Six (super sexy) scents to consider for the season | The Gift Guide

Monday, December 15, 2014

I know, I know: perfume is a hard thing to gift. It’s hard to select one from the hundreds, it’s hard to choose the right scent family and bottle size, and it’s hard to get it right. 

That said, here are six scents that I absolutely love for the winter. (Confession: I actually started this post last year and forgot about it, but I’m still loving all six of these this year!) Whether you’re indulging in a little holiday gift for yourself or you’re choosing something for the androgynous-leaning femme in your life… I hope you love these as much as I do.

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-Serge Lutens Chergui ($135) - If I had to pick an all-time favourite perfume, this would be it. It’s the perfect blend of dry, warm, smokey, and sweet, and wears just beautifully in the winter chill. (Plus, it’s like catnip for M — but don’t tell him I told you; I’m not sure he knows yet.)

-Prada L’Eau Ambrée ($56) - L’Eau Ambrée has been discontinued and is getting harder and harder to find, but it’s one of the cornerstones of my fragrance collection – so snap it up now, if you can. It’s simple a wisp of silvery smoke in the night, simple but not boring, and it is my longest-standing perfume love. Full review here.

-Tom Ford Black Orchid ($75) – This is definitely the most feminine of the bunch, but it’s far more outrageous and brash than it is girly. Expect a loud perfume, but a well-blended one — it carries none of the astringent or sticky-sweet notes most “loud” mainstream perfumes. Read my full review here.

-Osmia Organics Cedar Smoke ($75) – I really wanted to include an all-natural perfume in these picks, and Osmia’s Cedar Smoke had to be it. Not quite as sharp or as strong as Juniper Fire, it smells wonderfully natural and woody.

-Illume Woodfire ($10 and up) - This one’s not a perfume, but it’s definitely a scentWoodfire may be my favourite candle scent ever (so far), and is an amazing steal for $10. It smells like wood burning in an outdoor fire pit, and even my mini sized tin has enough throw to fill my whole room within minutes. (Also, Illume makes matching matches!)

-Bottega Veneta ($103, on sale at Nordstrom) - Read my full review here! This one has lots of bergamot and patchouli, and it leaves behind the most divine tendril of leather

What scents are on your wishlist this year?

L’Occitane Mer & Mitstral review, photos: the perfect gift for him (or her!)

Friday, December 5, 2014

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral Eau de Toilette review photos

The product: L’Occitane Mer & Mistral Eau de Toilette (La Collection de Grasse)

So, it’s a pretty well-known fact that I’m obsessed with the L’Occitane La Collection de Grasse – but did you know that there’s a unisex scent in the line, too? And, as a cologne lover, I am all over it.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral review

Behind the scent: I usually like my unisex scents a little more masculine (you know: woods, amber, pepper), and this one certainly isn’t — but it’s still a complete stunner. More department store than, say, Vanille & Narcisse, Mer et Mistral is a proper sparkling aquatic: it smells shimmery and extremely fresh, with bright citrus notes paired with pine and sea salt. 

The name “Mer et Mistral” means sea and wind — specifically, the extremely fast, turbulent winds in southern France blowing north into the Mediterranean Gulf of Lion. The mistral wind controls the climate of Grasse and plays a huge part in Provençal culture, dictating everything from how bell towers are built (open iron frameworks, so the wind can pass through) to the direction that homes face (south, with their backs to the wind).

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral photos review EdT

The notes & wear: A little [too] sharp at first spritz, Mer & Mistral features top notes of lemon and mandarin, heart notes of pine, cypress, and rosemary, and base notes of cedar, white amber, and musk.

The top notes fade pretty quickly, and 20 minutes later, the scent really settles in — it gets a lot more pine-y and less sparkling close to the skin, but retains its aquatic nature in the sillage. The herby accords really come out to play not long after, and the scent just transformsOnce you get past the run-of-the-mill opening, the rosemary makes this scent almost… aquatic-foody. Which sounds super gross, I know, but think of it more like this: lemon balm and pine, herbs in a mortar and pestle, and a cabin next to a rough sea.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral unisex fragrance review photos

The bottle: While the scent of Mer & Mistral is wonderfully bright and complex, the bottle is even better. With a blue lacquered base, this glass bottle takes on a mesmerizing, watery look — the blue comes and goes depending on what angle you look at it from, like the sea as it’s pushed and pulled by the wind.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral packaging review bottle

The verdict?

I like things that match. I just… do. I like the visual coherency, and I like rotating between fragrances that have a similar thread that weaves through all of them.

If you’re a lover of La Collection de Grasse, do yourself a favour this season and get your guy (or girl) a bottle of Mer & Mistral. Not only will it look beautiful on the dresser next to your collection, but L’Occitane’s in-house perfumer Karine Dubreuil will make sure the two of you smell great next to each other, too.

Availability: $75 CAD at L’Occitane boutiques and online.

