Best of 2011: A Blogging Event.

 

Another year is coming to a close, so it’s time to wrap it up with a Best of 2011 list. Truthfully, there were gobs of fabulous releases this year, particularly in the natural fragrance realm, which makes me giddy and thrilled for all those indie artists devoted to the alchemy of botanical perfume. In the interest of keeping your attention- and since long lists are rarely a pleasure to read through- I’ve distilled my Best Of list to 10.

Best Perfumes:
Muguet de Mai by DSH Perfumes. When I asked Dawn Spencer Hurwitz if she would be interested in creating an all natural muguet scent for a May Day blogging event, I had no idea such a stunningly beautiful, complex, and true-to-life lily of the valley perfume would emerge. Muguet de Mai is like turning over a rain soaked tree branch in the forest to find a protected cluster of freshly blooming lily of the valley, densely floral while teeming with the fecundity of the soil’s riches. Muguet de Mai is a marvel and I can’t thank Dawn enough for taking me up on my offer, and for creating my favorite perfume of the year. Muguet de Mai is available at DSH Perfumes, $125 for 5ml antique parfum presentation. 

To Bee by Roxana Illuminated Perfume. The scent of beeswax, whether it’s burning in a candle or suffusing the skin as a perfume, is one of those aromas that I find instantly soothing. Its honeyed and resinous warmth calms my nerves and slows my breath. To Bee achieves this effect beautifully and is enhanced by many essences, but most notably tonka, ambrette and oud. Even though To Bee is lovely on a cold wintery eve, it’s truly a seasonless scent. I first discovered To Bee in the heat of July when summer’s warmth amplified its delightfully ambery sweetness.  To Bee is available in solid or liquid perfume at Roxana’s etsy shop. I particularly love the solid perfume locket for $30.

Dimanche EDP by Strange Invisible Perfumes. Dimanche was first released as a limited edition parfum in 2010, but in early 2011, it was made available in EDP concentration. The EDP is also limited edition, but the Strange Invisible Perfumes boutique still has a small quantity in stock. Dimanche opens with a cool and crisp iris, then proceeds to warm-up in the middle with hay, rose, and honey. A not-too-sweet amber dusted with cocoa awaits in the drydown, making for an olfactory experience that is multi-layered, compelling and alluring. Dimanche EDP is available only via the SIP Boutique. $270 for 50ml. Please call  310.314.1505 for phone orders. 

Orcas by Ayala Moriel Parfums. Orcas is a fragrance that sweeps you off your feet and carries you along the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest coastline. Within Orcas, you will discover spruce, moss, rosemary and seaweed that are herbaceous and invigorating. Violet leaf and cedar are also in this seafaring perfume which cast complementing green and woody tones. Wearing Orcas this winter has me longing for a summer drive along the northernmost parts of Highway 101. It’s a little melancholy since those months feel very far away, but put on some Nick Drake and a dabbing of Orcas, and wallow in its wistful beauty. Orcas is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums, $120 for 15ml splash bottle.

Cologne du Maghreb by Tauer Perfumes. I recently reviewed Andy Tauer’s all natural cologne a few weeks ago, but it is so remarkable, that I can’t help but mention it again so soon, as it really is one of the Best of 2011. I love how CdM’s deliciously vibrant citrus notes are savored from its opening notes to the drydown. Orange blossom and cedar are then enjoyed in the middle stage of CdM’s development, and the drydown is more than worth waiting for. To quote my review, “… in the end, this classically styled cologne morphs into an amber fragrance replete with sweet yet animalic labdanum that still continues to be green and citrusy-floral. It’s really amazing and beautiful and appropriate for both men and women.” Cologne du Maghreb is available exclusively at Indiescents. $65 for 50ml atomizer flacon.

Best Skincare, High-End and Luxurious:
I hand this award to Tammy Fender without a moment’s hesitation. Her eponymous skincare line was launched several years ago, but it’s a 2011 find for me, so on this list it goes. The product that I am most crazy about and would gladly shell out 95 clams for, is the Antioxidant Creme with Neroli & Orange. Click on the link and you’ll find the full list of ingredients that reads like a juice bar menu, as well as information on highlighted ingredients like algae extract and carrot seed. I am totally addicted to the glorious neroli scent of this facial moisturizer. It smells just like the orange blossom seasons I remember from my childhood, and it sends me into a relaxing sleep. The consistency is a cream-gel hybrid that feels nourishing as it rapidly absorbs into the skin. I use this at night as I don’t want to use my little jar of precious up too quickly, but if I had my druthers, I’d use it day and night. Tammy Fender Antioxidant Creme is available at her website, $95 for 1.9oz glass jar.

