This is the under-the-radar fragrance note you should know about

A host of secretly loved, lesser known scents, that you previously probably wouldn't find unless you were looking in the right place, are cropping up all over our favorite beauty halls
A host of secretly loved, lesser known scents, that you previously probably wouldn't find unless you were looking in the right place, are cropping up all over our favorite beauty halls Credit:  Getty

When it comes to best-selling fragrances, you wouldn't be blamed if images of Chanel No.5 or Giorgio Armani’s Si quickly spring to mind. But a host of secretly loved, lesser known scents, that you previously probably wouldn't find unless you were looking in the right place, are cropping up all over our favourite beauty halls. 

The most notable of all? Thameen London Royal Sapphire, £195. Created by Basel Bin Jabr, Thameen, meaning ‘precious’ in Arabic, is currently the best-selling niche fragrance brand in Selfridges, with sales having doubled in the past three years. A fact not entirely surprising when you consider how this luxury British brand seamlessly blends the best of the East and West. And this latest offering from the brand stays true to form.

Light ingredients, usually associated with Western fragrances, like the citric and floral aromas of bergamot, mandarin and jasmine, are coupled with the bold, full-bodied scents of the Middle East, such as base notes of warm amber and dry wood, offering a fresher take on an Eastern classic, namely, oud. 

Elegantly juxtaposing the sweet with the smokey and the cool with the warmth, it’s this hybridisation of two polar traditions that lies at the heart of this fragrance and what makes this opulent scent so surprisingly addictive.

Agarwood, also known as aoud, oud, or oudh, is the resinous heartwood of the aquilaria tree, found mostly in India and South-East Asia.

 Thameen London Royal Sapphire, £195

Used in incense chips that are burned in mosques, as an aromatic oil for the body or in the most traditional manner known as bakhoor, where clothes and hair are infused with scented smoke, oud has enjoyed a uniquely precious prestige in the Islamic world for centuries, entwining it as much in the culture of the Middle East as it is in religion.

But why is this quintessentially Eastern ingredient seeing such popularity overseas?

According to British perfumer, Roja Dove, “It is partially due to the way that the world is more connected than ever before, and that we in the West are able to welcome people from the Middle East, and as a result, their influence finds its way into our own culture.”

And it’s not just about welcoming, but celebrating differences, believes Dove, “We live in an age where identity and self-expression is more of a focus than ever before, and as a result, people are wanting to wear perfumes that don’t shy away from the crowd – they want something that helps them to stand out.” 

Indeed, layering and carving out a scent of your own is characteristic of oud as it enhances and boosts the staying power of other olfactive elements. “One of the great pleasures of getting to know the traditions of the Gulf was to see how Aoud forms the basis of an individual’s fragrance, which is then customised by applying their favourite scent on top,” adds Dove.

British perfumer, Roja Dove Credit:  Eddie Mulholland

These are the other under-the-radar ouds to try now

Aoud Pure Perfume, £375 for 30ml, Roja Parfums 

Aoud Pure Perfume, £375 for 30ml, Roja Parfums 

Built on a warm base of oud birch and sandalwood, Roja’s classic oud is brought to the balance with fresh notes of lemon, lime and jasmine.

Oud, £200 for 70ml, Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Oud, £200 for 70ml, Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Elemi gum from the Philippines, oud from Laos, cedar wood from Morocco and patchouli from Singapore, this oud has no difficulty is whisking you away through space as well as time.

Notorious Oud, £220 for 100ml, D.S & Durga 

Notorious Oud, £220 for 100ml, D.S & Durga 

Notorious Oud is as rich and full bodied as they come, with hearty notes of Indoneisain oud, spicy saffron and North African papyrus.

Velvet Rose & Oud Cologne Intense, £122 for 100ml, Jo Malone

Velvet Rose & Oud Cologne Intense, £122 for 100ml, Jo Malone 

This floral take on oud infuses the darkest Damask rose with praline and clover for sheer decadence.