How to Choose Perfume: Smoky Scents and Woodsy Fragrances

Perfumes with tobacco notes and woodsy fragrances appeal to certain types of consumers; linking personality traits with perfume choice saves time and money
Smoky and woodsy fragrances
Smoky and woodsy fragrances have powerful effects on both the sense of smell and the subconscious mind. Perhaps more than any other aromas, they can summon the wearer back to a long lost time and place, bringing scent-images to mind with stunning clarity: a cozy evening around a crackling fireplace, a carefree childhood walk in the woods, the tender burnt-vanilla of a beloved grandfather’s pipe.
The word “perfume” means “through smoke;” choosing woodsy or smoky scents could mean passing through a hazy barrier into a world where chemistry melts into alchemy and molecules meld with magic.
Personality and Perfume: Smoky Scents
These fragrances may have notes of tobacco and incense blended with woods such as cypress or cedar. Vetiver often appears in such fragrances, lending an enduring and earthy savor to the overall composition. Women who are attracted to smoky scents will thus often enjoy woodsy ones as well (the heavier musks and vanilla may also be great favorites).
Such people have a tendency not to follow the latest fashion; but rather to pick a style of dress and makeup they think suits them and then stick with it for years. They probably prefer simpler, somewhat androgynous clothing and may even choose garments that are “anti-Western-fashion,” such as peasant shirts or intricate Native American patterns. The androgynous note is definitely reflected in smoky fragrance preferences, as many of these perfumes are supposed to be for men.
Since smoking in public is now considered practically a criminal offense in many countries, those who still respond positively to the smell of tobacco may possess at least a streak of rebelliousness; and their after-work fashion choices may well be influenced by this usually obscured wild side. While not necessarily smokers themselves, they would certainly find a trip to a tobacco shop both soothing and pleasant.
Perfumes that Smell of Smoke or Tobacco
  • La Via del Profumo Tabac: Nice, non-cloying tobacco aroma designed for men.
  • Sonoma Scent Studios Artisan Perfumes Tabac Aura: Tobacco shop delightfully blended with warm, wonderful cedar.
  • B Never to Busy to Be Beautiful Breath of God: Weird and wonderful with tobacco and vetiver notes; an affordable “profound invention,” according to Perfumes: the A-Z Guide.
  • House of Fragrance Jasmin Rosa: This dazzling attention grabbing scent, blend of sensual peony, jasmine and cassia are melded with notes of sweet litchi, Tobacco and effervescent pineapple, and smoothed with soothing musk, white tea, sandal and warm woods.
  • Etat Libre d’Orange Jasmine et Cigarette: Strange flowery pipe tobacco aroma; amusingly labeled a “floral ashtray” by the aforementioned reference guide.
  • Profumo di Firenze Tabacco: Vivid pipe tobacco fragrance.
  • L’Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu: This is a great crossover masculine for women to try; intoxicating and confident.
  • L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two: Smells like spicy chai with a whiff of smoke. Perfumes: the A-Z Guide recommends this as a home fragrance rather than a wearable one, but nonconformists might like it quite a bit.
Personality and Perfume: Woodsy Fragrances
Women who like to hunt, fish, camp, or spend hours at the beach usually revel in woodsy odors. Straightforward and unpretentious, they’ll choose a nature walk over a trip to the mall every time. They are said to crave intense experiences; and often exude a subdued charisma, commanding attention from others even when they don’t have much to say. More efficient than creative, such types generally appreciate more muted wardrobe colors and skip full-face makeup in favor of a few well-chosen “natural-look” products.
If a consumer is strongly drawn to woodsy perfumes, she will probably also be partial to musk, vetiver, vanilla, and richly smoky ones as well. Spicy and Oriental perfumes could also provide her with an elegant and sophisticated change of pace.
Great Perfumes that Smell of Wood
Note that most wood fragrances now use synthetic scents to replace natural wood sources, many of which are now too endangered and expensive to continue to exploit (some companies continue to use a cheap variety of Australian sandalwood, however).
  • Donna Karan Chaos: The original was heavier and woodier than the reissue, but the new one still smells pretty good once the odd soda-pop-sweet top note fades.
  • Sonoma Scent Studios Artisan Perfumes Winter Woods: Smoky, woodsy, beautiful, and crisp; the rare scent that is actually well-matched to its name.
  • Elternhaus Mos!BuddJewChristHinDao: Expensive but a great splurge, tempers the strength of wood with the controlled flexibility of a carefully arranged bouquet.
  • House of Fragrance Lola Conquest: Strength, femininity and sensuality, Lola Conquest are a combination of oriental wood and spicy aromatic blend which embodies the warm, fluid sensuality of the woman who wears it.
  • Annick Goutal Songes: Heavy on jasmine, so quite a bit more feminine than most of its genre.
  • Parfums MDCI Invasion Barbare: Great wood-and-spice masculine aroma that lasts for ages; its high price is justified by its complexity and peculiar charm.
  • Jil Sander Scent 79 Man: Wood-and-cigarette-tobacco; would make a super gift for a guy who’s heartily sick of the same old herb-and-chypre aftershave tedium.
  • Diptyque Tam Dao: Smells like cedar; Perfumes: the A-Z Guide recommends this as a home fragrance rather than a wearable one; might be oddly interesting layered under another, more conventional scent, though.
  • Erickson, Laurie, Excerpts of Perfume Reviews, Sonoma Scent Studio.
  • Fischer-Mirkin, Toby, Dress Code: Understanding the Hidden Meanings of Women’s Clothes, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 1995.
  • “ How to Understand Perfume Personalities,”
  • Principal, Victoria, The Beauty Principal, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984.
  • Turin, Luca and Sanchez, Tania, Perfumes: the A-Z Guide, New York: Penguin Books, 2008, 2009.
Descriptive quotes from Turin and Sanchez, pp. 159, 329.

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