Category Archives: Perfumes under £15

Beyonce Midnight Heat: Explosion in Tropical Candy Floss Factory

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 After being spoilt like a spoilt thing in recent weeks, with achingly high quality scents to die for, I decided to dip my toe into a fragrance that I have seen everywhere recently from Duty Free to my local Asda. One of many samples I have blagged lately, this generous 2ml dabber is wrapped in purple cellophane like a Quality Street sweetie. No less than 3 members of my household tried to disrobe it hopefully, including one of the cats who is kinky for cellophane.

It is entirely appropriate that this was mistaken for a sweet because Wow! Is this sugary! Take some candy floss, add some sugar, preferably vanilla sugar, then sweeten it up with some caramel, preferably vanilla caramel, then add loads of concentrated Tropical cordial, the stuff that’s so thick and gloopy it sticks to the inside of the bottle. Shake it all about and Bingo! Beyonce Midnight Heat.

It has some similarities with JLo Deseo, However, Deseo keeps it clean and floral, and although it has similar Tropical notes, it is a fresher, brighter fragrance.

Beyonce Midnight Heat is too sticky and hot. The sweetness is overpowering. I should imagine it could be used as an aid to weight loss since once sniffing this, you would find the idea of ingesting sugar completely repellent. In fact, that’s why I might keep this. Those leftover Easter Eggs are still in the house, calling my name. This might be just what I need.

Genuine oriental perfumes: it’s amazing what you find online

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As a certified oak moss fiend, I was delighted to be told in a Facebook fragrant fiends group about a ‘very mossy’ fragrance called Saat Safa by Al Rehab. I set off to find out more about it and stumbled onto a world of inexpensive and interesting fragrances.

I googled Al Rehab fragrances, found them on Amazon and started checking out their range. This is a well-respected Saudi Arabian perfume company that uses natural essences – bells started ringing for me, as Amouage are the best-known Saudi Arabian perfumers and their fragrances are highly acclaimed and very expensive. So the thing that astonished me when I checked out Al Rehab was the prices. These perfumes mostly come in oil form, in order to be acceptable to observant Muslim customers, and they’re in handy little 6ml roll-ons. Most of them are two quid; that’s three bucks, or 2.3 Euro. We are talking really low prices here for perfume. But is it any good?

Well yes, it is. It’s really nice, actually (apologies Al Rehab for doubting you). I tried three perfume oils today: Classic, Al Sharquiah, and White Full Perfume, all from Al Rehab. These are genuine perfumes from the Orient – the Middle East – as opposed to European imaginings of what Oriental perfumes smell like, and not one is even a tiny bit like Shalimar or Opium. These are smooth, flowery and woody and smell very natural, although they are very linear and change little from opening to base. Speaking of bases, they last reasonably well on the skin – 4 or 5 hours – but at this price you can top up as often as you like.

Classic: this is my favourite of the three. It is relatively light and has a lemony floral opening that becomes a little rosier and sweeter with a gentle woody base that rails off into a pleasant and lasting skin musk. It lasts really well and the deep base reminds me of the musk in Lovely and Narciso Rodriguez ‘for Her’.

Al Sharquiah: more the kind of jammy rose with woody and incense notes that I expect from a middle-eastern-style attar. This is feminine and elegant without being overpowering or ‘shouty’. It’s a rich, slightly ‘cooked’ rose that stays sweet and the classic woody base might well include a little of the kind of frankincense that reminds me of old churches and cold stones.

White Full perfume: oh boy this is JASMINE! Very very jasmine, with perhaps a sprinkle of orange blossom. It’s not indolic, which is nice, but it’s rich rich rich and round and warm and JASMINE. Did I mention the jasmine? In the market in Cairo you can buy necklaces made of hundreds of jasmine blossoms threaded onto a cord. It smells amazing to wear the fresh blooms around your neck with their rich sweet scent wafting up in the evening’s heat as you sit on a terrace. That is the situation to wear this perfume in. On a chilly April day in Wales it doesn’t really work.

So there you have a trio of fragrances for under a tenner, including shipping. These are great fun and very cheerful scents to either throw in your handbag for daily use or for holidays. I think I may well go back and try a few more – Cherry Blossoms, Silver and Dehn Al-Oud all sound intriguing.

