Balm, Mousse, Oil and Cream: All Natural Winter Hand Rescues

Balms 1

It hasn’t even been that cold here yet, and already my hands are uncomfortably dry. Or I should say, were uncomfortably dry. Thanks to these all natural skin care products, my hands are on the mend.

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A Dozen Roses. A Valentine’s Day Blogging Event


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Some of you may know that it’s been a year since my last post, and I have to thank Ayala of Ayala Moriel Parfums for asking me to take part in this Rose Blogging Event for Valentine’s Day, even though Scent Hive has been in a deep slumber. I needed someone to reach out and get me to dust off the old blog, so I really appreciate her kindness. I come to this post with a giddy sense of anticipation but admittedly with a bit of hesitation as well. I’m not sure if this means I will get back to blogging on the regular, or just every now and then, but I do know that I am excited to share this lovely, dozen full of roses with you all.

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Velvet & Sweet Pea's Bed of Roses Giveaway

When Laurie Stern, creator of Velvet & Sweet Pea’s gorgeous perfumes, offered to do a giveaway of her newest release Bed of Roses, I accepted emphatically. To have the opportunity to give one of my readers this luxurious rose fragrance makes me really happy, and it will make one of you very happy too!


The following is my review from December’s Best of 2010 post of which Bed of Roses was at the top.

I don’t want to over-analyze this gorgeous fragrance too much, but Bed of Roses is like a study of contrasts. It’s vintage-esque but also modern. It’s powdery, but at the same time fresh and vivid. I give huge kudos to Laurie Stern for her expert hand and for creating such a dynamic and interesting rose perfume. Her skillful blending of aged sandalwood and cognac (vintage) with green mandarin and rose leaf absolute (fresh) allow different facets of rose to be present at the same moment. At its heart, Bed of Roses is a perfume that contains nine different rose distillations, so it’s richer and lusher than any other rose perfume I have experienced. Rose lovers, you will not be disappointed.


If you would like to experience Bed of Roses, please leave a comment to be entered for a 5 ml bottle in a decorative silk and velvet pouch special for Valentine’s Day! Extra entries if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin, Twitter, or subscribe to Scent Hive. Please let me know in your comment what you did so you get the entries you deserve! Drawing is now closed.

Posted by ~Trish

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Best Perfumes of 2010: A Blogging Event

December has been a whirlwind for most of us, and I’m still reeling over how fast it went. Fortunately, there were moments of quiet calm this month, and several of them were spent revisiting perfumes from this last year. Throughout 2010, I enjoyed testing and reviewing an abundance of beautiful, newly released botanicals, and was very pleased that the natural perfumers themselves received a lot of positive press via magazines and blogs. With all my heart, I hope this trend continues as it is so important to support independently owned, artisanal businesses, especially when they are creating such gorgeous works of olfactory art.


The following are my favorite naturals from 2010, (as well as two non-naturals I fell for) but it’s truly just a sampling of what I enjoyed. I did decide to make a list though, so I have chosen the ones that will become lifetime loves.


Bed of Roses by Velvet & Sweet Pea. I don’t want to over-analyze this gorgeous fragrance too much, but Bed of Roses is like a study of contrasts. It’s vintage-esque but also modern. It’s powdery, but at the same time fresh and vivid. I give huge kudos to Laurie Stern for her expert hand and for creating such a dynamic and interesting rose perfume. Her skillful blending of aged sandalwood and cognac (vintage) with green mandarin and rose leaf absolute (fresh) allow different facets of rose to be present at the same moment. At its heart, Bed of Roses is a perfume that contains nine different rose distillations, so it’s richer and lusher than any other rose perfume I have experienced. Rose lovers, you will not be disappointed.

Mejica by A Perfume Organic. Mejica took me by surprise. I was not expecting anything new from this vanilla based fragrance as I thought I had pretty much smelled all that the bean could offer. Clearly, I was wrong. Mejica is smooth and spicy with cloves and hints of orange in the opening. It has a rich vanilla heart and a drydown made of sweet resinous musk. It’s been lovely to wear through the holiday season, and I eagerly anticipate what it will do on my skin when the days become warmer.

Bancha by DSH Perfumes. Bancha came along early in 2010 when it was still cold outside and I was craving a soothing balm. Bancha slipped into my life and provided just what I needed. Bancha is very grounding, and I liken it to scooping up limes or lemons that have fallen into dark, minty soil. Basil, rose and jasmine sambac add an herbacous floral quality while sandalwood and cedarwood round out its base, giving an aura of woods, like heat rising off a sauna’s walls. I loved Bancha last winter and have worn it frequently throughout the year. In addition to the perfume, I have the Bancha scented oil which is an exceptionally restorative balm for the skin and soul.

