Burberry Brit Eau de Parfum by Burberry Review

Collage of Burberry Brit and its notes, including vanilla, peony, amber, pear, almond, lime, sugar, tonka, and mahogany.

Despite the marketing, there is nothing here that feels particularly British or modern or traditional or clever. There is no secret wry twist waiting for you: Brit is a straightforward yet masterful composition of sweetness, not entirely like something edible, but like the smell-but-don’t-eat of toy scents for children.

(As an aside: between this and Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women, it’s apparent Burberry is absolutely terrible at aligning its marketing with what its fragrances actually smell like.)

At first whiff, Brit made me acutely nostalgic for the house up the street where I’d play with the sisters growing up. I asked one whether any of them wore Brit, but she doesn’t know.

A soft pink flower.

I wonder whether I’m smelling Brit exactly, or just the general sweetness of a house of girls and their pink plastic toys. This sweetness has the pink timbre of dolls with scented heads, of little blush-pink castles, of ponies with strawberries drawn on their hind quarters. Brit is an unapologetically sweet pink scent that reminds me of the scent hovering around such toys in some houses.

It is not glaringly artificial any more than most other designer perfumes, but the unrealistic, doubled-over sweetness is something the nose knows it could never meet outside the slightly stuffy fantasy worlds of carpeted rooms strewn with tiny plastic stilettos and sandals.

As for the actual notes: Brit opens with a distinct fruity sparkle of pear and hint of lime, with the rest of the fragrance built of pure almond-vanilla sugar.

A medium-green-colored pear with a small brown stem.

That hint of lime really is just a hint on me, an ephemeral but pleasant green sparkle of sweet green key lime pie.

Fresh without being soapy or calone-heavy, that breath of pear lasts a bit longer. It keeps the overwhelming punch of sweetness from getting altogether too stuffy, and by the time it’s gone, you’re acclimated to the sweetness, and it has sunk into your skin, lilting and adjusting to match your pitch, letting go of its most overwhelming qualities.

At the same time, the fruit in the opening is what lends Brit her most plastic shades of pink and her scratch-and-sniff facet. The opening makes you think of a Barbie convertible, but that’s also the most interesting thing about it. If not for the slightly tacky oversweetness, Brit would be utterly forgettable.

Within a few hours, the plastic doll artificial fruity aspect fades away some, leaving a drydown that smells like pure almond-vanilla icing on something like a big dripping chunk of monkey bread.

A small white bowl of light brown almonds.

The vast saccharine sweetness of Burberry Brit is not to be underestimated. This is one of the sweetest of the sweet, an iconic landmark in the land of perfume sweetness. This is sugar on sugar on pure almond sugar, far too pink-synthetic-peony-plastic sweet to ever be actually edible. It’s iconic and distinct and unlike anything that came before it.

Wearing Brit takes a solid stomach for sweetness, especially of the bright pink-plastic-dollhouse sort. It’s strongest in the very “perfume-y” alcohol blast of the opening, when the fragrance is at its most synthetic, and gradually becomes more tolerable as time goes on. The fragrance is remarkably linear and cohesive, however. Though the greater part of the initial synthetic sparkle may evaporate in the first hours, the sniff-me, doll’s-head, pink plastic aura remains for the duration of Brit’s lifespan.

A ribbed glass jar filled with sugar cubes, with more sugar cubes stacked neatly beside it.

It’s a loud, bold, overwhelmingly pink sort of sweetness. And yet, miraculously, it never turns headachey on me. Aesthetically, the over-sweetness isn’t for me, and felt jarring and odd on my skin for that reason, but it never gave me the headache that so many cloying scents do. It isn’t over-crystallized in an artificial-sweetener, weird-chemical-dye, bright-colored-rock-candy way that hurts your teeth. The sweetness is born out of real things, almonds and sugar and warm baked treats fresh out of the oven. For the sheer amount of pink punch she packs, Brit is remarkably polite.

