Category Archives: Health and Beauty

E Coudray Ambre et Vanille: Irresistible Me

 

E._Coudray_Ambre_Et_Vanille
Escentual

 

Excuse me, I’ve been away but I’m back now.  I went camping in West Wales and smelled lots of interesting smells, none of which were from a bottle, some of which I am in no hurry to revisit (wet shoes, calorgas), and some which were delightful (wildflowers, grass, burning logs, ozone).

Now that I’m back in the land of civilisation, the current Wales temperature is turning my thoughts to Autumn already.  No, I’m not wishing my life away, but overcast and dull seems to be the default weather this August. This has had me turning to warmer scents and away from my beloved hesperide section.

e coudray vanilla

Do you ever spray a sample and sniff it, and find yourself quite unable to stop? Thus was my reaction to E Coudray Ambre et Vanille.

Now, you may recall my recent article about vanilla, and about how I felt that it had been cheapened, but the right stuff is still GOOD. Well, this treasure fits right into that category.  I am helpless to move my nose and may need smelling salts.

Ambre et  Vanille opens with the kind of vanilla that smells  unprocessed.  It’s like licking a vanilla pod before it falls into the hands of the lets-make-cheap-copies scoundrels.  This is like cold, rich butter.  There’s no sugar, just a silky wood feel to it that smells both elegant and cool. It’s opening notes are framed by bitter citrus: oranges and limes. These are hard to distinguish, but they take off the rich edges, which in my opinion, stops this smelling too crème brulee in the first few minutes.coudray retroIn the middle there are stately and sober flowers, namely iris and heliotrope, both doing their job quietly.  The vanilla, however, really lets go on the dance floor and sweeps everything under its warm, smoky broom with a touch of robust patchouli.  The amber is there, but is never as dominant as this glorious vanilla with its edges tinged in cinamon and tonka.   It is saved by a lack of syrup, yet keeps its warmth. This is a gourmand for the anti gourmand i.e yours truly.

e coudray selection

Remarkably, this was first created in 1935. I doubt very much that we are smelling the original formula post IFRA regulations, but this is a beautifully blended vanilla scent that bears no resemblance to the synthetics  that are so over-used on today’s saturated beauty counters.

E Coudray has been creating fragrance since  1822, despite several changes of hands. Their classic scents and ornate glass bottles deserve to be on every dressing table, namely mine.

Stockists

You can buy E Coudray Ambre et Vanille from Escentual, Amazon.UK or House of Fraser.  I find prices are reasonable at around £60 for a big 100ml bottle.  Sample is my own, as is my opinion. I can’t actually remember where the sample came from, so if I have forgotten to say thank you, please forgive me.

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Introducing Fragrance and Autism

theme banner f and autism

Fragrance can enhance a mood, jog a memory or make you feel good about yourself in the blink of an eye.  The industry is worth billions and shows no sign of slowing down.

However, huge medical advances and discoveries are being made into the world of olfactory wonder and its effect on the brain.  The effect of fragrance on wellbeing and memory is being looked at in ways that go far beyiond the anecdotal.

Aromatherapy is nothing new, but did you know that fragrance is playing a part in Alzheimer’s Research? And did you know that it even has benefits for some people on the Autistic Spectrum?

One father went a step further and combined his involvement in the fragrance industry (Murano Home)  with ways of offering his autistic son calm and comfort among the maelstrom of overwhelming emotions that many people with ASD can experience.

blackdifusser
Fragrance and Autism

Nigel tried several combinations of room fragrances with his son until he found combinations that had a noticable calming effect. From there came  Fragrance and Autism, a company created to offer benefits to those with ASD via the medium of scent.

I was sent two sample roll on bottles recently and would like to tell you about them below, because I thought they were terrific.  Incidentally, roll on is an excellent way of applying fragrances since it doesn’t get in your eyes and up your nose and is hard to waste.

Fragrance and Autism donates 20% of all their profits to the National Autistic Society and welcomes contact via their website.

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A beautiful mixture of blended oils, in a natural grapeseed oil carrier, these products can help with relaxation, stress and transition, learning, anxiety, depression, isolation. – Fragrance and Autism

Here’s the full list of what’s available in rollerballs, room diffusers or in essential oils.

Lavender & Melissa, Lavender & Camomile, Coriandre, Lavender & Coriander, Thyme & Lemon, Rosemary, Peppermint & Lime, Grapefruit & Bergamot, Sweet Orange, Eucalyptus,
Lemon Grass, Rhubarb & Ginger.

Here’s my review of the two rollerballs I received. Both are stunning and very long-lasting, with the essential oils suspended in a natural grapeseed oil suspension.

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Lavender and Melissa

Lavender has long been known as having soothing qualities, but add it to Melissa, ( also known as lemon balm) and you have a beautiful soothing combination of oils that reminded me so much of my late grandmother’s garden, that it gave me a jolt. The scent brings the garden indoors and nature often has a grounding effect. This smells clean, pure and herbal and  offers a chink of light in among the messiness of modern life.

grapefruit

Grapefruit and Bergamot

Sharp and uplifting, this can feel as fresh as opening a window in a stuffy room.  Grapefruit, in fact many citrus fruits, are known for the sunny, feel good nuance  they can add to scent. The grapefruit note in this is sharp and sparkling, like homemade lemonade, and it keeps it up alongside the bergamot (lime).  This is a feel-good scent with long lasting properties.

