Every quarter, for the small sum of five pounds, I receive a Discovery Box from the Fragrance Shop Discovery Club. Sometimes there are fragrances I’ve already tried and sometimes there are lovely surprises. Either way, I’ve been a member since December 2013 and I always will be.
This month’s box contains six samples, as well as a five-pound voucher off a full bottle of any of your favourites from the box. So far, my clear favourite is Elizabeth Arden White Tea.
Here’s what’s in the box
Elizabeth Arden White Tea
As you know Elizabeth Arden Green Tea has been a classic since it came out in 1999. Green Tea was created by none other than His Majesty Francis Kurkdjian, and it has genius simplicity written all over it. There have been many flankers, and I’ve liked all of them. When I saw White Tea was now A Thing, I worried that they may have “over-flanked” themselves, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Elizabeth Arden White Tea is light, airy and floaty and smells like a pure white room in a dream home. There’s clean white musks and sea notes and light notes of white tea. This is like a spa in a bottle. This will be on my dressing table very soon.
Jimmy Choo L’Eau
This is in a similar vein to DKNY below, but is slightly sweeter and delicately tiptoes onto the very edges of the gourmand spectrum. I wrote about this last month and you can read my review here. It’s pretty and light and floral, and I predict it’ll be a big hit this summer.
DKNY Be Tempted Eau so Blush
DKNY Be Tempted Eau So Blush is a light and feminine scent that has a fruity floral opening and big peony notes in the middle- and peony is going to be big this year. The base is woody and fruity with apricots and musk. This is a perfect daytime scent and ideal for work. It almost demands to be worn with a pretty frock.
Marc Jacobs Decadence
Marc Jacobs Decadence comes in such a fantastic bottle that when I first saw it, I almost didn’t care what it smelled like, I just wanted that bottle. Luckily, it smells pretty good with its saffron and plums and a vetiver and musk base. If you like Marc Jacobs Daisy, don’t buy this blind as they’re very different. Decadence is fabulous for the evening whilst Daisy is lighter and better as a daytime fragrance.
This one certainly lives up to its name. “Wow” was the first word I said when I sniffed it. It opens with sharp lime and aromatic cardoman, and settles as a slightly gourmand, warm vanilla, via peppery geranium and dry grassy vetiver. Despite not having any leathery notes, this reminded me of Dior Fahrenheit, only Joop!Wow! is sharper and with more citrus. I loved it. I sprayed it on me, my husband and my ten-year-old son. Unanimous thumbs up! We all smell great.
I was surprised when I saw this as I thought “Hmm, Invictus is pretty intense anyway, what could they possibly do to make it bigger?”The answer, my friends, is that they turned up the volume and tweaked some knobs until it knocked out every canary within a fifty mile radius. Invictus Intense is similar to the original, but cranked up to the power of ten. The salt notes are very prominent. It’s dry and masculine and not pretty. It reminded me a lot of Paco Rabanne One Million Intense. If this sounds like your cup of tea, please use sparingly. For all our sakes.
The Discovery Club is easy to join with no long term red tape. Just join to get your box and cancel if you want to. But I bet you won’t! I’ve been getting these boxes for four years and the flat box they come in fits through the letterbox so it won’t end up in the Post Office depot if you’re out.
I have exciting news about this quarter’s Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box. Not only is it a great selection of samples, but I have one to give away AND my very own discount code so that you can get one free when you subscribe. I feel properly famous now. I’ll probably be in Celebrity Big Brother next. (Day One. Samantha heads straight for the kettle. The other housemates have labelled her “boring.”)
You may have correctly surmised by now that I am a huge fan of discovery boxes. Many a time have I stumbled across a fragrance that wasn’t even on my radar or my “Must Try” list and many a time has that fragrance ended up being a favourite. Discovery Boxes turn your head and whisper “I know you don’t think you’ll like this one, but have you actually tried it?” It’s also a great way to try new releases and new flankers without traipsing round endless shops wondering what your coat sleeves smell of after trying ten scents in one morning. (Guilty).
This month, the Fragrance Shop sent me a Discovery Club Box to see what I thought. I have been a proud subscriber since the scheme began, so now I have two. As I often tell my sons “It’s not fair to have two when your brother’s got none.” I am therefore giving one of them away. The contents are a mix of established classics and new launches. There’s three for him and four for her, but that’s just labels. In my opinion, anyone can wear anything. There’s also a Fragrance Shop booklet containing discount vouchers on a full bottle of each scent sample in the box. Ill be reviewing some of them shortly so watch this space.
What’s in the Box?
