Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Latest and greatest from Bath & Body Works - Amber Blush

Stop press - I've got it - the best Christmas present ever for a girl aged 10-15! It's the latest launch from Bath & Body Works (BBW), Amber Blush. But wait, there's more! Along with this, and the many other launches for the holiday season, BBW is promoting their ‘All New Daily Trio’.

If you haven't had a chance to check out the Daily Trio, never fear! It is a simple concept which, at the core, is your basic fragrance layering story meant to extend the longevity of the scent. Start with the shower gel, then the body lotion, finish with the spritz – et voila - longer lasting fragrance! This means Amber Blush was launched in each of these formats (see, perfect present, right?!), but does each format live up to its ‘crystallized amber kissed with bubbly raspberry champagne’ description? Let’s see how each performed…

As with any fragrance layering experience it’s necessary to commence with the shower gel. Its scent is sweet and intense! It is a cavity-causing cotton candy-berry-sugar with creamy vanilla and an ever so slight hint of coconut hiding in the mix. There aren't any amber notes, but rather the BBW vanilla-musk base that seems to be appearing in more and more of their fragrances.

Next up is the body lotion. I expected to have the same delightful experience - sweet and creamy. Sadly, this just wasn't the case, which must have to do with their new body lotion formula. BBW claims to have increased the shea by three times the amount in the old formula, which completely explains why the dominant note is shea butter… and base, with the tiniest bit of sweetness sneaking its surgary notes between the shea and base. To tell the truth, I'm not quite sure how this product made it to the shelves of BBW, but perhaps this is why they now encourage layering their products – they can’t get the fragrance strong enough in the formula now that it's got so much shea moisturizing power!

The final step in the scent layering experience is the spritz, or fragrance mist as BBW calls it. The mist does what the body lotion doesn’t: it’s all sugar-sweetness, like being drenched not just in cotton candy, but a blue raspberry icee that has the slightest dash of sweet-creamy-vanilla.

So, if you’re looking for that perfect gift the shower gel is the clear winner. But, should you want to give all three for the ultimate layering experience, this trio will leave your daughter, niece, babysitter, or whomever you gift it to, walking around in a bubble of sweet-vanilla-cream-blue raspberry icee. Though it’s not quite the ‘crystallized amber kissed with bubbly raspberry champagne’ BBW purports it to be, they will surely love it all the same!

Have you tried this scent? Do you love it, do you hate it? Make sure to leave a comment below!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

#thisisbrit: (another) British Invasion

British fashion label Burberry has taken a fresh marketing approach for their latest Burberry Brit flanker, Brit Rhythm. To attract their trendy-hipster demographic throughout the world, Burberry took the now popular '360 degree approach', which means attacking the consumer from all angles - print, digital, physical, you name it!

One of the main aspects of their 360 approach was to align the fragrance with music. In fact, the fragrance's tag line is 'inspired by the energy of live music'. Next, to draw in this young, trend-setting group, Burberry promoted Rhythm's launch with concerts by British indie-rock bands this past October with White Lies playing gigs in London and Singapore while Peace played in NYC. Burberry also supported Rhythm's launch with #thisisbrit on social media.

The bands are edgy and the marketing is stylish and very 21st century, but aren't we missing the most important part? What about the juice?! With a quick look at Burberry's website, I found the fragrance description:

ELECTRIC TOP NOTES: Basil verveina with cardamom and a shot of juniper berries

ADRENALISED HEART NOTES: Black leather, heady patchouli and styrax resin

SENSUAL BASE NOTES: Cedarwood vibrates with incense and sweet tonka bean

The adjectives used to describe Brit Rhythm definitely entice and get the blood flowing with excitement, but boil down to the notes - basil verveina, cardamom, juniper berries, leather, patchouli, resin, cedarwood, incense, tonka bean- and you're left with a soft spicy-woody scent. Once the marketing is erased, this fragrance doesn't sound so enigmatically energetic, but rather more typical of a men's cologne. What's more, does it even smell of spices and woods? Let's find out.

It opens with fresh, light and bright tones of mint. Yes, mint. I think Burberry must still be riding the 1 Million wave here with this top note. Aspects of citrus and aromatics are also distinguishable in the cool and refreshing top, which then moves into a heart of soapy-clean freshness with a bit of wet marine thrown in for good measure (hmm, not very leather-patchouli-resin like). Finally, its true nature (or rather, the fragrance description that Burberry gives it) comes through in the base: it is soft with aspects of spice and woods resting calmly alongside tonka bean that makes it just the tiniest bit sweet and musky.

By all marketing accounts, this should be a vibrant spicy-woody fragrance, and indeed, with its fresh top and middle, then soft and warm dry down, …it is.

It's not the most unique of fragrances, but at least it does what it says on the tin!

