I will admit it took me a rather long time to want to try out DUA fragrances. My main reason was that I compared a perfume clone to buying a fake designer bag. Also, I was a bit put off by the hype to be honest. During the past year I started to turn my attention to cruelty-free cosmetics brands that do not test on animals and therefore do not sell their products in mainland China (and Brazil). This made me move away from designer brands altogether. I am also more intrigued by niche brands in general because of the quality of the ingredients and the uniqueness of the notes. I love bold fragrances that are different and that not too many people around me are wearing.
What really annoys me about niche fragrances though is a heavy price tag and mediocre performance. I don’t have any issues at all saving up for something that I really like but spending several hundred dollars on a niche fragrance that evaporates too quickly and forces me to touch up multiple times to smell it, flat out annoys me.
Part of the hype around DUA has to do with the sillage and great longevity since they are extraits and have a high amount of essential oils. During lockdown I decided just to give them a try and I am glad I did. DUA has a great selection of strong, interesting, and well blended fragrances that last all day on me and that with only one spray. I also think their customer service is great. They have been the only brand so far that reached out to me within 24 hours to confirm they are not testing on animals. Some niche brands do not even bother replying. I still do not understand why they do not put this information on their websites for all to see.
Reasons that changed my opinion about DUA:
- They are cruelty-free alternatives to designer brands with strong projection and lasting power (unlike many watered-down designer fragrances).
- They are made in California by a proper business, so I do not have to be suspicious about possibly toxic components.
- Regarding sustainability, by supporting a cruelty-free, non-designer brand you are not only supporting the welfare of animals but also supporting businesses that are sweatshop free.
- DUA only really picks interesting and amazing fragrances to “clone” to begin with. I have yet to come across one I dislike.
- Often, they are even better projecting and longer lasting than the expensive niche originals/counterparts. So, are they really clones if they are better than the original?
- They are affordable and on top of that they regularly seem to run discounts (15%, 25%, 30%).
- They are close to the originals, maybe a bit sharp/harsh in the opening but that sharpness dies down quickly and does not really bother me much.
- Many reviewers also confirm that they get better when you give them some time to macerate (the fragrances are made fresh, they do not have many in stock). DUA also talks about letting them macerate.
- I have been watching a few interviews with the owner Mahsam and I just have a very positive impression. He seems like a nice guy with a wicked sense of humor (unlike some designers out there who do not even try to hide their arrogance and openly make money from that).
- DUA is not really taking away from bigger niche houses. To the contrary, DUA got me into Xerjoff! I feel perfectly fine buying both expensive niche brands and DUA fragrances, for DUA lets me sample them before I invest a lot of money in the original. That is how I feel about it. I do not think it is comparable to wearing/buying a fake Chanel or Celine bag.
- DUA helps preserve fragrance art by resurrecting old formulations or limited editions that are either not available any more or only to be found at ridiculously high prices.
- Lastly, they might begin as “impressions”, but they often have an added twist to them which only makes DUA fragrances/hybrids more intriguing to my nose.
So, here is a short breakdown of my two favorites of the first batch I ordered. Second batch is on its way…
1. Victorian (Impression of Xerjoff’s 1861 Renaissance)
Notes listed are: Bergamot, Lime, Mandarin, Petit Grain, Lily of the Valley, Mint, Rose, Cedar, Musk, Amber, and Patchouli. Citrus/Unisex.
My Impression: Fresh, clean, citrusy, unisex scent ideal for spring & summer. All occasions dressed up or down. Strong and long lasting especially for a freshie. Great scent. Just very very pleasant! Some reviewers say it is stronger and longer lasting than the original (which seems long-lasting as well).
2. Aphrodisiac Café (Hybrid impression of Montale’s Intense Café & Initio’s Psychedelic Love)
Notes listed are: Hedione, Heliotrope, Coffee, Myrrh, Bulgarian Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Bergamot, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Amber, and White Musk. Floral Oriental/Unisex.
My Impression: I am wearing Victorian almost daily now because it is hot summertime right now. As soon as it gets colder, I will switch to Aphrodisiac Café. It is a well-blended sweet, smooth, intoxicating coffee-rose gourmand fragrance to me that is so pleasant and just keeps drawing you in. The strong but creamy coffee note is more pronounced than in Montale’s original which I adore as well but I always wished it had the intensity of this one. The strong coffee opening also makes it appeal more masculine to me at first. The dry-down is creamier and softer and floral, making it more feminine/unisex again. Utterly intoxicating is all I can say!