Tag Archives: cheap perfumes that smell good

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

Milton Lloyd Bondage L’Affaire: It Goes Beyond Looks

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Milton Lloyd is the brand behind Taylor of London, Jean Yves, Bondage and Colour Me.  What they are doing is  producing perfumes for ridiculously cheap prices.  OK so far you might think, nothing new there.  What’s the catch?  Well the catch is that they’re actually pretty good.

So far I’ve yet to find one I cannot bear, although I had a little trouble falling for Chacal as it smells so similar to Dior Poison ( more of which anon).

Some might call them duplicates, but I prefer “homages”. Many of them smell similar to the more popular market leaders, but not exactly like them.  And besides, so many perfumes smell exactly the same to me these days that who are we to start pointing the finger? I’m talking about the vanilla/strawberry/candyfloss fruitichoulis that we get so often.  Against them, Milton Lloyd represents a welcome change of direction and I for one am happy to stock up.  No snobbery here- if it smells good I’ll wear it.

 Milton Lloyd Bondage L’Affaire has a great 1980s Duran Duran stylee box and the perfume within smells jolly good indeed.

Top notes: mandarin and pink pepper, middle notes: lilac, violet, peach, base notes: musk, amber, patchouli. Over on Fragrantica they’re comparing it to Gucci Guilty and Chanel Allure.

What I get is a light wearable floral with some fruity citruses keeping it fresh rather than cloying.  In a blind test I would have sworn there were freesias in this.  There aren’t but that might give you some idea of the prettiness of the florals, and let’s face it, not all florals are pretty.  Some are heavyweights and some are sickly.

The base notes of Bondage L’Affaire are just enough to give it a  prickly sort of lasting finish that is not too much for daywear but gives a nice almost woody finish as it rounds things off around four or five hours after spraying.

Bondage L’Affaire is available from Amazon.co.uk for the princely sum of  7.99 for TWO.

 

Tweed Mademoiselle: A Modern take On A Classic

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Tweed is one of those drugstore classics that still has a loyal following.  Many perfume lovers who love their woody chypres adore cheap and cheerful Tweed with its great longevity and mossy woods, but a new take is needed for the modern palate (or should that be nostril?): after all, business is business.

Tweed Mademoiselle is not like Tweed.  Tweed lovers may not even like it.  However, it’s still good stuff and could well serve to revive the Tweed name . Yes, it’s a fruity floral, but don’t be put off if you’re not a fan of the genre.  This smells like many far more expensive new releases I have smelled over many a perfume counter in the past year except for one thing: it costs just over a fiver.  That’s enough to get my attention for a start.  But would I lead my dear readers on a merry dance if it wasn’t worth buying?  No, of course not.

Tweed Mademoiselle has the following notes: Top notes: bergamot, melon Middle notes: jasmine, rose and violet. Base notes: oakmoss, amber, patchouli, vanilla

tweedThe floral notes are very prominent, and I have to say the melon is also noticeable but rather coming across as a calone, it’s more strawberry like.  The base is reassuringly woody, in keeping with the original Tweed, but without the same depth. It’s kind of an Oakmoss-lite.

In other words, you have a very decent modern floral fruity chypre for less than the price of a bottle of wine.  Longevity isn’t bad at around four to five hours (I’m using the parfum de toilette).

 

Tweed has changed hands many times:  it started as Lentheric, then became Yardley and then became Taylor of London and is now owned by Milton Lloyd for World Class.  Milton Lloyd is a brand with much to offer the frugal perfumista.  They have launched a range of updated classics (Chique Mademoiselle is next on my list) as well as the excellent Grasse Experience which I reviewed earlier this week. I have only tried a few out of the range but what they have all in common is that they are excellent budget buys and the packaging is nice enough to give as a gift too. In fact at these prices you could even risk a few blind buys.

Milton Lloyd Tweed Mademoiselle is currently available from Amazon UK but has rather tellingly sold out on Fragrance Direct.  If you’re in the USA and Canada you can buy original Tweed from Amazon.com and Amazon.Ca

Jean Yves Grasse Experience: The Elixir of Frugality

grasse experience

 

 Grasse Experience is one of those perfumes that is almost worryingly cheap but still smells good.  They are out there, and you have to be selective, but good quality perfume can indeed be had for song.

Regular readers will no doubt be familiar with my adage that you don’t have to be rich to smell good.  Jean Yves Grasses Experience made by Milton Lloyd Cosmetics for World Class is a great example of this.

