Scent Gourmand

sinless pleasure for the perfume glutton

Month: January 2016

Make your own perfumed body powder

Whether you delicately powder yourself after a relaxing bubble-bath, practically apply it after a shower so you can slip into your skinny jeans, or use it to soothe a friction rash, body powder has been part of daily life since infancy for many of us. If your a fume head like yours truly, you likely will want to find any excuse to bring fragrance into your routine, and powder is no exception.

These luxury powders often come with luxury prices, however. If you are low on dough, or simply don’t want to spend it this way, have no fear. There is really no need to go out of your way to buy any accompanying powder that your favourite perfume line proffers. It’s possible that the perfume you love doesn’t make a scented powder anyway. By using this simple process, you can turn your regular baby powder into perfume heaven:

  1. Get a small empty plastic or glass container/ jar with a lid. I just use a jar for making jam.
  2. Get a cotton ball or two and spray them with your favorite perfume. About 30 sprays. You can also put drops of essential oils like rose or lavender on the cotton balls instead.
  3. Place the cotton ball(s) in the bottom of the container.
  4. Fill the container about half full with baby powder (obviously unscented is ideal) and close the lid.
  5. Shake the container vigorously.
  6. Let the infused powder stand for 10 to 14 days so the scent oils can permeate the powder.
  7. If desired, transfer the whole caboodle into a “fancier” container (dollar store?) and get a soft powder puff from your local beauty or drugstore to apply. ENJOY!

Perfume bottle sizes

typical-perfume-bottle-sizes

Perfumes are sold in a variety of amounts, measured in ounces or millilitres (ml), indicating the volume of fluid in a bottle, decant, or vial of fragrance. The following equivalency list of the most common perfume bottle sizes measured in volume capacity is based on US fluid ounces (abbreviated fl oz, fl. oz., oz. fl., or often just plain old “oz” with or without the period). Sadly, to confuse matters more, there are also UK fluid ounces, which are a little different, as shown in the standard large bottle size:

  • 3.4 US fl oz = 100.55 ml            
  • 3.4 UK fl oz = 96.60 ml

Perfumers may choose to use one or the other, but if you’re buying in North America,  it’s probably safe to assume that the US measurement is implied. As most countries are metric, you’ll likely see the amount millilitres instead and/or in addition to ounces.

  • 0.05 fl oz – 1.5 ml (This is essentially a sample vial, the ones you get from the person at the perfume counter upon kind request if you’re lucky enough to live in a culture that has this tradition, and also the size that you most often get when buying samples online. 2, 2.5 and 3 ml sizes are also fairly common for sample sizes.)
  • 0.17 fl oz – 5 ml (This is Travalo brand’s purse spray atomizer’s “Excel” and “Pure” model size, which they claim gives you 65 sprays. They also offer a 4 ml “classic” size, yielding 10 sprays, and “Rollerball” model in the middle of these. Documentation elsewhere says 1 ml will give you less – 50 sprays. I guess it depends on your spray!)
  • 0.5 fl oz – 15 ml (This is the size of many thin and tall purse sprays. 8 ml and 10 ml purse sizes appear common as well.)
  • 0.8 fl oz – 25 ml
  • fl oz – 30 ml (mainstream size)
  • 1.4 fl oz – 40 ml
  • 1.7 fl oz – 50 ml (mainstream size)
  • fl oz – 60 ml
  • 2.5 fl oz – 75 ml
  • 2.7 fl oz – 80 ml
  • fl oz – 90 ml
  • 3.4 fl oz – 100 ml (mainstream size)
  • 4.2 fl oz – 125 ml

Which Size Is Best To Buy?

If you’re buying a perfume for the first time, then it makes sense to buy one of the smaller sizes (30 ml or less) if possible. This is especially true if you “blind buy,” purchasing a whole bottle of something you’ve never actually tried. Even if you’ve gone into a department or perfume store and tried something new and liked it, I wouldn’t buy the biggest size. I’ll bet you tried a number of different fragrances in the same testing session, and as they all began to mingle, your impression of an individual fragrance would very likely have been affected. Keep in mind also that everything in the store is designed to make you want to pull out your wallet. The way a perfume smells on your body changes over time, so ideally, you really need to test one fragrance for several hours to know if it’s going to work for you. I usually end up with at least 2 fragrances on my person when trying out the fragrances from a store, so even after sniffing later in the same day, who knows how true the scent is? Maybe the two are mixing together and confusing my nose.

What if you received a sample in the mail and enjoyed it for a day or so? I don’t believe that those little 1-2 ml vials provide enough juice to help you properly make a judgement, unless you luck upon a perfume with amazing lasting power and projection. I like a little more time to get to know my fragrances. But for many people, a day may be enough. Make sure to sniff yourself throughout the day to see how your scent progresses.

If you’re purchasing an old favourite, go for the biggest bottle you can afford, since per volume it works out much cheaper. As long as you keep the bottle cool and out of direct sunlight, there’s no need to worry much about the perfume going off before you’ve finished it. It should last well more than a year if tended to. Over time it is often only the top notes that disappear, and those tend only to last minutes anyway, so with that in mind, well-tended bottles of fragrances can actually keep well for decades.

