Category Archives: perfume samples

Exclusive! 4160 Tuesdays: Codename Sea Goddess.

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Mermaid painting by Victor Nizovtsev

For a long time now, I have been searching for the perfect marine scent.  It has to remind me of the sea, be invigorating and NOT smell like cucumber.   Doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it? But apparently it is.   Or was. Read on Macduff.

Before I go on, I’d like to ask if any of you remember a shampoo made by Boots Naturals called Sea Kelp?  I used to adore that scent and used it until they stopped making it.  I can’t even find an old photo on Pinterest.  It was a beautifully scented shampoo that had marine notes and made my hair smell so good that I often wished they made a perfume of it.

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John William Waterhouse

Many times have I have sniffed something in a vageuly aquamarine coloured bottle and  thought, “maybe this will smell like Sea Kelp shampoo?” and been disappointed.   Cucumber and melon- yes.  Sea notes?  No.

However, I recently received a small glass phial ( vial or phial? you can use either, I checked) of a scent that is currently being called “Sea Goddess”. This may or may not be its final name: it’s still in development at the hand of Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays.

Sea Goddess opens with a burst of citrus.  I could discern sharp lemon and bitter grapefruit: the kind that makes you do an involuntary wink when you eat it first thing in the morning.  This wakes you up and prepares you for the  swishy swish of sea notes that follow.

Sea notes are hard to define and are often subjective, but here’s my take on them here: with an invigorating tang and a hit of saltiness, Sea Goddess makes you wish you were next to the sea and makes you feel an urgent need to down tools and find some surf ,  like a Bisto kid following his nose.

sea goddess boxIt is rare to find a sea note perfume  that is as on the button  as this one .  What gives it that unique 4160 Tuesdays touch is a dose of Britishness towards the end. There is an almost, but not quite, dirty tang of seaweed towards the bottom.  Rather than put me off, this adds to its authenticity.  This is how the seaside really smells.

We can romanticise the  white crests of foam as the waves crash, and we can imagine ourselves getting a revitalizing burst of ozone into our poor urban lungs, but don’t forget what the beach really smells like.  There’s salt and wet sand and sea weed.  It’s all here, my friends.  Because a real Sea Goddess will get sand on her fins and seaweed on  her arms.

This is the ultimate sea note scent.  No cucumber. No melon. This is the sea and the beach, captured in a glass vial like a snow globe.

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Bsac

Stockists
This is nearly available from 4160 Tuesdays, but not quite yet. It may be given a different name, but I will let you know. Talk about a teaser! Sorry about that.  My sample rollerball phial was from Sarah herself, for which, my deep gratitude.  Opinions are my own.

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Five Decades of #Scent Memories: National Fragrance Day 2017

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Dear reader, I am now in my fifth decade and due to toast the start of my sixth in 2020 when I turn 50.

To me, scent is like a Tardis. It takes you back in time so fast that you can be stepping out the Tardis door into 1976 after one whiff of Panache.  More instantly evocative than a photograph or a song,  a fragrance can whisk you back to the scent of the primary school teacher whose name you forget, but whose perfume you can recall as if a switch has been flicked in your head.

Please join me on my mini odyssey through the smell of the 70s, 80s, 90s, Noughties and Twenteens and do share your #scentmemories below.

The Smell of the 1970s.

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I was born in 1970. The first ten years of my life can be summed up, at least in the olfactory sense, as a combination of cigarette smoke (not mine), the smell of a roast cooking, mud, ferns, bluebells, Woogiraffedleigh Green Apple Shampoo, Avon Pretty Peach and Avon Occur, in a giraffe shaped bottle, no less. Quite how giraffes and perfume go together, I never thought to question, but he literally had some brass neck.

My teachers wore Cacharel Anais Anais, which hasn’t changed to this day, as long as you sidestep the “Delice” version. I can’t remember what scent my mother wore, but she always smelled nice.  My grandmother wore Coty L’Aimant, which I didn’t recognise then, but which moves me to gusty sighs of melancholy  now she isn’t here.

BeFunky Collage70s home

The Smell of the 1980s.

