Yves Saint Laurent L’Homme Cologne Gingembre and Marc Jacobs Ginger ~ fragrance reviews

Ginger beer, ginger ale, ginger tea. Ginger-molasses cake with crystallized-ginger-and-cream-cheese frosting. Ginger ice cream. Ginger-y Southeast Asian soups. These are some of my favorite ginger-flavored drinks and foods. Ginger in fragrances? I don’t think ginger has been ‘served’ in perfume as well as other gourmand notes like vanilla, cocoa, cardamom, nutmeg or fruits. Bite into a fresh, crunchy ginger rhizome — has its zing, its heat, ever been realistically represented in a perfume? Is it even possible to do so?

This spring two ginger fragrances have been released: Yves Saint Laurent L’Homme Cologne Gingembre and Marc Jacobs Ginger (part of the Marc Jacobs Splash collection).

Original Yves Saint Laurent L'Homme is a bore. Yves Saint Laurent Cologne Gingembre takes us from ‘boredom’ to “queasiness.” Cologne Gingembre includes notes of bergamot, aquatic accord, ginger, white pepper, violet leaves, basil, cedar wood, oak moss, vetiver and musk. As I wear Cologne Gingembre, I smell phony bergamot, a Calone-like chemical, desiccated violet leaves, dull cedar and vapid ‘vetiver.’  Cologne Gingembre smells like bug spray.

Marc Jacobs Ginger (described as a “cool, sweet cocktail”) was developed by perfumer Yann Vasnier and features ginger, nutmeg, coriander, cognac oil, geranium bourbon, passion flower, rhubarb, sandalwood, amber crystals and musk. Marc Jacobs Ginger is not “caustic” like Cologne Gingembre; Ginger has weak, citrus-y ginger, some tart rhubarb, orange peel, a smattering of cardamom/nutmeg mixed with a ripe passion fruit/flower note (“cognac oil” is nowhere to be smelled). All Ginger’s aromas arrive at once and jostle for dominance: no note wins till soft, clean/white, fruit-tinged musk arrives in the base. (I’m REALLY sick and tired of cheap white musk being loaded into fragrances, mainstream and niche). Marc Jacobs Ginger smells like an inexpensive air freshener you’d buy at the grocery store.

Cologne Gingembre and Marc Jacobs Ginger smell pretty awful, and neither scent is focused on “ginger.” Cologne Gingembre has average lasting power and sillage. Marc Jacobs Ginger disappears quickly (unless you get it on fabric); as with the other Marc Jacobs splashes it is meant to be applied lavishly and often. Cologne Gingembre and Marc Jacobs Ginger are good ‘diet’ perfumes; they don’t whet my appetite: for ginger, or anything else.

Yves Saint Laurent L’Homme Cologne Gingembre is available in 60 or 100 ml ($55/$72). Marc Jacobs Ginger (a limited edition fragrance) is sold in a huge 300 ml Eau de Toilette splash bottle (with an optional spray attachment) for $68.

Note: top ginger images via Wikimedia Commons.

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60 Comments

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  1. Sniffit says:

    Kevin – I love your reviews. I’m a woman who wears aromatic scents, thanks for saving me some $$$ on these two.

    • Kevin says:

      Sniffit: you’re welcome

  2. maggiecat says:

    Fun review Kevin! I love ginger as a flavor, but not particulalry as a scent note (though Origins made the best effort along these lines, I think). Actually, a few of the Marc Jacobs splashes haven’t been bad at all – Freesia and Biscotti are quite ice for what they are. Can’t say the latest batch impressed me that much though….

    • Kevin says:

      MaggieCat: I liked Curacao best of the new bunch…but it fizzled out pretty quickly.

  3. Rappleyea says:

    I love it when you “tell it like it is” in a review, Kevin. Great job! I’ve had a lemming for a couple of years now to try the SL Ginger one – have you smelled that one?

    • Rictor07 says:

      The first time i smelled L’Air du Desert Marocain, i thought it had a lot of similarities to SL 5 o’clock Au Gingembre. Both of them are in my top choices for each of their respective lines. I might be more tempted to get the Lutens, i think its cheaper now than Andy’s creation.

    • Kevin says:

      Rappleyea: yep…reviewed that one.

  4. Abyss says:

    I’ve really grown to love ginger as a flavour. “Ginger-molasses cake with crystallized-ginger-and-cream-cheese frosting” sounds a lot like the sticky ginger cake that I make which everyone always raves about. The most common response it gets is “I didn’t think I would like it because of ginger but this is amazing”.

    Fragrance-wise, I remember quite liking Jo Malone’s Nutmeg & Ginger cologne but, if I recall correctly, it was heavier on the nutmeg than ginger.

    • Kevin says:

      Abyss: never tried that JM…was it one of those “here one minute…gone the next?” You have to act fast on JM limited editions!

