These feel like tumultuous and uncertain times, so even though the weather is getting warmer for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it still feels good to wear a perfume that wraps us up like a comforting blanket. One perfume that provides much needed succor while feeling heartsick, is Flora, a warm and gently spicy fragrance that envelopes you in its pillowy petals.
After reading The Hermes Hippie’s truly epic review of Living Libations’ tantalizing offerings, there was no way I was going to resist making a haul of my own. I am still in the process of testing several of their products, but it has only taken me a few weeks to fall deeply in love with their utterly swoon-worthy perfume, Night Flight to Venus.
Travels to the Far East inspired Lina Hanson to create Satori. Notes of yuzu, ginger, and sandalwood were chosen to evoke the landscape and culture of China, Japan and Thailand. While I have never travelled to these countries, Satori feels as relaxing and restorative as a Japanese Garden. (If you ever come to Portland, you must visit our traditional and gorgeous Japanese Garden). Yuzu is one of my favorite uplifting, citrusy scents so I was anxious to try this immediately after opening the package Lina Hanson sent. Yuzu is a lot like grapefruit essential oil, with a similar sharpness, but also has the vaguely spicy quality of bergamot. I think it was a brilliant choice to pair yuzu with ginger, since ginger too is spicy resulting in a piquant citrus aroma.
It’s dark and cold outside, but in our homes we do what we can to cultivate light and warmth. Tonight is the 7th night of Hanukkah, so our menorah will emit an enchanting glow while holiday aromas of mulled tea, cookies and melting wax suffuse the air. Perfumes are a wonderful way to enhance this olfactory experience, but I prefer when a fragrance flows smoothly with the occasion rather than competing with the festive smells.
Mejica, created by A Perfume Organic’s founder Amanda Walker, is a fragrance that blends harmoniously with surrounding holiday scents. It has a base of apricot kernel oil, and like most fragranced oils, it wears close to the skin with little sillage. It’s also 100% natural and organic (unlike most fragranced oils), so if you like your perfume to enter a room before you do, Mejica is not for you. However, if a smooth and spicy vanilla fragrance sounds appealing, then Mejica is calling your name.
When first applied to the skin, Mejica makes you feel like you’ve stepped out of the cold and into your best friend’s cozy home where a warm drink steeped in cloves and orange rind awaits you. The vigor of this spicy-citrus opening quickly diffuses into a subtle merging of even more culinary spices like allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon; a blend that feels comforting and familiar.
Vanilla lingers in the topnotes as well, but doesn’t fully declare itself until the heart unfolds and develops. Vanilla then fluidly intertwines with the aforementioned spices along with benzoin’s sweet resinous warmth. As if vanilla and spice weren’t enough to warm your spirit, Mejica’s musky side comes to coax you by the fire, beckoning with a gentle floral earthiness I associate with the vegetal musk of ambrette seeds. I become overwhelmed by musk quite easily, but Mejica’s muskiness is not that of a “clean musk” or “white musk” so ubiquitous in perfumery today, it’s more akin to a well-worn sweater with threads of vanilla in its fibers.
I find Mejica to be a fairly complex perfume, as it moved from its enlivening and festive opening, to a vanilla gourmand, and then into a cozy vanilla-musk. After several hours, Mejica’s final progression is a pillowy-soft vanillic drydown that all vanilla lovers will want to experience.
Mejica comes in 12 ml Perfume Oil roll-on, packaged in a plantable flower seed-embedded box. It is available for $65 at A Perfume Organic.com
Posted by ~Trish
Hanukkah Lights image by ~Trish
Disclosure: A sample of Mejica was sent to me for consideration by A Perfume Organic. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
Amber perfumes typically have a base of labdanum, benzoin, and vanilla, sometimes with a balsamic note added for extra warmth. They tend to be powdery, full of depth, and natural amber blends are particularly soft and soothing. Because of amber’s coziness, I thought I preferred it in the colder winter months. Enter Patyka’s Ambré to shift my thinking. This is an amber of a different sort. Light and glowing, without a hint of powder that I can sense. It’s entirely seasonless.
It begins with bergamot, which initially was disorienting to me. I was not expecting a citrus blast when I sprayed a perfume named “Amber”. Luckily, Patyka’s bergamot is gorgeous and vibrant. I now look forward to Ambré’s initial lively, green greeting. The citrus settles quickly though, making way for a simple but elegant vanilla/woodsy blend.