Formative years mean a thirst to both stand out and blend in at the same time. I was groping for an identity and slowly moving into and out of adolescence. It was 1981 before I gradually weaned myself off

sindyplaying with Sindy dolls. I can still vividly recall the smell of the vinyl heads and strange nylon hair, inevitably knotted to all hell within a week of ownership.

My first ever scent that I paid for myself was a splash bottle of Bluebell perfume from Boots No 7. Long since discontinued, I have sought that bluebell scent ever since.  My mother bought me a bottle of Jontue from a trip she went on, and one Christmas I had a bottle of Cachet.  I wore this A LOT.  I also remember Avon Eau Givreé: a beautiful green hesperide that has long since been discontinued.

My teens saw me receive my first ever bottle of proper fragrance from my father for my 18th birthday. It was Estee Lauder Beautiful and I still love it now. 1988 saw me leave home at go to Exeter Uni, where the most memorable scents were Marlboro cigarettes, red wine and lashings of Cacharel LouLou.

1980s collage

Meanwhile, over in Denver Colorado, Alexis Carrington was cracking the whip.  Excess, big shoulder pads, big hair and big smells were all the rage.  On the High Street, there was the unmistakable cloud of Giorgio Beverly Hills and a miasma of Dior Poison mingled with Body Shop White Musk and Dewberry. The Nightclubs smelled of Calvin Klein Obsession, and my one little egg shaped bottle took me into the 1990s.

The Smell of the 1990s

The caring, sharing Nineties sobered everyone up and made us wear ozonic scents in an urge to cleanse ourselves of the Eighties excesses. All my friends smelled of Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey, which is no bad thing. I had discovered Chanel Cristalle, also a light scent that was the opposite side of the spectrum to Poison, Obsession and Giorgio. The 1990s saw me graduate and move to London, which smelled very different to Devon.  London air is thicker, dirtier and there were more cigarettes smoked and more traffic fumes, but reader, to me it was the smell of freedom and wonder and possibility.

collage 1990s

1992 saw the launch of the iconic Thierry Mugler Angel. I remember smelling it for the first time in Harrods Perfume Hall and thinking “but why would I want to smell like chocolate?” I appreciate it now of course, for the multi-faceted classic it is, but back then it was revolutionary among the ozonic and airy fairy Nineties scents. Meanwhile, in 1997, Gucci launched the now much-mourned Gucci Envy.  So good was this floral green scent with a vein of metal running through it, that I dumped Cristalle and remained almost exclusive to Gucci Envy until it was cruelly taken from us in 2007.

The Smell of The Noughties

The Noughties saw a revolution in celebrity fragrance.  Elizabeth Taylor had been churning them out since 1991, but they were largely seen as fan fodder until 2002 when Jennifer Lopez launched the brilliant Glow. It was a clean, white fragrance that pleased the crowds and began a snowball of celebrity fragrances taking off.  Britney Spears got in on it, as did many of her contemporaries and soon the perfumeries were chock full of celeb scents. Sarah Jessica Parker brought new possibilities with SJP Lovely and some of the snobbery dissipated when we realised that celebrity stuff can be pretty darn good. (I’m still a celeb scent geek)

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The noughties also mark the only two years of my adult life where I have been without any fragrance and that’s because I had my sons during that decade.  Their first scent memory is of my skin.  No deodorant, no perfume, just me.  It wasn’t easy getting those babies, but it was worth it.

The Smell of the Twenteens

Now things really start to spice up. I started my blog on January 2nd 2013. It was a combination of an urge to write and a channel for my reawakened perfume passion. This was brought about by a lean period, during which Chanel was very much out of reach.  As a result, I developed a bit of a cheap and cheerful habit as my receipts from allbeauty.com will attest.  From that, and the three huge boxes of samples that dear Lisa Jones let me borrow, the floodgates opened.

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The biggest scent launch of the Twenteens has to be the seminal Lancome La Vie est Belle. The fruity floral explosion of the early ‘teens segued into a river of caramel and praline   Hot on its heels was YSL Black Opium , which dismayed many Opium fans, but brought a  cohort of new fans to the brand.

