Tag Archives: affordable perfume

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!

 

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Three Things I Love About Bronnley Zealous Flower

In the past, Bronnley has had a reputation as being a classic floral brand that “older” ladies liked.  Personally, I’ve always loved classic florals and soaps in wrappers so it’s never stopped me.  However,  the upcoming bright young things of the Twenteens are a capricious bunch with more choices than any other generation that has ever lived.  Brands have to move with the times.

Bronnley has not only moved with the times but added a bit of an edge that is putting them firmly on my list of favourites. Their collection of Eclectic Elements fragrances is packaged for a new generation, but pleases this 47 year old no end.

Today I am wearing Bronnley Eclectic Elements Zealous Flower and I love it. Why do I love it? Well, that’s easy.

  1. It comes in an adorable roll on bottle. (more about roller balls soon because I’m obsessed).
  2. It’s available in a 9ml version so you can live with it for a good few weeks before buying a big one.
  3. It’s inexpensive but doesn’t smell like it is.

Here’s what it smells like:

It opens with pear, orange and bergamot. Now pear has been used A LOT in the past two years, to the point where I pull non-selfie faces when I smell it.

However, in Zealous Flower, it’s the flowers that come out first, not the fruit.  In fact the fruit adds clean edges to the roses and jasmine, which are BIG.  Even the pear knows its place and doesn’t take over.

It must be said that there was briefly a pencil shavings phase which came and went, before the vetiver and amber rounded things off. They never quite see off the jasmine though, which remains the main player here. In fact, at first, I thought this had tuberose in it, such is the white flower richness.

Zealous Flower leaves me with a pleasing autumnal floral on my skin. What I’m left with is a very agreeable accord of vetiver, jasmine, hints of leathery labdanum flower, and some faded roses.

Now, about that adorable roller ball. This has a little metal rollerball that applies just the right amount to skin and stops you going overboard before a day at work. The rollerball version comes in an attractive narrow box in 9ml size and is a good compromise between a big bottle blind buy and having to judge it on a few sprays from a tester. I want more brands to do this.

Zealous Flower is or has also been known as Savage Flower, but I prefer Zealous to Savage.

Stockists

You can buy the Bronnley Eclectic Elements range from Boots in store or online.  The rollerballs cost £10 and contain 9ml of scent.  You can also buy this cute set of whole range minis for £20 from the Bronnley website. My rollerball bottle was kindly provided by Bronnley in return for an honest review, which mine is. This is not a sponsored post. 
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Unbelievably Good (and Cheap!) : Yves Rocher Vanille Bourbon

Have you ever tried an inexpensive perfume that was so good you thought you’d been undercharged? That’s how I felt when my little Yves Rocher consignment arrived recently. Tucked away on the website is a small selection of excellent 20ml scents that cost me only £4 a bottle. Vanille Bourbon was one of them and all I can say is Crikey Moses, this is good stuff.

Now vanilla, as you know, can smell like cheap candles  or like delicious buttery boozy liqueur that makes you want to swoon. You have to try a lot of bottles to find the latter and this one falls into that category.

Despite being an eau de toilette, Vanille Bourbon lasted ages on my skin and I was getting delightful wafts up to five hours later when I found myself sniffing the air and saying “mm, someone smells nice,” realising later that it was me.  I was the someone.

The only note listed for this fragrance is vanilla, but that’s a wide net.  This has facets of woods, soft musk, some unidentifiable floral notes, and an edge of smoky toasted sugar, like the singed edges of a Crème Caramel.  For a fleeting second, it smelled like spiced whisky, but overall, I would call this a milky, musky, floral and a very, very rich (kazillionaire) vanilla. It’s as satisfying as a mouthful of good crème brûlée and cost me a mere £4. Yes, I had change from a fiver. Well, I would have if I hadn’t bought four others in the range, more of which anon.

Yves Rocher Vanilla Bourbon is fantastic value and a dream of a vanilla scent. Not a cheap candle in sight.

Stockists

Yves Rocher Vanilla Bourbon 20ml EDT is only £4 from the Yves Rocher UK website. I won’t be parted from mine.

 

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Fragrance for the Frugal 2017

thrift

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.

pandora
Nope. No money in the money box.

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.

Edith Evena as Lady Bracknell
Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell

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. 