Sugar, vanilla, tonka bean, and almond blend together into an accord that’s sweet first and gourmand second. It’s so perfectly, synthetically sweet that it’s never entirely edible, but the sweetness is largely composed of typically-edible components.

A heart-shaped amber charm on a pendant and chunky wire chain.

The general ethos is something that could vaguely be described as amber, maybe. I find that amber is a term often thrown around by people who don’t want to admit their base is mostly vanillin. Brit is not afraid to admit that. This is a vanilla that loudly proclaims it is vanilla. It doesn’t hide in the nebulous resinous warm territory of amber, trying to come off as more mysterious, seductive, or classy than it is. Brit is vanilla and proud. She knows her worth and won’t apologize for it. She owns her pinkness like Elle in Legally Blonde and proudly wears her vanilla heart on her sleeve.

I have a dear friend who always puts a touch of almond extract in their baked goods along with the vanilla. That’s what this is. This is the sweetness of warm vanilla baked goods with a hint of almond extract, shaped into perfect little pink plastic cookies and cakes and breads for dolls.

Botanical illustration of a vanilla flower, leaves, and bean.

There’s not much use to separating out these notes for the sake of description. The effect is that of a single sugar-vanilla-tonka-almond accord, the kind of ambient sweetness that wafts up from a fresh batch of sugar cookies about to be decorated with white vanilla icing. There’s a pleasant tinge of sweet almond extract around the whole affair, adding an almost-cherry nuance to the melodious mix of sweets.

Impressively, the heavy vanilla-tonka accord in Brit avoids the mushy playdough-vanilla fate of so many of its cousins (looking at you, Dior’s Hypnotic Poison). Never does the cloying pink sweetness of Brit make me think of playdough or any other unsavory vanilla-gone-wrong association.

The sweet accord here errs on the side of being over-structured, perfumey, and synthetic in its distinct pink way, rather than on the side of the lazy decomposition that brings so many a vanilla to a dull and doughy end. This preserves the distinct style of Brit throughout the lifetime of the fragrance and keeps things from falling into one-note decay. Brit has boundaries and standards, and despite her soft and sweet exterior, she fiercely protects both.

Seven makeup contacts filled with crushed and broken pink powder of various shapes and sizes.

This structural preservation is achieved partly by a hint of powderiness to the vanilla-almond accord. It’s quite faint, such that I wouldn’t call Brit a predominantly powdery perfume by any means, but it is one of the small tricks that holds the distinct pink synthetic scratch-n-sniff aura of the perfume in place and keeps things from ever getting truly edible. There’s a little bit of toy makeup scattered over the toy cookies, just to make it more obvious that you shouldn’t eat them.

It’s comparable to the subtle powder of the almond accord in Guerlain’s L’Homme Ideal — a faint unlisted nuance of the sweetness, but not one of the main impressions I get from either scent.

Another key part of the inedible pinkness of Brit — and, perhaps, the airy note making up most of its body — is the peony. While the overall effect is not quite that of a floral perfume, the soft, diffuse almost-powdery effect of the peony flower adds another hint that this is perfume, not food. It adds to the overall softness and innocence of the scent, artfully dulling the edges of the sugary accord, keeping things from getting too toothachey.

An ornate day bed made of carved mahogany, plush moss-green velvet, and gilded strips of decorative metal.

The mahogany in the base of Burberry Brit is hardly noticeable under the solid sticky pink sugar accord that dominates the lifetime of the fragrance. There is nothing in Brit that is at all woody. (This certainly isn’t a fascinating mass-market love letter to mahogany like Calvin Klein’s original Euphoria was.)

But I’m glad nose Natalie Gracia-Cetto didn’t jam in an obligatory woody base just for the sake of having one. In fact, one of the things that makes Brit iconic is its refusal to bend to many default base notes of its time. There is no dull blend of cedar, vetiver, and insufferable white musk here. A prominent woody accord would have felt out of place, odd and antithetical to the pink icing castle the rest of the fragrance constructs, too dark, too serious.

