This review is for the current formulation of Cinnabar by Estee Lauder, which is an important variable in a review for perfumes. Many times there can be a huge difference between a vintage and the present rendition of a fragrance. Without ranting and raving about the how's and why's of the perfume industry changing a scent, I'll describe my experience with the current rendition of Cinnabar, a perfume that I used to love.
I sprayed this on, expecting the wonderful spices and warmth to deliver its punch. I couldn't be more disappointed. What a synthetic, crass, harsh and linear opening I experienced.
The spices, cedar and mosses came strolling in, then quickly hid behind the trees, almost as if they were afraid to show themselves. I waited for the spices to show themselves. They did. In a casket. Everything else that I was waiting for, the incense, the cloves, the wonderful cinnamon and patchouli had died and was being readied for a burial. The funeral procession has begun, the woods have taken over, and all the richness and glory is being buried in the deep dark woods. But even the woods are dying.
Today's Cinnabar smells much better on a strip of paper or an article of clothing than on human skin. What has happened to the original? Well, we know. But I won't beat a dead horse. If you remember Cinnabar for a lush experience, look for the vintage. Do not bother with this unrefined new liquid.
It's no wonder the EL counter refuses to give out samples, citing this reason-"Cinnabar has been around for too many years for people to ask for a sample. They know what it smells like. We don't need to give out samples of a popular perfume. We only give out samples of our newest fragrance." I kid you not. I was told this by two EL counter SA's. Perhaps the accurate reason is that customers will try the new Cinnabar and be disappointed and refuse to purchase it. I sampled Cinnabar three times for this review.
I accidentally sprayed some on my sweater and that's where the better aroma of the perfume is evident. The spices intermingle ever so lightly with the other notes, but nowhere near the original of years gone by. What's on my skin is shallowness, a lack of depth in this Cinnabar that would make me hesitate to purchase any current stock.
Top Notes: Spices, Peach, Cloves, Bergamot, Tangerine, Orange Blossom.
Middle Notes: Carnation, Cinnamon, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, Rose, Lily-Of-The-Valley, Lily.
Base Notes: Tolu Balsam, Sandalwood, Amber, Patchouli, Benzoin, Vanilla, Vetiver, Incense.
I adore many of the Lauders and generally have various strong fragrances in my collection, but Cinnabar was one I ended up giving away. The problem for me is that this reads as an incredibly artificial, unrelenting, headache and nausea inducing one-note cinnamon on me, as though I had rubbed one of those cinnamon scented car tree fresheners all over myself.
I would greatly recommend trying before you buy. If it works for you, it has great intensity and lasting power.
I definitely prefer the vintage Cinnabar to the reformulation now on shelves for $35. I started out with a bottle of the new stuff a couple years ago, wanting to relive my memories of this simmering, incendiary, boozy spice-rack, which various older relatives rocked beautifully when it first came out in the late '70s. (For me, The 'Bar has always beaten Opium hands-down.) From
my reformulated bottle, I got a decent approximation of that scent-- almost like a designer imposter of the real thing. I noticed the color of the juice was lighter and the packaging cheaper than I remembered; still, enough of the signature cola top notes and earthy patchouli-spice base was there for me to like wearing it.
But after a while, I just felt something was missing-- something that made the current version harsher and less well-blended, and I scored a vintage bottle on eBay. (Vintage spray bottles are distinguished by having an almost-black juice and a heavier cap with a gold band around it rather than plain red. Splash versions of Cinnabar are always vintage.) It came tightly packaged, but even through the taped box I smelled something magical. W-O-W there she was, the fiery fragrance beast of my youth.
I say "beast" fondly, because really, Cinnabar is a hefty Oriental, but still a smooth and gorgeous one. On first spray of my vintage bottle, there is a lush and very boozy fermented-peach note, as sumptuous as fine brandy. I immediately think of a well-appointed living room with velvet couches and Oriental rugs and a roaring fire, all in shades of deep scarlet and vermilion. Then come the deep florals and a panoply of spices tempered with the loamy coolness of patchouli. At this stage Cinnabar almost smells like a hippie headshop where some fantastic incense is burning and mixing with the patchouli on the owner's wool poncho. Or maybe it
smells more ancient, like an Egyptian love potion. After a couple of hours, Cinnabar is much closer to the skin, but no less complex and beguiling.