Keep reading! »

5 scents under $50 | Product closet excavation

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Five scents under $50

Let’s start this review off with a truth: I’m not a fan of celebrity fragrances. I’m like, really, really not. So, a lot of the time, I’ll receive one to review and it’ll just waste away in my product closet, waiting for its moment…

Today, that moment has finally come for these scents. Will I love them? Will I hate them? Only time (or simply skimming this review) will tell.

ck one shock for her him review

The couple’s duo: Calvin Klein CK One Shock EdT

Calvin Klein’s CK One Shock for Her is described as a “sensual floriental,” with notes like passion flower and poppy giving way to chocolate, blackberry, jasmine, and musk. It comes bottled in the iconic CK One flacon — but with an opaque white coating & the word “SHOCK” scribbled on in bright pink. (It’s meant to look like lipstick, which I think is silly — the guys get dripping spray paint!)

This design is echoed in the “bold oriental” for him version as well, which lists notes including clementine, cucumber, osmanthus, black pepper, tobacco, and patchouli. Both scents were created by Ann Gottleib and IFF, and retail for $45 CAD/50ml (100 ml bottles pictured here) at Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix locations across Canada.

These come with both caps and atomizers, which I love — I always get too much perfume with a single spritz, and caps store better, too. CK One Shock for Her is sweeter than I had expected, and kind of makes me think of a clothing store – soft, powdery kind of sweet. But CK One Shock for Him is the one to watch: it’s peppery and masculine with modern-oriental undertones, and gives an interesting “suggestion” of fruitiness despite not containing any fruity notes (probably due to the osmanthus).

Vera Wang Lovestruck review EdP

The big, big box: Vera Wang Lovestruck Floral Rush

My bottle of Floral Rush contains a mere 50 ml, but you’d never know it from the size of the box it came in. Lovestruck Floral Rush has a large plastic “bouquet” lid, and its box could easily contain four boxes of Heidi Klum Shine within its depths.

Created by Pascal Gaurin, Lovestruck Floral Rush is comprised of notes like champagne, apricot blossom, white freesia, and cashmere wood. It comes wrapped with a floral-print bow, which, well — it’s not a purple and green camouflage bandana, as I had originally thought.

A bright and shimmery “fizzy floral” (my words, not theirs), Floral Rush is a little sharp, but I think it’s more interesting than a lot of celebrity fragrances out there. It smells a bit too clean, which is really too bad, but I think it’s a good scent for its target demographic — there’s nothing aggressively sexy about this perfume, in its notes or in its advertising.

Vera Wang Lovestruck perfume review

The model moment: Heidi Klum Shine

Lauded by bloggers and perfume fanatics as one of the best budget scents at the drugstore, Shine lists fruity top notes of pear, mandarin, and pink peppercorn set against a floral heart and a sweet dry down. This is easily the one I was the most excited about, and it’s not bad — it’s not terribly unique, but it’s clean and very fruity, and I think it’s well-done for the small price tag.

Shine was created by Aurelien Guichard, Jean Guichard and Olivier Pescheux (Pescheux is the nose behind many of Diptyque’s scents, and Guichard is the man behind Issey Miyake’s Pleats fragrances and the Robert Piguet line), and is available for $35 CAD/30 ml.

Heidi Klum Shine perfume review

The Beyoncé effect: Beyoncé Pulse

I’m not a big Beyoncé fan, but I do love the way she’s created her image – while she’s far from perfect, you could do so much worse than telling young girls (and young minority girls in particular) that they can be both popular and powerful.

Her fragrances, though, are one area where I think she could do better. Pulse is described as a “citrus, floral gourmand” (which is cause for alarm on its own), with make-believe notes such as pear blossom, blue curaco, bluebird orchid, and midnight blooming jasmine. Created by Loc Dong, it’s available at Shopper’s and Sears for a rather alarming $59 CAD/50ml. (You didn’t hear it from me, but you can snap this one up easily for under $20 online.)

I think this is one of the better Beyoncé scents out there, but it’s still much too sweet for me. I’d recommend spritzing in-store if you’re a big fan of Queen B, and waiting to smell the drydown before buying — while I can definitely see why someone could fall in love with this, I think many will find it to be too pushy!

Beyonce Pulse review

Do you wear celebrity fragrances? And if so, what are your favourites? (Inquiring minds need to know!) 

L’Occitane Frisson de Verveine review, photos: Ice Gel & Shower Gel

Saturday, August 9, 2014

L'Occitane Frisson de Verveine review

The products: L’Occitane Frisson de Verveine Shower Gel & Cooling Foot Gel

It’s hard to find a good summer scent. Trust me; I know. The ones that are good never last, and the ones that last are always so heavy. And, ugh, don’t even get me started on how sticky-sweet and floral the summer heat can make feminine fragrances.

This summer, though, L’Occitane has solved the summer scent problem — in part. No one can make citrus and aquatic-family molecules linger for any longer, but this bright, genderless summer collection might be just what you need to get you through August. (I think it makes an especially appealing androgynous scent for women.)