Samples are between 1.5ml and 2ml. Here’s what’s in it:
Simply tell me which of the above scents you would most like to try, and you could win the whole Discovery Box. You can comment below on the blog, or on Twitter, or on Facebook. Entries are picked via Randompicker. org and entries closes on July 26th at midnight GMT. Please note that this is a UK only giveaway due to postage regulations.
There’s MORE! Exclusive Discount Code to my readers
But that’s not all. The lovely team at The Fragrance Shop has very kindly issued me with my very own discount code. If you want to join the Discovery Club, simply sign up online and use discount code SCENTDAY to get your first one free! Boxes are sent quarterly and cost £5.00 including postage. This offer is available until 31st August. The offer applies to UK residents only due to postal regulations.
Dolce remains one of my favourite recent launches. It is a shamelessly girly fragrance that opens in Gucci Envy Stylee and blossoms into a floral delight that deftly dodges the perennial vanilla tidal wave. There have since been two flankers: Dolce Floral Drops ( also rather lovely) and today’s scent which is Dolce Rosa Excelsa.
Dolce Rosa Excelsa is not all that different to the original Dolce, but has, as you would imagine, more roses. The common note among all three Dolce scents, however, is the Amaryllis. This is a flower that wears underwear made of fruity blossoms. It is used beautifully here, and is a new way of chucking a nod in the direction of the fruity floral genre without actually becoming one. As well as the roses there’s also narcissus, water lily, neroli and papaya flower. In other words, this is like a delicate tropical flower fragrance, painted in ethereal watercolours.
The flowers are on the fruity side, but stay light and feminine. There is no tooth achingly sweet sugar here. It handles the fruitier flowers of the floral spectrum without ever smelling like a jug of cocktails. This one, my friends, is all about petals and floaty skirts. There is a soapy clean note which gives it the feel of a very expensive shower gel in a nice ( pronounced naice) hotel bathroom.
The base notes are allegedly musk and sandalwood, but they are light touches, heavily framed by flowers, and the rose in particular comes out towards the end. Longevity is very good. I could smell this on my wrist after a decent seven hour trial and it was still delicate and feminine. If I smelled like this after a day at the office, I would be more than happy.
Now there are three little Dolces, I envisage a cute little triptych in Duty Free. This customer would buy one for sure.
My sample was in the delightful Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box. You can sign up here if you like getting samples in the post every quarter for five quid ( I do!). You can buy bottles of Dolce Rose Excelsa from John Lewis, Boots, or of course, the Fragrance Shop.
On the subject of gift shopping, I often hear people say to me (and it’s usually to me as I’m a perfume blogger), “She wants perfume but I don’t know what she likes ” or “she fancies a change.”
Many partners either try and guess what their beloved will like- “it’s in a square sort of bottle”- or just buy Chanel No 5 because its the most famous one. Coupled with this is the fact that perfume is often thought of by many as a luxury that smacks of self indulgence when buying it for yourself, hence the thousands of people who ask for it for Christmas or birthdays.
So what do you buy for someone who wants perfume but is saying “surprise me”?
The best idea is,of course, a Discovery Set.
Discovery Sets often, but not always, consist of a set of samples and a voucher for a full price bottle. They are a great way of experimenting and finding new things you like and new things you don’t.
Here’s my round up of the best fragrance Discovery Boxes in the UK (in my opinion). I won’t sell you short, I’d be happy to get any of these myself (hint, hint) Are you reading this darling? No, he’s looking at cars on his phone. Never mind, I’ll email him the link.
1 Jo Loves
Jo Malone found the lure of the fragrant world was calling her back after the sale of Jo Malone the brand and she began again as Jo Loves. I recommend just about all of them. I was kindly sent a sample set early in my blogging days and the quality was just wonderful. As far as gift buying goes, Jo Loves offers two great sets. The Fragrance Discovery Gift Experience consists of nine miniatures and a 50ml full bottle of your choice to follow at £95, or nine miniatures and a bigger 100ml bottle for £135. You’ll be spoilt for choice. Jo Loves fragrances are mouthwatering and irresistible.
2. 4160 Tuesdays
There all sorts of goodies over at 4160- samples, handbag sizes, try’n’buy sample and full bottle sets. You name it, Sarah McCartney has something for all budgets and tastes. Dip your toe in, I dare you! Where do I start? Well there’s the taster boxes at £35 for ten minis, or the Taster Box Plus Bottle Later for £100, or for £125 a whole day’s workshop with Sarah including food, chocolate and lots of sniffage and mixing. Or for under £20, you can buy an array of minis and testers in order to find your 4160 groove. Check out the site shop right here. Incidentally, this article was written on Black Friday which is being called Hot Pink Friday over at 4160 Tuesdays. How refreshing!
