My Avon obsession tightens its grip. I am helpless to resist and at seven quid a bottle, I don’t want to.
Avon Rare Pearls is my latest purchase. I bought it after reading the notes that were in it, and sniffing the Avon brochure scratch’n’sniff page,- so not much to go on. However, this distinctive daywear is worth a punt and I’m jolly glad I have a bottle.
The bottle itself has an opaque pearl coloured glass body and an angular top that looks like glass but is plastic. It goes happily alongside my cherished bottle of tuberose heavy Avon Rare Platinum.
So what does it smell like?
Well, it opens with green notes and florals straight away. There’s a kind of mustiness that I rather like. It’s similar to the scent of a bouquet just before it goes past its best before date: you know, floral, vegetal and overly rich just before the flowers conk out and die.
Actually the notes are rosewood, honey, plum and pepper, with magnolia diving in before they’ve quite finished their number. It’s the honey that made me think of flowers just before they go off. It’s actually a lovely smell that can fill a room.
The middle is all about the magnolia: a big, clean, white, flower. It’s creamy and soapy without going into heady tuberose territory-which is no bad thing in my book but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
The base is musk, patchouli and sandalwood, but really that just provides a milky, musky backdrop for more magnolia. This is a green, soapy, floral musk. What I smell doesn’t really match the notes: It’s nicer than I thought and has a pleasant fuzziness like a cosy blanket. This is perfect for work and should pass the commuter test too. I’m ever so fond of my seven-quid bargain!
I bought my 50ml bottle of Avon Rare Pearls EDP from my lovely Avon Lady Jill. It’s also available online. The price I quote was correct at the time of publishing and may vary, but there are usually special offers on. Opinions are my own.
Being obsessed with both cats (I’ve got three) and fragrances (I got eleventy hundred), I was delighted to receive a bottle of Kitten Fur fragrance from my good friends at The Library of Fragrance.
Now, I always go a bit clucky when I talk about my boys as kittens, but I distinctly remember the kitty smell of them when they gingerly emerged from the cat box for the first time. I couldn’t wait to cuddle them but when I buried my nose in their fur, I couldn’t help wishing that I hadn’t. There was a whiff of cat pee, kitten bums and dribble. Don’t panic, reader, I can assure you that Library of Fragrance Kitten Fur has none of this.
As cats gradually gorw out of kittenhood, their cleaning gets more fastidious. Ask my sleek black 9 year old, Ruby, who cleans herself up to 57 times a day. The scent of her is more subtle now, but in a dark room I could pick my black cat out just by sniffage, and it is now that we are more in Library of Fragrance Kitten Fur territory.
My nose tells me that this has tonka bean in it. A light combo of vanilla and almond, this is much more like the cuddly, comforting scent of a cat. In fact, I often think my cats’ fur smells faintly of plain biscuits, and this is captured perfectly.
There are also musks in here, but not the animalic civetty musk that smells “dirty good”, it’s more like a clean but nevertheless distinct musk. The overall feel is one of a cwtch in a bottle. Cwtch means “to comfort” in Welsh and it’s more of an uninhibited wrapping round of arms than a polite hug.
Kitten Fur is like a warm, fluffy gourmand scent that purrs. It made me feel very soppy indeed. Spray liberally, and….rest.
Watch this space for a Kitten Fur giveaway!
Library of Fragrance Kitten Fur is available from The Library of Fragrance website. My bottle was sent to me by The Library of Fragrance, for which, warm thanks. Opinions are my own.
Now that my blog is four, I thought I’d better do some housekeeping. One of my most popular articles is “Perfume for Paupers”, written two years ago. It was my guide to how you can smell good without blowing the budget. It was written from the heart (and from past experience ), since I believe that you don’t have to be rich to smell good.
However, as you know, the industry changes faces like a kaleidoscope in even a short space of time. For example, many celeb scents that I reviewed then, have been discontinued, and many new affordable options have appeared on the market in just two years. However, much of what I wrote in my earlier article still stands: shop around, be selective, use eBay, look past the label. I reckon it’s time for an update. Here’s my guide on how to smell good without feeling bad.
