Guerlain’s Samsara isn’t just the fragrance you just spray on when you want to smell nice–it’s the one you spray on when you want to transform.
In this Samsara perfume review, I’ll go over the pros and cons of this scent (as well as who should wear it, and when), but try to experience this one for yourself, if you can. It’s spicy and sweet, a perfume that can make you feel more sensual and passionate, one that will encourage you to embrace your inner seductress.
This is a truly gorgeous, warm, well-blended perfume that won’t be ideal for everyday wear for most people (I save it for special occasions, personally). The jasmine and sandalwood reign, but that’s not all there is here. Not even close. It’s complex and changes as the day–or night–goes on.
Samsara Perfume Review: Overall Impressions
If Red Hots candies were a sensual, luxurious perfume, they’d be Samsara. Samsara is a little less hot and spicy than the cinnamon candy–and a lot sweeter and creamier–but to my nose, there’s a similarity there that can’t be denied.
Oddly enough, cinnamon isn’t even listed as a note in Samsara. The review at Now Smell This also mentions that there’s no spiciness to Samsara at all and that it’s not like YSL’s Opium, for example. To my nose, however, it is the sweeter, more welcoming cousin to a scent like Opium.
Whereas Opium can seem like it’s all business and a little cold (despite the spices)–maybe even a bit standoffish (at least it is on my skin)–Samsara is all warmth, comfort, passion, and romance.
That gives us a bright, floral opening that floats down to a powdery–but still floral–middle before landing on a sweet, woody, rich drydown.
The drydown doesn’t fade out to a nondescript, barely-there, warm vanilla the way some perfumes with similar notes do. Instead, it maintains its richness and complexity. The sandalwood stands out more than the vanilla, the amber adds warmth, the iris maintains the powdery hints, and the musk and tonka bean add more interest.
Who Should Wear Samsara
I always like to say that anyone who feels compelled to wear a fragrance should wear it regardless of age, gender, personality, etc., so take this recommendation with a grain of salt: To my mind, it’s best for ladies 25 and up who want to embrace their sensual side, who are looking for a warm, sexy evening scent that will turn heads and garner attention.
When to Wear Samsara
Similar to the “who should wear…” question, I think you should wear fragrances wherever you like, within reason. It really depends on how the scent performs on you. Based on my own experience (and with other reviews backing me up on it), this one is ideal for date nights or even cozy days at home (with or without someone special).
This is more of an evening scent than a daytime one, though there’s a chance it could behave as a daytime scent on some people. It was just too bold and syrupy for that on my skin.
I wouldn’t recommend it for work or any situation where you may find yourself in small spaces–elevators, classrooms, or offices, for example–with others. It’s intense. Beautiful (and probably a little too sexy for work or school), but could be overwhelming, and it’s definitely not for everyone.
As for the season, I enjoy it on summer nights, but it’s probably best suited for fall and winter since it’s such a powerful, warm scent.
Key Features of Samsara Perfume
Samsara is one of those perfumes you just have to try because there’s really nothing else like it on the market. However, we can use some of the key details to give an idea of what the scent was like, how it performs, and what you can expect.
- Beautiful red bottle with gold accents (old packaging), which I think perfectly showcases what the fragrance inside will smell like, or clear bottle with clear cap and red label (still beautiful, just different) if you choose to purchase a bottle in the newer packaging
- Syrupy fragrance (not the same as syrupy-sweet)
- Floral, woody, slightly powdery fragrance
- Sensuality in a bottle
- Exquisitely balanced notes that mostly hold strong through the lifetime of each spritz (the brighter notes don’t last, but the midnotes still hang around with the base notes all day, with sandalwood and jasmine being the standouts)
- Astounding projection–the scent seems to grow larger as you wear it, so I recommend starting with just one spray the first time you try it, then going from there once you see how it performs on your skin
- Good sillage
Pros of Samsara
We already know it’s gorgeous, but let’s break down more of the pros to Samsara perfume:
- Because of its projection, sillage, and longevity, you definitely get your money’s worth
- Smells cozy and warm, but also sensual, so although it’s mostly an evening scent, it’s still versatile
- Multi-faceted fragrance–it’s floral, sweet (not in a gourmand way), creamy, woody, and a little spicy
- Holds a uniqueness even in the drydown, something other fragrances don’t always do
- Blended well so no single note sings loudly while the others fade into the background
Cons of Samsara
What might mean you should skip Samsara perfume?
