Category Archives: purse sprays

Fragrance Selection Boxes: How to Let Them Choose at Christmas

 

Marks and Spencer

I don’t know about you but I like all selection boxes. From chocolate to fragrance, I’ll take the lot.  I am in no way advocating that fragrance selection boxes should replace chocolate ones, but rather that they should be avidly encouraged in addition to chocolate selection boxes.

The chocolate sort is strongly encouraged in my house

Right then, now we’ve cleared that up, let’s begin.

It’s a common refrain. People want perfume, after shave and toiletries for Christmas. You ask them what sort and they may say “I don’t mind” or “anything.”

The sheer volume of unwanted fragrances on eBay the day after Christmas tells me that this system of vague politeness doesn’t work for anyone. So what’s the solution? Fragrance selection boxes.

These will offer a variety of fragrances that your intended recipient can then choose from.  If you can add a full bottle gift voucher, even better.

I’ve scouted around and made a list of my absolute favourites, none of which I would turn down (are you reading this in the North Pole Mr S.Claus?)

The Marks and Spencer Ferris Wheel

Marks and Spencer

I salivated when I saw this. Not just miniatures, but generous 12ml bottles of 12 fragrances.

Marks and Spencer

It’s currently reduced to the bargain price of £22. The box is beautiful and your recipient (or you, if you’re weak willed like me and end up keeping it) may find a new favourite. If I was a betting woman I would say this will sell out.

Whilst you’re in there, check out the mini Fragonard sets. I had one a few years ago and the longevity was incredible. You honestly can’t go wrong with Fragonard. Trust me, I’m a perfume blogger. I know this stuff.

The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes

These smart white boxes from The Perfume Society are my guilty pleasure throughout the year. I don’t think there’s a single one I’ve missed since they began. They’re beautifully wrapped so you can give them as they are, and inside there are between eight and ten perfume samples, often with generous beauty treats too such as shower gel or hand cream and I’ve even had  a tiny perfume bottle keyring and a nail polish.

Each box contains postcards with notes about the perfumes within, so it’s a great way to learn what you like and discover new brands.

I’m not on the pay roll, but as a grown up, they are my absolute favourite toy and I love to sit there playing. They also do them for men too- try the Men’s Edit or For Him and there’s a sharing box for couples, which, teamed with a bottle of champagne, makes a fine wedding/anniversary/Christmas gift.

Buy British and Smell Good with 4160 Tuesdays

4160 Tuesdays

4160 Tuesdays is one of my favourite perfume houses. Probably in the top three but don’t make me choose, okay? Too hard.  With delightfully named sets of samples such as “Frocks and Hats” (my favourite), “Love & Life Stories” and “Best of British”, you get seven spray samples and then you add your gift voucher so your recipient can fall in love with his or her favourite and buy up a big bottle with their voucher. Here’s the link.  

4160 Tuesdays

The samples will be wrapped up like little Quality Street in brightly coloured tissue so this is a very user-friendly Christmas gift. There’s no extra charge for the wrapping, it’s all part of the normal service. with 4160 Tuesdays. My favourites are Raw Silk and Red Roses, Killer Rose, Doe in The Snow, Tarts Knicker Drawer and Fruits of The Tree of Knowledge.

Pell Wall: Nine Beautiful Bottles from A Shropshire Lad

Pell Wall Perfumes

Over in beautiful Shropshire, Chris Bartlett of Pell Wall perfumes makes and sells beautiful fragrances  made with his own hands. If you haven’t heard of Pell Wall, you’re in for a treat.  I have tried several from the range and thoroughly recommend them. Best of all, you can buy a Pell Wall Discovery Set containing NINE generous 10ml spray bottles, for only £70.  They come in a box ( see above) and these nine bottles should see you through at least a whole year. My personal favourites are Pretty in Pink, Deep Purple and Anjin.

Jo Malone

My local Jo Malone shop (nearest is Cardiff) is always very busy, no matter what time of year you go there. Fans are die hard and devoted. At Christmas, there is a wide choice of mini sets and selection boxes from which to choose your gift.

