Makeup junkies have known for years that primers are an integral part of a long-lasting and enhanced beauty experience. Everyone from licensed makeup artists to the online stars of YouTube’s beauty community (romantically dubbed ‘beauty gurus’) has their favorite primer that extends the wear time of makeup and creates a flawless foundation (pun intended).

     So, where have the fragrance people been all this time? Living under a rock? If only someone would create a fragrance primer that neutralizes body odor and extends longevity…

© Gil Segev 2015

© Gil Segev 2015

     Enter the Canvas & Concrete fragrance primer, a $19.501 investment that every scent addict should have (in theory). Heath Miller, founder and CEO of Canvas & Concrete, created this unique product based on a simple concept: to help perfumes smell the same on everyone’s skin1. There’s no denying that we each perceive scent differently, and we’ve all gone through the agony of discovery that a perfume smells differently on our wrist than on a paper tester strip.

     So how does the fragrance primer do what it claims? COO Adam Hopkins explains that the product has an alcohol-based formula that forms a barrier on the skin’s surface to prevent perfume from mixing with the skin2. Not only is this good news for the longevity hunter in me, but after glossing over Gillian Deacon’s “There’s Lead in Your Lipstick” it makes me happy to know there will be something between me and the chemicals in a given perfume.

     I knew that this was a product I was interested in trying, and when Heath sent a bottle my way I put it to the test. There were several claims I wanted to confirm before I reached a verdict on the fragrance primer:

  1. Does it extend the longevity of perfume?
  2. Does it make perfume smell the same on different people?
  3. Does it make perfume smell the same on paper and skin?

     Over the span of several weeks I tested different perfumes in combination with the fragrance primer to answer my own questions. Men’s, women’s, unisex – I gave it all a shot in order to find what worked best. These are the results to my tests, which although not scientific whatsoever, were my measures for the strengths and weaknesses of the primer.

     Longevity: For reference, each longevity test consisted of two to four sprays of the primer on one wrist, followed by two to three sprays of the perfume, and two to three sprays of the perfume directly on my other wrist.

     Results were varied: Theirry Mugle’s A*Men Pure Havane, for example, consistently performed better in hourly sniff tests without the primer (with the primer it had a subtle vanilla fragrance during most of the dry down). Bath & Body Works’ A Thousand Wishes won out almost every time with the primer, fading rather quickly without it. Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male Summer 2012 was better without the primer, which made it muted. Tom Ford’s Champaca Absolute, a perfume known to evaporate in minutes, lasted 12+ hours with the primer. 007 by EON Productions won out with the primer, too.

     Different people, same perfume: For reference, this test consisted of two to four sprays of the primer on one wrist, followed by two to three sprays of the perfume, repeated on three people at the same time and compared.

     Once more, the outcome was inconclusive. I tested Vera Wang’s Lovestruck on three close friends, and although two of them smelled similar with the primer, the third smelled vastly different (like sour milk!). They also commented on a somewhat tacky texture with the primer, which I hadn’t noticed in my personal tests.

     Paper and skin: For reference, I tested two perfumes on paper perfume blotters and the same perfume on top of the fragrance primer on the skin.

     From Bath & Body Works’ Christmas 2013 collection I tested Forever Red Vanilla Rum, and found that with the primer I was able to find slight floral notes in the composition that I had not recognized on my skin before. The vanilla was sharper on the paper than on the skin, with more of a bubble gum note. For my second test I tried out Endless Weekend, and it was far fresher on paper than on the primed skin, with barely detectable berry notes that are meant to be the star of the formula.

     Verdict: as excited as I was to try this product, I have to take a pass on it personally based on my experiences, which may vary for others. My results were mixed nearly all of the time, so my best suggestion is to try before you buy, if possible. There are just too many variables for me to be able to reach a conclusion, but if you’re a fan of Champaca Absolute then you should Absolute(ly) pick up a bottle. Otherwise, be aware that this primer may react unpredictably on skin. Its best asset is a relatively cheap price that allows for experimentation, and it sure is a conversation piece – “what do you think of my perfume primer?”


1Canvas & Concrete: Canvas & Concrete. Prices true at time of writing.

2Total Beauty: We Tried It: Primer for Your Perfume


You can check out Canvas & Concrete at


2 responses to “Review: FRAGRANCE PRIMER by CANVAS & CONCRETE

  1. Perfume primer. What a neat concept. Sorry the results were so mixed. I must say I am a weirdo in that I enjoy perfumes smelling differently with various body chemistries. It makes for a more personal and unique scent. I also don’t mind ephemeral scents from time to time, so I can switch up my fragrance mid day lol! A true fragonerd. 🙂 I would however not mind a barrier for absorbing so many chemicals. Thanks for a cool review. It gives me something new to ponder today. Have a great Thursday!

    • Interesting thoughts about making perfume more personal, Julie. For me it was a bummer because as someone who talks perfume 24/7 I want everyone to experience my passion and excitement, and a primer than actually changes the smell was a tiny step in the opposite direction. Good thinking though with the barrier! 🙂

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