TikTok has a virality superpower that allows it to make almost anything popular simply through word-of-mouth. I think #Perfumetok is particularly fascinating. Whenever I see a glowing review of a fragrance, I buy it without even smelling it.
One of TikTok’s most beloved fragrances is Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge 540 ($325). It’s been touted as the official “rich girl” perfume and promises endless compliments. Due to the amount of press it’s received, it has undoubtedly become one of the internet’s favorite fragrances despite its steep price tag. But leave it to the TikTok beauty community to find its dupe: Cloud ($65) by Ariana Grande. I’ve heard so much back-and-forth about whether such a highly coveted perfume can really have a dupe that’s less than one-third of the price, so I decided to test it out to finally settle the debate.
This inimitable fragrance opens ever-so elegantly with notes of rich amber and jasmine, with the addition of cedarwood to keep it quietly luxe. The wear time is also unmatched by any fragrance I’ve ever tried.
Olfactory family: woody, amber, floral
Top: jasmine, saffron
Base: ambergris accord
Ariana Grande’s critically-acclaimed Cloud transforms as you wear it. At first spritz, you get sweet praline and heavenly vanilla orchid, but when it settles on the skin, it reveals a sophisticated woody-musk scent, hence the comparisons to Baccarat Rouge 540.
Olfactory family: warm, spicy, gourmand
Top: lavender blossom, pear, bergamot
Heart: crème de coconut, praline, vanilla orchid
Base: musk, blonde woods
One morning, I sprayed Baccarat Rouge 540 and then headed out for a busy day. When hugging my friend goodbye after an event (over 10 hours after I sprayed the perfume), she said, “You smell amazing!” That’s certainly a testament to its incredible staying power. I’m the type to touch up my fragrance before an event or night out, but one spritz lasted me all day and into the evening. I told my friend that I was writing this story, and she agreed that although it’s pricey, there’s no comparison to the original Baccarat Rouge 540.
Cloud smells sweeter and more youthful, but once it settles on the skin (after about 30 minutes), it mellows out and, in my opinion, smells very similar to Baccarat Rouge 540. This mellowed-out version of the scent is what lingers, but the staying power isn’t as strong.
A 2.4-ounce bottle of Baccarat Rouge 540 retails for $325, equating to $135 per ounce. A 3.4-ounce bottle of Cloud retails for $65, coming in at a much more affordable $19 per ounce.
To really put these two perfumes to the test, I conducted a blind survey of Who What Wear editors and staffers, asking them to pick which scent they thought was more expensive and which one they preferred. The overwhelming majority chose Baccarat Rouge 540 as the more expensive scent. (Blame it on their high-fashion noses.) Their reasoning was that at first spritz, Cloud smells intensely sweet in a way that doesn’t feel expensive. But they explained that as it dries down, that sweetness dissipates, and that’s when it smells nearly identical to Baccarat Rouge 540. One editor even said that although she thought Cloud smelled less expensive, she actually preferred the sugary notes over Baccarat Rouge 540′s woodier and spicier profile.
The general consensus is that Cloud is certainly a viable dupe, especially when it settles on the skin. However, in full transparency, there’s nothing quite like the original. The good thing is that Baccarat Rouge 540 has staying power, so you don’t need a lot to smell expensive. But the difference between the two fragrances is almost (almost) imperceptible when they’re fully settled on the skin, so you may be the only one to notice if you’re wearing Cloud (so long as you’re not surrounded by a group of beauty editors).
Up next: I Tested Dossier’s Under-$55 Dupes for Le Labo, Chanel, and More—These Impressed