Tag Archives: best cheap perfumes

Library of Fragrance Chai Tea: Snug as a bug in a rug

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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.

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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.

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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.

Stockists

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.

Acknowledgements

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.

Perfumer’s Choice: Valerie

 

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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.

valerieIf 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.

valerie

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.

 Stockists

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.

Library of Fragrance Cupcake: I Can Resist Everything Except Temptation

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Those nice people at Library of Fragrance recently sent me a selection of their cosiest scents. By cosy, I mean the smells you associate with staying in, wearing fluffy socks, and whacking the heating up to “sauna”.  It’s my absolute favourite thing to do in this weather: staying in and being boring. I love it.

hyggeThe Danish have a word for that cosy feeling of well being you get when all is well in the world and you’re snug as a bug in a rug: Hygge ( pronounced Hoo-GUH). With this in mind, Library of Fragrance has created a range of scents that make perfect Hygge perfume. Cupcake is just one and I shall be reviewing others in the run up to Christmas.

So what does it smell like? Well it’s funny really, because I spent all day making cupcakes yesterday for a guest who didn’t show up (I know, right?) After a day of baking and spooning up butter icing, I sprayed this on my children and asked them what it reminded them of. I love doing this- the results vary from the hilarious to the surreal via the strangely accurate.  One  had no idea whatsoever because his brain was full of Hype T shirts he “needs” and the other one said “biscuits” which was pretty close.

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Library of Fragrance Cupcake doesn’t smell of vanilla cake batter, because they already have one for that, and it does not smell of vanilla ice cream, because they already have one for that too. No, my friends, Library of Fragrance Cupcake actually smells of the crisp, light golden baked top of a cupcake when it’s been cooked somewhere between squishy and crunchy. You know the edges that are almost brown but not quite? It’s like that. In fact, freshly baked crispy biscuits was a pretty close guess. This is a dry, baked scent and very evocative it is too ( I know because I ate the trimmings round the edges yesterday).

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There’s vanilla in here, which is just the right amount, and that’s what makes this cosy. It’s also handy if you’ve no time to cook and want your supermarket cupcakes to smell shop bought- I shall be employing this trick next time our No-Show guest arranges a visit.

Vanilla is ideal for winter and I decided to experiment with layering Cupcake over other Library of Fragrance scents. I can report that it is so delicious when coupled with Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream that  you will want to eat your own arm. I can think of no greater praise!

Stockists

Library of Fragrance fragrances are available from the Library of Fragrance website. You will also find purse sprays and extra large bottles and very often, fabulous sale items at under £10. You can also find a selection of Library of Fragrance scent on the High Street exclusively at Boots. My bottle was provided by Library of Fragrance in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own.

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Photo credits

All photos are my own  from my kitchen yesterday ( even the tea and cake sign) except for the Hygge definition which comes from www.musefondue.blogspot.co.uk

La Perla Original Eau de Parfum: A Classic Beauty

 

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It’s Autumn now, although it’s hard to tell. How do you define it? A run of ten days without sunshine? That’s summer, isn’t it? All I know is that I haven’t worn sandals for over two months now so I reckon it’s safe to say it’s Autumn.

The light colognes and airy florals are going to to sit at the back for a bit whilst I bring out the ambers, patchoulis and chypres. or in the case of La Perla, all three in one bottle.la-perla-ad1

Luckily enough, my friend Lisa, beloved friend of the blog and of me, popped in recently with a bottle of this beauty. Now this wasn’t on my radar at all. I probably would never have tried it if it hadn’t been put in my hands for a little borrow and a sniff. I’m ever so glad we met though, because this stuff not only smells terrific, but is very good value indeed.

la-perla-perfume_02My first impression of La Perla was that it is a ladylike powdery chypre scent. It’s the kind of classic scent that was everywhere in the seventies, although it wasn’t launched until 1987. There’s no subtlety here, so it fits nicely into the category of 1980s Powerhouse too, with its “Gangway! Here I come!” sort of sillage- (Think Alexis Carrington).  Even the bottle has helmet hair and big shoulders. Having said that, this has an elegance that doesn’t normally go hand in hand with such a Look At Me scent, but elegant is certainly a word I would use.

