Scent Semantics #2: ANGELIC

Today is the second episode of the collaboration of six bloggers: Portia (A Bottled Rose), Elena (The Plum Girl), Sheila (Alembicated Genie), Daisy (Cool Cook Style blog and IG), Old Herbaceous (Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities) and Undina (Undina’s Looking Glass).Scent Semantics Project Banner

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This month’s word is: ANGELIC

The second I read that word I couldn’t move on from Mugler’s Angel. I tried. Not that much because I didn’t want to be too literal (Why not? It’s a game), but mostly because I’ve previously told my Angel love story: it was one of the stories that I had in mind even before I started this blog, and it was quite personal.

But since the idea of this series doesn’t call for any particular form of the post, I decided to go with an angelic expression on Rusty’s face when I woke him up while trying to take a picture of him and the perfume bottle and Angel’s close relative – Angel Taste of Fragrance.

Rusty and Mugler Angel Taste of Fragrance

Angel Taste of Fragrance is such a successful flanker! Of course, you should like the original Angel to appreciate Angel Taste of Fragrance. But if you do like Angel and need a new bottle, it makes perfect sense to find that flanker instead: it is still available on eBay (and costs not more than the current version Angel), but since it was created 10 years ago and hasn’t been reissued ince, it hasn’t been reformulated, as it happened to most of the other 10+ years old perfumes, including Angel itself.

Angel Taste of Fragrance has a heavenly dark chocolate note in the first 20 minutes of its life, after which it’s just a good ol’ Angel. I stopped wearing Angel in public a long time ago, but since I still work from home, it’s my perfect chance to indulge in the guilty pleasure of spending time with my perfume ex. My only complaint is that the bottle is absolutely not photogenic. But then you have that angelic furry face to look at.

Saturday Question: Do You Mind Revealing What You Are Wearing?

We all participate in different forums, blogs, groups, etc. And discussing our SOTDs is something mundane. But how do you feel about telling somebody in real life what perfume you’re wearing?

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #93:

Do You Mind Revealing What You Are Wearing?

I remember years ago reading on some of the blogs that people were reluctant to share with others (outside of the online perfume community) what perfume they were wearing. The reasons were different – from plainly not knowing how to pronounce the name to being afraid of being judged for buying too expensive perfume or even because they didn’t want others to have the same perfume they did.

So, how do you feel about that? If your friend or a co-worker were to ask what perfume you are wearing, would you tell them? How about a stranger (in a non-creepy situation)?

My Answer

In general, I’m an “oversharer” when it comes to things that I like, find useful or consider a great deal. So, if anyone were to ask (and I think it had happened more than once), I would not only tell them what perfume it was but make sure to include some information about the brand (unless it’s a well-known one), where it can be tried or bought and whatever other information I think might entice the victim of that cornucopia of information to pursue “my” perfume.

But there is one perfume that I would not “advertise” had I been asked by somebody who is (and will be) in my circle: Ormonde Jayne Ta’if. I love it so much that I feel very possessive and wouldn’t want anyone else to come to the party in a cloud of “my” scent.

If any of you is curious why I do not feel the same about my all-time favorite Lancome Climat, it’s easy: since it is discontinued, I don’t expect anyone who isn’t familiar with it to bother finding it. So, even if asked, I could freely give out the name, immediately providing the extra detail that it has been discontinued – just to be helpful, you know).

Rusty and Ormonde Jayne Ta'if

How about you?

Do You Mind Revealing What You Are Wearing?

What I Wore Wednesday: Perfume Advent Calendar 2021, Introduction

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned my plan to do a Perfume Advent Calendar, and I’m doing it!

Because of all the holidays, December is my favorite month of the year, and I realized that didn’t want to spend it wearing samples that I’m unfamiliar with. So, I decided to choose my favorite perfumes to wear for the whole month. And because at least some of my bottles won’t fit into the gift bags I got for the Calendar, I went with printing 31 names, choosing 24 of them, putting each into a gift bag and numbering them randomly. This way I’ll still have an element of surprise and will not have a pressure of making a choice every day.

One more reason for me to love December is that we celebrate Rusty’s Birthday on the Christmas Eve day. For the second year, I’ll be doing the Advent CaTendar on my Instagram account (@undina_ba) – a count up to Rusty’s 13th Birthday. Running two daily posts would be an overkill for me (and, frankly speaking, for you, my readers, as well). So, my solution is to do weekly posts telling you about my choices for the previous week with links to my published stories about those perfumes and new pictures (hopefully, Rusty will cooperate at least for some of them – like on the pictures below where he’s “helping” me to make my Perfume Advent Calendar).



Are you doing any Advent Calendars this year – either your personal ones or store-bought?


