell how it smells. It is actually pretty funny when she says things like granny smells like bergamot in public.

Feb
21
2017
gypsy parfumista
gypsy parfumista

I have read that Baby Blues Jeans (which both my mom and I have wear and LOVE) was inspired by the smell of Donatella Versace's son when he was a baby. To that end, natural perfumer Christi Meshell (House of Matriarch) did a trio of perfumes inspired by the heavenly scent of infants (and made with gentle natural ingredients) entitled Baby Roses, Baby Musk & Happy Baby. (I have all three).

These are all fan-friggin-tastic and have no harsh chemicals or anything irritating to the skin. I do believe the organic alcohol has been denatured and is therefore non-drying and non-stinging to bambino's tender skin. They were actually released, according to the perfumer, for adults in celebration of the divine scent babies radiate and NOT to spray directly on baby skin!!

I love (Givenchy's) Ptisenbon Tartine et Chocolat and still have a vintage mini. I have been wanting to try BURBERRY Baby Touch and BVLGARI Petit et Maman. I was on their site the other day and it is still available! There is even a gift set with a large bottle of scent, a full size wash and lotion and some small gift or guest soaps. One set even offers crayons/colored pencils in it for the child (how darling is that?).

D&G Perfume for Babies (I am always reminded of "...THAT'S for BAY-BEES!" as Angelica of the Rugrats always says, when I see this scent.) was one that got a bit of a row going here on whether or not a baby (already smelling divinely pure & innocent) should even be perfumed...

I mentioned in my comment there that more often than naught many "baby" products (even organic ones like Burt's Bees) have fragrance added (BB favors rosewood) and unless you read the labels (or contact the company in many cases) and as a amatter of "trade secrets" one never does know what is in the mysterious "parfum/fragrance" component.

Since smell is the sense with the shortest path to the brain and the most immediate limbic response, it makes sense that scenting kids or using perfumed grooming products could possibly lead to olfactory memories that shape future behaviors.

My maternal grandmother's best friend Martha was an Avon Lady, back in the "Ding, dong! Avon calling" era. I have been told, by both my mom and her sister my aunt that "Gunda" had a dressing table LOADED with parfums and mini-colognes and the drawers were full of powders and lotions and such-it is no surprise that Moonwind *released when I was 2* is something utterly comforting and reminds me of the unconditional love of a woman I barely remember, other than vague flashes and feelings.

She used to spend all day with me while Mom was at work and sung to me and I knew my ABC's by the age of three. If I was perfumed (either directly or indirectly by contact) I can say it helped boost my love of scent and that I have a wide range of tastes and NO allergies whatsoever. Keeping kids TOO cloistered and "safe" can keep them from developing a tolerance to chemicals as well as microbes and germs. Let kids get dirty, and let 'em smell good, if they want to as they grow up.

Remember that which is denied (or taboo) becomes that which one tends to desire and crave most! ;-)

Smell swell & be well,
GP

Feb
21
2017
perfumecritic
perfumecritic

@Ladypilot: I know and love that one and I am planning to mention it in our next installment when we discuss fragrances for school age boys.

Feb
21
2017
LadyPilot
LadyPilot

There is a nice, lime cologne called Le Petite Prince, most probably marketed for children and of course "The Little Prince" enthusiasts.
One spray of it on the clothes of an elementary school kid (or even younger) may be less noticable or allergenic than any fabric softener.
It's a private decision of every family.

Feb
21
2017
perfumecritic
perfumecritic

@wesleyhclark: At some point in the past few years, Versace changed the jeans line to their more affordable brand label, Versus, and sadly also reformulated it for the worse.

Feb
21
2017
RJ Watson
RJ Watson

@wesleyhclark Versus is a diffusion line (read: less expensive), including denim and accessories offered by Versace. It's still in existence. It allows folks without deep pockets to experience a bit of the Versace "lifestyle" without taking on a second mortgage.

Feb
20
2017
ddsoffice
ddsoffice

I think it's nice that there are colognes being designed for babies and children. It's a good thing as part of the usual bathing and grooming routine that later on, as the child matures can lead to easier introduction of grooming products.
The idea of fragrance for babies is something that only came to my attention several years ago while browsing the baby products section in a WalMart years ago to pick up a bottle of baby cornstarch powder during a heat wave in the summer. There next to the Johnson & Johnson's and generics was Royal Violets by Agustin Reyes in 2 different preparations, one with aloe and the other with chamomile. I decided, what the heck, for around $3 at the time the chamomile would be nice to use because of the gentle scent and formulation. It's easy to find online at a number of sites and in looking it up, it's been around since 1927!

