Monday, December 26, 2005

Scents of the Season

I was just home for the holidays - a good, old fashioned white New England Christmas. I was noticing the scents come to mind this time of year, whether they are pine trees, a roaring fire, goodies baking in the oven, or the crisp winter wind. The holidays are emotion-charged and our sense of smell is directly linked to the emotional center of the brain, so it's no wonder that companies are quick to bottle the scents of the season.

Lise Watier's fragrance Neiges ("snow") evokes the exquisite purity of white flowers: hyacinth, lily of the valley, Christmas rose, night-blooming jasmine, magnolia, and orange blossom. When Neiges melts on skin, its compelling fragrance becomes memorable, enduring, and enticing. Find it at Sephora in the US.

Teint de Neige
Part of Lorenzo Villoresi's Fantasy Fragrance collection, Teint de Neige (“the color of snow”) is perfect for the holidays. Villoresi says that Teint de Neige reflects the sophisticated beauty and the atmospheres of the French Belle Epoque. It has the pleasing waft of perfumed powders. Think of a soft, gentle talc with a delightful persistence. The fragrance’s top notes include jasmine, rose and ylang ylang accompanied by — what else — powdery and floral notes. The end result is an aroma with the richness of the natural extracts of precious flowers.

Last on the "snowy" list: Demeter's Snow, and I can tell you it will bring back memories of getting a snowball in the face! This is not a flowery interpretation of snow, but truly the real thing. On their website, they say, "At Demeter, we were able to capture the essence of snow in a scent; chilling, cool, clean and fresh, with a touch of dust (necessary to form flakes) and earth (upon which to rest)."

Rather than focus on the ice outside, Martine Micallef uses warm scents like sandalwood and vanilla and spices like cinnamon and cumin to conjure up a cozy winter day in her fragrance, Hiver (part of the "4 seasons" series). Also one of the loveliest bottles around.

My sister makes the most amazing sticky buns for Christmas morning, and Philosophy has captured that scent in the most edible-smelling concoctions I've ever used. They offer Cinnamon Buns scented body wash, lip shine, body souffle and room spray. These products are low in calories... and they say that the fragrance of cinnamon buns has an aphrodisiac-like effect!

Other seasonal favorites are Candy Cane, the Gingerbread Man and the Muffin Man. Stock up, because they seem to be limited to the holiday season.

Effervescent bath cubes can melt away gift-returning stress, especially when made with holiday scents like Christmas Wreath, Winter Mint, and Vanilla Bean - try them from Jane.

Holiday Spice
Alora's Festa is a holiday edition with notes of cinnamon and bitter orange. The sticks absorb the oil and gently diffiuse it into the air, so you can enjoy the scent of the holiday long after this limited edition is no longer available.

With its dry yet evergreen richness, Burn's Sugar Pine Balsam candle joins the earthiness of dried pine needles, balsam peru, galbanum and amber with the peppery scent of juniper berries for a fragrance that is warm and rich yet dry and clean.

Roaring Fire
The Diptyque Feu de Bois Candle smells so authentic, even apartment-dwellers can have the flickering glow and warm aroma of a wood-burning fire. Its elegant silver glass casing lends added sophistication.

This turquoise candle evokes the scent of pure winter snow and the promise of spring's blossoms underneath. A clean, fresh scent that plays with notes of Italian vervain, winter daphne, water lily and Peru balsam.

Holiday Desserts
L'Occitane has a lovely fabric-covered gift box with three candles, each redolent with the smells of Provencale desserts: Crème Caramel, Gingerbread and Pumpkin Chestnut.

May these scents keep you warm and jolly throughout the rest of the holiday season... and I'll get back to you after my vacation!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Baby Me!

Last year, CBS news recommended Love's Baby Soft as a Valentine's gift. They may have been right about the baby-fresh fragrance trend, but they were seriously decades off! Girls, run from any guy who gives you that vile, powdery stuff - or drop hints (a link to this page, perhaps?) so he can find a version as modern as you are.

Scents designed for or inspired by children are the perfect cure for a heady, sexy perfume hangover. Since they are meant to be light, they wear close to the body and are not terribly long-lasting. But it's always nice to get a burst of soap-and-water freshness when you reapply.

