Cocoa Sandalwood by Sonoma Scent Studio

“Current” by Leigh Viner

Cocoa Sandalwood is one of the most dynamic fragrances I have experienced in a long time. It moves through its stages with a quiet force that is palpable, alluring, and in the end, becomes an intimately beautiful sandalwood fragrance.

The opening notes do not hint much to a sandalwood experience though. Like I said, this a dynamic perfume and it has an interesting itinerary. Initially, the first wood encountered is cedar, charged with coffee and cocoa, all very pure. When I say pure, I mean there’s no pencil shavings to the cedar, no roughness, just smooth dense wood. And the coffee is not bitter and the cocoa is not sweet. The three notes are solidly together, opening the fragrance on sure footing, without a lot of embellishment.

Cocoa Sandalwood

But just when you think Cocoa Sandalwood might be a simple (yet lovely) fragrance, the heart notes develop and within fifteen minutes powdery roses, creamy peaches, nutty vetiver and sweet coconut are wafting about. Vetiver? Coconut? I love this! I’m wearing Cocoa Sandalwood today and the vetiver-coconut stage has been particularly pronounced. The perfumer, Laurie Erickson, confirmed that there is vetiver in the formula and that the coconut scent exudes from the peach lactone which has a fatty-coconut scent before it fully settles into its peachy goodness. Today, this perfect medley of spicy woods, fleshy fruit and not-too-sweet florals has lasted longer than any other wearing.

Yet, I do not lament moving forward into this perfume’s journey which shifts into a more unfettered rose-peach phase. This of course allows for a clearer appreciation of the peach note and a smooth passage to the musky sandalwood drydown that awaits.

So let’s talk about this drydown since really, it’s what we’ve all been waiting for. I know it’s what I was waiting for when I first wore Cocoa Sandalwood. This is a sandalwood that is soft but not soapy, woody but not dry or sharp, and I wondered, “Is this finally going to be a sandalwood fragrance I can wear? One that I can truly love and feel like it’s me?” Truthfully, I can answer these questions with a resounding, “Yes!” I don’t know if it’s the creaminess of the New Caledonia Sandalwood Laurie has used, or the perfect balance of musky ambrette seed, or her overwhelming talent as a perfumer (ding ding ding!)  but I have finally found a sandalwood fragrance that is mine.

Fragrance Notes: Cocoa absolute, coffee absolute, ginger CO2, cinnamon bark EO, clove bud absolute, natural peach lactone, rose absolute, Virginia cedar, New Caledonia sandalwood absolute, ambrette seed CO2, vanilla.

Cocoa Sandalwood is available at Sonoma Scent Studio. Scroll all the way to the bottom to find Cocoa Sandalwood which is the only fragrance available in bottles on the website at this time. $25 for 5ml Travel Spray. (Other sizes available).

More reviews of Cocoa Sandalwood:
The Non Blonde
The Black Narcissus

Image: “Current” by Leigh Viner

Bar Soap Bounty from Olive and Oud

Olive and Oud

Olive and Oud‘s dense bars are exquisitely fragrant suds factories that get you clean, leave your skin soft, and fill the air with beautiful aromas. Right now I’ve got Flora in use, and it is one gorgeous smelling soap. It’s woody with cabrueva and peru balsam, and floral with ylang ylang, palma rosa, and mimosa. It’s also lightly piquant from grapefruit and a hint of allspice. Patchouli makes it earthy and binds all of these wonderful scents together which centers the fragrant quality of the soap itself and also has a centering effect on the bather as well.

I’m also exploring the bar soaps Eye Candy, Souk and Ode to Joy. Eye Candy is made with jasmine and tuberose floral waxes in addition to sandalwood, gingerlily and other delicious essences. It’s sitting here on my desk and it certainly is nose candy! Souk is more on the mellow side when compared to Flora and Eye Candy, but it is no less intoxicating. Coriander and bergamot work their charms into this soap which, like all of them, is made with olive oil, organic cocoa butter (or organic palm oil) and shea butter for an exceptionally nourishing lather.

