Tag Archives: affordable perfume

How to Smell like Christmas

There are certain smells associated with Christmas that we don’t come across in the course of the ordinary year (i.e. the boring non-Christmas period). Now, I might be romanticising things here, but I have vivid Christmas memories of the exact smell of 1970s tinsel, the smell of roasting beef (we didn’t eat turkey) and Mum and Dad smoking all day. In the 1970s you were  encouraged to smoke all day and anywhere you pleased. Unimaginable now, I know, but the scent of cigarettes always takes me back to the family home back where chocolate advent calendars hadn’t been invented  and the internet was just a twinkle in the sky.

These days, any kind of foodie/boozy scent has me thinking wistfully of Christmas and I use it as an excuse to step outside my usual chypre scented comfort zone and into cosy, smoky gourmands.  Basically, I want to smell good enough to eat.

Here are five fragrances that have me salivating around Christmas time. They are rich, evocative, wintry and absolutely delicious. Dive in with me.  Sherry?

Zadig et Voltaire This Is Her

The plain white bottle from this achingly cool Parisian brand doesn’t look particular festive but it has dominant chestnut notes and lashings of whipped cream. This is an unusual fragrance, but I like it because of that.  They could have played it safe but no, they thought they’d confuse our brains with jasmine and chestnuts and whipped cream and cashmere wool and pink pepper and, did I say whipped cream? It sounds confusing but I promise you, this scent really works and I could happily plough through a whole bottle, and the body lotion and candle too. You can find it here.

4160 Tuesdays at Pitti

4160 Tuesdays Captured by Candlelight

With overtones of Cluedo and Agatha Christie in the intriguing title, this fragrance smells as Christmassy as a tangerine in the bottom of your pillow case. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Christingle service, but it reminded me vividly of that. What happens is that children attend a simplified Christmas service in a church (an old one for preference) and each child is given an orange with a candle embedded in it. Jutting out of the orange are cocktail stick with little Haribo gummy sweets on. Combine the old wood of church pews with the orange, the sweets, the candlelight and the flask of Baileys you have in your bag, and you’ve got Captured by Candlelight. Check it out here on the 4160 website, which is dangerously tempting at this time of year.

Hypnotic Poison

Christmas isn’t Christmas without some sort of marzipan encounter.  Hypnotic poison allows you to carry that scent around on your skin. With rich, boozy vanilla and thick, rich almonds, Hypnotic Poison is hard to beat, and very long lasting. By the way, just holding the pumpkin shaped bottle feels like magic. I keep thinking its going to turn into a tiny coach at midnight.  You can buy it here.

Hermes Elixir des Merveilles

The nose behind Hermes Elixir des Merveilles is none other than legend Jean Claude Ellena.  Famous for his blending, which is often described as having the delicacy of a watercolour painting, Elixir des Merveilles is a gourmand that has the kind of mouth-watering appeal that never feels too rich for a second helping.  To my nose, this smells like caramelised oranges, but without any stickiness.  Imagine a crème brûlée with slightly seared bitter orange fruit.  I’m not usually a fan of gourmands, except at Christmas, obvs, but this one has me drooling with undisguised avarice. You can buy it here.

Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla

Never let it be said that I don’t cater for all budgets.  This cheap and cheerful vanilla scent from trusty Yves Rocher stopped me in my tracks and made me check the price again. Twice. This is a rich, golden vanilla scent that smacks of boozy vanilla liquor, rather than the more commonly found synthetic cupcake note that sometimes poses as vanilla.  Not, this one, though, No Sir. Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla will make everyone ask what you are wearing. Even the most curmudgeonly perfume resister will be unable to stop sniffing you. Don’t blame me. Blame Yves Rocher! Oh, and the price? My 30ml bottle was the princely sum of £3.99 five weeks ago.

How about you?

What will be wearing this Christmas? Something cosy? Something new? Do you always wear the same fragrance at Christmas? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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Avon Imari Elixir: The Flanker Hall of Fame

You know the trouble with flankers? You love the original and it’s so flankered to death that you can barely remember the first and best and then you lose track of which ones you need to buy and which you missed completely.  Then there’s the other side of the coin: the flankers that are so good that you end up saying “Can’t even remember the original. Love this more.”

Avon Imari Elixir falls firmly into the second category.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like Avon Imari, but it left me feeling a little wistful about its lack of longevity. As a light office friendly floral, it’s spot on, but it didn’t last as long as I hoped.

Avon Cosmetics

Avon Imari Elixir says “Stand back and get used to me, because I’m here all day.” And it is.

