Kai Fragrance Oil was created by brand owner Gaye Straza Rappaport in 2000. Since then it has achieved a kind of cult status. The scent has reportedly been adopted by many stars from the performance industry, ranging from Reese Witherspoon and Pamela Anderson to Tommy Lee. Looking at the press on the Kai website and remembering other names like that of Julia Roberts, it appears to be easier to ask the question: who in Hollywood did not wear Kai at one point in their lives? Hollywood celebrities seem to love simple, yet sexy skin scents, and this is one of them.
All joking aside, I felt I needed to test the scent as it is still ubiquitous and also in order to report on the differences between the fragrance oil and the newer eau de parfum version, a little puzzling question that arises regularly on forums. Rappaport explained to Elle that coming up with a new alcohol-based version took some work and effort and was motivated by their cutomers' requests "But it took three years since mists tend to be lighter than oils and I wanted to preserve the integrity of the original,"...
Kai means "ocean" in Hawaiian. It is a gardenia-based perfume that was inspired by Rappaport's own wedding bouquet when she tied the knot in Hawaii. It is supposed to evoke a "holiday island". Notes, besides gardenia, are exotic white flowers and cucumber.
Kai the oil, as opposed to the edp, offers a richer white tropical bouquet accord from the start, in which notes of freshly crushed, green, sappy leaves are more apparent than in the edp version. The oil is greener and sweeter than the edp, with not surprisingly, an oilier, less dry feel, even to the nose.
The edp I am unfortunately not able to use as a spray mist as I only received a sample of it. The initial accord is less colorful, more discreet than the oil, with subtle nuances this time of fresh yellow bananas, but certainly not like in Coquette Tropique which smells like banana in a sundae ice-cream. The edp at first has a sharper, woodsier, and drier character and is more subdued than the oil.
Initially, I tended to prefer the oil because it offers a richer, lusher feel in the opening of the scent. With time, the edp shows its own qualities. It has better projection and sillage, it seems, than the oil; the notes soar more having added transparency. The oil is still richer but stays closer to the skin although it also offers some nice, lighter, citrusy accents.
Ultimately, it might be a choice for you between putting on some Kai more for yourself, or for others. If you tend to have a dry skin, the oil will probably work better for you. I would also say that the edp is cleaner-smelling, more abstract, more sophisticated in the end, while the oil is more realistic- and sensual-smelling.
The edp I see someone wearing with a dress, the oil goes well with a bikini, in the eye of my mind.
The oil in a roller-ball bottle retails for $45 and the edp in a spray flacon for $65.