Olive and Oud 2

Lastly, there’s the bright and sunny Ode to Joy that’s bursting with citrus, specifically grapefruit, bergamot, and petitgrain. Lavender, coriander, frankincense and a smidge of jasmine are also playing around in this chunk of fun, but to me it’s all about the sparkling fruit and it will be the ideal soap for those mornings when I’ve hit the snooze button one too many times.

I have terrific news for Scent Hive readers! Laura Natusch, creator of Olive and Oud, would like to do a giveaway for a bar of her newest soap Emerge. It’s based on green and citrus scents (especially cilantro) over earthier, sweeter base notes and as of this posting, it’s not even available on her esty site yet. To enter, simply visit Olive and Oud and then leave a comment over here on Scent Hive letting us all know what soap you would choose. Drawing now closed. 

Good luck!

Olive and Oud soaps are available at etsy for $6.25

Clarins Santal Face Treatment Oil Review (and a bit about the remodel)

Michael Carson

My blogging break was due in large part to the all consuming nature of our house remodel. We had to move out of our home for the entirety of the process so I chose about five or six perfumes to take with me for what I thought was going to be four months of nomadic life around Portland. It was six. But I did something counterintuitive to most perfume lovers, at least it was counterintuitive to me. I didn’t wear my selected perfumes. Actually, I didn’t wear any perfume at all.

As it turned out, I wasn’t much interested in fragrance, and it didn’t take me long to figure out why. Although the stress of a remodel is a good stress to have, it does take a toll and it only gets worse as the days and months drag on…and on. I was protecting myself from associating any of my beloved perfumes with such an emotionally fraught time, and I am so glad I did. Which brings me to my review.

ClarinsI began using Clarins’ Santal Face Treatment Oil when we first moved out of our house. We were staying at our friends’ beautiful home while they were in Bali for the month of February and our transition was smooth and relatively painless. I used the facial oil at night religiously and found comfort in its sandalwood-cardamom blend which is quite relaxing. Lavender is present as well, but very subtly, which not only enhances its relaxation effects but also adds a bright herbaceous quality which is very lovely.

Clarins Santal Face Oil was my first experience with hazelnut oil as a moisturizer and I was thoroughly pleased with its performance. I started using this 100% natural oil in the winter and continued through the summer and found it well-suited to both warm and cold months. It nourished my skin effectively in the winter and never felt too heavy in the summer. Bottom line, I loved it!

Regrettably, I can’t use it any more. The last few months of dealing with our remodel, compounded by moving from different house to different house became (what’s another word for stressful?) oh yes, nearly unbearable. As a result, what used to be the very relaxing scent of Clarins Santal Face Oil is now a reminder of that exasperating period. I know that over time, the memory will fade and I will be able to enjoy that nightly ritual again. And I do look forward to it.

Painting by Michael Carson 

The Non Blonde’s Review of Clarins Santal Face Treatment Oil

I purchased my bottles from Nordstrom.com $50 for 1oz

A Dozen Roses. A Valentine’s Day Blogging Event


DozenRosesX12

Some of you may know that it’s been a year since my last post, and I have to thank Ayala of Ayala Moriel Parfums for asking me to take part in this Rose Blogging Event for Valentine’s Day, even though Scent Hive has been in a deep slumber. I needed someone to reach out and get me to dust off the old blog, so I really appreciate her kindness. I come to this post with a giddy sense of anticipation but admittedly with a bit of hesitation as well. I’m not sure if this means I will get back to blogging on the regular, or just every now and then, but I do know that I am excited to share this lovely, dozen full of roses with you all.

Rose Ginger Oolong Tea

Aftelier Rose Ginger Oolong Tea: What better way to set the mood for a feature on rose scented products than a warm cup of tea that has been blended with Turkish rose? Oolong tea has become a favorite of mine over the years as I find it wakes me up without the making me jittery and this one in particular has a smooth smokiness that is brightened by a judicious use of ginger and a dreamy perfuming of soft rose. A tin of this precious tea would be such a unique gift, but don’t forget to order one for yourself.