Leave your snobbery at the door
I used to be in an exclusive long term relationship with Chanel Cristalle and would only rarely have flings with other scent on the side. During a frugal period in my life, I decided to shop around, and my love affair with scent truly blossomed. I hold allbeauty.com and Home Bargains responsible for this. I bought the cheapest scent I could afford and ended up finding some firm favourites. High price tags do not always mean high quality., and vice versa. Don’t overlook celebrity fragrances either. They are all made by professional Noses and are usually cheaper than other brands. Some of my favourite celeb scents are under £10.
Ok, I’m starting to sound obsessed with Avon now, but when you an find a decent perfume for under seven quid, well, then it’s very hard to stay away. In fact my SOTD is Avon Rare Platinum and those tuberose wafts are very pleasing to my nose today. Avon Perceive Oasis was my summer scent more than any other in 2016. I even bought a back up bottle.I give Avon a further thumbs up for selling purse sprays at just £3 and for currently selling Scent Essence Lime Verbena for just £2.50 for 30ml. All prices correct at time of posting.
I have bought a lot of perfume from eBay and have never been let down. EBay is pretty strict on counterfeit and it’s not worth most people’s trouble to try and sell the odd fake. Having said that, there’s no guarantee it’ll never happen to you, but in seven years I’ve not been conned. EBay is also great for perfume samples which helps avoid costly blind buys. I’ve also scored some blinders from a local car boot sale. Never underestimate how much somebody else can dislike a perfectly good bottle of perfume and be desperate to get rid of it. That, my friends, is when you circle and swoop.
Success stories: 100ml of Cabotine for £3.99 on eBay, bottle of LouLou and assorted samples for £7 on eBay, bottle of half used 100ml of Rive Gauche for £4 at car boot sale. Full 50ml bottle of Chanel Coco EDP for £26 on eBay.
Some of my favourite cheap and cheerfuls are the kind of scent young folk today might label as “Nan perfume”. I prefer the term “classic. ” Nobody will put me off Coty L’Aimant or Chique and I could buy both bottles with ten quid and still have change for a Daim Bar.
If you’re saving for a bottle of the good stuff and in between bottles,, why not just buy a few samples and use your favourites on high days and holidays? It’s cheaper than a full bottle and you can always smell expensive without having a shelf full of posh bottles and no money in the bank.
You’d be amazed how many of your friends have been given perfume they don’t like and don’t wear. Nobody seems to throw it away though, so get asking. You might find they have one of your favourites and that dusty bottle you can’t get rid of might be just their cup of tea. I dare you to ask four friends if they have a bottle of perfume they don’t really wear. It also works on forums such as Fragrantica, Mumsnet and Fragcomm.
Many men’s fragrances are cheaper than women’s ( though not all). There’s no rule that says you can’t wear his stuff or that he can’t wear yours. Having said that, although I reguarly raid my husband’s scent collection (I chose most of it- ergo it’s mine.) I can’t see my husband borrowing my SJP Lovely to wear for work anytime soon. Shame. Florals can smell good on men.
Here’s what I mean by cheap and cheerful for chaps: Old Spce (cheap as chips) doesn’t smell a million miles away from Yves Saint Laurent Opium. (Thanks for the tip Portia of APJ), and Avon men’s fragrances are truly excellent. I wore Wilderness for Men for the whole of August one year, with a pretty sun dress. I say Pah! to labels. If it smells good wear it.
These mini rollerballs are available from Amazon and eBay. Containing no alcohol, and usually in rollerball format, these are an unbeatably cheap way to layer notes or wear the scent alone. The jasmine and the rose single note fragrances are pretty good too. They make good presents and a 10ml rollerball is perfect for even the smallest of handbags.
In 2015 I wrote a post entitled “How to Get Perfume Samples”. I felt it was necessary since these days, it’s easier to get unicorn droppings and hens’ teeth than perfume samples from Beauty Counters. My original article has proved very popular, but the Fragrant Firmament spins fast on its axis. My original article, written in 2015, needs updating for 2017.
A lot can happen in two years within the industry. Beloved favourites can be discontinued, new starts ups can arrive with a bang, and old lions can go out with a whimper.
