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

Just Splendiris!

I loved the name long before I got a chance to try this perfume and before I found another favorite from the brand. I read a beautiful review Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) wrote for Spenderis by Parfums Dusita and thought that I wanted to like it. Usually, it’s a recipe for disappointment. But not in this case.

Splendiris ticks almost all the boxes for me. It is beautiful: I don’t think that it’s a universal pleaser, but if it’s your cup of tea, you don’t have to work hard on liking it. It is original: I have many iris perfumes, but Splendiris doesn’t remind me of any of them. It has a presence: while not a “powerhouse,” it is not timid, and the scent is quite distinct and pronounced. My only complaint is that Splendiris is less tenacious than I’d like it to be. But I do not mind re-applying.

Rusty and Dusita Splenderis

I’m sure that most of my loyal readers have tried Splendiris by now (so, tell me – do you like it?), but for those few who might have missed it, I want to say that, in my opinion, unless you dislike iris perfumes in general or cut out perfume testing at the price level that is lower than Parfums Dusita’s offerings, this perfume is worth trying: you might still not like it, but as far as spending money on perfume testing hobby goes, Splendiris is a solid candidate (check out Lucas’s review linked to above if you want more details).

I bought a travel set earlier this year, and it arrived packaged beautifully and with wonderful attention to details. Both Rusty and I enjoyed the unboxing.

 

 

In general, I applaud the brand for their testing and purchasing options. If you’re not familiar with the brand, you can buy a set of their first 9 released perfumes + select one of the two newer perfumes (EUR 59 + EUR 9 for S&H to the US). Those are large (2.5 ml) manufacturer’s samples, and the set includes EUR 40 voucher to be used for the future purchase. It is possible to buy separate samples as well, but I suspect it’ll be too expensive to send them to anywhere but France. They also have all of their perfumes in travel sets (3 x 7.5 ml), 50 ml and 100 ml bottles. When you buy anything but just samples, you get a choice of three additional samples with your order. Orders above EUR 150 are always shipped free of charge, and I saw once or twice a promotion where travel sets were shipped free of charge. I don’t think they have a newsletter to subscribe to, but the brand is active on Instagram and Facebook, so if you were to follow it there, you’d catch the next promotion.

 

Images: my own

L’Esprit Libre by Divine NEW 2021

Hi Crew, L’Esprit Libre is one of two new releases from Divine this year along with Divine Intense, which doesn’t appear to be for sale on their site yet. Both crafted by the incredibly prolific Yann Vasnier, 91 named fragrances on Fragrantica. The email dropped into my inbox announcing the new arrival, and before I was even able to think it was checked out and on its way to me. All thoughts of lockdown business collapse, lack of funds and any skerrick of rationale deserted me. It wasn’t even a late night event, suddenly I’d bought it and L’Homme Sage, which has been on my list for years. Excitingly, they arrived in the mail this week. I’ve been lovingly looking at the pristine corrugated boxes in cellophane but decided it was time to open L’Esprit Libre up to share how it smells. It’s so rare for me to feel this kind of excitement about a new release.

L’Esprit Libre by Divine

L'Esprit Libre DivineAccording to the Divine site:

A light breeze, green and mellow with bergamot and green mandarine, then suddenly when you’re least expecting it, a ray of peony and magnolia. At its heart, a blue twinkle of iris, talc and earth, with essence and butter of iris and a leisurely finale of musk and ambergris.

WOW! Remember in the early 2000s and the world went mad for sheer feeling, radiant fragrances that had amazing projection and longevity like Elie Saab and SJP Lovely? They were almost always done with a white floral at the heart. It was like the logical next step from those enormous 1990s sheer/huge aquatics like L’Eau d’Issey and Aqua di Gio. This L’Esprit Libre feels like it’s the next progression in the story.