Beehive Diffuser from Fragrance and Autism
Beehive Diffuser from Fragrance and Autism

Find out More

Here’s the website for Fragrance and Autism and here ‘s the link to the National Autistic Society. Incidentally, these oils are also designed to reduce anxiety and stress , so their benefits are far reaching, even outside the Autism spectrum. Parents can have a tough time too.

How to buy

Here’s the link to how to buy them. Prices are very reasonable, starting at under £5 for a 10ml rollerball.

Acknowledgements- with many thanks to Nigel, who I met at the Jasmine awards back in March. The two rollerballs are much appreciated and  wonderful quality.

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Vanilla Fragrances for People who Don’t Like Vanilla

vanilla collage

In the past few years, vanilla has appeared in just about everything you care to name from cheap candles to mass produced mainstream fragrances to room sprays. It’s enough to put you off. In fact, that’s exactly what it did and I confess to having become a vanilla swerver.

However, several vanilla fragrances have turned my head and made me look again. From under the mass market tsunami of vanilla abuse come rays of hope, and reminders that vanilla, before its over exposure, was one of the greats and still can be.  The right vanilla, blended with flair and instinct, can give heart and warmth to a fragrance, and offers respite from the sickly cupcake confections and synthetic waxy imitations.

Huff post
Huff post

Here’s a roundup of the vanilla scents I would never tire of wearing. If you’re no vanilla fan, these beauties will turn your head and change your mind. Not all vanilla is equal.

Tauerville Vanilla Flash

vanilla-flash-bttleVanilla is not the first thing you will notice about Vanilla Flash. In fact, with me, it was the roses. Andy Tauer, a true gentleman and frankly, a modest genius too, has created a vanilla scent that frames the vanilla rather than allowing it to take over. Here vanilla is teamed with spice, tobacco, roses and patchouli and is chilly rather than warm.

My review is here. I could wear this all day and all night. Bravo Andy. Here’s the link to the Tauerville website.

Aftelier Perfumes Vanilla Smoke

vanillasmoke1If I could sum up cosy in one scent it would be this. The wonderful Mandy Aftel, who works only with natural ingredients, has taken the warm heart of vanilla and added it to the subtle wood smoke of a hearth. One sniff and my brain thinks it’s Christmas. You can read my review here and buy it from here.

 

Agonist Vanilla Marble

vanillamarblebottleThis is another scent that portrays vanilla as chilled rather than warm and it works to great effect.  In fact, I sent my dear friend Pippa a sample of this prior to her wedding and she chose it as her wedding day fragrance. She made a beautiful Edwardian bride and she smelled glorious. You can read my review here and  buy Agonist from here.

 

DSH Perfumes Vanilla Chantilly

DSH perfumes
DSH perfumes

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz mixes and macerates her stunning potions in Boulder, Colorado and is always a joy to deal with. Like Mandy Aftel, Dawn also uses natural ingredients and Vanilla Chantilly manages to take the buttery woodiness of vanilla without adding any sugar and syrup.  It smells both clean and warm, both cool and dark. Dawn has kept the sticky woody pod character of vanilla and blended it into a musky, spicy accord with a hint of almonds.  I get so many compliments! You can buy it from the DSH website.

Dior Hypnotic Poison

hypnoticThis is the richest deepest vanilla on the High Street. With hints of almond, this is pure luxury with nary a cup cake nor a Pound Shop candle in sight. This feels wonderful to wear and really opened my eyes to how great vanilla can be.  My review of it is here.  You can buy it from allbeauty.com and John Lewis.

Library of Fragrance Play Doh

PlayDoh-30_grandeIt may have a playful name, but it’s worth taking seriously.  This is a superb vanilla scent that yes, smells like Playdoh, but then Playdoh smells like vanilla. In fact, this reminded me of marzipan, which always gets my mouth watering.  Here’s the link  to my review and here’s the link to the Library of Fragrance website.

4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent on The Planet Ever (IMHO)

4160 Tuesdays
. 4160 Tuesdays

Last but by no means least, comes this cult classic from Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays.  I always think of the vanilla in this as golden and fuzzy, so add that to a cup of Earl Grey with its bergamot infusion, and stir in the scent of antique dark wood, and this is the pleasing result.  It’s good vanilla, rich and warm, with not a cupcake in sight. You can read my review here. and buy it from here.

Over to you

What’s your opinion on vanilla? Do you have a favourite vanilla scent? Do let me know, I always love to hear from you.

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The IScent Review of The Perfume Society Men’s Edit Box

mens edit

The other day someone told me that men wear aftershave and women wear perfume. Now, as you can imagine, I begged to differ. My opponent was adamant. Men can’t wear perfume and women can’t wear after shave.  Since my adversary was my seven-year-old son, I couldn’t help feeling that I’d failed him as a mother. He also told me there’s no such name as Kenneth and that he can outrun a Jaguar, but I was less worried about that.