Have you tried this scent? Do you love it, do you hate it? Make sure to leave a comment below!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Enticed by Yankee Candle fall scents

Leaves are turning, days are crisp, jackets and scarves are making their appearance, and, of course, festive fall scents abound! Like in years past (make sure to check out 2011 and 2012) Yankee Candle has launched a whole array of new scents for the season. Since we're already halfway through fall and there's not much time left before the holidays, below are three of the most interesting 2013 autumnal launches from Yankee Candle.

1. The most comforting
Cozy Sweater is indeed the coziest of the scents in Yankee's fall offerings. That said, it's not the coziest because it is the warm floral-musk-patchouli scent that Yankee claims it to be, but because its scent is floral and powdery with the tiniest bit of patchouli for warmth. It's like a big hug from grandma. The cold throw of this candle is amazing. It is pleasant and strong, but not overbearing (kind of like grandma). It's a mix of soft florals, though mostly rose, and powder. The hot throw produces a much gentler scent which is mostly powder and rose, with a little bit of waxy-base emerging. Despite this flaw, the rose and powder notes prevail and the candle manages to conjure memories of kind words, comforting hugs, and being surrounded by grandma's love and warmth.

2. The most delectable
Fall is full of tasty treats and Yankee's Salted Caramel candle is one of them! While the cold throw is not the strongest, it is still buttery, caramel-y, and toffee-like: just one deep smell and you can virtually feel the caramel getting stuck in your teeth. Delish! What's more, the hot throw does not disappoint. The soft, sweet gourmand scent fills the evaluation room with its delectable notes and though it's more of a maple syrup-y scent in use (no caramel or salt here), it's tasty all the same!

3. The most peculiar
The third most interesting fall scent from Yankee Candle is Pumpkin Wreath, mainly for being the most unusual of the six new scents in Yankee's fall line up. The cold throw is strong, but confusing: pastry-popcorn gourmand mixed with hot cinnamon (imagine a candy (or whisky) fire ball), spicy clove, woody-dryness. It's all over the place, but in fact, this is what it's supposed to be. Here is the fragrance description on the Yankee Candle website: oakwood, cinnamon bark, and clove! The hot throw experience isn't as confusing. The mixture of gourmand-spice-wood comes through warm, if a little waxy, and unfortunately (or fortunately?!) very weak. While it may not be one you'd want to scent your home with, for once it's a candle which matches its description!

There you have it! Three new scents for your fall wardrobe and in the nick of time - I've just received Yankee's holiday catalog! Guess I'd better get smelling before Christmas is upon us!

If you've enjoyed any of these three scents, or any other new candle launches this fall, make sure to leave a comment below!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

3 natural perfumes pour le monde

I know this is a crazy question to ever ask any perfumista, but I'm going to put it out there - have you ever asked yourself "should I go au naturel?"

I can hear your sharp intake of breath and see you drawing back, repulsed at the mere thought, but one perfume lover had to do just that! Thankfully, she refused to except a non-fragranced life and took action - the result of which is our focus today.

Pour Le Monde is the brain child of Wendi S. Berger, a fragrance lover from childhood who found herself going au naturel when she was pregnant due to concern about chemicals in perfume and the potential effects on her unborn child. She looked for natural fragrance alternatives, but never found anything could matched the experience of a fine perfume. Encouraged by a friend, she eventually created Pour Le Monde - 100% natural fragrances that also give back. That's right, each fragrance is associated with a global charity and 10% of the net sale of each fragrance purchased is donated. Here are her first three natural fragrance creations:

1. Empower: "Fresh and spirited. Playful and energizing."
    Opens with citral, yet warm notes. It's an intriguing mixture of lemon, lemongrass and a tiny bit of lemon drop sweetness. As the fragrance warms into the heart the lemon drop sweetness continues to emerge, turning it into a full bodied lemon scent, though as it quietens down into the base a little smoky-woodiness appears to (slightly) temper the citrus. An interesting scent which could definitely be called 'fresh and spirited'!
     Sales from this scent benefit Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

2. Envision: "Daring and exotic. Irresistibly sensual."
    Opens as a calm, citral scent which seems to be muted by an extremely soft aromatic cover. As it warms, it keeps its bright citrus top notes while soft smoldering, peppery, yet woody tones emerge in the heart. As the fragrance settles into the base, these warm, peppery, woody notes continue to blend smoothly with the citrus. This is the softest of the three fragrances - not quite daring, exotic or sensual, but certainly fascinating.
     Sales from this scent benefit National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

3. Together: "Elegant and graceful. Flirtatious yet delicate."
     Opens with an amber, caramel warmth with dry cedarwood notes that are entwined with patchouli tones. As it dries the patchouli moves out of the shadows to take center stage while the dry cedarwood notes remain prevalent. Finally, at the base, the caramel, vanilla amber notes emerge once more to bring a light gourmand dynamic to the warmth of this overall woody formula. True to its marketing, this fragrance is both elegant and graceful.
     Sales from this scent benefit Cancer Support Community.