The citrus opening is sheer, tart and intoxicating. It starts icy cool and by the time the heart has arrived has warmed considerably. The peony and magnolia are only very peripheral, amorphous nods during the opening but make a more definite appearance well into the heart, but what does shine is an unmentioned woods note blown on the breeze. I’m wondering if it’s part of the dry rooty iris that feels sliced open as you pulled it up with earth still attached. (Edit: Amusingly, in today’s wear I have it on the back of both my hands and they both smell quite different. Left is much soapier and more floral, right features dry woods.) I’m surprised that there isn’t a mentioned green herbal note or a woody one. Maybe it’s a basil and an angelique, generic sawdust. These are what my brain keeps telling me but I’m not convinced.

L’Esprit Libre smells like a completely new direction for the Divine Parfums crew. Through the heart I definitely get the idea of breeze, or sky, or even that joyful feeling of being outdoors in the sun on a cool, breezy day. This is no loud 1980s showstopper, but it is wonderfully noticeable; I’m wondering if the more I wear it the more I can notice it? Maybe the more nuance I pick up? There’s something quite space age about it.

The ambergris is not a fecal, salty, bilge water adventure. There’s no hark to Womanity. It’s a sea breeze, not on the shore but maybe on a restaurant verandah overlooking thew sea, just a little up the hill.

For such a sheer fragrance the longevity is excellent. Projection is amazing for over an hour before it softens considerably.

Does L’Esprit Libre sound like something you might like?
Portia xx

Second Sunday Sample: Serge Lutens La Dompteuse Encagée

Let’s talk about the weather for a moment. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, what was the highest temperature in the area where you live this summer so far? (Please mention where you are – at least a country, city or area, if you feel comfortable doing so – for those who don’t know you.) How do you cope? And for my readers from Down Under, what was the coldest so far?

In the SF Bay Area where I live, we had a day or two really hot in June (I did a screenshot of the Weather app with 36C/97F on June 17), but other than that our weather was surprisingly nice all that time while I heard and read horror stories from all over the world.

But my vSO and I managed to choose the hottest days to visit a wine country this week. Given, we were limited by dates for which we planned that trip since we did it as a part of celebrating our anniversary, we had to book everything in advance, including the most important part – feeding Rusty in our absence. So, once it became clear it’ll be extremely hot in our destination spot, we discussed whether we should cancel but decided not to.

Two days that we spent in Sonoma wine country, it got to 37C/99F at the peak. Wine tasting in these circumstances was a tricky proposition. But since everything these days must be planned well in advance (and is mostly not refundable), we tried to make the best of the trip (I plan to do a separate post about it soon).

LaRue Winery

And since we were going to the almost tropical environment, I decided it was a great opportunity to test new Serge Lutens La Dompteuse Encagée, which after the initial test at home seemed like a perfect tropical scent.

Since I missed several years of Serge Lutens’ new releases, and after Barney’s demise there are no more B&M places around here where I’d be able to test the brand, recently I got some samples from the Surrender to Chance. I was going back and forth choosing perfumes and sizes (for most of my samples I go for 0.5 ml – 1 ml), and somehow I ended up with two 1 ml samples of La Dompteuse Encagee. I was surprised but then thought that since it’s a new 2021 release, I’d test and review one sample and pass onto somebody else the second one. Nope. Somebody won’t be getting it: for testing on the road, I decided to pour both into a spray vial.

Serge Lutens La Dompteuse Encagee

Serge Lutens’ ad copy is cryptic, as always, so I don’t want to spend time even trying to make any sense of it. When it comes to providing any specific information on the composition, they are also not being too generous. But I find it entertaining how being given just three notes – frangipani, Ylang Ylang and almond – most reviewers dance around them not daring to speculate on other notes. Too bad Kafka isn’t reviewing perfumes any longer: this is one of the cases where I’d be extremely curious to know what she smells here. Me? I’m sure that this perfume contains more ingredients than the mentioned three. But since I rarely recognize notes even when they are listed, I’ll do what I always do – impressions and comparisons.

