Eau de Parfum (1989)
Samsara (Eau de Parfum) by Guerlain
Flacon Design: Robert Granai
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Samsara (Eau de Parfum) (Guerlain)
Samsara (Eau de Parfum) (Guerlain)
8.0 / 10     374 RatingsRatingsRatings
Samsara (Eau de Parfum) is a popular perfume by Guerlain for women and was released in 1989. The scent is oriental-flowery. The longevity is above-average. It is being marketed by LVMH.

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Fragrance Notes

Top Notes Top NotesBergamot, Green notes, Peach, Ylang-ylang, Lemon
Heart Notes Heart NotesOrris root, Jasmine, Narcissus, Carnation, Rose, Violet
Base Notes Base NotesAmber, Iris, Musk, Sandalwood, Tonka bean, Vanilla



8.0 (374 Ratings)


8.6 (228 Ratings)


8.0 (215 Ratings)


7.4 (225 Ratings)
Submitted by DonVanVliet, last update on 02.03.2017

Interesting Facts

The original formula contained around 20% of natural sandalwood oil from Mysore - at the time a rather inexpensive ingredient. Today's scarcity of real sandalwood, an endangered wood species, has necessitated a reformulation of Samsara with a higher concentration of Polysantol, a synthetic sandalwood substitute.

The term Samsara is a Sanskrit word that has its roots in Hinduism. It refers to the cycle of birth and rebirth, the eternal wheel of life.

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Bottle 8.0/10
Sillage 7.0/10
Longevity 8.0/10
Scent 10.0/10
1 Award
A Classic Guerlain Masterpiece
Top Notes: Green Notes, Peach, Bergamot, Lemon.

Heart Notes: Iris, Violet, Orris Root, Jasmine, Rose, Narcissus.

Base Notes: Iris, Sandalwood, Tonka Bean, Amber, Musk, Vanilla.

This review is for the EDP formulation. As one would expect, Samsara is very sandalwoody, lightly sweet, lightly floral, and a bit powdery. It is so soft, so feminine...I really cannot think of words sufficient to describe how sexy is this parfum. I cannot imagine men wearing this because it is so very feminine, although I am sure some probably do. J-P Guerlain really outdid himself with this creation. The man is a genius.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Samsara is that there is no Mysore sandalwood oil in it at all (some claim that it originally did contain real Mysore Sandalwood, but it seems highly unlikely to me), but the synthetics used completely fool one's sense of smell. J-P Guerlain created Samsara in 1989, post the collapse of Mysore sandalwood, i.e. after the tree had become very seriously endangered. I read that it took J-P Guelain five LONG years to perfect this parfum and that his reason for creating it allegedly was to seduce a certain English woman he knew. Well, all I can say is that she must have been seduced as intended! My goodness this smells heavenly....

Honestly, this smells so heavenly, so uber feminine that you just have to try it for yourself. I apply it liberally. The projection is not huge in my opinion as it wears somewhat close to one's skin, but the projection it does have says "come hither, my love...." :) Sillage is nice, and longevity is moderate+. If I apply it at night before going to bed, I can still smell it on myself in the morning six or so hours later, albeit faintly. It lingers on my clothes and on my desk top and smells divine.

It is no secret that Guerlain is my favourite house. I love Samsara and have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who is interested in sandalwood as a dominant note. If you want to seduce a man, try it whilst wearing Samsara as I think it would do the trick. So soft, so indescribably feminine...try it! This is classic perfumery at its finest. Everyone should have Samsara, L'Heure Bleue, and Mitsouko in his/her collection. No house makes fragrances like these any more. To put the proverbial cherry on the cake,, these Guerlains are accessibly priced, too. Remember these classic creations the next time you count your life's blessings. : )

Fragrance: 10/10

Projection: 7/10

Sillage: 7/10

Longevity: 8.5/10
2 Replies
Helpful Review    4 Awards
Siddhartha and Odysseus...
My heart lies now like tattered sails in windmills lorn.
Sky, vent your sighs and when the pulse departs the vein,
it will be you for whom I'll live dead and reborn.
Vapour and rain, river and sea...vapour again...

And I'll worship you every night. And I'll kiss your violet lips every morning. And I'll be a pilgrim in your body's temple. And I'll trace the contours of your amber skin with my fingertips. And I'll wash your face with my tears. And I'll treasure every moment of your sandalwood breath. And I'll cherish your image wearing nothing but a golden cincture and a golden anadem to give substance to your diaphanous form.

For you are my golden shackles.
For you are the blood of my dreams.
Can you see me Nausicaa?
Can you feel me Calypso?
Can you touch me Penelope?
Can you smell me Circe?
Can you hear me Cassandra?
I always believed in you...
1 Replies
Bottle 10.0/10
Sillage 7.5/10
Longevity 7.5/10
Scent 8.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    5 Awards
Review for the current Eau de Toilette
Wow... definitely quite something to behold!

Probably one of the most sensual fragrances I have ever come across. It's almost as if every single sensual and tropical aroma was combined together in a single bottle!

