Relaxed holiday scents are not just for the summer and this fragrance reduces the tempo, asks you to kick back and chill out at any time of year.
Lignum vitae flower, mandarin, plumeria blossoms, vanilla crystals, vetiver and white musk.
Beach days: those days when all your cares seem on hold or a million miles away. When the sun warms your body and muscles that you didn’t even know were clenched seem to unwind and relax. That’s what Jamaica by Nateeva smells like, right from the outset.
The first things you are likely to notice about this fragrance are: that it is gentle, that it is relaxed, and that it is very evocative of lazy days spent on holiday. In many respects this won’t be a surprise – it is the inspiration behind the brand after all – but what is a little bit magic is how the perfumer has managed to convey that so effectively right from the first spritz of the scent.
Jamaica isn’t a loud or shouty fragrance at any stage of its lifespan, not even at the start. It opens with an almost beachy skin sort of feeling. There’s a definite warmth there, along with the sense of salt crystals, all backed by a gauzy, floral haze. It calls to mind clean skin, fresh from a dip in the ocean and now gently drying in warm sunshine. Immediately you get that sense of relaxation and ease which will become a cornerstone of this fragrance’s appeal.
I haven’t smelled the lignum vitae flower, so I can’t say whether this is a faithful recreation of it or not, but the floral element found within Jamaica is interesting and it reaches its height in the mid-part of a wear. Part of the floral backdrop does have a slightly narcotic, addictive edge, similar to a creamy jasmine with touches of frangipani in there too perhaps, and maybe even a touch of a rendering of a watery magnolia. There is a sense of freshness too which at times feels a touch sour as if someone has just squeezed an orange over a cocktail somewhere higher up the beach and you are just getting the remnants of a waft of it as you relax on your lounger. There’s a definite crystalline quality in evidence throughout the scent, but it is most noticeable during this phase and which gives the scent part of its beachy attraction because it evokes that sense of sea salt on skin.
The heart of Jamaica is where the scent becomes the most complex. A vein of sweetness makes itself known from the vanilla, and there is a delicate coconutty feel working through the composition too. Sometimes coconut can be quite dry, almost dessicated, but that isn’t the case here where instead there is a wet feel about the scent, coconut water rather than coconut flesh. Coupled with that crystalline quality we noticed from the start, this contributes to that beachy, seaside feel that the fragrance has. Despite the elements of vanilla and coconut coming forward here, the fragrance doesn’t become overly sweet and manages to swerve that “shower gel for teenagers” vibe that it could so easily have developed, managing instead to continue to feel elegant but relaxed rather than saccharine and gaudy.
The floral elements recede as Jamaica moves towards its final few bars, and instead the white musk comes to the fore. The musk adds a crispness and a sense of cleanliness which is both rejuvenating and comforting at the same time – it’s a crisp, freshly laundered, fluffy towel on which to dry your skin after a dip in the ocean. The white musk also gives the scent a youthful feeling in as much as anyone may feel a touch more youthful after such a relaxing holiday!
Jamaica retains the vanilla in the final part of the scent and, although warming and sweet, it seems also to impart a woody quality. Coupled with the other elements, at times this feels as if it leans towards driftwood, damp and salty and washed up on the beach. There’s a juxtaposition between that fluffy white musky side and the more woody, salty side of the fragrance towards the end which isn’t discordant at all, but which instead provides a little touch of tension in an otherwise very easy scent.
One of the pleasing things about Jamaica is the way in which the fragrance cycles through many textures in a wear, from the crystalline, salt-like quality, to a pillowy musk, with wetter elements in between. The textures aren’t forced either, just presented as part of the whole make up of the scent. So if you are wanting something easy to wear, reminiscent of holidays, and with a generally slower pace than normal life’s frenetic tempo, Jamaica may well be a good scent for you to look out.
The other stuff
The perfumer for Jamaica is Laurent Le Guernec.
As mentioned, Jamaica isn’t a very loud or ostentatious fragrance and so the experience of wearing it is a pleasantly personal, intimate one. It projects to a little further than hugging distance, but the way in which it seems to do that it to give the wearer a delightful aura. Fuzzy and diffuse, this aura will surround you for the duration of a wear and it feels rather like you are carrying those pleasant holiday vibes with you throughout the day, perhaps as armour against real life reasserting itself!
Jamaica lasts around six hours following an application and it is a very versatile fragrance ideal for daily wear. The majority of the Nateeva line work particularly well during the day for the office, days out, and lunch date type occasions. It would also be an excellent holiday scent and would only serve to enhance your relaxation and sense of de-stressing.
The Nateeva line is inspired by holidays taken by founders Jay McSherry and Hope Freeman, and aims to capture that relaxed, stress free feeling in a bottle. The duo are particularly taken with the laid back vibe of island destinations, and these form the bulk of the collection which is presented in heavy, rounded glass bottles.
Overall the Nateeva line is easy to wear, relaxed and rather gentle in how the scents perform. This isn’t the challenging or sombre end of the niche spectrum, instead its fun, perhaps a little flirty, but most definitely the sorts of scents that you can reach for when a little relaxed self-care is in order.
You can buy Jamaica from the Nateeva web boutique.
The folks at Floralia perfume boutique very kindly gifted us a bottle of this fragrance for review. We thank them for their generosity.
Header image by Brian Gibbs from Pixabay, images of the product by The Sniff.
Please note: This review relates to the pre 2023 version of Jamaica. In December 2022, this fragrance stopped being sold in the UK due to one of the components (lilial) becoming banned in the UK. US retailers are still able to stock this fragrance, and shipping outside of the UK is still allowed.