Perfume review: Burberry Brit & Brit Red

Burberry Brit perfumeBurberry Brit Red fragrance

After last week's discussion of niche snobbery, I have vowed to make a bigger effort to include mainstream department store fragrances. Burberry Brit was released in 2003, and its "sister" scent, Brit Red, followed in 2004. Both were created by nose Nathalie Gracia-Cetto, both have won Fifi awards, and both have been huge sellers. There is also a Brit for men, and a Brit Gold will be released this year for the holidays.

Burberry Brit has notes of lime, icy pear, green almond, white peony, sugared almond, mahogany wood, amber, vanilla beans and tonka beans. It was described as "fresh green floral" when it was released, but I do not find it particularly green, it is far too sweet to be called fresh, and it is not predominantly a floral. The top is citrus with lots and lots of sugar. It is joined very quickly by candied pear and almond. I find the opening stages almost unbearably sweet, but keep in mind that I am wearing it now in 90 degree weather. I first tried it in colder weather and I didn't find it quite so overwhelming.

It soon warms up to a soft vanilla woods scent with a bit of amber; the citrus and fruit notes for the most part disappear with the top notes. The sugar remains, but it does calm considerably. I have seen this described as spicy, but I find it rather bland.

Brit is not particularly distinctive or interesting, and it is not something I would wear, but I can't say that the appeal of this kind of scent is completely lost on me. I have my own representatives in this kind of "cozy-comfort" category, namely La Perla Eclix and Molinard Tendre Friandise. I am not sure that either is any more distinctive than Brit. Next experiment: try them all 3 together.

Brit Red has notes of green mandarin, rhubarb, gingerbread, jasmine, rose, vanilla, patchouli, benzoin, sandalwood and vanilla bean. Red starts with sweet citrus top notes, but the tartness of the rhubarb and the spicy gingerbread notes make this less blandly sweet than the regular Brit. The rhubarb mostly fades on the dry down, but the gingerbread remains and is joined by the floral notes, mostly rose. The base is similar to Brit, but with a softer wood note and the addition of patchouli.

Brit Red is still too sweet for me, and has more patchouli than I care for, but it does strike me as a sexier, more interesting scent than Brit.

I love the tongue-in-cheek (or maybe not?) plaid bottles. Burberry scents are widely available at department stores and online discount sites.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Confession time – I like Burberry Brit Red. Not enough to buy it, I must admit, but every time I pass a tester bottle with those little plaid cards, I saturate a card or two and then use them as bookmarks. I have many books flying the flag for Burberry!

  2. Anonymous says:

    See what niche snobs we all are: we have to “confess” our love for something mainstream, LOL! I thought Red was nice. I just must have extra patchouli receptors or something, I swear it is almost all I could smell in the dry down.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh my! I love Burberry London for women AND Brit! Brit is both cool and warm to me and better suited, IMHO, to cooler weather wear. And it doesn't hurt that the free GWP messenger bag that went with Brit last year is the only thing Burberry I will ever own! LOL Besides the scents. I crave a Burberry scarf though…maybe one day I will break down. Back to the scents, both are soothing vanilla scents and actually fit the Burberry lifestyle to me. As for the Red one, well, for some reason, this one did not please my nose. On paper, it looks like it would, too. Just goes to show you can't judge a perfume by it's notes on paper!

    And I do love the bottle, too!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Okay, I may be in the minority here, but I am not a niche snob, I am a self-confessed perfume snob. :):)

    And, with that in mind, I gotta tell you that I love Brit Red! It's a very unusual fragrance, and I would argue that the more unusual fragrances tend to be those that are or have been mass produced for the public (like the chanels, guerlains, Opium, Paris, you catch my drift). I bought a one oz. spray from Sephora and the body lotion, which last as long as the EDP.

    On the other hand, I do not like the original Brit. It smells like a poor imitation of Jean Paul Gaultier's classic fragrance that was introduced in the early 90's.

    Wonder what Brit Gold will smell like.

