Category Archives: Save Money

How to Smell like Christmas

There are certain smells associated with Christmas that we don’t come across in the course of the ordinary year (i.e. the boring non-Christmas period). Now, I might be romanticising things here, but I have vivid Christmas memories of the exact smell of 1970s tinsel, the smell of roasting beef (we didn’t eat turkey) and Mum and Dad smoking all day. In the 1970s you were  encouraged to smoke all day and anywhere you pleased. Unimaginable now, I know, but the scent of cigarettes always takes me back to the family home back where chocolate advent calendars hadn’t been invented  and the internet was just a twinkle in the sky.

These days, any kind of foodie/boozy scent has me thinking wistfully of Christmas and I use it as an excuse to step outside my usual chypre scented comfort zone and into cosy, smoky gourmands.  Basically, I want to smell good enough to eat.

Here are five fragrances that have me salivating around Christmas time. They are rich, evocative, wintry and absolutely delicious. Dive in with me.  Sherry?

Zadig et Voltaire This Is Her

The plain white bottle from this achingly cool Parisian brand doesn’t look particular festive but it has dominant chestnut notes and lashings of whipped cream. This is an unusual fragrance, but I like it because of that.  They could have played it safe but no, they thought they’d confuse our brains with jasmine and chestnuts and whipped cream and cashmere wool and pink pepper and, did I say whipped cream? It sounds confusing but I promise you, this scent really works and I could happily plough through a whole bottle, and the body lotion and candle too. You can find it here.

4160 Tuesdays at Pitti

4160 Tuesdays Captured by Candlelight

With overtones of Cluedo and Agatha Christie in the intriguing title, this fragrance smells as Christmassy as a tangerine in the bottom of your pillow case. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Christingle service, but it reminded me vividly of that. What happens is that children attend a simplified Christmas service in a church (an old one for preference) and each child is given an orange with a candle embedded in it. Jutting out of the orange are cocktail stick with little Haribo gummy sweets on. Combine the old wood of church pews with the orange, the sweets, the candlelight and the flask of Baileys you have in your bag, and you’ve got Captured by Candlelight. Check it out here on the 4160 website, which is dangerously tempting at this time of year.

Hypnotic Poison

Christmas isn’t Christmas without some sort of marzipan encounter.  Hypnotic poison allows you to carry that scent around on your skin. With rich, boozy vanilla and thick, rich almonds, Hypnotic Poison is hard to beat, and very long lasting. By the way, just holding the pumpkin shaped bottle feels like magic. I keep thinking its going to turn into a tiny coach at midnight.  You can buy it here.

Hermes Elixir des Merveilles

The nose behind Hermes Elixir des Merveilles is none other than legend Jean Claude Ellena.  Famous for his blending, which is often described as having the delicacy of a watercolour painting, Elixir des Merveilles is a gourmand that has the kind of mouth-watering appeal that never feels too rich for a second helping.  To my nose, this smells like caramelised oranges, but without any stickiness.  Imagine a crème brûlée with slightly seared bitter orange fruit.  I’m not usually a fan of gourmands, except at Christmas, obvs, but this one has me drooling with undisguised avarice. You can buy it here.

Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla

Never let it be said that I don’t cater for all budgets.  This cheap and cheerful vanilla scent from trusty Yves Rocher stopped me in my tracks and made me check the price again. Twice. This is a rich, golden vanilla scent that smacks of boozy vanilla liquor, rather than the more commonly found synthetic cupcake note that sometimes poses as vanilla.  Not, this one, though, No Sir. Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla will make everyone ask what you are wearing. Even the most curmudgeonly perfume resister will be unable to stop sniffing you. Don’t blame me. Blame Yves Rocher! Oh, and the price? My 30ml bottle was the princely sum of £3.99 five weeks ago.

How about you?

What will be wearing this Christmas? Something cosy? Something new? Do you always wear the same fragrance at Christmas? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

Follow

Fragrance Selection Boxes: How to Let Them Choose at Christmas

 

Marks and Spencer

I don’t know about you but I like all selection boxes. From chocolate to fragrance, I’ll take the lot.  I am in no way advocating that fragrance selection boxes should replace chocolate ones, but rather that they should be avidly encouraged in addition to chocolate selection boxes.

The chocolate sort is strongly encouraged in my house

Right then, now we’ve cleared that up, let’s begin.

It’s a common refrain. People want perfume, after shave and toiletries for Christmas. You ask them what sort and they may say “I don’t mind” or “anything.”

The sheer volume of unwanted fragrances on eBay the day after Christmas tells me that this system of vague politeness doesn’t work for anyone. So what’s the solution? Fragrance selection boxes.

These will offer a variety of fragrances that your intended recipient can then choose from.  If you can add a full bottle gift voucher, even better.

I’ve scouted around and made a list of my absolute favourites, none of which I would turn down (are you reading this in the North Pole Mr S.Claus?)

The Marks and Spencer Ferris Wheel

Marks and Spencer

I salivated when I saw this. Not just miniatures, but generous 12ml bottles of 12 fragrances.

Marks and Spencer

It’s currently reduced to the bargain price of £22. The box is beautiful and your recipient (or you, if you’re weak willed like me and end up keeping it) may find a new favourite. If I was a betting woman I would say this will sell out.

Whilst you’re in there, check out the mini Fragonard sets. I had one a few years ago and the longevity was incredible. You honestly can’t go wrong with Fragonard. Trust me, I’m a perfume blogger. I know this stuff.

The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes

These smart white boxes from The Perfume Society are my guilty pleasure throughout the year. I don’t think there’s a single one I’ve missed since they began. They’re beautifully wrapped so you can give them as they are, and inside there are between eight and ten perfume samples, often with generous beauty treats too such as shower gel or hand cream and I’ve even had  a tiny perfume bottle keyring and a nail polish.

Each box contains postcards with notes about the perfumes within, so it’s a great way to learn what you like and discover new brands.

I’m not on the pay roll, but as a grown up, they are my absolute favourite toy and I love to sit there playing. They also do them for men too- try the Men’s Edit or For Him and there’s a sharing box for couples, which, teamed with a bottle of champagne, makes a fine wedding/anniversary/Christmas gift.

Buy British and Smell Good with 4160 Tuesdays

4160 Tuesdays

4160 Tuesdays is one of my favourite perfume houses. Probably in the top three but don’t make me choose, okay? Too hard.  With delightfully named sets of samples such as “Frocks and Hats” (my favourite), “Love & Life Stories” and “Best of British”, you get seven spray samples and then you add your gift voucher so your recipient can fall in love with his or her favourite and buy up a big bottle with their voucher. Here’s the link.  

4160 Tuesdays

The samples will be wrapped up like little Quality Street in brightly coloured tissue so this is a very user-friendly Christmas gift. There’s no extra charge for the wrapping, it’s all part of the normal service. with 4160 Tuesdays. My favourites are Raw Silk and Red Roses, Killer Rose, Doe in The Snow, Tarts Knicker Drawer and Fruits of The Tree of Knowledge.

Pell Wall: Nine Beautiful Bottles from A Shropshire Lad

Pell Wall Perfumes

Over in beautiful Shropshire, Chris Bartlett of Pell Wall perfumes makes and sells beautiful fragrances  made with his own hands. If you haven’t heard of Pell Wall, you’re in for a treat.  I have tried several from the range and thoroughly recommend them. Best of all, you can buy a Pell Wall Discovery Set containing NINE generous 10ml spray bottles, for only £70.  They come in a box ( see above) and these nine bottles should see you through at least a whole year. My personal favourites are Pretty in Pink, Deep Purple and Anjin.

Jo Malone

My local Jo Malone shop (nearest is Cardiff) is always very busy, no matter what time of year you go there. Fans are die hard and devoted. At Christmas, there is a wide choice of mini sets and selection boxes from which to choose your gift.

Jo Malone

You can buy the London Cologne Collection from Jo Malone or John Lewis, and there’s also the Intense Cologne Collection, and a scented candle selection box too.

Jo Loves

Jo Loves

Jo Loves is a smaller company, also founded by Jo Malone MBE, long after Jo Malone the company was sold to Estee Lauder in 1999.  Jo Loves is a smaller, more personal fragrance house, but no less addictive.  Try the “Can’t Go Wrong” Discovery Set which involves ten sample sprays and a voucher for either a 50ml or a 100ml bottle of scent.  Check out the site here.

This Year’s No Shows

Walter Langley Never Morning Wore to Evening 1894

Sadly, this year there is an absence of the Perfume Shop Viva Boxes, and also of the similar set at Boots, which is also no longer available. Both shops do little mini sets of branded scents (i.e Estee Lauder, Lancôme) but the little mixed sets with a gift voucher are no longer there.  Also, the Fragrance Shop no longer does the Discovery Club, but they do have a new subscription service where you can “date” a fragrance before buying it. You can find details here, but I do miss my little quarterly box of surprises. Sniff. I’ll have to cheer myself with some more chocolate.

PS Try TK Maxx. The stock is always changing, but you sometimes get wonderful variety sets around Christmas time. Last year I saw a Juicy Couture Rollerball set for around £12. This year they have Chloe mini sets, Modern Muse and  Marc Jacobs. Quick!

How about you?

Have you discovered any variety boxes that i’ve missed? Share your tips and insider knowledge!

Follow

Avon Imari Elixir: The Flanker Hall of Fame

You know the trouble with flankers? You love the original and it’s so flankered to death that you can barely remember the first and best and then you lose track of which ones you need to buy and which you missed completely.  Then there’s the other side of the coin: the flankers that are so good that you end up saying “Can’t even remember the original. Love this more.”

Avon Imari Elixir falls firmly into the second category.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like Avon Imari, but it left me feeling a little wistful about its lack of longevity. As a light office friendly floral, it’s spot on, but it didn’t last as long as I hoped.

Avon Cosmetics

Avon Imari Elixir says “Stand back and get used to me, because I’m here all day.” And it is.

Imari Elixir opens with unmistakable blackberry notes. These are berry notes that add the juiciness without all the sugar. They have none of the bitterness of blackcurrant, and none of the sickliness of the frequent plethora of sugary sweet pink pepper. Good choice, Avon. The blackberry joins in with jasmine and deep red roses. The vanilla is very much more than a walk on part- it’s warm and buttery but again, not too sickly.  Then in the base, along comes the patchouli, which gives this real staying power and “oomph”, for want of a better word.  Coupled with amber, this rounds off this dark fruity rose with a flourish of warmth and earthiness. Some Fragrantica members have said that this reminds them of Lancôme Hypnose, so if you like that, stock up on this. Imari Elixir is  a fabulous “going out” perfume.

Despite being an eau de toilette, this really has staying power. I call this great value at just £6.

Stockists

This is available from Avon UK or from your Avon rep. My Avon Lady is called Jill and we are on Christmas card swapping terms now, as you can imagine.   Avon Imari Elixir was just £6. I paid for it myself and this is not a sponsored post.

Avon cosmetics

Follow

Avon Far Away: Here’s why it’s Number One

Avon Far Away is Avon’s best-selling fragrance in the UK.  Avon daren’t discontinue it for fear of riots .  It also has the distinction of being the fragrance I smell most when out and about here in South Wales. The women who love it REALLY love and most of them are repeat buyers.

It occurred to me that I have reviewed many, MANY Avon fragrances but not this one. In the past I have dismissed it and not paid it much heed, but last night I sat down and  really paid attention to it.  Reader,  I learned a thing or two along the way.

Firstly, I once dismissed this as so vanilla-y that it borders on coconuts (true-ish, there are coconut notes and vanilla). However, last night, as I let it unfold on my skin, I noticed many facets I hadn’t previously found. First of all, this is a grand white flower fragrance. It bursts with jasmine and gardenia. I thought I could discern tuberose, but no, it was jasmine and gardenia- a pretty heady combo at any time of day. Also present is karo karoundee- a white flower that has similar nuances to tuberose and is often paired with it. No, I hadn’t heard of it, and yes, I did have to look that up. (Thanks, Fragrantica!).

Before the flowers go anywhere, the peaches emerge, coupled with apricotty osmanthus, giving this a very peachy, powdery accord. This gets stronger until it peaks at freesia, peach and white flowers before relaxing into a base note you will recognise when you walk down my local High Street.

The base notes ares rich in vanilla, musk and woods, but mainly  settle to a sweet, peachy and powdery vanilla.

Far Away reminds me of another early Nineties fragrance: Cassini by Oleg Cassini. I wore it a lot as I worked in the evening wear department of  a House of Fraser store. There was a display bottle on a stand and we sales assistants all drenched ourselves in it. The peaches, vanilla and flowers have a sweetness in common with Far Away.

Far Away was created in 1994 and its popularity shows no signs of dipping. There have been several flankers, and the one most like the original is Far Away Gold, which is very similar, note by note, but has stronger amber notes and less fruitiness.  Also, fact fans, Far Away Infinity smells very similar to Paco Rabanne Olympea but is less than ten quid. Just saying.

To sum up, Far Away is not my favourite Avon, but taking a good look at it really opened my eyes to what a great scent this is. Avon has made a wonderful peachy, powdery, vanilla classic that puts good fragrance into an accessible price range. I couldn’t ask for more.

Stockists

Avon Far away is widely available. Try Avon UK, Amazon UK and eBay.  I get mine off my Avon Lady because then she gets commission and she is lovely.

Follow

Retro Perfecto: 4160 Tuesdays Paris 1948

I’m a sucker for a good chypre. The greener, the mossier and the older, the better as far as I’m concerned.  Serendipity twinned me with a bottle of Paris 1948 today, and reader, a bit of magic took place. Love was in the air and cupid shot me.

A few years back, I tried Paris 1948 and decided it wasn’t for me. I also tried Lady Rose Lion Monkey Unicorn and decided that wasn’t for me either. However, today I received a full bottle of Paris 1948, and by chance, a sample of Lady Rose Lion Monkey Unicorn, and whaddya know? They don’t half go! One complements the other in the way that Guerlain Apres l’Ondee brings out something new in Frederic Malle L’Eau D’Hiver. (Try it, you’ll see. Thanks Lisa!).

My first impression of Paris 1948 is of fresh cut grass in an aged bottle. Have you ever opened a really old bottle of fragrance that has ambered with age and has that sort of bitter powdery thing going on? That’s what Paris 1948 reminded me of.  To me, the dominant note is, believe it or not, basil.  This is a note that is also really prominent in 4160 Tuesdays Lady Rose Monkey Lion Monkey Unicorn, which is why they seem to go together so well.

 

With my brand new 4160 Tuesdays phone sticker.

Paris 1948 opens with citrus, specifically grapefruit, and peaches. Now, I used to have a problem with peaches until the penny dropped and I realised that many of the Grand Dames of fragrances carry peachy nuances: think Lanvin Arpege and Madame Rochas to name but two.  Once this made sense to me, peaches always gave me a

Photo of Paris in 1948 by Edouard Boubat

friendly sort of retro yoo-hoo when they pop up. They certainly make their presence felt here, and that could be one of the reasons why I didn’t like this first-time round.  The basil has a sweet, herbal thing going on that almost borders on the medicinal, but not quite. The flowers come out after the citrus has calmed down a bit and let them get a word in: roses and orange flower and leathery labdanum.

The base to my nose, at least, is a peachy, mossy (VERY mossy) herby, slightly medicinal chypre.  I’m sorry I can’t make that sound more catchy, but it’s true. Call me an addict. Call me a fan.  This is a permanent fixture.

Jacqueline de Francois “Mademoiselle de Paris” 1948

Stockists: I bought this from 4160 Tuesdays and you can too.  If you buy it before tomorrow afternoon (October 27th 2017) then it’s half price. After that it’s still jolly reasonable. This is not a sponsored post.

Follow

Avon Alpha: Fruity and Flirty

Avon Alpha is a new release from Avon and even in a blind test, I would be able to tell it was an Avon. It has a lot of Avon materials in common, but this is not a bad thing. In fact many brands have a particular in-house accord and its usually down to the particular range of ingredients they use to colour in the fragrances, to use a metaphor.

Avon Alpha is, first and foremost and beyond any question, fruity floral.  The opening is raspberry, lychee and blood orange. There are floral notes in the middle, and I would hazard a  guess at jasmine leading the gang. In the base there is an interesting ingredient that is getting very popular lately. Cashmeran is a synthetic note and has a “wet cement” accord.  It doesn’t smell as weird as it sounds, more like bland wet stone. It’s actually pretty good as a base note in a flirty floral scent like this and just blends into the background and helps the loud notes to do their thing.

Over on Fragrantica (a brilliant site if you’ve yet to venture over) many readers claim that Avon Alpha smells similar to Nina Ricci Nina, Givenchy Absolutely Irresistible and Givenchy Hot Couture. Not a bad comparison, especially at such a low price.

This isn’t may favourite Avon, since I have a thing about Avon Perceive (peony) and Avon Rare Platinum (tuberose) but this certainly holds its own against other high street bestsellers and makes a great gift.

Stockists

I bought my bottle on special offer from the Avon brochure last month. It was £4.50 for 30ml. You can find it here.

Follow

Pocket Therapy: Yves Rocher Mandarin Lemon Cedar

You may have heard me sing the praises of Yves Rocher before now. I love the quality and the price and the little freebies you get when you order online. Well, today I am sharing a tiny package that made me fall in love. No, it’s not another cat. Three is enough. Apparently.  So I’ve been told.  Today I’m going to tell you about the pocket sized joy that is Yves Rocher Mandarin Lemon Cedar (or Mandarine Citron Cedre as its known in France).

This little 20ml beauty does exactly what it says on the tin but is so uplifting and gives off such happy vibes that I would have paid a lot more than the meagre £4 I paid.  It opens with mandarin, (as you might imagine), is made even zingier by lemon and finishes on a citrussy cedar note.  Despite its refreshing cologne like character, this has pretty good longevity on my skin, and is especially good when sprayed on a scarf. You should smell my scarf collection- it’s incredible, even if I say so myself.

Over on Fragrantica, some members are saying that this reminds  them of Fan di Fendi Eau Fraiche, which I cannot vouch for, never having smelled it, but if you were a fan, you might find solace in a little £4 bottle of Yves Rocher Mandarine Citron Cedre.

These make perfect gifts too if you can bear to part with them.

Stockists

I bought my little bottle from the Yves Rocher UK website. In fact, I bought five.  This is not a sponsored post, opinions are my own and I paid for this myself.

 

Follow

Avon Eve Duet: Alone and Together

 

You may have gathered by now that I’m a bit of an Avon fangirl. I like how Avon stays on top of current trends and I like how they keep it affordable.

In the run up to Christmas (yes, we can say it, it’s October) fragrance launches emerge into a market where customers often want to cosset themselves as the weather goes colder and summer scents are put away. Avon Eve Duet is a great end of summer/start of Autumn fragrance as it has two fragrances in one bottle.  This is not the first time this has been done: I recall a bejewelled Britney Spears sphere containing two half botles of scent, but I haven’t seen it done other than that.

Avon Eve Duet has Radiant Allure in one end and Sensual Allure in the other. Both have a note in common: Water Lily. So, imagine a light and watery floral that smells slightly similar to Marks and Spencer Butterfly.  Add a bit of apple blossom-crisp and pretty. There’s a bit of jasmine in there too and an unremarkable base of amber and wood which is less prominent than the pretty, watery floral notes.