- Some people may be turned off by the “syrupy” feel to the scent–it smells thick and creamy, if that makes sense, which could feel overwhelming in some cases.
- It has that 80s “big” fragrance feel to it because the fragrance just seems to grow and grow for the first hour or so of wear. However, it’s not “screechy” in any sense, something some 80s powerhouse fragrances have been accused of. It’s gorgeous at every stage.
- Tracking a bottle of the EDP down (especially the red bottle) will get more and more difficult and you’ll need to research the stores you’re considering buying from (to make sure they’re selling the real perfumes) because this version of Samsara has been discontinued. (You can, however, still find one size of the EDT on the Guerlain website.)
- The price is likely to fluctuate from store to store and as time goes on, simply because it’s not being sold anymore.
- In most cases, it’s expensive. Even the EDT is $110.00.
If you’re fairly familiar with Guerlain perfumes, you may have caught a whiff of “The Guerlinade,” a combination of rose, iris, vanilla, tonka bean, bergamot, and jasmine. Once you’ve smelled it, you can easily detect it and know you’re smelling a Guerlain creation.
However, there’s so much more to the name than that particular blend of notes that makes Guerlain stand out. But what else is there to explore regarding the brand?
Generations of Perfumers: A Rich History
Guerlain got its start in Paris in 1828, near the Arc de Triomphe, and the company has remained close to those roots ever since. It’s a family business, starting with master perfumer Pierre-François Pascal, handed down through the generations until 1994, when it was sold to LVMH.
Pierre-François Pascal earned the title of His Majesty’s Official Perfumer, as he created fragrances for French emperor Napoleon III, Empress Eugénie (Napoleon III’s wife), and eventually Queen Victoria (the United Kingdom) and Queen Isabella II (Spain).
Everything about the company has consistently embraced luxury and elegance, from the boutique that opened in 1828 (the same year the first Guerlain factory opened) to the packaging, to what’s inside of it.
An expansion happened in 1914, taking a Guerlain boutique to 68 Champs-Élysées. The Champs-Élysées location began offering beauty treatments in 1939, in an environment as beautiful and carefully crafted as you would expect from Guerlain.
Beauty and Bees
The attention to beautiful packaging and experience is still evident today in the iconic bee bottle that was originally created in 1853 in honor of Napoleon III’s coat of arms. That bottle has a new special meaning today. Guerlain is dedicated to “preserving biodiversity and protecting bees” through the Guerlain for Bees Conservation Program.
Guerlain, though a respected and recognizable name in the perfume world, isn’t only about fragrance. There’s skin care and makeup, as well, all in bottles, tubes, and compacts that exude a feeling of luxury.
Samsara Dupes and Similar Fragrances to Try
Because Samsara perfume can be a challenge to find (and because it can be quite expensive when you do), and because it may be too strong for daily wear, you may be searching for a Samsara perfume dupe.
Nothing I’ve found smells just like Samsara, but there are a few that give the same sexy, warm, cozy vibe or wrap you in a sweet-and-spicy floral and sandalwood embrace.
Here are a few to try if you can’t get your hands on Samsara:
Givenchy Amarige is the more innocent sister to Guerlain’s Samsara. The florals are there, dancing like a wedding bouquet, but there’s less of the warm, sensual vibe. That’s still there, too, but it’s more of a hint than something that overtakes your senses and wraps you in a warm hug.
Although Amarige can be overwhelming in small spaces, this one feels more daytime-appropriate. It’s a fresher, cleaner scent than Samsara (but still not a “fresh, clean scent”–it’s still an intoxicating floral with woody notes).
It’s complex, like Samsara, from top to bottom, but there’s less of the depth and it leans more heavily on the florals than woods. If fragrances were colors, Samsara would be a deep, rich, satiny red and Amarige would be the warm gold of the hour just before sunset.
Crossovers in notes include peach, violet, ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, vanilla, amber, tonka bean, and musk. Fragrantica lists additional fruits (plum, mandarin orange, red berries, black currant, for example), as well as florals (orange blossom, tuberose, mimosa, gardenia, carnation, orchid) and woods (Brazilian rosewood and cedar).
