Suntan oil perfumes that bring you right to the beach

Summer is now approaching, and it’s soon time to head out to the coast and cool off in the ocean. Time to embrace the feeling of play and freedom by enveloping your senses in beachy, suntan-oil-like fragrances! This post introduces some perfumes that relish memories or dreams of basking in oil on some tropical beach in some random paradise.

The list focuses on those perfumes that mimic the scent of classic, coconut-y suntan oils and lotions, with a few exceptions. Many of these scents are sweet, delicious, succulent, and bright. Not all of them are to my personal taste, but they do all hit the vibe. I’ve attempted to include a variety from different price ranges, and have listed them below according to house genre. None are new releases.

Try eBay to get good prices on these. If you don’t live in North America or the UK, I recommend StrawberryNet, as always (free shipping to just about anywhere!)


Born in Paradise – by Escada

At first sniff, you get fresh, salty, sea water with lots of coconut and pineapple and watermelon. This is a non-serious vacation scent if there ever was one. It’s a pleasantly optimistic,  sweet, summer day scent that is not too sweet and won’t annoy.

Bronze Goddess – by Estée Lauder

I’ve only sampled the 2011 version, and found it a bit sticky and cloying, but definitely suntan-oil like. There are many flankers for this one -Sun Goddess 2011, Soleil, Capri, Eau Fraiche Skinscent… All carry the same delicious summer vibe, and it’s indeed well-loved. Loved to the point where many reviewers have rated it 5 stars. It does have that ability to express summer indolence while being wearable and refined.

Elle L’aime by – Lolita Lempicka

Not too suntan-oily and beachy, but if it’s the coconut aspect you are after, this is a really lovely fragrance indeed. It has that sweetness that Lempicka is famously adept at pulling off without being too cloying or sickly. The top notes of lime, neroli, bergamot are so bright you need sunglasses, and that fresh splash of light slowly disappears into cloud of creamy Pina Colada decorated with white flowers. There are meaty chunks of fresh, woody coconut in this cocktail, and as you’re sipping it with delight, a handsome bar boy comes by to serve you up some complementary coconut cream pie. Obviously I like this one.

Sun Delight – by Jil Saunder

As there is actually no coconut in this, it is not typical beach scent, but somehow still evokes the coast. It is still reminiscent of Pina Colada with a touch of vanilla, but enjoyed in a swimming pool changing room, with a bowl of frangipani flowers on the counter and suntan oil someone spilled on the floor. Carefree, fun stuff!

Terracotta Voile d’Été – by Guerlain

This is a warm, dry, and complex fragrance consisting of spice-dusted carnations toasting slowly under the sun, copper-baked earth drizzled with melted butterscotch and root beer, and vanilla ice cream with a light spritz of vinegar. Somehow beachy, somewhat amazing, and sadly somewhere quickly fading.

Niche / Indie / Artisan

Aloha Tiare – by Comptoire Sud Pacifique

This Hawaiian tiare scent evokes tropical beaches, palm trees, heat, coconuts, refreshing cocktails, and good times. It’s creamy, smacks of dense and loud white flowers (sharp opening, check), oozes luscious silky coconut, has a Flintstone vitamin, candy-like dry down, and is playfully unisex. Excellent longevity. It’s a Bikini Atoll bomb, so one spray will do.

At the Beach 1966 – by CB I hate Perfume

The theme of this one is Coppertone sun lotion from the 60s, blended with the North Atlantic:  wet sand, seashell, driftwood and just a hint of boardwalk. Sadly, I’m not sure if this is true, as I actually not put my nose on this one. One thing is for sure: CB I hate perfume is know for creating scents that are real to life; more to interpret memories literally than (just) to smell good. Apparently, some say it bears similarity to Bobbi Brown’s Beach (see below), which is a great deal cheaper.

Beach Walk – by Maison Martin Margiela

This one starts with bergamot and lemon, developing with pink pepper, ylang-ylang, coconut milk, musk and heliotrope.  It doesn’t have that salty or ozonic feel to it until the drydown (when it’s a tad synthetic), but definitely replicates an atmospheric beachiness without too much coconut.

