I Have Never Sniffed an Actual Joshua Tree.
February 25, 2015 7:33 AM   Subscribe

I have had a bottle of Aveda Joshua Tree/Spirit Desert Pure-fume in my collection for a while (almost 14 years) and it remains my all-time favourite. It also hasn't been available for purchase in many years, so I have been using it sparely.. but I'm almost out. Help!

Despite loving it, I have absolutely no idea how to describe the scent - it's not like any other perfume I've ever had or like anything else I've ever sniffed. It's very distinct. A tiny sniff of the cap is enough to make me feel happy. I love love love it.

A quick google tells me that what I'm smelling is mostly likely orange blossom, vanilla, jasmine and bergamot - another source says it's most likely neroli, bergamot, petitgrain, jasmine and vanilla. I have no idea what's most prominent because I have no idea what any of the above smell like (other than vanilla). I just love love love this scent SO MUCH.

I can't afford the $350 cost to buy a bottle on ebay. The only "copycat" I've found was on etsy - and the shop is closing AND only shipping in the US.

Any suggestions for a replacement? (Ideally one that's available in Canada, but I'll accept shipping from the US if it isn't prohibitively expensive.)
posted by VioletU to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Someone here might have the perfect replacement scent, but if that doesn't turn up... Why don't you go to a department store perfume counter with what you have left and ask them to help you find something very similar?
posted by Andrhia at 7:38 AM on February 25, 2015

Have you tried checking at one of the perfume forums like basenotes?
posted by oneear at 8:00 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love Sephora Scent Finder, you can search by ingredient notes. BUT you need to be in-store to work it (it's the giant touch screen in the fragrance section). It's actually pretty good at narrowing down your selection based on your preferences. Depending on the store, the ladies are also very helpful in finding scents too. Just bring your bottle in and ask them to help.

Based on your ingredient list, we have the same taste in scent. (ha ha)

I absolutely adore Tocca Perfume - Florence
Top Notes: Italian Bergamot, Grapefruit Leaves, Green Pear, Apple
Middle Notes: Ivory Gardenia, Crushed Violet Petals, Jasmine, Tuberose, Blue Iris
Bottom Notes: Blonde Wood, White Musk

My other suggestion is to literally type "orange blossom, vanilla, jasmine and bergamot" into google and root through the scents that show up.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:00 AM on February 25, 2015

Have you considered contacting Aveda customer service and at least seeing if they'd confirm the list/prominence of scents for you? Maybe they would have suggestions on alternate products inside or outside of their own line.
posted by spelunkingplato at 8:17 AM on February 25, 2015

This isn't directly helpful, but have you tried contacting the etsy seller and asking about the perfume? I mention this because I was in a similar position to you, and when I contacted the etsy seller who had sold me my perfume (and who was getting out of the business), she straight-up gave me her recipe and a suggestion for where to buy the oils. This seller might do the same, or might be able to suggest someone else who could blend a copycat for you.
posted by Janta at 8:17 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't have any specific scent recommendations, but neroli and orange blossom are the same thing, and bergamot and petitgrain are both essential oils derived from varieties of oranges and have a sort of orangey smell. This might help your search a little.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:22 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Aveda tends to have a very "Aveda" scent and certain way of developing scent that is unlike other brands. I think jumping to a different brand, even if it has a similar description, won't be similar.
Test all of the other Aveda scents that you can find, and also test Intelligent Nutrients. That is tihe company founded by the Aveda owner after he sold Aveda. Intelligent Nutrients has a big focus on neroli so that might be a good start.
I think you will be more likely to find a new Aveda/IN scent you like. Finding a similar scent in another brand will be very hard.
posted by littlewater at 8:33 AM on February 25, 2015 [7 favorites]

It's heartbreaking to lose access to a fragrance you've grown to consider one's own, but it's also a bittersweet part of perfumery--these scents are as ephemeral in production as they are on the body. For evidence, look up reviews of any classic fragrance that have been reformulated and listen to the crowd bitch about the former versus the latter.

People have different approaches to this. Some save an aliquot of the thing they love so there's always a bit to remember, even if it can't be worn. I love Givenchy's 'Gentleman,' but I have only a few mililiters left and the newer version seems totally different to me. So my old bottle stays in a dark place, and I occasionally open the cap and reminisce. I'll wear a bit when I get married, otherwise it's a museum piece for private consumption only.

And dang, I am right there with you with some of the discontinued Aveda scents. I loved the Eros Pure-fume, and have never found a duplicate of it--but it did introduce me to warm woody fragrances, which are now what I mostly wear. So I encourage you to explore the notes in your favorite to find bridges to new fragrances. One comes to mind with a profile that's at least similar to what you've reported: Dalila, by O.P.S.O. Reach out to them and ask about a sample.

But others have said very true things. Aveda fragrances have a very particular set of qualities that aren't always common or even desired in the perfumery trades, so exact duplicates may be hard to find outside their spin-off companies.

That said, custom fragrances are kind of a thing now and there are lots of businesses (of varying levels of quality) that will help you blend your own. Here are a few examples with price ranges, but if you're really up for it I strongly recommend getting in touch with Christopher Brosius at I Hate Perfume. Odds are, he can help you come up with a pretty close--or even better--replacement. Granted, he says he hates recreating discontinued scents, so keep that in mind--maybe approach him with your profile notes and go with the flow to see what kind of fragrances come out of it.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:08 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

According to the Fragrantica page, the main notes people smell in the Aveda are orange blossom, jasmine, bergamot, and vanilla. You can search by note here. I did that with the four notes, and there are a ton of results that show up. This Kenzo perfume in particular is listed as having similar notes and is relatively affordable on eBay, though I'm not sure if it's widely available enough to sample. Perhaps the list of perfumes with similar notes would be a good starting place, though.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:14 AM on February 25, 2015

Le Labo will custom mix perfumes for you, and their neroli 36 sounds like it might come close to the aveda one you're trying to replicate.
posted by snaw at 10:36 AM on February 25, 2015

Demeter Fragrances for samplers of base notes
posted by lalochezia at 3:36 PM on February 25, 2015

I convo'd the etsy seller yesterday (fingers crossed). Today I'm aiming to go out and sniff some essential oils so I can figure out what particular aspect of the Aveda perfume is hitting me in the right place. From there, I'm hoping to have a better idea about what I want in a new perfume - now that I've been reading more about how perfumes are created with top/middle/base notes, I feel a bit more confident that I can find something I love that has a similar kick to it. Thank you!!!
posted by VioletU at 6:38 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I went to four different places locally that sell essential oils. All of the testers for orange blossom/neroli were over-exposed and smelled like sugary-oil. Guh.

Then I went to the grocery store, popped into the 'ethnic foods' section, and picked up a bottle of Orange Blossom Water (product of Lebanon) and.. YES! That's exactly the smell I'm looking for. Now I know where to start this adventure.

Thanks again!!!
posted by VioletU at 2:44 PM on March 4, 2015

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