Definitely not for wallflowers, but when I think, "Awesome, soulful, distinctive vintage fragrance", there is my Cinnabar. (btw I hate Youth-Dew and can't wear it--
Cinnabar is in a similar vein but so much more smooth and attractive!)
I love cinnabar! I first started wearing it in high school and still love this perfume.It is one of my all time favorites!
Horrifying. They say perfume is a matter of taste, and I agree. I have really tried to expand my horizons and try different perfumes and notes that sound delicious and have great reviews. I really am truly trying to love each different note as their own and find good qualities in many, I think that's what perfumers do, they love every scent and try to mix them together to make something beautiful. As for me, as much as I would like to be a perfume connoisseur, sadly I can't. I went to Macy's today and tried to try this stuff. I looked at the SA and told her I want to smell this one, she gave me a tester strip, I uncapped the bottle, took a sniff and couldn't bring myself to spray it. I even said it, I was like holy moly, I can't spray this, I don't even want to, for my sake, my family, and everyone around me. No way. I don't know what the hoopla is all about, but I think maybe you just have to be really old to like this. Sorry!
I see a red convertible speeding down an autumnal lane. A swirl of gold and red leaves burst forth in her wake. Bright skies and the pursuit of mischief lay ahead. A confident yet warm woman with easy going charm and vintage pin-up style, set of by a vermilion smile...
For me a perfume must possess two characteristics. Distinctiveness and duality, be it clean/dirty, fresh/spicy or feminine/masculine.
Cinnabar is at once as clean as it is spicy. The opening is full of impact, yet it settles to a clean, comforting, spicy and original scent. This is softer, less complicated, fresher and more durable than Youth Dew, and about as American and fun as Cherry Cola.
Is it only me or does anyone else LOVE the packaging????
I appreciate the dependable 'clunk' of solid plastic tops over glass, and prefer portable, practical, simple and elegant presentations to pretentious, over-designed, statement packaging. Anyone else agree? To me the packaging is as classy and classic as the matt red, indeed cinnabar, lipstick that its top recalls.
Also is anyone else irritated by the constant "It's way too strong" comments. Honestly, JUST PUT LESS ON! - Some people want, and have paid good money, to actually smell the scent they are wearing! (If you feel a scent is too strong for you just wear one spray shared between both wrists, away from your face for a more subtle effec, giving you a bit of breathing space.)
Way too strong and overpowering gives me headache
I first smelled Cinnabar at work. I am a nurse harboring a secret desire to quit my job and play with cosmetics and perfume all day! Anyway, about six years ago I was walking in the hall at work when I smelled a sophisticated, patchouli-like woody smell. I immediately looked around to see who it was. I remember looking for a well dressed woman visiting a patient- there was no one like that around. I obsessively walked up and down the hall until I found it! One of the house keepers was mopping the floor and I asked her what fragrance she was wearing. Immediately she said "Cinnabar" like- of course! She had been wearing it for years and I noticed her makeup was beautifully done and she quietly went back to work. I have always remembered that day and I bought some for myself. I do like it alot but only when the weather is cool. When my body is too warm, it is smouldering and too cinnamony sweet but in the cold it's fresh, clean and spicy. I want to try the lotion too!
This is a spicy oriental scent. I find it to be very overpowering. Top notes are spices, peach, cloves, bergamot, tangerine and orange blossom; middle notes are carnation, cinnamon, jasmine, ylang-ylang and rose; base notes are tolu balsam, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, vetiver and incense.
Maybe this was better "back in the day," as so many classic fragrances have had to be reformulated-- but I can't find a single thing to like about Cinnabar. And that's coming from a lover of strong, retro, nonconformist fragrances.
From the name and the Asian-themed packaging, I expected something cinnamon-y, maybe a little ambery and vanillic too-- along the lines of Opium. To my nose, Cinnabar has all the worst aspects of Opium with little of the cozy spices that make Opium so delicious on some women. It's got tons of indolic jasmine and strong cloves and on me it smells like dog poop mixed with toothache medicine. Just funky, fetid, dated, and wrong. I won't deny that some folks can carry this off, but it just dies a thousand deaths on my skin and is absolutely sickening. I usually do Orientals well, too.