4. The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes
Perfume Society Discovery Boxes are my passion. I have them all. I swoon when a new one comes out and have set world speed records in buying them. I receive the newsletter that alerts VIP members that a new Box is available, and I’ve ordered it and paid for it before I’ve finished reading it. The Discovery Boxes contain around ten perfume samples, often very hard to get on the High Street, along with a postcard containing discussion notes about each scent, and usually a couple of non perfume goodies such as nail polish or skin treats. The boxes are between £10 and £15 to VIP members and a few pounds more for non members. They make a great introduction to fragrance and are the cutest gifts ever in their little white boxes
In fact VIP Membership (£25 a year) can lead to free or subsidized perfume hobnobbing evenings at launches and events around the country, not to mention a free Discovery Box. I reckon a membership and Discovery Box would make a great gift. Check out the Perfume Society Shop Here.
5. The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Boxes.
Each box Includes a set of samples and generous discount vouchers off full size bottles- often ten pounds off, but more usually five. Boxes are dispatched quarterly and cost £5 each. A year’s worth of boxes at just £20 would make a lovely gift for all seasons. When the site has stopped crashing because of Black Friday, I’ll post the link.
6. Pell Wall Perfumes Discovery Box
For £49 you get no less than nine 10ml fragrances from perfumer Chris Bartlett at Pell Wall perfumes. Made in Shropshire, Pell Wall is an eclectic mix of good quality perfume with excellent longevity and lovely Jeeves and Wooster style packaging. Chris is a jolly nice chap too. You can get them from the website. I particularly recommend Pretty in Pink and Deep Purple.
The Perfume Society is for people like you and me. At least I’m assuming you are interested in perfume if you are reading this, in which case, we‘re already on the same page: quite literally as a matter of fact.
We know that once you really start to explore this extraordinary world, it’s a bit like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia. So be prepared to awaken your senses…The Perfume Society
The Perfume Society exists to encourage and *cough* enable perfume fans (they are temptresses!) to explore existing classics and discover a few new favourites along the way. It is a welcoming presence and they’re a friendly bunch of people.
So why am I raving about the Perfume Society Discovery Box? Well, I already subscribe to one Discovery Club Box with The Fragrance Shop and whilst I love getting the smart black boxes through the post, I have yet to be hugely inspired or excited by them. They are usually made up of brand new releases with a definite commercial mass market appeal. In other words, I like getting a box of samples, but I don’t feel the Fragrance Shop Boxes were made for me.
Cut to the Perfume Society Discovery Box and here’s what it contained:
A spray sample of Chloe,
A spray sample of Viva La Juicy Noir
a spray sample of L’Air du Temps,
a splash sample of Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel ( reviewed on this blog),
a spray sample of Paco Rabanne Lady Million,
a small bottle of Salavador Dali Wild (in adorable leopard print bottle),
a boxed spray of Atkinsons 24 old Bond Street,
a tube of Crabtree and Evelyn Lily hand cream,
and a mini bottle of Versace Black Crystal in a cute little box.
Also included was a smart handbag sized notebook for writing down the name of something you try and can’t later put a name to ( if you’re me), a pad of detachable scented strips made of nice porous blotting paper, and some rather smart postcards with both fragrance notes and cues for discussion, just like a book club, but with perfume.
In fact The Perfume Society encourages you to start your own perfume club, which I plan to do, and I already have two willing candidates in mind. To be honest, I’m getting too old for hangovers but an excuse to crack open the Battenburg and unleash the Big Sample Box sounds right up my street.
The Perfume Society costs £25 a year for VIP membership and includes the first discovery box free of charge. After that you can buy discovery boxes for discounted prices as a member (non members pay full price). You also get sent an e-magazine called The Scented Letter which will be gladly received by me at least – look as I might, I have not found a perfume magazine anywhere on the High Street. There are also UK events such as workshops and talks that are refreshingly not just in London.
So yes, I welcome the Perfume Society and as a perfume fan, I know they welcome me too.
Previously on IScentYouADay (Imagine Voice Over Man’s voice) we reviewed Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion from Spanish luxe company Loewe, which claimed to be “more intense than the most erotic caresses”, but wasn’t. Today we are reviewing Quizas Seducion. But did it seduce our blogger?
Okay, back to my normal voice now. In a word- No. You know those tins of fruit cocktail that come in tropical flavour and all the fruits are a bit hard? Sniff one of those instead, it’s cheaper, but will still smell more expensive than Quizas Seducion.
