Whenever I see a product described as a cult favorite, I’m instantly skeptical. The pink and green Maybelline mascara is the worst thing I’ve put on my lashes. Rosebud salve in its pretty retro tin dries out my lips. Nars Orgasm blush is just OK. The exception for me is Huile Prodigieuse Dry Oil from French skincare & cosmetics firm Nuxe, and it fully lives up to its “cult favorite” label. It’s a seaside vacation in a bottle. The oil leaves skin soft and shimmering, not at all greasy, and applying the golden liquid feels like a luxury spa treatment.
Besides the nourishing and moisturizing benefits, fans of Nuxe oil adore its frangipani and coconut perfume. It’s sophisticated and rich, a tangle of white petals and coconut flakes. I’ve always thought that it’s good enough to be in a perfume bottle, and a couple of years ago Nuxe decided to do just that. The company turned to the same perfumer who created the beloved Nuxe oil scent, Serge Majoullier, and asked him to blend Prodigieux, Le Parfum*.
The moment I spray on Le Parfum, I notice that the main difference between the oil and the perfume is the fresh layer. The fragrance opens up with tart citrus slices–orange, bergamot, mandarin, and also green orange blossom. It hits the high note before taking a sharp turn into the flowers. The frangipani, a tropical plant that smells like gardenia soaked in coconut and peach syrup, was the star in Dry Oil, and in Le Parfum, it’s joined by lemony magnolia and green rose.
The perfume plays with freshness for only a short while, and within 30 minutes, the flowers fade to a creamy blur, and your skin is steeped in vanilla, coconut and brown sugar. It’s sweet, although not edible enough to be gourmand. The milky sweetness persists until the perfume vanishes. Well, at least in theory, because Prodigieux le parfum has yet to disappear on it own; usually, it ends up being washed off in my evening shower.
As I compared the perfume and oil, I remembered a childhood fantasy of wanting to enjoy the buttercream, minus the cake layers. One time my mother finally relented and as she iced the cake, she set aside a generous serving of filling for me. I greedily gulped a big portion, reached for another one, but as a blob of rich cream dissolved in my mouth, I sat with a spoon frozen midair. Without the neutral backdrop of sponge cake, the cream tasted cloying and heavy. The look on my face must have told it all, because my mom was trying hard not to burst out laughing.
That’s how I feel about Prodigieux le parfum. It’s a fun, well-crafted tropical floral, and if you like fragrances like Kai, Guerlain Mahora and Kilian Love, it’s a great, affordable option. But its richness and sweetness are only for those who can eat frosting out of a can without wincing. The oil, on the other hand, is just perfect.
*Want to pronounce Prodigieux Le Parfum like a Parisian? Bela at Frag Name of the Day can help.
Nuxe Prodigieux le parfum includes notes of bergamot, mandarin, gardenia, orange blossom, rose, vanilla, coconut milk, and woods. 50ml, 45 €. Available at pharmacies in Europe and directly at fr.nuxe.com.