My first impression was white soap. Very soapy, very aldehyde-y and with big piles of white talc. Sometimes that powderiness is the sign of a damn good chypre, and it counts for as much here. The oakmoss beds in straight away. Yes there’s a citrussy opening and some peppery carnation and ladylike rose, but the oakmoss shoves its way to the front and makes its presence felt. There is musty patchouli, aromatic sandalwood, feminine soapy musk and warm amber too. Interestingly, none of this happens in order. I didn’t get distinct top notes, a middle and a base. It went more like this: soapy chypre to musky to spicy- all within ten minutes. What I have on my skin now though, is a wonderfully powdery,  massive , gorgeous chypre. And it’s under twenty quid.

Douse yourself in La Perla,  then wear fake fur, red lipstick, and arch one eyebrow imperiously at everyone you meet. That’s what I want to do, anyway.

Stockists

La Perla is very good value indeedy- try allbeauty.com for prices that start at just £15.95 for 30ml of EDT (NB I haven’t tried the EDT but it would be a good starting point if you’re unsure about the LOUD SILLAGE). I was testing a 50ml bottle of EDP and the current price for an 80ml bottle of EDP is just £26. 

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Adam Levine For Her: An Unexpected Pleasure

adam levine

“Who is Adam Levine?” I thought, and “Why is this shaped like a microphone?”

Well, being a middle aged Mum who listens to Elaine Paige’s excellent Radio 2 show, I had to educate myself on Adam Levine when I was handed a bottle of Adam Levine For Her. He’s the lead singer of Maroon 5, has fully embraced yoga and is an outspoken supporter of same sex marriage. In other words, he sounds like he’s just my cup of tea. (NB I can only do three yoga things, but I’ve yet to meet a yoga person I didn’t like.)

Now I’m no snob when it comes to celeb scents: I’m never without Jlo Deseo or Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights or SJP Lovely, but I couldn’t help but wonder what Adam Levine was going to bring to the party.

Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine performs on NBC's "Today" show on Friday, June14, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Well, he has very kindly brought not a fruity floral, not a vanilla cup cake concoction, but a really excellent sandalwood fragrance that impressed me no end. The best thing about it is that it costs under ten quid. With this kind of high class white packaging and a bottle that reminded me of not so much a microphone as a sky scraper, I call this an unexpected delight.

Adam Levine For Her opens with  saffron, citrus, marigold and spices. I got green and juicy fig, which always smells like unsweetened sultanas to me. If that sounds like faint praise, it’s not. I love it. Combined with a hint of peppery spice, this was a promising First Act.  The drydown gave me a little fright when I had pencil shavings for about three minutes, (when it should be roses and jasmine) but then it righted itself and the musty, musky sandalwood emerged and stayed put for the next few hours. Oh, and then the jasmine and roses turned up, better late than never.

It’s so refreshing when a celebrity scent takes a different path from the blanket best seller genre of the day. This spicy, woody scent is so perfect for cold weather that I’ll be ordering it by the crate come winter. In fact, it’s also pretty good for Wales in August. It’s cardigan weather. Again.

Longevity could be better. I sampled the Eau de Parfum strength and was expecting a little more from it, but it stayed on my sleeve until the next day and smelled wonderful.

Big thanks to Lisa Wordbird, who loaned me her bottle for review purposes.

Stockists

You can buy Adam Levine For Her from Fragrance Direct for just £9.99 for 100ml or Amazon UK for only £8.28.

Photos: Top photo my own, photo of Adam Levine  from The Huffpost

Avon Perceive Oasis: I’ll Take The Lot

perceive oasis

Avon is a prolific launcher of fragrances. I don’t think a brochure goes by without a new fragrance and I particularly love the scratch and sniff pages.  This week I was given a little sample of a new Avon perfume by my lovely Avon Lady Jill, who I mention frequently.  She comes to my door like a fragrance dealer and delivers her packages round the neighbourhood.  She no longer brings her adorable Basset Hound Cody, since my Ginger Tom cat Ian saw him off. I digress.