DSH Dirty Rose

DSH Perfumes Dirty Rose: As the name suggests, Dirty Rose is not a clean or pristine flower, but I’d wear it to high tea just to raise an eyebrow or two. It’s true that this rose has been tossed and turned through rich, fecund soil more than a few times. Its petals are less than virginal, as they’ve reached the point of full ripeness with slight decay at their edges. Oakmoss, oud and leather are the predominant notes to my nose, and applying Dirty Rose to my skin is like slipping on a weathered leather jacket that is suffused with rose and the scent of damp earth. (85% natural)

Ayala

Ayala Moriel Parfums Tea Rose: While Dirty Rose is indeed an unkempt little thing, Tea Rose is a clean, rosy petal-musk that won’t make anyone blush. That’s not to say it’s boring or uptight. If you’re familiar with Ayala’s perfumes you know that’s never the case. But Tea Rose is redolent of bright and pretty roses (no dirt here), magnified by the fruitiness of osmanthus and cassis. Green tea adds depth and astringency, thereby grounding all of this lovely sweetness. And then of course there’s the musk, the vegetal musk of ambrette seed which permeates the first top note and the very last hint of the drydown. It’s a pale and delicate musk, but it’s undeniably there.

Bed of Roses

Velvet and Sweet Pea Bed of Roses: Laurie Stern, the creator of Bed of Roses, describes this perfume as “voluptuous” and voluptuous it is! It is made from nine rose distillations from all parts of the world in addition to other full-bodied florals like tuberose, boronia and orange blossom. Aged sandalwood and cognac are also present which bolster this bed’s foundation with a vintage richness, but it never gets too tangled up in the past as rose leaf absolute and green mandarin are also in the mix, asserting themselves with a fresh modernity. Since this is an all natural perfume you won’t find it booming with aldehydes, but it booms in its own way, with this many lush distillations, absolutes, and Laurie’s expert hand at the helm, there’s no way it couldn’t.

Rosa Solid

Roxana Illuminated Perfume Rosa: One of my dearest friends gave me Rosa as a birthday gift a few years back. It’s the solid perfume form of Rosa, housed in a vintage inspired compact which is nestled in a handmade pink crocheted pouch. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and think of her every time I wear this ambery rose. When I use the term amber, I mean it specifically in Roxana’s botanical context, which is laden with labdanum, benzoin, and mossy woods. The rose opening blooms within the perfume solid’s base of organic beeswax which radiates a pure warmth into the supple, leathery heart. Oud and vetiver, the foundations of Rosa’s base, complete this woodland rose walk, one that lasts for many hours.

Rose Face Elixir

Aftelier Rose Face Elixir: I’ve been using facial oils long enough now that after one look at the list of oils in Mandy Aftel’s Rose Face Elixir, I knew it would leave my skin nourished and glowing. You can take a peek at the full roster yourself, but a small sampling includes wildcrafted rose hip oil (which contains retinol and is loaded with vitamin c), organic camellia oil, and organic grapeseed oil. What I wasn’t expecting, was to be completely smitten by the scent. So much so that I want this in a body oil form, I want to spritz it as an EDP and I want to dab it gingerly as a parfum. Mandy’s perfumes are typically quite complex and multifaceted. A sign of a gifted artist to be sure. But her balanced and nuanced use of just three essences, rose, sandalwood and frankincense, seems to me to need just as much skill and talent as this triad hums with a stunningly relaxed beauty.

SIP Sage and Rose

Strange Invisible Perfumes Sage and Rose Body Lotion: I had a preconceived notion that the sage in this lotion might consume the rose, turning this into a predominantly herbal experience. I was wrong. The sage and rose instantaneously fuse together as it warms on the skin sharing their respective herbaceous and sweetly floral qualities. The overall scent is mild, but provides an excellent base for layering any one of the aforementioned perfumes, especially if you are interested in adding a hint of leafiness. As for its efficacy, the lightness of this lotion belies its powerhouse moisturizing capabilities. Organic sweet almond oil, wildcrafted avocado oil, and a host of other skin nourishing oils feel like velvet and leave your skin supple and beautifully scented.