Images: my own

Sunday Self-care, Episode 9: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I’m sure that experiences we had with shampoos depended strongly on time when and places where each of us was growing up.

In my childhood, it was a common knowledge that you shouldn’t wash your hair too often; and thinking now about the quality of hair products we had, I’m not surprised. I suspect that a cold climate and absence of hair driers contributed to that as well.

In decades and continents that passed since, the quality of shampoos I used progressively improved. Looking back, I realize that I liked all products that I used while I used them. And every time after years of sticking to the same variety, I would switch to something else. Usually more expensive.

I went from L’Oreal and Herbal Essence to Paul Mitchel and Biolage. The first really expensive (at least in my universe) shampoo was Fekkai Full Blown Volume Shampoo. I could swear my hair got more volume and became more manageable once I braved the expense. I loved and used it for years… until it had been reformulated. I don’t know what exactly the brand did, for all I know it could have been done to save dolphins or reduce the greenhouse effect. But I could tell that something had changed. Had they discontinued “my” shampoo and released another one under a different name, I could have given it a chance. But they hadn’t. So, I moved on.

For the last 7 years I’ve been using Living Proof Full Shampoo (and conditioner). It does everything I expect from it. I like it and still manage to buy 1 liter bottles online with a nice discount – so, while still steep, the price doesn’t feel completely unapproachable.

Living Proof Full Shampoo

And then I made a mistake: I got curious about “what is out there.” Since I wasn’t paying salon prices for either haircuts or coloring, it felt only right to experiment with some luxury shampoos… I shouldn’t have. I hoped that I would try the ridiculously expensive Oribe shampoo and wouldn’t find it special in any way.

Oribe Gold Lust Repair and Restore Shampoo

I do not think that Oribe’s Gold Lust Repair and Restore Shampoo makes my hair any healthier than the Living Proof’s shampoo does. But I like more how my hair looks when I use it. Is it really so, or is it the same effect as with drinking wine while knowing that it’s expensive? I don’t know and, same as with wine, won’t even pretend that I’m sure that in blind tasting I would necessarily tell them apart. But I enjoy using it, it feels special, and I know that now I don’t want not to have it in my shower (of course, as long as I can afford it). I still plan to alternate it with my Living Proof shampoo though.

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There is a moral to this story: if you are happy with shampoo you currently use, unless you have money burning your pocket, don’t go to the next price level: it’s very hard to go back. If you do not like your current product, try finding something you like more in the same price range first. And whatever shampoo you end up using on a permanent basis, try to buy the largest bottle available and, whenever possible, with a discount.

Oribe Gold Lust Repair and Restore Shampoo 1 Liter


Images: my own

Saturday Question: Are Your Family And Friends Supportive Of Your Perfume Hobby?

The question is inspired by our holiday that traditionally is celebrated with friends and family.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #92:

Are Your Family And Friends Supportive Of Your Perfume Hobby?

Do they know about it? Do they notice that you wear different perfumes? Do they consider you an expert and ask advice? Do they criticize you? Do they share your love to perfume?

My Answer

My vSO completely supports my hobby: he doesn’t object not only to me buying or wearing perfumes but also getting perfumes for him. And while he is not really into perfume, he usually patiently waits while I’m sniffing my way through perfume counters and perfumeries. And he “knows” many of you – even if we’ve never met in real life.

Since all my relatives wear perfumes, nobody finds it too strange that I like perfumes, write about them and collect them. But for all of them perfumes are just accessories or personal care items – how often do you discuss a toothpaste with your sister?

My friends know about my hobby, and a couple of them even read this blog from time to time. But most of them have little or no interest in perfumes. Well, at least nobody admits to hating my perfumes (and some even compliment me from time to time).


Are Your Family And Friends Supportive Of Your Perfume Hobby?

A Postcard from Undina: Happy Thanksgiving 2021!

Rusty and Thanksgiving FoodDear Friends and Readers,

Whether you are celebrating this holiday or not, I’m thankful to you that by coming back to my blog you give me a reason to find time and energy to take an extra picture of Rusty or perfumes, write something about samples I test or come up with the next Saturday Question. Without you, I would have been depriving myself of this wonderful distraction in favor of even more work. Thank you!

I wish my compatriots to have a wonderful celebration with warmth of your loved ones company and great traditional food (whatever tradition you follow) despite all the Supply Chain Shortages. And I wish everyone else a quiet end of the week and a relaxing weekend.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday Question: Who Is Your Favorite Indie Perfumer Or Indie House?