Fans of Clinique Aromatics Elixir  will certainly enjoy  this smellalike, with its aldehydic opening and its rich finish replete with vetiver, patchouli and clove.  The notes are very similar to Aromatics Elixir, and it has a wonderful powdery  traditional feel about it. The differences lie in the fact that Grasse Experience doesn’t have the same resonance or longevity as the legendary all-day long Aromatics Elixir, but for  a mere 4.99, its unbeatable and you can afford to top up.  However, this is no puny weakling- its still there for a good four hours.

There’s more to come from Milton Lloyd this week as I have other treats in store- including a Tweed flanker and a Chique flanker.  I always welcome low price perfume ranges that dare to be different and don’t go down the most obvious crowd pleasing route, so watch this space.

Jean Yves Grasse Experience is available on Amazon.co.uk

Avon Little Pink Dress: Affordable Daytime Chic

lpd   I haven’t always had good things to say about Avon fragrance but in the last six months I have increasingly found more to like.  I do believe Avon is turning a corner. For one thing, they listened to their customers enough to bring Timeless back.  Secondly, they launched Avon Premier Luxe, which is excellent quality and costs around  £10. And thirdly, their prices remain very competitive.  Now maybe if I can persuade them to bring Odyssey back I would be a very happy blogger indeed.  (hey Avon, I know its in your USA brochures– please let us Brits have it too!)

odyssey

 

The Little Dress range of perfumes has been strong right from the start.  Little Black Dress is one of my favourites, and I even carry a purse spray of Little Red Dress around in my bag.  I haven’t tried Little Gold Dress or Little White Dress so I can’t speak for them.  However, I recently tried Little Pink Dress and I was impressed.

On a warm day, the lightness of Little Pink Dress was most welcome.  It opens with citrus: the only fruit I can’t get enough of in a scent.  Then the Peony comes in.  Peony is in my view, the prettiest, and dare I say it, the girliest of floral notes.  It is an almost guaranteed crowd pleaser for fans of floral scents, and I am very much in the crowd.

The base is supposedly patchouli, but I found it remained Peony-ish, with pleasant little floral wafts emanating from my skin as I moved around during the day. Little Pink Dress has often been compared to Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue and I can see why.  Both are light and airy  and open with citrussy notes. Longevity was neither great nor terrible, but since this was recently on sale for as little as £7, then I’m not complaining.

The only mystery about Little Pink Dress is why on earth they thought adding caviar was a good plan?  But don’t panic, it’s imperceptible.  Phew!  I didn’t want another Thierry Mugler Womanity situation on my hands.  Womanity still remains the only perfume, out of hundreds, that made me physically gag and retch.  Caviar in perfume?  Not a good plan.

I would say to Avon: don’t try and do what others are doing, just keep doing what you do best. What Avon does best is affordable, pleasant fragrances.  They don’t smash up the room, nor are they insipid, but they strike a good balance between the two and make the thrill of a new bottle of perfume an accessible treat.  There are still a lot of them that smell similar to one another however, but they seem to be steady sellers so I guess it’s just me.

Avon Little Pink Dress is a delightful and pretty daytime scent and would be ideal for work wear.  Innocent and inoffensive, it makes me want to wear a tea dress and paint my toes pearly pink.

mooseyscountrygarden.com
mooseyscountrygarden.com

Ten Perfumes Under a Tenner: Revised for 2014

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As I may have mentioned before, I am a strong believer in perfume for all. If your budget is more Aldi than Amouage, you can still smell good. The trick lies in being selective: quality is there if you know where to look.  It’s also in portion control: yes you can wear niche, but a sample or discovery set usually works out cheaper than a full bottle if eked out judiciously. When the purse is empty, I can still smell of Tauer Noontide Petals, just not every day.

Last year I made a list of best perfumes under ten pounds.  Due to constant price changes and discontinued this and that, I thought it appropriate to do another one. I won’t quote prices as they are so variable, but all of these were under 10GBP at the time of going to press, and not in a sale.

I’ve tried to include a bit of everything so in the list below you have a musk, a rose, an oriental, a cologne, a floral, and a patchouli. Hope you like it!  Oh and do let me know of your favourite bargains.  I always love to hear from you.

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1. Coty L’Aimant: still under a tenner, still smells like Chanel No 5, still easy to find.  Oddly, not often worn by the young. Time to put this right!  Think, as the Perfumed Dandy does, of an Agatha Christie heroine.

