The color of scent: Cyan by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (A perfume review)

Synesthesia. When one sense automatically also triggers experiences with another sense. So in other words, you experience "extra" sensations when you normally should only experience one. I "hear" things I smell. Some scents bring a color to mind. Some people see colors and pictures when they listen to music. Others associate letters and words with color. One cool form presents with days of the week or letters of the alphabet having specific personalities. These associations are completely involuntary and there are probably countless variations in the way synesthetes perceive their world. I find it fascinating.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, a synesthete herself, has a line of scents that represent colors. Her Chroma Collection is an array of colors - olfactory expressions that represent beautifully inspiring shades. Eight artist's color pigments are represented along with one 17th century textile shade. While creating the scents, Dawn  created some of her own art - I'd love to see it!

CHROMA:  color translations from the artistic to the obscure. These perfumes are pure, spontaneous emotion; just as pure color is. This series of perfumes is a new form of abstract aroma-art: synesthesia in a bottle. - from the DSH website

I am lucky enough to possess the CHROMA collection and will be reviewing each perfume over the next few weeks. It's an incredible experience and I hope you enjoy reading my reactions and ramblings about it!


Ethereal. Winged. Pixiliated.

Created for Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2009, Cyan is an airy, refreshing light blue-green aroma color interpretation. Inspired by the ultra modern bluish color in the CMYK color printing spectrum.

Top notes: Bergamot, Blue Chamomile, Crushed Mint, Yuzu 
Middle notes: Cucumber, French Linden Blossom (accord), Jonquil, Linden Blossom Absolute, Orris, Orris Concrete
Base notes: Ambergris, Australian Sandalwood, Seaweed, Silver Fir, Wild Chamomile, Wood Violet

When I see this color, a slightly green-tinged blue called "cyan", makes me think of aquatic perfumes. This is not a good thing. My experience with aquatics is disappointing at best and headache-inducing at it's worst. It was with a little trepidation that I approached Cyan when I was sampling the Chroma Collection Box.

Cyan opens with a wave of citrus and chamomile - juicy, wet, and herbal. It comes on strong at first, which I find incredibly appropriate because this color is intense. Just as your eyes relax after a moment of looking at this color, it only takes a minute or two before the perfume relaxes into your skin.

Cucumber adds to the wet feeling this perfume gives. I really like cucumber in a fragrance. It does neat things, adding a watery, fresh nuance that is better than any "ozone" note I've smelled. Linden also plays a strong part in Cyan, reinforcing that fresh and nearly Spring-like feeling.

Cyan holds pretty steady with little development. There are no surprises here. Once you've gotten the feeling of the first five minutes, you've got a pretty complete impression of the scent. Linear scents like this can be a bit much if their intensity level is too high, but luckily this one avoids that trap. I find Cyan to give a beautiful impression of floating. This is a blue balloon or maybe a kite. Despite the lack of weight, Cyan does its hovering close to the skin. Its projection is minimal, sillage subtle. The scent eventually fades away into the skin in the way a streak of watercolor paints fades into the paper at its end.

I'm pleased to let you know that this scent completely avoids smelling like any sports or aquatic scent I've ever sampled or been smacked with in a hot elevator. While the first impression may hint that the scent might lean that way, Cyan tilts back to become more unique, complex, and beautiful than any other bright blue perfume.

This perfume is, ironically, not blue in color - no dyes were used to push you into the color-scent association. The ingredients and how they are blended give you the impression on their own, in a true expression of synesthesia.

Regardless of whether wearing Cyan makes you think of a slightly-green-tinged blue, it's a very lovely and fresh perfume that's a delight to wear. It's refreshing and cheerful while avoiding any cliches. I'm going to be wearing this a lot this Summer.

Your Turn
Do you associate colors and scents? Does knowing a scent is associated with the color blue bring to mind any preconceptions? Have you ever eaten or smelled a yuzu?

The product reviewed in this post was provided by the perfumer for consideration only.
For information about my review policies, please read this.


  1. Very interesting Jen! This sounds like a must try collection.

    1. Thanks, Tami! It's such a fun concept, isn't it?

  2. Hmmm...this perfume and I share a name, and for that reason I've avoided it (what if I don't like it?). I'm no watery-floating personality, but this sounds intriguing. You may lure me in! Thanks for this review :)

  3. Aiggghhh!!! The pressure!!! ;)
    I'm not a fresh and watery type either, but this is definitely a fun, different, welcome addition to my collection. I would NEVER have selected this on my own, either, but sometimes life surprises you! lol

  4. Of course! :)
    Even BLUE can be in many forms...
    For me, cold-blue is OH! from Moschino.
    I wore it during summer (high temperatures)and it was like cooling system. :D


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