Shock, Horror! – CK One Shock for Him & For Her Perfume Review

CK One Shock

Ahh flankers, there is nothing within the glorious world of perfume more guaranteed to make my eyes roll. Don’t get me wrong, there are some pretty good flankers on the market, take Guerlain’s Shalimar Parfum Initial or Chanel’s No 5 Eau Premiere for example. But on the whole the majority of flankers stink (see Marc Jacobs Bang Bang), they are a cheap way of marketing a new fragrance without having to come up with a new name or bottle and tend to carry no ingenuity whatsoever.

CK One Shock for Him and for Her are the latest in a long line of flankers to Calvin Klein’s iconic Unisex fragrance CK One, originally launched in 1994. With CK One Shock they have released “Two sassy new fragrances that flaunts youth innate sense of provocation” [1] Calvin Klein has proved to be the king of flankers over the years, the majority of which have been pretty terrible so I did not approach these two with high hopes.

Last week my good friend Cara and I spent an evening discussing concepts in fragrance as part of her Instability-in-Stability project, if we’d had more time we would have definitely discussed the concept behind CK One Shock for Him & for Her. I find it baffling that CK would launch masculine and feminine flankers to a unisex fragrance, it just doesn’t make sense and is further proof that neither of these fragrances have anything to do with the original, they share nothing but the name.

CK One Shock For Him

CK One Shock for Him

The Notes

Mandarin, Cucumber, Red Bull Accord, Pepper, Cardamom, Tobacco, Ambrene, Musk and Patchouli [2]

How Does it Smell?

CK One Shock for Him isn’t as awful as I thought it would be, in fact it’s fairly decent (there’s strong emphasis on the ‘fairly’ there). The top notes are full of vague citrus notes, followed by the obligatory pepper note, because lets face it, you cannot release a fragrance at the moment without including at least some pepper.

The notes list above mentions a Red Bull Accord, and yes this did send my eyes rolling again, yes they are starting to feel pretty sore by this point, and no I don’t really detect it, which is good because as far as I am concerned Red Bull is pretty disgusting. There are hints of tobacco, dark chocolate and patchouli throughout Shock for Him’s development but the main problem with the fragrance is that there is a HUGE synthetic amber standing in the way. In this care the material used is Ambrene and it adds a rich, warm and creamy quality, that whilst being pleasant it is just too prevalent within the formula for the other notes to be noticed.

The ambrene does die down towards the end and what’s left is a relatively nice blend of sweet amber and warm musk. All in all, CK One Shock for Him is a nice fragrance with some decent qualities but it certainly isn’t worthy of the CK One name and it wouldn’t be something I would feel the need to own.

CK One Shock for HerCK One Shock for Her

The Notes

Blackberry, Peony, Poppy, Cocoa, Narcissus, Jasmine, Vanilla, Patchouli, Amber and Musk [3]

How Does it Smell?

Truly terrible. That may sound a little harsh but CK One Shock for Her joins the legions of sickly sweet and candied fruity florals that have flooded the market over the last few years. Shock for Her starts with a barrage of blackberry, it comes out of the sprayer thick and tooth achingly sweet. My initial thought when trying Shock for Her for the first time was ‘This smells like Gummi Bears’, and it does, personally I don’t mind eating Gummi Bears, but the prospect of smelling like one doesn’t fill me with joy.

There are flowers here but they are indistinguishable, the general impression is ‘floral’ but again they are amped up to their optimum level of sweetness. The candied sugar never really dies out but it does soften considerably as the fragrance dries down. The base predominately features a sweet, synthetic smelling musk of no real interest and it rounds off what I would consider a pretty terrible fragrance.


CK One Shock for Him & for Her are available in 50ml, 100ml and 200ml Eau de Toilette, they can be purchased from most department stores and online retailers and prices range from £23 to £48.


This review is based on samples of CK One Shock For Him & For Her provided by


[2] & [3] Now Smell This

Image 1

Image 2 & 3 


31 thoughts on “Shock, Horror! – CK One Shock for Him & For Her Perfume Review

  1. Ah that Red Bull, I saw the note before I read your comment about it. Eyes rolling, tick. Just looking at the bottle I thought, yep, they know their demographic and the red bull confirms it. It’s all about the marketing, strengthening belonging and brand loyalty. Whatever blows your hair back 😉

  2. As far as the “red bull” accord: I went to Calvin Klein’s website when these were released (I get all the emails) and there was NO mention of “energy drinks” nor Red Bull…only tangerine, cucmber and lavender (in the TOP) and maybe some people think RED BULL smells like a soapy (somewhat floral), citrusy and “watery green” combination…LOL