As a rule, I don’t like the almond note in perfumery, so I’m very pleased that I do not smell it in La Dompteuse Encagee. When I applied it for the first time, not expecting to like or be interested, it immediately reminded me of something else – not an identical aroma but rather the mood… After searching my mental perfume library, I realized that it reminded me of Annick Goutal Songes. Interestingly, Songes’ notes include frangipani and Ylang Ylang as well (also jasmine, tiare and vanilla). I tried La Dompteuse Encagee and Songes side by side, and I think I was right: they don’t smell similar, but for me, they evoke the same summer vibe. I rarely think of perfumes in colors, but both these are yellow in my palette (even though they both are predominantly white flowers). Speaking of white flowers, both in Songes and La Dompteuse Encagee I imagine smelling tuberose (which isn’t listed in either) and jasmine (not given for the latter perfume’s pyramid).

La Dompteuse Encagee is one of the florals in the Serge Lutens’ line (so, no stewed fruits), but unlike most other florals that I like – De Profundis, Vitriol d’oeillet or Iris Silver MistLa Dompteuse Encagee is not solemn and austere but very bright and radiant. I liked it much more than I expected. I don’t even mind the name, whatever Mr. Lutens meant (online consensus has it translated as a “Caged Tamer” with the noun being feminine). My only complaint is that in hot weather it is more fleeting than I’d like it to be. But I still want a bottle (if/when I can get at least 20% off): I need to give it proper wear in a real tropical environment. I still hope to get there eventually.

Butterfly

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Creed Aventus for Her and Floralie

Not much changed since I told a story of my first Creed perfume – Jasmin Impératrice Eugénie: I haven’t tried any new perfumes from the brand and haven’t got into my collection any more of those few that I’ve tried before. Mostly, for the same reasons that I’d explained in the above-linked post.

What is even stranger, I don’t think I’ve ever tried probably the most famous of their masculine perfumes – Aventus. Mostly, because I felt some type of a resentment towards the crowd of the fans of this perfume.

I wouldn’t have probably tried any of the two perfumes I’m covering in today’s post, but they were a part of the epic GWP, about which I wrote recently. So, here we are. For the explanation about the ratings, see Sea Star Ratings.

 

Three and Half Sea Stars

Aventus for Her was created in 2016 by Olivier Creed. Official notes (from the brand’s site): apple, pink pepper, patchouli, bergamot, rose, sandalwood, styrax, musk, peach, black currant, amber and Ylang Ylang.

Despite its “for her” designation, in my opinion, it is as feminine as a boyfriend shirt on a woman (but less sexy). It develops better on a warmed skin (on sunny afternoon), and that’s when I can clearly smell the promised apple and black currant – both of the “perfume-y” artificial type, not too realistic (reminds me of Parfums de Marley’s creations). On a “cold skin” (in the morning), I can mostly smell patchouli and some spices. It smells like a modern perfume: more artificial than natural, spicy and sweet. I can’t say that it smells cheap, but it doesn’t strike me as extremely luxurious either.

 

Two Sea Stars

Floralie was created in 2018, also by Olivier Creed. Notes (from the brand’s site): marigold, Bulgarian rose, tuberose, lilac, lily of the valley, amber, cedarwood, amber and musk rose.

Unlike Aventus for Her, Floralie smells better when it’s cooler: it opens with a pleasant floral bouquet. And then it goes into bitterly green territory (and when it’s hot, it jumps directly to that phase without any discernible flowers). I do not like Floralie and would not wear it, but at the same time I think that it is a better perfume than Aventus for Her.

Creed Aventus for Her and Floralie Samples

Image: my own

Sunday Self-care, Episode 3: Don’t Sweat It

Many years ago, when a multi-level marketing stormed the country where I lived, it could have done much more damage if it weren’t for the fact that many people who would have been gullible just didn’t have enough money to participate in the game.

Most people in my circle proved to be immune to the promises of health/beauty benefits and easy earnings, not in the last place because many of us were bad at selling things. But our close friend’s mother had succumbed to the temptation and, as it often happens with new converts, not only she fully embraced ideas and products offered by the brand but she also energetically started recruiting into the enlightened lifestyle all her friends and relatives, including her son and his wife (who were our friends).

Our friends weren’t really persuaded and took most of the things ironically. I remember how our friend was telling us that after using some either face products or supplements (it was a long time ago, so details are fuzzy), his mom got a skin rash that she was explaining “The body puts up a fight.” My vSO and I still jokingly use this phrase from time to time.

