Friday, April 27, 2012

BBW Lip Jewels Liplicious Lip Gloss: Blackberry Bling

It's the end of the sparkly week, but not quite yet for us!  Today we're going to look at one last variant of the current Lip Jewel Liplicious line from Bath and Body Works.  Like the first gloss, Glittering Cola, this one is tinted.  Unlike the first and second gloss, it's not a sweet soda scent, but a fruity one.

Blackberry Bling opens with sweet berry notes.  It is a scent that I would characterize more closely to blackcurrants than blackberries, though.  Never heard of blackcurrant?  Don't worry - it's not well known in the United States.  Why is this?  Let me tell you.

Well over a hundred years ago blackcurrants were all the rage.  These berries were eaten, grown, and enjoyed by the American populous.  This was until the US federal government banned growing them in the early 1900s.  Blackcurrents were known to carry a fatal fungus to the white pine tree, which in turn posed a threat to the lucrative logging industry.  This ended the life of the blackcurrant in the United States.

That is, until 2003 when a horticulturist in New York was able to get the ban lifted (in New York only).  He began growing these ill-fated berries and they are now being introduced back into the American fruit bowl.

At this point you might be asking yourself, how does Scents n Scentsibility know what a blackcurrant smells like?  See, while the berry is virtually unknown to the American consumer, it never fell out of favor in Europe (almost quite the opposite).  It is a common fruit there and it's a popular flavor for products.  Two examples are crème de cassis from France and blackcurrant squash (a concentrated fruit syrup for flavoring water) in the UK.

Enough of the history lesson, let's get back to Blackberry Bling!  It opens with a distinctly blackcurrant scent (a light, sweet combination of blueberry and raspberry).  Once on the lips the scent morphs to become sweeter, almost candy like.  Oddly, though, there is that same Trident Bubble Gum scent that was in Glittering Cola and Sparkling Soda.  It is sitting way at the back, but it is still there.

As Blackberry Bling sits on the lips the berry aroma is lighter, the sweet-candy-blueberry hints are nearly indistinct and the Trident Bubble Gum scent is dull.  I can't smell any of the base underneath, but there really is not much left of the scent.

I have to say that while the packaging for the Lip Jewels range is attractive (bordering on tacky), the gloss itself doesn't live up to its $8 price tag.  If you're going to spend that much money, I would recommend forking out the extra $2 and getting yourself a philosophy lip gloss!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

BBW Lip Jewels Liplicious Lip Gloss: Sparkling Soda

I've been reading up on the state of the lip gloss market and, if you're a lip gloss kind of person, you might be disappointed in what I've learned.  Despite the hundreds of different varieties you will find on sale at stores such as Bath and Body Works, the lip gloss market is actually not doing too well, especially when compared to the general lip stick market.  In fact, last month a WSJ article reported that the NPD Group, a market research firm, found "U.S. sales of lip color neared $290 million in 2011" [an increase of more than 13% from 2010], and "lip gloss sales declined by about 1% to about $182 million."  It is easy to assume that this is why BBW has attempted to keep their lip gloss lines fresh and new by frequently launching new variants, new colors, and new ranges.

I've done my part for the lip gloss market by purchasing three of BBW's Lip Jewels Liplicious Lip Glosses, but has BBW done its part by creating a product I want to wear and that I will buy again?  I'm not so sure they did that with Glittering Cola (reviewed in the last post).  Maybe they've managed it with Sparkling Soda?  Let's find out.

At first whiff Sparkling Soda is all sweet and delicious A&W Cream Soda.  It's like I'm sitting on the porch on a hot summer day being cooled by a long drink of cold soda.  Tasty.

Interestingly, once on the lips the same scent that presented itself in the Glittering Cola also shows itself in the Sparkling Soda - it is a very distinct scent of Trident Bubble Gum, not hubba bubba, not bazooka, but Trident.

Almost the reverse of the Glittering Cola, the in-use scent of Sparkling Soda that sits on your lips is that of Trident Bubble Gum mixed with bottle cap candy.  It is not a strong, cola flavored bottle cap scent like Glittering Cola, though, but more of a faint cream soda scent.  In contrast to Glittering Cola, there is no whiff of base; the scent does its job and covers it well.