    And yes, I rather like the plaid theme. I have an old (“vintage”!) Burberry raincoat that I have been wearing for years, well before Burberry became a trendy, hip label. I love that plaid lining, as it stands for a quality, well-made garment that can lasts for a lifetime.

  5. Anonymous says:

    P, yes, Brit is both cool & warm, and completely agree that it is better for cooler weather although I know people who wear it all summer. I find it too much in this heat. Red maybe even more so. It will be interesting to see what Brit Gold turns out to be!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hey Perfume Snob! I can see why you love Red. Wondering how pronounced the patchouli is on you? I swear it dominates the dry down on me, but as I said in another comment, I wonder sometimes if I have “extra” patchouli receptors.

    And hope they stick with the plaid for the Gold bottle. It really is a great bottle.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The patch is not that predominant on me, R, or you know that I would not be able to tolerate it! LOL!

    I get more of the fruity red notes, the green from the mandarin, and the gingerbread. Yum!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm – not distinctive or interesting, too sweet AND mainstream. What's not to like :) I applaud your opening your mind and wrists to more commercially known and recognized scents – now let's see if you actually like any of them. This could be an interesting experiment. Cheers!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I love the Red and don't get much Patchouli at all. And although I get the Rhubarb tartness in the opening, I don't perceive sweetness as you do. But then again, I like sweet and you do not. I think this one has the most wonderful creamy drydown. Really lovely.

    I know you tried on skin, but I must mention to those who have only tried this on a paper strip, this is one that must be tested on skin. My friend and I both tested this on the paper strip when it first came out, and hated it. The rhubarb reacts chemically with the paper somehow and becomes very acrid. It really must be tried on the skin to be appreciated.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have not tried the original Brit, however the last time I tested Brit Red, it struck me as interesting. Mreenymo's review above piqued my curiousity further. I must say that in some ways I agree with her–the most unique and memorable creations (whether one likes them or not) are from large houses. My only problem is that living in a large city like Chicago, New York, London, one smells the popular fragrances so much that the last thing I want is to wear them. It is not unlike top 10 radio stations in some respects!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I have yet to try Brit Red but the original version just didn't work on me. I think it's lovely on others but on me it was quite ordinary. I don't know if it was the pear or the lime or a combination of the two which just didn't work on me.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yep, that's definitely the downside. But top 10 hits do spawn a few 'evergreens': timeless songs (is fragrance like a song? I think so!) that never go out of style.

    I don't think Brit Red is timeless, or anything like that, but it makes me feel wonderful when I wear it. :):)

  13. Anonymous says:

    For some reason I vowed to hate Brit early on, but then I recently tried it, loved it, and now I wear it all the time. And it never fails to get tons of compliments for me. Compared to the scents I wore all winter, it's light and makes a great summer fragrance. Brit Red, on the other hand, I wanted desperately during cooler weather but now find a little too *something.* Maybe I'll want it again in the fall.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It is weird how patchouli is emphasized on me. Don't know if it is my skin or my nose! I really like the rhubarb in the top notes though.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Yes, it will be silly if I don't, won't it? I'm sure I'll find something fabulous. Victoria & I are planning a trip to the mall next month to try Beyond Paradise.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I don't know why I try anything on paper, it is so misleading. But you have to find some way to weed things out, otherwise it requires too many samples and/or trips to the mall.

  17. Anonymous says:

    S, that is interesting because neither of those notes (pear & lime) lasted very long on me, although they are certainly strong in the beginning. Also funny how often I think something smells wonderful on someone else, and it turns out to be something I don't care for at all on myself.

  18. Anonymous says:

    G, Glad you found a winner then!

    BTW, what did you think of Michael Edwards on Cabochard?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Hey R – I never thought of trying Brit Red until I read your last comment. Now I must find this one!! XOXO, Your resident PatcHag

  20. Anonymous says:

    I tried Brit a while back and it gave me a cavity. Too sweet! I'm not the sugary type, though. It is exactly the sort of fragrance that I despair to smell everywhere: this fruity-sugar-amber thing that every third woman seems to be wearing.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hey, I guess I'm not a snob after all, because I actually like Brit! It's one of the few department store/Sephora available fragrances that I enjoy. In fact, I own a bottle. (Hope this doesn't make me lose my indie cred!) It's not especially unusual or complex, but I do find it distinctive compared to typical boring fruity florals. I like the juxtaposition of the bright citrus lime topnote with the comforting, sugary vanilla drydown. It's definitely more of a winter comfort fragrance for me, and can be overwhelming in the summer. It think it's a great early-mid 20's fragrance, if you know what I mean…I sense that I'll outgrow it within the next couple of years.