Let me be clear, as a politician would say (can’t remember which one, probably all of them), after shave is fragrance.  Perfume is fragrance. Whatever it says on the label,  if you like how it smells on you, you can wear it.

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I do occasionally stage a heist into my husband’s side of the bedroom, but seeing as I chose them all for him, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Those nice people at the Perfume Society recently sent me the Men’s Edit Discovery Box, and discovery is the right word. Reader, I have been enlightened. It’s all very well my bemoaning the fact that men don’t wear enough roses, but how about I put my money where my mouth is and wear more so called “mascs” myself? Well, after trying the Men’s Edit box, I can assure you that there are at least three I will be buying full bottles of. Join me why don’t you?

Here’s what’s in the box. I’m going to write mini reviews below and shall focus on some in more detail later in the blog

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 Parfums de Marly Layton 1.2ml eau de parfum (normally £145 for 75ml)

Parfums de Marly is a brand that’s new to me. In the previous Perfume Society Discovery Box- latest launches, the women’s fragrance, Delina, was a classy and distinctive mélange of rhubarb and the pinkest of flowers. Layton is of the same high quality and classy distinction. It opens with apples and lavender and calms down into a multi layered wood-fest of every wood from light to to dark to smoky. A flourish of vanilla warms it up. It reminds me of a cosy oak paneled tobacconist. Beware- the middle phase blew my socks off.

dunhill icon elite advert

  • Dunhill Icon Elite 2ml eau de parfum (£95 for 100ml)

The nose behind this is Carlos Benaim, who also made Dior Pure Poison, Viktor anf Rolf Flowerbomb and the original Ralph Lauren Polo fragrance, to name but a few from his staggeringly prestigious portfolio, My primary reaction to Dunhill Icon was “Aha! Suede”.

It’s a leathery nubuck scent, somehow stronger than suede, which I always identify as a softer toned down version of  leather. Icon is dark and tarry, and so leathery that it almost tipped me over into liquorice territory. Addictively sniffable, this smells like the bare chest of a man who has just removed his leather jacket. Trust me, that’s A Good Thing.

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  • Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac 2ml eau de parfum (£95 for 100ml)

I adore this classic  (pronounced Foy de Tabac) and declare it totally unisex. I reviewed it  a while back and remember that I rather fancied making my whole house smell this way. It’s the scent of a wood paneled gentleman’s club in Paris. Smoky, woody, herby, lovely.  You can read my review here.

escentric E

  • Escentric Molecules E 032ml eau de parfum (£72 for 100ml)

This opens with big stringent, clean scented lime.  With a hint of black pepper. The vetiver comes out straight away, and the whole thing stays that way for a few hours. After that, the base is sandalwood and clean musk. The lime and vetiver combo never quits though, and this had me thinking of dazzling white shirt cuffs and expensive suits. Yum

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  • Escentric Molecules M 03 2ml eau de parfum (£72 for 100ml)

The only note listed fior this is Vetiver. However, I beg to differ. This stunnjing fragrance smelled like scorched palm leaves for a few seconds then disappeared.  Then it came back as a sort of sharp, green citrus with a bitter orange edge.  Throughout the day, it gradually morphed into what I can only describe as a grapefruit chypre.  It’s the most vivid grapefruit scent: pith, juice and peel, with an earthy green base.  I completely fell headlong in love with this and I’m so glad I wandered out of my comfort zone, because I would never have stumbled across this otherwise.   Definitely a full bottle scent.

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  • Clive Christian Nobile VIII Magnolia 1.5ml eau de parfum (£350 for 50ml)

Getting my mitts on a Clive Christian sample is always a rare treat. They don’t come along every day, that’s for sure. This magnolia fragrance is utterly transporting, and as a magnolia fan, I loved it.  Again, I call this unisex. I’d marinate in it if I could. Longevity is outstandingly good. I shall be reviewing this one in more detail soon.

imortelle

  • Clive Christian Nobile VIII Immortelle 

1.5ml eau de parfum (£350 for 50ml)

This stuff really packs a bunch. Immortelle is also known as the everlasting flower- a bit like  a yellow cornflower. It has a spicy, faintly curry like nuance, but here it is overtaken by the robust vetiver. It’s a strong, statement fragrance that shouldn’t be worn before breakfast, but should be strongly encouraged for evening.

jimmy choo man ice

  • Jimmy Choo MAN ICE2ml eau de toilette (from £30 for 30ml)

This is an invigorating grapefruit and lemon scent that reminded me a little of Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien. It’s fantastically light and revitalizing  with a mossy finish and I’ve no idea why it’s “For Men” because I am seriously getting myself a full bottle.