Mecca Balsam by La Via del Profumo. Mecca Balsam received rave reviews throughout the blogging world, and they were much deserved. Mecca Balsam revolves around labdanum, frankincense, benzoin and tobacco which suffuses the air with a gentle suggestion of incense. It never becomes overwhelming because it is so well-blended and subtle. Tobacco balances nicely with the labdanum, making it soft and cozy. For an all natural perfume, it has striking sillage with impressive staying power. Another excellent fragrance for the winter months.

Wildflowers by Aftelier Perfumes. Mandy Aftel released (at least) four fragrances this year, all of which I adore. But Wildflowers made this list because it’s centered around a note that for me, is crazy-making…in a good way. Hay. Yes, hay drives me a little wild. It gets up in my scalp and makes it tingle. Its scent generates the desire to frolic in a meadow of wildflowers and twirl until punch-drunk dizzy. Not all hay notes do this to me, just the ones that smell golden and have honey dripping from their stacks. Wildflowers is all about this kind of sweet, sunkissed hay and begins with a tart burst of lime and ends in a glowingly honeyed drydown.

GreenWitch by Roxana Illuminated Perfume.  GreenWitch is unquestionably a chypre as oakmoss, galbanum, violet leaves and rose petals greet you from its start. After a bit, it gets a nutty, salty air from vetiver and tonka with floral nuances like boronia and honeysuckle. Honeysuckle is not in the notes, so I’m guessing the mimosa, ylang ylang and beeswax create a hybrid honeysuckle accord on my skin, and I love it. It smells like a day at the beach when you are blessed with warm skin, salt in your hair, and suntan lotion that barely lingers on your body. Green Witch has incredible sillage and staying power which lengthens the fragrance’s evolution, and it might well be Roxana’s most multi-layered perfume yet.

The Purple Dress by Ayala Moriel Parfums.  Technically, The Purple Dress was released in December 2009, but for all intents and purposes, it was a 2010 perfume. The Purple Dress is a black tea based fragrance, steeped in a tannicy anise that is dark and smoky, moody and sexy, and has a gorgeous honeyed-wood drydown. Champaca is the featured flower in this beauty, but is tempered by the lightheartedness of magnolia and an easy touch of honey. According to Ayala’s website, this fragrance is a salute to Alexander Argov, who composed the famous Israeli song, The Purple Dress. You can hear an excerpt of it here and enjoy its evocative melancholic beauty, similar to its namesake perfume.

Guerlain Arsène Lupin Dandy. As I mentioned, there are two non-naturals that I fell in love with this year, and Guerlain’s Arsène Lupin Dandy is one of them. Dandy is being promoted as a masculine fragrance, and it does smell incredible on my husband, but it also smells pretty darn good on me. So let’s not cramp Dandy’s style with labels. Dandy begins with a nod to the legendary guerlainade brew which for me is sadly short-lived but for others, that might be preferred. Regardless, it grants Dandy an opening of distinctive familiarity that segues beautifully into a spicy, woodsy, violet tinged fragrance. Cardamom and an ultra-smooth sandalwood comprise the spicy woods while Dandy’s violets infuse a supple leather note that weaves its way through the fragrance’s entirety. The drydown finishes with a leathery-sandalwood-cedar musk that takes Dandy from its guerlainade opening to a modern finish.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversée du Bosphore. Here’s the other non-natural perfume I could not pass up, and it happens to be another violet-leather fragrance, albeit a very different one from Dandy. Traversée du Bosphore’s opening is full speed ahead leather and violet. It’s a dry leather, nearly heat cracked and edgy and you can feel the little violets struggle against the unyielding hide. The opening is interesting, but not entirely likable and it’s not until a softness emerges that I find myself succumbing to this uniquely compelling fragrance. Once the leather allows the dewy violet to soften its parched surface, it becomes more full and welcoming. The heart continues to expand upon the iris-leather accord but incorporates a gourmand aspect which on my skin is a delicious vanilla-almond confection. It’s quite an evolution when one considers Traversée du Bosphore’s arid beginning evolving into a gentle, sugared and musky rose at the drydown.


Don’t forget to visit the other participating blogs. I can’t wait to read what their favorites have been!