The top notes of Quizas Seducion are passion fruit, oranges and blackberries, followed by middle notes of jasmine, tuberose and orange flower, rounded off with base notes of caramel and vanilla.
What it actually smells like is the aforementioned tinned fruit with a tinny, reedy note of urinal freshener blocks in Ocean Fresh.
This is unfortunate because Loewe Aura is actually pretty good and leathery, so don’t write off the whole brand on my word alone, but in this case I would sniff the tinned fruit instead and save a lot of money.
My sample was in this quarter’s Discovery Box from the Fragrance Shop, which I really recommend, although as you can probably tell, it is very much pot luck. Needless to say, it’s NOT going in my letter to Santa this year.
Frugal Fragrance, Scents on a Shoestring, Perfume for Paupers: phrase it how you will. The truth is that these days the cost of living is high and luxuries are the first to go. Choosing my perfume for the day is a few minutes I treasure. I certainly have plenty of choice but only around four bottles on my dressing table cost more than thirty quid (and were mostly gifts).
I am often asked how I can afford to sample a new perfume every day and I always answer almost apologetically: I have very few expensive full bottles and sometimes a review is prompted by a few free squirts at my local beauty counter. The rest are inexpensive bottles, samples or purse sprays. If I had had to spend a lot of money to do this it wouldn’t have been possible.
Granted, I have two advantages: a very generous friend without whom this blog would be shorter and harder to write. I know how lucky I am. The second advantage is that as a blogger, I often get sent free sample sizes to trial. However, apart from that, I truly believe that it is possible to smell good without breaking the bank.
On the High Street
There are several ways in which to enjoy perfume on the cheap. Firstly, I no longer dismiss cheap perfume the way I used to long ago. Rummage long enough in the High Street fare, and you will find gems that cost well under a tenner, and even a few for under a fiver. In my local Bodycare shop, I have bought 100ml of Cabochard for £8.99 and a bottle of Jovan White Musk for Women for £6.19. Then there is the bargain Queen of them all: Coty’s L’Aimant– and I am neither the first nor the last to find similarities between L’Aimant and Chanel No 5. Created in 1927, L’Aimant has a retro feel that reminds my esteemed fellow blogger The Perfumed Dandy, of an Agatha Christie heroine. A small bottle can cost just over a fiver and is widely available.
Back in the 70s, drugstore classics were everywhere and everyone wore them. They have lost popularity now but are worth revisiting. Their lack of popularity means they are cheap too, so it’s a win-win situation if you like bargain chypres and aldehydes. I have purchased Panache for just £4.99 on Fragrance Direct- and the longevity is around 12 hours, making this classic aldehyde excellent value. I have also managed to purloin (I love that word) a bottle of retro favourite Tweed from my local chemist for £4.99. Recently a little bottle of Chique arrived in the post for just £3.99 and it is full of Citrus and Oakmoss. (see my rave review).
In Praise of Purse Sprays
Then there are the purse sprays. I have a bouquet of these on my dressing table, none costing over a fiver. Marks and Spencer does an excellent range of perfume and almost all of them are available in 10ml and 25ml sizes, starting at £4, making these affordable treats. I also find that very often there is a sales brochure in my Avon catalogue and I have in the past bought a purse spray of Little Red Dress for just £3.99. Avon are doing these more regularly now and you can get them for just £3. I recently picked up a 10ml bottle of Next Just Pink for just £2 in my local Next Clearance store, and it’s become a firm favourite.
Go Niche and Bijoux
If you have a lot of perfumes and samples, a small amount can last nearly a year if you rotate it with other scents. It is possible to have sample sizes of great niche scents for special occasions that would normally be prohibitive when bought in full size bottles. However, there’s no reason why anyone should be left out, regardless of budget.
Determined and lengthy browsing on Amazon has helped me find Coty Chanson D’Eau– a citrussy hesperide at only £6.99 for 50ml including a shower gel. Even I was sceptical at that price, but pleasantly surprised at this lovely green cologne on receipt of it. Another recent Coty find was Coty Aspen for Menat £8.29 a delightful Lavender/Pine combo that smells like Creed Green Irish Tweed . Don’t rule out Old Spice either- it was originally meant for women and smells like a lighter version of Dana Tabu).
Yves Rocher is a minefield of bargains, but sadly my nearest branch is in France. Their online service for the UK is excellent however. I just bought 2 bottles for the price of one: Clea and Yria. They were blind buys, but I looked them up on Fragrantica, liked the reviews and went ahead. I was not disappointed and now own two bottles for the total price of £15. They usually let you choose three free samples and a free gift too.
