Oyedo Eau de Toilette by Diptyque Review
You know the way that, as a child, random household objects somehow become your playthings? This was the case for me with a particular soapbox — which is to say, not a dramatic tirade, but a literal sturdy cardboard box that once contained a bar of soap.
The box was the kind that slid out, with an elegant loop of orange ribbon to tug on to open it; it was a pale yellow, with an eclipse of an orange drawn on the side. I put beads and little animal figurines and tiny homemade dolls in there. I strung plastic beads on elastic and created a family of little toy beaded snakes, and they lived in the soap box.
The thing I liked most about the box was the way it smelled. Even decades after holding any soap, the box holds a trace of effervescent citrus. It’s a bright yellow-orange sort of smell, all bubbles and sunshine and laughter. Despite the orange on the side of the box, I recognize that lasting note now as yuzu.
Looking back, I suspect that soap box shaped my early interest in fragrance. Oyedo reminds me of that box. I actually had a dream about the box a few days ago, and took it as a sign to review Oyedo. This is that same exact soapy, sunshiney yuzu in a vial.
(I waxed poetic on this same literal and figurative soap box in my review of Veronique Gabai’s Eau du Jour, another citrus scent that reminds me of childhood with its bright yellow sparkle.)
But let’s rewind to before that citrus soap nostalgia takes over. In the vial and when first splashed on skin, Diptyque’s Oyedo smells intensely sweet like artificial orange candy. It smells like Pez — orange Pez specifically — in almost the exact same way as in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Seville a l’Aube.
(Well, I think. I’ve had Pez maybe once as a child. But it feels like an accurate comparison. At the very least, this is some type of orange hard candy in a shiny opaque casing.)
Indeed, the opening super-sweet orange Pez candy note in the two fragrances is almost identical to me, minus the heavy honeyed beeswax in the latter. There’s an edge to the candy note in Oyedo that almost feels like it might be the indoles of neroli and orange blossom.
The overall shape feels over-sweet in an artificial, small-hard-candies sort of way. This isn’t candied orange rind, it’s Pez. Sweet and comforting, but also slightly cloying in its plasticky-hard-candy intensity.
Jolly and sunny and orange like a lollipop, in my experience this saccharine candy quality is more prominent in cold weather; it seems like in hot weather something in the bouquet of sweet aroma molecules never fully gets to develop, skipping right to the yuzu soapiness with less toothache.
When it’s freezing out, on the other hand, the hard-candy sweetness sticks around indefinitely on my skin, making Oyedo a cloying, saccharine number whose citruses never evolve past vague fizzy orange flavor.
Within five to ten minutes on the skin, the intensely orangey-sweet and artificial-hard-candy qualities of Oyedo calm down significantly. They’re still there, lurking in the very background, and they never entirely go away. There’s always a certain artificial candied over-sweetness lurking in the bottom of the scent.
Slowly, however, the citrus accord miraculously edges away from that hard-candy-sweet artificial intensity towards something that feels more natural, softer, soapier.
By half an hour in, we’re far closer to that childhood yellow soap box than we are to the childhood tube of multi-colored Pez.
Only now does it become apparent that Oyedo is all about yuzu.
If you don’t know what yuzu smells like, imagine the brightest, bubbliest imaginable citrus. It’s clean, bright, and elevating, more than any orange, lemon, or lime. It’s more yellow than a lemon, and lacks the sour tang. Instead, there’s a crisp, uplifting brightness to it. It’s a little fizzy, like a bright citrus soda.
Of any other citrus fruit, I’d liken it most to the sparkling golden juicy nature of mandarin oranges and clementines, but a dash more of the tempered sourness of a lemon.
The yuzu really shines in Oyedo, with the various other citrus notes supporting it and keeping that big yellow hot air balloon tied to earth. The earth in question is a field of thyme with a soapmaker’s cottage in the middle.
This is soapy like an incredibly high-quality bar of French-milled hand soap. It’s very clean and bright, but not like something meant for laundry or cleaning a bathroom. It’s a joyous bar of soap that makes you stop to sniff.