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  • Initio Parfums Magnetic Blend 7 1.2ml eau de parfum (£154 for 90ml)

Amplifying the power of pheromonal molecules to provoke instinct through a sublime breed of violence.

initio adIt’s a lofty claim and one that’s hard to talk about objectively. On Fragrantica, the description doesn’t do it justice- the only note listed is musk. However, this musk will react differently on your skin than it will on mine. On mine it smells like plasticine. On you it may smell different. The jury’s out, but I remain intrigued. Maybe in six hours’ time I will become irresistible to all. I’ll get back to you.

EDIT- six hours later my cats keep sniffing my arm where I sprayed this but I can smell nothing. Don’t be put off, I get the feeling this is like one of those lipsticks that changes colour according to your body heats. Results will vary.

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  • Bentley Momentum1.8ml eau de toilette (£59 for 100ml)

This has huge sillage and longevity and is full of ambergris, sandalwood, moss and musk, described as an oriental Fougere, the Nose behind it is the legendary Nathalie Lorson, who has created more major fragrances than I could list, but I can tell you that she made Black Opium, so she knows a thing or two about big hitters, as this one certainly is.

Photo from Sports Illustrated Getty Images
Photo from Sports Illustrated Getty Images
  • Cristiano Ronaldo Legacy 2ml eau de toilette (£29 for 30ml)

Finally, my sons and I have some middle ground to talk about. Football meets fragrance. This is a very decent offering in Ronaldo’s name (let’s not even pretend celebrities make them, OK?). This a leathery floral musk with daring hints of peony and violet. I say daring because football fans are not known for their penchant for peony. I am happy to be corrected. This is nothing too edgy or original, and you can only find the flowers if our nose seeks them out, but it is the same vein as a good David Beckham scent, only with more fuzzy violets. The Jury’s out on whether it helps you win football tournaments.

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  • Aromatherapy Associates Refinery Eye Gel15ml – worth £31

A generous sample in manly grey packaging. I like that there are other goodies in Perfume Society Discovery Boxes in sizes generous enough to have a decent trial of the product.

penhaligons moisturiser

  • Penhaligon’s No. 33 Moisturiser 5ml (normally £38 for 75ml)

This comes in the cutest tube in the world. It’s perfect for an overnight stay and smells divine, as you might expect.

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Where to buy

You can buy The Perfume Society Men’s Edit from The Perfume Society website for £19 or £15 to subscribers. Subscribing cots just £25  a year and gives a wide range of benefits of which discounted Discovery Boxes are just one. My box was sent ot me by the Perfume Society in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and this was not a sponsored post.

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Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman EDP

provocative ad

I’ve been circling this one for a while and wondering how to review it. It sort of does and doesn’t fit into a neat category.  It’s sort of a fruity floral and a spicy woody scent.  It’s sort of provocative but you could wear it to work without inadvertently turning anyone on.   In other words,  it has cast its net very wide.

Created in 2004, the Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman campaign was fronted by my fellow Welshwoman Catherine Zeta Jones.  We also happen to be the same age, but the similarity ends there.  We won’t get confused as twins anytime soon.

provocative woman bottle

Provocative Woman opens with quince, raspberry, peach, ginger and lotus.  The middle notes are apricot, freesia, papaya and orchid.  The basenotes are hinoki wood, amber, red amber, sandalwood and cedar.

So you can see my problem.  All the fruit from the fruit salad is in here, but with added spice and heat from the ginger and a warm woody finish.  It’s hard to pick out the individual notes. It’s sort of a fruit Pimms accord with a touch of chai tea . There’s a lovely clean whiff of freshly washed hair in among the jelly but the flowers struggle to come to the fore.

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All in all, I can’t help liking this crowd pleasing effort, even if it is a little bit of a mish mash.  I didn’t used to be a fan of fruity florals but I smelled so many different ones that I was won over, and this one has won me over too.

I think the youth market is missing a trick with this fruity number and may well rule it out as being a “Mum” perfume.  In fact, the fruitiness is fun and light and even playful.   The woods don’t get too dark or deep and the faint, faint flowers offer a little flourish of girliness.  I wouldn’t call this provocative,  but it’s certainly womanly.  It’s also a massive bargain. My bottle is a 30ml EDP and lasting power is not bad at around four hours.

Stockists

Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman is widley available. Try  Amazon UK and Half Price Perfumes to name but two.  Opinions are my own, as is this bottle.

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I Scent You a Night: The Fragrance Foundation UK Awards 2017

Ruby, you are not coming.

As you may have gathered, last Thursday  was the UK Fragrance Foundation Annual Awards Night (aka the Fifis) and saw a major gathering of the great and the good in the perfume industry.  By a happy turn of events, I found my little old self there too.

I attended as a guest of the Clive Christian team, which was both an honour and a privilege and I thank them warmly for inviting me.

I hadn’t been sure that attending would even be possible, with the night being on a school night, during term time and in London, around 150 miles from South Wales where Fort Scriven is situated.  After rearranging my family’s lives in order to facilitate my attendance, and a last-minute ear infection at 5.50am from my poorly son who failed to guilt me into cancelling, I was off.

sam frock

I may have mentioned before how kind perfume people are. Their generosity and thoughtfulness is legend, and tonight was no exception. I was invited to join brilliant perfume writer Stephan Matthews and Fifi award winner and perfumer Marina Barcenilla for a meet up and catch up prior to the noise and chaos. This meant I did not have to walk in alone and when we reached the venue and I saw the sheer enormity of the event, I was wholeheartedly grateful to have people to walk in with.