Jo Malone

You can buy the London Cologne Collection from Jo Malone or John Lewis, and there’s also the Intense Cologne Collection, and a scented candle selection box too.

Jo Loves

Jo Loves

Jo Loves is a smaller company, also founded by Jo Malone MBE, long after Jo Malone the company was sold to Estee Lauder in 1999.  Jo Loves is a smaller, more personal fragrance house, but no less addictive.  Try the “Can’t Go Wrong” Discovery Set which involves ten sample sprays and a voucher for either a 50ml or a 100ml bottle of scent.  Check out the site here.

This Year’s No Shows

Walter Langley Never Morning Wore to Evening 1894

Sadly, this year there is an absence of the Perfume Shop Viva Boxes, and also of the similar set at Boots, which is also no longer available. Both shops do little mini sets of branded scents (i.e Estee Lauder, Lancôme) but the little mixed sets with a gift voucher are no longer there.  Also, the Fragrance Shop no longer does the Discovery Club, but they do have a new subscription service where you can “date” a fragrance before buying it. You can find details here, but I do miss my little quarterly box of surprises. Sniff. I’ll have to cheer myself with some more chocolate.

PS Try TK Maxx. The stock is always changing, but you sometimes get wonderful variety sets around Christmas time. Last year I saw a Juicy Couture Rollerball set for around £12. This year they have Chloe mini sets, Modern Muse and  Marc Jacobs. Quick!

How about you?

Have you discovered any variety boxes that i’ve missed? Share your tips and insider knowledge!

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Avon Far Away: Here’s why it’s Number One

Avon Far Away is Avon’s best-selling fragrance in the UK.  Avon daren’t discontinue it for fear of riots .  It also has the distinction of being the fragrance I smell most when out and about here in South Wales. The women who love it REALLY love and most of them are repeat buyers.

It occurred to me that I have reviewed many, MANY Avon fragrances but not this one. In the past I have dismissed it and not paid it much heed, but last night I sat down and  really paid attention to it.  Reader,  I learned a thing or two along the way.

Firstly, I once dismissed this as so vanilla-y that it borders on coconuts (true-ish, there are coconut notes and vanilla). However, last night, as I let it unfold on my skin, I noticed many facets I hadn’t previously found. First of all, this is a grand white flower fragrance. It bursts with jasmine and gardenia. I thought I could discern tuberose, but no, it was jasmine and gardenia- a pretty heady combo at any time of day. Also present is karo karoundee- a white flower that has similar nuances to tuberose and is often paired with it. No, I hadn’t heard of it, and yes, I did have to look that up. (Thanks, Fragrantica!).

Before the flowers go anywhere, the peaches emerge, coupled with apricotty osmanthus, giving this a very peachy, powdery accord. This gets stronger until it peaks at freesia, peach and white flowers before relaxing into a base note you will recognise when you walk down my local High Street.

The base notes ares rich in vanilla, musk and woods, but mainly  settle to a sweet, peachy and powdery vanilla.

Far Away reminds me of another early Nineties fragrance: Cassini by Oleg Cassini. I wore it a lot as I worked in the evening wear department of  a House of Fraser store. There was a display bottle on a stand and we sales assistants all drenched ourselves in it. The peaches, vanilla and flowers have a sweetness in common with Far Away.

Far Away was created in 1994 and its popularity shows no signs of dipping. There have been several flankers, and the one most like the original is Far Away Gold, which is very similar, note by note, but has stronger amber notes and less fruitiness.  Also, fact fans, Far Away Infinity smells very similar to Paco Rabanne Olympea but is less than ten quid. Just saying.

To sum up, Far Away is not my favourite Avon, but taking a good look at it really opened my eyes to what a great scent this is. Avon has made a wonderful peachy, powdery, vanilla classic that puts good fragrance into an accessible price range. I couldn’t ask for more.

