Estee Lauder Youth Dew : Perfume Review (New and Vintage)

55555

This year Estée Lauder’s first fragrance, Youth Dew, will celebrate its 60th anniversary.  Originally conceived as perfumed bath oil, it is the dowager empress of the Lauder fragrance counter, still selling briskly despite its late middle age. So formidable is it that if you only try it once every ten years, you will recognize it.

youth-dew1

Youth Dew has always been a thick and nearly viscous brew. Lauder perfumes contain sumptuous amounts of perfume oil and nowhere is this illustrated as plainly as in Youth Dew, whose 30% dosage leaves a sheen on the skin.  In today’s terms, Youth Dew is retro in the same way Opium is retro; they are both heavily spiced and heavy-lidded Orientals of a type no longer in trend. As with Opium, Youth Dew is crazily ripe with orange top notes and aldehydes bursting over its clove and cinnamon heart.

The given notes indicate that mimosa, rose, ylang-ylang, orchid, and jasmine are writhing around in there somewhere, but I don’t smell them without effort.  They are too rich, almost, to be smelled.  The truth is that I generously sprayed myself with two short bursts of Youth Dew and then was afraid to put nose to wrist for several hours afterwards.  Instead, I walked around the local mall sharing Youth Dew’s extravagant sillage with every other shopper within smelling distance.  Two sprays! Try that with a watery fruity floral or laundry musk.

The frontal attack of Youth Dew is such that I would probably recommend dabbing it on, or spraying it in the air, waiting a second, and then walking through it so that a mist of Youth Dew settles over the wearer.  This is the sensible way to apply any strong perfume, unless one wants to wait half a day to leave the house. Youth Dew is explosive, but it has something new releases do not:  grandeur.  It is as commanding a scent as you are likely to find, and it hails from an era of perfumery we will not see the likes of again.

You might wonder how the modern Youth Dew compares to what Mrs. Lauder herself selected from the versions perfumer Josephine Catapano presented to her. Youth Dew used to have civet in the base that is no longer there.  The vintage was hot and animalic but not to any degree greater than other perfumes of its era.  Today’s Youth Dew is more leathery, with the leather appearing early on and softening over the great span of its wear.  The scent is a sonic boom of spices, followed by leather and a suave amber drydown that must be experienced rather than talked about. One must not merely like, but love clove in order to approach it.

In the past, I wore Youth Dew as the bath oil only, and I am strongly leaning in that direction again.  A few drops of Youth Dew in the bath is indescribably luxurious, the type of luxury that has been lost today.  Used this way, Youth Dew can be a gentle perfume of a calmer, less aggressive nature.  It’s beautiful worn that way, as a trace olfactory element to be smelled only by those closest to you.  I know this is not what the formidable Estée Lauder intended, but times have changed.  Youth Dew can be the most seductive perfume when played out against the secret of one’s own chemistry and its subtle magic.  I know, because I’ve experienced it myself.

Estée Lauder Youth Dew includes notes of orange, bergamot, peach, aldehydes, clove, cinnamon, mimosa, rose, ylang-ylang, orchid, jasmine, frankincense, amber, vanilla, tolu, benzoin, oakmoss, musk, patchouli, vetiver. Available at all Lauder counters.

What do you think of Youth Dew?

Enjoyed this? Get blog posts via email:

Or, stay updated via:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS

62 Comments

  • solanace: I have never tried Youth Dew. Must fix this! February 27, 2013 at 8:25am Reply

    • Bhama: Me too, I have always been afraid of that bottle with the amber color juice! Will rectify that today.I am going to the mall today and am feeling very brave!!! February 27, 2013 at 8:43am Reply

      • solanace: Believe you or not, they don’t sell Estée Lauder in Brazil! February 27, 2013 at 1:56pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Caution is urged–it can be overwhelming if sprayed without a good deal of thought and commitment to living with it for a day or so! February 27, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

      • Bhama: No kidding, this stuff is potent! I am glad I took your advice and sprayed it on a blotter rather than on myself. I like it, but don’t think I can wear it. It’s too rich and heavy for my lifestyle, but am glad that I tried it anyway! February 27, 2013 at 10:00pm Reply