I don’t remember how it happened, but I ended up buying one product from our friend’s mom – a deodorant. And I liked it. So, I bought another one. And another.

* * *

The first year after I moved to the US, to my surprise I discovered that the brand I thought was some shady pyramid scheme was a legitimate brand with a long history, and it was sold in the regular stores. The brand was JĀSÖN.

So, for years I kept buying the same two deodorants by Jason that I liked “in my previous life” – Aloe Vera and Tea Tree. Both my vSO and I went through dozens of those before I realized I didn’t like them any longer. Thinking about it, I suspect that they were just reformulated at some point, without informing consumers, of course. Probably it became even “cleaner” and healthier than it used to be. But it didn’t work for me anymore.

For several years after that I switched to the deodorant that my vSO was using (I’ve chosen it for him): Terre d’Hermes. We both still like it, but it is very expensive, it contains several ingredients that are currently are considered… well, let’s say, they are controversial, and though I do not really subscribe under all the current trends, it is hard to ignore that completely. So, at some point, I decided that I wanted to find an alternative daily deodorant.

Terre d'Hermes Deodorant

What am I looking in a deodorant? I don’t know. I do not use antiperspirants. Not because I think those are unsafe or anything to this effect – I just do not like how it feels. I do not want perfume scent in my deodorant, but I do want a pleasant scent for the scent itself, as I apply but not as much for masking any odors. It needs to work to some extent, though I do not expect miracles. And whatever it does or does not, it should feel nice on my skin.

The first one I went for was from the same brand that started this story – Jason. But I decided to try their newer item – Men’s Forest Fresh. I’m sure that the “men’s” part is a pure marketing shtick, and not just because of the “anybody can wear anything,” but because the most “feminine” aspect of their other deodorants is the packaging, otherwise they are absolutely gender neutral.

Company’s claim: Men’s Forest Fresh contains Zinc Ricinoleate, Corn Starch, Baking Soda, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Cedarwood Pine and Eucalyptus Oils. No Animal Byproducts, No Artificial Colors, No GMO, No Parabens, No Petrolatum, No Phthalates, No Sulfates, Cruelty Free.

It glides on very nicely and smells good. I think it works to some degree, but it sits on my skin slightly sticky contributing to the feeling of being sweaty even if I do not sweat. I will finish it, but most likely I won’t repurchase it.

Jason Forest Fresh Deodorant

The next one that I decided to try was Death By Lavender – Organic Deodorant from North Coast Organics.

Ingredients, according to the brand, (Vegan): 100% organic coconut oil, 100% organic carnauba wax, 100% organic arrowroot powder, 95% organic shea butter, aluminum-free, natural baking soda, & Organic Essential Oils (Lavender, Lemon, Cypress, Rosemary). It is certified organic, certified vegan, certified cruelty-free, certified non-gmo, gluten-free, aluminum-free, soy-free, and handmade.

It was just awful. The scent was fine, but it was so dry and gritty that it felt like I was rubbing a pumice stone over my armpits. My only hope is that the item I bought at the store spent too long on the shelf and that usually it is much better. But I will never know because I won’t be spending $15 more to confirm this hypothesis. Into the bin it went right after I took the picture.

North Coast Organics Death by Lavender

What I liked about (Malin+Goetz) eucalyptus deodorant was that I could get a small version of it. Of course, it is more expensive per gram than the full version and much more than many other full-size deodorants. But I hate wasting products, so after the fiasco with the previous deodorant, I was glad to get a mini.

According to the brand, it is vegan and cruelty-free. Includes eucalyptus extract and citronellyl.

eucalyptus deodorant is smooth in application and has a light, slightly medicinal scent – I wouldn’t have minded a stronger eucalyptus aroma. It absorbs well without an unpleasant residue. Once I finish the mini I have, I might come back to this deodorant if I don’t find anything better. It is good but not ideal.

