Initio Side Effect Eau de parfum is all about vanilla; the other notes flitted in and out of the different phases, but they were typically quite soft, subtle, and whispers in the background. Vanilla started boozier, darker, and rounded initially with cherry liqueur qualities, and it eventually softened and sweetened becoming a more gourmand vanilla over time.
Side Effect Notes
It is described as playing off the “leather, animal, and the woody note of Vanilla” with a “harmony” of “tobacco, vanilla, rum, and cinnamon.” The notes are listed as cinnamon bark, rum, tobacco, saffron, sandalwood, and hedione.
What does Side Effect Smell Like?
It opened with a sort of a clean, soapiness that morphed a slightly spiced rum, more aromatic saffron, and stronger vanilla. There was a sweet, almost cherry-like fruity facet with a tendril of smokiness, more of the roundness of rum than an overt boozy facet. After five minutes, Side Effect was a vanilla and cherry duo with a dash of cinnamon and a subtle tobacco undertone.
After a half hour, the vanilla was the dominant note, with cinnamon underpinning it, which gave it more depth and nuance, and then a decent amount of cherry liqueur that added more body. It remained a vanilla bomb with subtle cherry facets through the drydown, which arrived around the sixth hour, though the vanilla itself seemed to sweeten a bit over time.
It lasted for eight hours until it was a skin-scent and about 12 hours before it was quite difficult to detect on my skin. The sillage and projection were moderate with the sillage dropping faster than the projection within the first hour of wear.
I’m not sure that cherry is a note that I gravitate toward or I just haven’t found the right one, but I end up being ho-hum over its inclusion when it is more apparent. I’d much rather a true, boozy vanilla with more of a spiced quality than something with cherry, so this definitely isn’t full-bottle worthy for me!
These are more subjective feelings based on what I like (or don’t like) in a perfume as well as considering the fragrance against other perfumes I own and love.
For testing, I used 1/3 of a 0.7ml sample vial dabbed to the underside and topside of my wrist area. I used an unscented moisturizer prior to applying the scent as I found scent did not hold well here otherwise.
I purchased my sample in January 2022; fragrances are known to be reformulated over their lifetime, so be mindful of when a review was made, e.g. a review from 2010 may not reflect what the same-named perfume smells like in 2022.
Side Effect is available for $340/90ml and $73/10ml.
If possible, I highly recommend trying a fragrance before purchasing a full bottle because fragrance can wear differently just because of skin chemistry. Skin chemistry can effect not just the longevity of a fragrance but also what notes are prominent or hidden.
Side Effect Samples
We recommend the following retailers for purchasing decanted samples (typically 0.7ml to 2ml in size). This is a fuller list, so individual availability may depend on inventory.