I am also loving the Tammy Fender Cleansing Milk which is rich and thick and possesses an aromatic lavender scent that vacillates between sweet and herbal. I know lavender can be an irritant to some, so if that’s the case, this cleansing milk is not for you. As for me, I love lavender and my skin loves it as well, so I slather it on, massage it in, and let it cleanse, which it does very well. Tammy Fender Cleansing Milk is available at her website, $55 for 6.7oz glass pump bottle.

Best Skincare, Drugstore Deal:
Burt’s Bees has come out with a really nice line of sensitive skincare that’s worth attention. I have the Sensitive Facial Cleanser and the Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream and am highly impressed with both. The cleanser is similar in consistency to the Tammy Fender Cleansing Milk, albeit without the high price tag or the lavender scent. But, the ingredients are just shy of being all natural (99%), and some of the “natural ingredients” are highly processed and nowhere near the food grade, organic quality of Tammy Fender’s line. Having said that, $10 is a much more accessible price point and it works great. Available at Burt’s Bees, $10 for 6 oz.

The Burt’s Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream does a nice job of moisturizing given its lightweight formula. Like the Cleansing Cream, it’s 99% natural- not at the Tammy Fender level of natural- but for $15, you get a lovely cream that wears well under powder or liquid foundation, and has been keeping my skin soft even in this winter weather. Soothing aloe, shea butter and moisturizing rice extract provide efficacious hydration, and is fragrance free. It’s available at Burt’s Bees, $15 for a 1.8 oz pump.

Best Body Moisturizer:
Pear, Fir and Coffee Body Oil and Hair Elixir by Aftelier Perfumes. Scent Hive readers might remember that I included this gem in my Holiday Gift Guide. Now it’s making an appearance on this list because not only does it make a great gift, it also happens to be my favorite body oil of the year. (Body oils are my preferred mode of skin hydration, BTW). So why do I love this one so much? It’s that quirky mix of notes, pear, fir and coffee, that excites my senses as this trio of fruity, balsamic, and earthy essences play against each other in a truly unique way. The luscious blend of fractionated coconut and jojoba oils provide superb hydration and act as excellent carriers for the botanical essences. I wish my sample wasn’t tapped out as I am dying to use it in my hair since it’s also billed as a hair elixir. I guess that means my shopping cart over at Aftelier.com might be getting some action real soon. Aftelier’s Pear, Fir and Coffee Body Oil and Hair Elixir is available at Aftelier.com, $40 for a 3.5 oz glass pump bottle.

Please visit the blogs listed below as they are also sharing their “Best of 2011″ picks. I can’t wait to see what they favored this year!

Another Perfume Blog
DSH Notebook
EauMG
Perfume Shrine
Smelly Blog
The Non Blonde

Best of 2011 image by Roxana of Illuminated Perfume

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Virgo by Strange Invisible Perfumes

Full disclosure here. My younger son is a Virgo, so I approached Strange Invisible Perfume’s latest fragrance which was inspired by said astrological sign, with a bias for wanting to love it. Knowing that neroli, sandalwood, and mandarin are in the Virgo blend also tipped my inclination I’ll admit, but bias or no bias, this is a gorgeous perfume.

I find neroli to be an utterly enchanting essence that moves beautifully through the seasons. It’s floral, kind of spicy and woody, and in the colder months it takes on a cozy aspect. In Virgo, neroli is all of the above and then some. Its woodsiness is enhanced by the well known sandalwood, and at least to me, the lesser known Palo Santo. Although now, I am this close to ordering  Palo Santo essential oil after learning more about it.

Palo Santo, or sacred wood, is native to South America and is protected by strict government protection. The oil can only be harvested from fallen twigs and branches that have matured on the jungle floor for two years, allowing enough time for the resin to move into the hardwood. The Incas used this precious wood for purification and cleansing and since it is closely related to frankincense, I can imagine it has a similarly intoxicating incense aroma when burned.

Virgo, the sign and the fragrance, are about introspection, precision and comfort. Sandalwood and Palo Santo usher forth the introspection and comfort, while the neroli and mandarin embody those qualities as well but with a crisp and radiant expressiveness.

Neroli infuses this fragrance with a floral gesture and a hint of sparkle- aided by a gentle dose of jasmine sambac- throughout Virgo’s duration. But it’s in the drydown that Virgo’s soothing quality becomes increasingly apparent. Ultimately, it evolves into a cushion of benzoin and vanilla balsams that are as warm as an embrace from my Virgo son.