L'Occitane shower gel review Frisson de Verveine

The scent: This stuff smells good. Like, so good that when my shower is over, I have a tendency to wander back into the bathroom (hot and humid as it is), just to stand by the shower and inhale for a moment. It smells like bright summer days, and like verbena, but it doesn’t have any of the hard edges that the original L’Occitane Verveine scent has — instead, it has soft edges with just the right amount of zest.

Frisson de Verveine reminds me of D&G Light Blue and Fresh Citron de Vigne, in feeling if not in its notes. An aptly-categorized unisex “aqueous citrus,” it’s light and very fresh, almost masculine and not at all “perfumey”. But, unlike Light Blue, it’s very unique — no one is going to sniff this on you and go, “oh yeah, I used to wear that in high school.”

L'Occitane Frisson de Verveine review Fresh Shower Gel

L'Occitane Frisson de Verveine Ice Gel review

The Ice Gel: I found the collection’s Fresh Shower Gel ($32 CAD) to be a little drying, despite its gorgeous scent (use with a shower puff for maximum fragrance release!), but the cool-cred in this collection totally goes to the Ice Gel for Legs & Feet ($24 CAD). It’s actually a liquid, and has the coolest method of application — you roll the ball onto your skin while gently squeezing the tube to get just the right amount of product.

This is the only product I’ve ever owned with this type of packaging, and I love it. It’s easy to use, weirdly fun, and amounts to zero drips or drops. And the product inside is really good, too — while it doesn’t feel cooling on my feet (it does on my hands; I think my feet just aren’t sensitive enough), it’s surprisingly hydrating, and dries down quickly.

And yes, okay? Yes, I will admit to dabbing some of this onto my wrists as well. It just smells so good, you guys. I couldn’t help myself.

L'Occitane Ice Gel verveine review

The verdict?

L’Occitane’s fragrances outside of La Collection de Grasse don’t always wow me, but wow – this one did. The perfect aquatic-citrus for both men and women, Frisson de Verveine is as bright and watery as you could wish for on a hot summer day. 

But I’m going to recommend you don’t buy these two products, because I love the scent so much. Instead, I’m going to point you toward the line’s gorgeously bottled Frisson de Verveine Eau de Toilette ($56 CAD) and aerosolized Verbena Refreshing Mist ($12 CAD). This is a scent that deserves to be enjoyed both in and out of the shower.

Availability: The Frisson de Verveine range is available for a limited time at L’Occitane boutiques & online beginning this month.

Keep reading! »

L’Occitane Vanille & Narcisse, Neroli & Orchidee, and Fleur d’Or & Acacia reviews, photos | La Collection de Grasse

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

L'Occitane Collection de Grasse

The products: L’Occitane en Provence La Collection de Grasse Eau de Toilettes in Vanille & Narcisse, Néroli & Orchidée, and Fleur d’Or & Acacia

Launched last May with just four scents, the L’Occitane La Collection de Grasse has since expanded to encompass eight beautiful scents for him & her. Packaged in the most exquisite glass flacons, each fragrance blends an ingredient from Grasse (a Mediterranean city in Provence) with one from afar.

L'Occitane La Collection de Grasse review

The nose of this collection is none other than parfumer Karine Dubreuil, who was born and raised in Grasse. I absolutely adore her work as the in-house perfumer at L’Occitane, as well as her approach to perfumery — she often describes her upbringing in Provence; a childhood surrounded by a garden of beautiful scents, her first spritz of cologne, and the memories that she now puts into olfactive form.

Fleur d’Or & Acacia Eau de Toilette ($75 CAD)

Perfume review - L'Occitane Fleur d'Or et Acacia

Described as “a sensual blend of floral notes,” Fleur d’Or et Acacia is my top pick for a spring scent this year. It’s bright, alluring, and sunny, drying down to a powdery finish without a hint of gourmand sweetness or floor-cleaner citrus in between.

I wish that this particular scent had better longevity and sillage, but it’s been my one big, unexpected love of the season. With top notes of lemon and bergamot, heart notes of mimosa and genet (a sweet-smelling shrub in the broom family), and base notes of white woods and musk, it encapsulates the feeling of spring without ever erring too mainstream or too obscure.

L'Occitane Fleur d'Or Acacia review

Fleur d’Or & Acacia takes La Collection de Grasse’s idea of “precious ingredients from France and afar” quite literally, with mimosa absolute from Grasse supported by Mediterranean acacia.

Though this scent was named (Fleur d’Or) for the yellow flowers of the broom and acacia plants, I also find it to be representative of the “yellow floral” scent family it belongs to — bright, springy perfumes; sometimes described as “sunshine in a bottle.” Fleur d’Or & Acacia is the only yellow floral I’ve ever owned and liked, but wow — do I ever like it a lot.

Vanille & Narcisse and Neroli & Orchidee »

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