(Malin+Goetz) Eucalyptus Deodorant

The most recent deodorant I tried is Sweet Pitti Deodorant Cream from Drunk Elephant. I had high hopes for this one: this brand has a good reputation, and I liked a couple of other products they make.

Brand says that Sweet Pitti contains Mandelic Acid, Arrowroot Powder, Shea Butter, Marula Oil, Mongongo Oil, Baobab Seed Oil. It has a pH of 4.0 and is free of baking soda and aluminum-derived ingredients, sulfates, silicones, essential oils, fragrance, dyes, and drying alcohols. Cruelty-free.

I’m not sure if Sweet Pitti works because I really dislike the scent. I’m not sure I care about how efficiently it combats my natural odor since what it replaces it with doesn’t smell much (any?) better. In addition to that, the way it dispenses: you have to turn the pushing mechanism extremely carefully to get just a tad of the content to appear from those four holes – otherwise, you’ll either waste the product or will be covered in it. I will probably finish the one that I have (I’ll use it for when I’m exercising), but under no circumstances will I repurchase it.

Drunk Elephant Sweet Pitti Deodorant Cream

My search continues. Luckily, working from home, I have a luxury of using a wrong deodorant, washing it off and trying another one. But I would love to find one or two deodorants to use for several years until I find something better. And I still plan to replenish my and my vSO’s favorite Terre d’Hersmes.

Do you have any deodorants you would recommend?

Deodorants

Images: my own

Chanel Paris – Edimbourg

Last weekend, as I stopped by the perfume counter at my local Nordstrom to quickly pick up a birthday gift for my friend (a nice Diptyque candle, if you’re curious), I experienced a light shock: I discovered a new addition to Les Eaux de Chanel collection.

Of course, it wasn’t the fact of its release itself that surprised me (after all, it’s the fifth installment in the series in less than that many years). What startled me and even made a little sad was that I was completely unaware of this release happening. Yes, I’ve been busy with work and spent even less than usual time on NST or other perfume-related platforms. But still… It shows how fragmented this world has become since the number of blogs and both people writing and reading them declined. Can you imagine missing a new release from Chanel (or, let’s say, Serge Lutens) five-six years ago?

I asked the friendly SA O., from whom I usually buy those rare perfume-related items that I buy at Nordstrom, if she could give me a vial so that I could make myself a sample (since they are not allowed to do it any more), and she conspiratorially told me that she had a real sample for me; but that, probably, it would be more to my vSO’s liking (who patiently waited not too far away for me to finish purchasing the gift and talking to O.) than to my. Than she stopped herself (probably remembering all the trainings they are getting these days) and said (without much conviction though): “Or you might like it…” That was how I got to try Paris – Edimbourg sample.

Chanel Paris-Edimbourg

She was right on both accounts. I kind of like it. And it is quite masculine.

I have to correct myself. Paris – Edimbourg is not masculine-masculine cologne that would be classified as such unequivocally. But compared even just to perfumes in that collection, not even talking about other Chanel perfumes, Paris – Edimbourg is the most masculine one. Had you smelled it blindly, you would have thought Atelier Cologne before thinking Chanel.

Notes (according to Fragrantica): juniper berries, cypress, lavender, cedar, vetiver, vanilla and musk.

Perfumer: Olivier Polge

I can clearly smell juniper. Lavender in Paris – Edimbourg isn’t as prominent as it is in several other Chanel perfumes. And vetiver is much tamer than it usually is in masculine perfumes. It is fresh, uplifting, slightly woody (very slightly) and quite naturally smelling, which these days pleasantly surprises me since more and more perfume brands seem to have discovered financial joys of creating escentric-molecules-style perfumes. In addition to that, it is reasonably priced compared to many other modern offerings.

All in all, I’m not disappointed. I like Paris – Edimbourg, and I could wear something like that in summer, but I prefer other, more feminine numbers from that collection. So, I’ll pass the sample to my vSO, but I do recommend checking it out the next time you find yourself close to Chanel counter.