Lip Jewels Liplicious Lip Gloss Sparkling Soda is a decent lip gloss with a decent scent, but I'm just not sure it is interesting enough to recommend buying ... Uh, oh!  I hope I haven't just contributed to the decline of the lip gloss market! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BBW Lip Jewels Liplicious Lip Gloss: Glittering Cola

We're getting all sparkly this week with lip glosses from Bath and Body Works!  But, to be quite frank with you, Lip Jewels was not the lip gloss I was hoping to review today.  My ideal product would have been the new summer line of sorbet lip glosses (see right), but my nearest BBW was all sold out (boohoo).  So, I guess we'll have to be sparkly instead of sorbet-like.  Life could be worse.

This spring BBW launched new variants in their Lip Jewels Liplicious line.  There are five variants in total, of which three will be reviewed at Scents n Scentsibility.  The remaining variants are Crystal Candy and Iced Raspberry .

As this is a fragrance blog, I'll make no comment about the color, texture, or longevity of the gloss, but believe you me, I'll let you know about the scent!

tasty bottle cap candies!
Today's Liplicious Lip Jewel lip gloss is Glittering Cola.  The scent that immediately pops out as you bring the gloss to your lips is bottle cap candy.  Amazing what scent memories can do - I'm instantaneously transported back to childhood!

Then, when the gloss hits your lips it suddenly has aromas of Trident bubble gum.  These notes almost instantaneously mix and move to sit softly at the back, though.

As the gloss sits on the lips there is a faint scent of cola combined with a root beer-aniseed sweetness.  Disappointingly the scent-flavor is not dosed very strongly and underneath it you can easily pick out the neutral-plastic-y base of the gloss.

It's not the strongest smelling, nor lasting, lip gloss I have ever owned, but it is definitely something fun to have in the make-up drawer for when the nieces come to visit!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Big Pony Collection for Women 4

In the last few posts we've introduced you to the new line of fragrances from Ralph Lauren - the Big Pony Collection for Women.  We've learned about the background to the range and also the marketing behind it.  What we haven't once mentioned are the ever-mysterious juice creators: the perfumers.

Big Pony 1, the 'sporty' variant, was the creation of Bruno Jovanovic at International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF).  Check him out - an attractive Frenchman who graduated from ISIPCA ; he now has about a decade of experience under his belt.

Big Pony 2, the 'sensual' variant, is from the nose of Honorine Blanc of Firmenich.  Her perfumery training took place at a school in Paris, France, but she now lives (and works) in New York.  Make sure to watch this clip of Honorine describing how she finds inspiration for her creations.

We go back to IFF for the creator of the 'free-spirited' variant Big Pony 3: Laurent Le Guernec.  Laurent is French, a graduate of ISIPCA, and has been creating fragrances at IFF since February 2002.

Last (but of course not least), Big Pony 4, the 'stylish' variant, is from perfumer Olivier Gillotin of Givaudan.  Like the aforementioned perfumers Olivier is French, but out of the three he has the most experience with about thirteen years of perfume formulation under his belt.  So, how does his fragrance compare?

4 opens with creamy, softly sweet-warm notes of amber and obscure, heightening citrus undertones.  These notes are quickly subdued by floral magnolia and green aromas.  The green is so strong - like broken branches and fresh, dark green milky leaves woven together.   The fragrance has an oriental, creamy, musk base that retains the intense green notes and brings a slight freshness to the warm fragrance.

This fragrance has three proprietary Givaudan molecules: cassyrein, cristallon and sylkolide.  Now, to confeses, way at the back of this fragrance, I get a slight whiff of bug spray - almost as if there is some citronella hiding deep within the scent layers.  I do wonder if it is one of these molecules.  When you test this fragrance for yourself, come back and let me know if you can smell the note, too.

Although more an autumn/winter fragrance than a spring/summer one, this one will most definitely be getting a place on my shelf.

Bravo, Olivier, bravo.

On a side note ... I'm impressed, though not at all surprised, that the Big Pony Collection for Women fragrances were developed at each of the top three fragrance houses in the world!

The Big Pony Collection for Women 3

Continuing with our topic of the week, today we plod on with the third fragrance in the Big Pony Collection for Women (Ralph Lauren's new fragrance range).  If you've read the reviews of 1 and 2 you'll know that Big Pony was originally launched as an apparel line six years ago.  Then two years ago it trickled down into a fragrance line for men, which has now expanded to include a range for women.  You'll also know that the target market is women ages 18-24, and that each fragrance represents an attribute of the modern (and youthful) 21st century woman.  So, since you know this already I won't mention it again.  I must comment, though - haven't we learned a lot!  And we're not done yet.

