In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry takes a Potions class taught by Professor Horace Slughorn, the head of Slytherin House. At one point in the novel, Professor Slughorn teaches his students about Amortentia, the most powerful love potion in existence. Perhaps what is most intriguing about Amortentia is its scent, which is different for each person who smells it. To Harry, the potion smells like treacle tart, the wood of a broomstick, and something flowery. To Hermione, Amortentia smells like freshly mown grass, new parchment, and a third item that she declines to share. If I had been in that Potions class, I think I would have leaned over the cauldron and smelled peppermint, the beach, and wet soil in the spring.

So when I learned that Demeter’s single-scent perfume library included a fragrance called Dirt, I was immediately intrigued. The perfumers at Demeter bottle the scents of everyday objects and experiences, and believe me when I say that their work is impeccable. Because I’ve worn two of their fragrances in the past (Cannabis Flower and Holy Water), I knew that I could expect Dirt to smell exactly the way it is described on Demeter’s website: “Dirt was made to smell … like the dirt from the fields around the Pennsylvania family farm belonging to our founding perfumer. We think of this as April 10th, when the plowing begins in the Northeast U.S. … [It’s] the turned earth with a touch of last season’s corn stalks.”

After reading that description, I was sold. I grew up six hours away from Pennsylvania in a small city surrounded by corn fields, so I was fairly certain that Dirt perfume would smell similar to the wet soil scent I know and love. Oh, and April 10th is my birthday, so how’s that for a match made in heaven?

When Dirt finally arrived on my doorstep, I wasted no time trying it out. I tore open the package, sprayed it on my wrist, and immediately smelled something distinctly floral. But before I had time to feel disappointed, there it was: the damp, earthy scent I had hoped for. It was like a grassy backyard directly after an April shower. The accuracy was shocking. I was thrilled.

dirt perfume and hand

As with any perfume that I review, I committed to wearing Dirt for an entire week. Making that commitment wasn’t much of a hardship because I really liked the smell, and I was curious to see how the general public reacted to it.

As it turns out, most of the people in my life seem to really like the smell of wet dirt, too. Or they were impressed by Demeter’s ability to bottle the scent so accurately, at the very least. Every single person I asked to smell my wrist immediately came to the same conclusion: “Oh my God, that really does smell like dirt!”

Reactions to the question, “Would you wear this perfume?” were mixed. Most people agreed that they liked the smell, but it wasn’t something they would actually spray on their bodies. Only two of my friends–both spring babies like me, interestingly–said that they would definitely wear Dirt. My sister thought it might work better as a room spray–something to freshen up a living space when it starts to smell a little musty.

I decided to try layering Dirt with another single-scent perfume I own, Atlas Mountain Rose by The Body Shop. That experiment was a total success: Dirt added a really nice earthy dimension to an otherwise very straight-to-the-point floral fragrance.

However, I think I have to agree with my sister on this one. As much as I really liked the smell of Dirt, I’m not entirely sure that I’ll continue to wear it as a perfume on a regular basis. As a layering scent, it was awesome, but I think it’s maybe too earthy to wear on its own. I’ve been using it as a room spray instead–spraying it on my linens and curtains and in my closet–and it’s done a pretty fantastic job of freshening things up. Even though I won’t be wearing Dirt on the regular, I think I’ll always keep a bottle of it in my house. It’s like someone bottled the scent of my favorite season–and as strange as it sounds, smelling Dirt just totally brightens my day.

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