  • rosarita: Wonderful read, thank you, Suzanna. Youth Dew is a scent well known to to me; my mother had the bath oil and I occasionally got a few drops in my bath as a treat when I was little. I had a mini for a while but just didn’t wear it because, while I love heavy spicy orientals, there are too many others I like better. Last summer I found a bottle of Youth Dew Amber Nude that I think Tom Ford did for EL at Goodwill for five bucks, and I’ve really enjoyed wearing it this winter. February 27, 2013 at 8:51am Reply

    • Suzanna: YDAN is fantastic, and really one of the better “facelifts” on classics that I’ve encountered. Not sure it found a market, but well worth investigating and often available very reasonably! February 27, 2013 at 9:54am Reply

  • Marsi: One of my old favorites. I just love anything rich and baroque; I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you, then, that Coco has been my signature since it was released almost 30 years ago … but I digress. My favorite way to wear Youth Dew is just a drop or two of the bath oil dotted on my skin and massaged in until it’s just a sheen. I think it’s one of the most cuddly, glorious, expensive, womanly scents ever created. February 27, 2013 at 9:44am Reply

    • Suzanna: Excellent advice, Marsi! The bath oil, to me, is preferable to the perfume. February 27, 2013 at 9:55am Reply

  • yomi: Very nice review, Suzanna! Youth dew was my mum’s fav perfume before I started Parfums Lambo my own company. I love the scent including the bottle .
    Yes it is very strong but I love it. Like you said it is rich and thick.
    The scent brings back memories of childhood as my mother always wore it on sundays to church when I was little.
    I believe it will always find an audience… Because it is so luxurious. I don’t know if any company will still any perfume now with so many notes and at such concentration but it is truly a great classic and a tribute to Mrs Estee Lauder.
    Cheers. February 27, 2013 at 9:47am Reply

    • Suzanna: I am sure you are right in your thought that companies won’t create scents with such extravagant use of perfume oils. I can recall getting something or other from Lauder on my hair once, where it touched the neck, and you could see the oil. And the creams are also sumptuous! February 27, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

      • Susan: I was unable to find the bath oil today, but did purchase some dusting powder. It is gorgeous, and I think this is all I’ll need to wear as a fragrance on the days that I use the powder. I can’t imagine layering this one, it would be too intense. February 27, 2013 at 3:08pm Reply

        • Suzanna: I can see where the powder would be just lovely. I do agree it is probably all you need! February 27, 2013 at 5:06pm Reply

  • mals86: Looks like I’m the first dissenter to comment today. Youth Dew is hard to ignore, so I should think there might be at least a few other people sharing my opinion, which is that I dislike it intensely.

    There are a number of fragrances which I don’t want to wear myself, but don’t mind smelling on other people. Youth Dew is not one of those. It, like Opium and Tabu, is one of those fragrances that makes me queasy whenever, however I smell it. One reason for that is, of course, the impressive sillage. In this semi-rural Virginia area, Youth Dew and Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds are the two most often-worn fragrances I’ve noticed in public areas like the grocery store, and you can follow their trails through Frozen Foods to Canned Goods right over to the Bakery. You can’t escape the cloud. I might be better able to tolerate it if its wearers didn’t apply quite so much – if they stuck to, as you suggest, a dab or possibly two of the bath oil.

    But possibly not. Because while White Diamonds can also be way too much, it doesn’t make me nauseous. I’ve come to a working theory that it’s either a combination of tolu balsam+ labdanum that bothers me, or tolu on its own, in a more-than-a-tad quantity. I really dislike this balsamy oriental type of fragrance, though I understand that I am probably in the minority here.