In recent  times, I’ve been coming across the semi-ubiquitous jasmine sambac note that  seems to be so popular right now.  You can find it in  Paco Rabanne Olympea,  Givenchy Dahlia Divin and Versace Eros. The big launch of 2017 is Mon Guerlain, and whilst it’s not my cup of tea, I do harbour hopes that it will  lead us into a big lavender  trend.

As we point in the direction of 2020, I’m looking forward to the alleged forthcoming trends of milk notes, peony and a renaissance of my favourite genre: green notes.

Interestingly, celebrity fragrance sales are on the wane, but guess what’s on the up?  Niche perfume.  Which is very good news indeedy.

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How about you?

What scents bring back instant memories for you?  It doesn’t matter how random or everyday they are, I always love to hear from you.

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Cartier Baiser Fou: Lipstick On My Collar

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There were several reasons why I was not expecting to even like Cartier Baiser Fou, but blow me down if the little madam didn’t bowl me over and cover me in kisses, filling me with avarice for a full bottle.

Reasons I didn’t think I’d like this:

  • I wasn’t keen on Cartier Baiser Volé,
  • The box and lid is red and pink so I thought it would smell of candy floss.
  • It contains raspberries, white chocolate and vanilla, so I assumed it would smell like an ice cream sundae.

Reader, I was wrong.  So very, very wrong. I’ll tell you exactly what Cartier Baiser Fou smells like.  Back in 2001 I found myself in Duty Free at San Francisco Airport with some unspent dollars.  I was a one scent woman back then and was fully stocked with Chanel Cristalle, so decided to buy myself a posh lipstick for the first time ever in my life. It was a YSL Lipstick and it smelled and tasted of roses, violets and strawberries with that powdery waxy  lipstick finish.

That, my friends, is exactly what Cartier Baiser Fou smells like.

ysl lipstick

The notes are: raspberry, orchid, white chocolate and vanilla, but this smells like that delicious expensive lipstick years ago and makes me feel marvellous when I wear it.

This is yet another case where I prefer the flanker to the original. It’s fruity and playful yet grown up  and classically powdery.  To my surprise, it was not at all  tooth achingly sweet.  Cartier Baiser Fou reminded me to stop reading the notes and start using my nose.

Has this ever happened to you?  Have you ever thought “I’m going to hate that!” and ended up loving it?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

Stockists

My sample of Cartier Baiser Fou was from the Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box.  You can buy full bottles from House of Fraser and John Lewis, among others. Opinions are my own.

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Marina Barcenilla Patchouli Clouds: There’s Patchouli, and then there’s Patchouli…

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One of the many highlights of my trip to the Jasmine Awards was the lovely surprise of bumping into Marina Barcenilla of MB Parfums. I had reviewed Marina’s beautiful scent India only last week, and in fact she had a phial of India body oil in her bag for me as a gift. Marina is as delightful as I’d imagined and it is a pleasure to write about her beautiful scents. Today I’m going to review MB Parfums Patchouli Clouds, because it stopped me in my tracks and made me say “Wow” out loud to an empty room.

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Fragrantica

Patchouli is a big old spectrum. The patchouli you find in the base notes of say, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, will be nothing like the unctuous oil you might have bought in the 70s or 80s ( if you are as old as I am), but it’s all patchouli, in some form.

Patchouli Clouds has a wonderful mixture of spice, citrus,  and damp woods. It starts off as an almost musty wet wood, and calms down into a beautifully aromatic earthiness that made me think of forests after the rain and slightly rotten wood.  Believe it or not, I mean that in a good way.  I love the smell of wood in all its stages: crumbly, freshly sawn, still with the bark on: you name it, I like it. There are flowers too: I found jasmine and roses entwined among the earthy bark.

mb parfums allIn Patchouli Clouds, the scent has more in common with the oils from the Indian joss stick stall in Newport market that I hung around in during my teens.  You know the sort of place: you could buy floaty skirts with tiny mirrored sequins on and leather purses with elephants on the front.  The patchouli you could buy there was not in fancy packaging and it smelled more authentic and natural than anything I’ve ever sniffed over a pristine beauty counter.

Patchouli Clouds reinvents that in a less primitive way.  It still has the patchouli kick of earthiness I seek, but it’s blended beautifully with rich florals and incense to ensure that the star of the show really shines with the right chorus in the background.

Stockists

MB Perfumes Patchouli Clouds is available from the  MB Parfums website, which also has a good sample service. My sample is from Marina herself, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.

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The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box: My Review

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I have in front of me The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box. I’ve spoken of these little boxes before.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve missed one since they first began.

The Modern Classics Box is a must for anyone on their first foray into fragrance.  Even if you’re not, it’s great to have the classics at your fingertips, and classics they are: each and every one.

I’m going to be reviewing some of these in more detail soon, but in the meantime, here’s the list of what’s in the box:

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Yardley Contemporary Classics English Freesia

I’m a big fan of florals, and Yardley, bless ‘em, have been doing florals for generations. They do them very well, and Freesia is no exception. I have a whole bouquet of Yardley scents on my dressing table: April Violets, English Rose,  English Lavender,  Bluebell, and after today, it looks like a full bottle of Yardley Freesia won’t be far behind.

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Cartier Baiser Fou

This new scent from Cartier is worlds apart from the original and far more sober Baiser Vole.  Cartier Baiser Fou (crazy kiss) smells like lipstick kisses, strawberries and milky bar.  I didn’t think I was going to like it, as it sounded too sweet for me, but actually I was completely charmed by it.flower by kenzo

Flower by Kenzo

I wasn’t sure if I knew this one, until I sprayed it and realised “Oh! THAT’S Kenzo Flower!” It’s baby powder, wet wipes, fluffy towels and innocent flowers. I’ll be reviewing this one in more detail soon.

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Marc Jacobs Daisy

Both ubiquitous and glorious, this light, airy crowd pleaser will never go out of fashion, and its not just because of the delightful toy town flower bottles.  See my review here.

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L’Occitane Terre de Lumiere

A stunning summer scent from L’Occitane with notes of lavender honey, bergamot and a warm base of almond and tonka. This makes me want to lie in the sun with a straw hat on and be very, very indolent.columbia

Angela Flanders Columbia Rose

Columbia Road in achingly cool Shoreditch is the scene of the famous Columbia Road Flower Market every Sunday, when the street is filled with greenery and botany and petals and buds. Worth visiting for the scent alone, it’s little wonder that  perfumer Angela Flanders saw fit to open her shop here.

This is how roses used to smell before factory farming chased the old-fashioned scent away.  There’s something slightly earthy about it too, thanks to the patchouli and amber in the base. This is patchouli with rough edges and it complements the centrifola rose like Mellors complemented  Lady Chatterley.

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Illuminum White Gardenia Petals

This scent of green notes and heady white gardenia may well be my absolute favourite from the box.  As worn by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge on her wedding day, this beautiful fragrance is right up my street, even if I can’t quite compete with Catherine’s untouchable glamour. I’ll be reviewing it in more detail very soon.

Narciso Rodriguez for her EDP

This beauty has been a classic since its launch.  NR For Her was created by the ultimate dream team of Christine Nagel and Francis Kurkdjian and I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t smell wonderful in it, including me! You can read my review here.

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Philosophy Renewed Hope in a Jar Eye (lotion tube)

I don’t know what this is like yet, but buy the sound of the name, I need it BADLY.  After squinting at computer screens and phone screens, and being tormented by hay fever and contact lenses, my forty-seven-year-old eyes need all the help they can get.  I’m fifty in three years’ time but I don’t want to look like I am!

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Minnies Literally Lovely Shimmering Body Lotion.

A sachet sized treat that is going in my overnight bag. Possibly too glamorous for the school run, but I’ll be spoiling myself with this next time I get away from it all.

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As usual with Perfume Society Discovery Boxes, there are scent sniffing strips and handy postcards with discussion prompts and facts about each item.  All the goodies come in a smart white gift box with the Perfume Society Logo on. They make excellent gifts for your friends or for Mothers Day,  but I’m not giving mine away!

Stockists

These boxes are exclusive to The Perfume Society, and cost £17.50 each or £12.50 if you are a VIP subscriber. My box was kindly sent to me by The Perfume Society.  Opinions are my own.

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Quick Mini Guerlain giveaway winner

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The winner of the quick mini Guerlain giveaway is FlowerPowerLife. Congratulations!  You will shortly be receiving a sample of Mon Guerlain and  a few other samples from the sample suitcases.

Please send me your address  at iscentyouaday@gmail.com.

 

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Look! A Tiny Little Video!

I keep blathering on about how I’m going to do vlogging one day and on a whim I ended up filming the opening of my Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box. You only see my unmanicured hands and hear my voice, but  check out my gorgeous cat Ian, who appears to be a  big purr-fumista. I’m sorry, I’ll get my coat… I might actually do this again and you might actually see me in it next time. I have two other cats so I may not be alone.

 

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Marina Barcenilla India: Better than Heaven or Arcadia

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Better than Heaven or Arcadia

I love thee, O my India!

Marina Barcenilla recently sent me  several of her perfume samples, which I will review in a future post.  However, one stood out so much that I was itching to review it.

Marina Barcenilla was born in Spain and is now based in Glastonbury. The Marina Barcenilla perfume house evolved from her small start-up business which originally made body products such as salts and scrubs.  Customer demand led her to where she is now: a perfumer, and a talented one at that.  I’m jolly glad she went down this path because when MB Parfums India landed on my mat recently, it was love at first sniff.

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Incredibly,  Marina manages to produce this beautiful earthy scent using only natural ingredients. Personally, I have no beef with non-natural ingredients, being composed of C02 and H20 myself, but it really takes some guts and innovation to achieve glorious fragrances with the limitations that can come with such a restriction.  It doesn’t seem to restrict Marina though.  Her imagination and flair has produced some stunning and Award winning results (India won a FiFi Award in 2016).

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India opens with orange flower, Indian Jasmine, tuberose and roses. It’s a rich and heady floral opening, but there’s nothing  light about this.  The heady weight of this stunning opening accord is narcotic in its depth.  It gradually segues into wood and spice that smells both earthy and authentic.   The spice is like tarry resin, yet as the richness dies down, the sandalwood and cardoman emerge in a beautiful accord of aged, incense-infused wood.  Think church pews but still with some bark left on.

India reminded me of both Comme Des Garcons Avignon and Andy Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain.  It is not exactly like either, however, since  it has a distinction all of its own.  If you like either of those two, however, you will adore India.

mb perfumes all in a row

Longevity is excellent and it just seems to get better the longer I wear it.  India is deep, resonant and evocative.  The base is longlasting and on my skin, at least, it combines woods, jasmine, roses and spice for many hours after I sprayed it.  The ingredients are distinct and vivid.  Reader, it was love.  Real, true love.

Stockists

Marina Barcenilla perfumes can be ordered from the website here. There is an excellent sample service and you can also find other ancillary fragrance products such as candles and  body oils ( I have a rose one which is beautiful). Marina herself kindly furnished me with my samples, for which, my warm thanks. Opinions are my own.

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A Quick mini Guerlain giveaway!

angelinaPerfume people won’t have failed to notice that Guerlain has just launched its first new scent ( and thereby hangs a debate) since 2012. Mon Guerlain is fronted by the unfairly beautiful Angelina Jolie, and I reviewed it here.

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I have an unused sample of Mon Guerlain ready to give to you .  I used up all of my first one and haven’t touched this one at all. It’s only a little giveaway, but if you have had trouble getting hold of a sample, just leave a comment below or on FB and Twitter to win this one.   If you’re not already following me on social media, please do  join my little insta-twitter-book-lovin’ ramblings!

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin.

Closing date is two days from now, so midnight on the 8th March. Please don’t enter if you live outside the UK as I won’t be able to post this to you.

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Dear Aunty Sam: Your Perfume Problems Answered

 

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A Tryst, John William Godward

Earlier this week, I asked you to send me your perfume problems. I then chewed the arm of my glasses and looked studious, whilst reading them,  just like a proper Mumsy Agony Aunt.

