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This £15 independent fragrance subscription had me cheating on my signature scent

Need help branching out of your olfactory comfort zone? Bare & Bond is here to help

Emma Henderson
Thursday 08 April 2021 19:01
<p>Just the mere spritz of perfume can conjure up much-loved memories</p>

Just the mere spritz of perfume can conjure up much-loved memories

Fragrance has the power to transport us to far-off places – some we’ve never even been to – at a mere spritz. It can also take us back in time and conjure up much-loved memories. And a little spray of your go-to can also be the difference between feeling dressed up and not.

Many of us find a perfume we like, make it our signature scent, and then stick to it for years. And I mean years. Chanel anyone? It’s an absolute classic, and well-deserving of a place on many a dressing table. Mine is Narciso Rodriguez For Her: a heady, musky scent with notes of patchouli, amber and water flowers. God forbid it should ever be discontinued.

When we do stick to fragrances like glue, though, we can stop smelling it on ourselves. And variety is the spice of life, right? Some of us need a little more coaxing than others to follow that idiom, especially if we’re worried about the cost of buying a new perfume and not being totally sold on it.

That’s where a perfume subscription comes in and ticks off both boxes: helping you step out of your olfactory comfort zone while not forking out for a full-sized bottle.

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Bare & Bond perfume monthly subscription

Buy now £14.95 (use our code ‘INDY’ for 15 per cent off your first box), Bareandbond.com

Bare & Bond, which was set up in 2019 by Frankee Adams, works with nine independent perfumers based around the world to inspire us to change the way we choose and buy fragrances. When you sign up you’ll get a new scent each month – and you won’t find these on the high street, so you’ll never end up smelling like someone else.

The beauty of a subscription box should never be underestimated. I often forget about my subscriptions and it’s like a surprise gift to yourself in the post. Aside from having these minis delivered, you also don’t have to commit to spending anything between £60 and £200+ for a new bottle. And no one likes unused products sitting at the back of your dressing table, gathering dust.

When there is a sample you like in your Bare & Bond subscription, however, you can buy a bigger bottle, starting at £25 for 15ml and up to £150 for 100ml.

As well as it being affordable, one of the things I really like about this brand is that there are no gimmicks. Perfume can be hard to navigate, and little in an advert tells us about what the perfume will actually smell like. So this is a way of testing the water.

Read more: This wine subscription taught me how to taste vino properly

Bare & Bond has also upped its game when it comes to sustainability. For start-up brands, it’s much easier to put these initiatives in place from the off. The subscription’s plastic-free packaging is easy to recycle, which is a big tick for me. Bottles can also be sent back to the brand to reuse, or you can recycle them yourself. It’s also partnered with Pachama, a platform that offsets shipping-related carbon emissions, and the brand plans to be 100 per cent carbon neutral by the end of 2021.

When it comes to ethics, the service lags behind but openly admits this on its website in a bid to show transparency. It says it will look into its supply chains to monitor fair wages, which is something I’m sure many other customers would be interested to see soon.

Back to the subscription. When you sign up, each month you’ll get an 8.5ml bottle of perfume. You can choose to receive men’s, women’s or unisex for your deliveries. The first perfume you’ll get if you sign up for women’s is Wash Me In The Water, created by Sarah McCartney, who founded the 4160 Tuesdays perfume house and was one of the first perfumers to work with Bare & Bond.

It’s a classic water-type perfume with top notes of cut grass, rosemary and sage that’s perfect for transitioning into spring and on into summer (it’s similar to Gypsy Water by Breydo, which is double the price at £122 for 50ml). Wash Me In The Water reminds me of summer holidays, being on the beach and how your skin smells in the sun after swimming in the sea. It’s very evocative and makes for a great daytime summer scent that I’m looking forward to wearing.

Read more: 10 best night creams for glowing skin in the morning

Bare & Bond is quite open about the fact you won’t love every perfume you’re sent. For me, this was true of the Amorosa fragrance it sent me as part of its “Scent from Me to You” option, which is a one-off gift that’s separate from its subscription box.

Despite usually liking quite intense musk and amber perfumes, for me, this one was too heavy – although it has notes of watermelon and fresh green vetiver, I can only smell the other ingredients. It is the brand’s latest product, which was created as a “just because” gift to lift a friend’s mood. It comes in two sizes: the 3ml small is £12 and the 8.5ml large is £19. 

What I did really like about the Amorosa fragrance was the story behind it. It was made by Ruth Masternbroek in Buckinghamshire, whose career in perfumery began with a chemistry degree at Oxford. Then, after working in the perfume department in Selfridges and falling in love with Mitsouko by Guerlain, she realised she could use her degree to create scents – her lightbulb moment. 

Its name means "woman in love with life" and the scent was inspired by the dramatic Umbrian landscape and is designed to transport you to that much-loved holiday feeling. Although it reminded me of smelling perfumes as a child and them being too strong for me, it is still a thoughtful gift for someone else with their own taste in scent, who will no doubt be taken straight to Umbria.

The verdict: Bare & Bond perfume subscription

For olfactory lovers, who may need a little encouragement to step outside of their scent comfort zone, Bare & Bond’s perfume subscription is a great and affordable way to do it. And if you’re the type of person who also loves to get their hands on new scents, and try new things without the commitment of buying a full bottle, this is an easy way to experiment.

For those who knowt what they like when it comes to scents, I’d like to see the options of new fragrances within the type of scent we already know we like, whether that’s floral, musky, woody or sweet so there’s not so much of a risk of being delivered something you don’t like.

Lastly, these bottles may not shine on your dressing table like other brand’s beautifully designed bottles often do, but considering its growing sustainable credentials, experimental fun and affordability, I think it’s a fair swap. And hopefully, you’ll soon find a new signature to adore as well.

For more perfume ideas, read our guide to the best women’s perfumes: From Tom Ford to Loewe

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