Coco Figue – by Comptoire Sud Pacifique

Another successful summer scent by CSP. I almost went through a 100 ml bottle of this a few summers ago. It’s authentic to its name, milky delicious, but not long lasting (though people around me have said they smelled it way later in the day). The fig note contains the whole tree and does freshen up and soften the composition, but not enough to balance it out, as the coconut is very real – earthy and watery, yet also creamy. There is vanilla and a great deal of sugar, but I haven’t been able to decide if it is actually sweet or not. There is a Hawaiian Tropic opening and it can be abrasive. Though I did manage to go though a whole bottle in a short time, my mood dictated when I wore it – sometimes it was bliss, at other times sickly, sticky, and harsh. Better in the dry down, but by then it’s very close to skin.

Fire Island – by Bond No. 9

With neroli, breezy jasmine, cardamom, creamy tuberose, some salty air by the sea, and white musk underneath, this one is potently beachy.  I think it smells of high-end, long-lasting European sunscreen. It’s again similar to Bobbi Brown’s Beach in many ways, but this performs better and the cardamom keeps it interesting.

Intense Tiare – by Montale

This Montale beast features tiare flower, coconut, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang and vanilla – a winning combination. I know many don’t care for Montale for its use of synthetics, but it’s those synthetics that make their fragrances perform so well! This bears semblance to two others on this post – CSP’s Aloha Tiare above and the one by Yves Rocher (below).

Prodigieux – by Nuxe

More complex than Monoi Eau des Vahïnes (below), this one opens with citrus, drives with gardinia and mongolia, and rests onto pebbles drenched in coconut milk with a dash of vanilla. It’s clean without a soapy feel and isn’t too sweet. It’s neither fruity nor tropical, but very versatile and ageless. Sadly it doesn’t last long, but be wary – over spraying may put you off.

Songes – by Annick Goutal

Frangipani, tiare, ylang-ylang, and vanilla – a simple and slightly sexy, charming concoction that is tropical without the coconut suntan lotion. The indole is slightly over ripe, but it’s earthly and not as headache inducing as it could be. It’s too rich and pretty for my personal tastes, but I admit it is a beaut!

St Tropez Dispenser – by Smell Bent

If you like simple accords, this one might make you sing: jasmine (gardinia-esk), coconut, musk, and green stuff.  As a 70s man-made suntan lotion fun scent that does not take itself seriously, it’s not particularly sophisticated. It’s better mixed with the sweat you will ooze off from the sun than on freshly washed skin.

Vanilla Coconut – by Lavanila Laboratories

This one is simply Banana Boat suntan lotion to me. Not synthetic, not lacking in milky coconut cookie goodness… or sweet vanilla syrup.

Wish – by Lollia

I almost blind bought this one – then restrained myself as I am in collection-curb mode (so no, I haven’t sniffed it!). It has a spicy citrus opening of bergamot, cinnamon, and pepper, leading into rice blossoms, jasmine and ylang ylang, joined later by amber and vanilla.  It’s described on Fragrantica by reviewers as “sweet almond-y vanilla sugar-y perfect baked glory” and a “sugared pastille.” Some describe it as Christmas appropriate, others as beachy. As I like both vibes, I may end up getting a bottle just yet.

Drugstore / Beauty Brand / Celebrity

Beach – by Bobbi Brown

This one is spot on when it comes to embracing the salt, sand, and the Coppertone thing (although oddly, minus the Coppertone) – with a dash of floor cleaner. It’s fresh, but not clean, and very literal. Actually I’m impressed with how organic and literal it is. Being a completely artificial composition from a conservative brand, I admit I was not expecting such realism. I’m not sure how long I would want to smell it on my person, however. This perfume comes up consistently in the popular choice for beach scents.

Coconut – by the Body Shop

This is baby powder and overripe bananas mashed into lacquered wood and heavily sprinkled with a coconut version of condensed milk. Yet it is also a surprisingly authentic straight-up coconut smell. Too sticky a juice for some in summer, perhaps.

