Side Effect 
Initio (2016)

Average Rating:  5 User Reviews

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Reviews of Side Effect by Initio

There are 5 reviews of Side Effect by Initio.


Initio Side Effect (2016) really just feels like an unused formula for Parfums de Marley Carlisle (2015), with a left turn taken where a right turn was taken in the latter, and being as both houses fall under the same ownership, this is very plausible. I won't expand much on this because my review for Carlisle was also fairly to the point (there isn't much to say really), and you know upon first sniff where this is going. Side Effect is another "smells expensive" decadent luxury niche shindig just like Carlisle, that uses heady woody and tobacco notes with some boozy fruitiness and florals to build out a sort of forced redolence that surprisingly works, but isn't nearly as expensive as it tries to smell, despite the price tag. Like with Carlisle, I'd pick this one up for a steep discount and quite like it, but for the MSRP it commends, better than Side Effect can be found. If this is a recycled unused formula, it was probably not "wow" enough to be used as Carlisle.

The biggest note of difference here is Side Effect drops the synth oud of Carlisle in favor of that frambinone-powered "raspberry leather" note in the base, mixed with heady tobacco boozy spices, then edged off with vanilla. The opening reminds me a tad of Initio Oud for Greatness (2018) and it may have been lifted for that scent later on, with some peppery saffron mix and lavender that introduces the main rum accord laced with cinnamon in the heart. The base is the aforementioned tobacco and that raspberry leather, wrapped in cashmeran like MFK's Baccarat Rouge 540 (2014) and some woody amber things which include patchouli-derived clearwood among them. The very "b-side" nature of the stuff, in the conventional (for the brand) way it combines its elements, is part of why I like it, but just shrug as I smell it. Wear time is over 12 hours and sillage remains steady, but at its loudest for the first 4 hours. Best use is romantically, in the evening, or during colder months of the year. I think Side Effect leans just a tad more masculine than feminine but anyone could really pull this off due to the sweet edge of the scent.

Side Effect smells "very Initio" in the sense it recycles familiar compounds this house seems to love (tons of patchouli, coumarin, woody ambers finessed into synth oud or sandalwood, vanilla), so house fans should feel right at home here. Everyone else a little more fatigued by these $300+ exercises of what is essentially just designer perfumery on steroids will go "oh, another one" and move along, which is about where I am with the brand too. That said, I would wear this if I had access to it without breaking the piggy bank, so the bottom line here is I like it. Woody rich tobacco scents aren't really hard to find these days, and Parfums de Marly Carlisle is the more interesting of the two sister entries from this pair of conjoint houses, so if I was to spring full price for either of them, it would be the Parfums de Marly. Side Effect is just a one-two punch and deserves only a one-two punch of a review, feeling better than some of the sad fleece jobs the house has released more recently, but just barely eking out an approval from me. Your mileage may vary so sampling is encouraged. Thumbs up.
Apr 4, 2021


Pretty underwhelming for this price to be honest. All I really get is sweet vanilla and sugar. Not bad smelling at all. But it feels like anybody who is willing to combine vanilla and sugar in a bottle couldve made this fragrance and charged $350.00 for it.
Mar 19, 2021


The opening is a clean vanilla with smokey oud. The oud is somewhat abrasive, stealing some of the spotlight from an extremely pleasant, warm and sexy, spiced vanilla. Later into the drydown it becomes sweeter and less smokey. Don't be afraid of this oud, it's just here in all cameo role.

Performance is interesting because it starts out pretty loud and feels like an all day screamer. But it softens rather quickly, making this quite possibly appropriate for times when you'll be indoors or close with someone on a cooler day. Definitely a cool weather scent, way to sweet and smokey for warm weather. Longevity is just okay, maybe 6-7 hours for me. Projection gets lighter and lighter the deeper into the drydown.
Dec 15, 2019


Not getting much tobacco out of this and the booze feels like it's been silenced behind the overdose of cinnamon ; you can certanly find other offerings that are better priced than this one; wont repurchase.
Sep 20, 2019


I have a much lengthier, more detailed review of Side Effect on another website, but rather than copy and paste it here I thought I'd write a shorter, different review for Basenotes.

I went out to dinner tonight to a nice restaurant and I wanted to wear something a little special, a little more elegant and warm than my typical daily wear choices which involve a lot of fresh citrus notes, mint, and clean woods--so I chose Side Effect. It was the perfect choice.

Side Effect occupies the Tabac Rouge, Tobacco Vanille, Ambre Narguile, Herod dimension. It's largely centered around cinnamon, tobacco, vanilla, and rum. As a matter of fact, when I look up at the top of this page at its note pyramid, I see that those are the only notes that are listed in its pyramid. So it's a pretty simple fragrance. To break down by percentage, I'd say that it's 30% Cinnamon, 30% Rum, 20% tobacco, and 20% vanilla. My favorite note among these is the rum. Side Effect has an excellent rum note--it strikes the perfect balance between booze and spice and ends up smelling quite realistic as well. Its prominence in the composition is what sets it apart from the fragrances I mentioned previously, as none of them feature rum at all, let alone as one of the leading accords. The other notes are also very nice. The cinnamon has a good, piquant bite; the tobacco is smooth and fresh and resembles a quality pipe tobacco or perhaps even more, golden tobacco leaves rolled in a premium cigar; and the vanilla is smooth and creamy, like a dark vanilla ice cream, emerging later in the base and giving everything a nice, gourmand sort of finish. And of course everything works in harmony.

This is a time-tested and true combination of notes that always smells good together and it's no different here with Initio Side Effect. But what I like about Side Effect, and why it worked so well for me tonight when I went out to dinner, is its strength and how its projection is calibrated. Side Effect is not a loud, strong fragrance. It's politely restrained, never shouting or interfering with things outside its space. At the same time, it has persistent, steady presence. I was able to smell the fragrance all throughout dinner, but it was never even slightly distracting or intrusive .In the cold night air walking to and from the restaurant, it caught the breeze and escorted us on our stroll, lending just enough of its scent to be charming and enjoyed. And when I eventually came home, I didn't even want to take my sweater off because it smelled so good with the couple shots I sprayed under my shirt. This is what I think you will either like about Side Effect, or dislike about it. In my opinion, Side Effect is an example of how this combination of notes should be presented--never too loud or overwhelming but always steady and present. Its restraint shows class, and reveals the elegance of the notes. Too loud and they feel cheap and obvious, a tacky gourmand thrill meant to impress the novice; too soft and they're charm is lost, never to be fully enjoyed. Surely, some will find its restraint too subtle for their own tastes. They'll be looking for the wallop of Tobacco Vanille or the high intensity of Herod. They won't find it here. Side Effect is a grown-up's gourmand and don't get me wrong--you'll definitely smell it and it definitely has solid presence--it just doesn't beat you over the head with it. The ingredients are top notch, without a scratchy or discordant note in sight, and its classic theme is sure to be enjoyed by many. And again, while the previously mentioned fragrance seem to mostly focus on tobacco in combination with some of the other notes, Side Effect has a unique rum accord playing a central role throughout which makes it somewhat unique. Final rating: 9/10, and a definite Thumbs up.
Mar 17, 2019

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