This one is almost intoxicating from the start. For me, it's kind of a very grown-up mixture of rich, creamy white floral and dry, sheer-like Sandalwood, the overall result striking me as unmistakably feminine. Guerlain's perfumes are not always easy ones to like upon initial spray, you really need to give them time to fully appreciate their significance, and for me Samsara was no exception. The story goes that Jean-Paul Guerlain came up with this inspiration partly due to a woman he admired who only liked the notes of Rose, Jasmine and Sandalwood, and he decided to create a fragrance around these three very sensual notes. The result is incredible...

What I get upon initial spray is a very tropical-like, almost overripe fruit smell with a heavy dose of Ylang-Ylang which very much reminds me of banana. This is coupled with heady, indolic, almost fecal-like opulent Jasmine (one of my favourite notes in perfume), joined by a very fresh rose note, and all resting on a huge base of sheer, silky, creamy Sandalwood. This isn't a dry Sandalwood, like Tam Dao by Diptyque. This is a very creamy Sandalwood supported by the heavy white floral Jasmine and the creamy, banana-like Ylang-Ylang, giving a hint of an almost coconut-like vibe. The overall impression could also be a little soapy at immediate impression, but once you spend time with it you really get the full experience of a rich, tropical garden in bloom.

Because of the Jasmine/Ylang-Ylang combination, Samsara really gives me the impression of being almost in a tropical forest on a hot night, with the warm, heady aroma of sweet creamy coconut, green banana, Rose, and dry Sandalwood incense burning at a nearby Buddhist shrine. It really gives me one of the most exotic impressions I've ever smelt coming out of a bottle.

Speaking of the bottle, the Chinese-style red & gold finish really give it the impression of a precious urn filled with something valuable, or maybe even spiritual. It really highlights Guerlain's obsession with Asia (similar to the way the Shalimar bottle represented a clear fountain of water in the gardens of an Indian Palace), this one looks like it came out of a Buddhist Temple. I find that the bottle certainly fits the marketing really well...

I would say that this is very grown up, but not so strong or overpowering a scent, just very evocative and incredibly sensual. Wear it when you want to smell unlike anything else, just very feminine, sensual and exotic. Close your eyes and you just may find it transporting you to a faraway place, and a whole different experience. Personally I would find this incredibly sensual on a woman (as long as applied lightly as it can be strong in the opening).

A recommended must try... A special, exotic one from Guerlain.
Bottle 10.0/10
Sillage 10.0/10
Longevity 10.0/10
Scent 10.0/10
Helpful Review    8 Awards
Dance of the Seven Veils
If a perfume is as gorgeous as Samsara, shouldn't absolutely everyone and their dog be smitten with it?

The answer is, of course, a resounding "No!" While many of us are madly, madly in love (that sort of I'm-in-this-for-life kind of love), few fragrances have inspired more dramatic expressions of hate and disgust than Samsara.

And I get it. It's those extremely sharp top notes. Lots of people aren't willing to wait 5 minutes, let alone an hour, for their perfume to go from sharp to gorgeous. I think a good analogy is in the way people *used to* explore new music, by purchasing an album for the radio hit it contained, only to find out through repeated listening that some of the less accessible, less catchy songs on the album were actually more satisfying in the long run. Samsara's drydown is like that more complex, less accessible hidden gem deep into the album.

And, if I may mix my metaphors, she is like Salome, revealing herself one veil at a time, as each layer of notes entices, then slowly and partially burns off, revealing an increasingly more sensual and delicious gift that ends in complete satisfaction.

(I prefer the version in the clear bottle with gold top because the vanilla and tonka bean seem more promiment, making the mixture seem smoother and richer, but the red bottle with red top is fine.)
2 Replies
Very helpful Review    8 Awards
Bowel prep
Perfumery lore has it that Samsara contained 30% sandalwood oil when launched. It’s also part of perfumery’s body of common knowledge that Samsara’s sandalwood is long gone. Apparently early iterations of Samsara used this botanical sandalwood as well as botanical jasmine and had a wonderful vanilla note. There was certainly more to the composition than that, but these 3 elements defined Samsara’s shape.

Sandalwood has effectively been removed from the perfumer’s palette, and in Samsara’s case, it’s been replaced by polysantol (more from perfumery lore), a powerful synthetic. Perhaps a lush, botanically derived jasmine might have been overmatched by the polysantol, but it appears that a jasmine-analogue of equal volume and shrillness to the synthetic sandalwood is employed as well. I imagine the vanilla in the early Samsara versions would have complemented the creamy tartness of true sandalwood. In the current Samsara the shriek of the polysantol combined with the vanilla gives us a new, sick-making gourmand note: butterscotch vomit.

Samsara is for me what Secretions Magnifiques is to its detractors.