Gold Sugar – by Aquolina

Fronted with screechy synthetic orange citrus, this one thankfully then heads into a sweet creamy coconut Crème brûlée, grounded in some white musk. But if Aquolina’s sugar bomb scents don’t float your boat, although a lot more refined, this one might sink you, too.

Miami Glow – by Jennifer Lopez

In theory: Juicy pink grapefruit, coconut water, passion fruit and black currant fade into orange blossom, helitrope and cyclamen, finishing sensual and sunny in a vanilla, musk, blond woods, and amber. In reality: lemony bug repellent dipped in thick fruit juice that has almost started to ferment in the hot sand where it has been left, alongside a few rancid coconuts. On me it thankfully dies quickly, but taste is subjective; others may not want it to. Actually, I take it back. For the price, this isn’t bad at all.

Monoï Eau des Vahines – by Yves Rocher

This happy summer fragrance exudes exotic retro notes of tiare flower, ylang-ylang, coconut and vanilla – with nuclear sillage and decent projection. Similar to another from Yves Rocher (Monoï de Tahiti) and also bears a resemblance to Guerlain’s Terracotta once it settles in.  A budget gem if you are OK with the the heady synthetic tiare.

Secret Coconut Passion – by Victoria’s Secret

This is a warm vanilla coconut macaroon – much more vanilla than coconut.  It’s very goumandy, like warm skin on the beach covered in light, sweet syrup. It’s the typical sweet and girly = sexy equation from VS with which I very often disagree. It projects poorly.

Suntan Lotion – by Demeter Fragrance Library

Linear, literal, and NOT long-lasting, even for a Demeter frag. With the citrus opening, it’s supposed to smell like Bain de Soleil Orange Glacée, but many say it resembles Mr. Clean bathroom cleaner. Worth all the resprays necessary? You decide.

Tiare – by L’Erbolario

Tiara flower, sweetened by coconut milk and Damask plum. This Polynesian delight turns into a gourmandy gardenia in a woodsy base.  Both the packaging and sweet, strong scent itself seem more appropriate as room spray to me. Indol from the white flowers might be present for some noses.

Tahitian Holiday – by Avon

A tropical and sea notes of sun, palms, sand and sea, sold for a song. Synthetic-y, but for the price, F&%$ it. There is not much coconut, but a lot of sun cream (cheap sun cream).

Waikiki Beach Coconut – by Bath and Body Works

OK, so it is not exactly Virgin Island by Creed as some suggest, but for the price, it’s bloody close enough!


And that’s what I’ve come up with. Agree with this list? Comment if you’ve something to add!

Scent Trunk – a perfume subscription service in review

My perfume membership plan with Scent Trunk is ending. I thought I’d take the time to reflect on my experience with this perfume subscription service and let you know what I thought of it.


“With too many options and so little guidance, fragrance shopping can defeat the best of us. By learning exactly what each customer likes to smell first, we help find fragrance that’s right for you. It’s fragrance shopping without the headache.” (on old website)

Scent Trunk makes effort to send you perfumes that you are supposedly more likely to appreciate through their system. They do a good job! I did not like, however, one aspect of the way it dealt with determining a customer’s scent profile: The first option that greeted me when setting up my account was to specify which I preferred – feminine, masculine or unisex fragrances. Well, gosh darn it, I like all three! I ended up choosing the feminine, if I recall correctly. This could explain why I ended up with a fair amount of florals on my menu. Scent Bird appears to have a superior system, wherein the customer chooses notes and liked perfumes to predict preferences.


Scent Trunk works with smaller niche, indie, or artisan brands. It was not uncommon for me to get four or more fragrances from the same brand over the period of my subscription, however. This would have been great had I been a huge fan of that particular brand, but in at least two cases, I was sadly not. The company does carry stock of a few brands that I’m very pleased with, however, such as Zoologist and 4160Tuesdays. They mix a few expensive brands in with very affordable ones. I must say I would have been happier to sample only the pricier ones, just to feel I was getting my money’s worth.

This is what I like about Scent Bird (I’ve set up an inactivate account with them), where you can actually line up the exact fragrances you want to try. For me this is typically the expensive ones that I would not otherwise purchase in full-bottle size. Not to say I do not splurge on expensive perfume, but definitely not on a blind buy. Indeed, I believe trying out the fancy stuff before investing is a main attraction of a perfume sample subscription service.


