On Monday this week, I reviewed a well-loved and prestigious niche perfume. Today I’ll be discussing one of the most popular celebrity fragrances released in the 21st-century. In case it wasn’t clear before, I hope it will become so with this blog post: I am not a fragrance snob. Perfume criticism tends to focus on the expensive, the exclusive and the esoteric (“nicher-than-thou”) fragrance releases, while overlooking or looking down on masstige and mass market fragrances. However, I believe in the democratization of fragrance and that there are wonderful fragrances available at every price point. Just because a fragrance is popular and/or very affordable doesn’t mean it’s not worth a more thorough examination.
My scent today is Britney Spears Curious. I’ve sniffed a lot of Britney’s fragrances in the past, but never liked one enough to buy it. Full disclosure: I have always been far outside the target market for anything related to Britney Spears. I was a grown-ass woman when her first album came out in 1999. I was in my 30s when Curious, her first fragrance, was released in 2004. I’m now thoroughly middle-aged and Britney and her tween/teen demographic grew up together and are in their mid-to-late 30s. I can’t be alone alone in my astonishment at the longevity of Britney’s career and the public’s continued interest in her personal and professional life (see the ongoing #FreeBritney controversy), let alone her fragrance line. But with at least one new fragrance release each year since 2004, the perfumes have kept coming even as Britney’s musical output grew more sporadic and less successful over the years.
I had low expectations going in, but to my surprise, the Curious solid isn’t a bad fragrance at all. It’s not my usual taste, but it was an affordable blind buy that doesn’t smell like anything else I already own. It’s a pleasant scent that I know I’ll get some use out of and it offers good value for the money. I hope you’ll check out my thoughts below before you pass judgment.
Britney Spears Curious Write On! Perfumed Shimmer Stick Review
Size: 0.5 oz/14 g.
Packaging: Shiny plastic twist-up tube and cap, packaged in a molded clear plastic support and a printed cardboard box. Box is recyclable; plastic tube and mold may be recyclable? Unfortunately, the plastic tube is of low quality–I’ve had it less than a week and mine is already cracked.
Base: ethylhexyl palmitate, ozokerite, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane, beeswax, castor seed oil. Due to the sparkly nature of this product, it also contains mica, which is the second ingredient in the list. More on the glitter factor below.
Vegan-friendly: No, due to the beeswax, but the liquid version is vegan-friendly and widely available.
Color and Texture: a very shimmery pale pink stick, on par with a cream blush or lipstick, that swipes easily on skin. It goes on a little sticky, and due to the heavy mica content, actually left a visible, hard-edged white stripe on my very pale skin, which I rubbed with my fingers to blend as I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt that day.
Natural perfume or mixed media: The ingredients list includes the catch-all “fragrance (parfum)” as well as several natural isolates (linalool, limonene, geraniol, eugenol and others). This is a mixed media fragrance.
Fragrance description and notes: According to the archived Elizabeth Arden webpage for this fragrance (for the current official page appears to be just a Facebook page?), the notes are Louisiana magnolia, golden Anjou pear, lotus flower, tuberose, star jasmine, pink cyclamen, vanilla-infused musk, sandalwood and blonde woods.
Longevity: Excellent at eight hours or more. (Yes, really! I was not expecting this but Curious is one persistent little fragrance!)
Sillage: Intimate, at a few inches above skin, fades to a skin scent after four hours or so.
The experience: The box appears to assume the buyer is familiar with the fragrance already. The packaging bears no description of the fragrance whatsoever–only the ingredients list and a slogan, “Dare to dazzle. Smooth over skin and let yourself glow.” Opening the box top reveals another slogan: “Do you dare?”
The fragrance itself is nice and very much of its time. There were lots of floral woody musks in circulation back in 2004 and this one would have been right at home amongst them. It reminds me of a line of hair care products I used around that time, maybe the Mossimo hair care products from Target, long discontinued? At 16 years and counting, Curious is not yet a classic, though perhaps it will become one over time, and as such, it feels a wee bit dated in 2020, but still wearable.
The pear is not particularly noticeable as an individual note, but the magnolia comes on quite strong and lasts a couple of hours, before taking its place in the floral bouquet of the heart. About three hours in, a delightful “smell of doll” emerges–that slightly sweet plastic aroma that women in particular seek out and enjoy (I blame the Barbies and baby dolls of our youth). It’s so popular that Fragrantica has multiple forum threads discussing it, and artisan perfume houses craft fragrances around this theme–for example, Black Baccara‘s perfume oil called NEW DOLL™. It’s the magical interplay of florals, vanilla musk and woody notes, and Curious is very appealing in this stage. Perhaps it is this “doll” aroma that’s the key to the perfume’s enduring appeal?
The fragrance doesn’t evolve much from there and just gradually fades away. Curious isn’t exactly linear, but it’s not overly complicated, either. It’s a cheerful fragrance whose motives are transparent–you definitely do not need to be “daring” to wear this one. This fragrance is perfectly safe for daytime/office/school, although the heavy glitter might lend itself to nighttime and glamorous occasions. (I kind of wish it didn’t have glitter, actually. Even before we were all staying home so much, I didn’t have many occasions in my life where glitter on my décolletage would be required or advisable, and right now I have NO such events. I would prefer to keep my scenting and sparkling options separate.)
Where the Curious solid fragrance stands out is its longevity. I put it on at 1PM (without blending in the glitter stripe) the other day and could still smell it around 10PM that evening. That’s quite a performance for a perfume in any formula and I must give Britney a standing ovation! It lasts longest if you can apply it somewhere or in some manner that you won’t need to rub to blend in the glittery stripe–under clothes and on the neck, under your hair. Even with the rubbing, the longevity is very good. I’m still scented six hours after applying and rubbing–and, unfortunately, still also sparkling like a diamond. Sigh.
Where to buy: I found my Curious solid online at FragranceX; it’s also available at Walmart.com and Amazon via third-party sellers and shows up in numerous listings on Ebay.
Additional notes: the box bears the period-after-opening symbol of 24 months.
All photographs kinda crappy and by me.