Big Pony Collection 1 was sporty.  Big Pony Collection 2 was sensual.  So, what could Big Pony Collection 3 be?  Nothing other than free-spirited, of course!  I mean, you've seen the ad, right?

I see all kinds of free spirits in there.  Have they managed to capture this in the fragrance?  Let's find out.

3 begins softly with juicy pear notes.  There is a slight citral hint hiding behind the pear which serves to lift and brighten the fragrance.  As the top notes begin to fade away the floral sweet notes of mimosa come to the forefront.  The mimosa scent, which is the main character of the fragrance, remains strong, fresh, and bright through the middle notes and in the dry down.

This scent is definitely a nice scent, but, unfortunately, it really is uncomplicated, unimaginative, and unextraordinary.  Which I am starting to think is a common thread in this 'team of fragrances.'

What do you think?  Make sure to leave your comment below!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Big Pony Collection for Women 2

Two words: Big Pony.  And no, I am not talking about a small horse.  I am talking about the new colorful line of fragrances from Ralph Lauren: Big Pony Collection for Women.  With their vibrant colors and bold design, the Big Pony Collection targets the 18-24year old consumer.  This is evident in the youthfulness of the first fragrance in the collection, 1, the topic of Scents n Scentsibility's last post.

Now, the marketing team want us to believe the Big Pony Collection exists to help women express who they are. To do this, Ralph Lauren has identified, and defined their fragrances around, 4 key attributes.  1 is meant to represent the 'sporty' side of the 21st century woman. 2, this post's focus, embodies a less sweaty and more sexy attribute: sensual.  Let's get smelling.

Once 2 is sprayed you enter into a fragrant world which is both warmer and subtler than 1: there is no immediate intensity knocking you off your feet.  You are wrapped in a refined aroma of gentle, sweet berry swirled with quiet citrus tones.  The sweet-fruity-citral scent is reminiscent of Escada fragrances, but unlike Escada, this fragrance is not as brash, as sweet nor as overpowering.  The fragrance is linear with a little added musk to give the scent staying power. 

This is definitely a different, and even clever, take on sensual.  With this fragrance, Ralph Lauren stays true to the Big Pony style by being youthful and innocent, but adds sexiness through a quiet allure.  This is unlike typical sensual fragrances that are heavy on the orientals, the musks, the woods.  With this fragrance you realize sensuality can not only be defined by lavish, rich scents, but also by illusive, enigmatic ones which leave you wanting more.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Big Pony Collection for Women 1

Big Pony.  Ever heard of it?  Maybe you haven't if 'preppy' isn't quite your fashion style.  In this case, please allow me to give you a smidgen of background.  Six years ago Ralph Lauren launched the Big Pony apparel line (note above photo).  Four years later, in 2010, they expanded the line into a men's fragrance range.  Now, in 2012, Ralph Lauren's launched a women's 'team of fragrances': the Big Pony Collection for Women.  The range launched last month and, after an exclusive couple weeks at Bloomingdales, is now available at beauty and department stores everywhere.

Like the men's Big Pony fragrance collection, The Big Pony Collection for Women comprises 4 unique scents.  I  got my hands on each one and will review them here for your smelling pleasure.  Today we begin with 1.

This fragrance opens with bright orange citrus aromas (I feel like I'm eating an orange peel!) and lashings of overly sweet melon.  It is almost a bit too much to handle!  To tell you the truth, the immediate intensity and dynamism of the fragrance caught me off guard!  I recommend giving it a few seconds to chill out after spraying so you don't get knocked off your feet.

The citral notes swiftly burn off and the middle notes quickly move to the forefront.  A lovely white floral bouquet blossoms, which calms the top note chaos, and mixes with the intense sweet melon notes.  As the fragrance dries warm tones of musk begin to emerge and mix with the bright sweet-floral middle notes of the fragrance.  The dry down sits nicely on the skin as the sweetness eventually fades and gives way to the white florals and musk of the dry down.

The Big Pony Collection for Women is meant to encapsulate the four feminine attributes of a 21st century woman, the first attribute being sporty.  So, does Big Pony 1 embody 'sporty'?  It definitely shoots off the starting line with excitement and adrenaline, but the fragrance reaches its peak too soon and fades into the back of the pack.  I don't think I'd be picking this one for my team.