The creamy vanillic quality of Ambré is sublime. It melds into the skin effortlessly and is quite sensual. The woody aspect in Ambré is very subtle thankfully, as I would not want the cuddly vanilla to be overpowered. I perceive the woods as mainly sandalwood, mixed with the sweet, almost earthy/nutty quality of tonka bean. This gives Ambré’s vanilla solid footing as a smooth skin-scent rather than a gourmand. Because of their simple elegance, Patyka’s perfumes are beautiful when layered together. I will report my findings after I spend more time experimenting with these gorgeous fragrances. I have a good feeling about an Ambré and Boise blend.
Patyka grows its own organic ingredients and its products are certified organic by ECOCERT. In addition, Patyka’s products do not contain any petroleum, silicone, PEGs, parabens, or phenoxyethanol. They are available at Patykausa.com for $98 for a 50ml bottle or $59 for a 15ml bottle.
UPDATE! According to the SpiritBeauyLounge website, “Patyka is undergoing some company restructuring and has temporarily halted distribution in the US. What we have left is all we’ve got but expect to see the entire range to return early 2010 with even more wonderful products!”
You might want to wait until things are settled before you place an order with Patyka directly while they go through this transition. The relaunch will probably happen in July. I’ll keep you posted!
Posted by ~Trish
Disclosure: The sample of Ambré is from my own collection. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
Aromaleigh is well known among the make-up aficionado crowd as a creator of beautiful mineral makeup. Personally, I have never tried Aromaleigh’s makeup, but if you scan the reviews over at MUA you’ll find rave reviews for the majority of their products. I have however, had the opportunity to experience two of their all-natural fragrances thanks to a lovely friend who so generously sent me samples to try.
It feels quite serendipitous that I decided to open up my sample vials this past week after having them for a couple months now, as both Madeleine and Dulcinea capture aspects of the holiday season. I had not read the notes of either perfume before applying them on my skin, so I had no preconceived notions about coziness, warmth, or holiday gatherings. Yet while wearing the scents on each wrist, Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was humming through my mind.
Of the two, Madeleine is the most holiday-ish. Mulled spices, with nutmeg at the helm, opened the fragrance and a citrusy mix of lime and pink grapefruit imparted a zesty lift so as to not let the spices become too excessive. The topnotes ushered in a festive, sparkly mood, and since lime is the key citrus player rather than pink graperfruit, it was vibrant without being too sweet or cloying. Once the fruity part of Madeleine dissipated, the soft warmth of benzoin and shades of cocoa were allowed to emerge. Nutmeg remained, so they all mingled in a cocoa-vanilla-spice filled aroma that was just downright pretty.
The drydown afforded a smidge of woods, sandalwood, as is listed on the website. The woodiness was so subtle to my nose that it did not read as sandalwood, or any wood in particular. The suggestive tone was quite nice though, and I enjoyed how it too melded with the creamy and spicy coziness of Madeleine.
Cocoa is like a velvety backdrop in Madeleine, but in Dulcinea, it’s a major player. Blood orange and cocoa mixed to create a liqueur vibe; simultaneously sensual and convivial. Tonka bean and vanilla edged out the blood orange soon enough and became a warm and comforting trio with cocoa guiding Duclinea’s evolution. Tonka’s almondy accents and cocoa’s richness satisfied my gourmand hankering that rears it head this time of year. I’ll be on the look-out for others as well, but Dulcinea will certainly sate that desire for now.
Madeliene and Dulcinea are $50 for 1oz. (Madeliene is on sale for $37.50 until 10am EST 12/9/09) and are available at Aromaleigh.com. Sample packs of all six Aromaleigh fragrances are available for $14.
Posted by ~Trish
Photo of Hannukah Doughnuts by gkamin at Flickr.com
Colonia Dulce Eau de Cologne by Maoli Perfumes is a sweet perfume (colonia dulce means “sweet cologne” in Spanish) that has a sweet story to go along with it. Two tween-age brothers, Kai and Kalani Hughes, had to leave their beloved Hawaii and move to the rainy Northwest. Homesickness set in, and they asked their mother if they could create a fragrance for themselves that would smell like the Hawaiian sunshine to help appease their moments of tropical solar longing. Mom said “of course, but let’s do it right”.
Kai and Kalani studied natural perfumery with their mother and Colonia Dulce was their final project. According to Kai and Kalani in this interview at Fragrantica, they never intended to create a business. But as it turned out, there were so many interested moms in the boys’ fragrance, that selling it seemed like a savvy idea.
When you read the interview, you get a real sense of the boys’ dedication to botanicals and natural essences. I love that they each have their own favorite scents. Kai’s are ylang ylang and vanilla, but he also loves to combine Turkish rose and lemon. Kalani’s favorites are tangerine and vanilla. All of the ingredients in Colonia Dulce are organic. When I spoke to the boys’ mom, she said that not all of the ingredients have been certified organic, but she assured me that they are all indeed organic and 100% natural.