When powerful aromachemicals are used in largely synthetic perfumes, imbalanced accords and compositions carry greater risks. For better or for worse, when aromachemicals are particularly strong, their effects are a leveraged increase in punch, sillage, durability. If the accords made with these strong chemicals are imbalanced (read: unappealing) the negatives will be leveraged as well. Whereas a haphazard mix of botanicals will likely read as muddy, Samsara’s polysantol-based composition is both horrifying in its gear-grinding volume and nauseating. Samsara creates a perfume sub-genre: the rancid gourmand.
2 Replies
Bottle 7.5/10
Sillage 10.0/10
Longevity 10.0/10
Scent 8.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    4 Awards
Dorothy's Return to Kansas
SAMSARA is an intensely woody, slightly sweet but still profound fragrance that is very well named. In Indian philosophy, SAMSARA is the breaking away from the cycle of hum-drum everyday existence to another, celestial realm. SAMSARA transports one to a place at once ethereal and sensual, resolving all contradictions to produce a synthetic unity of one's self with the world.

This intoxicating fragrance is rich and voluptuous, mingling many elements to form a magical elixir much greater than the sum of its parts. With SAMSARA, Guerlain broke from their unfathomably beautiful past while still managing to create a masterpiece of an entirely different genre. Somehow SAMSARA is both exotic and accessible, insistent and inviting.

SAMSARA is unforgettable and transformative, like a long trip to a land far away, after which nothing will ever be the same.
1 Replies
Scent 7.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    4 Awards
Powdery Vanilla, Amber Woody
OMG. Samsara could compete for space in my top 10. It is so "me."

It opens a bit green & citrus, and moves to the ylang ylang before heading straight for business ... powder, violet, powder, rose, powder, orris. Did I say powder? The powder is at the perfect level - not in your face or stiffling. However, the powder is there, changing and morphing, coming to the front, moving to the back, and teasing the senses. It's a changeable powder that is a powder lover's dream. It dries to a powdery, vanilla, tonka bean, amber on me.

Samsara is not an 1980s powerhouse, imo ... provided it is sprayed with caution. It's an oriental woody at its finest, bouyed by aldehydes. Ironically, it seems fresh & unique after the onslaught of edible, aquatic, and happy scents of the last 20 years. I've got the office-appropriate EdT, which is soft and close-wearing - very samsara. I will be adding the EdP to my wardrobe soon. I love it!

UPDATE - I acquired a part bottle of the EdP through ebay. The EdT is more woody, more wearable. The EdP is more floral, more oriental. Both are very good but I prefer the EdT to the EdP.

Bottle 10.0/10
Sillage 7.5/10
Longevity 7.5/10
Scent 9.0/10
Very helpful Review    5 Awards
A Pharmacy Store
Smells like a Pharmacy from the wild west when the Chinese Immigrants settled
setting up their shop full of Medical
Herbs and spices. with red walls yellow
Paper black Chinese Caligraphy on the paper beautiful
exotic dolls with lucious silks and brocade Ivory Beaded curtians Hanging
in hallways incense buring. the pharmacist with his long gray beard
in blue silk costume.
conjors up to me A medicine show of the wild west.

the Occidental meets Oriental.
Sillage 7.5/10
Longevity 7.5/10
Scent 7.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    4 Awards
Exotically sensual oriental
Quite an alluring fragrance that has certainly stood the test of time and is hailed as one of the most popular fragrances over the last two decades.

There's lots of rich woodsy notes and enough smokey incense to balance this fragrance out nicely. Particularly in the drydown, Samsara has a rather soapy yet spicy-like quality that I really admire.

The woman that wears Samsara is pictured in my mind as being classy yet seductively sexy, dressed immaculately in black silk and surrounded by a cloud of cigarette smoke which she manages to make a sophisticated recreation rather than a repulsive one.

Samsara is in one word; class. Luxurious, inspiring and elegant.

I can't say that I'm overly familiar with Guerlain scents, but from what I've tried or smelt on others I've been highly impressed, and Samsara is no exception.

I wouldn't call Samsara a loud or particularly bold type of scent, instead it is rather intimate and mysterious. I feel that this particular quality makes it all the more appealing.

Just a few squirts of Samsara and I can guarantee you that you will feel almost instantly more attractive and confident. A true gem in a world of rather common and boring scents. Samsara will make you stand out.
Bottle 7.5/10
Sillage 10.0/10
Longevity 10.0/10
Scent 7.5/10
Greatly helpful Review    8 Awards
Feminine beauty and wisdom
Warm, deep and complex, this perfume evokes to me the very essence of sensual femininity and mature wisdom. It's cozy and enveloping, like a hug from someone you love and at the same time it exudes strength and maturity.

Jasmine, ylang-ylang and vanilla are amazing together, but it's the rich sandalwood that really shines in this composition, giving it sensual and even spiritual qualities.

For me, Samsara is an incredible confidence booster. This perfume has a soul of its own and it feels like a loving companion that soothes and reinforces you all along the way.

I can imagine a mature, dark haired woman wearing this, someone who's strong and beautiful and wise. A woman who can keep her mind clear and her heart open and who lives life gracefully, with empathy and reason at the same time.

Lasting power and sillage are the best I have ever known (I own the EDP). This perfume lasts for more than 24 hours on my skin and it easily projects across a 10 meter room, so I'd suggest applying sparingly. There was not one occasion when I put this on and no one noticed it.

A true classic.
1 Replies

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