Avon to me, is hit and miss, but that’s just because they cast their nets wide.  For instance, Avon Far Away is not my cup of tea but is their Number one best-seller.  I smell it everywhere when I’m out and about.  However, their latest launch: Perceive Oasis is so good that I plan to stock up in case they discontinue it like they did with Perceive Dew a few years ago.

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Perceive Oasis is all about the peony. Peony is one of the most delicate and feminine floral notes in fragrance.  It doesn’t have the headiness of jasmine or the creaminess of tuberose- it’s all delicate flowers and ballerinas and fairy wings.  Perceive Oasis combines peony with violet leaf and a white musk finish.

It is an uplifting scent, with hints of clean laundry and springtime in it, yet done very simply.  It veers towards the ozonic if anything, but that just adds to the clean, clean, clean vibe.

On Fragrantica, some members list this as smelling similar to Chloe, and I would agree with that, although this is lighter and is more peony than rose.

It is currently only £7 a bottle and I have already placed my order. What a lovely surprise this was. Poor Jill will have to use a wheelbarrow to deliver my Avon if they keep this up.

Stockists

You can buy Avon Perceive Oasis from Avon Shop UK,  and prices vary from £7 to £11 depending on that month’s offer.  In my book, that makes this a solid gold bargain.

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Perfume Under £15: And you won’t smell cheap. Promise.

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On my dashboard at Iscent HQ ( which is very glamorous and doesn’t have workmen in it and a roll of old carpet in the porch), the most popular searches by a country mile are “cheap perfume” and “best cheap perfumes”. January was an especially busy month for the bargain perfume hunters and so I thought I would write a guide for good perfume under £15. I’ve done a list for under a tenner, and even a list for under a fiver, so here’s my list of best buys for under fifteen quid.

Whether you’re spoiling yourself or someone else ( Valentine’s Day is in 14 days), £15 can get you some really good stuff and with my trusty guide nobody will smell cheap. I wouldn’t do that to you.

1. Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps

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This timelesss classic is always on my dressing table. With its combination of light airy florals and warm amber undertones, you cannot go wrong. Bizarrely, I found this on SportsDirect.com for a tenner.

2. Calvin Klein Obsession

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A classic 80s Oriental that has by turns been both derided and admired. I think it’s time put this hard hitter back on the map. You can buy the 30ml for under £15 on allbeauty.com

3. Davidoff Cool Water

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This ozonic light scent is a crowd pleaser and a safe bet. Easily obtained with change from your three fivers. You can get Davidoff Cool Water For Women  from allbeauty.com currently at £10.95.

4. Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue

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An appealing light-as- air floral, with lily of the valley and lilacs, 5th Avenue is an ideal office friendly scent. Check out my review here. You can get a 75ml bottle of this at allbeauty.com and I have seen it on offer at The Perfume Shop and The Fragrance Shop recently, although prices change frequently.

5. Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely

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In a sea of smellalike celebuscents, Lovely stands alone as pure quality. With lavender and citrus in the opening, and musk, patchouli and amber in the base, this is another bottle that’s a permanent fixture on the groaning IScent dressing table. You can get a 30ml bottle from Fragrance Direct.

6. Library of Fragrance

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There are too many to choose from this great range. All are £15, with some being only £10 ( check the Library of Fragrance site for details). In Boots, it’s two for £25, which works out even cheaper. My favourites are Musk #7, PlayDoh (think vanilla), Four Leaf Clover, Orange Blossom, Mahogany, Mango, Grass, Rain, Moonbeam and Salt Air.

7. Marks and Spencer

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We are spoiled for choice these days at trusty Marks and Sparks. I recommend Monotheme Classic White Musk, Classic Sweet Violet, or Classic White Gardenia , currently at only 14.60. Fragonard is also on offer: Fragonard Jasmin or Sweet Pea are both currently at £14.40, or Rosie for Autograph, a fragrance made with centifolia roses, which I previously reviewed here and wear often and which is currently at £11.20.

8. LUSH:Gorilla Perfumes

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For me LUSH Gorilla Perfumes are hit and miss but I suppose the beauty of them is that they’re not mainstream crowd pleasers. Gorilla Perfumes now has Three Volumes, and my two favourites are Karma and Imogen Rose from Volume One. You can buy Karma from £12 and a solid of Imogen Rose for just £10. Both are long lasting and good value.