Bois de Rose

In Fiore Bois de Rose Beauty Balm: I have excellent news dear readers! Bois de Rose, once an exclusive to the In Fiore boutique in San Francisco, is now readily available at Beautyhabit.com, which means samples of this gem are within reach. If you’ve never experienced an In Fiore Beauty Balm, I can’t recommend them highly enough. Made of cold-pressed grapeseed oil, jojoba seed oil, beeswax and vitamin e, the Body Balms are near solid at room temperature, but melt effortlessly into oil, soothing the thirstiest of skin. In Fiore offers many lovely fragrances from solid perfumes to oils to these balms, and Bois de Rose is my favorite because it’s a little different. I think it’s the vetiver that gives this woody floral an unexpected, chewy bite. The rose is pretty of course, and the rosewood is warm and familiar, but the vetiver adds a nutty-earthiness that I can taste in the back of my throat as I inhale its aroma. So it’s a little wild this Bois de Rose, but in an insouciant, sensual way. Perfect for your aprés bath, and pre-bedtime ritual.

Malie Beauty Oil

Malie Jasmine Rose Beauty Oil: Maile’s Beauty Oil is another rose centered oil that I love to use after a bath or shower. It soaks into the skin a little faster than In Fiore’s Body Balms, so I use this one more frequently. Everything about this Beauty Oil speaks of dewy softness to me. The blend of organic jasmine and organic rose oils are in perfect harmony. The petals are equally weighted and nearly weightless, gaining mass only from the morning’s mist off the ocean. Somewhat fresh and only mildly indolic, I will always have this skin elixir of organic coconut oil, organic jojoba oil, organic apricot kernel oil, and organic grapeseed oil as long as Maile makes it. Update: Yikes, I can’t find the Beauty Oil on the Malie website! Grab it while you can here

I’d like to wrap up with a “nosegay” of rose products that I have been using almost daily for the past 3+ years. Weleda’s Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash is perfect if you enjoy a luxuriously sudsy foaming wash on your scrunchie. Yet, I have found that its ideal use is as a shaving cream, and a shaving with a cream that smells like wild and musky rose mosqueta makes the task much more pleasant. Something I enjoy far more than shaving, is spritzing my face with a hydosol. I have many in my collection, but right now the one in heaviest rotation is Tammy Fender’s Bulgarian Rose Water. I use it before my nightly facial moisturizer whether it be oil or cream, and I also spritz it onto my kabuki brush before applying powder foundation. Its rose scent is surprisingly rich and lingers longer than any other rose hydrosol I have used, which is good because it’s also the most expensive one I have used! I will end this post with a longtime love, Dr. Haushcka’s Rose Day Cream. Even though I have become partial to oils for nighttime facial moisturizing, I use this nightly as an eye cream and sometimes over my entire face when I want the comforting feeling of a cream on my dry skin. The scent is aromatic rose heaven, and it hydrates like a dream.

So there’s my dozen roses for Valentine’s Day. Please stop by the following blogs to see what these lovely ladies have procured for you.

All I Am A Red Head
EauMG
Katie Puckrik Smells
The Non Blonde
Perfume Shrine
Roxana Illuminated Perfume
Smelly Blog

Hindu Honeysuckle by Providence Perfume Co.

A little vial of Hindu Honeysuckle arrived at my door a few weeks ago, a welcome surprise during this time of remodeling chaos (see below). Currently, my perfumes are tucked away safely in the attic, save for a select few, so I welcomed the opportunity for something new and different. When I read the PR card that accompanied my sample, I was both reluctant and intrigued.

Jasmine sambac, not honeysuckle, is the featured floral, and since I’ve been hit with a case of jasmine fatigue, I admittedly had to hold back a heavy sigh. Then the word “coriander” popped into view, and my interest was sparked. Coriander encompasses so much of what I love in a scent. It’s a culinary spice of course, so it’s slightly piquant with a vibrant citrus back note. At the same time, coriander is also sweetly floral which lends itself beautifully to perfumery.

Because honeysuckle oil is very difficult to extract, making it rare and quite costly, you won’t find it in Hindu Honeysuckle. In lieu of this delicate blossom, Charna Ether, the nose behind Providence Perfume Co, created a “honeysuckle accord” with Indian Jasmine Sambac, Indian coriander, vetiver, rose absolute, botanical musk seed, and bergamot.

