1-minute quick read:
Vanilla, coffee, pear, jasmine, patchouli, pink pepper, orange blossom, bitter almond, licorice, cedar, cashmere wood
Sweet fruity beginning, cream smooth coffee middle, milky base
Tobacco+chocolate+coffee+cream scent, bit of linear. A dating perfume rather than a workplace one.
Warm sweet tobacco+cream+vanilla.
The least sweet one among all the Black Opium flankers; fresher and more floral.
Alcoholic cool start, sweetened creamy gourmand drydown.
Sexy is good business. Products marketed sexy always seem to have the best sellers guarantee. But in the conservative years, one perfume was even banned for being too sexy: Yves Saint Laurent Opium Parfum published in 1977.
When Yves Saint-Laurent himself came back from his travelling in East Asia, he wanted to make a perfume that could describe East Asia’s eternal feeling and oriental Baroque style he had in mind, one scent that smells extremely luxurious and exclusive.
However, Black Opium is a totally different edition. It’s the rebellion against modern society rather than the imagination of the East. What does YSL Black Opium smell like?
YSL Black Opium notes
Fragrantica sorts it under the oriental vanilla family, with a rating of 3.81/ 5 with 6261 votes.
Black Opium perfume notes: vanilla, coffee, pear, jasmine, patchouli, pink pepper, orange blossom, bitter almond, licorice, cedar, cashmere wood
Since 2010, women’s fragrances from designer brands have evolved from crisp fresh flowers to sweet gourmand. It seems the only way to outrun competitors by adding tons of sugar, coumarin, or cream to make women like a big moving sugar or cake.
Black Opium is no exception. It’s one of the top heirs of the Opium Parfum family, but the spicy fragrant oriental scent has gone and is replaced by sweetness.
Anyone who has ever smelled the original Opium is sure that a true-born Opium descendant will never run into the realm of gourmand family.
You’ll find Black Opium a complete blast of foods. The intense sweetness overwhelms you from the beginning berries and almonds, later caramel and vanilla, and creamy coffee in the end.
If you had no experience of gourmand fragrances before, you may say this is a powerful one. This cup of coffee has much cream and sugar added in, but it doesn’t smell cloying nor sour. Fan of sweets items, please don’t skip it, especially in winters.
YSL Black Opium smell
YSL Black Opium scent has a sweet fruity beginning at the first spray. Though I read pear in the fragrance pyramid, it’s nothing like what we normally eat. I can’t tell what exactly it is, but anyway, it’s the ordinary vanilla + synthetic fruity scent, which smells neither seductively nor tacky.
Then sweetness comes. It’s too strong to fill in the whole room very soon. It’s the scent of quality powdered sugar that we usually add in the milk tea. The warm sweetness quickly calms you down for the upcoming burst moment.
Before I thought Black Opium is a devilishly sweet fragrance, but actually it turns conservative. Even at the middle note, the sweetness smells soft and gentle.
About 10 minutes later, pink pepper in the top note is gradually gone, together with a little bit of overpowering sweetness. Sweet jelly and unknown floral fragrances lay on the top of powdered sugar-like vanilla and clean patchouli, with a hint of coffee and woody scent.
But the coffee here isn’t strong – it’s more of sweet vanilla, cream, and smooth white chocolate, I’d prefer to review it as a cup of lukewarm coffee topped off with sweetened milk.
So fans of pure bitter coffee, you may need to check other alternatives. Anyway, the warm scent reminds me of a warm afternoon in autumn when you buy coffee and a delicate cake at a coffee bakery on the street corner and enjoy the autumn sun.
The gourmand sweetness in the middle note is appetizing but also boring if you smell too much. Well, my personal favourite is the base note, where all the sweet, powdery gourmand scents in the middle tone soften down, milkiness starts to dominate.
The mellow sweetness of the milk cream and the tea powder-like intoxicating aroma blend beautifully, and sillage begins to fade. Trust me, the base note of Black Opium is kind of the scent that makes your smile even sweeter.
Imagine your guy get close to you, watching your eyes, whispering “you look delicious”. Isn’t that alluring?
Sillage and longevity
They should be your last concern about YSL Black Opium eau de parfum. The scent stays solid for 11 hours on my skin, almost a week on my cloth.
I agree with most online reviews that Black Opium has nothing to do with the original Opium, its “grandma”, which was in line with the popular oriental note at that time but exceeded all the products of the same type.
In my personal opinion, Black Opium is conservative in catching up with the current trend of vanilla & floral gourmand note. Despite the harsh beginning, I have no other negative ratings about it.
In fact, Black Opium isn’t bad, but it doesn’t stand out – especially today when gourmand fragrances are common. If it was the first sweet gourmand fragrance I ever smelled, I’d probably add it to my collection.
If I’m asked to pick blindly from the gourmand fragrances, Black Opium may not be my first option. Not when there are milk, freshly-baked bread, fruit, or even beacon fragrances available. To be honest, the dark punk poster makes me think it a dark smelling fragrance, but surprisingly it’s not.