There were proper paparazzi and a big sponsored backdrop for better known people than I to be photographed on.  Red carpet was everywhere- I have some on my stairs at home, but it doesn’t have the same effect and it’s a sod to hoover.   There were sequinned hosts and black tie waiters with champagne holders that could hold about thirty glasses, unlike me.  I only had one  and stuck to soft drinks thereafter.  I had names to remember and an early bus and I could not figure out where my hotel was from a map.   Adding champagne would have been a disaster.  I might still be there now, looking for the exit.

Stephan and Marina are a hoot to hang out with and I was in awe of their knowledge: not just of the industry but of the process and raw materials.  Marina, as you may know, is a talented perfumer and very modest with it.  Plus hilarious and sweary also.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney
photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

I had a chance to catch up with the charming Dariusz, aka Persolaise and a met a jolly good looking chap who looked very familiar.  I asked him what he did for a living “I’m a model” replied the charming model Oliver Cheshire.  If I was as good looking as him, I’d be a massive big head, but he wasn’t in the slightest and was delightful.

selfie with stephan and persolaise
L-R, Stephan Matthews, Me, Persolaise.

My chum and fume-idol Sarah McCartney arrived around then: a finalist in two categories for Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters, and looking splendid in vintage couture, with vintage buttons gleaming like jewels.  We founded a two-strong campaign to restore the evening glove.  Check out our YouTube video above that’s snowballed into double viewing figures.

It was soon time to herd us upstairs to dinner and I was separated from my companions to join my hosts on the Clive Christian table.    My eyes had popped out on stalks when on seeing goody bags on every chair, so I popped them back in and tried to look gracious and not like a goody bag greedy guts.  Which I am.

The Clive Christian table were a truly lovely team of people and I was particularly bowled over to have a chat with Victoria Christian herself who, let me tell you, smelled INCREDIBLE. (She was wearing Clive Christian V and C together).  Luckily, fragrance gatherings are one of the few occasions where you can sniff people you have only just met without getting arrested.  Also on my table, I was delighted to see Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society,  who I hadn’t seen since I attended her workshop  last Saturday.

clive christian colour
Not a bribe- I returned it post-review, like a good egg.

You will hear more from me about Clive Christian throughout the year as there are exciting launches coming up soon, so watch this space.

After being entertained 1950s style by the fabulous Bye Bye Baby- a superb Frankie Valli style singing act, the awards began in earnest. There isn’t room here to list all the winners, so follow this link to Now Smell This,  but we had a lovely compere in the form of Natasha Kaplinksy, who looked great but was too far away to sniff.

sam and marina
Double FiFi Winner, beautiful and talented Marina Barcenilla.

I was disappointed that Sarah McCartney didn’t win, but delighted that Marina Barcenilla won for Black Osmanthus.  Marina and Sarah  are true perfumers who make their own stuff,  source their own materials and get  their hands dirty.  I love perfumers who do that and if it were up to me, I’d create a special category for the dirty hands gang.

From Woman and Home magazine
From Woman and Home magazine

The Fragrance Foundation was celebrating its twenty fifth birthday that night and it was fascinating to watch a showreel of perfume ads over the last 25 years.  How things have changed!  The night was finally over, all bar the dancing, but this tired Cinders could bear no more after a very long day.   Finding the exit was like trying to leave Ikea but I just about made it out of there before I turned into a pumpkin.

Them Fragrance Foundation people sure know how to throw a party.

Goodnight, Nos da, Pyjamas.

Who are you wearing?

Samantha Scriven was dressed by The Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice Charity Shop, Cwmbran and the YMCA Shop Blackwood.  Jewellery by Marks and Spencer from four years ago.   Make up by Avon and Rimmel.   Hair by Salon Scriven and two hotel mirrors.   Scent of the Night was Le Jardin Retrouvé Tuberose Trianon.

jr-tuberose

 

How I Improved My Sense of Smell with The Perfume Society

sam smile

Some blog posts are very hard to write because I’m so afraid I won’t do them justice. This is one of them.  I was on such a high after coming back from the Perfume Society Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop that I was neither use nor ornament for about 48 hours.

lucky scarf
If ever a scarf were the right scarf for an occasion, it was my perfume scarf. It smells good too!

First of all, The Perfume Society is three years old and is the only body of its type in the world.  They know this because they googled to find a perfume society before realising there wasn’t one. The Perfume Society is the brainchild of legendary beauty editor and writer Jo Fairley and her business partner Lorna McKay.  I have been reading Jo’s work since around 2000 ish,  before blogging was invented and  back when I was a One Scent woman.   10299686_1560529210840279_596234111_a

The workshops are not just exclusive to London, so it really is worth subscribing to The Perfume Society, if only to get access to The Scented Letter and Discovery Box discounts.  The workshop I attended was in the basement of The New Moon Tapas Bar in Clifton.