The packaging (and website) changed several times over the course of my subscription with Scent Trunk. The picture above shows the original logo and box. The logo became tree-less, smelling strips were no longer included (instead the back of the perfume card serves as a blotter) and information about each of the perfumes included became more minimal.

The older, rectangular scent cards had a pretty colour image on one side and the other included a general description, the perfume’s notes, information on longevity and sillage, the perfume bottle image, and a recommended time of day for wearing.  The perfume bottle picture and suggested time of day for wear were eliminated part-way into my subscription. I imagine that bottles are different depending on concentration and can change when/if the fragrance is reformulated. When and where to wear a fragrance can be a highly personal thing, too. I’m glad they didn’t bother indicating the gender to which the fragrance is targeted, either.

In my more recent shipments, a general description and/or story of the perfume was printed on each square paper card, along with other information such as the country of origin, perfumer, sillage and projection levels, top, middle and base notes, and house of origin.

Of course, if you visit the website now, you’ll see that Scent Trunk has completely revamped. They now appear to resemble services like Scent Bird or Scent Box. I guess this business model is proving superior. It must certainly be a lot simpler and less labor intensive from the supplier end, and the client ends up with a larger volume, but just of one rather than three small vials perfumes each month. It’s worth noting that a company called Bergamot used to offer three samples a month, and that service disappeared from the market rather quickly. Olfactif is still around, though. To be honest, unless you live in the United States where there are more options, there is not much in the way of subscription choices. At least there are still plenty of ways to procure samples if not through subscription.


Off the top of my head I cannot recall the price for the service because I paid a larger sum in advance to obtain a discount, and it was a while ago now. I do recall thinking that the price was reasonable after comparing with what I would have paid had I simply bought samples from other sites. What is reasonable to one person is not necessarily so to another, however, so it’s best to see for yourself.

A main reason I went with Scent Truck is that the company shipped to Canada (is it Canada-based?). Shipping was still a pain for me, though, living in Asia. I had my packages delivered to my parents in Ontario, and they waited until accumulating a few months worth of scent before shipping them out to me, boxed removed to reduce size and weight. It might have been possible to arrange for direct international shipping with the company, but I chose to go via Canada in order to save money.  What this meant was that I was slightly robbed of the regular delight of receiving a nicely packaged monthly parcel. Also, when my fragrances did arrive, they got quickly lost in my already not-so-petite pile of samples. Many of them took a while to get to my nose, in the end.


Overall, if your goal is to get your nose on potentially random styles of perfumes from a few niche houses you may not know very well, if at all, I imagine Olfactif might be the better choice now, seeing as the setup of Scent Trunk has been changed. Olfactif only ships to the US at present, however. In the way Scent Trunk used to be set up, over the course of one year I got exposure to almost 30 new fragrances, some unforgettable, but mostly not – as was expected, to be honest. I would only consider buying full bottles of less than 10% of what I sampled. This was understood going into it, though – I simply wanted the joy of sniffing new olfactory delights.

I share the above to advise you that if you are unwilling to pay for stuff you might not like, a subscription service is probably not for you; go to a store and sniff for free instead! For me, however, I feel comfortable paying for the experience and anticipation of something new (and potentially divine). If I don’t like the perfume enough to wear it, I pass it on or find other uses for it, usually in the form of home scenting. I might also add that in my case, living in rural Japan (double whammy), vendors that stock perfume, let alone a decent range of perfume, are few and far between.

Since Scent Bird claims it will soon be shipping to countries outside the US, I think I may give them a go next. If that doesn’t happen soon, though, or if shipping steeply escalates the cost, perhaps I’ll try out the new (and improved?) Scent Trunk.

Update: I just re-created a new account with Scent Trunk. It appears they no longer ship to Canada, which would indicate that they either are based in the US after all or have moved house… I am indeed interested in receiving their free “scent test kit” (to help create a scent profile).