Recommended: Celine Dion Sensation,  Sarah Jessica Parker  Lovely,  JLo Glow, Madonna Truth or Dare.

avon retro3

Avon

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.

Recommended:  Lime Verbena, Avon Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche, Avon Rare Platinum, Avon Perceive Oasis, Avon Tahitain Holiday, and for fans of La Vie est Belle, Avon Cherish.

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Go for preloved

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.

coty

Go retro

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.

Recommended: Coty L’Aimant, Yardley April Violets,  Chique.

 

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Get good samples

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.

Recommended: The Perfume Society for great, hard-to-find samples, and The Fragrance Shop for a quarterly box of new releases.

sam collection

Swapsies

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.

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I bet beautiful Ruby Rose wears whatever the hell she likes. Photo from Pride.

Go unisex

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.

grand-canyonHere’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.

Recommended: Avon Destination Grand Canyon ( reputed to smell like Terre D’Hermes), Lynx  Urban DailyTobacco and Amber, Jovan Musk For Men, Lidl XBolt (pleasant, apple-y top note.)

white musk

Al-Rehab, Al Aneeq and Crown perfumes

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 violetjasmine 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.

Recommended:  I particularly like Violet and  the White Musk. neither cost me more than 2.99. A friend of mine adores Choco Musk at only £1.99.

How About You?

What’s been your best frugal fragrance?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

photo by Alison Oddy
photo by Alison Oddy

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Avon Far Away Infinity: Jasmine and Vanilla and Heavenly

far-awayinfinity

 

I recently managed to bag a 10ml purse spray of Avon Far Away Infinity in the last campaign brochure I was given by my lovely, and oft mentioned Avon Lady, Jill.

Avon Far Away is Avon’s best selling fragrance. It’s been around since 1994 and shows no sign of slowing down.  Many flankers have been introduced, but the original remains on the bestseller lists. Far Away Infinity, it has to be said, is not very much like Far Away.  It is, however,  remarkably similar to Paco Rabanne Olympea and several other high street launches of that ilk.

farawayinfinity

Far Away Infinity contains note-du-jour: Jasmine Sambac. Jasmine Sambac is like a cranked up version of jasmine that smells so heady that it almost borders on the orientail in its richness. If it was a colour it would be heavy gold.  Coupled with vanilla, it really packs a punch. There are other notes in Far Away Infinity, but they don’t get much of a look in once the jasmine sambac and the vanilla take over and chuck everyone else out of the party.

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with this- it’s bang on trend, but don’t expect similarities to Avon Far Away. What you can expect is a  very reasonably priced fragrance that is in a similar vein to Paco Rabanne Olympea and Marc Jacobs Decadence, but don’t say it was me who told you.  It’s strictly between me, you and the internet. Shh!

Stockists

You can buy Far Away Infinity from Avon UK. My purse sprays were a bargain 99p each for 10ml but I think that offer’s gone now, so don’t get excited. A 50ml bottle  of Far Away Infinity Eau de Parfum is currently only £7.

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Library of Fragrance Orange Blossom and Mango

mangoandorangeblossom

Every fragrance wardrobe needs a good orange blossom.  It’s a fruitier less creamy version of tuberose. It has that hint of faint milky oranges in the background and it smells like petals, all at the same time.

Orange Blossom is widely used in so many fragrances that the landscape of the fragrant firmament would smell very different without it. Library of Fragrance Orange Blossom is one of the best Orange Blossom soliflores I have tried. It’s not the highest priced orange blossom, nor does it come in fancy packaging, but for a sweet, floral, milky hit with a hint of subtle oranges in the background, this is hard to beat. It’s fabulous on its own, but when I layered Library of Fragrance Mango over the top, I had something really addictive going on. Mango smells like a tropical version of Orange Refreshers, which didn’t hurt Eau de Cartier Essence d’Orange, of which it reminded me. See my review earlier in this blog)

I didn’t used to like fruity florals and was a curmudgeon about them, but then the Caramel Sugar Tsunami took over and became such a ubiquitous note in mainstream perfume that I started to miss fruity florals and appreciated them anew.

Fragrantica
Fragrantica

The combination of Orange Blossom and Mango makes for a zingy, fresh and feminine scent that goes together so well that you could Brangelina its name: MangorangeBlossom? Orango? As for me, I couldn’t stop sniffing.

