Monday, April 19, 2010

Fun in the Tub: Double Duty Shower Gels

I’ll have to admit, I’m not one to easily spend my cash on shower gels. It goes without saying that the difference between a 3€, a 15€ or even a 20€ shower gel is vast and considering the fleeting, ephemeral nature of the scent in most (whether expensive or cheap), it is no wonder most of us decide to save on shower gels and splurge on something lasting (like a real perfume!). Not all shower gels deserve to be sniffed at however. In fact, once you fall for a couple of good ones, it’s quite easy to become addicted. So what is the definition of a good shower gel? One that cleanses without leaving the skin dry obviously, but what’s important for the definition in a perfume blog after all is the next part: one that manages to scent skin for long periods of time, leaving a beautiful perceptible layer of perfume on the body. We all know that most (if not all) drugstore shower gels manage to scent the skin for, oh, about three seconds, but the problem is that a lot of high-end gels don’t show any improvement in performance either. And that’s cause to get angry: Noone (bar those who’ve money to burn perhaps) wants to spend upwards of 10€ (or dollars) to have their steam smell nice for five minutes.

Fortunately, I’ve weeded out some of those that definitely do work double duty, cleaning and perfuming the skin at once, and that’s what this post is about. Hopefully there can be a part 2 and part 3 in the future as I discover more gems like that. Before I give you my picks, a question: Do you shower in the a.m. or in the p.m. darlings? Because these little beauties are definitely worth a shower after dark, preferably just before donning your nightdress (or do you sleep in the buff, you naughty thing?). I’m saying this cause one of the biggest pleasures I’ve found with these is that not only do they offer me a softer, lower in volume fragrance as I am ready to drift off than a normal spray perfume would, but most importantly, that they saturate the fabric of my PJs, babydolls etc., so that I wake up in the morning cocooned in a light cloud of perfume and soft, warm sleep-scent. Not to mention that the following night when I pick up my nightdress it still smells heavenly! An added bonus is that having showered in the evening you can start the day with a new perfume without worrying about them clashing.

Arpege: Probably the softest of the picks, but oh-so-pleasurable! In the shower gel, Arpege’s aldehydic, fizzy blur is washed away and the white floral notes are downplayed. Their song becomes improbably soft, allowing the woody base notes to take over. The result on the skin is the most beautiful sheer layer of creeeeeeeaaaamy (yes, sorry, it is wonderful and it makes me quite exclamatory) sandalwood tinged with woody vetiver and soft, barely-there touches of white blooms that feel sexy, like satin.

Aromatics Elixir: This chypre floral makes for a shower gel that transforms the steam in your bathroom into a perfumed cloud fit for the steam bath of an exotic queen. Revel in its spicy, thorny rose scent and be prepared to have other household members be magnetized towards the bathroom as the scent attempts to lure everyone close: it rises up and fills the air like magic. Once dry, your skin will exude the beautiful signature scent for hours and hours. Simply unbeatable in terms of intensity and true-to-the-scent form.

Prada pour Homme: This is the one that started it all for me, the one that was so good it put me on the quest for good shower gels that linger. Forget about the “pour homme” tag if you’re a woman and go out and buy this if you enjoy clean musky scents. You can’t get a better shower gel than this in the clean musk category, and that’s a promise. Prada pour Homme is like a tender embrace that keeps blooming, infusing fabrics that come into contact with the skin with beautiful perfume. Although it is very true to the perfume itself, I find that the shower gel is sweeter and warmer and yet far more lightweight it terms of presence. It is one of my favorites.

Neonatura Cocoon: Will you think I’m a heathen if I say I much prefer the scent of the shower gel to the real perfume? This one is a beauty, readers. Well, if you like patchouli that is! Rest assured, if you do, this one will be a winner. And it is cheap as well! While the perfume presents coffee and patchouli in a pas de deux of equals, blending them perfectly so that both are ‘heard’ just as loud, the shower gel silences the coffee note down to a whisper and allows the vanilla/tonka-tinged patchouli to do its solo. Lovers of the original fear not, the coffee note will still assert its presence here too, but it is soft and muted. In my eyes that’s a good thing: I don’t really want to smell like coffee in certain places. Aherm, what was your dirty mind thinking? I was talking about the armpits! This one gives and gives by the way. You’ll still be able to smell it for a few hours still the next morning. I use this very often, so often in fact my boyfriend thinks it is my natural smell, bless his innocent heart. He once came upstairs while I was showering and exclaimed: “What is this beautiful smell? It smells like you!”. It just goes to show, how long-lasting it is and how it perfumes the skin.

Opium: The smell that rises in the steam of your shower might be quite true to the scent, but what lingers on the skin is a far more innocent, soft rendition of this classic. You might be surprised, but this one is just perfect for summer nights when the perfume would be too heavy, but you’d still crave its luxurious oriental eroticism. The heat makes it bloom from the skin. Don’t wear this before bed - wear it before going out on a sweltering night instead, with just a light shift on top. Mmmm. The creamy floral notes of dreams tinged with spices under a luster of cleanliness. Perfect.

Touch me Not: The rotten vegetable of choice awards for shower gels go to Philosophy. I splurged on their Pumpkin Spice (just to feed my pumpkin obsession, you know the one that’s been going strong for the past three years or so?) and was sorely disappointed. I’ll tell you what: H&M shower gel scents last longer on my skin and they don’t cost 19€ (or 16$, take your pick, they’re both bad). Zero lasting power for a hefty price tag. Beware.