One of my favourite sites is Allbeauty.com, formerly CheapSmells.com. They have a huge variety of genuine big names, but can sell cheap since they are without the High Street overheads. Prices are very low and there is a vast selection of perfume under £10. Postage is free when you spend over £15 but it does take about week. They don’t pay me to say how great they are, but their delivery guy could find my house without sat nav.
Being a blogger I have the advantage of having been sent some free samples from very generous companies, and I am lucky to have a good friend in my chum Lisa, whose generosity in letting me loose on two big boxes of phials, knows no bounds.
Samples are getting harder to cadge over the counter: believe, me I’ve turned on the charm! But there are other methods.
The Fragrance Shop Discovery Box (see photo) is a good way to bolster my sample collection. At only £5 a quarter, I receive a box of mixed samples and vouchers for money off full sized bottles. My absolute favourite Discovery Box comes from The Perfume Society, which provides around ten samples, smelling notes, sniffing strips, and a couple of scented goodies that vary from facial serum, to hand cream or shower gel.
Look Beneath the Glitz
Don’t rule out tacky looking celeb scents either: Who cares what it says on the label? If you like it, go ahead. Two of my favourites are Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights (very Vegas!), bought for £8.95 which smells of Papyrus and Patchouli ( and very similar to Prada EDP), and JLo Deseo, which looks like wet jewel and smells eau so fraiche!
Ebay is an excellent source of cheap fragrance trawling, especially after big events such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day when people sell their disappointments. Some buyers are afraid of being sold a dud, but I can honestly say everything I have bought has been authentic and eBay are pretty strict about fake stuff, so it’s a good place to shop around.
Swaps, Decants and Splits
If you get stuck into the talk boards on Basenotes, Fragrantica, Facebook Fragrance Groups or even Mumsnet Style and Beauty threads, you can not only find friendly like minded fellows, but can usually swap decants, full bottles, or even go in on an expensive niche bottle by just buying, say a quarter if a full bottle with some fellow fragheads. Perfume lovers are generous souls and genuinely want to spread the joy.
How about you?
What’s the best bargain you’ve ever scooped? Have you found a hidden gem? Do share so we can share your joy, follow in your footsteps or just sit here being all jealous. Perfume is such a treat, I truly wish it for everyone.
I don’t normally review men’s colognes, since I have enough to get through as it is with my one-a-day reviews (with occasional lapses due to children or migraines or both). However, gender is no bar to me and I often look through my husband’s fragrance collection and rifle what I can.
You may recall that I reviewed Old Spice on Father’s Day and enjoyed its spicy and clean notes, so as you can see, I am more than happy to wear so called Pour Hommes, even though I am a Femme.
Dropping into my local Lidl two days ago, I couldn’t help but notice that they had their men’s fragrance X-Boltin stock and at a princely sum of 1.99GBP, reduced from its usual price of 3.99.
Since I have reviewed Lidl’s Suddenly Madame Glamour, and since that review gets more daily hits than any other I have ever written, I thought it only fair to review X-Bolt. Besides which, my Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box arrived today and I couldn’t muster one iota of enthusiasm for it. (but that’s another story…)
Let’s start with the name. X-Bolt either sounds like XBox and is therefore supposedly named to excite men, or it sounds like something my sons would watch after Ben 10. Either way, the name’s not the best, but I’ve heard worse. The bottle is lovely: simple glass with a faux burnished chrome stopper with the juice being an appealing shade of elderflower wine.
X-Bolt is extremely similar to Hugo Boss Bottled. This may or may not be deliberate, I’m saying nothing. The smell goes like this: Apples, Cedar and Bergamot very strongly in the top notes. Middle notes are woodier, but still Apple-y, and the base is very Vetiver, with a bit of sandalwood and a general whiff of Woods.
Long ago, I would never have considered that anything costing 1.99 would have been any good. However, when you realise that the cost of making many fragrances is a tiny single figure percentage of the overall price, it’s easy to figure out how much goes on branding, marketing, advertising and very often, a celebrity face. In other words, lose the prestige and companies can still afford to produce a half decent fragrance, if of course, you don’t mind that you bought from a notoriously cheap supermarket and threw it in your basket next to kitchen roll and bacon.
XBolt does have a slightly 80s Sport feel to it, (as does Hugo Boss Bottled), a bit like manly shower gel, but it’s so good for the price that I’m going back for more, and not just for my husband, who smells great in it.
(NB Hugo Boss Bottled is sometimes called Hugo Boss No 6 in the USA)