Imari Elixir opens with unmistakable blackberry notes. These are berry notes that add the juiciness without all the sugar. They have none of the bitterness of blackcurrant, and none of the sickliness of the frequent plethora of sugary sweet pink pepper. Good choice, Avon. The blackberry joins in with jasmine and deep red roses. The vanilla is very much more than a walk on part- it’s warm and buttery but again, not too sickly.  Then in the base, along comes the patchouli, which gives this real staying power and “oomph”, for want of a better word.  Coupled with amber, this rounds off this dark fruity rose with a flourish of warmth and earthiness. Some Fragrantica members have said that this reminds them of Lancôme Hypnose, so if you like that, stock up on this. Imari Elixir is  a fabulous “going out” perfume.

Despite being an eau de toilette, this really has staying power. I call this great value at just £6.

Stockists

This is available from Avon UK or from your Avon rep. My Avon Lady is called Jill and we are on Christmas card swapping terms now, as you can imagine.   Avon Imari Elixir was just £6. I paid for it myself and this is not a sponsored post.

Avon cosmetics

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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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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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Avon Eve Duet: Alone and Together

 

You may have gathered by now that I’m a bit of an Avon fangirl. I like how Avon stays on top of current trends and I like how they keep it affordable.

In the run up to Christmas (yes, we can say it, it’s October) fragrance launches emerge into a market where customers often want to cosset themselves as the weather goes colder and summer scents are put away. Avon Eve Duet is a great end of summer/start of Autumn fragrance as it has two fragrances in one bottle.  This is not the first time this has been done: I recall a bejewelled Britney Spears sphere containing two half botles of scent, but I haven’t seen it done other than that.

Avon Eve Duet has Radiant Allure in one end and Sensual Allure in the other. Both have a note in common: Water Lily. So, imagine a light and watery floral that smells slightly similar to Marks and Spencer Butterfly.  Add a bit of apple blossom-crisp and pretty. There’s a bit of jasmine in there too and an unremarkable base of amber and wood which is less prominent than the pretty, watery floral notes.

Sensual Allure, in the other end, also has Water Lily, but opens with rich plum and fruity pink pepper before the water lily peeps out, less prominently than in Radiant Allure, but still there.  It reminded me of a less sweet version of Avon Luck, so if you like that you might like this too. The note that makes the biggest difference here is the patchouli. It adds an earthy depth to Sensual Allure that makes its presence felt, but really comes into its own when sprayed over the top of Radiant Allure.

Alone, these are good, but together, you get something quite different and rather wonderful. Together you get a fabulous blend of florals, patchouli and crisp fruits.  If it was me, I’d wear Radiant Allure in the day, then spray Sensual Allure over the top to go out at night. When these are together, I can even smell a hint of violets, which aren’t there, but seem to emerge as a ghost note when everything is mixed up.

With the fragrance industry launching new scent left, right and centre, brands have to up their game, and Avon has certainly done so with this head turning novelty.  This will work because this is good quality scent that doesn’t rely on its dual-ended novelty.  Alone or solo, Eve Duet is a winner.

Stockists

Eve Duet is available from your Avon rep or the Avon UK website. My sample was paid for by me so I am under no obligation to like it, but I do.

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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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Celebrity Perfume: Still by Jennifer Lopez

still ad

 You may have seen my recent post about celebrity perfumes in which I nailed my colours to the mast. I’m a fan. Celebrity fragrances are made by experts and priced to sell.  What’s not to love?

stillToday I am reviewing my new bottle of Still by Jennifer Lopez. It was recommended to me by friend of the blog Rachael, who is a fan of Still and told me she would love to read a review.  Like an olfactory DJ, I’m always happy to do requests. Rachael, this is for you.

Still opens with Earl Grey Tea and oranges,  giving this a lovely fresh and clean opening straight away.  My first thought is that this would make the perfect work scent.  It’s light and clean and surely would offend nobody.  The light opening pretty much stays put throughout, just gathering some lily of the valley, fressia and jasmine along the way.  None of this becomes rich or cloying; the orangey citrus notes keep everything light and zingy.

The base is allegedly sandalwood, amber, musk and pepper, but this really doesn’t end up as rich and spicy as those notes might suggest. In fact, I would say some nice clean musks, like freshly shampooed hair, and the faintest tang of clean spices, like a chai tea for example. still amazon

All in all, my bottle of eau de parfum was jolly good value at just over £10 for 30ml from Amazon UK. This would make a great gift for a teen since it is no way provocative, but clean, light and pretty.  Don’t worry if your teenage years are an embarrassing distant blur of cringiness- you can wear this even if you’re, ooh, I don’t know…47?  (Ahem).

JLo Still is absolutely bang on the money for summer, for work or for a young perfume recipient.  Or an attractive older woman.  From Wales.

Stockists

You can buy this from Amazon UK like I did. Opinions are my own and I bought this for myself.

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