There is something that I should let you in on right from the top: I typically hate gourmand fragrances. Anything that smells like vanilla, coconuts, or the inside of a Polly Pocket home is typically a nonstarter for me. It could be influenced by my mother, who never met a sweet scent that she didn’t love, or attributed to my high school job folding shirts at Limited Too. But if the scent is sweet, I’m typically passing on it. That’s why Ariana Grande’s Cloud perfume has me so incredibly confused.
Unlike any celebrity perfume before it, the scent is somehow able to combine a mix of floral and gourmand notes in a way that isn’t cloying or overtly sweet. Instead, Cloud smells clean, fresh, and like you’re barely wearing perfume at all.
It makes sense, then, that Cloud has been gathering endless rave reviews from beauty editors and customers alike since it launched in 2018 (it’s also racked up thousands of reviews on ULTA Beauty, where it also happens to be the #1 selling fragrance). Not to mention, Grande’s fragrance has a near-perfect score on Influenster, and according to the brand, a bottle of the perfume sold every 11 seconds last year.
But what is it about Cloud that made it question my deep-seated hatred for gourmand fragrances, and how did this cutesy bottle make me question my entire perfume identity? Ever the devoted beauty writer, I set out to investigate.
What Does Cloud Smell Like In The Bottle?
As a scent, Cloud is a complete departure from Grande’s other perfumes. While bottles like Sweet Like Candy and Thank U, Next smell like many other celebrity fragrances — meaning sugary and sweet, like a cookie-scented holiday candle — Cloud is a little more mature. Lavender blossom, juicy pear, and bergamot make up the top notes while coconut, praline, and vanilla round out the center.
But once the scent dries down, that’s when things get really interesting. Instead of the typical sugar spike, Cloud has a base of musk, blonde woods, amber, and cashmere. It adds an incredible warmth to the fragrance that gives it a masculine edge, which I’m pretty sure is what has drawn me to the fragrance in general.
What Does Cloud Smell Like On The Skin?
I smelled Cloud in two ways: spritzed onto a Post-It and onto my skin (the heat from your body can affect a fragrance significantly and make it smell totally different than in the bottle). When I sprayed it on paper, my nose instantly wrinkled. It smelled exactly like the cloyingly sweet celebrity perfumes I’d despised since I first sniffed Britney Spears’ Curious back in high school. I wasn’t looking forward to wearing it on my skin — I had nightmares about scrubbing it off in the shower only to find it lingering when I tried to fall asleep.
When I misted it on my skin, however, I was pretty impressed. (I may or may have not exclaimed “wow!” aloud in my empty apartment.) The first thing to hit my nose was the bergamot and lavender blossom. Both are florals, of course, but somehow not heavy or migraine-inducing. The addition of the juicy pear may have toned down the flowery notes a touch, making it a lot cleaner. As the scent wore down, I started to get the more gourmand scents. The vanilla was definitely present, but the addition of the coconut gave it an earthiness that added a subtlety to the otherwise sugary sweetness.
Cloud really won me over, though, after about an hour — thats when the warmth came in. It smelled like I’d mixed a boyfriend’s musky cologne with a spritz of Gucci Bloom. The intensity was gone, but the freshness hung around.
Still, it’s important to note that Cloud is available in both an Eau De Parfum and 2.0 “Intense” version. There is no difference in the notes, but the Intense fragrance does smell, well, more intense.
What Does Cloud Pair Best With For Layering?
Some have claimed that Cloud is an affordable doppelgänger for the cult-favorite Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 Eau de Parfum (which clocks in at $325 for 2.4 ounces compared to Grande’s $45 for 1 ounce), but that statement has also caused many a Reddit argument.
Since I loved my initial experience with Cloud, I decided to mess around a bit and see how it layered with other fragrances I have in my collection. On the whole, I found that the fresher, lighter perfumes worked best with it. While the aforementioned Gucci Bloom brought out the florals, my go-to Margiela Replica Lazy Sunday Morning seemed to be the best pairing. The lightness of the lily of the valley and iris notes mellowed out the more gourmand scents of Cloud, while the white musk added to the warmth in a really lovely way.
Overall, I think that Grande’s Cloud will become a regular in my perfume wardrobe, especially now that I know it pairs well with some of my other favorite scents, and how surprisingly sophisticated it is for a celebrity scent (sorry, Britney). It may not have changed my mind on celebrity fragrances altogether, but it has opened me up to the idea of trying more gourmand perfumes. I’d count that as a win.
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