Actress Beauty Tip #35: Youth Dew Perfume- An Actress Favorite

This is the thirty-fifth installment of my classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.

Youth Dew advertisement by Estee Lauder

Youth Dew advertisement by Estee Lauder

Youth Dew was an instant success from the time it was released in 1953.

Created by Estee Lauder as a bath oil that could double as a perfume and sold for $5, the scent was blend of rose, jasmine, vetiver and patchouli, according to Estee Lauder cosmetics.

The perfume was also popular with Hollywood actresses including Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford and Dolores Del Rio.

Swanson was a collector and life-long lover of perfume. The Turner Classic Movies documentary “Movies and Moguls” said Gloria Swanson spent $500 per month on perfume in the 1920s.  A 1924 report said she spent $6,000 alone that year on perfume, according to “Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star” by Stephen Michael Shearer. One of Swanson’s favorite scenes included Caron’s Narcisse Noir.

Del Rio was also a perfume collector with fragrances such as Parfum des Champs Elysees by Guerlain, Jungla by Myrurgia, Secret de la Perle by Pleville, La Jacee by Coty, Sans Adieu by Worth and Les Lys by D’Orsay.

Joan Crawford throwing rice with new husband Alfred Steele. Crawford said Youth Dew helped her attract him.

Joan Crawford throwing rice with new husband Alfred Steele. Crawford said Youth Dew helped her attract him.

A few of Crawford’s favorite perfumes included Jungle Gardenia, Spanish Geranium by Lanvin and she also enjoyed the men’s cologne, Royall Lyme.

But one favorite all three women shared was Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew.

Actress Gloria Swanson in 1956. Collector of perfume, she said she frequently wore Youth Dew.

Actress Gloria Swanson in 1956. Collector of perfume, she said she frequently wore Youth Dew.

Crawford claimed she attracted her fourth husband, Pepsi CEO Alfred Steele, with the scent. Supposedly Steele whispered in her ear while they were dancing, “I can’t stop dancing with you. You smell so exquisite,” according to the book “America’s Obsessives” by Joshua Kendall.

Swanson frequently told reporters she wore the scent, and Del Rio said she brushed Youth Dew into her hair, saying it was the secret to drive men mad, according to the book “Estee Lauder: Business Woman and Cosmetic Pioneer” by Robert Grayson.

Youth Dew has a strong, heavy, powdery and rather musky scent. It’s a smell that most people now seem to categorize as old fashioned or even grandmotherly.

Dolores Del Rio in 1955. Del Rio said she brushed the perfume in her hair to "drive men mad."

Dolores Del Rio in 1955. Del Rio said she brushed the perfume in her hair to “drive men mad.”

When I read about classic actress perfumes, I always hope for the best and take a great leap of faith when purchasing them without smelling them first. That stands true for Youth Dew, as well as perfumes worn by Audrey Hepburn, Jean Harlow and created by Elizabeth Taylor. You do feel glamorous while wearing a perfume you know was your favorite actress’s signature scent (except for Taylor’s. It’s truly terrible). However, most of these perfumes that have a long history seem to have this same powdery, over powering smell.

I prefer lighter scents, which are more en vogue today. For example, some of my personal favorite scents include Estee Lauder’s Sensuous and Dolce Gabbana’s Light Blue. The heaviest scents I own are Chanel Mademoiselle and Escada Magnetism.

While I don’t think Youth Dew is putrid, it’s so strong that it did clog my sinuses. While visiting my parents, my mother was trying to get a good whiff of the perfume and sprayed the perfume once in the kitchen. The room instantly was filled with the smell and it stuck around for the rest of the evening.

“My sinuses are shutting down! I feel sick,” Mom said.

My bottle of Youth Dew (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

My bottle of Youth Dew (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Though I warned her not to spray it, she said she was helping with my blog research. Shortly after, my dad got home.

“It smells terrible. What have you been up to,” Dad said.

To Review: Youth Dew is clearly not a fan favorite with my parents. While I didn’t hate the smell, it definitely is fairly overpowering. I’m not sure this is something I could wear all through the work day without ending up with itchy eyes and a headache.

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3 thoughts on “Actress Beauty Tip #35: Youth Dew Perfume- An Actress Favorite

  1. I grew up in NYC and recall that in the 1960’s and 70’s, the scent of Youth Dew was overpowering in the elevators at Saks Fifth Avenue. Strong enough to make me nearly faint.

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  2. I’m amazed that my sister even sprayed it in her house. I do have to wonder if this is the horrid perfume I occasionally smell around older women. It’s overpowering and putrid to me, but I asked Bruce what he smelled and he smelled a heavy powder/floral scent. It gives me horrific headaches.

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