      • Abyss says:

        Kevin, no, it’s not a limited edition. I’m almost certain it was her very first fragrance. I think the legend goes that Jo Malone (who started off as a beautician) used products in her facials/treatments scented with that mix and so many clients commented on how much they loved the smell that she finally made it into a cologne.

        I don’t remember what the lasting power is like, though. So it might well be “here one minute…gone the next” in that sense :D

  5. KRL says:

    “Ginger-molasses cake with crystallized-ginger-and-cream-cheese frosting” —-!!! Where do you get that?? Sounds like heaven, I must know how to track this down :)

    • Julia says:

      Word. When I was going through the worst of my chemo crystallized ginger was one of my best friends. It really does help with nausea.

      • Kevin says:

        Julia: I always take some on airplanes…calms the stomach and you can use it to make tea if you bring some crystallized ginger too.

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        I hear you, Julia!
        I have a recipe for ginger cookies that I must of baked DOZENS of for the 3+ years I was on methotrexate. Some days nothing else would appeal to me. Unfortunately, I now strongly associate ginger cookies with chemo drugs! But gingercake or gingerbread on the other hand. . . :)

    • Kevin says:

      KRL: I make it! Maybe I should do a recipe post one of these days….

  6. Lucy says:

    I want ginger cake. :(

    Excellent reviews. It’s so refreshing to see some bad ones on occasion. I’m not usually a big fan of ginger fragrances either, so lots of money saved here. I agree with Abyss’ above comment about JM Nutmeg & Ginger though. I have the bath oil and it’s divine (and it is heavier on the nutmeg than the ginger).

    • Abyss says:

      Ooh, that oil must make wonderfully warming baths in the winter.

      • Kevin says:

        Abyss: I have a BAD back so using oil in a tub would be (almost) suicidal! HA!

    • Kevin says:

      Lucy: I do love nutmeg-y scents

  7. Kitty says:

    Kevin: thanks so much for a great review. I sincerely appreciate your opinions. Given the amount of new debuts, there HAVE to be some clunkers! Keep the fabulous reviews coming.

    • Kevin says:

      Kitty: thank you! I do have some positive reviews around the corner…but the world IS full of clunkers.

  8. BlackRaspberry says:

    “Ginger-molasses cake with crystallized-ginger-and-cream-cheese frosting.” !!!!!

    I apologize if this takes away from the work you put into this review, but WHERE can I go to make that cake a part of my life?

    • Kevin says:

      Blackrasperry: I see I need to open a dessert shop NOW. A new career!!!!!

  9. Merlin says:

    Yay, some things I don’t need! I remember liking one of the Dior men’s as a ginger scent. Perhaps it was the sport one? Any opinions on that?

    • Kevin says:

      Merlin: An YSL sport scent doesn’t ring a bell….

    • boojum says:

      Yes, Dior Homme Sport has ginger, and as luck would have it, I just received a sample of that in my last Sephora order. Typical fresh, aquatic sport cologne thing.

  10. Julia says:

    Thanks for the review, Kevin. I love ginger and find it in Nanadebary (classic pink) and Fifi Chachinil (a little bit). I have a couple of samples of Bois 1920 Sushi Imperale and can’t decide if I like it or not. All of those have a little bit more bite of real ginger than the gingerbread-type fragrances that I don’t care for. For a truly nauseating ginger try Philosophy Gingerbread 3 in 1 shampoo, shower gel, and bubble bath.
    In my experience all of the Marc Jacobs splashes dry down to that same base. I’ve tried lemon, grapefruit, basil, and amber, sometimes all at once, and they become indistinguishable after a few minutes. I was at Saks and saw it in Cranberry which doesn’t sound promising to me either.

    • Kevin says:

      Julia: you’re right…the bases are so similar to one another

  11. Valentine says:

    I love ginger myself but haven’t encountered it in fragrance too often. My favorite is the simple, easy-to-find Origins Ginger Essence.

    • Kevin says:

      Valentine: that one seems to be a favorite…next time I’m at Nordstrom I’ll try it (if it’s still around)

  12. annemarie says:

    Oh that’s a nice crisply dismissive review with which to start the day. I feel better already. Many thanks.

    • Kevin says:

      annemarie: don’t mention it!

  13. mals86 says:

    Cranky much??

    I love it when you’re cranky, actually. Loved these reviews. BTW, what did you think of Demeter Gingerale, if you’ve tried it?

    • odonata9 says:

      I know you’re not asking me, mals, but I’ll pipe in and say that it is awesome! So sparkly! I have a huge bottle, so happy to send you some if you like.

      • Kevin says:

        odonata: oops…didn’t see your recommendation… my crystal ball was working!

