I feel silly writing a review about a fragrance called Clean, as the name written on the perfume bottle is a nomenclature in and of itself. Over the years I’ve come across many maligning reviews on it which makes me shake my head, unable to understand the negative reactions to it, let alone the “industrial disinfectant” references used when describing it. However, after recently wearing it when grocery shopping and being pulled over in the store by a gentleman who couldn’t compliment me enough on how “so fresh and so sexy like I just walked out of a shower” I smelled (…yeah, I know… sweet but kinda creepy…) that I’ve decided it was time to offer a different perspective on this polarizing fragrance.
I first tried Clean EDP right after it was released quite a few winters ago. One spray on the tester blotter and I’ve wrinkled my nose, wondering by whom and why on earth this perfume was created in the first place. It smelled like anemic, generic musk that you can usually find on supermarket or pharmacy shelves for a handful of dollars. The thing is, I tried this fragrance right after I’d tested “Dior Addict (2002)”, which at that time was also a new release and sported the old heavenly formula. Okay… Honestly, who could give Clean a fair shot on a cold winter day after trying the delicious, spicy soufflé that is Addict?? Obviously, I was smell-drunk from the vanillic goodness that just permeated my nose and so I chucked the bottle back on the shelf and returned to the Dior stand. Fast forward to a few summers ago, I’d dedicated a good block of time in my day to dork around at my local Ulta to find out if I can ever like the allegedly *Clean* line and whether the flankers were also full bottle worthy. And now the truth comes out: Clean is undoubtedly a warm weather fragrance. In the dead of winter, it turns into a mixture of chlorinated pool, tap water, and a facial astringent on me. In the heat of the summer, however, this cold composition turned into a pure and wholesome aroma that gives me the feeling of having just washed from head to toe with a luxurious perfumed soap. In the opening, I detect a light but sharp citrus blend that persistently continues throughout its lifespan. I don’t get any floral notes other than a faint whiff of lavender in the heart phase. At the end, which arrives about a good six hours later, I am left with a citric, cool, musky drydown that is still refreshing with no detectable hints of going off the rails. Suffice it to say that Clean agreed to love my skin, which I believe is a phenomenon that is a prerequisite before anyone says, “Oh yeah - I like this!” about any perfume. So to be fair to the numerous reviewers who pooped on this fragrance, I can see how, with the wrong chemistry, this fume can make you smell like someone just gave you a swirly. I’ve tried another very similar fragrance called “Les Senteurs Gourmandes - Musc Blanc” by Laurence Dumont. The only difference is that Clean utilizes a lavender accentuated heart instead of the faint rose note Laurence Dumont used in his composition. Both fragrances, however, are startlingly similar on my skin. As far as longevity and projection goes, Clean is the winner. It projects about at least 3 feet and stays on me for a good 6 hours.
I don’t think Clean or its flankers (“Shower Fresh” is my favorite!) are meant to be a crowd-pleaser, as are most designer or celebrity fragrances. I see this collection more as a progressive, niche style creation that just happens to be mass produced. It isn’t for everyone, as the copious negative reviews all over the internet would suggest. Nonetheless, those who love sheer florals, light musks, or citric aromas could be in perfumista heaven as long as their skin loves this icy juice back.