Both Orange Blossom and Mango are fabulous alone and true to the descriptions on their labels, but together, they really take off. My recommendation? Get both.

Stockists

All Library of Fragrance scents are available online from their website. Prices are either £9.99 or £15 for a full bottle, or £10 for a purse spray.

Boots also carries a range instore and online. In Boots you can buy two for £25.

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Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue: My Lofty Classic

5th

 

Elizabeth Arden fragrances,although  very reasonably priced, can be hit and miss:

Hits: Fifth Avenue, Untold, Green Tea and all its flankers, Sunflowers Summer Bloom, Blue Grass

Misses: Sunflowers, Red Door, Mediterranean, Splendor, True Love.

My lists are of course purely subjective, but I would add a great big thumbs up to Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue, which I am reviewing today. It deserves a place right at the helm of the Hit list. Fifth Avenue was created in 1996 by legendary nose Ann Gottlieb  and to me, it has stood the test of time where others have fallen.  With it’s light feminine florals and its warm amber base, I would go as far as to say it has a lot in common with Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps.

lazada.com.ph
lazada.com.ph

I mistakenly thought that Fifth Avenue was all about freesia, but in fact I find there is no freesia in it.  Instead, it is chock full of the most classic florals, namely rose, lily of the valley, jasmine, violet, iris, tuberose, lilac and carnation. If flowers had their own version of Who’s Who , all these would be in it. Rather than being cloying though, this floribunda of an accord is lightened with citruses in the opening gambit, bedding down to a floral base with hints of white musk and amber.  Unlike several other Elizabeth Arden scents, lasting power is pretty good.  I thought I’d lost it after an hour or two, but it wafted back to me in the evening when I let my hair down (in the literal sense, I didn’t go and party when the kids were in bed).

I like Fifth Avenue so much that I have a 125ml bottle on my dressing table and its sky scraper style bottle dwarfs my collection with its lofty glass column and its gold lid. I call this a classic, and I call it great value too.  It’s a pretty safe bet as a gift too- it’s sure to please anyone who likes floral scents without killing bystanders ( Hey, Angel, I’m talking to you!)

Stockists

Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue is currently available for a bargain price  at allbeauty.com and is widely available on your High Street or on Amazon UK.

Yves Rocher Quelques Notes D’Amour: A Grown Up Rose

quelquenotes

 

Yves Rocher is a brand I am rather fond of.  I have at least four full bottles* and have yet to try one I disliked.  I was kindly sent a bottle of Quelques Notes D’Amour by Yves Rocher and I thank them warmly for their generosity.  I am always happy to receive perfume to review, on the proviso that I may not like it and I may say so!  However, I will always be honest and well mannered.

Here goes then:  At first I did not like Quelques Notes D’Amour but after three days of wearing it in day time and even overnight in bed (a very good test of a scent) it has won me over.

purse spray

When I first smelled it on day one, I thought it was fairly generic and it went a bit cardboard-y/Crayola crayons on me after around half an hour.  However, the bottle was so pretty and the reviews so positive on Fragrantica that I wondered if I was missing something so tried again.

This time round I really started to respect the kind of rose scent this is.  The rose is not a watercolour rose, as it is in the rather lovely Comme Une Evidence, but more of a sophisticated, complex, woody rose.  In fact the first phase is pink pepper, which may have put me off at first.  Pink pepper is a red berry that is often used in fruity florals, and in my opinion, has been used with too heavy a hand of late.  In Quelques Notes D’Amour its just the warm up act because the middle phase becomes a thick, rich woody Damascene rose.  It’s definitely an Autumn/Winter rose rather than a light one for summer and would also serve you well as an evening fragrance.

The base note is long and rich and even a little spiky with patchouli and Guaiac wood (used so well in Hilary Duff With Love). There’s  warm benzoin and green cedar too, but I can’t help thinking that the pink pepper and the rose never really went away.

 Quelques Notes D’Amour comes in a beautiful bottle and is, in my opinion, not for teens -and hooray for that!  Those young people get wayyyy too many new launches aimed at them.  We “over 27s” ( Okay I’m 44) like being catered for and for that alone I am giving this a thumbs up.  For being a rich, woody rose that repelled me then changed my mind and reeled me in, I give this another thumbs up.  If I had a third thumb, I would give yet another thumbs up because Yves Rocher have a purse spray on offer, which is a great way of trying a fragrance before buying a full bottle.  I have a thing for purse sprays, so this pleased me no end.