To be honest, I do not often respect my own advice. If a bigger bottle costs 20% more for 100% more juice, hell yeah, I’ll buy it, depending of course on the overall price. I can decant it out to friends if I find I won’t be using it all. I own quite the selection of purse sprays, too, so having a 100 ml bottle of everything is not problematic when I travel. All the better, actually, as then I can carry a few favourites with me without weighing down my bags. If you like fancier travel bottling, look out for designers like Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, or niche brands such as Kilian, who offer some of their fragrances in handy 3 x 15 ml travel sets. Duty free shopping is also a super place to pick up smaller sizes, as are the websites of many niche brands, which sometimes offer 15ml sizes in addition to the sampler 1 ml and 2 ml vials.

Going on a Trip by Air?

The standard for duty-free items seems to be  a maximum of 3.4 oz (100 ml). Liquids usually must be carried in a bag together that is tamper-evident and displays satisfactory proof that the liquid was purchased on the day of travel. In some cases purchases are only allowed if they can be delivered directly to the aircraft. As for carry on luggage, that too varies depending on the carrier, but the standard there seems to be 3.4 oz (100 ml) each as well (anything larger has to be checked), and all liquid containers have to be placed in a separate clear plastic, zip-top bag no larger than 8 in x 8 in (20 cm x 20 cm), which is quart size. Typically, you have to remove the plastic bag from the carry-on bag at the security checkpoint for separate x-ray screening. Of course, for check-in baggage, I’m not certain if any restrictions apply at all. In all cases it’s best to check with your airline.

Where can I get bottles or vials for decanting?

I usually head over to either Etsy or Aliexpress for my needs, but a good Google search will probably send you to a larger variety of options.

Sugar & Spice Collection by Jo Malone

sugarspice

The only bottle of Jo Malone I have ever purchased was that of Agave and Cacao, which I purchased in Isetan, Shinjuku in 2013. Being very much into both agave nectar and cacao as foods, the title appealed to me, as did most definitely the smell of the juice. Since then I’ve gravitated to other scents in her line, but today that is not what I’m going to write about. Instead, I’ll revisit that day at the JM counter to share my experience with a limited edition set of gourmet fragrances that I’m not sure is available any more.

While I was enjoying that and other delights at her counter in the upscale Tokyo department store, I saw that she had a brand new collection called Sugar & Spice, but not on sale yet – just a tease of what would come.  The 5 scents in the collection are a rather whimsical departure from her classic image, and the playful packaging and gourmand scents inspired by delicious English desserts are indeed very appealing. The clerk boasted that Isetan was the only national distributor of the collection and that they’ll be the first to sell it.

Isetan forbids photography in inside its doors, for reasons into which I neglected to investigate, but they did give me a marketing pamphlet. I didn’t know if this was how the collection would be promoted elsewhere, but it certainly matched up to Japanese expectations of sensibilities of things British. A trendy yet prim and proper lean redhead with cuffs of made doilies was shown getting ready to dive into her sweets. She looked less into in the food than into herself – If it were me I’d be looking at the food and smiling. Japanese, like the French, don’t overindulge and take the matter of desserts, presentation and all, quite seriously.

Christine Nagel, Jo Malone’s exclusive award-winning master perfumer, decided to be a little more experimental with its creations. She came up with five scents inspired by five unique British pastries. The limited edition scents in this collection included Elderflower & Gooseberry, Bitter Orange & Chocolate, Ginger Biscuit, Lemon Tart, and Redcurrant & Cream. I took only a quick sniff of all of them, and all I can tell you is that they smelled EXACTLY as their names implied. I reckoned this collection would definitely appeal the a younger Japanese crowd, who tend to like their smells trendy, refined, sweet, and marketed as such.

The pitch:

A collection of fragrances created for moments of delicious pleasure. Inspired by delectable ingredients. Decadently tempting. Impossible to choose. Delicious to wear. Succumb to divine indulgence.

LEMON TART: The mouth-watering tang of lemon tart. Sparkling with citrus fruits and verbena, contrasted with swirls of meringue and lemon thyme. Refreshing.

REDCURRANT & CREAM: A summer pudding. Sharpe-scarlet juices of redcurrants, lush strawberries and raspberries, rippling through creamy musk.Vivacious and enticing.

ELDERFLOWER & GOOSEBERRY:  A voluptuous gooseberry fool. Crushed, summer-green gooseberries, juicy with lychee, enfolded into the soft delicacy of elderflower. Tender and feminine.

GINGER BISCUIT: Just-baked biscuit. Spiced with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, melting into caramel. Butter-crumbly with roasted hazelnuts. Warmed by tonka bean and vanilla. Irresistible.

BITTER ORANGE & CHOCOLATE: The bite of bitter orange, layered with dark chocolate. Orange peel counterpoised with warm, powdery cocoa, milky coconut and coumarin. Sumptuous and addictive.

These scents all smelled pretty darned succulent. I was very impressed with the Bitter Orange & Chocolate, if only because it smelled like bitter orange and chocolate. Was it something I would wear on my person? Well despite being a scent gourmand, I’d have to say no. The exception might be if I were on a diet and needed chocolate but couldn’t have it. Then it might be the next best thing. But that’s not a likely situation for me, as I suck at diets. I would also expect others would simply think I’d simply been up to something devilishly chocolaty in the kitchen and had had a wee accident of sorts. Though I did not take the time to analyze these fragrances in detail, I think they were pretty straightforward, and overall a somewhat novel and yummy concept that might make money. But I like my gourmand scents a little more complex and not this literal, and don’t want anything cloying, which could result from any one in this collection.

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