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Velvet & Sweet Pea's Songbird

“Songbird” is a lovely name. It’s a pretty word to speak, and the thought of songbirds is a charming one. But after several wearings, I have a new name for this perfume. I find Sensual Chameleon to be more appropriate since Songbird flows through several alluring transformations. No disrespect to Laurie Stern of Velvet and Sweet Pea, creator of this beauty. She has outdone herself with this fragrance, but sometimes a gal needs to come up with a nickname for a loved one.


Juicy blood orange is the entree to Songbird, reminiscent of the fruit dripping in its perfectly ripened sweetness. This opening is most succulent and reminds me of Laurie’s Orange Blossom Body Frosting -a decadent treat for the skin and soul- and I hoped Songbird would linger in this familiar scent for the duration. I so enjoyed the floral and gently spicy citrus aroma wafting about me, but sometimes it’s better to not have your wishes come to fruition as what laid before me was much more fullfilling that anything I could have hoped for.


Just fifteen minutes in, I was swooning over the evolution from citrusy fullness to the tea-like and slightly herbaceous glistening of boronia. I have grown to love boronia more and more as I explore it in natural perfumes. I adore its wild, all encompassing scent as it moves from woods, to jammy fruits, to culinary herbs and tannic teas. Boronia is also slightly floral, in a breezy way as if the blossoms have been baked in the beachside sun and then moistened again by the salt drenched water.

As the orange faded and the boronia became more pronounced, an enticing beeswax note appeared and brought Songbird to the level that made me think of it as the Sensual Chameleon. I was not expecting to be struck by a thick, dark honey scent after I had just been mesmerized by boronia. Songbird became suggestive of beeswax melting in a pan over a kerosene stove; a mix of heat, oil and pure sweetness, possibly an aspect of tuberose absolute.  I’m a little crazy for this particular scent in a perfume, and it’s a rare one. (There’s a Strange Invisible Perfume that shares this scent, and I will get to its review as some point I promise). Clearly, I reveled in this stage of Songbird’s metamorphosis.


One can remain in an olfactory stupor for only so long, so sandalwood came knocking at the drydown. Fortunately, the wake-up call was a gentle one. Smooth, vanilla soaked sandalwood kindly nudged me awake and I was pleased to spend time with such a grounding and smooth essence. And as you can surmise, I was more than pleased to spend time with Songbird in its entirety and experience its gorgeous evolution.



If you haven’t peeked at the Velvet & Sweet Pea website, please take some time to peruse Laurie’s enchanting aesthetic. I also encourage you to read her FAQ page in order to read more about how devoted Laurie is to using all natural essences, artisinal perfume making and her dedication to helping animals. Here is some information from her site that I find very salient:

Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery perfumes are made by hand in small, carefully crafted batches, using only natural ingredients. (Commercial perfumes are made using a dizzying list of chemicals and synthetic fragrances.) The distinctive use of the word “botanical” is key to one of the core principles of the Purrfumery. Many perfumers who call themselves “natural” perfumers use animal products (such as civet cat musk or beaver castoreum) in their perfumes. These products are harvested from the animals under terribly cruel, species-endangering conditions, and so Velvet and Sweet Pea designate their perfumes as botanical to indicate that only nature’s plant treasures – flowers, fruits, seeds, leaves, and aromatic woods – are used in creating their delicious scents.

All Velvet and Sweet Pea perfumes are created in a base of organic alcohol or beeswax (because the base comprises 65-95% of a perfume, all our perfumes are almost entirely organic). Laurie also uses as many organic, wildcrafted, and sustainably grown ingredients as possible in all her creations.


Songbird is available at Velvet and Sweet Pea. 8 ml for $185, 15 ml for  $325, or 1 oz for $550.

In The Orange Blossoms by Hadley Hutton at etsy.

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: A sample of Songbird  was sent to me for consideration by Velvet & Sweet Pea. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Scents That Sing Spring! A Blogging Event.

Growing up in Phoenix, one scent above all others sang “spring.” Orange blossoms. Their melody is beautiful and lush and the desert air becomes saturated with the intoxicating perfume of these tender white blossoms every spring. If you’ve never been to the Phoenix area, the orange trees are a funny site as the trunks need to be painted white to protect them from the blazing heat of the Arizona summer sun (as well as bugs). The photo just below is all about my childhood memories of Phoenix which always have a backdrop of white tree trunks and orange blossom redolence.