This week’s question was one of the topics Brigitte suggested back when Portia solicited SQ ideas from the APj’s readers. Whenever my week gets so busy that I don’t have time to think about this post until I sit to write it (an hour before the midnight or even later), I open the spreadsheet with all the suggestions and choose one that feels right. This one was that type of a week.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #91:

Who Is Your Favorite Indie Perfumer Or Indie House?

I’m not sure if there is a strict distinction between indie and niche brand definition, so each of you can think of your own criteria. But I think as the year comes to the end, and we all will be thinking about gifts either for others or ourselves, it would be nice to be reminded of those brands that won’t have massive ad campaigns or YouTube influencers lining up to recommend those perfumes in their holiday shopping guides.

In addition to naming a brand, please share your most favorite perfume from the line.

My Answer

I’m not much into indie perfumery. I have a number of favorites from several brands, but none of the brands really stands out.

But if I have to name just one, I’ll probably go with Tauer Perfumes. And perfume that I like the most is L’AIR DU DÉSERT MAROCAIN.

I think that even full bottles of Andy Tauer’s perfumes are priced reasonably for the quality of ingredients he uses. But unless you plan to bathe in one of his perfumes, a travel spray, a couple of samples or a 5 ml mini (if there is one for that perfume) will go a long way.

Tauer LDDM Mini

Who Is Your Favorite Indie Perfumer Or Indie House?


Image: hajusuuri

Second Sunday Samples: Teo Cabanel Les Expressions Parfumées

Are you familiar with this house?

If you’ve been at this hobby for longer than 5-7 years, most likely, you’ve heard about at least one of their perfumes: Alahine. It is great. I mean, it was great. I haven’t tried the newest version, but according to the update in Kafka’s glorious review of this perfume, at some point around 2017 it had been poorly reformulated. I also suspect that it has been reformulated again since then, who knows for better or for worse, so probably most of the reviews you can find now online would describe some of the versions that you won’t get today anyway. Which means that you’ll have to try it yourself.

Teo Cabanel brand’s story is interesting. I won’t repeat what you might read on their site, if you are curious, I just wanted to mention that it seems like the brand keeps trying to find its “it” for the last 100+ years of intermittent history.

The chapter of their classical perfumes – Alahine, Early Roses, Julia, Oha, etc. – is over. As I mentioned, I’m not sure how well all of these survived the reformulations, but I’m glad they haven’t just discontinued all of them and started over. Instead, they pivoted.

This summer I saw Teo Cabanel’s campaign for their new perfumes and got curious. These newest perfumes were created not by the same in-house perfumer who authored the brand’s first 10 perfumes (Jean-François Latty). Patrice Revillard is the nose behind Ça Boum, Et Voilà, Je Ne Sais Quoi and Oh Là Là; Rendez Vous and Très French were done by Marie Schnirer. I haven’t tried any other perfumes from these two perfumers, so I had no expectations one way or the other.

Rusty and Teo Cabanel Samples

These perfumes clearly target the younger demography but not in the mainstream sense: none of these is fruity floral; none is too sweet. The bottles are simpler than those for their earlier perfumes, but they look nice and clean, at least on the picture. Prices are lower than for the original line. And the brand makes a point mentioning that they use good raw materials, but that they also use synthetics where it’s appropriate. I think most niche perfumes these days are made either in France on in the country native to the brand, so I’m not sure how much of a distinction it gives to Teo Cabanel that they proudly announce that they produce their perfumes in France. What does impress me is that they claim: “90% of our components are French and the remaining 10% are Italian.”

Ca Boum

Top notes: salty & iodized notes, Sand Lily; middle notes: rose absolute, jasmine absolute; base notes: green vanilla, immortelle

As much as I like lilies (flowers), this note in perfumes never works for me. And prominent jasmine is rarely my thing too. But if you are a fan of these two, Ca Boum might be right up your alley.

Et Voila

Top notes: neroli, aldehydes, clean accord; middle notes: white flowers, heliotrope, rose; base notes: white musk cocktail, sandalwood.

It smells too soapy on my skin, so I won’t consider wearing it. But I’m sure that Et Voila will have its following.

Rusty and Teo Cabanel Samples

Je Ne Sais Quoi

Top notes: puffed rice; middle notes: maté, violet leaf, matcha tea; base notes: guaiac wood, Tolu balm, vetiver Haiti, sandalwood.

I think this perfume is named aptly. It is very unusual. If you can survive the opening (or if it doesn’t bother you to start with), you might find Je Ne Sais Quoi interesting.

Oh Là Là

Top notes: hazelnut, saffron; middle notes: tobacco, iris; base notes: tonka bean, sandalwood, white musks.