Stockists

Avon Far away is widely available. Try Avon UK, Amazon UK and eBay.  I get mine off my Avon Lady because then she gets commission and she is lovely.

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Retro Perfecto: 4160 Tuesdays Paris 1948

I’m a sucker for a good chypre. The greener, the mossier and the older, the better as far as I’m concerned.  Serendipity twinned me with a bottle of Paris 1948 today, and reader, a bit of magic took place. Love was in the air and cupid shot me.

A few years back, I tried Paris 1948 and decided it wasn’t for me. I also tried Lady Rose Lion Monkey Unicorn and decided that wasn’t for me either. However, today I received a full bottle of Paris 1948, and by chance, a sample of Lady Rose Lion Monkey Unicorn, and whaddya know? They don’t half go! One complements the other in the way that Guerlain Apres l’Ondee brings out something new in Frederic Malle L’Eau D’Hiver. (Try it, you’ll see. Thanks Lisa!).

My first impression of Paris 1948 is of fresh cut grass in an aged bottle. Have you ever opened a really old bottle of fragrance that has ambered with age and has that sort of bitter powdery thing going on? That’s what Paris 1948 reminded me of.  To me, the dominant note is, believe it or not, basil.  This is a note that is also really prominent in 4160 Tuesdays Lady Rose Monkey Lion Monkey Unicorn, which is why they seem to go together so well.

 

With my brand new 4160 Tuesdays phone sticker.

Paris 1948 opens with citrus, specifically grapefruit, and peaches. Now, I used to have a problem with peaches until the penny dropped and I realised that many of the Grand Dames of fragrances carry peachy nuances: think Lanvin Arpege and Madame Rochas to name but two.  Once this made sense to me, peaches always gave me a

Photo of Paris in 1948 by Edouard Boubat

friendly sort of retro yoo-hoo when they pop up. They certainly make their presence felt here, and that could be one of the reasons why I didn’t like this first-time round.  The basil has a sweet, herbal thing going on that almost borders on the medicinal, but not quite. The flowers come out after the citrus has calmed down a bit and let them get a word in: roses and orange flower and leathery labdanum.

The base to my nose, at least, is a peachy, mossy (VERY mossy) herby, slightly medicinal chypre.  I’m sorry I can’t make that sound more catchy, but it’s true. Call me an addict. Call me a fan.  This is a permanent fixture.

Jacqueline de Francois “Mademoiselle de Paris” 1948

Stockists: I bought this from 4160 Tuesdays and you can too.  If you buy it before tomorrow afternoon (October 27th 2017) then it’s half price. After that it’s still jolly reasonable. This is not a sponsored post.

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Avon Alpha: Fruity and Flirty

Avon Alpha is a new release from Avon and even in a blind test, I would be able to tell it was an Avon. It has a lot of Avon materials in common, but this is not a bad thing. In fact many brands have a particular in-house accord and its usually down to the particular range of ingredients they use to colour in the fragrances, to use a metaphor.

Avon Alpha is, first and foremost and beyond any question, fruity floral.  The opening is raspberry, lychee and blood orange. There are floral notes in the middle, and I would hazard a  guess at jasmine leading the gang. In the base there is an interesting ingredient that is getting very popular lately. Cashmeran is a synthetic note and has a “wet cement” accord.  It doesn’t smell as weird as it sounds, more like bland wet stone. It’s actually pretty good as a base note in a flirty floral scent like this and just blends into the background and helps the loud notes to do their thing.

Over on Fragrantica (a brilliant site if you’ve yet to venture over) many readers claim that Avon Alpha smells similar to Nina Ricci Nina, Givenchy Absolutely Irresistible and Givenchy Hot Couture. Not a bad comparison, especially at such a low price.

This isn’t may favourite Avon, since I have a thing about Avon Perceive (peony) and Avon Rare Platinum (tuberose) but this certainly holds its own against other high street bestsellers and makes a great gift.

Stockists

I bought my bottle on special offer from the Avon brochure last month. It was £4.50 for 30ml. You can find it here.