I live in the Northwest now where orange trees do not grow, so neroli is my go-to scent when I crave the playfulness of childhood and the sensuality of wearing a voluptuous fragrance as an adult.  Neroli is the oil from the orange blossom and has found its way into many of my perfumes and beauty products. The following is a list of those stand-out items from my collection that feature the exquisite orange blossom.


Skincare


In Fiore’s Pur Face Oil Concentré is a fabulous way to pamper your skin as well as your senses. I use it as a nighttime moisturizer when my skin needs the attention of grapeseed oil, rosehip seed oil, evening primrose oil and vitamin E. These ingredients help balance skin that leans oily and is prone to breakouts. While those healing oils do their work on your skin, cold pressed orange peel oil and Tunisian neroli flower oil get to work on your psyche. Pur is pure neroli heaven. When I have it on my skin, I feel like I am lounging peacefully under the shade of an orange tree teeming with blossoms.

Alchemilla’s Neroli Rehydrating Essence is another facial oil loaded with healing ingredients like jojoba nut oil, hazelnut oil; herbal extracts of ginkgo biloba, chamomile, calendula; and rosehip seed oil. All of which are organic. This too makes for a soothing nighttime treatment as the hypnotic essence of neroli lulls you into sweet dreams.

 

Kahina Facial Cleanser is a creamy, lightly foaming cleanser that I have been using for almost a year, and still love. The organic floral water and neroli oil create a light citrusy floral scent that is refreshing and relaxing. The gentle foaming action gets my face clean, but does not feel stripped dry thanks to the argan oil, oat amino acids and organic honey in the formula.

At the risk of being redundant (regular readers know how much I love this product) I would be remiss if I did not mention Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Orange Blossom Body Frosting. I come back to V&SP’s frostings again and again because they provide luxurious hydration and fragrant pleasure. Laurie Stern, creator of V&SP, uses jojoba oil in her frostings that have been infused with Tahitian vanilla beans for at least 6 months. This bestows a creaminess to all of them, but especially to her Orange Blossom. The result is a flirty, playful, uplifting fragrance that softens your skin better than any body butter I have tried.

I am placing Intelligent Nutrients Focus Aroma in the “Skincare” section because it has many uses. You can spray it on your skin, face, and hair for light hydration and a gorgeous scent. Aside from neroli, bergamot, jasmine, rose, chamomile, geranium, and ylang ylang complete the essential oil list of Focus. Even though that’s an impressive floral cast, neroli commands the fragrance leaving the others, most notably rose and jasmine, to enhance the orange blossom.


Perfumes

Galatea by Strange Invisible Perfumes embodies the intoxicating nature of neroli. Galatea melds neroli with galbanum which gives it a green clarity, tuberose which provides sensuality and benzoin which graces the mix with a soothing warmth. This is a fascinating and intriguing perfume, one that needs to be a part of my collection sooner than later.

Roxana Villa launched her Chocolate Natural Perfumes this year, and her Fleurs de Orange remains my favorite of the lot. Neroli, blood orange, and orange blossom absolute flourish on the skin while dark chocolate gently envelopes the citrusy floral perfume. Fleurs de Orange is not sweet like candy, but it is a honeyed gourmand that gives a new spin on my favorite springtime scent.


Palas Atena by Ayala Moriel Parfums feels very classic to me. It’s a gorgeous blend, created with a skillful hand. Neroli, along with patchouli, lavender, and amber, are radiant in the opening, each note moving seamlessly into the other. The more I wear Palas Atena, the more attuned I have become to champaca and cinnamon in the heart, but again, the essences work in concert, merging harmoniously. I look to Palas Atena when I want a sophisticated scent that uses neroli’s floral elegance, not as a soliflore, but as a traditionally composed perfume with a vintage feel.

Please visit the following bloggers who are also singing about the scents of spring!

Smelly Blog (with a giveaway! check it out)

Katie Puckrik Smells

Perfume Shrine

The Non Blonde

I Smell Therefore I Am

Notes from the Ledge

Savvy Thinker

Roxana’s Illuminated Journal

Perfume in Progress

All I Am A Redhead

Ambre Gris

Olfactarama

A Rose Beyond the Thames

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The winner of the Velvet & Sweet Pea Giveaway!

The winner is Cousin Katie! I guess she got some good karma points for having a sense of humor regarding my use her perfume comments in the Rose Jasmine Perfume review.  Congrats, Katie, on scoring this Rose Jasmine Perfume and Passionflower gift set and thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments and follows.