So let’s get to what the fragrance smells like. The notes are listed on the Maoli website as: Mexican wild lime, pikake and orange blossoms, juicy Ka’u Gold oranges and vanilla. Upon the opening, it’s all about citrus and pikake, which reads as plumeria to my nose. And this is definitely a good thing in my opinion! There are many types of plumeria which have a variety of smells. But the common white ones with the yellow center, the celadine plumeria pictured above, have a decidedly citrusy neroli accord with a slight suggestion of jasmine and gardenia. Snapping a blossom from its branch and inhaling the aroma literally makes me weak in the knees. It’s one of the reasons I crave trips to the Hawaiian Islands and hopefully their Colonia Dulce makes Kai and Kalani feel comforted, not even more homesick!
Regardless, the plumeria-like topnotes and heart definitely have a sweetness to them, undoubtedly due to the vanilla. This is afterall, Colonia Dulce. The drydown then loses the florals all-together and becomes a simple and sweet fragrance. It’s not cloying, or overly foody, because I can assure you it would have been scrubbed off without a second thought had that been the case. Rather, it’s like smelling the hard shell of a Jordan Almond before the first bite; subtly sugared.
There’s another aspect of Colonia Dulce to love aside from the plumeria scent, its being organic, and the fact that it was created by two boys. Its price; only $28 for 30mls. Or you can get a 4ml deluxe sample for $5. So go grab yourself some Aloha spirit.
posted by ~Trish
plumeria photograph by mad plumerian on flickr
My sister’s birthday was a few days ago, and she’s particularly enjoyable to shop for because she loves fragrance as much as I do. After considering the many new natural scents I have come to love over the past several months, I settled on Illuminated Perfume’s Lyra for her gift. Ultimately it was an easy decision because like my sister, Lyra is beautiful, interesting and loved by many.
I have a tiny pot of Lyra, created by Roxana Villa, that I purchased from etsy.com. It came in the Botanical Solid Mini Set, and is housed in the cutest little pink pot with a wax seal on the lid. Knowing that dipping my finger in this tiny pot gives me much pleasure, I am hoping that the full size in a metal compact, presented in a crocheted pouch will be even more special for my sister. The crocheted pouches are made by Ms. Villa’s mother who sells her crafty creations with her granddaughter (Ms. Villa’s daughter) and you can read more about their family’s story here.
Lyra in the solid form is very lovely to apply. It’s smooth and warms easily on the skin. Lyra is described as an ambery floral on the Illuminated Perfume etsy site. I agree with that, but the vanilla aspect of the amber lends a sweetness that softens the scent and polishes any harsh edges that amber will oftentimes possess. A sense of honeyed woods puts forth its own nectar as well, and sparked a wonderful memory in me that I’m certain my sister will remember.
We were both in the Girl Scouts as children and spent some time, not a lot, but some time on camping trips outside Phoenix with our respective troops. My troop leaders loved to have us bright-eyed Girl Scouts smell the pine trees which they named the “Ice Cream Cone Trees” since their bark smelled just like vanilla ice cream. Lyra takes me back to inhaling the vanilla scented bark as a young girl, and the wonderment at how a tree in the woods could smell so sweet. Jasmine and ylang ylang augment the smooth sweetness of this memory and depending on the day, the florals move from tropical lushness to a subtler background foundation. Either way, the evolving blend flows flawlessly on the skin and creates comfort and delight.
Roxana Illuminated Perfume is a gorgeous and bewitching line of 100% all-natural and botanical perfumes to discover. Whether you explore her website, blog or etsy site you will find Ms. Villa’s work inspirational. Please also take a look at the current April 15, 2009 edition of Sniffapalooza Magazine for my review of her Vespertina perfume. There, you will also find an informative and engaging interview with Roxana Villa in the Natural Perfumers Page.
posted by ~Trish
Lyra is available at Etsy for $65 for the solid perfume compact.
Lyra image ©Greg Spalenka, see more at www.spalenka.com and at http://www.spalenka.etsy.com
The sun rarely shines in April as brightly in the Northwest as it did the day Hanami arrived. It was also the day I planned to take my boys to the Japanese Gardens, so the sample’s arrival felt inspired. After gingerly opening the padded envelope, Hanami immediately went on my wrists and neck. And then stepping outside, I could feel my bones finally being warmed by the sun’s rays on my skin. I grabbed my boys from school, and off we went to stroll the gardens. The cherry blossoms were radiant in the sunlight, twinkling against the impossibly clear sky. Rows of pink gauzey blooms were dreamlike, and it was all I could do to keep from smelling my wrists.