At least since I last checked, Scent Trunk gives 1.5% of all its sales to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. This is appropriate, as aromatherapy has been long used in many cultures as a treatment for depression.

Fragrance to Help Learning? Makes scents!

A few years ago a wee article I wrote was published in a small institutional journal where I was employed in Tokyo. I wanted to find out if scent had any affect on the cognitive process of learning, so I did a little bit of digging. I had forgotten about this piece until today, while updating my teaching credentials. It’s not available online (unless you count the PDF I uploaded to an academic social network site), and it’s mine to share, so I’ve reproduced it below for your reading (hopefully) pleasure.

I am a self-confessed perfume fanatic. I have so many different bottles of olfactory art works in my home that it takes me a while to count them. Ironically, my passion for perfume developed after I moved to a country that is acknowledged as not having the same level of appreciation for fragrance as do some other nations, such as those of the Middle East. Depending on the scent I am wearing, the situation, and the peculiarities of the individuals who get a whiff of me, my use of perfume has surely been the cause of offense. Despite this, overhearing the whispered comment,「いい匂いですね」[(She) smells good, eh?] has become a common occurrence as I walk around my classrooms. I even get complimented to my face from time to time, which I not only find pleasing, but also interesting, as Japanese is not a language that employs the practice of complimenting as a form of ice-breaking or small talk to the same extent as English.

My interest in fragrance has sent me scavenging the Internet in search for answers to the question of why some people find some smells attractive when others do not, and why this depends so much on the individual, their culture, and even their age. When first introduced to a new scent, the human brain links it to a person, thing, event, or moment. The brain forges a link between the smell and a memory, associating lilies with funerals or chlorine with summer by the pool. The next time that scent is perceived, the link is already there, ready to elicit the emotion or mood associated with the memory the scent evokes. Lilies might be irritating and the smell of chlorine might cause happiness, and yet the reasons are not clear to the person experiencing those feelings.

This is part of the reason why people like and dislike different smells (Dowdey, n.d.). “As humans, we’re not immediately predisposed to respond to a scent and believe that it is good or bad,” says psychology and odor expert Rachel Herz, “When we like or don’t like a smell, that is learned.” This can be seen at the individual level: “Some people may smell a rose and be reminded of their father’s funeral. Others may like the smell of skunk because they have a positive attachment to it from childhood.” Likewise, this is true at the cultural level: In North American, a popular ingredient in candy and gum is wintergreen, but as wintergreen is often used to make medicine in the UK, the odor is less enticing there (Science of Scent, 2005). Finally, preferences are seen also at the generational level: “People born before 1930 love natural smells like grass and horses, while people born later are fond of synthetic smells like Play-Doh and SweeTarts” (Vlahos, 2007).

Marcel Proust was one of the first to write about memory recall as a strong, unconscious reaction to a smell. When someone smells something that triggers a very detailed, visual, and emotional memory of a childhood event they thought they had long forgotten, they are experiencing the “Proust Effect,“ which Chu and Downes assert to be a better cue for memory than the other senses, because odor memory falls off less rapidly than other sensory memory (2000).

But can scent have any impact on learning? Is my いい匂い [good smell] affecting my students’ learning in any way? Right brain function has tremendous potential for things like mass-memory and automatic processing. In most people, however, the pathways between their left and right brains have not been fully constructed, so this potential never fully develops. Science has found that certain scents, used properly, can be highly effective tools in building these neural pathways. Here’s a peek into some of the research on the positive effects of exposure to good smells:

Acute exposure to pleasant fragrances has been shown to facilitate the performance of mathematical tasks (Baron 1990), vigilance tasks (Warm et al. 1991), and word construction and, decoding of written messages (Baron and Bronfen, 1994; Baron and Thomley, 1994). Data gathered from research by Akpinar in 2005 showed that certain essential oil aromas increase students’ attention levels and enhance their memory, generally indicating positive effects on cognitive learning. Although lavender is known for its sedative qualities, Sakamoto (2005) found that “during recess periods after the accumulation of fatigue it can prevent deterioration performance in subsequent work sessions.”