My first experience in this category was Tartine et Chocolat. I had the blue version, called Ptisenbon and found it super-fresh and comforting. The pink version is called Gransenlon and has notes including Orange, Lemon, Mint, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Honeysuckle, Musk, Oakmoss, and Amber. Alas, they're hard to find these days...

Many drugstores in New York carry Musti Eau de Soin by Mustela and you can also find it at Sephora. This is one of my summer favorites, but it's refreshing year-round. It's lemony and clean and makes me feel like I've had my bath and now it's time for beddy-bye.

Bvlgari's Petits et Mamans is available in an alcohol-free version, or you can get the longer-lasting version (with 5% alcohol). It has hints of baby powder and soft florals but some complain of a sour milk note (not the kind of baby smell we want...).

Philosophy's Baby Grace is for those who love the smell of clean baby skin. I love the solid perfume because you can just keep it in your makeup bag and refresh as desired. The package says, "If there is a place called heaven, it must smell like a baby." Who are we to disagree? (Notes: Poppy, Green Accord, Pink Mimosa, Pepper, Creamy White Woods, Musk)

Clean's "Baby Girl" scent is a delicious, baby-fresh scent for big girls with top notes of fresh lemons, cyclamen, orange, and Egyptian geranium, a middle-note of African violet, heliotrope, lavender, ylang-ylang, and cinnamon Ceylon, and a white musk and cedar base.

Child perfume is not a fragrance for children or one that makes you smell like a baby; rather this celeb-admired essence is said to drive men wild... so perhaps it's a fragrance for begetting children? They say it's a "concentrated blend of two floral essential oils"... and that's about as much as you can find out about the notes. Try it and let us know what you think.

Whenever you just want a fresh, inoffensive fragrance to wear to the office or a cozy, Sunday afternoon scent, just pick up these bottled memories and release your inner child with a spritz or two.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Variety is the Scent of life

The first time I got a set of fragrance samples was when I ordered decants of every Jo Malone fragrance off eBay. I just loved the idea of mixing and layering them, and certainly wasn't about to get a full-sized version of each one! This set, plus the fragrance combining chart, was enough to keep me occupied for - well, awhile.

Today, a number of perfumers seem to have caught on that we want to try several of their scents before we decide which one to buy:

Fresh now offers "The Fragrance Chronicles" containing 15 of their Index fragrances (15 mL each) - a wonderful way to try them all.

Bond No. 9 knows that fragrance can be as indulgent and rich as chocolates. So they've created the "Bon Bon Box" - a collection of 18 20 mL pocket sprays wrapped in foil like candy. They are simply too adorable. Now you can try each New York inspired scent and decide if you're more a Chinatown kind of girl or a Park Avenue lady.

If you're a vanilla lover, you can now try nine of perfumer Susanne Lang's delicious variations on the vanilla theme (9 mL each). Beware - the "Ultimate Vanilla Collection" is here for a limited time only!

The possibilities are endless with the Borsari collections - you can get a set of four or a collector's book of twelve or twenty-four of these Italian fragrances (.12 oz each). Trace the history of perfume with these collections of historical fragrances.

Ormonde Jayne thoughtfully offers a sample set so you can try all nine of her scents. Considered by Vogue to be "one of the fashion pack’s best kept secrets," this London-based perfumer offers exotic scents like Champaca, Ta'if and Tolu. They had me at "sample programme."

It's hard to buy fragrances as gifts, but samplers like these give the gift of discovery. Tapping into this trend, Sephora now offers a boxed gift set of samples plus a certificate to get a full-sized bottle of the recipient's favorite scent. This Fragrance Gift for Her is pure genius.

Happy sampling! -Beauty Chick

Monday, December 12, 2005

Welcome to the Hatchery

I'm obsessed with beauty products and get a thrill discovering new brands. There's a sense of discovery, allure and promise when these newcomers appear on the scene, just begging to be tried and tested. I can't wait to finish a product just to have an excuse to buy something new. Anytime I can get small-size products or a brand sampler, I'm a happy chick! I'm especially fascinated by perfumes and I will frequently spray my wrists before I go to bed, so I can really concentrate on smelling all of the notes. When I'm not wearing fragrances, I like to burn scented candles.

On this blog, I'll share my latest brand, product and trend discoveries - and I'd love to hear yours, too.