Hanami, the Ayala Moriel Parfums fragrance, twinkles like a light and floats like gauze upon the opening. It’s sparkly with mildly peppery topnotes, and weightless like gossamer with its minimalist rendering of mimosa and frangipani. The fragrance also possesses unexpected buttery and dewy qualities, and the woods are immediately palpable which carry you right to Hanami’s heart which is a beautifully blended woody floral. Hanami then shifts back and forth in the drydown, evolving with your motion, the breeze, and warmth of your skin; from the sweetness of vanilla, back to woods and florals. Sometimes the woods are more pronounced, then honeyed mimosa peeks in again, powdery citrusy magnolia breezes by…
Hanami was created by Ayala Sender after she was invited by Heather Ettlinger to be a part of the Perfume in a Poem project. Ms. Ettlinger is the founder of the blog Memory and Desire, who over a year ago asked several perfumers to create a fragrance inspired by the following two-lined poem:
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Ayala discusses her experience and inspiration for creating Hanami here. I recommend stopping by the link as she is a poetic writer in addition to being a fabulously talented perfumer.
Clearly Ezra Pound’s poem is not evocative of sunny, pastoral days like I had in the park. Dark, overcast days on an anonymous city street is the tone the poem elicits. But not to be mistaken for another part of the country, rainy days came quickly, and Hanami’s temperament fit them as well. The woods took on more of a damp, moody quality in the wet weather. And the vetiver, while more subdued in the warmth, opened its grassy earthiness more readily. Subsequent wearings also heightened my awareness to a subtle hint of sandalwood within the drydown, and interestingly bakul attar is in the base notes. I came across a fascinating piece about bakul trees on Floracopeia, which I highly recommend reading. Bakul attar is made from the essential oil of the bakul flower and sandalwood oil. And while I am not familiar with the scent of the bakul flower, the sandalwood provides a warm woody base for the florals of Hanami.
As mentioned above though, the base provides a foundation for morphing to occur, and it transpired again in the cooler, rainy weather when the earthier, mustier notes became more apparent. I love this aspect of Hanami, and find it incredibly appealing that it seems to be a fragrance for all seasons. Spring and Fall at least. I’ll have to see how it wears in extreme heat and cold temperatures. But I have been wearing Hanami all week and I give it high praise indeed.
Hanami means “to enjoy the cherry blossom season” in Japanese. It can also mean “flower party.” Well, for those of you in the Los Angeles area, there’s a flower party going on at Blunda Aromatics on Saturday April 18th and Ayala Sender will be there to exhibit her gorgeous Hanami. So if you are in the area, stop over there for tea and chocolates that Ayala crafts herself, and meet this incredibly talented perfumer who is dedicated to the use of 100% all natural ingredients in her perfumes. See the Blunda Aromatics link for full details.
Hanami is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums.
Posted by ~Trish
Link to “Pacifica Update” post. Pacifica does indeed use synthetics, and is not transparent about that in their ingredient lists. Until they are, I cannot endorse their products.
Pacifica has introduced Egyptian Bergamot Rose into its perfume and body butter line this spring. It has been a favorite scented soap and candle for years, but Pacifica’s perfumer and co-owner Brook Harvey-Taylor decided it was time to expand its horizons. Personally, I am glad she did because Egyptian Bergamot Rose is a lovely ambery floral fragrance that will appeal to the casual fragrance lover along with the devoted perfumista. For this review, I sampled the perfume solid which is incredibly convenient in its portability and price ($9), but is also available in the perfume spray ($22).
Egyptian Bergamot Rose begins mildly herbal with a bright hit of bergamot. The citrusy freshness dissipates rather quickly and allows for a powdery, gentle spicy rose to move forward, but it’s all very subtle. The amber base settles in after an hour, but not like Spanish Amber. Egyptian Bergamot Rose is more floral and powdery, and it’s laced with a stronger hint of vanilla. The vanilla in Egyptian Bergamot Rose is not particularly potent, but it has more of a presence than in Spanish Amber. I’d call this is a very pretty fragrance, and I don’t mean it diminutively or in a belittling way. Sometimes that is just what you want.
Another very pretty fragrance from Pacifica is their French Lilac. This is also a new offering in their solid perfume line, but previously existed only in the other forms (spray perfume, natural soap, body butter, and candles). For those of you who love lilacs, I cannot recommend this enough. I have this on right now, a few dabs from the perfume solid, and I feel like there is a bouquet of fresh lilacs in the room. It is that realistic. There’s not that much more to say about it. French Lilac smells like lilacs! I have never tried Pacifica’s natural soaps, but here is a rave review for the French Lilac soap. This is definitely going on my shopping list.
Posted by ~Trish