Oliver and Moss (2012) suggest that the pine-like scent of rosemary oil may improve speed and accuracy when performing certain mental tasks. In their research, 20 people were asked to perform subtraction exercises and a task to see how quickly they could process new information before and after being exposed to the scent of rosemary. Participants’ blood levels of rosemary’s main chemical component – of 1, 8-cineole – were measured after the experiment. Results saw a strong correlation between amounts of 1, 8-cineole in the bloodstream and high task scores. Specialists do not fully understand how essences such as rosemary can improve mental ability, but an increasing body of literature shows that positive mood is triggered by scents, and this in turn is linked to an increase in productivity and performance, as well as many other benefits such as stress reduction.

Freeman showed that smell memory is context dependent and can be modified and updated when facing new experiences, implying that our olfactory sense is continuously dynamic (1991). Applying this knowledge to education, Björn Rasch and his colleagues at the University of Lübeck found that smelling the scent of roses while learning a task and then being exposed to the same smell during sleep helps memories to solidify. The section of the brain called the hippocampus is believed to serve as the temporary in-box for memory, where new knowledge or experiences are loaded and stored until they can be filed elsewhere for long-term storage and access.

During sleep, the memories in the hippocampus are reactivated and transferred to the cortex. As one might imagine, a lot of this short-term data never makes it to more permanent storage in the brain, but with scent being used as a trigger, such as in the case above of the roses, a lot more information makes the journey over. Simulating this experience for one’s own benefit is not that straightforward, however. Rasch discovered that timing was crucial for the test to work; the rose smell had to be switched on and off during the night so that the brain would not get used to it, and the smell was only effective during “slow wave” sleep, a sleep stage wherein the hippocampus is most sensitive. Not only this, but the smell trick is useful only for certain types of learning that rely on the hippocampus. It is not useful for remembering the skills needed for playing an instrument or perform a sport, for example (2007).

Certainly, trying to emulate precisely the study above may prove a little tricky, but it will not stop me from sharing the results of Rasch’s research with my students, and getting them to do a little bit of their own experimentation: While studying for a test, students could wear a perfume or essential oil that they really like on their wrist, and smell it periodically while studying. They could then make sure they are wearing that exact scent on test day, or perhaps carry something like a scarf scented with the fragrance, and again smell it periodically during the exam. Perhaps the smell will unlock something in their brain during test time that will allow them to more easily access the information they had previously reviewed?

Based on the work that has been done so far in the field of smell, students may not even have to go that far; simply surrounding themselves with favorable scents while studying may increase their learning efficacy, pushing memories out of short term and into long term storage. There appears to be a lot that teachers could do to help, such as employing room spray or essential oil diffusers where possible.

One would have to take care to use the right type of fragrance, however. Certain types of scent stimulation, like food, can disrupt the accelerated learning functions of our brain. Chemical smells from some air fresheners, perfume, and even some essential oils can also be distracting and could block learning. To avoid the issue of chemical sensitivity, and to be more consistent in using the same odorous materials as studies involving scent have employed, pure essential oil usage would perhaps be the better choice. Aromatherapists tout the use of certain essential oils to provoke specific outcomes.

Research is lacking in the area, but perhaps the popular practice of using scent in this way can no longer be so readily brushed off as pure pseudoscience, despite the fact that a lot off aromatherapy marketing is full of exaggerated and false claims, especially in the area of health. In addition to the scents of rose, rosemary, and lavender mentioned above, peppermint, lemon, jasmine, grapefruit, frankincense, cinnamon, and vetiver are mentioned in aromatherapy literature as having a positive effect on learning and creativity. While more scientific evidence is in the making, why not try these scents in the classroom? At the very least they will produce a more pleasant learning environment for students.

One thing is for sure: As long as students respond as positively as I do to the fumes wafting off my person, I will continue to enjoy wearing my fragrances to class.


Akpinar, B. (2005). Do scents affect people’s moods or work performance? Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences, 3(7), 952-960.

Baron, R.A. (1990). Environmentally Induced Positive Affect: Its Impact on Self-Efficacy, Task Performance, Negotiation, and Conflict. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20(5), 368-384.