One facet of actual yuzu fruit and essential oil that I found missing here was the subtle biting bitterness of the rind. It’s supplanted here by the aromatic and savory facets of thyme, making for a very “oh, that’s weird” twist that you either love or just can’t wrap your head around.
It does the gorgeous note a disservice to cut it short of its bitter zesty glory. This yuzu is all yellow sparkling juice and no thick, sturdy skin, and is that really yuzu at all?
Of course, yuzu isn’t the only citrus note at play here. The closest is a clementine or mandarin orange note, closely intertwined with the yuzu at the sweet and soapy center of the scent. At the edges, there are hints of sourness from lemons and limes, keeping things from getting too syrupy and saccharine.
There’s a certain aromatic, almost-bergamot-like facet of a good lime that is at play in the background here, lending bumpy green texture to the underripe end of the yuzu.
This feels like a spray of citrus juice upon peeling a fruit, that spray of droplets you can see in the air that land on your hands and give them that odd sticky yellowed tinge. There’s a tanginess to the juice at times that almost feels like a rich, deep-orange-colored tangerine, feisty and sensual.
There’s nothing like grapefruit here. Too sour. And nothing like kumquat — this doesn’t feel golden and syrupy and romantic enough to me.
A green, underripe tangerine might actually best embody the heavier, headier, more aromatic citrusy notes that wrap themselves around the yuzu and make it bigger than it actually is.
Most of the time, though, the impression left by the citrus accord is a clean and utterly polite one, one of kindness and home indulgences and soap.
It mostly feels like these other citrus notes are propping up and filling out a yuzu-clementine-colored citrus accord. But they are lovely nonetheless, albeit faint and quite difficult to pick out distinctly.
Both the Diptyque website and various reviewers report what they report to be a raspberry-like olfactory accident effect in Oyedo. I don’t get anything remotely like raspberry here. But the sweetness of the citrus accord here leans quite candied on some people — it certainly does on me in the opening — and I can see this bringing to mind myriad artificial fruity sweets and sodas and early 2000s drug store fruity body washes.
That intensely sweet, almost indolic, singing generic sort of fruitiness could float in any number of directions. I could see it behaving a little like a red-raspberry-scented cheap body spray on some people. There’s certainly nothing here that feels at all like fresh, damp, dewy red raspberries, at least not to my skin or on my nose.
(But then, I grew raspberries growing up and am thus picky about so-called raspberry notes in perfumery. I have this same problem with black currants, and often with berries generally. Our cultural abstraction of just about every berry scent is so far from anything an actual berry smells like. But I digress.)
I’ve also occasionally heard tamarind cited as another fruity note people pick up in Oyedo. This one actually seems to hold more weight to me. There’s something brown and sugary, fizzy and jammy and just slightly tart that emerges between the artificial hard orange candy phase and the yuzu soap on me. I’d simply regarded it as a transitional fruity note in the scent, but I can see it now as a tamarind note, albeit a faint and artificial one, still overshadowed by the smell of sweet hard candy.
The thyme provides a grounding herbal nuance that brings out the sweet contrast of the citrus. It’s aromatic, herbal, strong and rich, like hundreds of tiny crushed fuzzy leaves and stems. It doesn’t feel entirely fresh, but doesn’t behave like a glass shaker of dried thyme spice, either: this is somewhere in between, a versatile sort of note that runs and laughs between the worlds of the living and the dried and duly dead.
Nonetheless, I find that something about the thyme feels a bit odd and out of place to me as time goes on and the citrus fades away. Fellow anti-cilantro people, you know what I mean: a certain faint stink some herbs have, elusive to describe, that just doesn’t feel quite correct. It’s a little like the feeling of accidentally spilling pizza seasoning into your orange soda: something here doesn’t belong. In a safe, sweet soap, something feels ambiguously grubby.
The contrast between savory dried-herbs-cabinet thyme and bright, sparkling juicy yuzu soda is inevitably divisive. There are people that find it refreshing, original, an incredible pleasure borne of crossing two very different ones. I’m afraid I’m not in that camp, finding the thyme note to feel a bit odd and disjointed with the rest of the fragrance, sticking out like a savory sore thumb.
