Our Honest Take on Ouai’s North Bondi Eau de Parfum
Main Image – Live That Glow
Let me start this by admitting I have a general (yet frequently broken) rule to buy products from brands that specialise in just one thing.
So for that reason, I was initially *slightly* sceptical of the idea of a perfume line by haircare brand Ouai (pronounced ‘way’).
Led by celebrity haircare specialist Jen Atkin – who is probably most famous for being the woman behind the locks of model royalty the Hadids’ and J-Lo – Ouai came about after Atkin struggled to find a haircare brand that she and her friends could relate to.
Since this is a line dedicated to hair products (albeit seriously yummy-smelling ones) though, I wasn’t entirely sure whether this would translate to a long-lasting, high-quality perfume.
Read on for my full thoughts.
This is new, up-to-date information. This article was originally published in 2019 and we updated it in October 2023 to add our further thoughts on Ouai’s North Bondi, complete with updated prices.
Ouai North Bondi Eau de Parfum
Before I get to the blend of rich florals and white musk here- inspired by (as the name suggests) Sydney’s iconic beach, Jen’s favourite area of the city- let me first mention the bottle, which is beautiful.
Minimalist enough to be one of the rare products that makes it onto my crowded bedside table, it’s also built for practicality with a magnetic lid (that makes a satisfying click when you close it). And the heavy-feeling glass and wide base make it both one of the bottles I’m least likely to knock over by accident and also sturdy enough to throw into a travel bag for long weekends etc.
Overall there’s a sense that real time and workmanship has gone into making the entire product.
And I’m happy to say that quality runs through to the scent itself. Light and slightly citrus on first sniff, this settles down to a seriously sophisticated and cyphre/woody scent.
For me this give it a grown-up, complex, and warm vibe that reminds me a little of Chanel N°5 – without the hefty price tag. At £71 from John Lewis UK and $105 from Chanel US for Chanel No5 (35ml) and £54.00 from Ouai UK and $64.00 from Ouai US for North Bondi (50ml), Ouai’s scent is pretty good value in comparison.
And despite its slightly summery-sounding name, North Bondi smells to me almost like it was made for autumn/winter- thanks to base notes like sandalwood here.
If you want to get an exact idea of how North Bondi smells though, Ouai’s Wave Spray and their Leave In Conditioner also share the same scent. So if you’re a fan of these products just know that this is a more intense version.
For anyone who hasn’t tried any Ouai products that share the same scent, here are the main notes in North Bondi from Ouai themselves.
- Top notes – Bergamot, Apple blossom, Raspberry, Italian lemon
- Middle notes – Rose de Mai, Jasmine, Violet
- Base notes – Patchouli, Sandalwood, White musk
As well as smelling ridiculously warming and complex, the scent lingers for hours. This is *particularly* impressive for me, since I have that weird type of skin that perfume doesn’t seem to cling to. This is also partly down to North Bondi being an eau de parfum rather than an eau de toilette.
With one spritz lasting from my morning shower until the end of the day, it’s also easy to intensify the scent or customise the scent longer by layering it with a scented body cream or other Ouai products.
Ouai also advises spritzing the scent onto damp skin and “behind the knees and in creases of elbows for total body fragrance experience” – to get an extra hit of intensity.
Or if you want to boost the scent of your Wave Spray but don’t want to damage your hair by spraying perfume directly into it, I like to spray North Bondi onto my brush before letting the alcohol dissipate for a few seconds and combing through my hair.
Overall, I love this scent when I’m in the mood for something more sophisticated.
However, I’d say this is more of a grown-up, autumn/winter scent – the kind of thing I’d either pair with a dress for flirty after-work drinks or chunky knits nestled by a roaring fire. This is probably too complex to become my everyday fragrance.
Not everyone agrees with me on this though, with loads of customers getting a spring/summer vibe from this scent.
Instagram user @skincarewith_t_ says “North Bondi is my summer favourite”, and one customer on Cult Beauty says “It smells so fresh and clean, would probably be more fitting for Spring and Summer, but I still think this will be a perfume that I reach for regularly.”
Others are also divided over wear time with one Fragrantica review suggesting it “May not be long-lasting on some”, while another suggests “Some may find it too strong or overpowering”.
I think this reflects just how personal fragrance is. One person’s warm may be another’s fresh and floral, while what I find a long-lasting scent may have less payoff for someone else.
The bottom line? While I find this an autumnal scent with impressive staying power, testing it on your own skin before buying is definitely advisable.
Which leads me to…
Where to buy (and try)
North Bondi is available in a 10ml travel size (bonus), and the full 50ml size. I particularly like that Ouai have a smaller size for handbags or travel, something lots of other brands don’t provide.
However, if you want to try in-store before you buy, some (but not always all) Sephora stores in the US and John Lewis in the UK stock Ouai’s perfume line. If in doubt, it’s worth checking with the particular store before heading down there.
Although the jury is (sort of) out with some of the customer reviews, I really like North Bondi for its complex, warm scent and staying power. I also definitely think it smells more expensive than it is.
For those who like a complex composition- or something slightly unisex like Byredo’s Gypsy Water– this may well become your new signature scent. Particularly for its pretty impressive price compared to other designer brands.
Great for: Fans of berry and sophisticated scents without the hefty pricetag.
Not-so-great for: Putting directly into hair (which would have been a great bonus to see from this hair care brand).