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Pocket Therapy: Yves Rocher Mandarin Lemon Cedar

You may have heard me sing the praises of Yves Rocher before now. I love the quality and the price and the little freebies you get when you order online. Well, today I am sharing a tiny package that made me fall in love. No, it’s not another cat. Three is enough. Apparently.  So I’ve been told.  Today I’m going to tell you about the pocket sized joy that is Yves Rocher Mandarin Lemon Cedar (or Mandarine Citron Cedre as its known in France).

This little 20ml beauty does exactly what it says on the tin but is so uplifting and gives off such happy vibes that I would have paid a lot more than the meagre £4 I paid.  It opens with mandarin, (as you might imagine), is made even zingier by lemon and finishes on a citrussy cedar note.  Despite its refreshing cologne like character, this has pretty good longevity on my skin, and is especially good when sprayed on a scarf. You should smell my scarf collection- it’s incredible, even if I say so myself.

Over on Fragrantica, some members are saying that this reminds  them of Fan di Fendi Eau Fraiche, which I cannot vouch for, never having smelled it, but if you were a fan, you might find solace in a little £4 bottle of Yves Rocher Mandarine Citron Cedre.

These make perfect gifts too if you can bear to part with them.

Stockists

I bought my little bottle from the Yves Rocher UK website. In fact, I bought five.  This is not a sponsored post, opinions are my own and I paid for this myself.

 

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A Green for All Seasons: Bronnley Wild Green

It may be Autumn, and the leaves may be on the turn, but my passion for fragrances with green notes stays with me all year round.

Bronnley Wild Green fits the bill for every season of the year and wearing it today brings a bit of nature into the stuffy central heated indoors like an invigorating open window.

Wild Green opens with bergamot, orange flower and patchouli. This green floral symphony gathers uplifting, spicy facets on its journey: namely aromatic cardoman and coriander (the spice not the leaf). It claims to have pink pepper, which makes me pull faces, but actually I could find no trace of it here. This is a clean, spicy green that fits perfectly with this transitional time of year.  The green is an evergreen that never wavers, yet the spice suggests that cosier times are beckoning. There’s a touch of smoky incense, but just a touch, just enough to say bonfire night is over a month away.

Having said all that, there’s nothing to stop us wearing this all year round. Wild Green suits Spring and Summer and the spices really come into their own in Autumn and Winter.

Although this is aimed at women, it makes a brilliant unisex fragrance, and is definitely a firm favourite with me. I am quite devoted to my little purse sized rollerball.

Stockists

Bronnley Wild Green is available from the Bronnley website or from Boots and online  from allbeauty.com. My rollerball was kindly sent to me by Bronnley in return for an honest review, which this is. This is not a sponsored post.

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My Top Ten Autumn Fragrances 2017

Photo of the Forest of Dean Gloucestershire, taken by me.

It’s with reluctance that I put away my eau fraiche bottles and my sandals and my sunglasses. They didn’t get used much this “summer”, which I believe fell on a Tuesday here in Wales.

Being pale and slightly on the gingery side, I far prefer the cool weather to the hot, so I’m very comfortable in Autumn and the colours of the changing trees have me in raptures.

Photo of my home town Cwmbran, taken by me

When it comes to choosing Autumn fragrance, I don’t just like to go for the warm spices, I like to go for the aldehydes, deep vanillas and the chypres too.  I love the fact that the cold air brings out the best in some fragrances that might just be a bit much in the heat.  In fact, I thought it was high time I did a list of the fragrances I like best in Autumn.

My list below is in no particular order because putting them in order of preference would be impossible. I would happily go through gallons of all ten of these and would find it impossible to choose a favourite.

4160 Tuesdays Eau My Soul

My most recent review and a real treat.  This is the first ever truly democratic fragrance with each note being voted for by members of Facebook group Eau My Soul and used in accordance with its popularity.  It does help of course if the person making it is genius perfumer Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. This is a sandalwood, incense-y, citrussy, floral delight.  But don’t take my word for it. Order your Sample now.