As mentioned above, jasmine sambac is the dominant note, and a glorious one at that. This jasmine is so clear and vivid that it radiates sambac’s pure essence. It smells just like the spicy and musky sambac concrete that I purchased at NYC’s Enfleurage a few years ago. Like coriander, sambac also possesses a bright citrus quality that is heightened by the use of bergamot in Hindu Honeysuckle’s blend. It is not indolic in the slightest which would have detracted from its vivid and powerful opening.

Jasmine sambac continues to be a strong presence throughout the evolution of Hindu Honeysuckle, but within the heart, coriander and ambrette emerge, grounding the fragrance with earthen musk. In the drydown, I took note of vetiver before realizing that is was actually vetiver. After a couple hours of skintime, Hindu Honeysuckle became surprisingly powdery in that powder-without-sweetness way that only vetiver can provide. The merging of vetiver and coriander in this final stage is wholly unique and really lovely.

For an all natural perfume, I found Hindu Honeysuckle’s sillage and longevity to be more than impressive. It lasts on my skin for an entire day, and its scent wafts with moderate strength from top to heart, and then gently through the drydown. Charna is now offering a 10 sample coffrett or you can buy individual samples as well. Along with Hindu Honeysuckle, I strongly recommend trying Osmanthus Oolong. It too is really special.

Hindu Honeysuckle is available at Providence Perfume Co. $115 for 1oz, $26 for 6ml, or $7 for a sample.

Disclosure: A sample was provided to me by Providence Perfume Co. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

Image of Jasmine Strings from Wikinut

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Blogoversary, demolition and a giveaway.

This is not a photo of my house, but it might as well be. It’s pretty much what our kitchen currently looks like. We’ve embarked on a major remodel, and it’s taking up much of my free time. I’m not the most frequent poster as is, and unfortunately it’s going to slow down even more over the next several months. I know how annoying it can be, checking a blog daily, or even weekly to find the same post lingering there, so please bear with me! And do consider subscribing to Scent Hive so you will get an email notice when I post something new.

Since it is Scent Hive’s 3rd year “blogoversary” today, I want to thank you so much for reading, commenting and supporting my blog, and what better way to do so than hold a giveaway? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a full bottle (save for a few spritzes for reviewing purposes) of Red Flower’s Garnet Hill exclusive, Sweet Alyssum. I included Sweet Alyssum in my 2011 Holiday Gift Guide, which you can read more about here. Drawing is now closed. I will post winner in the next couple days. 

Again, I can’t tell you all how much I appreciate you stopping by Scent Hive over these past three years. As Scent Hive enters its fourth, it might be slow going at first, but I will be sure to write about my most precious finds.

XOXO

Trish

Anniversary card image from graphicsfairy.blogspot.com

Image of remodel from zillow.com

Soft Skin by Wash the Day Away

Cardamom Orange Lotion by Wash the Day Away is my favorite skincare find this winter. It’s unabashedly spicy with a fervid dosing of cardamom and the sharp effervescent of lime. If you love cardamom, and by this I mean the vibrant scent of freshly chopped pods, Cardamom Orange will send you into blissful olfaction as its spiciness is more akin to adventurous culinary pursuits rather than a gentle hint or suggestion of the seasoning.

Its piquantness settles after a half hour or so as the sweetness of orange becomes more apparent and the kick of cardamom and lime recede into backnotes. The hydrating properties of Cardamom Orange last much longer than that since it’s loaded with powerful healers like calendula, aloe vera juice and aloe vera gel (the first three ingredients) along with shea butter and wheat germ oil (the next two ingredients).

This lotion is surprisingly light for how well it moisturizes and completely absorbs into the skin within seconds. I’ve been keeping my sample jar in the car for a quick fix, and can grip the steering wheel moments after application without feeling like I’ve greased it with butter. Kind of a silly example, but you get the point.

If you’re interested in Wash the Day Away’s Lotions, but cardamom isn’t quite you’re thing, I highly recommend the Bergamot Coriander Lotion as well. It too is redolent of kitchen spices, but it’s toned down and has a floral facet thanks to the always lovely neroli. The formula of Bergamot Coriander is a tad thicker than the Cardamom Orange, but it absorbs just as quickly.