    Am I accusing Youth Dew lovers of poor taste? No. I support your right to wear what you like. Youth Dew is coherent and solid and immediately identifiable; it has a lot of qualities that make up what a good perfume is supposed to be. I’m just hoping that people who do love it don’t sit next to me at the theater, or God forbid, on an airplane. February 27, 2013 at 10:10am Reply

    • Austenfan: Admittedly I have only sniffed this once, and from a dodgy tester at that, but I fear I may be with you on this one.
      I didn’t just dislike it but it made me feel slightly ill.
      I will try again though. February 27, 2013 at 3:52pm Reply

    • Suzanna: No worries. I am sure we all have fragrances that we’d rather never encounter or wear. Personally, Aromatics Elixir is a huge dealbreaker for me, along with the big Givenchys, Cabochard, and Bandit.

      Chacun a son gout! In any event, this discussion is open to all opinions, not just fan opinions! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! February 27, 2013 at 5:09pm Reply

  • Liz K: While I love parts of Youth Dew I can not stand to be clobbered by it for 12 hours at a time. I usually spray some on a blotter when I pass the EL counter and tuck it under the liner in my leather tote. That way I can walk away from it when I need to breathe. I love the opening and the far drydown is truly one of my favorite smells but that aggressive cinnamon/clove for hours on end just brings on a migraine every time. Is that aspect lessened in the bath oil at all? February 27, 2013 at 10:16am Reply

    • Suzanna: I find the oil much smoother, but I tell you, this is something where one wants a tiny, tiny dab.

      I like the way you “wear” it! February 27, 2013 at 5:10pm Reply

  • Leah: Hi Suzanna

    I love your review on this! My grandmother has worn the bath oil version of Youth Dew for as long as I can remember and it holds a special place in my heart. That being said, it wasn’t until recently that I tried the fragrance for myself in earnest, since I always saw it as hers. I am completely with you on the bath oil as the preferable medium – it makes the fragrance supremely luxurious and easier to control in terms of sillage. February 27, 2013 at 10:28am Reply

    • Suzanna: It does need some control, but to my nose so do most Lauders, more so now in this age of wimped-out teen frags.

      Frag companies did used to make bath oils far more than they do now, if at all. The art of the bath is a thing of the past in most places in the US at least. February 27, 2013 at 5:11pm Reply

  • Tulip: Ah, my youth, hmm high school days were awaft in YD. Those cute blue bottles everywhere; reapplying during the school day. Wait, there’s more – I always got a free gift with purchase, so my make-up for years was exclusively EL. You never got foundation, so it wasn’t until much, much later that I discovered what it did.
    I must have really liked the top notes, as I now do with Fracas, as it’s easy to reapply often – in house of course. February 27, 2013 at 12:32pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Oh, those gift sets! How well I remember their luxury, and not just Lauder’s. I fondly recall a massive eyeshadow set from Borghese and a lovely set from Arden (that contained, among other things, an electric blue eyeliner stick that I just adored).

      They did not have foundation, and the gift was very straightforward. These days, I am always a bit confused by the Saks bags that contain discount certificates for Spanx or for glasses. I want a freebie, not a coupon.

      :-)

      I always reapply Fracas. February 27, 2013 at 5:14pm Reply

      • mezzodiva54: How funny you should mention the Borghese eyeshadow sets! My sister sent me one for Christmas one year (and this must have been in the late ’70s/early ’80s); it still sits in my makeup cabinet to this day, and I still use it! 24 absolutely gorgeous, saturated colors; the only ones worn out completely are white (of course), and taupe (which I used to wear daily, the very best eyeshadow shade for me ever). Thanks for reminding me! March 5, 2013 at 1:39pm Reply

        • Suzanna: I’m happy that you remember them, mezzodiva! And they were a true GWP, not something you had to pay to buy.

          (I’m afraid my most-used color was a peacock blue!) March 6, 2013 at 8:33am Reply

  • Daisy: Because of its potency, Youth Dew has always been my fragrance nemesis. I appreciate it, recognize it instantly, but don’t know if I could ever wear it.