Sample services serve two purposes: They avoid you making costly blind buys and they help you fall in love with stuff you might not have come across. Whilst I love to seek out samples of stuff I’ve heard of and never tried, I also love it when the choice is made for me. It takes me out of my comfort zone. This is one of the reasons why I am such a fan of discovery boxes, and the Perfume Society in particular. Their boxes are loosely themed and have really changed my mind about no end of scents I wouldn’t have otherwise sought out.
The other advantage is one I mentioned pre-Christmas, but which applies at any time of the year. When buying for others, why not offer them a choice? A mixture of samples and gift voucher is my idea of the perfect gift (It’s my birthday next month. I wonder if my husband is reading this?).
Here’s a roundup of sample services that are currently out there just waiting for us to knock on their door. This is a UK Guide by the way, so if I miss your favourite out, it’s just geography, not favouritism.
The Perfume Society.
Yes I’m a fan. No, they don’t pay me to say so and yes I have almost every one of the Discovery Boxes. In fact, I’m just waiting for the Heaven Scent one, due any day! You can buy them here. They usually contain around nine excellent, often hard-to-get samples and maybe a treat or two as well. They are my Number One favourite treat.
A new entry at Number Two. I’m very impressed with the diversity here and find the prices reasonable. I’m rolling my sleeves up and writing a long list. Here’s a link to their website.
There are two branches of this divine boutique perfumery in London, but the good news is that you don’t have to live in London to benefit from their sample service. The bad news is that its very, very hard to choose. Here’s the link.
Nobody can accuse Sarah McCartney of not being inclusive. 4160 Tuesdays means reasonably priced high quality artisan scents that cover every genre except “boring”. The 4160 Tuesdays website even has themed suggestions of sample sets in case you don’t know where to begin. My favourite is “Frocks and Hats.”
The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club.
Every quarter since 2013 I have received a box of samples from The Fragrance Shop. These usually include new releases and new flankers, but often they pop a classic or a well-beloved favourite in. The boxes usually include between 6 to 9 samples and a booklet of money off vouchers if you find one you want in full bottle size. Boxes are just £5 a quarter, and they make great gifts too. You can join in the fun here.
Papillon Perfumery is the creation of Nose Liz Moores, perfumer extraordinaire (I’ve met her- she is small and beautiful) There are four scents in the Papillon range and you can sample of all four from here. There isn’t a single one I wouldn’t recommend, and a fifth scent is on its way later this year.
Another one I’ve not come across before, but I’m very impressed with their range and might be making an order soon. The huge range varies from Tom Ford, Chanel Exclusifs, Tauer and Roja to name but a few. I’ll let you know what I think if I can ever make my mind up! You can check the site out for yourselves here.
Pell Wall Perfumes
In the beautiful county of Shropshire, Chris Bartlett creates exquisite scents under the name of Pell Wall Perfumes. Sample sets and mini bottles are available at reasonable prices and you may well find a lifelong favourite among this imaginative range. I particularly like Pretty in Pink and Deep Purple. Check out the website here.
eBay has a vast range of samples from various sellers. I have never been let down or sold fakes on eBay- they are very strict about that. I have had some great bargains this way and even if you end up not liking the samples you order, they make great swapping currency.
Find Your Tribe
Join a group of like-minded fume heads: Sites such as Fragrantica and Base Notes have led to many firm friendships, as well as samples swapping. Alternatively, join a Facebook group such as Fragcom or Perfumeland For Fluffheads.
Have I missed any out? Have you had great sample service in the UK? Or have you discovered a favourite through random sample sniffage? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Thank you so much for all your entries in the Big Four giveaway to celeberate four years of this very blog. I had a great response and can now announce the winers. (Drum roll please)
The winner of Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes is @StephanTweets from Twitter. I will Tweet him and let him know. Congratulations Stephan!
The winner of Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream is Tania. Congratulations Tania!
The winner of Perfumer’s Club “Valerie” is Jill Edwards. Congratualtions Jill!
And finally, the winner of Perfumer’s Club “Victor”is Steven Tuckwell. Congratualtions Steven!
Can all winners please email me their addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org please.