Virgo is available as eaux de parfum in 1.7 fl. oz. custom engraved bottles hand-painted with sterling silver for $275. It is exclusively sold at the SIP Boutique, but mail orders are welcome. Please call 310.314.1505 for inquiries.

Disclosure: A sample was sent to me for consideration by SIP. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

Image: A Virgin by Abbott Thayer at Hektoen International

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Strange Invisible Perfumes: Dimanche EDP

About a year ago I did something I rarely do, I bought a bottle of perfume unsniffed. It was an impulse purchase after reading an enticing review and because I was in need of some extra comfort (I was recovering from surgery) I was particularly vulnerable. I most certainly am not advocating buying bottles of perfume before you try them, but in this case, it worked out very well.


At the time, Dimanche by Strange Invisible Perfumes was limited edition and only available as a pure perfume. Happily, I am able to report that Dimanche is available once again, albeit for a limited time, in both perfume and EDP concentrations. Because I fell so hard for Dimanche in its parfum form, I was quite eager to test it as an EDP. Side by side, the two are nearly indistinguishable and have the same moderate sillage and last upwards of six hours.


Dimanche is as equally intriguing as it is gorgeous and each time I wear it, the sumptuousness and elegance of its unabashedly iris opening validate my retail therapy. When I was first getting to know Dimanche, I found its iris beginning a bit bracing whereas now it feels familiar and its powdery nature becomes apparent more quickly.  Once the iris settles into Dimanche’s heart of rose and honey, the floral powderiness emerges completely and beautifully.


Within that floral heart, there’s room for a fistful of honeyed hay, some cocoa and a hint of amber that foreshadows the drydown. If you’re a fan of hay, I can’t recommend Dimanche enough. Its sundried grassiness is the perfect counterpoint to the loftiness of iris. It grounds it, and also makes it wearable throughout the seasons. As you can tell, I am still in love with Dimanche and I’m glad the rest of you have a chance to give it a whirl.


Dimanche is available only at the Strange Invisible Boutique in Venice, Ca. They are happy to send samples $8 for the EDP, $10 for the pure perfume. A 50ml bottle of Dimanche EDP is $270. SIP perfumes are 100% natural (meaning all ingredients are found in nature) and I encourage you to read more about the company’s sustainability practices here. The boutique’s phone number is: 310.314.1505


Posted by ~Trish

Image: Le Moulin Rouge by Toulouse Lautrec

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Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Can you believe the holiday season is already upon us? Thanksgiving will be here in a heartbeat, and the first night of Hanukkah is December 1st. So it’s time to hop to it and get gifting. I’ve gathered together some of my favorite bloggers (links below) to offer our recommendations for those special items on our to-give lists, and maybe even our own wish-lists. My list includes many price points ranging from $6.50 for a gorgeously scented soap to $325 for a precious limited edition perfume, with lots in between. As you might have guessed, all of my recommendations are 100% natural which means no petrochemicals, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, or parabens.


Urban Eden (Now Oilve and Oud) Shahrazad soap ($6.50 per bar) I recently reviewed Urban Eden soaps and at the time I had just started using my bar of Shahrazad. At this present moment, I have but a tiny sliver left and recently placed an order for another bar so I can continue to bask in its plentiful floral spiciness. Tuberose, frankincense, and cardamom are the standouts in this richly lathering soap that’s perfect for this time of year.

 


Gabriel’s Aunt tea light sampler. ($9 for a set of 10) After you spend some time at the Gabriel’s Aunt etsy shop, you’ll be glad you can choose 10 different tea lights in your sampler. Nikki Sherritt, creator of GA, has so many scrumptious scents to choose from that it really is hard to pick only a few. My favorite isRoyal Couple ($25 for 8oz candle), a rose and jasmine blend that warms a room with a finespun throw. You can read more about her liquid and solid fragrances here and here.

 

Wing and Prayer mini sampler ($10 for three 1/8oz rollerball) This has got to be one of the best bargains in the natural perfume world. $10 for three nicely sized fragrances? That’s a steal that we all need to take advantage of! I adore Flowers, a gardenia fragrance with sweet notes of linden and beeswax as well as Bella, a soft blend of verbena and neroli. An individual bottle is $35 for a 1.78oz spray which is also an incredible value for such gorgeous, all natural scents.

 

Scented Djinn Sahar ($25 for 5ml) This beauty boasts jasmine, sandalwood, and champaca infused with honey and vanilla. Sounds pretty right? It’s also calming and cozy and I love to wear it on cold fall mornings. I reviewed Saharthispast spring if you would like to read more.

