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We Tried Rihanna’s Secret Perfume

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer.

Everyone agrees that Rihanna smells really good. And we’re not talking about just regular people. Celebrities, the kind of people whose lives are filled with expensive and pleasurable scents, report that Rihanna smells like heaven (see testimonies from Lil Nas X and Jim Parsons, among many others).

According to internet lore, Rihanna smells like Kilian’s Love Don’t Be Shy, a perfume created by creative director Kilian Hennessy. This theory comes from beauty influencer Jackie Aina, who has met Rihanna and says the scent smells just like her. Thanks to all of us in the Rihanna Navy, the scent is now sold out and allegedly has a wait list of 2,500 people. But the Cut got a few samples to test out. Here are our thoughts on trying to smell like Rihanna.

Kerensa Cadenas, Senior Editor

Every time I walk down St. Marks Place, I’m startled when I walk past Squish Marshmallows, a boutique marshmallow shop. While it looks delicious, I can never force myself to go in — not because I don’t love marshmallow, but because I do, and I don’t know what I’d do alone and vulnerable among all of them.

When asked to smell Rihanna’s top-secret perfume, I jumped at the opportunity. I couldn’t turn down the chance to imagine what it would be like to be enveloped in her arms while she was whispering whatever she felt like in my ear. Turns out that Rihanna must smell like what I imagine the marshmallow boutique to smell like — sticky, a bit too sweet. A haunting, lingering marshmallow cloud. It smells like being conflicted, knowing you’re about to either embarrass yourself and go overboard or repress yourself and miss out on a grand opportunity. So likely, it’d be exactly how I’d feel meeting Rihanna.

Kathleen Hou, Beauty Director

Some celebrities smell pretty weird. Let us not forget Lady Gaga’s first perfume, designed to smell like O negative and man juice. I am very relieved that our goddess, Rihanna, doesn’t smell weird at all.

Rihanna smells delicious, if you like gourmet scents that you can almost taste. She doesn’t smell smoky, musky, powdery, or like a garden — she smells like a celebrity’s Postmates order placed after getting the munchies. To me, this perfume smells like the crumbled remains at the bottom of a Froot Loops box with a dash of something sweet, intoxicating, warm, and syrupy, like heated-up cough syrup? It’s not a shy scent, it’s warm — this scent is a hugger. This perfume doesn’t work for me personally because I am trying to cure my sugar addiction, not torture myself, but that’s okay. Fenty Beauty’s frosted lip glosses look ridiculous on me and look amazing on Rihanna.

Charlotte Cowles, Consulting Editor

You have to be committed to this perfume before you spray it on, because it is impossible to get off. I have gone to the bathroom for a full inner-arm scrub down twice now, and I am still a walking Nilla wafer. Points for longevity.

As for the scent: It is very strong, sweet, and fruity/beachy, sort of like Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil mixed with a piña colada. Only … warmer and smokier? Hot piña colada soup cooked over an open fire? Or what I would smell like if I spilled a piña colada all over myself and then lay in the sun with a cigarette? Which, when you think about it, sounds kind of Rihanna-esque. If I hugged Rihanna and she smelled like this, I would be surprised. I would expect her to smell edgier, maybe a little bit metallic.

Erica Smith, Beauty Writer

This stuff smells extremely strong and extremely sweet. I instantly regretted spraying it at my desk because it completely overcame me (and my outfit). I think I’d much prefer smelling this on someone else momentarily (like Rihanna) or on a way less cool sample stick that’s been wafted through the air dozens of times and then disposed of. This does smell like straight-up sugar, as the marshmallow description implies, but to me, it smells more like licorice.

Sadly, I’m not a fan of licorice. At all. If I pick up even the tiniest hint of anise in a tea, it makes me gag a little. And for that reason, I’m out. But I can totally get whiffing this scent on a magical person and instantly being intrigued because it’s literally intoxicating and not something expected like “citrus” or “rose.”

Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz, Senior Writer

Rihanna’s perfume, unfortunately, was not good. To friends and colleagues, I described it as cotton-candy scented, a bit like overripe fruit or warm Laffy Taffys. The day I wore it was a hot day, and I found the sugary notes overpowering.

But perfumes smell differently on different people, and I’m a human, while Rihanna is not. In the way that eating ambrosia affects gods differently than mortals, I can imagine that a powerfully sweet scent like this would smell more like fresh fruit and cream on Rihanna. It would probably smell amazing on her; Febreze would probably smell amazing on her.

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We Tried Rihanna’s Secret Perfume