    However, the idea of adding it to one’s bath appeals to me. I look forward to giving it a try this way. Who knows: Youth Dew might find a way into my wardrobe after all. Thank you, Suzanna. February 27, 2013 at 12:55pm Reply

    • Suzanna: You are welcome! Perhaps you can find a bit of the oil somewhere–and let us know what you think! February 27, 2013 at 5:15pm Reply

  • silverdust: If it weren’t for an overbearing acquaintance who wore it exclusively decades ago, I might be persuaded. While I can appreciate its sillage and excellent blend, the memory trigger of YD to this person makes me ill! :) February 27, 2013 at 2:24pm Reply

    • Suzanna: LOL!! I know the feeling. February 27, 2013 at 5:15pm Reply

  • minette: this stuff is really great sprayed in the air, and the powder is quite nice (the “volume” on it is good), but i always feel self-conscious when i try to wear the perfume. i like and respect it, but it always makes me wonder if everyone else is getting “elderly church lady who hasn’t washed recently and is putting on yet another layer of heavy perfume.” i have smelled those church ladies, so i have that image in my own mind! it’s a shame, because this perfume deserves better wearing. i have a similar reaction to tabu by dana – they remind me of one another very much.

    i also love the packaging on youth dew. would really like to sniff an earlier version with the civet!

    my fave el is the original azuree, which is also fantastic as a room spray. seriously good stuff. February 27, 2013 at 4:29pm Reply

    • Suzanna: The packaging is a retro dream,

      The old church ladies were once young and they wore YD then, and other big perfumes of that era. It wasn’t that long ago. The Seventies were full of gigantic perfumes and they were worn, by all, copiously. They were meant to be big–imagine today’s weak pink sauce in 1971; it wouldn’t have sold at all.

      I kind of feel cheated by today’s perfumes, or at least the really commercial ones.

      Azuree is one I cannot wear due to the basil and leather notes, but it is a great scent just the same. February 27, 2013 at 5:18pm Reply

      • minette: i wore those great perfumes in the ’70s! and yes, they kill any mainstream scents being created today. it’s like people are afraid to have a personality these days.

        to be clear, my comment was not a dig at older women or older scents – i love both. i really did smell YD in less than ideal conditions – in church, at high volume, on someone who didn’t smell terribly clean underneath – and because i was stuck in a pew, i couldn’t move away! really ruined YD for me. on the other hand, i have also smelled some of the most amazing perfumes on older women – you should smell joanne king herring (she of Charlie Wilson’s War fame). ahmazing! and i met dioressence on a gorgeous woman who’s worn it as her signature since it launched. February 27, 2013 at 7:26pm Reply

        • minette: oh, and the YD church incident was in the 2000s, not the ’70s. :) February 27, 2013 at 7:45pm Reply

    • gr8belief: Church ladies! Many years ago, near Atlanta, there was a grande dame of our church who wore something so elegant, powerful, demanding and required your full attention. Youth Dew was the name of this instant “the Queen has arrived” notifier. Milling about during coffee hour after church, I would always notice the older ladies’ perfumes more than the younger ladies. The older women wore fragrances with personality, depth, worth a long (inconspicuous) evaluation. Younger ladies would usually have “Happy” or celeb scent. But starting at about age 55, in generalities, the perfumes got more interesting. That’s when I knew that my *ahem* collection and interest in fragrance was at its infancy. This was pre-blogs. So I went to well-informed sales associates, read books, and learned whatever I could. (Aside: Today – !! – the info available!!)

      Anyway, YD was the first big fragrance that commandeered a room with authority and depth, and thus my nose. Which led me to the EL counter and Azuree, EL Private Collection, Alliage, etc. Like a duck to water, it was a natural habitat. it’s tricky though because my DH really doesn’t appreciate any frag other than Dial soap. So what I wear needs to be closely kept for my enjoyment only. Opposites attract? He squirms in a room of older ladies with atomizer-abandon. For me, it’s a great way to start a conversation on a topic you know they already enjoy. April 19, 2013 at 10:14am Reply

      • Suzanna: Perfume like YD was never worn in moderation among those who preferred it, was it? Thanks for your story, which has made for great reading (why are you not writing about perfume?) and recollection. April 20, 2013 at 11:01am Reply