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  4. Whilst I totally and completely agree with you re the whole flankers and their “scamming & lazy” ways. Most not worth owning even if just for a pretty bottle. (Not that CK One’s “alcoholic-vodka-chic” bottles were ever worth owning ;o) …
    And I absolutely agree with you re the atrocious & shockingly diabetic “Shlock for Her” being nothing short of useless. ~ So unnecessary ! …
    I must however completely disagree with your assessment of “Shock for Him”. Which I must admit not only came as an astonishing surprise, but soon became my guilty pleasure. In fact, I believe it’s accomplished composition far too good to be merely relegated to flanker status. I think it’s good enough to deserve it’s very own name and bottle. (Plus I believe it would probably sell better too had it been !?)
    It also starts off a touch on the “too sweet & fruity” side, not near as much as it’s saccharined sibling, yet enough to almost give me pause. However, it soon settles into a much warmer and such a comforting scent, with it’s delicious tobacco-y choco-patch’ amber’d woods. In an everlasting drydown I found so damned addictive it finally won me over.
    ~ Basically, the only thing I’ve found shocking about “Shock”, is just how much I’ve enjoyed it. It’s certainly miles better than I’d expected.
    (But then, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for “ambers”, in whichever form they come, I suppose. So, ……. )

    Oh & P.S. : It does indeed have an enery-drink-like “red-bull” reminiscent accord, as I can distinctly smell it blooming about half way thru it’s progression. Thankfully it does not stick around for long and I don’t particularly mind it. (It just reads somewhat red-berry/cranberry fruity). Though I do much prefer the scent once this note’s taken flight ;o)

    • Thanks for your comments!

      That’s the great thing, we all smell something different. I think that CK One Shock for Him isn’t terrible at all, I think it’s fairly decent, and yes it would have probably made a good stand-alone fragrance rather than a flanker.

      Thankfully I don’t smell any of the Red Bull accord, I hate the stuff 😀

      • Yes, I too can’t stand to actually drink the stuff, but I don’t particularly mind the way it smells though. … One note I did thankfully not detect at all, (which almost caused me to ignore Shock altogether), was the “cucumber” note.

        Also, you know the “HUGE synthetic amber” you mentioned was your main problem with SfH? I actual suspect that is due mainly to the Ambrene used, (even though you mention it adds a “rich, warm & creamy quality”).
        “Ambrene Acetal” or methoxymethoxycyclododecane (*how’s that for a mouthful*) is a synthetic amber which adds a dry-dusty/woody-ceder/ambergris type scent. It is certainly quite “rich” (especially with the added fruit-sweetness) and I think the most likely candidate for your “dislike”.
        ~ Personally, I don’t think it smells anything like actual authentic ambergris, but I do luv the way it smells anyway. Being one of my fave synthetic “ambers”.
        (& probably the main contribuent for my enjoyment of SfH).

      • I have no issue with Ambrene as a note, I just think it is overused in Shock for Him, too much of a good thing if you catch my drift. The Ambrene/synthetic amber stands in the way of the other notes.

  5. Yep, I can see your point ! I suppose it is somewhat on the “overdosed” side.

    I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I think it some “masterpiece”, which most assuredly it’s not. It’s more to do with the fact that it so surpassed my expectations that I felt I needed to defend it somewhat. Because had I not tried SfH before I’d read your analysis/review of it, your mention of “a huge synthetic amber” added to my already low expectation, would’ve probably deterred me from even sampling it. When in fact that would have been a shame as I was instead pleasantly surprised.
    So I thought by adding a different perspective my comment might just encourage some other probable reader of yours to give it a chance, rather than just write it off as “too synthetic” and/or not worthy of even a sampling.

    But as you so rightly said, everyone’s sense of smell and appreciation is entirely unique, so experience scents differently. … I mean, I was recently reluctantly swayed to purchase Aquolina’s “super-cheapo” Blue Sugar only because I’d read (more than one !) reviewer state it was an almost dead-ringer for Micaleff’s Note Vanillee. However, though both contain a vanilla/licorice combo, I was seriously baffled how anyone could even think these similar, let alone a “dead-ringer” for one another (???). … Also, out of the many (+70 odd) reviews I noticed not a single mention of BS’s central and really prominent Cilantro note. (Again, WTF ???). Besides the vanillla&candy-floss, I found BS all about the coriander leaves rather more so than licorice.
    So am amazed how most everyone could be missing it ?? … And of course, (to me at least) smells nothing like the boozy and delicious “soli-nilla” Note Vanillee. (Which thankfully contains zero Cilantro !)
    I think besides everyone’s differing senses of smell, another thing that adds to the confusion is correct note recognition. People seem to miss (or smell less) what they don’t recognise, which affects the way they perceive a scent.

