Ostara by Penhaligon’s

The scent of spring…


Top notes: Clementine, Bergamot, Red Berries, Juniper, Spearmint, Blackcurrant Bud, Violet Leaf Absolute, Leafy Effects, Aldehydes

Middle notes: Hyacinth, Narcissus , Beeswax, Cyclamen, Ylang-Ylang, Hawthorn, Wisteria

Base notes: Vanilla, Benzoin, Musk, Amber, White Wood Effects


Ostara is the Goddess of spring and in Britain this season is synonymous with daffodils. Bright yellow, open-faced and standing tall, daffodils are the ultimate “happy flower”. They embody the qualities of joy, hope and optimism. For a long time I had a field of daffodils as my screensaver.

Superstar perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour was inspired to create Ostara by his childhood memories of the narcissus fields in Auvergne, France. I’d describe it as a green floral.


Ostara wakes up cool and crisp with bight greens and just a touch of citrus. It echoes the fresh feeling of those early spring mornings, when the sun is shining but there’s still a bite in the air. In accordance with this, the fragrance has a touch of galbanum bitterness.

I know the scent of daffodils well and I must say Duchaufour has done a skilful job of capturing the aroma. To sniff Ostara is really to hold a big bunch of daffodils in your arms. The flowers mostly smell green and pollen-y and in Ostara you get that green, plant stem aroma along with stamens and dusty pollen.

You could break it down further but you just have to inhale it and you immediately think “daffodils” and “springtime”.

A montage starts rolling in my mind’s eye involving scampering bunny rabbits, birds nesting in budding trees and of course, rolling hills covered with a host of golden daffodils.


As with many of Dauchaufour’s fragrances, it is a transparent composition with lots of light and air. More than likely as a result of the use aldehydes, Ostara has tremendous radiance.

The fact that it is photorealistic is perhaps what will attract some people and disappoint others.  I had hoped that Ostara would contain some of the earthy, cow pat richness of narcissus absolute, but that’s not the story here.  This is a fragrant ode to green shoots, brilliant sunshine and the buoyant feeling that comes with renewal.

If the scent of daffodils brings back happy childhood memories for you, then Ostara would make a great “emotional button” for whenever you want to recall those carefree days and the feelings connected with them.


Do you have a fragrance that sums up spring for you? 







Filed under Perfume Reviews

29 responses to “Ostara by Penhaligon’s

  1. Tara, this is absolutely like holding a bunch of daffodils – it is astounding how photorealistic it is. I really enjoyed it because of that. A very clever fragrance.

    xx Tina G


    • Exactly Tina, it’s very clever and I really appreciate it for that reason, even if it wasn’t what I hoped for.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The list of notes is baffling – I assume that they are perfectly and expertly blended, coz I’m not sure I got many ‘indivudual’ ones. They should scrap the notes, and just say it is a daffodil accord.

        Gosh it is well done though. Does make me happy. Reminds me of my grandmother, and of England, and of a trip up the hills here last year that I made & found flowers in bloom. Great stuff.


        • The Penhaligon’s note lists for BD fragrances are always really long for some reason. Often, as in this case, you don’t pick up half of them. “Daffodil accord” is very succinctly put!

          What lovely associations you have with Ostara. I thought it could be an emotional button for some and it clearly is for you. Lovely.


  2. Violets. Anything with violets. And yet, no perfume ever smells so wonderful as the violets in my childhood. Current favourite violet fragrance is Frau Tonis Veilchen.


  3. Sun Mi

    Growing up in a small town that actually had a daffodil festival (I remember drawing for the logo competitions at school even), I am disappointed to say I don’t remember ever smelling daffodils. 😦 I blind bought Ostara though, thanks to several glittering reviews, so I will just assume that it accurately replicates the scent I *should* know from childhood. 🙂


    • Oh Sun Mi, that is a shame. How lovely to have a daffodil festival in your town growing up though. I guess I’m familiar with the scent because we had them in our garden when I was young. But you can still enjoy Ostara and I hope you do.


  4. This reminded me of a spring version of the height of summery Lys Soleia – not so much on account of its scent as such as the fact that both have this radiant ‘solar’ vibe going on.

    I would really like to try Ostara on skin as I had it pre-sprayed on a hanky where it smelt rather indolic. I would love to bury my nose in a bunch of daffs!

    Hmm, Wordsworth might have enjoyed a male flanker of Ostara…;)


    • Me too. I may have to buy a bunch of daffs now.

      Yes, both are categorised as solar florals but I can’t say I got much warmth from Ostara in the base, the way I do with Lys Soleia. I picture bright sunshine rather than feel any warmth from it, if that makes sense.

      Love the idea of a masculine Ostara flanker for Wordsworth!


    • Hamamelis

      Vanessa I am happy to make and send you a (properly labelled 😉 ) sample. I live in the Netherlands but have been succesfully shipping some samples across the Channel to various UK perfumista’s.
      Tara has my email so you could send me your address by mail.


  5. Annette

    Beautiful review Tara. I saw Ostara the other day and wished I’d tested it. The bottle looks so pretty and there is something about the simplicity of an abundance of daffodils that is very appealing. I will have to give it a try. I love Penhaligons!


  6. Hamamelis

    Ostara does it for me, I love it very much. Other spring in a bottle perfumes for me are Eau de Camille, and un jardin sur le Toit. Although currently I mostly wear Journey which is late spring early summer I suppose!


    • Hi Hamamelis,
      I think my problem was that I heard before its release that it was a narcissus perfume and so I thought it would be a bit like L’Artisan’s Fleur de Narcisse, which was quite barnyard-y. Expectations have such a big effect. Ostara is a very well done spring fragrance though. Thanks for sharing your other favourites.


  7. Hey Tara,
    I did try Ostara but can’t remember it at all.
    Did you ever try the CB I Hate Perfume Narcissus Absolute? Unbelievably potent and viscous. If you put a dab on in the evening you will wake up smelling daffodils.
    Portia xx


    • Hey Portia,
      No, but I’ve been eyeing it for a while. I think I’d enjoy the potency of that more than the bright radiance of Ostara, as nice as it is.


  8. Dear Tara, you’re so productive I can’ keep up 🙂 Ostara, yes, you send me a sample and I’ll go and unearth it now, because how can’t I with such an accolade. Beautifully written as always. And yes thank you to “This is a fragrant ode to green shoots, brilliant sunshine and the buoyant feeling that comes with renewal”.


  9. For me mimosa “sums up” spring perfectly – hence my endless search for the perfect mimosa.
    I liked Ostara very much and a bottle of it should be on its way to me any day now (it was a strange “ships in 4-6 weeks” deal at some sale site). Your review of it is as sunny as the perfume itself.


    • I hear it’s available at a discount if you look around, which is a shame in a way but good for us! Congrats on your bottle. At least if it’s finally due now you’ll have it for spring.
      Thanks for the sweet compliment 🙂


  10. Ooh, I love Ostara! Like you, I enjoy changing scents with the seasons and I have been wearing Ostara almost daily this spring. My own reaction to it is here: https://thewisekangaroo.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/fragrance-friday-ostara/


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