It was a wonderfully informative, but informal session that made me feel like I was BFFs with everyone around the table, and not just my real life BFF Lisa, who was also there.  Jo is an engaging speaker and delivers the workshop in an accessible and inclusive way that felt like a chat with a friend except with far more “Wow! I never knew that” moments.

You may think that having written 817 blog posts about perfume that I might know a lot.  Well I know about  1% of what I actually want and need to know.   However, you very much do NOT have to be a blogger in order to attend.   For one thing, the amount of experience and knowledge you need to attend the workshop is ZERO.  No experience required.

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My perfect afternoon. Jo Fairley took this so is sadly not in it. Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

So, what happens? Well, we were made comfortable with  refreshments and introduced ourselves, which wasn’t cringy like work training, but friendly like meeting your tribe. There were six of us altogether and it was especially lovely to meet Claire, who I have been following on Instagram and talking to on the perfume group Eau my Soul.

Jo explained that part of the mission of The Perfume Society is to put us back in touch with our sense of smell, referred to by Helen Keller as “The Fallen Angel of the Senses” and she was right.   Back when we were cavewomen, we could sniff out herbs, non-toxic berries and woolly mammoths, but now our sense of smell has been blunted by modern conveniences.

The workshop goes about starting us on the path to putting this right.  We did some very interesting sniffing, giving our impressions in an atmosphere in which there was no right or wrong.  There was also a very interesting exercise in which we tried minty Green and Black’s chocolate to see if it was smell or taste that gave us the minty hit.  The answer really surprised me.  Plus, you know, Green and Blacks. *swoon* (something else we have Jo to thank for).

The third section was the bring a bottle party.  Some of it was 80% proof. Yes, I’m talking fragrance.  Prior to attending, we were asked to bring a bottle of our favourite scent.  I had to be very strict with myself and put the wheelbarrow back before leaving the house with just one: Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic.

our selection
Recognise any favourites?

My adorable colleagues, as I now thought of them,  brought a few each, so we had great fun diving on the stuff we hadn’t smelled yet and sharing opinions. On top of that we were given goody bags to take home. Reader, this was better than my birthday.

As if that wasn’t enough fun, we then got the chance to buy Discovery Boxes and the gorgeous Perfume Society Scented Skincare set at big discounts.  As if that wasn’t enough, we then go to visit a brand-new niche perfumery called Shy Mimosa, which I will write about separately, and where we also had a big discount.

aedes de venustes
The tempting shelves at Shy Mimosa

So, was it worth it going?  Did I improve my sense of smell? Yes, and yes and it was wonderful and I had several OMG moments where I made surprising discoveries and oh, my stars, what a day!

If you ever get the chance to attend one, go.  Just go.  They’re not just in London and you don’t need to know anything beforehand. If there’s not one near you, then email The Perfume Society and tell them.   They will listen.  Unless you live alone on a remote island that can only be reached by catamaran at high tide.  Apart from that, if enough people clamour, then you never know…

cocottes

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Our Modern Lives by 4160 Tuesdays: And…Breeeaaaaaathe

 

stressful-jobs (1)
Image from www.smartmeetings.com

Off the top of your head, how many pin numbers do you need to remember? How many passwords and usernames? How many social media accounts do you have? How many text messages do you need to respond to? How many emails remain unanswered?

omlThe digital age has done us all huge favours, such as Netflix and Facebook.  But there’s a downside isn’t there? The digital age is both a privilege and a curse.

The cost of living has rocketed, house prices have gone insane, roads are congested, everything is conducted via a screen and more seems to be expected of us these days.  Our modern lives are tough.  No wonder relaxing has become a life skill that many have forgotten.

Which brings me nicely to the new range of fragrances from Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays.  Yes, that introduction was a bit of a transition, but if you nodded even once,  then you’ll know where she was coming from with this collection: “Our Modern Lives.”

Alongside creating perfumes (usually on Tuesdays, hence the name), Sarah is also a yoga teacher.   She knows how to stop the white noise.

oml samples

Our Modern Lives is intended as a soothing balm to your soul. There’s a scent for when you need to look away from the damn screen (after you’ve read my blog, of course) and scents that uplift, energise and revitalize, without you having to go to a spa or anything.  I would call them Mood Scents.

Here are my impressions of them, and at the end I’ll tell where you can get hold of them. They’re not expensive either.  By the way, you can mix them all up if you like and make your own blend.

The synthetics

OML a

Butch and woody are two words that I would use to describe this, but they would also make good names for a duo of male strippers. The woods are dark and rich with lots of amber.  It might be Butch and Woody (hi guys!) but it is, like all scent in my opinion, unisex, as are all of these fragrances

OML β

Tricky to type, but gorgeous to sniff.  This starts off with a crystalline vodka scent and smells as pure as an icicle.  It reminded me a little of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Celestia, so if you like that, you might like this too.

oml my samples

The Naturals

Creating scent out of solely natural ingredients post IFRA bans and regulations  is a bit like riding a unicycle whilst crossing the road, knitting and saying your five times table.  But that’s not your problem to worry about.  When you feel like screens are sucking your eyeballs out of your face, switch them off and sniff these.