    • I see your point and of course I welcome individual view points here, after all a varied and lively discussion really adds to the experience.

      My reviews are a single view point and I would always encourage my readers to sample fragrances for themselves, one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure after all.

      However, I would say that I didn’t write Shock for Him off as ‘too synthetic’, on the whole I think it is a fairly decent fragrance, a point which was made during the review, but I stand by the point that the synthetic amber used doesn’t allow much room for the other notes to develop.

      As for correct note recognition, I can only call it as I see it.

  6. Again, please don’t get me wrong. Just in case you misinterpreted my intention, my comment of “correct note recognition” was NOT a disguised hint or “back handed insult” aimed in your direction. :o) Not at all ! If I thought this the case I would certainly not even bother reading your blogg & reviews, which the majority of the time I’m actually in accord. …
    Yet I do believe it’s unfortunate that the majority of perfume reviewers online don’t have the first clue what they’re smelling, yet still believe they’re qualified enough to critique them ! – (And yes, I know everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, and that’s just fine. But then, if they insist on sharing it, I think they should at very least brush-up on “correct note recognition” before doing so, rather than style themselves as an authority yet offering up a load of incorrect rubbish. After all, of what use is an uninformed opinion ? In which case I’d rather they just keep it to themselves rather than spread confusion. Just “an opinion” and “a review” should be two different things.) …
    *sorry, mini-rant over* :o)

    And, I know u did not say the entire of SfH as “too synthetic”, but I’m sure you’re well aware how quickly people are prone to misinterpret what’s being written online, (especially when quickly skimming over interviews during “office time”). ;o)

    But I agree, we all can only “call it as one sees it” … and … the “right balance” of ingredients we each find aesthetically pleasing differs greatly dependant on our degree of like/dislike of them.
    Which is why I think it’s almost impossible to find a perfume reviewer who happens to share your “nose dynamics” & “scent-aesthetic”. And unless you actually find one, ‘fume reviews are merely “what-it-smells-like-to-someone-else-only-but-will-NOT-smell-the-same-to-u-so-why-even-bother” misleading. :o) …
    But, since I still read them anywayz, ;o) personally I find the most helpful reviews the ones that try to remain as accurately objective as possible when describing a scent, (rather than “opinions” which are of little help) ~ Not an easy feat to find (or even write !). But then, I suppose that’s always been the main problem with critiques in general :o)

    But, I’ll not bother u any further. … And thanx for the reviews (which I do enjoy reading, by the way ! :o)

    • I can see what you’re saying. The good thing about the internet is that there is a wealth of different blogs all with a different ‘voice’ and message, I guess it’s just a case of sifting through them to find the ones that speak to you.

      Of course I wouldn’t want to discourage you from commenting in the future 😀

  7. P.S. …
    Again, for fear of being misinterpreted, I thought I should quickly add : When it comes to your ‘fume reviews specifically I actually am interested in your “opinions” too. As I just enjoy reading them, even if I might not agree with all.

    (My vitriol is mostly directed elsewhere – *wink*)

  8. Again, what is wrong with me tonight …. NOT “mostly directed elsewhere” … “Entirely directed elsewhere”, is what I meant to say ! 🙂

  9. I guess everyone has a difference of opinion. Our body chemistry has to do with the way scents come off. The way it smells on paper may not be the way it smells on actual skin and it won’t be the same for me as it is for someone else. My friend and I both tried this perfume on today and we both fell in love with it. It is very sweet, but those are the fragrances I tend to lean towards. I have not stopped smelling it and loving it since I left the department store. In my opinion this was a pretty unfair review, but that was just your opinion of it.

  10. I own CK One Shock, and I have to say that I was impressed. The longevity is impressive. I only wish they took the time to give this fragrance a new name, because it has nothing to do with the original. I like the tobacco note. I also have CK One Shock Street Edition (a flanker of a flanker) and that one is bad.

    • Flankers of flankers tend never to be good. I think we’ve even seen flankers of flankers of flankers – the perfume world has gone mad!

      I liked Shock too, perhaps not enough to shell out for it, but I think it was well done and agree that it should have been a new launch rather than a flanker – it’s just too confusing and the scent has NOTHING to do with the original CKONE.

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  12. When you called CK One Shock for Her a “sickly sweet…” my first thought was SOLD!

    I love so-called “flankers” and I think that Calvin Kleins are amazing. Thanks for the review

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