But that’s just me. I don’t feel any particular attachment to thyme. If you’re fond of it, you’ll love the contrast between it and the bright yellow citrus here.
Something in the herbal aromatic accord here feels dense, heavy, and grounded the way coffee grounds do, with coarse texture that says “this used to smell like something”. I might just be imagining it, or it might be my skin or my sample, but it feels a little off to me when I lose focus and Oyedo drifts under my nose.
That discordance is subtle, though, and my experience of it is subjective. Overall, the thyme does lend pleasant depth to what would otherwise be a one-dimensional citrus scent. If this were yuzu and nothing more, I’d be left questioning the composition and bemoaning the simplicity of the scent. The thyme is an inspired, unique, inventive choice. There’s no doubt about that. How each person reacts to it will be entirely personal.
As it were, Oyedo is fairly linear, with the citruses bowing out and leaving a confused dash of thyme in their midst. In three hours, the scent is all but gone.
What an interesting mix of soapy cleanness, bright sparkling citrus, and aromatic herbs this is.
I have criticized the citrus-and-herbs opening of Guerlain’s L’Homme Ideal, comparing it to a confused everything-but-the-kitchen-sink accord of orange juice and toothpaste. The combination is not nearly so bewildering or disjointed here. It feels intentional, and each note is constructed with sharp, pointed purpose that makes it clear this is yuzu and thyme, no two ways about it, not lemon and rosemary and certainly not orange and mint.
I appreciate that clarity and pointed intention in Oyedo. The combination here is no stumbling, bumbling olfactory clash of an accident. It feels like it was the point, and that reassurance puts my mind at ease and makes the mixture feel less unsettling to me.
Like Paul Sebastian’s Onyx, Oyedo is an example of the aromatics-and-citrus thing working because it’s composed with confidence and precise clarity rather than simply waffling around both worlds of nondescript fresh notes.
Really, I’m most fond of the way the citrus-and-aromatics thing is executed in Veronique Gabai’s Eau du Jour. Where Oyedo is clean and soapy, neat and yellow and sparkly, the citrus notes in Eau du Jour feel livelier, more pungent, more underripe and rind-ey and green, more like pure citrus fruit essential oils and torn-up bits of peel.
The sage in Eau du Jour is fresh and crisp, no-nonsense and yet unquestionably aromatic. It doesn’t have that certain brown, stuffy, almost-earthy denseness that notes like tobacco and certain herbs can have.
The thyme accord in Oyedo, on the other hand, leans significantly towards the dense, brown, crushed side of the spectrum. It isn’t light like mint or contemplative like sage; there’s something in it that feels like a dense, dark brown-green sort of stench to me, like cilantro and pizza and caraway seeds.
Let’s talk base notes. Are there any here? Not really — at least, not to my nose. The ad copy references vague “woody notes,” but I don’t get much here. This is yuzu soap and thyme and very little else.
It’s possible there are some very faint nondescript creamy and aromatic nuances playing in the background here, creating a soft bed for the citruses and thyme. But I don’t get any distinct woody notes of note, nor any particularly strong, sturdy wooden effect here at all — at least, not on my skin.
The yuzu-clementine-citrus-soap effect I get in Oyedo is quite nostalgic and comforting to me. I’m generally not fond of soapiness, but this doesn’t feel soapy the way a soapy floral does. No, this is a soap that sparkles and winks instead of being soft and powdery and pink. It’s a oozing, gushing golden orange note pared down to a clean whisper on your hands as you air-dry them.
So, as derogatory as comparing this to expensive hand soap may seem, I’m not saying that as an insult. There’s a very clean cleared-up-and-concentrated-ness to this that could never feel like a whole real yuzu fruit, rind and all. Nope, this is a pared-down citrus scent in a high-end home cleaning product shell. I’d said the same thing about Hermes’ Le Jardin de Monsieur Li — arguably worse, since I’d compared that one to Trader Joe’s citrus-scented dish soap — and I still adored it.