9. Avon

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Our old friends Avon almost always have decent special offers on which usually means you can buy two for £14. Offers vary, but my recommendations are Little Black Dress, Tahitian Holiday  (which reminded me of Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess) and Premier Luxe, which is an iris/blackcurrant chypre. I also love the Scent Essence range, which has a great Bergamot fragrance.

10. Cacharel

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Cacharel makes two of my favourites: Anais Anais (pronounced AN-ay-ISS) and LouLou. The former has been around since the 70s and the latter is a big 80s classic that takes me right back to my days listening to The Cure with a red wine moustache. Be sure to get the Anais Anais rather than the Anais Anais Premier Delice version, as the Delice version has been sweetened for the modern palate. You can buy Anais Anais from Escentual for £13 although it’s also easily found on the High Street .You can find LouLou in Boots for £14.99

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So there you have it. If I had fifteen quid to spend, I would be very hard pushed to limit myself to one. Do let me know what your favourite perfume bargain is. I always love to hear from you.

Lace: Golden Oldies Make Great Goodies

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Formerly known as Yardley Lace and now made by Taylor of London, this review of Lace follows on from my recent post about Wearing Your Mum’s perfume.  I didn’t wear Lace first time round, when I was in my teens, since I assumed it was “For Mums”. Well now I am a Mum and a fan of mossy chypres, and I reckon Lace deserves a hug for staying true in a world of ever changing scent fashion. Yes, Lace carried on wearing court shoes when everyone else wore trainers and that my friends, take guts.

I have worn Lace, and Lace alone for a good couple of days in order to draw my conclusions and here they are:  Lace does not suit its white lacy powder blue bottle, as it’s a tough old bird full of spice and body and moss.  Fragrantica only lists only three notes listed: aldehydes, rose and oakmoss.  In fact, in Lace you will find a good dose of sandalwood, patchouli, cedarwood, musk, and amber in among that gorgeous oakmoss.

I found the aldehydes  very dominant: Lace smells of pure white soap and good old fashioned talcum powder.  It took me years to appreciate this accord, but now I do I can’t get enough.  After a couple of hours, for this has fab longevity,  the spicy, mossy base emerges and you now have a pleasantly green accord with the powdery overlay, which always reminds me of antique dressing tables covered in talc and lipsticks.

Yardley no longer makes this, but Taylor of London does and the teeny weeny price makes this a big, big, retro bargain.

Stockists

Lace by Taylor of London is available from Fragrance Direct, Perfume Click and Amazon UK.

Yardley Contemporary Classics: English Rose

www.superdrug.com
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Yardley is one of those classic, trusty brands where you can be assured of quality.  It’s a refreshing change to find a range of fragrance that isn’t constantly trying to reinvent the wheel.  As trends come and go, fans of classics can often find themselves left out, but we can always fall on back on Yardley to provide us with the traditional, simple scents that every fragrance wardrobe needs.

Yardley English Rose is a simple rose soliflore.  It goes on at first spray smelling like delicate rose breath sweets, which at first made me think of Parma violets, but this is purely rose from start to finish.   Despite being an Eau de Toilette, it is light enough to feel like a refreshing eau de cologne, but the lovely light airiness sticks around much longer than it would for a cologne.

On Fragrantica, there are several notes listed:

Rose and Geranium are in the top notes, white flowers are in the middle and the finish consists of spice, musk and woods.  To me, that hint of geranium provides the spice, although the rose is dominant throughout.  I regard this is a soliflore i.e.  A single note, unchanging, and to me, that’s what I want.

This beautiful rose is ideal for layering with musks or even a heavy oriental- it could lighten it up for daytime wear.  Yardley English Rose works best for me in summer though, wearing florals and smelling like them too.

This is unbeatable value at around £10 for 50ml, and sometimes the 125ml bottle is around that price too, if you shop around.

Stockists

Yardley Contemporary Classic English Rose is widely available from Superdrug, Lloyds Pharmacy, Amazon UK, Boots and many other stockists throughout the UK.