    • Kevin says:

      Mals: I don’t have a “source” for Demeter and refuse to buy samples of those so…don’t know. But for some reason I’m betting it’s better than either of these … from past experience with the Demeter “drinks” scents.

      • boojum says:

        I’d have to agree… although I liked the MJ better than you did. Demeter Gingerale is just so brilliant. I don’t end up wearing it often, but anything that makes you think you’re smelling the fizzy bubbles gets a few bonus points, for sure.

        • AnnS says:

          I’m going to agree here. Boo – you sent me a sample of the Demeter and I thought it was quite pleasant and well done, even a little surprised. I think there is some ginger in AG Mandragore that gives some zing to the overall fragrance and keeps it from being cloying.

          • mals86 says:

            Ooh. Going to resniff that mini of Mandragore for ginger…

  14. prism says:

    oh boy, you’re harsh lol. but you’re right. Gingembre is pretty damn awful and boring. i didn’t get ANY ginger.

    meanwhile, Ginger smelled like ginger ale.

    • Kevin says:

      prism: oh, I WISH Ginger had smelled like ginger ale on me…I could have dealt with that.

  15. Lil says:

    Love your reviews!

    As for edible ginger, I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps. Real ginger. Unlike the above fragrances.

    • Kevin says:

      Lil: AH>>>I love ginger snaps. I’ll have to try those

  16. kaos.geo says:

    Well yes… nothing that says “ginger” on the bottle usally smells like ginger in the end!

    I must say that the best fragrance with a ginger note I’ve had was the (of course discontinued) Carolina Herrera For Men Refreshing Ginger.
    It really blended the ginger into the Herrera for men, making it much modern and truly sexy.

    I used a full 100 ml bottle in just over a season (winter-early spring) If you can get your hands on it, I recommend it.
    But, if you do not like the original Herrera for men.. stay away.

    Lovely review!

    • Kevin says:

      Thanks, KG…I missed the Herrera “Ginger” one. and WOW…going thru a bottle so fast!

  17. 50_Roses says:

    Ginger ice cream! I love that stuff, but it is pretty hard to come by where I live. I only ever see it sometimes in Japanese restaurants, and then I have to pay 2 or 3 dollars for one little scoop. Haagen Dasz had a ginger flavor in their Five line of ice cream, which I bought quite frequently, but they seem to have discontinued it.

    • Kevin says:

      50 Roses: ginger and ice cream are meant for each other. Get an ice cream maker…it’s SO easy and the flavors you can come up with are ENDLESS.

  18. melisand61 says:

    I haven’t found a ginger fragrance that I like. I especially haven’t found a cheap, white musk fragrance that I like. Thanks for the warning!

    • Kevin says:

      Melisand: you’re welcome…”white” musk implies “softer”…but it usually takes over in the end.

  19. monkeytoe says:

    Thanks for the review. I enjoy several of the MJ splashes–Ivy, Violet and Amber–and they are dirt cheap when they hit the discounters. Isn’t there a Gucci masculine with ginger? I wish I could remember the name. I get a decent amount of ginger in Pacifica Tibetan Mountain Temple, though I know many smell mostly cloves.

    • Kevin says:

      Monkeytoe: true…if you can find one of the splashes you love they are a bargain. I think Envy has some ginger….

  20. nozknoz says:

    There is a Via del Profumo perfume in the scents of the soul series called Lake Flower that smells like fresh ginger to me. Dubrana says it was inspired by the scents of a small lake and field in the green hills of Romagna, and mentions ylang-ylang, rose, helichrysum and “prairie scents” as the notes, so I guess the ginger must be some kind of olfactory illusion. It is subtitled “The anti-depressive perfume and recommended for women, but I find it perfectly unisex.

    • boojum says:

      Oh, I’d love to try that one. So many scents, so little time…

    • Haunani says:

      That one does sound good!

    • Kevin says:

      Noz: sounds good…I’ve had good luck with that line.

  21. Tama says:

    The Origins Ginger is pretty good. I also like Demeter Gingerale, but my favorite is one I got on HSN from the Perlier Elariia line – Ginger with Mandarin Spice (Zenzero con Mandarino). It is so gingery I get kinda sweaty. They primarily have body products and not so much perfume, but those are usually enough. it doesn’t look to be available right now but could probably be found.

  22. malijo789 says:

    Wow, I must be the only one here that doesn’t like ginger. Ironically, the taste and smell of ginger actually MAKES me sick. But I can handle gingerbread cookies once in awhile. There must not be very much real ginger in them.

  23. silleur says:

    I like the brisk combination of japanese juniper and fresh ginger essence in Jack Black Signature Blue Mark EdP

    The Caroline Herra version has a distracting bell-pepper vegetal facet.

    • nozknoz says:

      That Jack Black does sound good! Great screen name, BTW.

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