For those who didn’t win, there will be more giveaways throughout the year so watch this space. Here are the details of stockists where you can buy the above fragrances, and none of them will break the bank!
Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes is from Fragrance Direct at only £2.99 for 15ml. Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream is available from the Library of Fragrance website for just £15. The Perfumer’s Club selection is available from the World Class website. A long lasting 83ml bottle is just £14 and longevity is a guaranteed six hour minimum. In my opinion, Valerie smells very similar to Black Opium, so if that’s your poison, you’ve found a real gem. Victor is all about the grapefruit and the vetiver and was my secret favourite of the four.
Photos: Envelope photo from www.thepeoplesdesignlab.org.uk Elizabeth Taylor photo from makeupalley.com. Valerie photo from www.World-Class.co.uk and others are my own.
I’ve always been a fan of Yardley and I will correct anyone who says “old lady” in the same sentence. Yardley gave us the beautiful 60s style chypre that is Jade, and my favourite violet scent: Yardley April Violets. In fact, one of the reasons I love Yardley so much is that they do floral soliflores and they are pretty hard to get these days. I am a particular sucker for lily of the valley and reckon it’s about time straight-up, no-messing florals came back into fashion. In my book, they never went out.
Today I am reviewing Yardley English Bluebell. This is an interesting one because I am very familiar with the smell of bluebell and did not find it here, as such. However, this did not prevent me from liking it and this review is going to be a bit of a fan letter.
English Bluebell opens with peony and bergamot: two lighter than air notes that will perk you up like a spring morning. Peony is the pretty girl who always wear floaty pink tulle and it is used beautifully here. This is feminine right down to its pink ballet slippers. Whilst actual bluebell is absent, its close relative Hyacinth amkes its presence felt (I’m trying to get Hyacinth Bouquet into a sentence. Patricia Routledge fans will understand). The hyacinth is present and correct and gives an almost herbal/floral nuance. It’s like a girlier, greener version of lavender. I discerned a hint of lily of the valley, but not as much as I would like. There is allegedly peach in here somewhere, but peach dodgers will be relieved to hear that I could find none.
The base notes include amber, sandalwood, musk and vanilla. Don’t ask me why vanilla’s in there. It must have gone into the wrong meeting by mistake. Vanilla has no place in a pretty spring like floral. There is a soupcon of sandalwood in the base, which isn’t as incongruous as you might think, and the whole thing ends with a flourish of feminine white musk.
This a light and airy crowd pleaser that would pass the commuter test and the office test with flying colours. It would also make a very good scent for a young girl starting out on a perfume journey. It’s not very bluebell-y, but it is a very pretty floral that will offend nobody and delight everyone.
You can buy Yardley London English Bluebell from Boots. It’s not very expensive and comes in a very pretty box. Mine was under ten quid. Opinions are my own.
The results are in. You are all stars but there can only be three winners, which is pretty good really. I’m a generous old thing on the quiet. Using Randompicker. org the following winners were picked:
Log Cabin- Kathy Hinton (via the blog)
Blue Spruce- Karen (via the blog)
Cupcake- Lanais (via the Facebook page)
Can the winners please email me their addresses ? email@example.com
To everyone who didn’t win this time, it is my four year blogaversary on January 2nd 2017 and I will be doing lots of giveaways then, so not long to wait. All fragrances in the draw are available from Library of Fragrance with a selection available on your high street at branches of Boots. With warm thanks to the Library of Fragrance for their generosity in providing the prizes.
The week after my seven year old son, Leo, told me he was a King in his school play, a bottle of Library of Fragrance Myrrh landed on my doormat. This dovetailing presented me with an opportunity too good to ignore. Leo said he didn’t mind modelling the bottle for me on the condition that I tell you all that he actually carried gold not myrrh in the play.
So what does it smell like? Well, I’m a big fan of churchy smells so Myrrh is right up my street. Myrrh is an aromatic resin that has in the past been used for embalming and as a medicine. In fact, there is a medicinal frisson to this (albeit homeopathic). It’s a cross between herbs and citrus and then beds down into the scent of incense-infused ancient stone and the infused wood of church pews (medieval for preference). This reminds me of the scent of a thurible in High Anglican Mass (St Michael’s Exeter to be precise).