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

 Papillon Dryad

Papillon Dryad is the creation of the uber talented Liz Moores and was born in the heart of New Forest among trees. It is THE mossy green chypre I have been searching for. You may think a scent as green as this belongs in spring, but trust me when I tell you chypres are sensational in cool weather. You can buy Papillon Dryad from here and read my review here.

 

Le Jardin Retrouvé Cuir Russie

Le Jardin Retrouvé is a wonderful brand with a touching backstory. The perfumer Yuri Gutsatz sadly passed away in 2005, having created a collection of wonderful niche fragrances.  His son Michel has revided the brand and carried the family torch into the Twenteens and thank goodness he did. Although I had smelled and enjoyed a sample of Cuir Russie, it wasn’t until I entered a room in which  perfume writer Stephan Matthews was wearing it that I realised how many nuances this beautiful leather scent has. All the fragrances in the collection are excellent and the dreamy ethereal artwork by artist Clara Feder adds a unique whimsy and beauty. You can buy it from here and read my review of the whole collection here.

First by Van Cleef and Arpels

First is the nearest thing I have to a signature scent. It’s a long-lasting floral aldehyde created in 1977 that unfurls its notes in layerss as you wear it.  I’m completely smitten and have nearly emptied my 60ml EDP bottle. Can’t live without this one. You can read my review here and buy it from here. 

Firedance by Ruth Mastenbroek

You may recall my recent review of perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek’s fourth fragrance, Firedance. With big notes of rose, leather and oud, Firedance is a beautifully blended Damask rose scent that has incredible longevity and is perfect for Autumn.  Wearing these feels both cosy and celebratory,  like being wrapped in a warm blanket whilst fireworks go off.  I love it. You can buy it from here.

SJP Stash

Sarah Jessica Parker is the range I point people towards if they ever tell me they don’t “do” celebrity scents. With the enthusiasm of a true fume head, SJP knows her perfume like Carrie Bradshaw knew shoes. Stash is a unisex, woody, sandalwood, incense fragrance that is mature and audacious. You can buy it from Superdrug. 

DSH Chinchilla

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has this knack of creating modern perfume that make you think you have just prized the lid off an unopened chypre from 1920. How she gets them to smell vintage is beyond me, but she does it beautifully. Chinchilla evokes fur stoles, glamour, cigarette holders, and opera gloves. It is a superb example of a classic chypre. You can buy DSH fragrances from the website here and read my review of Chinchilla here.

Marina Barcenilla India

The multi-talented Marina Barcenilla is a gifted natural perfumer who has won not one, but two coveted Fragrance Foundation Awards (or Fifis).  India has sandalwood and tuberose and roses all in one stunning Autumnal scent that radiates from skin and gives a good eleven hours longevity.  I also have the rollerball skin oil, which also makes your skin smell incredible, as well as leaving it silky soft. You can buy MB Parfums from the website here and read my review of India here.

Tauerville Amber Flash

The  delightful Andy Tauer has branched out into a wider reaching and more affordable range of fragrances under the umbrella name of the Tauerville Flash series.  Not that his usual scents are overpriced- they’re worth every penny.  I loved Amber Flash and reviewed it here. It is as it sounds, but so much more too. It gives off a cosy warmth and a heat that is just perfect in cold weather (and of course, unisex). You can buyTauerville scents here.

 

Aftelier Amber Tapestry

Somewhere in Berkeley California, Mandy Aftel mixes and measures until her natural fragrances are just right.  Amber Tapestry is the perfect name for this.  The fragrance opens with orange flower and gets warmer and more resinous as it unfurls its layers on your skin. Ending with a long lasting base of resinous, leathery vanilla, Amber Tapestry is just what I want to wrap myself in when its dark outside. You can buy Amber Tapestry from Aftelier.com and read my review here.

Over to you

How about you? What do you reach for in Autumn? ambers? vanilla? chypres? or something completely unexpected? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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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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