May Melange Marathon: Layering Zara Emotions

Today’s fragrance is a true “melange”, from the Zara Emotions line, a series of fragrances created by the perfumer Jo Malone for Zara, the clothing retailer that is known for its inexpensive yet effective fragrances. In interviews, Ms. Malone has said that the line uses raw ingredients similar to the ones she uses in her own (much more expensive) line, Jo Loves, taking advantage of Zara’s enormous global buying power; there are just fewer separate ingredients in each Zara Emotions fragrance. The Zara Emotions fragrances are pretty simple but several are very appealing, and they are designed to be easy to layer with each other. So today, I am wearing one of the brand’s recommended combinations, Waterlily Tea Dress and Amalfi Sunray.

Each has three listed notes: bergamot, mint, and musk for Waterlily Tea Dress; orange flower, mandarin orange, and bergamot for Amalfi Sunray. When I wear them separately, Waterlily Tea Dress smells very green and refreshing. The bergamot starts out strongest, with a certain bitterness as if one were smelling the pith of the fruit, then the mint comes forward. As it dries down, those green notes are softened by white musk. It’s a very pleasant summer scent, and in spite of its feminine name, it is truly unisex.

Amalfi Sunray has listed notes of orange flower, mandarin orange, and bergamot. It opens as a very green citrus, almost bitter because of the bergamot, quickly supplanted by mandarin orange. As the citrus notes fade, the orange flower emerges, but because of the citruses which are more astringent than sweet, it does not, to my nose, develop into an overly sweet white flower fragrance.

So what are they like together? Not surprisingly, it is a combination I quite like! When I “layer” fragrances, I don’t usually put one on top of the other; I apply each to a separate but adjacent part of my forearm, for example on my wrist and then just below my wrist, or on my wrist and inside my elbow if I’m wearing short sleeves. This is especially true if I’m using a dabber or rollerball. Because I have the Zara Emotions discovery set of the original eight fragrances (a ninth EDP has been aded to the line, Jo’s Rhubarb), those are dabbers and that’s how I did today’s layering. But honestly, if I had sprayers, I would be tempted to just spray one on the other on my wrist, because each one is so simple and light, I wouldn’t feel that I was muddying the notes by mingling them.

Zara sells layering sets for the Emotions line, which include a fragrance “paintbrush” of perfume gel to apply the dominant fragrance in the set, plus two 10 ml sprays of complementary fragrances. (The other one that comes with the Waterlily Tea Dress layering set is Fleur d’Oranger). The paintbrush is a clever idea that Ms. Malone originated with her own brand, Jo Loves, but then seems to have discontinued. The composition of the Zara Emotions layering sets make it easy to apply the fragrance in the paintbrush, then spray one — or maybe both! — of the companion sets on top of it. Both paintbrushes and 10 ml sprays are also available separately, but the layering sets are a good value, even with Zara’s usual low prices: one paintbrush ($25.90 on its own) plus the two sprays (each would be $9.90 on its own), for $29.90. The fragrances also come in 40 ml and 90 ml sizes, in eau de parfum concentration, as well as complementary products like body lotion, shampoo, body wash, candles, etc.

Back to my layered combination! Together, Waterlily Tea Dress and Amalfi Sunray reinforce each other’s bergamot note, which I like. As the bergamot fades, the mint, mandarin orange, and orange flower step forward, a very pleasant mix, and as they dry down, a white musk blurs the edges and softens the whole impression. Complex? Not at all. Challenging? Nope. Easy and pleasant? Yes! It makes me think of the Waterlily House at Kew‘s Royal Botanic Gardens, a beautiful glasshouse structure built especially to grow giant waterlilies, which also contains other plants that thrive in similar growing conditions. Kew grows gourds and ferns with its waterlilies, but one could easily include a citrus tree or two!

Glass house with giant waterlilies at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens
Waterlily House at Kew; image from

I think I’ll enjoy trying other combinations, both some that are suggested by the Zara website in its listed layering sets, and some I may come up with myself. I haven’t tried three together, but one could do that using the combinations in the layering sets, each of which comes with three different fragrances.

Have you tried any of the Zara Emotions line? And if you layer fragrances, how do you prefer to do that?

I bought the discovery set myself; this is an independent review.

11 thoughts on “May Melange Marathon: Layering Zara Emotions

  1. After spending 2020 on a no buy, I’m finding it hard not to be tempted by some of the perfumes I’m reading about – particularly the inexpensive options. (I’m still not quite ready to spend hundreds on a single bottle…). Anyway, I might spring for this discovery set. Sounds like it would be fun to play with.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. They both sound positively delightful and an easy wear. Not having been in a Zara store in well over a year I’m out of touch with their fragrance line and I haven’t explored the online shop.
    I’m now pining for the Amalfi coast.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been looking at that discovery set for a while… I have a question: do you believe (from what you smell) that they have any natural ingredients in them (other than alcohol, I mean 🙂 )?


      • I was asking rather about your impressions, I realize that it’s not possible to tell from the seller’s site (and most of their target audience wouldn’t care or understand that anyway).


        • Got it! It’s still hard to tell — many of the substances they list as ingredients, like geraniol, limonene, citronellol and linalool, are found in plants and their natural essences like rose oil, lavender oil, citrus oil, and other aromatic natural substances. Waterlily Tea Dress smelled quite natural to me, especially the bergamot and mint notes. I think the musk is synthetic, of course. And I suspect that Amalfi Sunray has at least some percentage of real citrus oil.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Well, Zara is mostly clothing and accessories, “fast fashion”. But they do issue some interesting fragrances, and most are very affordable. You might like the fragrance paintbrushes! I think I have one somewhere from when the Jo Loves brand sold them through Sephora, I need to look for it and try it out.


  4. Pingback: May Melange Marathon: Purplelight – Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.