Sensual Allure, in the other end, also has Water Lily, but opens with rich plum and fruity pink pepper before the water lily peeps out, less prominently than in Radiant Allure, but still there.  It reminded me of a less sweet version of Avon Luck, so if you like that you might like this too. The note that makes the biggest difference here is the patchouli. It adds an earthy depth to Sensual Allure that makes its presence felt, but really comes into its own when sprayed over the top of Radiant Allure.

Alone, these are good, but together, you get something quite different and rather wonderful. Together you get a fabulous blend of florals, patchouli and crisp fruits.  If it was me, I’d wear Radiant Allure in the day, then spray Sensual Allure over the top to go out at night. When these are together, I can even smell a hint of violets, which aren’t there, but seem to emerge as a ghost note when everything is mixed up.

With the fragrance industry launching new scent left, right and centre, brands have to up their game, and Avon has certainly done so with this head turning novelty.  This will work because this is good quality scent that doesn’t rely on its dual-ended novelty.  Alone or solo, Eve Duet is a winner.

Stockists

Eve Duet is available from your Avon rep or the Avon UK website. My sample was paid for by me so I am under no obligation to like it, but I do.

Follow

A Green for All Seasons: Bronnley Wild Green

It may be Autumn, and the leaves may be on the turn, but my passion for fragrances with green notes stays with me all year round.

Bronnley Wild Green fits the bill for every season of the year and wearing it today brings a bit of nature into the stuffy central heated indoors like an invigorating open window.

Wild Green opens with bergamot, orange flower and patchouli. This green floral symphony gathers uplifting, spicy facets on its journey: namely aromatic cardoman and coriander (the spice not the leaf). It claims to have pink pepper, which makes me pull faces, but actually I could find no trace of it here. This is a clean, spicy green that fits perfectly with this transitional time of year.  The green is an evergreen that never wavers, yet the spice suggests that cosier times are beckoning. There’s a touch of smoky incense, but just a touch, just enough to say bonfire night is over a month away.

Having said all that, there’s nothing to stop us wearing this all year round. Wild Green suits Spring and Summer and the spices really come into their own in Autumn and Winter.

Although this is aimed at women, it makes a brilliant unisex fragrance, and is definitely a firm favourite with me. I am quite devoted to my little purse sized rollerball.

Stockists

Bronnley Wild Green is available from the Bronnley website or from Boots and online  from allbeauty.com. My rollerball was kindly sent to me by Bronnley in return for an honest review, which this is. This is not a sponsored post.

Follow

Avon Femme Exclusive: With Extra Vanilla!

Avon Femme Exclusive is one of three fragrances in the Avon Femme range. I’ve already reviewed Avon Femme and Avon Femme Icon, so here’s my review of Avon Femme Exclusive.

Avon Femme Exclusive opens with pear. I also detected some plum as well: this is deeply, darkly fruity. .  The jasmine in the middle comes out at pretty much the same time as the pear and makes for a pear jasmine combo that, whilst not particularly original, certainly runs with the pack and is bezzie mates with the popular set.  To be honest, the pear dominates so all the others notes tend to fall into the background, except for vanilla. It says here that there is black vanilla in this, but that’s sort of corporate speak for extra strong evening style vanilla. In fact the vanilla is not my favourite boozy liquor vanilla, it’s more of a milky vanilla, and alongside the pear, I couldn’t help thinking of pear, pastry and custard. There’s just enough jasmine to stop me thinking this is pudding flavour.

All in all, this will do the job nicely and is priced affordably. It does smell very similar to Avon Luck (all the vanilla), so if you like that, you’ll like this.  It’s not my favourite, but there’s certainly a fan base out there for this bargain.

Stockists

Avon Femme Exclusive is available from Avon UK or from your Avon rep if you are lucky enough to have one. My little purse spray was just £3, and it’s a great way of living with a scent for a bit before deciding to get a big bottle. Viva purse sprays!

 

Follow