Feb
20
2017
relle
relle

Don't shoot me; I'm on the same page with fellow fraggie, Wesley.
Weird and possibly unhealthy....Additionally, nothing smells more special that the nape of a baby's neck. Why mess with perfection?! Imho

Feb
20
2017
johngreenink
johngreenink

This is a lot of fun :-) It makes me think of the fact that we actually associate a lot of pleasant smells with baby-dom and early youth (talcum, rose water, boiling milk, chamomile are just a few...) I think it's a natural extension also of the desire to keep the nursery smelling good when possible. I think in small doses a bit of scent for young men is part of growing up and a gentle introduction to adulthood. Of all of the above, though, I have to say that the lavender baby oil is just incredible - it must be a delight to smell!

Feb
20
2017
wesleyhclark
wesleyhclark

Versace Baby Blue Jeans: Why does the illustration say "Versus" and not "Versace?"

And I'm sorry, I find scents for little children just too weird.

Feb
20
2017
Elisa S
Elisa S

Well, I think there are big cultural differences within Europe. In the Scandinavian countries, I think fragrance free products for children are the most widespread type now, or at least what is generally accepted to be the right thing. Not because of fragrance being linked to sexualization, but due to not wanting small children to be exposed to the chemicals...

In addition: I was here writing about scented products, but when it comes to actual perfumes for children, I've never seen them here!

Feb
20
2017
lemonzest
lemonzest

These fragrances all sound lovely and enjoyable! I can't stand the smell of baby powder a la Johnson & Johnson's, though I know it's popular. So many girls wore baby oil, powder, lotion in high school - I think that's why I detest that smell. But the scents here seem beautiful, especially the Bvlgari!

North Americans definitely are not into baby or child perfumes, but I can see that as something that could change. I think it's more due to concern about sensitivity than fear of causing children to grow up too fast; my friends with children or babies would be concerned about rashes, allergies, and so on. As a nation, we seem overly worried about being allergic to everything (just my perception - yes, it's an overgeneralization).

A line of all-natural organic hypoallergenic baby/child scents would probably work in the US. I think it's fear of chemicals that keeps Americans from spraying their offspring. Plus there is that latent Calvinist/Jansenist tendency in some people.

Feb
20
2017
drugstore classics
drugstore classics

Delightful. I often ponder what scent would be most appropriate for baby ( if not on skin, then cloth and hair :D ), and your choices have given me more to consider. Thanks!

As for the difference between North and South American expectations regarding scent and childhood, don't I know it! My parents thought their simple drugstore colognes a kind of aphrodisiac, downright inappropriate for children. I begged for perfume and was finally given some in a stick form that was considered suitably unsexy. ;) It not being spray perfume like mommy's made me quite unhappy, and I retain a strong preference for spray bottles to this day. (Spritz some magic!!!)

As for that first fragrance, I can't fault my mother's choice. Sweet Honesty is one of the most appropriate scents for very young children I've ever come across. But more to my mother's taste than mine, as she now wears the (spray!) bottle I recently gifted her, while I wear the questionable fragrances my mother carefully kept out of reach, hehe. Good things come to those who wait. ;)

Feb
20
2017

Add Your Review

Become a member of this online perfume community and you will be able to add your own reviews.

Advertisement

Advertisement

New Perfumes

Shalimar Souffle de ParfumGuerlain
Shalimar Souffle de Parfum

Desire ExtremeAlfred Dunhill
Desire Extreme

KaralyAcqua di Sardegna
Karaly

LòAcqua di Sardegna

CorosAcqua di Sardegna
Coros

Ladies Day ParisEtienne Aigner
Ladies Day Paris

Never Hide For HerOtto Kern
Never Hide For Her

Never Hide For HimOtto Kern
Never Hide For Him

Zorya VechernyayaBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Zorya Vechernyaya

Zorya UtrennyayaBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Zorya Utrennyaya

Zorya PolunochnayaBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Zorya Polunochnaya

Feels Like Summer Mens.Oliver
Feels Like Summer Men

Feels Like Summer Womens.Oliver
Feels Like Summer Women

CharcoalPerfumer H
Charcoal

Diamond GreedyMontale
Diamond Greedy

Diamond RoseMontale
Diamond Rose

Diamond FlowersMontale
Diamond Flowers

Bois DoreVan Cleef & Arpels
Bois Dore

Uomo Salvatore Ferragamo Casual LifeSalvatore Ferragamo
Uomo Salvatore Ferragamo Casual Life

SolsticeBjork and Berries
Solstice

Histoire d'OrangersL`Artisan Parfumeur
Histoire d'Orangers

The Norns` FarmhouseBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
The Norns` Farmhouse

The IfritBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
The Ifrit

Technical BoyBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Technical Boy

ShadowBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Shadow

Mr. JacquelBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Mr. Jacquel

Amber AbsolutelyFort & Manle
Amber Absolutely

Harem RoseFort & Manle
Harem Rose

Fatih Sultan MehmedFort & Manle
Fatih Sultan Mehmed

Confessions of a Garden GnomeFort & Manle
Confessions of a Garden Gnome

Popular brands and perfumes: