Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude ~ perfume review

Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude advert

Sensuous Nude is the second and most recent of the flankers to Estee Lauder's 2008 fragrance, Sensuous; it follows 2010's Sensuous Noir.  I will readily admit that I don't pay much attention to trends in perfumery, despite spending so much time reporting on new releases. I notice the big things: everybody who wants a piece of the high end niche market is doing oud, fruity florals and modern chypres are still the staples of the mainstream women's market, the men are still getting more bland sport fragrances than anybody could possibly need or want. Fifty-odd years after perfumer Edmond Roudnitska complained that perfumes were getting too foody, gourmand elements are still all the rage on both sides of the aisle. Up and coming, on the women's side: powdery sheer skin scents, à la Cartier Baiser Volé, the Prada Infusions (and L’Eau Ambrée), Balenciaga Paris, Love, Chloé and Hermès Eau Claire des Merveilles.

Sensuous Nude falls into the latter group; you could probably already guess that from its reported inspiration: the "intimacy of touch and bare skin".1 It makes a real change from Sensuous, which had some sillage (although I thought of it — and wore it — as a casual skin scent anyway), and even more so from the darker, spicier, woodier Sensuous Noir. The original Sensuous is still lurking in Sensuous Nude, mind you, just (much) quieter, paler and drier. The opening is fruitier (or the fruit just stands out more on the lighter base), and there seems to be a slight trail of the woody coconut from Bronze Goddess tagging along in the dry down, giving it a summery, but not really suntan-oil-ish, feel. Otherwise, it's a soft, powdery musky woods, lightly sweet (caramel-vanilla), lightly salty.

Sensuous Nude is highly wearable, although I'm struck by the fact that it might be hard to make a "difficult" powdery skin scent. Like Sensuous, it has a casual aura, more so than the others in this category — it isn't as quirky as Balenciaga Paris, or as polished-to-the-hilt as the Cartier or Chloé entries. It's more laid back, and although I find Sensuous just fine in hot weather, Sensuous Nude might be an even better fit for a summer go-to perfume.

Sensuous Nude is really quite light, and in certain environments it induced serious olfactory fatigue — worn next to Sensuous, Sensuous Nude virtually disappeared, making comparisons somewhat difficult (I did better spraying them both on paper and taking them outside in the heat and humidity). That said, I found that a couple good sprays had very good staying power, I just wasn't always able to smell it.

I like Sensuous Nude. Still, I can't see needing too many fragrances in this category. I already own the Hermès, and as I've said, I'd probably buy Balenciaga Paris and/or Love, Chloé if I found a cheap travel-sized bottle somewhere. Sensuous Nude is a bit farther down on my wish list, but if I happened upon a 15 ml (which so far as I know, they don't make) for $20 or less (not likely), I'd be sorely tempted.

Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude perfume bottle

Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude is available in 30, 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($52-90). The notes feature bergamot, mandarin, pink and black pepper, jasmine, muguet, coconut water, honey, musk, sandalwood, amber, heliotrope, vanilla and Melted Woods NaturePrint. 

1. And, as an aside, I'll admit that when I first sprayed it on, I got a little worried: I like the new powdery skin scents, and I'm sick to death of fruity florals and fruity chypres, to say nothing of oud, but a little restraint on the part of the fragrance industry (as if!) would be welcome here. I can just see myself rolling my eyes as I smell the 20th powdery skin scent of the year.

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59 Comments

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  1. Andreea says:

    For me it starts rather fruity, I get some ubiquitous pear, then it gets pale and some vanilla and caramel notes linger on my skin. Very nice and wearable, but I liked the peppery notes in the original scent better.
    On my skin it lasts quite okay also.

    There is a perfume extrait of the original, I would be interested on that.
    Oh, and I quite like the bottle.

    For a not-niche scent I found this Lauder scents well done. *me being a wannabe niche snob*

    • Robin says:

      I never tried the Sensuous extrait, bet it’s nice. And agree, they do a good job!

  2. Owen says:

    my mum tried this today. she has original Sensuous, I think I like nude better, but it wasn’t that strong so I might not have smelled all of it.

    • Owen says:

      … and they do do tiny bottles like that, but only in gift sets. I got my mum Sensuous 50ml gift set for Christmas 2010 and it came with body lotion and a 4ml travel bottle.

      • Merlin says:

        The South African Strawberry.com site has a 10ml sensuous at a very good price. Some kind of purse edition I may NEED.

    • Robin says:

      Yeah — there is a picture on the Macy’s website of some sort of travel bottle that must be a gift-with-purchase or something.

      • mutzi says:

        The original Sensuous came in a 15ml bottle when it first came out. My cousin bought it for me as a Christmas gift as my SO suggested the smallest size. I used it all and would totally re-purchase if they still offered that size. Or I would love a coffret of all three Sensuous in the 15 ml size. I bet they could sell a lot of those.

  3. Merlin says:

    I was quite surprised the other day to notice that more than half of my 30ml sensuous had been depleted. I hadn’t realised I used it that often as I never could make up my mind whether it was a ‘worthwhile’ frag. Actually it was one of those frags that I wasn’t 110% convinced about but was ultimately persuaded when I found it discounted. It counted as an I-probably-should-have-saved-the-money-for-something-I-really-want frag, but it turns out to have won the show!

    • Robin says:

      I’ve used a fair amount of my bottle too — it really was worth owning. Same for Bronze Goddess.

      • Merlin says:

        Could be that it is casual and a bit of a no-brainer for days when one isn’t up to a decision. And, it also, on those days, turns out to be a rewarding choice! Funny thing is that I fell in love with Bronze Godess and bought it far too soon. For some reason this ‘skin scent’ is OVERPOWERING on me (and, my skin usually guzzles scent). Its cloying and the coconut note comes out much too strong. I’d swap it away, but I’m nervous of the 100ml bottle being swiped in the post.

        • Robin says:

          Oh, that’s a shame, I think of BG as a “background scent”.

    • egabbert says:

      I bought a 30 ml of Sensuous Noir last summer and it’s almost half gone. I’ve depleted it more quickly than any other full bottle I own, I’m pretty sure.

      • Robin says:

        I do prefer smaller bottles, but it’s amazing how fast you can go through 30 ml when you love something!

  4. Ari says:

    Didn’t much like the coconut in this. And those Sensuous bottles have got to go. Original Sensuous, at least, deserves better.

    • Robin says:

      It is a very un-sexy bottle — but also true that Lauder keeps the prices lower than some other brands, so I hate to complain.

  5. springpansy says:

    I tried Sensuous Nude recently and found it perfectly nice. Perfectly nice doesn’t get me to buy a bottle, however. I own Eau Claire des Merveilles and love it. I can see there is a similarity (at least in terms of category) between the two, but something about ECdM is much better to my nose.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, I agree — it’s a better scent, and for that matter so are Balenciaga Paris, Love, Chloe & Baiser Vole. That’s why this is farther down my list.

  6. RusticDove says:

    I’m happy you reviewed this Robin! It’s been on my mind for the past couple of days since receiving an Estee Lauder email introducing it. I like the original Sensuous a lot, though I hardly wear it anymore. The Noir was nice, but didn’t move me to purchase it. I’ll definitely give this new one a sniff next time I’m at the EL counter. Mutzi’s idea above about a coffret of the three in 15 ml sizes is genius – are you listening EL? ;-)

    • Robin says:

      I think this will find lots of fans, both among people who liked Sensuous, and people who found Sensuous too strong and/or too sweet.

  7. poodle says:

    I really like Sensuous a lot but i’m not sure if a lighter, fruitier version is going to be something I like. I’ll give it a sniff but I’ll be surprised if it ends up being on my want list.

    • Robin says:

      The overall feel isn’t fruity once the top notes fade though (hope I wasn’t unclear above).

  8. Jill says:

    I’m glad you reviewed this, too. It sounds nice and I’d like to try it. I’m a fan of the original Sensuous — for me, it’s a bit too much in hot weather, though. Still want to try Love, Chloe but haven’t gotten to it yet. I do agree that I don’t seem to need too many perfumes in this category!

    • Robin says:

      None of these are dupes of the others, but the “mood” is the same to me. I can’t see wanting so many variations. I’ve worn Eau Claire more than I thought I would, but I doubt I’d drain a full sized bottle of any of the others.

  9. Emily says:

    Very helpful review. I’m almost to the end of my sample vials of Sensuous that I got from a helpful Lauder SA (she offered to make them! no begging! no dirty looks! hooray!) and have been contemplating a return trip for a FB, but first I wanted to see what Sensuous Nude was all about.

    Much as I love Bronze Goddess, I’m not thrilled about the coconut in this — it’s one of those notes that I absolutely have to be in the mood for, and that mood comes rarely. I’m interested in sniffing it, mostly to compare with Basier Vole (meh) and Love, Chloe (very nice, but feels disconcertingly ladylike). Most likely I’ll wind up with Sensuous 1.0 after all — Noir didn’t really do it for me, either.

    • Robin says:

      Will be interested to hear what you think then…I thought this was decidedly “untropical” but at least one person commenting above didn’t like the coconut.

      I know exactly what you mean about the Chloe. It’s almost aggressively chic.

  10. MelissaJane says:

    I love the idea behind Sensuous Nude but after one hour that scent is gone, gone, gone on me. This rarely happens to me, and yet it is happening with SN, and Estee Lauder of all things! EL’s perfumes are so strong they will scent me into the next eternity. Not SN, though, I wish I could smell it because the first hour is very pleasant!

  11. jonr951 says:

    Great review Robin! I like Nude and wouldn’t mind the 1oz bottle or travel spray. Seeing as how you like Balenciaga Paris, I do too, I was reading in Marie Claire about a contest for the 20ml(travel I’m assuming) and it said it was a 50 dollar value. I am totally getting it if that’s the case!!! : )

    • Robin says:

      The 20 ml bottle for BP is adorable, but I never see it anywhere. You’ll probably see it before I do — if so, tell me!

      • jonr951 says:

        Definitely! I’m hoping it shows up at Nordstrom! That’s the only BIG department store by me that has Balenciaga. PLEASE don’t be Neiman, or Saks, or Bloomies! Haha. : )

  12. thenoseknows says:

    EL has been rather disappointing as of late when one realizes this is the same house that once gave us Youth Dew and Beautiful and White Linen and Estee and Spellbound… the offerings of late have been from Meh to Bleck! The Original Pleasures is still a thing of Incomparable Beauty and Beautiful is still out there selling Bajillions! But all those Flankers… GOD HELP ME! and that Beyond Paradise Stinkfest…. GADZOOKS! but Sensuous was surprising in that it really was a much better affair than i had expected from EL (those Private Collection Scents are Awesome as well, I Must Readily Admit) but Sensuous was the first fragrance in some time from EL that i was ready to snap up at first smell… there’s something Incense-y, Resinous-y about it that i like! this sounds just liek another boring flanker and even above Oud and Pink Pepper and Powdery Skin scents and Modern Chypres or Fruity Florals, the trend i’d love to see stop INSTANTANEOUSLY would be FLANKERS! Just slapping a new variant of the name of a fragrance on any old Dreck and calling it a Fragrance has become a rather SH!*!y way of duping people into buying frargances that should have never been! It Bugs me although i know it should not, but i wish this whole idea of the “Flanker” had ended before it began, because you just know there’s soon gonna be a Sensuous Day and a Sensuous Night and a Sensuous Sheer Jasmine or some other horrifyingly Insipid name and we are going to be innundated with more and more retreads of this scent than one would reasonably EVER Wear!

    • Robin says:

      I do think flankers are, as a whole, a bad idea — they encourage companies to launch too many fragrances too fast. But we both know they’re here to stay!

  13. thenoseknows says:

    BTW… Is it Just me.. or is it that i just don’t get all the love lavished on Balenciaga Paris??? it’s Ok, It’s PRETTY, but it’s not Special at all… It’s Mediocre on a good day! I found Love, Chloe to be SO MUCH BETTER a scent and it’s been getting slammed left and right from most of the comments i read… Love, Chloe to me is a MUST OWN! also, i have to say the fragrance i am ENTRANCED and OBSESSED with recently is “Belissima” from Blumarine… if you haven’t smelled it, GOD HELP YOU, I Urge you to! It’s A Miracle! Really, It Is!

    • mals86 says:

      I suppose people just perceive them differently, though I’d agree with you that they have a similar feel. I bought a mini bottle of Love, Chloe, since I do rather like that “powdery skin scent” effect, and couldn’t smell it dabbed, so I transferred it to a small atomizer – and promptly found it absolutely *hideous* on me. I mean, two spritzes had people rearing back from me in horror. There’s something in Love, Chloe that reacts badly with my skin, I think. It’s quite nice in the bottle, but on me it does smell something like old makeup that’s gone rancid.

      Have been testing Balenciaga Paris recently, and I would say it was much more easily wearable, at least for me. (I like violet.) Pleasant, quiet, friendly. But as you say, it’s not terribly special. I would much, much rather have a small bottle of Esprit d’Oscar.

    • Robin says:

      I like BP much better than you, but agree wholeheartedly that they have a different feel — in fact, I do think they’re respectively perfect fits with their brands.

      • thenoseknows says:

        I think your comment is Spot On, Robin… they fit their Houses PERFECTLY as scents… I was excited by Balenciaga from the description of it, it just felt like it never lived up to what i expected… I’ll take my Violet more on the YSL Paris Side than on this one! But to be truthful i DO Like it, just not CAPTIVATED By It! ;-D

        have you smelled, BTW, Bellissima??? I STRONGLY URGE you to!

        • MelissaJane says:

          I have Bellissima and Bellissima Parfum Intense (which I ordered from Italy via ebay)..absolutely adore this stuff..I also found out via Blumarine that Ulta will carry their entire perfume line starting August 20!

        • Robin says:

          Bellissima is not my style, but did think it was really nicely done. We should have reviewed it, but it’s another that slipped through the cracks…we can’t keep up!

          • thenoseknows says:

            I’d Gladly write a review of it… :-)

          • Robin says:

            It is really too bad we don’t have a way for readers to share reviews. Sorry!

  14. mel says:

    I smelled this the other day, it reminded me of cashmere mist. Does anyone else get that vibe? I am going to try it again. I like the original Sensuous.

    • Robin says:

      Yes, and strictly speaking I suppose Cashmere Mist is the same sort of thing, only I think it has a very different feel despite the similarities. Or, maybe I just like to think that because I don’t much care for Cashmere Mist? Would love to hear other opinions.

      • thenoseknows says:

        In My world… Cashemere Mist is Sacred Stuff… Loved it from the first time i smelled it and that is more than a decade or so ago when it debuted! it’s never be repeated nor has any other scent in it’s category of fragrance even remotely come close.. Cashmere Mist is in my top 20 faves of all time!

        • Robin says:

          It’s a classic…it’s the only big seller in the Donna Karan (not including DKNY) line.

  15. Addicted2Pretty says:

    I’ve been traveling on business with no time to visit NST for the past 2 days, just returned home this evening – log on and find this review. Perfect timing! Ahhh, it’s good to be home! For the past two weeks I have been skin scenting the Sensuous line-up trying to decide which one, if any was FB worthy, to me. I do want a FB everyday skin scent. I started with the original and Noir. In a head to head competition, the original won. The Noir was nice, but I could too easily see myself tiring of it quickly. It was too much for me for what I’m looking for out of this purchase. However, I very much enjoyed the original. So I tested it against the Nude. In testing the Nude, I pretty much inhaled the skin off my arm trying to have my nose send a signal to my brain that something had been detected. It was a difficult one to pick up. Every now and again something would waft across. It was pleasant and very easily fits the bill of a true skin scent on me. I’m wondering if it might be TOO much of a skin scent. I mean I want to smell something, that’s why I wear perfume – I like to smell what I’m wearing. Though I am fascinated and am on a neverending search for a skin scent that you really dont have to think anything about, just spray & go. So still musing if I should go original or Nude. And I’ve yet to smell the Cartier Baser Vole. Hmmm, decisions, decisions….

    • Robin says:

      Another great skin scent, a bit outside of this category, is Guerlain’s Cologne du 68, which I use way more than my review of it would indicate. I should go update.

      • Addicted2Pretty says:

        Thanks – I will have to give that one a try!

  16. longlegs2 says:

    I was really excited about this scent as I thought it would be a great one to bring to the shore this weekend. But when I tried it at the Lauder counter, it dissappeared in 60 seconds! (not really, but close) I mean, if I’m paying $52-$90 for a fragrance, I’d like to enjoy it for more than a minute. I did like it a lot, but just did not last on me. If the Sensuous fragrances were to be in a coffret in smaller sizes to travel with, I would definately buy that.

    • MelissaJane says:

      Did you ever think we’d find a Lauder fragrance that disappears? What happened in their lab? Their scents are usually powerhouses.

      • Robin says:

        Seriously do think it’s anosmia / olfactory fatigue from one of the (reportedly 7) musks they used.

  17. MelissaJane says:

    Hi again! I just returned from a local dept store where I tried the SN skin lotion..and guess what? This one I can smell and it’s lasting on me. The sales rep said that the lotion’s scent is longer lasting and stronger than the edp. It’s a lovely scent, and if I didn’t have an ample supply of Perfect Veil and SSS Opal, I’d probably spring for this lotion.

  18. coffeeandgrace says:

    I got a chance to try this this weekend…and really liked it. Your description Robin was spot on to my experience: a bit of fruit in the top notes, a whiff of coconut, then lovely musks and some powder. I met an awesome rep at the Nordstrom counter, and she gave me 2 samples, and a generous sample of the body lotion, which I like the texture of more than the original Sensuous. It has a wonderful silky, whipped feel to it, in between a lotion and a creme. My hubby liked it, and kept saying I smelled good…that’s what we want, right? (even though he wonders why I’d need *another* fragrance.) I found the lasting power to be great on me, and have plans to purchase this soon. I could see this being a great everyday/go-to scent. I just wish they’d called it Sensuous Sheer…I feel weird telling people I’m wearing ‘Sensuous Nude’…LOL.

  19. Merlin says:

    A veeeeeeeeery late comment, but I only just recently managed to try Sensuous Nude and my nose kept veering back to the spot! I’m a little afraid of the coconut note because it reminds me of BG which is stifling on me. But what really attracts me is the light salt note. I used to like the saltiness of Eau de Merv. but its just been too salty for the last couple of months. I don’t get any salt from Eau de Claire, or much of anything else either. Its quite non-descript on me. And, I violently dislike Chloe Love. (Don’t know why – I find the last Chloe pleasant enough) I plan to try this for a while – to avoid previous mistakes – and if it holds up I would definitely consider a bottle.

  20. gr8belief says:

    When I tried this, the powdery beige-ness was – eh. But the “saltiness” kept puzzling me. Then, i figured it out. I have a love/hate relationship with EL Azuree. I want to buy it. I try it every time I go to one particular store. Azuree was created from Mrs. Lauder’s Mediteranean retreat, including a salty note. I believe it is in this Sensuous Nude. After wearing Azuree all day, and it will last for days, I am in love with it. Then I can’t get the smell out of my clothes/nose and I hate it! Thus the angst. So I figured out the salty in Sen Nude. And some day, I will actually buy Azuree. Then return it. Then buy it again.

  21. OVincze says:

    I think my problem is that there is too much coconut and powder in it for me making it too sweet and the fragrance is way too light for my taste, I just cannot smell it on me. I agree that it could be a good summer scent though (I generally hate summery scents because they tend to be overly fruity and light for my taste). I do agree that EL scents are really well done and have owned quite a few over the years and loved a lot. Still this one may not be me at all, I think they usually do better scents. I prefer the original Sensuous and even more so Sensuous Noir, which I still own (have just posted in its review as well).

  22. scentfromabove says:

    I am an Estee Lauder fan and thought this fragrance was really nice but it was too soft for me. I found myself re-applying it because it seemed to fade away quickly. This is a perect scent for the summer if you are into light fragrances. I like the “Noir” fragrance better.

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