Have you tried these Pour Le Monde scents?  Do you love them, do you hate them?  Make sure to leave a comment below!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nevermind the chocolates this Valentine's Day, here's something better

I'm  not sure if you've noticed, but I've definitely spotted that candy hearts, boxes of chocolates, discounts on flowers and hearts are everywhere at the moment. And of course we can't forget the new fragrance launches gracing the counters! Yes, Valentine's Day is upon us and I've picked up one of the newest love themed launches - the latest scent from Coach.

Now, I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about this perfume because Coach is not my most favorite affordable luxury, but I put my biases aside, picked up a sample of Coach Love, and breathed deeply.

Spice. That is what you instantly experience. This latest launch from Coach opens with the floral spiciness of carnation and green aspects of violet and immediately catches your attention. It warms into a sophisticated scent layered with patchouli, light musk and caramel-y amber. Finally, the dry down adds one more dulcet tone - soft wisps of powder.

Gentlemen, if your lady's cultured, refined, and possibly even a tad enigmatic ... skip the chocolates and flowers, you've just found the perfect gift! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Yankee Candle's new spring scents

It's the middle of January and spring is in the air! Well, it isn't really, but it is in my house and has been since December. That's when I picked up Yankee Candle's new spring fragrances!

Unfortunately I was only able to buy four out of the five new launches, Waikiki Melon, Paradise Spice, Golden Sands, and Black Coconut, but, nonetheless, don't their names sound like they'll carry you away to some fantastic faraway place?? I've got high hopes for these scents, especially the exotic Black Coconut!

Since Yankee tends to have such great cold throw, I'll start with this aspect of each candle first.

Paradise Spice's aroma is a gentle, sweet coconut, a pina colada type fragrance, that has layers of soft vanilla intertwined with it. There is an undertone to the fragrance which is hard to discern, and mostly makes the candle smell a bit odd. Possibly this is the 'spice' of the aforementioned candle, though it isn't cinnamon or clove like the Yankee website claims it to be, but possibly a bit aromatic in nature.

Next in line is Waikiki Melon. It has a soft, sweet, and water-y cold throw which pleasantly greets the nose. It's almost as if they combined a watermelon flavored jolly rancher with a perfectly ripe and juicy cantaloupe. It is a fresh, yet mellow and comforting, scent that is pleasing overall.

Onto Golden Sands. It has a more sophisticated cold throw than the others, yet is still a gentle scent. It is a clean, light floral with woody warmth. Despite it's serene tones, I wonder how this would smell in use.

Finally! The mysterious Black Coconut. It's cold throw is intense from first whiff - almost like the bartender on the beach has handed me a drink that's been made too strong! It's warm, creamy, coconut-y, and, oddly, whiskey like. Think Bailey's with a coconut accent (if that's at all possible!). This one should definitely have an interesting aroma in use!

And now, with these tropical scents in mind, we'll move onto their hot throws.

But unfortunately there isn't much to say about the hot throw ... for any of these scents. I tested and re-tested, but each time I nearly burned my nose off trying to experience their fragrance as they failed to scent the evaluation room. What a disappointment! No Black Coconut to indulge in! No Waikiki Melon to delight in!

Truly, it's lovely to have an island theme in my house in the dead of winter, but I have to admit that Yankee's scents did not succeed in whisking me away to any tropical escape. Oh, Yankee Candle, what's happened to your product?? I know the economy is still slow, but does the fragrance dosage or quality of ingredients in your candles need to suffer for it?

Ho-hum, how depressing!

Though, what about you? Have you tried any of these scents? Do you love them, do you hate them? Is your space being filled with a fabulously fragrant tropical bouquet? Make sure to leave a comment below!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Get lost in an Enchanted Forest

Hello 2013! I'm sure you've made all kinds of resolutions (I know I've got a whole list to get through!) and I thought perhaps, like me, one of your resolutions is to do a bit of traveling. I say, why not start now with Enchanted Forest, the new scent from The Vagabond Prince, and our debut fragrance review of 2013.

Enchanted Forest transports you to a deep, dark European forest where the floor of this treed maze is engulfed with blackcurrants: the two aspects of this fragrance that embrace you from the start.

As the scent warms green and woody aspects, which mingle with the sweetness of the black currant, emerge. Though, the enjoyment of these notes is interrupted by animalic castoreum tones. Unfortunately these notes become all too evident for my liking. (Though, to be fair, I'm smelling this on a smelling strip - perhaps on the skin the castoreum wouldn't be so prevalent).

Suddenly the phone rings and I'm pulled away from this black currant heaven; by the time I return to the smelling strip, the dry down greets me. There are pine needles a plenty whose notes tingle the nose, the sweet black currant tones still cling on at the back, and yet there is also a soft undertone of cedar which intermingles with the rest and brings a distinct woodiness to the fragrance.

An Enchanted Forest it is indeed, which the perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has done well to capture.

Intrigued? You can find out more about The Vagabond Prince Perfume House and their debut fragrance at Fragrantica.

Are you one of the lucky winners of a sample from Fragrantica? Do you love it, do you hate it? Make sure to leave a comment below!