Are you a fan of Mugler Angel, Lancôme La Vie Est Belle EDP/EDT, Diesel Loverdose Tattoo, or Cacharel Amor Amor Forbidden Kiss or the alike? If you love these scents similar to YSL Black Opium, Black Opium might be the item you’re looking for.
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YSL Black Opium flankers
Generally speaking, Black Opium has an excellent performance in the mass market. It’s so popular that you can smell several girls wearing it on a subway. Even some guys love it too. From 2015, 1 year after the Black Opium, YSL beauty has launched a series of flankers.
YSL Black Opium Eau de Toilette, 2015
Notes: pear, coffee, black currant, tea, jasmine, orange blossom, white wood, citruses, green mandarin, white musk
For me, this is the diluted version of EDP. It’s less powerful but still reminds you of the EDP one. So I guess those who love EDP will also like this EDT version.
Tobacco+chocolate+coffee+cream scent, a bit of linear. A sweet fragrance from beginning to end. Despite the fruity top note, it smells floral sweet too. I didn’t smell prominent coffee though. And the drydown has no trace of woody existence as the perfume pyramid shows even after 6 hours.
It’s disliked or even hated by my girl friends, but surprisingly loved by guys. So perhaps you can use it as a dating perfume; colleagues and boss at your office may not appreciate this.
Sillage and longevity are great. If you plan to wear it and go out, I’d suggest spraying it the night before. Don’t overspray. Besides, its sweet scent is perfect for winter. The colder days you wear it, the happier you can be.
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YSL Black Opium Nuit Blanche, 2016
Notes: vanilla, coffee, caramel, milk, rice, orange blossom, sandalwood, white musk, bourbon pepper, peony, anise, coriander
At first you will be greeted by some sweet scent – the scent of the lovely freshly-baked cakes and cookies in a bakery. White coffee mingles in an intimate dance with vanilla while not smelling cloying.
After taking a deep sniff, there is also a hint of floral scent. But it’s covered by a strong pungent spicy scent, and it’s not like pepper as the perfume pyramid shows. Later when the spicy scent disappears and sweetness remains, the top note will be gone too, and the middle will soon come.
The drydown is obviously sweet tobacco+cream+vanilla, which is my favourite part of the whole. Walking down the street in winter with Nuit Blanche will make you feel warm and sweet.
Longevity is as excellent as the whole Black Opium series. Not as long as original Black Opium, but still lasts for 4-5 days on me. Have to say Nuit Blanche is my favourite among all Black Opium flankers.
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YSL Black Opium Floral Shock, 2017
Notes: pear, gardenia, coffee, white flowers, solar notes, freesia, white musk, amberwood, orange blossom, lemon, bergamot
The beginning is a sweet powerful berry scent mingled with suppressed bitterness. But in my second sniff, I smell obvious sweet ice cream.
In fact, the scent of butter, cake, or ice cream isn’t bad, but I personally think they belong to little girls though Floral Shock is the least sweet one among all the Black Opium flankers.
Crisp fresh pear and floral freesia weaken the sour and pungent part of lemon, so that the top note smells gentle. And the orange blossom becomes less strong when combined with gardenia.
To be honest, the top note of Floral Shock impresses me the most among all flankers, making me feel I was wandering at a flower market in a summer evening.
The middle note smells less powerful than the top, but it also lasts short. And the base is like drinking an iced mocha with a sandalwood incense lit beside it, which is pretty good too.
In conclusion, Floral Shock is still a cream gourmand fragrance but smells fresher and more floral, less coffee than the original.
Sillage and longevity are decent. The scent remains 6-8 hours on my skin, 8+ hours on my cloth. If the strong power of the original Black Opium prevents you from shopping, Floral Shock may be worth trying!
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YSL Black Opium Intense, 2019
Notes: coffee, vanilla, absinthe, licorice, boysenberry, orange blossom, sandalwood, jasmine sambac
It starts off quite alcoholic with raspberries, more like rum with lemon slices than absinthe, giving a mint-cool vibe. So the first thing coming to my mind is: isn’t this a colder version of the original Black Opium?
Then this fresh sweet fruity scent turns weak, the powdery scent makes the middle note cloying. In my opinion, the original DNA is obvious: coffee and jasmine in the middle, licorice, and vanilla on the whole.
The coffee scent comes to power after alcoholic absinthe, and orchestration of vanilla, licorice, and coffee lasts until the end, smelling like a cup of smooth sweet vanilla coffee.
The drydown basically becomes a caramel vanilla creamy ice cream, which smells so sweetened that my throat is soaked in all its scent! In a word, Black Opium Intense is a candy with rich scents, but I didn’t smell anything innovative.
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Actually Black Opium owns 17 flankers in total, many of which I’m curious about but haven’t tried yet:
Though Black Opium may not sheer away from gourmand notes, I still wonder how will its future flankers surprise us.
Now it’s your turn:
Does Black Opium look the same as you’ve imagined or tried?
Are you interested in its flankers too?
Which one will you start with?
Let me know in the comment.