Red-Harvest- Gratitude

This is beautiful. There are red berries and raspberries and roses. Rather than being like candy, it reminded me of my childhood and of cherries.  It may give you different emotions and memories, but I am sure it will evoke happy thoughts.

orange sunset bbc
BBC

Orange-Sunset-peace

Of course, there’s going to be orange in this, and there is, but there are also neroli (steam distilled orange blossom), peaches and a hint of beautiful geranium. This may be my favourite.

photo by RHS.org
photo by RHS.org

Yellow-Sunrise-Hope

This gave me a boost of feel good citrus, like freshly squeezed orange juice,  but  also something else that I couldn’t initially put my finger on. Then it hit me: what goes with fresh orange juice?  Fresh coffee! Genius. I can smell the narcissus in this one too, giving you a little posy of flowers to go with your juice and coffee.

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Oriel Davies Gallery

Green- Leaf-New

As you may know, green is my favourite genre so I was bound to love this one, and I do. It’s so green it’s even got spinach in it, not that I could smell it, unless you count the sort of lush damp vegetal scent that hovered in the background. This has lime and mint and green mandarin essential oil.  Do you know what? After ten minutes, I could smell spinach. This is beautiful and foresty. The Popeye muscles are up to you.

Aquamarine-Waves/Wi-Fi-Clarity

mermaid redYou may recall my recent gushing reviews about Aquamarine Waves. It’s working nick name was Sea Goddess prior to its launch.

This is a marine scent with no cucumber  and melon accord- that would be too easy and lots of people have aloready done that.  Not here, no Sir.  Sarah used seaweed to get this right.   She did  filter it out afterwards, you’ll be pleased to know.

Blue Screen/Blue Horizon- Perspective

Equally good on skin or in the air around you, this is designed to aid meditation.  We spend too long on screens, and it’s not always our fault in a digital dependent society.  Many people use screens for their work and that goes round the clock now.  This beautiful scent helps you to look up and see the blue of the sky instead of the screen. Frankincense, lavender, vetiver, mint and eucalyptus all help to transport you somewhere else for a bit.

Indigo-Into the Night

Moon Set by Nancy Brace
Moon Set by Nancy Brace

This is the strongest and richest in the collection. Indigo has definite 4160 Tuesdays fingerprints over it. This is the smell of that 3 a.m. Cognac when you can’t sleep- yes, there’s cognac in it but please don’t drink it, no matter how good the party was. There’s something dark and slightly rubbery about this one. It reminds me of cannabis and vinyl records.  No bad thing. There’s also osmanthus absolute, cedarwood, rum and leathery labdanum.

It’s a mood in a bottle: after all, 3 a.m. is often called the darkest hour of the soul.

Stockists

This is a crowd funding project and it’s still possible to bag your swag by following this link. Personally, I reckon they should come in phials like a pencil case so you have a colour for every mood. It would be hard to stop at one. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have mood swings, mood slides and a mood roundabout in your head.  My samples were kindly sent to me by Team Tuesdays and Sarah, for which, many thanks.  Opinions are all my own.

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The IScent Review of The Perfume Society Scented Skincare Discovery Set

 

ScentedSkincareshopWIDGET

I love fragrance and all things that smell nice.  Now that I’m 47 I need good skincare or I end up looking like Zelda from the Terrahawks. Combine  those two things into one and you have a happy Welsh bunny with glowing skin.

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Recently, my dear scented chums at the PerfSoc (or the Mothership as I call it) sent me a Discovery Set with a difference. There are no actual perfumes or fragrances in this set, yet every item is scented.  My greedy eyes popped at the scented hand cream- I have a serious hand cream fetish. I recently went around the  house Kondo-style rounding up hand creams  and found nine.  Oops.

The Perfume Society asked me for my opinion on the Scented Skincare set, because unlike my children, they listen to me and don’t argue that I’m unfair and that it’s not even dark yet.  Sorry, I digress. Tough day.

latest skincare bundle

So here you are, my dear chums and fellow fans of good smells. This is a round up of this rather splendid set, which retails for £22 despite being worth about £75.  By the way, if you know anyone who is getting married, this makes a fantastic honeymoon present or hen weekend gift.

What’s in the bag?

Firstly, the set comes in a stylish bag with a rather lovely message on the front “be confident, be kind, be beautiful”. Couldn’t put it better myself.  Right. I’m going in.

Aromatherapy Associates Renewing Rose Body Cream 40ml (normally £38 for 200ml)

selfie rose creamThis was my absolute favourite. The scent of roses was stunning: good old fashioned garden roses-none of your modern rubbish. This scent stopped me in my tracks.  I’d wear this just for the smell alone.  I could still smell pretty wisps of roses as I went to bed.