  • Lynley: I inherited my mum’s love of orientals, I guess from that being all she wore when I was young in the late 70s/early 80′s. So a few years ago when I was to choose an EL perfume to get the Xmas makeup set, I chose YD. The sales girl looked at me like I was crazy :-) So anyway, Xmas here is summertime, so when I got home I wanted to smell my purchase, but knew I’d probably kill myself spraying it. So I spritzed one spray on my bed before going to sleep so I could ‘gently’ immerse myself in the scent. Well, my poor darling old cat (since passed bless her) always slept with me, and that night I woke 3 times to find her vomiting on my bed! The poor lil thing!! So whilst I love the smell, I haven’t been game to spray it again. Even though she’s been gone a year (after 19yrs together!)- Podgy says NO! ;-) February 27, 2013 at 6:44pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Good reason to leave this one alone. February 28, 2013 at 12:51am Reply

  • Normand: I must admit Youth Dew always brings a smile to my face. There is something wonderfully innocent and vulgar about it… but I absolutely love it. And that cola note must have been daring at the time. Thanks for talking about this one… it deserves more attention than it gets from bloggers and readers.

    Lovely post, by the way. February 27, 2013 at 8:11pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Thanks! YD does seem to have a bit of confident vulgarity to it, but no more so than Shocking or other bold animalic fragrance.

      I also think it deserves more attention. March 1, 2013 at 10:16am Reply

  • Henrique Brito: The Youth Dew you reviewed seem much better than the one i had a bottle 5-6 years ago. I can still remember it smell, because it was one of the worst fragrances i have ever tried on my skin. I like orientals, i like spice fragrances, but the YD i knew was none of that. Instead, it smelled like a misture of bear breath and the smell of homeless people. Really unbearable at any moment. February 27, 2013 at 8:36pm Reply

    • mals86: Bear breath! Rick, you kill me. February 28, 2013 at 12:06am Reply

    • Suzanna: Bear breath! Love it! February 28, 2013 at 12:50am Reply

      • Henrique Brito: It’s not the first fragrance that i notice something which reminds me of bear. Don’t exactly what is, but i also have this impression, but less intense, on Annick Goutal Myrrhe Ardente. I swear I tried to like Youth Dew, but it didn’t like me :( But the Amber Nude version i love, it’s so complex that on me the fragrance seems to have more than three phases. Too bad it was discontinued :( February 28, 2013 at 12:56pm Reply

        • Suzanna: Thinking this over, I can grasp what you mean about bear. Scary!

          Earlier in this discussion I think I said something about YDAN being available inexpensively. Not so any longer! The last one I had, I bought for $15 on eBay. Now that has quadrupled. Too bad this was discontinued, because it was, along with No. 5 Eau Premiere, the best remake! March 1, 2013 at 10:14am Reply

  • Tatiana: Like Opium, I love Youth Dew. Way back when in high school and college I was a serial monogamist with my perfumes. I wore one signature perfume at a time. And every time I broke up with a guy I switched my perfume. Haven’t worn Youth Dew since spring of freshman year in college. Would I wear it again now? I’m not sure. It’s a different time, a different place and a different guy (same one for the past 22 years).
    And I sure hope, just like Mals, that I never sit next to someone on an airplane wearing this. February 27, 2013 at 8:55pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Tatiana, you never know. You can only try and see. February 27, 2013 at 11:23pm Reply

  • Moi: As I mentioned in the other post, I’ve loved this juice since my teens. That a scent this distinct and full frontal is still selling makes me hopeful for the future of popular culture. February 27, 2013 at 10:16pm Reply

    • Suzanna: It’s great to see people come out in support of one of the great classic scents! I do think YD is a real signature scent, one that people wear for years. February 27, 2013 at 11:21pm Reply

  • marsha: The way I *wear* Youth Dew is to spritz a cotton ball or put some bath oil on a cotton ball and let it sit out and dry for a few minutes. Then shut it it your purse.When you open your purse later, at some glamarous checkout lady or some everyday drugstore checkout lady, they always sniff around and say *What smells so good?* February 27, 2013 at 11:12pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Oh, that’s great! I do this to some extent with a surplus of scent strips collected in my travels. Love your more focused take on it! February 27, 2013 at 11:22pm Reply