 

Image: my own

Second Sunday Sample: Tom Ford Soleil Brulant

As I’ve said many times before, I’m a Tom Ford fan. So, whenever the brand releases new perfume, I jump. And this weekend I drove to the nearby shopping mall to try the newest release from the brand – Soleil Brûlant. I’m glad that a friendly SA was there, so I managed to get a handmade sample (normally these days you cannot get any, because, “you know, we’re in pandemic,” and it’s not like take-out or even eat-in food that you put in your mouth, it’s much more dangerous if an SA would make you a sample of perfume that contains more alcohol than required by CDC for hand sanitizers).

New Soleil Brûlant releases sun-kissed florals warmed by amber – evoking the opulent, golden sun beaming over private islands. Your own private summer.

That was a quote from the brand’s advertising video. And, in my opinion, it sets up this perfume to fail. I do not mean globally or related to sales, but rather from the fan-base prospective (and since it doesn’t look like Tom Ford’s PR works with “Influencers,” it might backfire). What you smell is not what you’d expect to smell based on that description.

You know the type of reviews where the reviewers describe minute-by-minute how perfume smells on their skin? I never really understood that approach… until I smelled Soleil Brulant. Even for my nose, which isn’t the most accurate or educated, a lot is happening in this perfume within minutes.

Notes deciphered from the brand’s site: mandarin, bergamot, pink pepper, orange blossom, black honey, amber, resins, wood, vetiver, leather and incense.

Tom Ford Soleil Brulant

From the nozzle I smell mandarin, which I like very much and anticipate smelling on my skin, so when upon spraying I cannot detect it at all, I feel slightly disappointed. What I smell instead is some roasted nutty or maybe coffee note followed by slightly mentholated sweetness. It is replaced by scorched woodsy smell (maybe burning incense?). And resin. Then about 30 minutes into the development I can finally smell some citrus! Very briefly. Then wood returns. A couple of hours later, I can smell something that my nose qualifies as “tobacco,” but I know that sometimes that is how what is called “leather” smells to me. Since honey rarely works on my skin, and I do not like orange blossom, those are notes that I usually recognize. But not in Soleil Brulant. I don’t question their existence in this perfume, and I believe that some sweetness that I’m experiencing comes from it. But both those notes are not as prominent to me as I smell them in other perfumes, both when they work for me or don’t.

I don’t know in which Universe this would be considered summer perfume. OK, it is summer perfume in terms that its name describes summer (everywhere I see it translated as “Burning Sun,” in my head I call it “Scorching Sun”), but what I smell I wouldn’t either associate with that season or wear during it. But I will try to do it at least one – just out of curiosity.

As a conclusion, I do not think Soleil Brulant is bad perfume. I find it original and not boring. But I’m not in love with it, and I don’t think I would have been buying it even at the lower Private Blend’s price level, but definitely not as their premium tier price of $350 for 50 ml. I still think it will sell well, not in the least thanks to that golden bottle (I don’t like it, but I read many praises for it). I also wanted to note that if we all keep buying these perfumes and cosmetics, someone at Estee Lauder will be able to afford not just a private summer on a private island, but with a little effort maybe even a private sun. I, for one, has recently “contributed to the cause” by getting their new Sunlust Lip lip gloss from the same collection as this perfume. I do not need it. But in my mind it somehow was a precursor to my Hawaiian vacation that I really want to happen. Well, I’ve got the lip gloss – so, I’m half-way there, right?

Tom Ford Sunlust Lip glossImages: my own

Jaipur Homme by Boucheron

Jaipur Homme by Boucheron

Jaipur Homme is 20+ years old, Boucheron wasn’t really on my radar at that time. It wasn’t till late 2000s that I smelled it. In the early 2000s, I was living with a man who came from halfway between Delhi & Jaipur. He took me to the Rambagh Palace for a few nights on our first holiday to India, and he knew every nook and cranny of the town, so I got a really fabulous look at it. After we had broken up and he’d returned to India, I found the Boucheron fragrance. It was so subtle compared to the reality of India but there were lovely reminders and the name itself conjures happy memories. Over the years, I’ve brought or sent him bottles of Jaipur and it’s been his signature scent.