Baron, R.A., & Thomley, J. (1994). A whiff of reality: Positive affect as a potential mediator of the effects of pleasant fragrances on task performance and helping. Environment and Behavior, 26(6), 766-784.

Baron, R.A., & Bronfen, M.M. (2006). A Whiff of Reality: Empirical Evidence Concerning the Effects of Pleasant Fragrances on Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24(13), 1129-1220.

Chu, S., & Downes, J.J. (2000). Odour-evoked Autobiographical Memories: Psychological Investigations of Proustian Phenomena. Chemical Senses, 25(1), 111-116.

Do scents affect people’s moods or work performance?: Scientific American. (2002, November 11). Scientific American. Retrieved August 18, 2013, from

Dowdey, S. (n.d.). How Smell Works. HowStuffWorks “Science”. Retrieved August 19, 2013, from

Freeman, W.J. (1991). The Physiology of Perception. Scientific American, 264(2), 78-85.

Herz, R.S. (2005). Odor-associative Learning and Emotion: Effects on Perception and Behavior. Chemical Senses, 30((supp 1)), i250-i251. Retrieved August 18, 2013, from

Moss, M., & Oliver, L. (2012). Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 2(3), 103-113 .

Rasch, B., Buchel, C., Gais, S., & Born, J. (2007). Odor Cues During Slow-Wave Sleep Prompt Declarative Memory Consolidation. Science, 315(5817), 1426-1429. Retrieved August 18, 2013, from

Sakamoto, R., Minoura, K., Usui, A., Ishizuka, Y., & Kanba, S. (2005). Effectiveness of Aroma on Work Efficiency: Lavender Aroma during Recesses Prevents Deterioration of Work Performance. Chemical Senses, 30(8), 683-691. Retrieved August 19, 2013, from

Science of Scent. (2005, January 5). Brown University. Retrieved August 18, 2013, from

Vlahos, J. (2007, September 9). Scent and Sensibility. The New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2013, from

Warm, J.S., Dember, W.N., & Parasuraman, R. (1991). Effects of olfactory stimulation on performance and stress in a visual sustained attention task. Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Science, 42, 199-210. Retrieved August 19, 2013, from

DIY Poopourri – make your own perfumed eau de “toilet”

Poopourri is clever product that has been successful due to its concept and zany marketing. How it works: before you release your burdens into the porcelain god, you spray Poopourri into the bowl, being sure to coat the surface. The oily surface wraps around your baggage as it plops down, and the surface film reunites again to block your waste below, all the while releasing a refreshing bouquet of delightful smells upward toward your nose and the general vicinity. It’s like you were never there! This saves embarrassment if there are people who want to use the room after you have completed your business. If you haven’t yet seen any of the company’s videos, prepare to be entertained:

The ingredients in Poopouri do not include harsh chemicals and are therefore both safe to breathe and flush. The concoction consists of essential oils and natural compounds. Well, then, you should be able to make your own, if that is true. And in fact it is true, and you can do it much more cheaply.


Find a container for your DYI blend, preferably a dark glass container to prevent light from getting at the delicate perfumes. Find out how much it contains (leaving space at the top) and divide that amount by at least 8.

  • 4 parts distilled water – boiling and cooling tap water is fine
  • 2 parts rubbing alcohol (or 2x that amount of vodka)
  • 1 part carrier oil (like avocado oil which has a light scent)
  • 1 part vegetable glycerin (No glycerine? Add another part carrier oil OR try (scent-free) dish washing liquid or liquid hand soap- both acts as a surfactant.)
  • about 20 drops of your blend of essential oils for each ounce of your mixture.
  • (optional) food colouring (however much you want so as to be able to see it – you may want to know if you have the basin covered enough)

The recipe above can be tweaked. I’ve read different versions online, but they all have the same basic ingredients.

A surfactant, by the way (like soap or detergent), is a substance that emulsifies fats and oils, as well as absorbs odors such as sulphur. It keeps the bottle where the product is housed from clogging and the toilet bowl from getting an oily ring-around-the-bowl. It also keeps the plumbing pipes clean.

To use your own DIY poopourri, simply shake and spray (about 4 times, depending on size and power of your spray nozzle) into the bowl – forming a nice, even, greasy coating – before you go.

