Kayali Perfumes Discovery Layering Set

So, I’m putting aside Kilian Dark Lord – with difficulty.

I received a fun sampling set in my birthday box from a dear friend (it also contained a box of marrons glaces which …). I was not familiar with Kayali so had to do some googling.

Per the text on the box (and as noted in today’s title) this is meant for layering. I don’t like being told what to do regarding fragrance so I started out sampling each of the perfumes separately and then had a go at layering.

Kayali was founded in 2018 by someone named Mona Kattan and it looks to be based in UAE. The word Kayali translates to ‘my imagination’. Parent company is Huda Beauty. Apparently the numbers in the name (see below) relate to the number of tries to get the final fragrance.

So, the little box opens nicely and has a list of the perfumes included on the cardboard lid with basic notes. Then, below that, the samples are arrayed with their names.

I find that sort of presentation helpful. I did individual triesand then lower down I show some attempts at layering.

First out of the box was Vanilla/28. The juice is purple which I found a bit odd for a vanilla. Notes: vanilla orchid, tonka absolute, brown sugar, amber woods, musk. Sugar sweet vanilla – gourmand. Bit of wood/resin which keeps this from getting too sugary. Nice solid gourmand vanilla.

Musk/12. Hmm… Notes: lotus flower, jasmine, musks, vanilla, sandalwood. Light musk, soap and watery (the lotus flower?). Never falls over the cliff into pure soap. Bit spicy. Nice skin scent.

Déjà vu (white flower)/57. Notes: gardenia, jasmine absolute, orange flower, tuberose infusion, Tahitian vanilla. Fruity floral, so lord knows what other notes it contains. Gets dryer and spicier. Cloves? Pleasant. Fruity clove. Not for me.

Sweet Diamond (pink pepper)/25. Notes: pink pepper, bergamot, saffron, Bulgarian rose, vanilla orchid, sandalwood. Rooooose and saffron. Everything else is just helping this along. I hate the name. If you hate saffron this could be a serious no go. Saffron and sandalwood after a bit. Sort’a nice if that’s your jam. And the more I smell, the more I like that aspect of things.

Utopia (vanilla coco)/21. Notes: pear, jasmine, coconut, sandalwood, vanilla bourbon. Suntan cream with a hint of beach cocktail.

Invite Only (amber)/23. Notes: black cherry, honey de Provence, tobacco leaf, amber resin, vanilla Madagascar. Cherry candy!!!! The hard candies I got as a kid. Mucked up my teeth (oh, those visits to the dentist). The tobacco modifies the sweetness a bit, but not much. Another bad name.

Eden (juicy apple)/01 (really?). Notes: juicy red apple, wild berries, jasmine, lychee, vanilla flower, sensual musk. Apple/lychee/jasmine.  Feh. Irritating fruity floral. The lychee note smells cooked.

Lovefest (burning cherry)/48. Notes: burning cherry, raspberry, praline, Palo Santo, guaiac wood, patchouli. Good lord, this is awful. Woody cooked cherry, with barrel lees and a weird, slightly sour patchouli. No, thank you. Interestingly, this is the shortest lived of all the fragrances. Thank.Goodness.

A couple of layering attempts.

Vanilla/28 & Invite Only (vanilla, black cherry, tobacco, amber). Uh, no. Weir, scratchy, sweet thing. Headache-inducing.

Musk/12 & Eden (musk, lotus flower, vanilla, apple, jasmine, lychee). Big fruity floral. Better than first try but really not convinced. Simply too sweet without anything interesting to modify that.

These are well done but not earth-shattering. And on the days that I could still smell things when going to sleep I discovered they made me slightly nauseous.

Each fragrance had a tint and I can see the deeper ones staining clothes. So, something to keep in mind.

They are available in regular sizes and travel ones (varying — 10ml, etc) which I see on Cult Beauty here.

So. While I think someone might find something in this offering that pleased them that someone isn’t me. Though the vanillas and musk are ripe for layering.

Anyone had a go with the line and have things to say?

  • Tom says:

    IDK if I need to care about these. On the one hand I don’t mind layering but it’s not something that I think of as being a high-end marketing strategy. Seems like one of those mix-your-own Coke machines where you can get a cherry (those cherries again!) vanilla lemon lime coke if you want one.

    I preferred my cherries to be in a well mixed Manhattan, or in Rahat Loukoum, which is still a favorite,

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    Thanks for taking the hit so we don’t have to.
    Doesn’t Jo Malone sell themselves on layerability? It’s such a strange gimmick to me.
    Remember how people looked at wearers of Angel back when? I feel like this modern gourmand thing is linked but 21st century-ised. Some of the stuff over the last 20 years has my teeth itching for a brush.