2. Dana Tabu: An affordable Oriental classic.

3. The Body Shop Early Harvest Raspberry EDP 30ml. You know the adage K.I.S.S? (Keep It Simple Stupid)?  Well that’s what the Body Shop has done and this lovely raspberry soliflore is suitable for all ages, even children, and is one of the most searched for posts on my blog.

4. Alyssa Ashley Musk: A classic Musk that has been going since the 70s.  You can’t go wrong.

5. Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights: A creamy combo of Papyrus and Patchouli. It’s not your typical celebuscent and smells like it cost a lot more than it did. I wear it often.

6. Chique by Taylor of London: This was a pleasant surprise to me:  a mossy chypre that reminded me of Estee Lauder Knowing but was a fraction of the price.  The packaging is dated and bland but it smells terrific.

7.  The Body Shop Atlas Mountain Rose oil, 15ml.  A great base for layering, or wearing alone.  Because it’s an oil and has no alcohol in it, I find it lasts longer than anything else on a very hot summer day.

8. Avon Timeless:  Currently a fiver a bottle.  Avon created this classic in 1974 and discontinued it in 2012.  Customer demand brought it back.  Amber and Patchouli and aldehydes. Buy it before they change their mind again.  Available from your Avon rep.

9.  Elizabeth Arden Green Tea flankers: widely available and usually 9.99, I have tried several of these now and I can honestly say that they are all delightful.  Light, pretty florals that refresh on a hot day and impossibly feminine to boot. Real crowd pleasers.  I especially like the Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Honeysuckle, Green Tea Tropical and Green Tea Revitalize.

10. Next Just Pink: Smells like Ralph Lauren Romance, but even prettier!  I adore this and always have a purse spray in my handbag.

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Incidentally, if you are not afraid to go a few pence over the ten quid limit, I suggest  Avon Premier Luxe , any of The Body Shop Scents of The World Range,  and a trawl through allbeauty.com.

Others that I recommend are  Tweed, Panache, A quick peek in TK Maxx to see what they’ve got in this week (stock changes constantly) a basket full of purse sprays from Marks and Spencer, the ever changing array of scents and prices in your local bargain stores such as Wilkinson and Home Bargains, the Yardley soliflores … Oh and don’t forget eBay!

Money schmoney- Who needs mega bucks?

Vanderbilt by Gloria Vanderbilt: A Thrifty Classic

vanderbilt ad 2

If you were a child of the Seventies, you may remember the adverts on TV for Vanderbilt jeans.  Daring designer Gloria Vanderbilt, she of the impeccable heritage, launched a range of jeans that were tighter than the world had seen before.  Suddenly the derriere was very much “in” and fashionable backsides had Gloria’s name all over them.

www.iwillnotdiet.com
www.iwillnotdiet.com

Between scandal, tragedy and court cases, Vanderbilt, a talented artist and writer, also launched a range of perfumes with L’Oreal and the original scent: Vanderbilt by Gloria Vanderbilt, has become a quiet classic with no signs of quitting yet, rather like it’s 90 year old creator.

The success of Vanderbilt led to the launch of twelve flankers, including fragrances for men, but none have eclipsed the success of this slow and steady grafter that can be bought just about anywhere for under ten pounds.

vanderbilt advert swanIf I had been asked to describe this blind, I would have said it was most definitely Iris against a sweet Tuberose and Musk base. Two out of three ain’t bad, as Meatloaf would say, and I was very surprised to see that this contains no Iris at all.

Here are the notes according to Fragrantica: Top notes: Aldehydes, Pineapple, Bergamot, Orange Blossom, Lavender, Green notes. Middle notes:  Carnation, Tuberose, Orris Root, Rose, Jasmine, Ylang. Base notes:  Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Opoponax, Vetiver, Civet,  Musk

Many of these ingredients are absent to my nose (no Civet and vandebiltthankfully, no Pineapple), you may find it’s different for you.  Considering there are so many varied ingredients,  I still find that rooty note that is usually associated with Iris, is the most dominant.  However, I think it’s probably a combination of vegetable-like Orris Root and creamy rich Tuberose. The drydown is a pleasant crowd pleasing White Musk with a hint of something woody: maybe a whisper of Vetiver and rasp of Sweet Myrrh aka Opoponax, but overall, I still say that Iris lovers will go for this.