In fact, I blended this with Library of Fragrance Mahogany and it was an absolute knockout. I’m talking, Hall of Fame brilliance. It reminded me of Comme Des Garcons Avignon, which I adore, but can’t afford. Alone or layered with Mahogany, Myrrh is divinely good (pun intended) and will fill your home with the scent of the first Christmas.
If you move fast, Myrrh is half price until midnight tonight (20th Dec 2016) if you use the code SENSUALMYRRH . Otherwise, try the Library of Fragrance. website. The price is usally £15 for 30ml, which I call jolly good value.
My bottle was sent to me by Library of Fragrance PR, for which, many thanks. Photos are all my own. Thank you to Leo for agreeing to be a Kingly model for me.
Have you ever heard the saying “snug as a bug in a rug”? My parents used to say it when I was growing up and I wondered if it was just me. The phrase seems very fitting for today’s blog post.
There I was, sipping my tea and wondering what to blog about on International Tea Day, when the penny dropped. I realised that our friends at The Library of Fragrance really, actually DO have a scent for every occasion. They very kindly sent me a bottle of Chai Tea last week and reader, I can report that it is rather lovely.
Suitable for men or women, and equally good on both, Library of Fragrance Chai Tea combines the seemingly incongruous mix of spices and milk. Despite the strength and variety of the spices, this never borders on the Oriental, despite the presence of cloves, cinamon, star anise, and even paprika. It’s more of a gourmand scent than anything, but stops short of being too sweet or cakey.
What I like best about this is that the aromatic qualities of cloves, cardoman and ginger are all present and correct but they somehow add an airy green tea feel. Think inviting spa treatment rooms rather than the spice rack in your kitchen.
This is a lightly aromatic scent that never borders on the heavy. It smells therapeutic and uplifting, whilst retaining that hint of cosy at the same time. This fragrance is perfect hygge material. Whack the heating to “Code Sauna” aaaand Netflix and Chill. No need to go out. You’re hibernating now.
You can buy Library of Fragrance Chai Tea from the Library of Fragrance website. Branches of Boots also carry a varied selection of Library of Fragrance scents.
Photo of my bottle of Chai Tea is my own, taken next to my favourite mug ( it really looks like my cat, Ian). Photo of Chai Tea ingredients from Houseboateats.com. My bottle was kindly sent to me by the Library of Fragrance PR team, for which, warm thanks. Opinions are my own.
I was recently sent two fragrances from Milton Lloyd to see what I thought. What I thought was “Wow” and “Crikey! Major sillage!” so I thought I’d share my opinion with you, my lovely readers. Perfumer’s Choice Chosen By Valerie is from a range of very reasonably priced fragrances made by World Class Perfumes, who also own Milton Lloyd and Taylor of London. I have reviewed four of them before and all were very good with great longevity. The two new ones are Valerie (being reviewed today) and Victor, which is also excellent. All Perfumer’s Choices fragrances are guaranteed to last a minimum of six hours, making these excellent value.
If you are of a delicate disposition, you may need to take a back seat for this one, because it’s LOUD and BIG. At first spray, there are big white flowers, lots of vanilla and a sledgehammer of patchouli. Now if this all sounds too much for first thing is the morning, well, that’s because it probably is. However, for the evening, this is an absolute must. One or two squirts will comfortably see you through until morning. After the big white petals of the top notes subside ( I reckon jasmine and orange blossom are in cahoots), you get a strong whiff of espresso coffee.
This works very well with the vanilla and takes this from a rich floral into an even richer patchouli gourmand. In fact, it reminded very much of YSL Black Opium. The coffee, patchouli and vanilla are all there, just like Black Opium. This is not a dupe, however, but I’m certain that if you like Black Opium, then this will suit you down to the ground. At only £14 for an 83ml bottle of EDP, this is great value, and trust me when In tell you that sillage and longevity goes far above and beyond the call of duty.
You can buy Perfumer’s Choice perfume here from the Milton Lloyd website. With thanks to Milton Lloyd for the bottle of this and Perfumer’s Choice Victor, to be reviewed soon. Opinions are my own.