I think that the notes sound a lot better than perfume smells. Believe it or not, I’m saying it not as criticism. I want to tame your expectations because I like Oh La La, and I know from experience that with lower expectations there’s a better chance to like what you test. It is not gourmand but has that slight dessert vibe in the opening. The iris is powdery, not earthy. And drydown is lactonic and somewhat creamy. I’m thinking about getting a small bottle of it.

Rusty and Teo Cabanel Samples

Très French

Top notes: crunchy pear, peony; middle notes: lily of the valley, Sambac jasmine, Crystal clear notes; base notes: sandalwood, benzoin, vetiver Haiti, white musks.

Lily of the valley, while being “very French,” for me is a deal breaker in this perfume: I really dislike it. And in this case, it’s not a question of lily of the valley being an artificial cheap ingredient (these are not expensive perfumes, and some of LotV’s perfumes are quite nice). I actually do not like the particular representation of lily of the valley in this perfume, and I cannot get past it. But you might.

Rendez Vous

Top notes: mimosa, violet leaf, almond; middle notes: violet, rose, jasmine, orange blossom; base notes: white musks, vanilla, tonka bean.

I thought I’d finish on a high note. I like Rendez Vous very much. I know, I’m not objective: I love mimosa. And I immensely enjoy this perfume in development: it’s very cozy, warm and sunny.

Even though I have many other mimosa perfumes in my collection, I think there is space there for one more. Conveniently, Teo Cabanel makes all perfumes from this line in nice 30 ml bottles.

Rusty and Teo Cabanel Samples

Currently, on the brand’s site you can get the complete set (16 1.5 ml samples) for 25 euro + S&H. And they offer that 25 euro as a voucher for future purchase of any full-size bottle. Shipping to the US isn’t too friendly (15 euro), but even with that ~$45 for 16 manufacturer samples including delivery isn’t that bad.


Images: my own

Saturday Question: How Far in Advance Do You Plan What to Wear?

Today I have this question/discussion topic and an idea to share with you.


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #90:

How Far in Advance Do You Plan What to Wear?

When do you decide what you are going to wear? On the day? The night before? What about perfumes for occasions (birthdays, family gatherings, etc.)?

Do you ever plan your perfume wardrobe several days in advance, for several days? (Trips don’t count!)

My Answer

I used to lie in bed the night before, mentally going through my whole collection (year, there were times when I could do that) and deciding on what perfume I’d use in the morning. As my collection grew, I switched to the stare-at-my-collection-in-the-morning method, which worked for a while but became less reliable once my perfumes filled in the shelves so that those boxes that are stored farther from the front are harder not only to get to but also to see. But better or worse, it still worked: I had to make a choice before leaving the house.

Then I started working from home, and my schedule changed so that I would have my meetings earlier than I would like to, so more and more often I would go commando (perfume-wise) for a couple of hours in the morning planning to figure out what to wear later… and more and more often my work takes over, and I keep going scent-free for the most of the day. And then I have to decide whether I want to apply perfume to wear or would rather test something new.

So, I just decided to make it easier for me this holidays season: I will make an Advent Calendar with 24 perfumes to wear in December. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll do daily or weekly posts: it might be too hard in addition to doing my planned countdown to Rusty’s birthday on Instagram, but I might still try.

Will you join me? I’m sharing this idea in advance – so that you have enough time to make your own calendar. You can do it from really simple to extremely fancy. 24 envelopes with written numbers, optionally decorated. Or Ziploc bags with decants/samples wrapped in some colorful tissue paper. Or one of those DIY sets from a craft store or Amazon. If you do not have a smaller decant or sample for the perfume you plan to wear, you can write down the name and put it into the bag or box. Alternatively, you can choose 24 samples that you want to try (again) and place them in random order into those bags – so, it’ll be kind of a surprise.

Advent Calendars


How Far in Advance Do You Plan What to Wear?

Saturday Question: What Are Your Top 5 Amber Perfumes?

This is that time of the year again when the weather in the most places of the Northern Hemisphere unequivocally suggests wearing heavier and more opulent perfumes. Are you ready?

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #89:

What Are Your Top 5 Amber Perfumes?

Not of all times, not the best creations ever, but just those that you think you will especially enjoy in the next couple of months?

For my readers on the opposite side of the World, do you have summer ambers?

My Answer

I love amber perfumes and have enough of those in my perfume wardrobe. But I often wait too long for the perfect weather – and then the season is gone before I could fully enjoy them. So, this year I decided to try and enjoy all of my favorite ambers. And I’m starting with these five:

  • By Kilian Amber Oud
  • Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan
  • Bvlgari Black
  • Ormonde Jayne Tolu
  • EnVoyage Perfumes Captured in Amber

Rusty and Captured in Amber

What Are Your Top 5 Amber Perfumes?