Age wise, this could suit young or old, although today’s young tastes might initially eschew it in favour of more sugary scents.  It’s versatile for day or night, inoffensive and cheap enough to wear every day.  Longevity is pretty good at around six hours and you can easily top up from just about anywhere should you run out.  Frankly, these things are all I ask from a drugstore classic.

vanderbilt

Gloria Vanderbilt had such a colourful and interesting life, it would make a great movie. With her wealth, she could have gone down the exclusive route  where fragrance was concerned and produced something with a “no riff raff” price tag, but she didn’t and she created something entirely pleasant and accessible. Kudos  and my respect to this Grande Dame of Design.

You can buy Vanderbilt from Amazon or allbeauty.com if you’re in the UK or from Sears if you’re in the USA or Canada, but it’s pretty much everywhere.

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Dana Toujours Moi: “With a Spicy French Accent”

toujours moi advert

As you know, I am a big champion of smelling good on a budget (although I like to splash out sometimes too).

I recently ordered Dana Toujours Moi from eBay for the princely sum of £3.99.  In return, I had a cute 15ml spray bottle of Toujours Moi Eau de Cologne.  Oddly enough, the box is packaged separately, which seems a like a lot of packaging, but if I am extra thorough with my recycling this week, my guilt will lessen the tiny blow.  You can also find Dana Toujours Moi on Amazon.com.

toujours moi bottle

Originally made by Corday in 1921, and now by Dana, Toujours Moi is an Oriental.  No doubt about it.  And don’t be fooled by the “Eau de Cologne” label either, this lasts until bedtime.  Next week.

The notes according to Fragrantica are : Orange Blossom, Sandalwood, Musk, Lavender, Lilac, Jasmine and Vetiver. The notes are not arranged in any particular order.

toujours moiWhat I experienced on the first spray is a wonderfully vintage-y  blast of  spicy floral notes, settling down into something more powdery and richer than its notes would have me believe.  I would have thought there was Amber, and even a touch of Benzoin in here, but there’s not.  For a few moments, it reminded me of Tauer Le Maroc Pour Elle– a whimsical spicy Lavender scent with a hippy vibe that reminds me of outdoor markets on a sunny day. ( see my earlier review)

The Lavender  and Lilac lend an old fashioned feel to Toujours Moi and there is definitely a powdery touch in there somewhere.  Some people might label this old fashioned, but I say bring it on.

lav

Lasting power is amazing at this price:  at an hour it stays strong, after that, it gives a little enticing wafts for a couple more hours, and after that it’s close to skin until bedtime.

This would be too traditional for a modern cupcake palate, but for those of you like your fragrance classic, with a spicy vintage vibe, this is for you.  It is the kind of très French perfume your mother may have received for Christmas in the early 70s.

I have to share what it says on the box,

“Sensual and full-bodied, a provocative romantic scent spoken with a spicy French accent”

Stockists: You can find this on eBay iof you look hard, and it’s available  from Fragrancenet and Amazon.com

 Paris 065

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Short of Cash? But Like New Perfume? Try This

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I always feel so ridiculously pleased with myself when I find a low cost perfume that is actually GOOD.  I always want to share it since I am a firm believer in the adage that smelling good should be affordable for all, regardless of budget. Forgive my smugness, but yesterday my Amazon package arrived containing a 50ml bottle of Coty Chanson D’Eau and a matching body spray.  It smells amazing and it cost me the grand total of 2.99GBP plus 1.95 P&P.

A great perfume under a fiver?  It can be done. They’re practically giving this away and because it’s Coty, you know it’s not made by some cowboy outfit.

According to Fragrantica Chanson D’Eau opens with Orange, Basil and Lavender and beds down into Mango, Jasmine, Sandalwood and Tonka Bean.

Image However, according to IScentYouADay, it smells like  Ô de Lancome’s thrifty cousin.  Whilst the quality is thinner, and there’s no mossy finish like Ô de Lancome , It smells like a retro green eau de cologne with a powdery, soapy citrus finish.  It is immensely refreshing and the longevity is not at all bad when you consider the price.

I get Green notes, Oranges, Lemons, and Bergamot from it, and at this price I can afford to use liberally.  It’s especially suited to those summer days when you need something sharp to cut through the heat, but it’s also great in Winter after a shower.

I have never seen it in a shop, but it’s readily available on Amazon and I will be stocking up. When perfume is this good, and this cheap, they usually stop making it, just to annoy me.