Now here’s the fun part for perfumistas: Try it with perfume instead of (or in addition to) essential oils! It’s one of many ways to make use of old or unwanted perfume. Using perfume is neither as potent or deodorizing (unless you use a lot), nor is it likely as safe for your sewage system as most essential oils, but it does work. How much you will need depends on the strength of the concentration. Oil-based perfumes are ideal. If you’re using an alcohol-based perfume, you’ll probably need less rubbing alcohol/vodka.

If you are on the go, you can decant your pooourri into small spray bottles, or small glass dropper bottles (recycle those bottles of e-liquid vapers use, recycle eyedropper bottles, or recycle skincare serum bottles). Spray bottle do disperse the product a lot better, but droppers can work as well.

Samples from Rancé 1795 – Joséphine & Eau de la Couronne

Rancé 1795 is an old French perfume house from the Rancé family of the 1600s, famous for producing perfumed gloves for the French Aristocracy in Grasse. At that time Europe was a pretty stinky place to be, and gloves, fans and handkerchiefs were used by upper class ladies to disguise the putrid and pungent stenches around them (mostly of humanity; people rarely bathed).

In creating “Le Vainqueur”, “Triomphe” and “L’Eau de Austerliz” for Napolean, François Rancé was held in high esteem. Rancé also created a perfume for Joséphine Bonaparte called “l’Impératrice” the bottle of which is still a treasure of the house. Since that period, the house of Rancé has dedicated many of its perfumes to the heroes and heroines of the Napoleonic era. Rancé’s philosophy embraces tradition, innovation, and naturalness – an interesting combination that likely has something to do with the brand’s long life. Granddaughter Jeanne Sandra Rancé with her son Jean Maurice Alexandre Rancé today run the company.

Perfume writer Donna Hathaway:

Napoleon approached master perfumer Francois Rancé before his coronation in 1804 to commission him to make two perfumes – one for himself [Le Vanquer Napoleon] and one for his love Joséphine [Joséphine]. Rancé designed the fragrances such that hers would dominate if both she and Napoleon were in the same room, However, should they be in close proximity, the two perfumes would merge to create a new unique fragrance. In 2004 the house of Rancé relaunched these two perfumes. They could not have done so earlier, as Napoleon made the house promise not to release the perfumes until 200 years after the coronation.


Joséphine is part of the Collection Impériale, and it is a joyous perfume – brilliant, sensuous and charming, like Joséphine herself (Napoleon’s most loved). It’s an oriental floral created by Jeanne Sandra Rancé, and the top notes are orris, black currant, galbanum, violet leaf, cloves and white peach; middle notes are jasmine, hiacynth and ylang-ylang; base notes are amber, sandalwood, bourbon vanilla and white musk.

This scent is definitely not dated in any way; it’s to fresh and smooth not to have been created sometime in the past two decades. It’s a fruity and tarte composition with a fair bit of complexity, and did not go sour on me when tested. It lingered close to my skin and stayed demure and elegant throughout it’s life. Beautiful, classy, and feminine – yes, but way too polite for me. Josephine bears semblance to Lancome’s  Miracle, Donna Karan’s Gold, and Lalique’s Flora Bella according to some Fragrantica reviewers, but I cannot speak to this. I cannot recall Lancome’s Miracle (not that miraculous if I can’t remember it!) and have yet to get my nose on the other two.

Eau de la Couronne

Jean Rancé dedicated this one to Napoleon’s sister Paolina, and the fragrance was recreated around 2009. It’s from the Rue Rancé collection. The formulae endeavors to come as close as possible to the originals from centuries past. Although I have read some reviews compare this with Dior’s J’Adore, I did not catch a strong resemblance, although the composition is indeed a fruity, shimmery, golden floral. If you love freesia, you will love this this breezy, perfumey composition. There is a beguiling innocence to the scent – I picture a delicate, quiet girl coming of age. I admit, however, that I was disappointed – the main reason being that it dissipated far too quickly. Sad, as the fragrance is in fact intriguing, fresh, and sensual.