A cognac glass full of golden-colored cognac and large ice cubes.

If the mahogany comes through at all, it is as a subtle warm, smooth, more grown-up texture hiding somewhere in the candied almonds and icing of the late drydown. It adds the tiniest hint of a dark and almost creamy mahogany texture to the base, acting almost as a hint of oak barrel and fine aromatic spirits might.

Straight-up cognac would shatter the goody-two-shoes appearance of Brit, so Gracia-Cetto wisely goes for a smooth hint of rich mahogany instead. It adds just a hint more heft and interesting texture to the warm amber-vanilla-almond-tonka accord in its late phases. The blending is quite subtle, with the effect being that of a mild late-night-fancy-hotel-bar polish on the almonds rather than of a full woody accord.

A plastic toy Barbie doll with blonde hair and posable limbs sitting and smiling in a professional pink skirt and blouse.

Despite its innocent and sweet aura, soft and cute and very, very pink, Brit somehow manages to avoid coming off as a middle schooler’s first perfume. Although its parts are impossibly cutesy and sweet, Brit herself is an adult. This is another thing about Brit that makes me think of dolls like Barbie.

Despite being very cute and feminine and — well — dolled up for an audience of little girls, in-universe Barbie is an adult woman, with a car and a house and a career (or, rather, dozens of them) and everything. Brit is Barbie: the perfume. Somehow, while being aggressively sweet and dollhouse-pink to fit a little girl’s aesthetic, she obviously passes for an adult woman, just one who’s extremely saccharine and traditionally feminine.

I can’t explain it any other way except this: Burberry Brit would totally be Margot Robbie’s signature scent in the upcoming Greta Gerwig movie.

Brit performs quite well, lasting all day into the next on me, with hints lingering past 24 hours, and she projects well within the first eight hours at least. Despite her sweet simplicity, I can tell that she is crafted well, designed to be loud and purely inoffensively sweet and to last, all with the notes all consistently sticking together. I can see what makes this a classic, paired with its cultural positioning in the early 2000s, and it is deserved.

A spongy strawberry shortcake dessert with whipped cream and fresh strawberries on a red-polka-dotted plate.

Is Brit a gourmand perfume? Yes and no. It’s far too much of a pink plastic doll’s head to be at all edible until the late drydown, and yet almost all the notes appear to be edible things on their own. This is the sort of scent you’d put in childrens’ toy makeup, which you would then have to recall because a whole bunch of toddlers started eating it. It’s not something that any adult would think of as food, but is close enough in a pretty plastic way for kids to eat.

Top-down view of a dark green glass full of effervescent water, light green lime slices, and small air bubbles.

The sweet-pink-strawberry-lime-flavored-lipgloss vibe persists until that final almond monkey bread phase, when things finally feel a bit more convincingly edible. Still, this is an odd sort of quasi-gourmand you never truly want to eat, despite the fact that most of its notes are fruity candy flavors.

Burberry Brit really is a sincere perfume. There is no clever trick, no niche sleight of hand, no olfactory legerdemain; you get exactly what’s in the note pyramid, sweet on sweet on sweet. Some careful structuring keeps it from feeling truly gourmand: an airy body of soft peonies, a dash of powder, a general perfumey synthetic accord, a fruity sparkle that feels more like scented-doll’s-head plastic than actual fruit.

She is the most nauseatingly saccharine fragrance I have tried, but plenty of people have the stomach for her; I just don’t. Brit is genuine, sincere, and unapologetic in her dollhouse sweetness. Ultimately, I find this sweetness too loud and cloying for my taste, but that’s okay.

A pile of tonka bean pods.

Many people love Burberry Brit, and I can see why. She’s iconic and makes me think of all manner of unapologetically pink people and things. Her authenticity is something to be celebrated, and her aura is cheerful, pretty, and confident. Brit makes me think of all the very pink heroines in pop culture, from Barbie to Elle Woods. If for nothing else, I’ll break her out every once in a while for the hit of pure 2000s nostalgia.



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