    Brit Red was much more unusual than the original Brit, and quite elegant, but I just can't do rhubarb. It went sour on my skin, unfortunately. So that's that.

  22. Anonymous says:

    LOL at “a cavity”! It is sweet. I generally don't like sweet either, but I feel I can't disparage it for that alone since I like the Eclix & the Molinard. I really do mean to try them all 3 together and figure out what the difference is for me. Possibly Brit is even sweeter than Tendre Friandise.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Indie cred, LOL!!! You have way more cred than me, since in my late 20s I was probably wearing CK One (and last time I smelled it, I still liked it!) and had never heard of a niche fragrance. And everyone needs a comfort fragrance. You just can't be unusual & complex all the time.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Loved the article!! Especially the meaning of the name, and the description of Mme. Gres walking along an Indian beach…I had to go spritz it after I finished reading. It held up marvelously on what turned out to be a scorcher of a day. Thanks again for sending it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Good, glad you enjoyed it! That book has been worth the investment, and I can't say the same for some of my other perfume books.

  26. Anonymous says:

    These bottles are really quite cute and trendy. I do not know the Brit Red, but the Burberry Brit is alirght, but did not last too long.

    Now, will you be including the new Angels and perhaps Alien when it comes out…please oh please.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robin, I've been reading up on your wonderful blog these past few weeks and it is getting too interesting to just stand by the sidelines. Great info, great analysis, great layout even! Appreciate you much.

    I will confess rightaway that my interest in perfume began around a couple of years ago – after I read “The Emperor of Scent”. That's when I started sniffing around in earnest, and discovered that perfume didn't always have to smell “perfumey”… could smell nice even. By “perfumey” I mean all those classic bottles I have yet to learn to appreciate – memories of my mother's L'Air du Temps, the Opium bottle in the closet, Chanel no. 19, etc. etc. So two years into perfume civilization I am still attracted by light and unusual smells. Brit was one such for me, although I didn't love it enough to buy it – some people don't seem to think it is unique but for me the blast of icy pear and sugared almond was unusual enough to be pleasing… I haven't tried the Red though, must be interesting.

    I guess everyone has his/her own tale of how they got into fragrance, I would love to hear about those. I enjoy reading about perfume as much sniffing (which is sometimes a letdown from all that lovely prose…), and there is a lot for me to discover!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Hi B, It seemed silly to review the Angel Garden of Stars, as I admire but don't like Angel at all. When I tried them, all I could think of to say is: smells like Angel with some flowers.

    Alien sounds very different and I will certainly give it a try!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hi citrusmania, and welcome! “How I got sucked into perfume addiction” is a great idea for a post, and I'll do that next time I don't have a perfume review to post, thank you!

  30. Dizzy Dazzy says:

    I really love this one – have just under half a 100 ml bottle left. I have the shower gel and body lotion too. It just says to me fun, going out. I have been looking through the perfumes I love and most are bold, in your face, come and get it types lol! This perfume is bold, and it is a stayer, you can smell it on your clothing the next day. A thumbs up!!!!

  31. talentedjaguars says:

    Thank you Robin. I initally loved Brit, but this weird sour neroli-amber note always exploded on me several minutes in (body chemistry I guess since neroli isn’t even listed.) I wound up giving it to my mom. I’m secretly jealous each time she wears it because it smells “correct” on her.

    Then I tried RED. Love, love, love it – much more than the original. The gingerbread is tangy and unique and the patchouli in combination makes it the perfect autumn/holiday scent. I’m on my second container of body lotion even though it’s getting harder to locate.

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