Scent Trunk review: Sample curated, niche fragrances

Disclaimer: I received this box in exchange for an honest review. 

Calling itself the "Netflix of fragrance," Scent Trunk is a startup subscription service that delivers three fragrance samples tailored to your tastes. It's $18 a month, and the price goes down to $16 a month or $15 a month when you subscribe for six months or a year, respectively.

Here's how it works. You make a scent profile of specific notes you enjoy, and you can look up where a scent fits, whether it's fresh, floral, oriental or woods. When I was done, mine looked something like this:

Then, Scent Trunk sends you small vials of three scents they think you'll love. You rate them, and they use your opinions to curate your next box. There are two things that stand out about Scent Trunk. First, they have perfumes from independent brands you've never had sprayed in your face at a department store. Second, they want to educate clients about fragrance so they buy something they'll truly enjoy.

In my elegant little box, which arrived within the week and included cards describing the fragrances, their attributes and longevity and sillage, I was treated to these scents:

Olympic Orchids Golden Cattleya: This was the first scent I tried and I loved it. Liquid gold, rich and thick and expensive smelling. But kinda tarty, in a very good way. Sexy. It was creamy, rich, sweet, and I definitely got that cream soda vibe the scent card promised. I thought the honey was the obvious scent that rose from this, although my friends who sniffed the inside of my elbow all said vanilla was their first impression. When I smell this, I have to close my eyes. It's also got killer longevity. This is the one I'd be most likely to buy a full-sized bottle of.

Amouage Jubilation 25 Woman: This was a challenging fragrance for me. Did I love it and want to bathe in it, or did I hate it and want to take a shower and get it off me? A little bit of both, but after a few wears, I grew to love it. Its sharp start faded within seconds to leave behind something soapy that comes through the spice. But there's a lovely, close-to-the-skin drydown when the leather and musk are prominent. It's sweet, but not cloying. Floral, but not astringent the way a lot of popular florals read to me. Weirdly, it occurred to me the first time I wore it that it smelled kinda like how people describe Angel by Thierry Mugler in the best-case scenario, except on me Angel smelled like spicy BO and made me ill. The Amouage smells refined yet comforting, like eating apple pie at Gatsby's. At $280 a bottle, this is wildly out of my price range. But that's what's so cool about this service — getting to try stuff I'd never in my wildest dreams be able to wear otherwise.

Note Fragrances Honey Blossom: This was the easiest one to like. It's lovely, pretty, sweet, unchallenging. It would be a perfect everyday perfume. Here's the thing with me and perfume: most of the time, when a girlfriend says "smell this," I dislike whatever it is. It bores me, or it stings my nose like rubbing alcohol with a dash of something sorta floral on top. I love smelling pretty, but sometimes I think I'd prefer to smell intriguing than smelling pretty. This one stood out the least for me, but it was a good middle ground — it would be universally likable, but it's still interesting. I feel like there's some subtlety and craft here.

I think Scent Trunk is an awesome service to try whether you're a fragrance expert looking to branch out and discover niche fragrances (really steps up your scent street cred to wear something no one else has heard of yet!) or if you're just starting out and want your own perfume stylist to help you pick something out.

Ready to give Scent Trunk a try? You can use the coupon code clever25 to get 25% off your first box. They're also doing a giveaway for a free box.

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