Yves Rocher, keep up the sterling work.  As you were.

fragrantica
fragrantica

 Stockists:  You can buy Quelques Notes D’Amour from the UK Yves Rocher website. To my chums in the USA and Canada- sadly this is not yet available over on your patch, but I can heartily recommend Moment de Bonheur, Comme Une Evidence and So Elixir, all of which are on the Yves Rocher USA site.

* The Yves Rocher scents I own are; Comme Une Evidence, Cléa, Yria, and Yves Rocher Fraicheur Vegetale Verveine.  I also recommend the lovely So Elixir. You can find reviews of them all on this blog.

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Calvin Klein Downtown: For Bright Young Things

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This is a recent launch for Calvin Klein (September 2013) and it is intended for the young.  In which case, it is ideal.  Calvin Klein Downtown  caters for the current youthful preference for sweet, berry like fragrances.  However, it (thankfully) holds back from the ubiquitous Vanilla Bazooka that is blasted hither and thither today, and produces a decent enough daytime scent.

Reading the top notes of Lemon, Bergamot and Plum, I would have expected a fruitier opening, or at least a citrus opening, but it was sweet in a milky Vanilla way, like white chocolate.  Interestingly, Vanilla is not listed as a note, but the sweetness certainly hints at its shadow. Middle notes are Gardenia, Pink Pepper and Patchouli, but I found these notes indistinct and wouldn’t have guessed from a blind sniff.

downtown ronney mara

A few hours later and I’m sniffing my arm again.  It’s now become a milky musk, not a million miles from Just Cavalli.  Oh wait!  Here’s a faint hint of Gardenia. Better late than never.

As a scent for the young, it is a toned down version of all the fruity floral vanilla horrors I have previously reviewed (Taylor Swift I’m looking at you).  I wouldn’t wear it myself, but then, at 43, it wasn’t made for me. However, as a blessed relief  from the overuse of heavy handed ingredients currently en vogue, it fits the bill.

I found it a little non-descript, and borderline gourmand, but sometimes that’s better than “get out of the lift, she’s doused herself in that stuff again”.

Stockists

The price is reasonable at under £30 for 50ml of EDP on Amazon UK or you can find it on allbeauty.com. The face of the fragrance is the beautiful Rooney Mara.

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Yardley Royal Diamond: So Nearly a Gem

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Yardley makes excellent soliflores. That is a single note, unchanging fragrance that  doesn’t have a top note, a middle note and a basenote. It is usually a simple one trick pony such as Lily of The Valley or Rose, both of which Yardley make exceedingly well and at a very agreeable price.

Yardley Royal Diamond is a recent foray into hybrids. I am still not sure they shouldn’t stick to what they do best. Royal Diamond smells like vodka when you first put it on, followed closely by strong Pear and a little Bergamot. You would think, that as a hesperide lover, I would love this. Sadly I do not.. It is a clean smell, with Lily of the Valley and Roses in the heart. However I think the note that jars for me, and which stops me loving this, is a Honey note. It kind of stops it being the lovely crystalline clean scent that it promises to be. There is also foodie Vanilla in it. It spoils it the way that cake crumbs would spoil an ice cold sparkling gin and tonic.

After a while, I went off this when it turned into a vaguely ozonic scent, of which I’m not a fan. In fact, in the latter stages it smelled so similar to  Parfums Gres Cabotine Bleu that I wore one on each arm and kept getting them mixed up.

Yardley Royal Diamond  was launched in 2012. I love their simple floral scents such as April Violets, English Lavender and Orange Blossom. However, apart from a sneaking fondness for the nostalgic Panache (which Yardley last owned in 1999), I do prefer Yardley when they keep their ingredients separate.  I just think if you’re going to use clean and pure notes such as Lily of The Valley, Bergamot and Peony, then you don’t add Honey and Vanilla.

It’s not unpleasant, worth a try if you come across it, but it’s not on my Wishlist either. If you will forgive me the clumsy paraphrase, I would like to say to Yardley “You do it best, when you mix nothing at all”