Estée Lauder Sensuous
Estée Lauder Sensuous has that same “warm hug” feeling that Samsara has to offer, but it’s less sensual (ironic, due to the name). It’s creamy, woody, sweet (not gourmand), and a bit syrupy (not as syrupy as Samsara).
Notes include: Lily, jasmine, magnolia, woodsy notes, amber, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, white honey, pepper, and mandarin orange. There’s a lot of overlap with Samsara here (especially the sandalwood and jasmine–the sandalwood, jasmine, and honey are the stars here).
Sensuous is easier to wear every day, during the day, and leans more cozy than sensual, but only slightly. It’s gorgeous for fall and winter but may be too much in spring and summer.
Estée Lauder Sensuous Noir
Estée Lauder Sensuous Noir is probably the least similar, but it’s still worth mentioning because it has a similar vibe, even if the notes are different. There’s a masculine hint to this one that Samsara doesn’t have.
Here, there’s the floral-wood-amber-vanilla mix, but there are more spices, some pine, patchouli, lily, and a touch of honey. It feels more like a sweater to my nose than a satin robe–heavier, a tad scratchy, but still warm. Sensual, even sexy, in some ways, but not to the extent that Samsara is (Samsara is really in a class of its own in that sense).
Common notes are: Rose, jasmine, amber, vanilla, and wood (thought the woods aren’t the same).
Boucheron shares notes with Samsara at all levels, with bergamot, lemon, ylang-ylang, jasmine, orris root, narcissus, amber, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka bean, and musk interwoven with a few extras that Samsara perfume doesn’t have.
It has the same kind of rich, warm, sultry, floral fragrance Samsara does. It’s loud and bold, but still classy and comforting. It’s another one you’ll want to spray with caution, but it could be just the Samsara dupe (or close enough) you’re looking for.
Thierry Mugler Alien
Alien is another fragrance that feels like it could be a cousin to Samsara. Jasmine and woods are there, but there’s a hint of something green that Samsara doesn’t have (it can come across as metallic at times). Samsara is perfect for the cooler months, while Alien shines in the spring, creating a light cloud of warmth and jasmine around the wearer.
Notes are jasmine, woodsy notes, and amber, so it’s less complex than Samsara but feels like a toned-down version of it, without the same level of warmth and spice (I detect no whiffs of cinnamon in Alien, for example, but sometimes I do think it smells like grape soda).
Alien is like a muted Samsara that’s friendly and warm, not especially sensual or passionate.
I definitely wouldn’t call this a dupe, but if you love jasmine and Samsara’s just too much for you or your environment, you may enjoy Alien because of the similarities.
Question: Which Guerlain Perfume is the Best?
Answer: Samsara is gorgeous and sensual, so it’s in the top three along with Shalimar and L’Heure Bleue. Mitsouko is another interesting, slightly spicy, classic fragrance from Guerlain that’s perfect for fall.
Question: What Does Samsara Perfume Smell Like?
Answer: It’s a lot of jasmine and sandalwood, but that’s not all it is. It’s smooth but complex, with a creamy sweetness, hint of spice, and a mix of florals and woods.
Question: Is Samsara a Nice Perfume?
Answer: It is so lovely. Yes, it’s nice, but you’ll probably want to spray it sparingly because it can be powerful and not everyone will love it.
Question: Is Samsara perfume discontinued?
Answer: It seems like the perfume (EDP) version has been discontinued, but you can still find it at some retailers and other online shops. You can still get the lighter version, the EDT, from the Guerlain website, but only a 75 ml bottle is available, and it’s expensive at $110.00.
Question: How Much does Samsara Perfume Cost?
Answer: That will depend on where you shop and which version you prefer, since the eau de parfum is not available at Guerlain’s website or major department stores and makeup stores anymore.
You can get the 1.7 oz EDP for around $40.00 (but up to $70.00) if you shop around. If you’re looking for the eau de toilette, you can still get the 75 ml size for just over $100.00 at Guerlain.com.
Conclusion: Should You Buy Samsara Perfume?
If you’re looking for a sweet, just-barely spicy, woody fragrance that’s dripping with jasmine and sandalwood notes, paired with just a touch of powder, yes. Do you desire a sensual scent that will make you feel warm and maybe even more seductive than usual? Then yes. Buy Samsara perfume.