Soapiness is all but inevitable for light, fresh, and cleaned-up-around-the-edges citrus scents. It feels like to go soapy, for a clean citrus perfume, is to survive; the alternative is for the note to disappear even faster. So it is here. This doesn’t smell like real fruit, but it is a nice clean soapy citrus scent, great for summer.
This feels like the sort of simple, fresh, light scent many people describe as a “happy” scent they like to wear in the summer, a simple sparkle of uncomplicated perfume pleasure. Ultimately, Oyedo cannot be that for me since the thyme just doesn’t agree with me, but you very well may not mind it, and may find it brings some fascinating aromatic contrast and depth to the fragrance.
If you like the idea of a deliciously juicy yellow citrus hand soap and aren’t afraid of a dash of thyme, Oyedo would be a great simple, splashy summer citrus scent for you to try.
That is, provided you don’t object to its performance, or lack thereof.
(First Maison Martin Margiela’s Soul of the Forest, then Comme des Garcons’ Sherbet Series 5: Rhubarb, now this… it seems like everything I review this week just happens to be incredibly ephemeral and faint.)
Oyedo isn’t quite an instant skin scent. It does have some small projection and sillage at the beginning, much like the spray of citrus aroma molecules you get when peeling a perfectly tart clementine. This doesn’t carry extremely far or last extremely long, but at least Oyedo feels like it plays at a fair volume instead of making you go hunting for a hint of it from the very beginning.
Of course, it doesn’t last. At three to four hours, it’s all but gone. If you love the scent, are satisfied with its projection, and are fine with reapplying — this is such a simple, linear scent that you can easily overlap new sprays of it to keep a solid performance going — this won’t be a problem for you.
I’d felt disappointed by the three- and four-hour performance of the last two fragrances I reviewed before this one, but really I was more upset about how faint they were from the very beginning and how it seemed like, looking at the notes, it really didn’t have to be this way.
With Oyedo, however, I’m satisfied that pure citrus and herbs with no bottom notes will never last long, and that by golly talented nose Akiko Kamei does her best here. It projects to an acceptable volume and is such a consistent linear scent that if I really loved it, I’d have no problem relishing it and re-applying a few times per day.
Alas, the thyme here currently just doesn’t agree with me. Oyedo is lovely, but at this stage in my life it isn’t quite for me. I can see this perhaps changing someday, though, if that thyme and I ever really come to terms. This really is a lovely fresh citrus scent, something simple and uplifting that’s refreshing in warm weather but also a rare sparkle of gold when it’s cold outside. Besides the impressively realistic fizzy yellow yuzu note, that thyme is what makes Oyedo really unique, and, alas, what makes it a no-go for me.
Thyme aside, this is too faint, too ephemeral, too linearly clean for my tastes. But I enjoyed the uplifting nature of the yuzu and the happy sensory memories it brought back. I can see myself revisiting this one every once in a while for that juicy citrus hit, over and over again, time after time… or should I say thyme after thyme?
That is, unless it keeps going the “orange hard candy” route. I’ll have to try it again next summer, as I hadn’t noticed this effect in the heat last year, but this is something I just couldn’t wear in the winter. Paradoxically, it gets more stifling to me in cold weather as it goes from uplifting and fresh to shiny, saccharine vague hard-candy sweetness.
If you don’t mind the weak projection, sillage, and longevity, and want a fresh, soapy citrus that makes you smile, give Oyedo a try. If you insist on powerful projection, sillage, and longevity, and are looking for a pure citrus scent, I advise you re-evaluate your expectations.
Soapy citrus lovers who understand these things are fundamentally rather fleeting will enjoy Oyedo, provided they’re on good terms with old Father Thyme (and are aware of the possibility this might stay a saccharine orange-hard-candy scent.)
Where to Find Oyedo Eau de Toilette by Diptyque
You can find samples and decants of Oyedo EdT at Scent Split.
Want more? You can find full bottles at Jomashop.
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