Anyway, thought I hadn’t bought myself a bottle of Jaipur Homme in years, so I grabbed a super cheap EdT from FragNet recently and have been wearing it a bit. It’s still very nice.

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, Heliotrope, Cardamom, Lime, Lemon
Heart: Amber, Jasmine, Carnation, Nutmeg, Rose, Vanilla, Cinnamon
Base: Benzoin, Clove, Patchouli, Tonka bean, Cedarwood

If you know ground cardamom from your spice cupboard then you’ll instantly recognise it in the opening of Jaipur Homme. The citrus creates an initial sparkling, zingy opening, and the cardamom becomes apparent almost immediately. It stays after the citrus burns off, and the cool powdery fluff of heliotrope is then a tangible note that leads us into the heart.

I’m drinking chai as I write this post, and the heart of Jaipur Homme is a softer, more French perfumery armchair dream of it. Very softly animalic, vanilla-heavy amber with spices. Clove is more noticeable than anything else, but I definitely get the sweet milky tea reference. It’s not the MAIN heart accord, but it plays alongside everything else.

The dry down is sweet amber woods. I become nose blind to it after a couple of hours, but it stays on my clothes for days. When I pick up a top to wash it, I am hit gently with a beautiful spiced wood fragrance. It’s really lovely, so I know that’s what I’m wafting at the end of a day.

Don’t let the homme fool you. Jaipur Homme is unisex. It doesn’t even lean towards a modern traditional masculine. It could be brought out as a women’s fragrance today, and no one would have questioned it. Longevity is excellent, projection after about 30 minutes is moderate to low but oh so lovely.

Did you ever try Jaipur Homme?

Portia xx

Sunday Self-care, Episode 1: The First Year into Quarantine: Embracing Silk

Time Traveler: What year is this?
Me: 2020
Time Traveler: Oh, the first year of quarantine…
Me: … The … WHAT?

 

For a while, I tried to come up with a title for this first post of the (hopefully) new series to be a variation on the phrase “sleepy bliss” or “blissful sleep” constructed from the names of the two rival brands of silk goods. But I gave up having realized that “Blissy Slip” or “Slippy Bliss” would be probably even less transparent for my English-speaking readers than my last year’s exercise with “lilac” and “luck.” So, instead, I decided to play on the joke/meme that resonated with me when I saw it the first time last year and many times since.

* * *

With everything that was happening in the last 12 months, I’m a lucky one: my work kept me so busy all that time that I barely noticed most of the negative sides of the situation we all are more or less in. I did miss my Hawaii vacation and some gatherings with friends, and for a while it was scary… to watch dwindling supplies of TP and, joking aside, just getting out to get groceries for the next couple of weeks. But in general, I didn’t get the anxiety many others experienced. On the other hand, I didn’t get the “free time” that many people weren’t sure how to occupy while staying at home.

But as time goes by, and probably mostly because of a couple of big time-measuring life milestones that have occurred within these last 12 months, more and more I started thinking about getting that free time to take care of myself. This series is the result of my attempts to follow through with these thoughts.

* * *

For some time I was noticing that in the morning my face would have some creases from the contact with a pillow. While telling myself that, probably, it attested to how soundly I slept without turning or changing my position, I didn’t appreciate what I saw in the mirror, especially since I started having video meetings in the morning – often before those signs of agi healthy sleeping would disappear from my cheeks.

I don’t remember how the idea of a silk pillowcase came into my orbit, but once it formed, I, in my usual manner, being skeptical about most miracle cures and hacks, spent probably months reading reviews and trying to figure out whether to buy myself one and, if yes, which one. I could have easily kept doing it until now, but one day a friend of mine decided to show me her new favorite pillow (I was in the process of looking for a replacement pillow). I didn’t like the pillow at all (it was one of those new creations stuffed with shredded foam-like material), but I noticed that it had a silk pillowcase. When I asked my friend about it, she, completely casually, mentioned that she switched to those a while ago and now wouldn’t even consider sleeping on anything else. That did it for me.