 

evanhealy Sweet Blossom Hydrating Oil($29.95 for 4oz) Smoothing this body oil over freshly showered skin is a pleasure of which I will never tire. Frankincense, neroli and a light touch of ylang ylang intertwine to create a comforting scent that will put a smile on the lucky recipient’s face. And not only is it beautifully fragranced, it is made with cold pressed, organic oils of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, jojoba and apricot kernel so it feels as good as it smells.

 

Organic Apoteke Droseros Hydrating Mist ($30 for 5oz) Hyrdosols have become a part of my daily skincare routine. Sometimes I spray it on my skin when it’s dry and I want to apply a body oil (such as evanhealy’s above) and I also mist my face with a hydrosol before using my serum. Currently, Organic Apoteke is my favorite because it’s soothing and hydrating. But honestly, I really love it because it smells so darn good. It’s like there’s a magic honey ingredient in this mist that lasts for hours and swirls around my skin amidst delicate rose petals. I’ve got this in the travel size, and you can be sure it’s going with me on my next plane ride.

DSH PerfumesÉpices d’Hiver ($40 for 1 dram/5 mls or $120 for 1 oz) Épices d’Hiver was launched by DSH Perfumes last fall, and got a lot of wear during the cold months, which here in the Northwest can last well into May. So suffice to say, I wore it many a day. Now that the rain and cold are upon us once more, Épices d’Hiver is back in action, providing me with a cozy spicy go-to fragrance suffused with nutmeg, hay and woods.

Ayala Moriel Parfums Palas Atena ($48 for 4mls or $120 for 9ml flacon) Palas Atena was the first Ayala Moriel fragrance that I fell for, and it still ranks high on my list of favorites of her creations. It’s a classic floriental with notes of patchouli, amber, champaca, cinnamon, jasmine, lavender, neroli, sandalwood, and sweet orange. Each essence flows into the next, moving in continuous harmony like a high quality vintage fragrance.

Intelligent Nutrients Aromatics in Focus ($50 for 0.85 oz) Feel free to spritz this alluring aromatic all over yourself. Mist it on your face, your skin, and your hair and let its organic vitamin e and castor oils hydrate while organic flower oils intoxicate. The neroli jasmine duo is swoon worthy, and so well loved, that I can’t imagine anyone not being thrilled to open up this 100% organic scent.

 

Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Rosa Solid ($72 for 5.3 gm solid in a refillable silver compact) Oh lovely Rosa! Such a precious compact made even more so by its contents. If you are a rose lover, or know one, you should feel compelled to give Rosa a serious gander. Rose otto from Turkey and an absolute of rose bourbonica from India grace this sensual solid perfume, as well as woods, oud, vetiver and leather. Its rich and earthy bouquet is full but wears close to the skin. One of my favorite rose perfumes.

 

Aftelier Perfumes Candide ($150 for 0.25 oz which includes a 2ml mini, the mini is sold separately for $45) Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes has just launched Candide, and made a personal appearance last night at Bendel’s in NYC to celebrate its release. And believe me, she has much to toast as Candide is truly beautiful. It radiates with sparkling notes of pink grapefruit, blood orange and raspberries all wrapped up in sueded jasmine petals. Its lush and enticing, but cheerful and flirtatious as well. A suggestion of frankincense affords a bit of grounding, but to be sure, Candide is lighthearted through and through.

 

Strange Invisible Perfumes Elektrou ($325 for 0.25 fl. oz. pure perfume • Available in-store or by phone only. Call toll free: 800.919.7472) Strange Invisible Perfumes has lured me in once before with these limited edition gems. I caved and bought Dimanche last spring, and have not regretted it for a second. It exudes two notes that I can’t seem to get enough of, hay and honey, in a surprisingly sophisticated and provocative manner. Well, if you wish you’d jumped at the chance to get Dimanche, Elektrou is quite similar, with a few distinct differences. Dimanche’s opening is on the sharp side due to the edginess iris sometimes possesses. Elektrou on the other hand is immediately soft with its vanilla and smooth amber accord. Sandalwood plays a large roll in Elektrou’s suppleness, emanating a sensual ease. It’s going to take serious restraint that I am not sure I have to keep myself for purchasing Elektrou as I want every scarf I own to smell just like it. It’s a splurge no doubt, but one that the perfumista in your life (which is probably yourself) will adore.

Please stop by the following blogs for more gift ideas.

Perfume Shrine

IndiePerfumes

Roxana Illuminated Perfume

All I Am- A Redhead


Posted by ~Trish

image courtesy of Roxana Villa.