Posted by ~Trish

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Rose Jasmine Perfume & Passionflower Gift Set +Giveaway

One of my favorite natural perfumers, Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweet Pea, has created gift sets for spring that would make an ideal gift for Mother’s Day. My choice would be the one pictured above, the Rose Jasmine Perfume & Passionflower Gift Set and I actually have one tempting me. But it’s not for me to keep, it’s for me to send to the winner of this giveaway.


The set includes Kashmir Rose Body Frosting which I personally can’t get enough of. (Read more about it in my review of Kashmir Rose from May 2009). The set also includes Passionflower Bath Salts made with blood orange, lime, spearmint, and ylang ylang. I have not experienced Passionflower yet, but love V&SP’s Snow Forest and Kashmir Lavender Bath Salts so I’m sure Passionflower makes for a sublime bathtime as well. I can tell you about Rose Jasmine though since Laurie sent me a sample for this review. But first, a quick story.


My cousin and I visited The Perfume House not too long ago, and I showed  her the Serge Lutens line. She was drawn to Fleurs d’Oranger which is shockingly indolic given its rather innocent sounding name. Let’s just say there’s a good amount of dirty jasmine in Monsieur Luten’s creation. As we left the boutique and headed down the boulevard for more shopping, my cousin sniffed her arm and exclaimed, “My skin smells like sex!”


She’d probably feel the same about Rose Jasmine, a wonderfully juicy jasmine scent that exudes more than a little sensuality. The indoles in this luscious fragrance are booming and present throughout its skintime.  There’s only a mere wisp of rose that appears within the drydown, just in case you need a little something to tame the wild jasmine beast. But to be sure, there is no clean-freshness in Rose Jasmine. It’s a saucy number, dripping with dewy jasmine. It wears close to skin though, rewarding only those who lean in close enough to share in your delight. So make sure if you get this gift set for the mom in your life, that she likes to be a little naughty.


And if you’re a little naughty (and live in the US…sorry it’s a very heavy package) you should enter this fabulous giveaway:


To be entered, go here to V&SP’s site and let me know what Spring Gift Set you would choose for the special mom in your life. You get extra entries if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin, Twitter, Google Friend Connect, Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. Please let me know in your comment what you did so you get the entries you deserve! You’ve got until Sunday April 11th 9pm PST to enter. The winner has been chosen!


Rose Jasmine Perfume & Passionflower Gift Set is available at Velvet & Sweet Pea for $90.



Disclosure: V&SP sent me a sample of Rose Jasmine for review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Orange Blossom Face & Body Frosting

If you’ve read Scent Hive over the past several months, you know that I adore Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Face and Body Frostings. (You can find my praise for Kashmir Rose here, and Tuberose Gardenia here). Although I have not given Tuberose Gardenia the full attention it deserves, nor have I reviewed V&SP’s Orange Blossom,until now.

The common scented thread amongst all of them, is the vanilla infused organic jojoba oil that is sublimely smooth and creamy, and very sensual. Tuberose Gardenia benefits from this milky velvet base as it grounds the unbelievable tropical decadence of tuberose and gardenia enfleurage. (Enfleurage is a very expensive and lengthy process that you can read about near the end of V&SP’s web page here). The blend of pure gardenia, tuberose and Tahitian vanilla beans that have been infused in the jojoba oil for at least 6 months is intoxicating, and only a tiny amount is enough to send me into a blissful stupor.

But I digress. The focus of this post is Orange Blossom, another incredibly gorgeous Frosting that Laurie Stern, the artist behind V&SP, has created for us orange-loving fools. Orange Blossom is a bit of a chameleon. One moment she has me sitting on a comfy couch, ’round the fire at a holiday party… hints of mulled spices in the air. Neroli sometimes has that effect, it can be slightly herbally and aromatic. Then within a moment, Orange Blossom will hasten me away to a beachy holiday that’s all tangeriney and breezy. I love that about Orange Blossom, its dichotomous nature.

Of the three Frostings, Orange Blossom has the smoothest vanilla quality. It is luscious. It’s easy to think Creamsicle because of the orange/vanilla duo, but don’t. All of them have a very sophisticated vanillic base that lean gourmand, but never in a foody or cloying manner. Only in a swoon-worthy, I-hope-I-can-always-get my-hands-on-this-stuff kind of way.

Matisse Odalisque at galanart.com

Disclosure: Samples from the company were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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