I still wasn’t sure which brand to go with: if you try looking for any comparison reviews, you’d end up with very similar affiliated-links-ridden articles equally praising both “luxury” and “budget” buys (all claiming that though they will get a commission from you shopping through those, opinions, surely, are their “editors’”).

When in doubt, I tend to pay rather more than less (which is not necessarily a winning strategy but it has its merits). So, I went for the “luxury” side, but out of the two more expensive brands, Blissy and Slip, I’ve chosen Blissy because it was offering a better deal.

Rusty and Blissy Silk Pillowcase

If you happen to come across ads for silk pillowcases recently, you are probably familiar with all the claims they make (some of those ads are just outrageous, but I won’t dignify them even with negative publicity). Regardless of whether you have tried them yourself, you might be curious what I think about those claims.

After sleeping on silk pillowcases for three months, I can tell that I didn’t notice any changes with my hair, I do not have enough evidence yet to say that it feels cooler (I’ll see how it performs in summer), and I can’t say that it had any effect on acne outbreaks I still have from time to time. But I’m not going back to my old(er) cotton pillowcases, though, I have to clarify that those were of a very high quality, which might explain my hair not being overly impressed by the change. Then why?

Because not a single morning after switching to Blissy silk pillowcases had I seen any signs of my pillow on my cheeks.

Rusty and Blissy Silk Pillowcase

If you are considering this experiment, read multiple “infomercials” to understand in principle the difference between a “silk pillowcase” and a “silk pillowcase” and choose what you feel comfortable with quality-, price- and reviews-wise. If the description doesn’t mention something, assume that whatever that something is, it is not present in the particular item.

I have several suggestions in addition to those that you’ll read everywhere:

  • Resist buying golden, pink, plum, etc. colors: “marbled” or “tie-dye” colors will hide spots in-between washes better than solid colors (and there will be spots – from your skincare, tears, etc.). Mine are white and silver, and I regret my choice.
  • Disregard the “hand wash” instructions: put it into a mesh bag and wash it in a washing machine in cold water on a gentle cycle. Notice: I’m not saying that you could do it; I mean that you should: the manual washing itself is fine, but short of just hanging a pillowcase straight after rinsing and letting it drip, there is no way to remove any water from it without causing wrinkles that are much harder to iron out. And a washing machine’s centrifuge does it with much less wrinkled results.
  • Speaking of ironing, the way you see all those smooth and shiny silk pillowcases in the ads, you will never see them on your bed (unless you steam a new pillowcase from the box to remove folds and put it on your pillow “as is” without washing first, which I wouldn’t recommend): the picture on the left is a pillowcase freshly laundered and ironed while still damp – and I love ironing and do it very attentively. But whatever the result of the ironing was, the next morning (or a couple of days later) your pillowcase will look like the picture on the right. Which doesn’t seem to matter in how it affects your skin, but it doesn’t look pretty.

  • Since you will probably iron those pillowcases at least in the beginning, to make it easier, take them out of the washer, turn inside out and iron on the setting that feels right to you: on my Rowenta iron I would have been ironing on the recommended “Silk” or “the lowest” setting ’til the cows come home.
  • If you decide to buy anything from Slip, don’t spend time looking for coupons for the brand’s site: I don’t remember seeing any in a long-long time. Your best bet would be to get 15% off for your first purchase by subscribing on their site or wait for a general beauty sale at Nordstrom, Sephora or other similar stores that carry Slip brand.
  • If you decide to buy anything from Blissy, if you don’t have an account with them yet, use this link to subscribe and get a coupon for $20 off your purchase (if you use it, I’ll also get a $20 off coupon). But if you were to buy anything this week, don’t use that coupon because they have the best sale I’ve seen so far – 35% off with the coupon BLISSYMOM35. The Nordstromrack site also carries Blissy pillowcases, but always check which of the two has a better price (including S&H, since both have a minimum for free shipping).

Rusty and Blissy Silk PillowcaseEvery time I look at the picture above, I start yawning. I should probably go and check how my Blissy is doing…

 

Disclosure: Just to be clear, this post is not sponsored or compensated in any way by any of the mentioned brands or stores.

Images: my own