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Scents of the Mediterranean: Strange Invisible Perfume's Peloponnesian


Mediterranean travels have taken me to the shores of Italy, France and Spain. Of course I feel blessed to have experienced the azure waters, palm trees, and restful sun drenched beaches of the Mediterranean in these countries, but I have yet to meet the acquaintance of these waters in Greece or its islands. Greece is the destination I most frequently daydream about, and hope to make its beauty my reality someday.


The Peloponnese is the southernmost part of mainland Greece, and Peloponnesian is the name of an all natural perfume inspired by that region. Alexandra Balahoutis, creator of Strange Invisible Perfumes’ Peloponnesian, has tapped into what I imagine the air to be like in southern Greece; refreshing, crisp, warm and radiant.




The opening of Peloponnesian is brisk and green with woody topnotes courtesy of the oil from cypress twigs and leaves. Hydro-distilled orange and lime bring forth a sparkling clarity to its citrusy temperament while the basalmic tones add depth, warmth and a hint of sweetness. In truth, it’s not much different from SIP’s Atlantic, another gorgeous scent inspired by seafaring masculinity. Peloponnesian has more of a citrusy pop in its opening, making Atlantic’s lime notes feel subdued by comparison.


The drydowns of both fragrances run parallel to each other as they evoke beach-side citrus groves and salt tinged air, Peloponnesian maybe more so on the citrus aspect. But Peloponnesian has a sultry side to match Atlantic’s smoldering scent. If you’re familiar with SIP’s Musc Botanique’s explosive vegetal musk, you’ll find a more subtle take on that sexy botanical frenzy in Peloponnesian. Atlantic has it too, and Peloponnesian’s muskiness falls just between that and Musc Botanique.


Peloponnesian is an alluring scent of the Mediterranean that is beautifully constructed. The balance of citrus, sage, honeyed woods, and botanical musks lull me into my Grecian daydream as it wafts from my husband’s skin or from my own.


Peloponnesian is available at Beautyhabit.com, $160 for 50 ml. There is currently 25% off with the promo code: OPRAH. Good until August 13th, 2010.


Please visit the following blogs for more Mediterranean inspired scents. Many thanks to Ines and Elena for organizing this blog event:

bonkersaboutperfume

ismellthereforeiam

Notesfromtheledge

olfactarama

eiderdownpress

thenonblonde

waftbycarol

thehortusconclusus

arosebeyondthethames

ayalasmellyblog

katiepuckriksmells

sonomascent

illuminatedperfume

underthecupola

perfumeshrine

alliam-aredhead

Posted by ~Trish

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Atlantic: a masculine fragrance from Strange Invisible Perfumes

When we lived in New York City, my husband and I would take the journey to the end of Long Island at least once every summer. There lies Montauk, a quaint, laid back beach town that (at least 10 years ago) was much less glitzy and not nearly as expensive as its neighbors, the Hamptons. My memories of Montauk are replete with salt laden breezes, sunkissed cheeks and lazy evenings strolling by the harbor and lighthouse. I would love to go back there with my husband to celebrate Father’s Day, but since that’s not a possibility this year, a jaunt with Strange Invisible Perfumes’ Atlantic will be in its stead.


According to the SIP website, Atlantic “conjures the classic transatlantic gentleman,” but I think it’s more wanton than that image might suggest. This fragrance would befit a Californian surfer, a Northwest rock climber, or a British rockstar (Sting comes to mind, although he might be the quintessential transatlantic gentleman IMO). Atlantic’s citrus note is exhilarating but with smooth edges, like limes soaked in honey tinged Bay Rum. The amber accord must account for some of this sweetness which I imagine includes benzoin as the fullness of this resin feels palpable to me. Benzoin is one of those unique botanicals that embodies the duality of rich soil alongside vanilla softness. All of these elements are present in Atlantic which blend perfectly with the crispness of lime.


Another word used for Atlantic at SIP, is “smoldering”. I can’t think of a better word for this fragrance. Smoldering because of its resins- benzoin(?) and frankincense- as well as sandalwood. And also because it’s gorgeous and super sexy. Atlantic is fabulous on a man (my husband to be specific) but equally as alluring on a woman. Montauk might not be in my near future, but a bottle of this most certainly is.


Atlantic is available at the Strange Invisible Perfumes website, $185 for 0.25oz of pure parfum.

Visit The Non Blonde for another review of Atlantic.


During the month of May, use code LUVMOM10 for a $20 gift certificate toward purchases of $50 or more on Strange Invisible Perfumes products only. Valid in-store, online, or by phone. See my Scent Hive Facebook profile for more info.

Montauk image from montaukhotels.org

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: A sample of Atlantic was provided by Strange Invisible’s PR rep. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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