Images: Flickr by Steve Jurvetson, Clearly Ambiguous and superfem

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Vanilla Lemon Pie, Vanilla Pom d’Amour & Vanilla Fruit Sorbet by Crazylibellule and the Poppies : Perfume Reviews

Wow, darlings, it’s been two weeks since my last post! Are you still here? I hope so! Me, oh my… You know this has been a super-crazy-busy year for me what with my thesis and everything. Well, it’s all going a little smoother now and by the end of June I should be done. We’ve finished recruiting participants for our experiment and tomorrow we’re going in the lab. I am tremendously excited - my first ever research. The hard part is still to come when I’ll have to statistically analyze the data (tremble, shiver, shake) but more than anything else, I’m excited! Anyway, I’m not going to bore you anymore with talk about the experiment, I’m just gonna dive into this review that I’ve been meaning to write for a while now.

If you’ve read my review of the Garçonnes Collection by Crazy Libellule and the Poppies, then you probably already know how I feel about this brand. I’m not gonna reiterate everything I’ve said before since it’s just a click away with the link above, but for those not in the mood to go back and look, suffice to say that in my opinion this is a super-innovative, super-fun brand that makes me happy. Each collection the brand releases seems to offer a coffret containing three popular solids of the collection, each dubbed “The Classic Set” followed by the collection’s name. At the height of my vanilla obsession last year, I got the Classic Set from the Poule de Luxe Collection, a series devoted to vanilla. Each perfume focuses on vanilla as the main theme, combining the delicious note with various gourmandise delights. The coffret in the Poule de Luxe Collection contains Vanilla Lemon Pie, Vanilla Pom d’Amour and Vanilla Fruit Sorbet. I am not sure if the company uses the same box as they did when I got them, but mine looks amazing: The darling box is decorated simply in black and soft pastel pink and looks utterly boudoir-appropriate - in fact it looks as delightful and sexy as an Agent Provocateur balm coffret. The sticks themselves feature the unabashedly pretty striped pattern that all Poule de Luxe sticks come in. I love this pattern - it makes me think of the awning of a small, treasure-like gelato shop on a sparkling, sunny promenade, which is of course utterly fitting with the gourmand theme of this collection.

But I bet you’re rather more interested in the scents themselves, aren’t you? Well, I have good news and bad news, although I fear the bad outweigh the good. The smell fabulous... In the box. That is, they smell amazing when you sniff the stick itself, but after a short while on the skin, disaster strikes. Let’s check them out one by one.

Vanilla Fruit Sorbet: This one features notes of Vanilla, Rose, Iris, Raspberry and Musk and is my least favorite of the three. Sniffing the stick itself, I get an innocent, soft floral scent (barely-there powdery soft rose, peony) tinged with vanilla. Once on the skin, as if by magic the scent changes completely and becomes full on raspberry on a bed of dry, dusky rose petals. Still not unpleasant, although certainly not me. Half an hour later and I want to scrub the tiny patch where I’d applied this “perfume caress” (as the company likes to call the sticks) raw: Unexpectedly the scent has turned utterly synthetic smelling and any tenderness and innocence is long gone. Despite careful application, it always turns bad and always, always seems penetrating and harsh. Unbelievable, as you wouldn’t expect a perfume solid to have such power!

Pom d’ Amour: The official notes for this one are Red Fruits, Hawthorn, Musk, Rhum, Peach, Tangerine, Vanilla and Liquorice. Smelling the stick the vanilla is almost unapparent: Instead, I get clean, citrusy-crisp apple and plenty of white musk. The scent is very spring-like and calm. On the skin the apple loses its crispness, becoming rounder, while the vanilla intensifies, gaining in warmth. Despite the abundance of notes I can’t say I smell much else other than that, nor do I find it very complex. As time wears on the peach becomes more apparent, but I wouldn’t consider that a good thing (it’s very Body Shop type of peach, if you know what I mean). The longer it stays on the skin the more candy-like it becomes - I can’t imagine wearing this myself unless I was feeling particularly coy and playful (ugh, that is, never): it is the smell of a little girl gorging on candy. It soon suffers almost the same fate as sister Vanilla Fruit Sorbet: the intensity and the chemical, synthetic smell kills all pleasantness.

Vanilla Lemon Pie: This is my favorite of the three, which is not hard, considering the other two turn so bad in the end. The good news is, this one doesn’t. Official notes are: Neroli, Lemon, Orange, Vanilla, Heliotrope, Almond and Caramel. I’ve been lusting after Laura Mercier’s Tarte au Citron for AGES, but it is impossible to get here and I haven’t had much luck trying to swap a bottle for it either. While this is not a perfect substitute by any stretch of the imagination, it does serve to satisfy my sweet gourmand-lemon cravings from time to time. The stick itself smells absolutely delicious, exactly like lemon cookies, complete with the buttery sweet smell that accompanies them. It makes me want to eat it! Just like the other two perfumes, this one loses part of its charm once on the skin, but unlike the other two, this one remains delightful throughout. The smell doesn’t significantly change - it just becomes slightly less ‘edible’ in terms of smell when on the skin. The only drawback is its longevity: Vanilla Lemon Pie quiets down pretty fast, unlike the other two.

So can one out of three still be considered a success story? You be the judge. The Poule de Luxe collection has two relatively new offerings as well: Vanilla Ganache and Vanilla Orangette. On the flip side however, they seem to have discontinued Vanilla Moka, Vanilla Macarons and Vanilla Pralines - just the ones I wanted to try next. It figures huh? Vanilla Pralines especially with its notes of hazelnuts and pecans sounded very, very interesting. Well, for those of you that got them while they still were around: enjoy them in good health! For the rest of you wanting to have a little vanilla on a stick, I heartily recommend Vanilla Lemon Pie.

And… If you have a bottle of Laura Mercier’s Tarte au Citron you’re interested in swapping or selling, do let me know! That was a desperate plea up there, in case it wasn’t clear! Hahahah!