    Sadly I really like the name Sweet Diamond, sounds like a drag queen. We used to have a queen in Sydney called Shelly Legs-Diamond.
    Portia x

    • cinnamon says:

      I wonder if I’d care as much about the name if I liked the fragrance more. The vanillas really were ok. I can’t put my finger on what makes me itchy about the brand though. I am not overwhelmed by the layering hype but that’s not it. Maybe it’s that I think cherry is actually a hard note to do well and if you’re going to have a go at least think it through? Although whoever the nose is on this probably thought they did. This isn’t adolescent — but I’m not sure what it is.

  • Tara C says:

    Another person who is not interested in these gimmicky, cheap insta-collections that suggest layering (meaning they were too lazy to create individual carefully crafted scents).

    • cinnamon says:

      I sort of appreciate sample packs. There are some really nice ones out there (and some, like Byredo) give you the cost of the pack off if you buy something). I do think some of the perfumes are fine. I’m just not over the moon.

  • shiva-woman says:

    So not interested in lazy gimmicky stuff like this. I will not order this. Occasionally (like once a year), I layer a similar scent with another, and during a long day-into-night, I might apply a different perfume or cologne with a similar scent profile, but this “pretend I’m a perfumer” stuff is nonsense. I’d rather actually create a perfume, take some classes, crush some herbs, distill, etc., but not this. I also appreciate the real talent and time that goes into making a fine perfume with good ingredients, preferably not just a bunch of cheap synthetics that smell like fruit pop. I realize this is harsh, but there are lot (!) of amazing perfumers and small indie houses out there.

    • cinnamon says:

      I don’t know if this is ‘pretending to be a perfumer’. I feel like there’s money behind the brand and there’s probably a certain demographic it’s meant for but for the life of me I really can’t figure out what that is.

  • March says:

    Hmmmm. So, this sounds like one of those vanity projects from someone with some cash — I’m a perfumer, I have a perfume line! They don’t all sound terrible (maybe s/he had some actual perfume help in the background, which is fine.) I will say the color of the liquid puts me off, I’d be worried about staining. But there are worse ways to spend an afternoon than trying these out, right? Maybe after eating some marrons glaces…

    • cinnamon says:

      I don’t know about vanity project. It’s marketed by Huda Beauty — so maybe does have a lot of money behind it? I’d mostly run out of the MGs and chocolate by the time I started on this. I’m not sure that would have helped in any case. Some of these were sort of scrubbers, but some sort of pleasant.

  • Maya says:

    I think I may have heard the name of this line before, but that’s it. Layering perfumes does not really interest me. I love my favorite perfumes because of how they smell and how they make me feel. Making them any different simply does not interest me.

    • cinnamon says:

      I sometimes play with layering things I have just to see what might happen. But as you say, I bought them because they are beautiful on their own. As a marketing thing, it must be targeted at someone…

  • alityke says:

    I have the vanilla & vanilla/coco travel sizes. I was looking for a simple straight up simple vanilla. I found it in Outremer Vanille but the Kayali’s are ok.
    What is the “cherry” molecule that’s suddenly everywhere? It’s horrendous! To me it smells of a tetracycline medicine I had instead of penicillin as a child.
    The Kayali brand seem to be aimed at the YT & IG generations but at least vanillas are better than they have to be

    • cinnamon says:

      Is the cherry thing everywhere? I am so behind things. I keep meaning to do a proper sniff at John Lewis in town but it hasn’t happened. The only cherry I’m deeply aware of is SL Rahat Loukhoum. Cherry and tobacco. Though I’ve never had a chance to smell it. Can you give a few examples of cherry stuff — will keep a lookout.

      • alityke says:

        Tom Ford now has Lost Cherry, Burning Cherry & Electric Cherry. Guerlain has Cherry Oud, Kayali has the one you tested, BDK Rouge Smoking, Proad & H&M have a cherry release since 2019. The only 2 I’ve sniffed are the Kayali & TF Lost Cherry. Both had the liquid antibiotic note. I have no desire to sniff any others though I do have a sample of Guerlain Cherry Oud, I’ve been ignoring it

        • cinnamon says:

          Right, yes, the Tom Fords — those I know but haven’t smelled. I haven’t been in an H&M for ages. The cherry cough syrup note? I love cherries to eat but I’ve never sought out the note in perfume.

    • AnnieA says:

      Cherry = liquid antibiotic sounds terribly off-putting as perfume not, rather similar to honey = pee…