Sukin Detoxifying Clay Masque 100ml – full size product (worth £11.49)

selfie clayThis comes in a little tub that gives you enough for several generous face pack sessions. I haven’t used it yet, but I will say that I found it very difficult not to eat it.  It smells like the most delicious marzipan and even touching it feels good. I can’t wait to get stuck in but it will definitely be when the husband and the kids are out or I’ll be all over Instagram, and not in a good way.

Weleda Pomegranate Body Lotion 20ml (normally £22.95 for 200ml)

Weleda-499x499Trust Weleda to come up with the goods. This beautiful lotion smells lightly of pomegranate and the delicious thick lotion leaves a beautiful subtle scent trail whenever you move.

MOA Fortifying Green Bath Potion 10ml (normally £27.50 for 100ml)

bathI couldn’t get the lid off because I stupidly tried all the hand cream first.  Today, I finally managed to unscrew it and have a sniff. It smells divine.  It comes in a  glass phial and the scent is bursting with green tea and mint and maybe green grass.  It’s very refreshing and perfect for Spring.

Aurelia Aromatic Repair and Brighten Hand Cream 7ml (normally £28 for 75ml)

AureliaThe scent was divine and the cream sank into my fossilized hands and made them look human again. The smell was terrific and lingered around for a good few hours.  It’s all lavender and herby citrus. Gorgeous.

This Works Sleep Plus Trouble Shooter 10ml (normally £35 for 120ml)

This-WorksThis gentle spray not only has anti-aging properties but is also supposed to aid sleep thanks to its beautiful aromatherapy scent.  You can spray it on your collarbones and shoulders for a revamped décolletage (well, we live in hope), and a good night’s sleep.  Bonus points for giving me a nice smelling pillow the following morning.

Balance Me Restore and Replenish Face Cream 15ml (normally £40 for 50ml)

Balance-MeI slathered this on before bed and looked as if I had slept for 12 hours in a dewy meadow.  My skin glowed this morning.  My cheeks were like two peaches and I didn’t look exhausted like I usually do first thing in the morning. I’ll be getting more of this for sure!

Rosalena Rock & Rose Face Oil 5ml (normally £42 for 15ml)

RosalenaA posh looking facial oil that goes a long way thanks to its little pipette style applicator. The scent is very natural and realistic, though not particularly strong. I haven’t tried it as a facial oil yet as I was covered in Balance Me Restore and Replenish Face Cream last night ( see above),  but this one’s next.

Ultrasun Face 25ml (normally from £20 for 50ml)

Ultra-SunI could tell you how great Ultrasun is or I could tell you a funny anecdote about a stupid person with pale skin, freckles and slightly gingery hair who decided to go to California in August, for goodness sake.  This person, er, we’ll call her “Pam”, used Ultrasun on her face but nothing on her legs.  Her face was a healthy glowing pale beige on her return, whereas her legs were still two different colours 18 months later from severe sunburn.  That “Pam” is so stupid.

AmieAmie New Leaf Deep Pore Exfoliating Polish 25ml (normally £5.95 for 100ml ) Haven’t tried this one yet but I did squeeze a bit out of the tube to smell it.  It has a very light floral scent and a reassuringly sandy texture to really slough those skin cells off.  I’ll be doing the old hot flannel treatment very soon.

 Stockists

You can buy this wonderful bag of treats from the Perfume Society website.  Mine was kindly provided by The Perfume Society and opinions are my own.

Over to you

How about you?  What’s your favourite non-perfume fragrance?   Do you have a favourite body lotion or face cream?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

ScentedSkincareshopWIDGET

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Flower by Kenzo: A True Modern Classic

kenzo flower

Flower by Kenzo just hasn’t been on my radar until I opened my Modern Classics Discovery Box from The Perfume Society. You know when something is so familiar that you don’t notice it anymore?  Well that must be why I didn’t actually know what Flower by Kenzo smelled like until now.  I see it everywhere and yet I pass by.  Now I’ve finally taken time to stop and smell the Flower (sorry) What a revelation!

talc

Flower by Kenzo opens with light citrus notes and atouch of herby hawthorn that beds down into soft violet and roses.  Now, you might be thinking YSL Paris when you hear violet and roses,  but this is more like very expensive luxury thrice milled talc.  There is a deliciously clean powdery note that has what can only be called a “fluffiness” about it.  It evoked memories of those talcum puffs I used to buy my late grandmothers- you know, a marabou puff in a little round box or tin.  Gorgeousness.

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The flowers in Flower by Kenzo are present but subdued, as if being inhaled through a diaphanous white veil.  The base has a faint spice thanks to the frankincense, but even that’s a mere puff and a wisp. The overriding finish is one of powdery white musk with a hint of violets. This is the ultimate perfect day time scent.  In fact, my dear teacher friend Janet (she’ll laugh when she sees this) wears this to work and I can’t think of a nicer way to scent a classroom.  This iscomforting, pure, and makes you smell as if you come from a good home with fluffy towels and clean laundry.

Flower by Kenzo is indeed a Modern Classic.  It suits all ages and would also make a great first perfume for a young fragrance rookie.

Stockists

Kenzo Flower is widely available.  Try allbeauty.com or John Lewis. Alternatively, you will find a sample in The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box like wot I did.

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