  • fleurdelys: Youth Dew has been a favorite of mine for many years. It made me a lover of Oriental fragrances, and is the reason why I have no patience with the wimpy, watery perfumes of today. February 28, 2013 at 12:40pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I feel much the same way! March 1, 2013 at 10:15am Reply

  • Rednails: I used to hate Youth Dew when I was a child. My mother wore it full force, spritzed liberally out of an EDP bottle. I thought it was horrendous. As I’ve gotten older, however, I managed to acquire a taste for it. Now I have my own little bottle of vintage YD bath oil, which I mix with unscented creme and wear to bed for restful nights. Guess I’m an old lady! March 4, 2013 at 9:35pm Reply

  • mezzodiva54: A friend of mine attended a matinee at the Met this past weekend and complained of the wave of Youth Dew that kept wafting over him. Given the heavy hand used by some NY City gals (in applying makeup and fragrance), choosing to douse oneself liberally prior to entering a room wherein one would be in close quarters with 3800 fellow humans might not have been the BEST possible fragrance choice that day…. March 5, 2013 at 1:54pm Reply

  • Suzanna: Great story, and it reminds me of my experience with a party guest wearing Soir de Lune, who rode a cloud of it from parking garage to red carpet to lobby to theatre…the entire area, for a square mile, was perfumed
    :–) March 6, 2013 at 8:34am Reply

  • Karen Gilbert: I love Youth Dew but haven’t smelled it for years. It’s not a scent I have ever really worn but I have a very strong memory of it from my days working in the lab at IFF. One of my jobs when I first started was to make up fine fragrance samples as giveaways for clients in plain 15ml bottles. We were sent the concentrates in aluminium canisters and I had to dilute down in alcohol in litre batches and leave to sit in amber winchesters before decanting into the givaway bottles. Youth Dew was one of those fragrances that got better with age and insfused the storage cupboard with it’s scent. March 17, 2013 at 11:08am Reply

  • Suzanna: What an interesting story! Thanks for sharing it. I can well mentally “smell” YD infusing the storage cupboard and it does get better with age, I agree! March 17, 2013 at 12:39pm Reply

  • Paula: I enjoyed your review of Youth Dew. I have worn it for over forty years, having discovered it in a free gift with purchase while in college. It is the perfume I wear more than any other, and always have the bath powder, lotion, and bath oil, too. I never use the bath oil in the bath, it makes a ghastly mess. I use it for layering, or alone as a softer scent.

    I wear mostly Lauder scents, including Spellbound and Cinnabar. I have Sensuous, which is better than most of their modern scents, but still not as good as the old ones. For quality oil base that lasts, and really getting your money’s worth, you can’t beat the Lauder classics.

    The bath powder is so well scented that I sometimes cut it 50/50 with barely scented cheap talc for everyday use, and it still has a lot of scent. July 28, 2013 at 11:13pm Reply

  • lee: I recently bought a vintage bottle of Youth Dew, but the tie around the middle is not a bow, more like a tie with two bell like fixtures on each end. Have you any idea why??? November 11, 2013 at 1:06pm Reply

  • Ferris: I must get my hands on some vintage Youth Dew. I love civet in fragrances especially in the older classics. November 16, 2013 at 2:54pm Reply

  • Gertrude: I was worried this fragrance was “old lady” perfume but now I think not. With Argon oil and other Moroccan inspired fragrances becoming so popular, maybe it’s time has come back provided you use it properly. November 30, 2013 at 10:25pm Reply

  • Sharon: I was given a little bottle of Youth Dew when I turned 19 (early 80′s) and immediately fell in love with it – I felt so grown up and very sexy whenever I wore it. Even now when I catch the scent ‘when someone walks past I’m transported back to that time. I did purchase a bottle about 15 years later but didn’t wear it as often as my taste and lifestyle had changed. Time to revisit ELYD I think. February 1, 2014 at 5:40am Reply

  • renee: What wonderful and unexpected memories reading your blog has given me. My mother wore Youth Dew and nothing else all of my life. Thank you so much. April 4, 2014 at 7:47pm Reply

What do you think?

From the Archives

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2014 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.