Fragrance samples: Which are worth it? By Rosie Jane

Close up of the By Rosie Jane Perfume Discovery Set box, with abstract decorations in neutral cream colours.

The Clean 7 Perfume discovery set

The long-awaited (!) return of what I thought would be a series, but I actually haven’t added to since my first post back in I think 2019. Despite this long gap, my love of perfume has not diminished, nor has my fascination with sample sets. Weirdly fragrance samples don’t seem to be quite so common here in Australia as they were in the UK, but they’re still out there if you keep your eyes open (or train your Instagram algorithm). Today’s post focuses on By Rosie Jane’s The Clean 7 Perfume Discovery Set.

By Rosie Jane is a California-founded brand, with a focus on ‘clean’ and eco-friendly ingredients and materials. They’re vegan, and cruelty free, they don’t use single-use plastics, and they forego the petrochemicals, parabens and phthalates commonly found in fragrances. While they are a US company, you can find them in Sephora in Australia.

What do you get?

Inside the box, with the seven samples set against a white background, and a close-up picture of a person in blue jeans and a white shirt holding a full size fragrance bottle.

The discovery set includes seven 1.5ml fragrance samples. These are not all the perfumes that the brand offers, but I guess they are a representative sample. The set retails at $38, so they’re on the pricier end of what you’d pay for such small amounts. However, this is probably comparable with the Penhaligon’s samples I reviewed previously (at least when you take currency conversion into account) where you got 2 x 1.5ml for 5.50GBP.

The fragrances

Close-up of the perfumes in their boxes, with scent notes written above in black and perfume taglines written below in black.

The seven fragrances cover a fairly broad range of scent ‘types’ – you’re likely to find one that suits your taste, but you probably won’t love all of them. Each has a little tagline to give you a sense of what you’re in for, as well as a some scent notes. The discovery set also gives you a little ‘feels like’ tip for each perfume, which is quite cute, but also surprisingly helpful. One of the things I enjoy most about scents is their ability to evoke or create a mood, and these tips capture that pretty well.

Taking the scents in turn:

  • Leila Lou – Pear/jasmine/fresh cut grass – Feels like ‘your fav jeans + white tee’. This is one of my favourites in the set. It has a wonderfully fresh, clean scent, with just a hint of floral. Jasmine and cut grass are two of the best smells in the world for me, so it’s hard to go wrong with them. I wouldn’t say the grass scent is very forward, but overall the perfume has a lovely light, playful feel to it. It’s as easy and classic as jeans and a white tee, so their summary is apt!
  • Maddie – Jasmine/sea spray/vanilla – Beach in a bottle. Months later, this is one of the scents I have the most left of. It’s another quite fresh, crisp scent, with the vanilla definitely more forward than the jasmine or sea spray. Smelling it again as I write this, I’m not quite sure why I haven’t worn it more. I think the vanilla just nudges it slightly beyond clean into sweet – a little bit too sweet for my everyday use. This is a lovely, fun fragrance though – you won’t quite feel like you’re at the beach, but it will put you in a good mood for the day.
  • James – Fig/amber/gardenia – Dancing in the rain. My second least used fragrance. I’m at a loss/not fancy enough to know what amber smells like, so I’ll have to take their word on that one. This is a less ‘easy’ scent than the previous two. There’s something quite mature, almost difficult about the scent of fig. It’s not going to be an obvious crowd pleaser, and it does dominate the scent of this perfume. Having said that I actually quite like fig – part of the reason I haven’t used this one as much is that I have another fig-heavy fragrance I wear (from &Other Stories). This doesn’t really evoke dancing in the rain to me, apart from perhaps that fresh greenness you get on newly wet plants? I’d more say that this feels like a mature artsy woman going to a gallery. Make of that what you will!
  • Angie – Honeysuckle/jasmine/fig – LA spring days. I’ve never been to LA, let alone in the spring, so again I’ll have to trust them on that one. It is a nice nod to the brand’s California birthplace though. This is a another lighter fragrance, and for once the fig doesn’t quite dominate. Honeysuckle is another of those irresistible floral scents, but might be a little too much, or too sweet, for some tastes. As the tagline suggests, this feels like a seasonal scent – one for bright sunny days with fresh winds. Perhaps not the most distinctive fragrance in the set, but I can see it being lots of people’s favourites.
  • Lake – Vanilla/sandalwood/neroli – Sleeping under the stars. I’m generally a big fan of woody scents, and anything that might be categorised as a more ‘masculine’ fragrance (although I’m not really a fan of assigning genders to scents). The vanilla and neroli (a citrus) balance this out into a more rounded fragrance, but it still has that almost luxurious feel that the woody scents often lend. I’m not always the hugest fan of vanilla – it is, for want of a more complex argument, just a bit basic. But the two other key notes give this perfume a more sophisticated edge, and I’ve found myself reaching for it a lot. I’m not sure sleeping under the stars quite captures it for me, it’s more like sleeping on a very deep mattress with a fluffy feather duvet.
  • Dylan – Cedar/frankincense/white musk – Being in love. No surprise, this one ended up being my favourite. It has a wonderful complexity to it, at times smoky, with that gorgeous richness of the musk underneath. It’s possibly the strongest scent in the set, and packs more of a punch than the others. But if you’re looking for an intriguing, layered fragrance, and don’t mind eschewing florals and citrus, this is the one to go for. When I decided to take the plunge and buy one of these scents full-size, it was Dylan that ultimately won me over (and that has nothing to do with the fact that my childhood dog was called Dylan!). The tagline/scent combo suggests a slightly dark understanding of love, but I guess I can see where they’re coming from.
  • Rosie – Nude musk/rose – Sleeping in your bday suit. Ok, I’m now going to contradict everything I just wrote about what kind of fragrances I like, because I love this scent. It’s really simple, but it’s hard to beat rose and musk. They’re a classic combination, and have a timeless quality to them. You’re really getting what it says on the tin with this perfume, and that’s no bad thing. I guess sleeping in the nude is also a timeless experience, so maybe the tagline makes sense? I’d more go for something like sipping a cup of tea in a wicker chair on a summer afternoon. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Is it worth it?

This set is a great way to discover fragrances from a lesser-known brand – one I had in fact never heard of before! The scents have good staying power, and are intense enough that you don’t need to use much at a time. So even though they came in such small quantities, this set has lasted me a long time. If you’re more of a heavy/woody/smoky scent lover, this is probably not the set for you, as they trend towards the floral end of the spectrum. If you’re on the look out for your next floral, light and crisp scent, this sample has some great options for you.

It did its job of helping me choose a fragrance to buy full size, and indeed one that has become a bit of a signature scent for me. Plus I enjoyed trying out all the others on the way to that decision. I can see myself going back and buying another one (or maybe even two) full-size fragrances. Value for money is also pretty decent given the quality of the fragrances. So in short: yes, it is worth it!

Thanks very much for reading my thoughts on these lovely fragrances – I hope they’ll help you decide whether this set is for you. I’ve got a few more sample sets on the way, so it will hopefully not be another three years before the next post in this series! Are there any samples or sample sets you’ve been looking forward to trying? Please let me know in a comment, I’d love to check them out!

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