An interesting point is that because these fragrances are in oil form they should pass the UK Royal Mail’s new regulations on posting perfume internationally (just don’t do it – don’t even try, it’s too depressing to have a parcel opened and your perfume destroyed). At these prices I’m prepared to give it a try. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Body Shop White Musk Oil: The Last Man Standing From the Long Lost Perfume Bar

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Sometimes the ageing classics get overlooked. It dawned on me that there is one perfume that I have been wearing for at least twenty five years and yet I haven’t reviewed it yet.

I first came across Body Shop White Musk at the glorious and much pined for (by me) Perfume Bar that every Body Shop used to have years ago. For those who have youth on their side and cannot remember this wonderful creation, please indulge me as I go down  Memory Lane.

In the 80s and 90s, each Body Shop had a Perfume Bar consisting of large glass jars with narrow necks, and long glass dipping sticks in each one. The jars would be on a circular stand, surrounded by eager customers, sniffing and testing. The happy bodyshop oilcustomer (i.e a younger me) would dip, dab and sniff until finding a scent she or he could not live without. The nice ladies at the counter would then fill a little plastic refillable bottle for you to take home, for a very reasonable price.

For many years I had tiny plastic 15ml and 30ml bottles of such much missed gems as Japanese Musk, Mostly Musk, and White Musk (sensing a theme?). I was not alone.  My mother loved “Annie” and always carried it in her handbag, and “Dewberry” was practically The Smell of the 80s.

Sadly all but a tiny few are discontinued, but if the Body Shop were ever to create this mirage of happiness again, I would be their most loyal customer. How I wish they would bring it back.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rex Features (1350527r) Anita Roddick of the Body Shop Various
 Photo by Rex Features (1350527r)
Anita Roddick of the Body Shop
Various

This review is for White Musk Oil. You will see that it is not for the White Musk EDT, Sheer spray, or for any of its flankers such as Libertine.  I find them all too light and fleeting. White Musk Oil has a particular staying power that I have not encountered with the EDT or flankers, or in fact any of today’s Body Shop fragrances.  A dab of White Musk Oil on the neck, crook of elbow and wrist and you are set up for an entire day.

It’s subtle enough not to offend in a small office, and lasting enough not to have to top up in the day.  One of my favourite things about this oil is that a 30ml bottle lasts me a year.  The Body Shop website often has half price offers on, which can make this even more of a bargain.

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So what of the fragrance itself? Well according to the Body Shop website, this has notes of Lily, Iris, Rose and Vanilla. Personally I get Musk and maybe a very faint background of Lily, but no Rose or Vanilla and no cold hearted Iris.

I am shameless about never having grown out of it. Many people see it as student perfume they have left behind, but I have had more misty eyed compliments about this than about any other perfume I have ever worn.

The Good Old Days- photo from youbeauty.com
The Good Old Days- photo from youbeauty.com

I often forget I’m wearing it and spray another fragrance over the top, but I find this just makes both fragrances smell even better. It’s close to skin: people will get a waft when you hug them or lean over them, but they won’t faint like dominoes when you get in the lift.

You may well find a man sniffing nostalgically to himself and remembering his first girlfriend though.

This is proof, if proof were needed, that you don’t need big bucks to smell good.

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Celeb Scents 4: Elizabeth Taylor Diamonds and Rubies.

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I always imagined Dame Elizabeth Taylor to smell outrageously glamorous with a hint of booze on her breath. She was always a little de trop. Too many diamonds, too much hair, too much make up, but somehow…somehow she could get away with it because she was Elizabeth Taylor.

Her first fragrance was Passion, launched in 1988, a year after Cher had cornered the then tiny celeb fragrance market with Uninhibited. Celebrity fragrance was fairly new then, but Elizabeth Taylor’s range was created by Elizabeth Arden so it was in good hands. Passion was followed with White Diamonds in 1991, and in 1993 a diffusion line was born: Diamonds and Emeralds, Diamonds and Sapphires and Diamonds and Rubies. Today the range includes Black Pearls, Violet Eyes, Gardenia, Elizabeth Taylor Forever, and several variations on White Diamonds.