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I was so pleased to get so many questions, some of which I answer below.  Incidentally,  I also see questions on my WordPress dashboard which tell me what people type into Google in order to be led to my site.

There are two questions that I see every single day without fail. Yes, my friends, the two most popular questions are:

What’s the best Avon perfume?

What cheap perfume smells good?

Now you may have noticed that these two particular questions have entre blog posts devoted to answering them.  Nobody can accuse me of not giving my readers what they want.

lbdfraiche-image-pic1With that having been said, here are some other questions that I received this week.

I am very grateful to all who sent me a Dear Aunty Sam question. I wish I could tell you that there’s a T-shirt and a mug on the way to you, but I can’t.  I think I may repeat this experience in future, so please do send any questions as they occur to you. I’ll be your olfactory DJ.

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Dear Aunty Sam,

Like you, I miss Gucci Envy and only have a little bit left. What can I wear instead when this runs out?

rsz_dr_samA good question and one to which I still seek an answer myself. We’ve asked the Why Did it End? question but the wind took our words away and no answer was given. Meantime, here are some that I find have some of the Gucci Envy notes in common, namely green notes, lily of the valley and hyacinth.

envyJo Loves No 42 The Flower Shop, Chanel Cristalle, Issey Miyake A Scent and Isabella Rossellini Manifesto, if you can find it. Over on Fragrantica, some Envy fans claim that Penhaligon’s Lily of The Valley and Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue smell similar, but I haven’t smelled the form er and I don’t agree with the latter, due its dominant freesia, but worth a try to see what you think.

Dear Aunty Sam,

I’ve fallen in love with Yardley’s Polaire. But as ever with Yardley 20 minutes in and unless I’ve gone nose blind I can smell nothing at all. Is there something out there that smells the same, but with actual longevity and a bit more sillage?

rsz_dr_samI haven’t smelled Yardley Polaire recently so I’m working blind here.  However, I notice that the prominent notes are pear, freesia and rose. There are two scents that also contain these notes. One is Dior J’Adore and the other is Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue  ( although more freesia than pear) However, if you want to stick with Polaire, there are a couple of things you can do to extend its life.

polaireWhat I usually do is spray my hair.  Hair carries scent very well- usually until bedtime!  However, some people claim this dries hair out.   Secondly, and I’m going to talk boobs here, spray it in your cleavage before you get dressed. As your body heats up throughout the day, you get nice little wafts under your nose. You can also make scent last longer by moisturising skin before applying it. Don’t forget  a quick spray on your lapels or scarf.

There is another theory, however.  Some people say that when a perfume really suits you, you stop being able to smell it.  This is so subjective that I find it difficult to prove, but there may be some truth in it.  Maybe Polaire just really suits you!

Dear Aunty Sam

I have begun to make some fragrances.  I have at least three that are absolutely delightful, unlike anything else I’ve ever tried. I really feel there’s a market for these, especially in this size, being affordable for almost everyone.

 How do I go about getting someone to be willing to sell my fragrances in their shop (either online or not) or work with me in promoting mine?

 rsz_dr_samFirstly, congratulations on your perfumes.  I do love an entrepreneurial spirit.  Secondly, before you sell them commercially, do they meet the necessary compliance? There are many perfume ingredients that have been banned by IFRA in order to ensure that scents do not cause rashes or reactions. Forgive me if I’m preaching to the converted- you may well already know this. Thirdly, have you tried Etsy? There are many beautiful handmade scents there and it strikes me as a good starting point.

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Me with Sarah McCartney at the 4160 Tuesdays studio in 2014.

I would really recommend one of the Studio days run by Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. What she doesn’t know about making and selling perfume just isn’t worth knowing. You can find out more from the 4160 Tuesdays website.  Oh, and in answer to your question about promoting your scent, my advice is, as you might imagine, harness the bloggers!

That’s all I’ve got room for this week. I hope you enjoyed my first brave fumble into the mailbag. Do you agree with my responses?  Do you have any questions of your own? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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