Monday, April 16, 2012

StellaMare: Strong on Style, Weak on Scent

This past weekend I was in Ulta doing some long needed cosmetics shopping, when I came upon their candle section.  (I think it's odd a beauty store sells candles, but that is neither here nor there, I guess.  Anyway.)  It was a few rows deep and was lined with old favorites like Yankee Cande and WoodWick, but other brands drew my attention as well.  One in particular was StellaMare.
My knowledge is limited on this brand, but the packaging is eye catching and the variant names are on trend (there's a Green Tea and Minted Grapefruit, among others).  I couldn't resist getting myself one, and the lucky winner was Guava Coconut.

Once home I did a little internet surfing and found that StellaMare is a hand-crafted product and a Portland, Oregon native.  They claim to be 'always free of phthalates, nitro-musks, and benzene', much like another Portland company who's products have been reviewed at Scent n Scentsibility.

StellaMare's packaging is distinctly stylish: all their products are beautiful and artistically decorated on the outside.  But what about the inside - the scent?

In truth, I picked Guava Coconut because I liked the sound of the name compared to the others on the shelf.  In the store I opened its box to get a hint of the scent, and that's what I got.  Just a hint - it smelled pleasant, but not strong.

In testing the candle continued to be mediocre.  The cold throw, as stated before, was not very odoriferous.  The scent was sweet with a slight whiff of cumin/body odor undertone.  Could this be a characteristic of the guava scent?  You know, kind of like how papayas have an aroma of vomit?  In any case, this cumin/b.o. odor didn't impede, hinder or distract from the soft, sweet, berry-like aroma of the cold throw.

Unfortunately the candle didn't improve in use.  I even tested it twice because I thought I might be mistaken, but no.  The fragrance dosage isn't strong enough to compete with the smell of burning wick and wax.  What you end up with is a room filled with a slightly sweet smelling wax scent.  StellaMare's Guava Coconut is utterly disappointing.

So, I guess that leaves us with one question: does anyone know if Ulta will let me return a partly used candle?

On a side note, while I was at Ulta I noticed they had the Archipelago Lavender Spice scent which I mentioned last week in the LilyFlame post.  I tried the Lavender Spice, excited for a unique scent.  What I got was applesauce and cinnamon!  No lavender at all!  How disappointing!

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Loveliness of Lily Flame

The rolling English countryside
Simon Howden / 
Admittedly, and much to my husband's dismay, I am a lover of quaint shops that sell trinkets and decorative items.  It was in one of these shops that I happened upon Lily Flame for the first time, and where I quickly became a fan of their highly fragrant candles.

Lily Flame is a locally owned British company that manufactures hand made candles, as well as reed diffusers and room sprays.  On their website they picturesquely describe that "All our products are made by hand in the heart of the Somerset countryside."  Lovely - you can just see the rolling green hills.

Their scents are strong and their packaging is stylish.  Their labels are quite posh and I would have to agree that they "give that touchy feely extra specialness".  Lily Flame really hits all the marks for a home fragrance lover!

Recently I picked up their variant Lavender + Lime.  Lavender is a popular, reliable scent that consistently makes sales in the air freshener and personal care categories.  In recent years brands have tried to capitalize on this by expanding on the lavender concept.  For example:

There is Yankee Candle's Lavender Vanilla, BBW's Apple Lavender, Kiss My Face's Lavender & Lily and Archipelago's Lavender Spice.  In that selection there is a gourmand, a fruity, a floral, and a spicy option.  And how can we forget the citrus option - Lily Flame's Lavender + Lime?

Lily Flame's Lavender + Lime hits with a robust scent of fizzy-aldehydic sweet lemon drop candy.  Behind it sits the lavender, which adds an agrestic dynamic to the fragrance.  As previously stated the cold throw of Lily Flame candles is intensely strong, and this character holds true for the Lavender + Lime variant.

In use, the lavender notes come to the front and mix well with the sweet lemon drop citral notes.  This creates a very equally combined lavender and lemon (sorry, there really is no lime in there!) scent.  One final comment is that the fragrance strength in the hot throw is nowhere near as strong as in the cold throw.

I'm not sure if this is just an issue with the Lavender + Lime variant, but unfortunately I can't run to the nearest store to test other scents!  From the looks of it Lily Flame hasn't reached the shores of the United States yet!  (but are of course online to buy from the UK Lily Flame website ... and doesn't Whispered Wish sound like an intriguing scent?!)