This review is for Diamonds and Rubies. Created by famous nose Sophia Grojsman, Diamonds and Rubies is disappointing, yet not surprising. It smells very Eighties, despite being created in the early caring sharing Nineties that was encapsulated fragrance-wise by the advent of Eau D’Issey and Cool Water. Diamonds and Rubies is an old broad on a barstool whilst everyone else sips mineral water and eats salad.

Top notes are listed as being Lily, Red Rose, Lilac, Almond…oh and Peach. Don’t forget the Peach. In fact one spray of this and you will never ever forget the Peach.

The top notes when I sprayed were: synthetic Peach, Talc (Peach Talc of course), Plasticine and Booze: Something like Brandy or Peach Liqueur, at any rate, something sticky and outdated and too sweet.

After half an hour (of wrinkling my nose) I sniffed the drydown. I had more spice this time, in the way that mulled wine is spicy, but still those boozy peaches were sneaking around waiting to drown me when I wasn’t looking.

Not only did I dislike this, but it genuinely baffled me how this dreadful mess could smell good on anyone. It made me think of someone wearing a peach satin peignoir, covered in talc, with matching slippers and a drink problem. It also made me think of the downstairs toilet in a vicarage I once visited.

Cheap can be good or cheap can smell cheap. I’ll leave it to you to guess what category I put this into. Some of the others are much better, I like White Diamonds, but this turkey doesn’t do a Dame justice.

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Jovan White Musk: Get Your Coat, You’ve Pulled.

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Jovan really wants you to hook up with someone. If you are single, they will do their darnedest to put it right. Take a look at the website– a close up of two mouths about to slobber over each other. If you are a Kath and Kim fan then you’ll know what I mean by a Kath’n’Kel French kiss. They repeat  that their perfumes will attract the opposite sex. Let’s hear that again- their perfumes will attract the opposite sex. All you need is a bottle of Jovan anything and a large butterfly net. In fact Sex Appeal by Jovan is categorically designed to attract the opposite sex.  They’re not even subtle about it. It says on the websiteThis provocative, stimulating blend of rare spices and herbs was created by men for the sole purpose of attracting women” See? Shameless.

 So should Jovan be relegated to the nudge, nudge wink, wink slightly dated era of blind pheromone traps? Or should it be taken seriously as an affordable fragrance worth buying?

Well I am married and have no need to attract men (well, maybe just the one), but I can report that Jovan White Musk for Women is rather pretty and will certainly “do”. The Body Shop’s White Musk has long been a favourite of mine, maybe for twenty years now, and with good reason. It’s a flagship product that Body Shop customers just wouldn’t ever let them discontinue. I wondered if Jovan was up there with the Body Shop, so decided to seek out a bottle.  So just for a change and because the act of buying perfume is like a drug to me., (Whoops, tried not to actually say that aloud to myself) I picked up a bottle of this from my local High Street toiletries store (Okay it was Bodycare if you must know). In exchange for £6.15 I got a 59ml bottle of Jovan White Musk. It’s a “concentrated cologne” which makes me wonder what the difference is between an eau de toilette and a “concentrated cologne”. Not much I’ll wager.

When first sprayed, this is quite tangy with honeysuckle and jasmine and really smells best when it beds down a bit. The flowers warm it up and make it sweet rather than cold, but the best  bit comes in the drydown. Emitting a subtle soft musk waft as you move, this is an ideal office or daytime perfume. It’s cosy and feminine and cheap enough to carry around in your handbag to make up for its non fantastic longevity.

Its also great to use if you like layering scents. If something woody is too harsh, this can soften it. If Amber is too much for daytime use, you could back it up and calm it down with a spray of White Musk.

I can promise it will make you smell nice, but I can’t promise it will bag you a man. Still for £6.15, maybe it’s worth a shot for all you adorable singletons out there. (I feel I should play you a love song now). Please wear Jovan responsibly. You might have adventures.

Stockists

You can buy Jovan White Musk from allbeauty.com or Amazon UK. It’s well under a tenner. Bargain.