Scent Gourmand

sinless pleasure for the perfume glutton

Category: Reviews (page 1 of 5)

Suntan oil perfumes that bring you right to the beach

suntan lotion perfumes - fragrances that smell like suntan lotion

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!)

Designer

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  – 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.

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

Scent Trunk image

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.

Overview

“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.

Variety

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.

Packaging

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.

Cost

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 (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.

Summary

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.

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Three perfume houses that underwhelmed me

There are very few occasions when I well and truly dislike a perfume, but I do have what I’d call a scent profile. In general, I gravitate toward the woody orientals and away from fresh florals, and of course this fact will bias all my opinions of fragrances that I come across.

These days the main way I procure new scent is through samples, and to get my samples I either go to a sample provider or get them through a subscription service. Sadly, Japan (where I live) is not really a scent culture, so I don’t have much brick and mortar experience.

Anyway, although I feel sample sizes don’t offer enough volume of fragrance to determine whether or not I can fall in love with a scent, they are often more than enough to tell me whether or not it’s a “me” scent.  Over the past couple of years I’ve been collecting sample sized perfumes and now have what I feel is starting to become a collection of sorts. There are only a small few out of that pile that have made it to a love-at-first-sniff list, which is not surprising. But what is surprising is when I procure sets of several perfumes all from one company and nothing really grabs me.

The following are three companies with which I was disappointed, not due to the objective quality of their fragrances, but simply because not one of them managed to float by boat. Of course, if your tastes differ from mine – you absolutely adore florals in particular – at least a few of these might be massive winners in your book. I’ve not gone into great detail regarding the scent structure for this post – for that you can visit their websites or head over to Fragrantica (where you will definitely find happier customers than me!).

1000 Flowers

1000 Flowers is a niche house founded by perfumer Jessica Buchanan, who was driven by the ideal of “beauty in balance.” The formula of the first perfume, Réglisse Noire, was created in Grasse France, where Jessica learned the art of perfumery working at Mane and Robertet (oh la la!). As I love the ideal of more eco-friendly perfume as well as the fact that the company hails from Canada (my nation of origin), I bought her 5-piece sample set of the entire line from the website.

  • Fleur No. 1 smells fresh and green but acidic – what I imagine skunk pee might be like (on a good day). It’s also very old lady to me – too old school floral.
  • Réglisse Noire (black licorice) is a bit plastic-y and minty. I’m not a mint fan – on lip products, yes – but not in perfume. The licorice is very much present and is tasty, but it fades fast. I thought I would like this more than I did, since I quite like Lolita Lempicka and Blue Sugar (Aquolina) but although there was a lot of deliscious black licorice in this for me, I guess it was the mint vibe? Hats off to Jessica for blending an anise vibe with vetiver-y florals, though!
  • Narcotic Flowers reminds me in way of Bubblegum by Heeley (due to the jasmine and tuberose) or 100% Love by S-Perfume (it must be the chocolate-cherry vomit vibe) – loud and sweet and medicinal. It’s actually rather well-made, but too sweet and floral for me. I think this one should be worn with caution, like all white floral based scents.
  • Love is Sweet is neither rose and iris in full unabashed bloom nor a handful of wilting petals; it’s a decent balance of florals peppered with a dusting of cinnamon and vanilla sprinkles. There are violets in there, too, which all make my allergies want to flare up.
  • Ode for Him to me was the most wearable of the 5 scents. I feel it is more unisex than masculine, with notes of coriander, cardamom, and a bit of rose and oudiness. Nothing for me personally to jump up and down about though, and to me all these fragrances have less than average longevity and sillage.

Jessica also does bespoke perfumes, which I think would be the cat’s meow if it is at all possible for a perfumer to really anticipate what a customer will love. Maybe it is possible, but I’m not yet convinced!

CognoScenti

CognoScenti is “for those who know,” however you care to interpret that. Because this house has received several awards, from their website I decided to purchase their sample set, which includes their whole line – no.1 (Bergamot Sage), no.8 (Aldehylic Oakmoss), no.16 (Tomato Leather), no.17 (Civet Chypre), and no.19 (Warm Carrot). I admit I did go through no. 8 and no. 17 quickly, so they cannot have been unpleasant (sorry – I can’t remember what they smelled like, which says something?) but the remaining three I still have are either nothing much to sniff at or too out there, in my opinion. For me, no. 1 is too soapy, no. 16 too tomato-y, and no. 19 too carrot-y. Obviously I am not one who likes to smell of either soap or vegetables. The veggie replications were very unique, however! I would imagine that is what earned CognoScenti the awards. Definite points for that!

Lily Burmuda

Lili Bermuda is an old perfume house, with the earliest scent created in 1932 and the newest in 2013. The fragrances were made in collaboration with perfumers David Bothello, Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, Vito Lenoci and Jean-Claude Delville. I got their pretty Scent Library as a gift one year from my parents, who had visited – you guessed it – Bermuda. Of the eleven vials that came in the set, I have only half used one, and that’s because I was feeling grubby one day and found a just-in-case vial in my purse.

The fragrances included in the package included fragrances called Coral, Pink, Lily, Petals, Oleander, Passion Flower, Alegria, Paradise, Fresh Water, South Water and Calypso. If you take a wee visit to their website, they encourage you to “try them all to see which ones suit you best.” In my case the answer was none. How so? Well, I’m not up for outlining all 11 profiles here, but suffice it to say that they were simply all too pretty and soft and lacking in any umph or uniqueness, and though I cannot confirm for sure, having not really used them for a full test run, my guess is that based simply on the notes, they are not powerhouses in the longevity and sillage areas, either.

They all have a fresh, floral, summery feel to them, so they’d be appropriate for the hot and humid summer weather where I currently live in southern Kyushu (yes, I moved out of Tokyo!). Perhaps I will wear them to see if others might appreciate them more than I. I have a feeling that might be the case, since as I sniff them now, they definitely impart a feeling of quality, and for the price at which they retail, they bloody well should!

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