Wash the Day Away has many lotions to choose from, and Lavender Lemondrop and Warming Mandarin Rum are next on my list to try. You’ll find many more enticing products at the Wash the Day Away etsy shop. Both lotions are $14.75 for an 8oz jar or $7.75 for 4oz.

Disclosure: Samples were provided to me by Wash the Day Away. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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2012 FIFI Indie Award Top Five Finalists

Visit the FIFI Awards Website for the official announcement of:

2012 FIFI “INDIE” AWARD TOP FIVE FINALISTS

The five finalists are:
Carner Barcelona “Cuirs” – Min New York
Come L’Amore, Bois 1920 – Bois 1920 (Perfume Holding Corp.)
Miller Harris La Fumée – Miller Harris
Odin New York 06 Amanu – Foundry NYC
Siberian Snow by D.S. & Durga – D.S. & Durga

Congrats to the nominees!

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MCMC Fragrances: Two Perspectives on Two Perfumes.

Natalie from Another Perfume Blog and I have joined forces to review our favorite MCMC perfumes. Natalie’s pick, Garden, is from Sample Set #1 and my pick, Hunter, is from Sample Set #2. Being a part of MCMC’s Stories Collection, Hunter’s inspiration is the story of an endearing childhood memory, as described by Anne McLain, Hunter’s creator:

When I was younger I had a friend named Harrison, who I liked to call Hunter. He lent me the book Ishmael, and played guitar, and taught me about loving the environment.
Years later, memories of our long friendship and his adventures building maple sugar cabins in Vermont inspired the fragrance Hunter. With tobacco absolute, organic Bourbon vanilla and fir balsam, this fragrance is best when worn with a flannel shirt.

Currently, I am reading Wildwood, written by Colin Meloy and beautifully illustrated by Carson Ellis, with my older son. We are completely entrenched in the adventures of young Prue and Curtis as they brave the forbidden forest just outside Portland, Or. Alongside my son, MCMC’s Hunter has been my faithful companion for this woodland adventure. It’s the perfect pairing, and I love that Hunter was created to enhance Anne McLain’s reminiscence of her dear friend, and now I can claim it as a reminder of reading a terrific tale with my son.

As you probably know, Portland is rainy. Really rainy. But this fall and winter have been unseasonably sunny and dry (save for the past two days which have been a teasing mix of rain and snow). So Hunter’s dry and musky take on a forest of fir melds ideally with my surroundings. The fir note is subtle, but notable, as are the tobacco and vanilla. The tobacco leaves are slightly parched, which enhances their resinous quality in a earthy, gauzy manner rather than conjuring images of jewel toned brocades in a smoking parlor.

There is however, a hint of moisture as a brume of jammy plum, or possibly cassis, lingers in the background. This provides body and weight to Hunter whose dry leaves would otherwise drift away upon autumn’s first wind. I realize that vanilla and fir tinged tobacco sounds inherently cozy, but it’s the depth of a dark fruit’s ripeness that gives it a robustness to withstand chilly days and even colder nights.

Anne McClain’s suggestion of donning a flannel shirt while wearing Hunter speaks to the comfort its fragrance provides. At its heart, Hunter is a musky skin-scent that beckons curling up with a warm blanket, a good book, and of course, a loved one.

For Natalie’s review of Garden, please visit Another Perfume Blog.

From the MCMC FAQ page, a word about product ingredients:

In the MCMC Fragrances laboratory, we use both natural and synthetic ingredients. The Dude No. 1 beard oil is the only 100% all natural product we currently have on offer, however, in all of our products, we do use an especially high concentration of natural ingredients in comparison to mass-market perfumes, which usually contain little (and sometimes none at all) natural ingredients. Because MCMC does not spend money on advertising, all of our cost goes into the perfume itself, bringing you the highest quality of materials and creativity.

Our perfume oil roll-ons come in a base of organic jojoba oil, making the perfume oil products 85% organic and all natural.

Hunter is available at MCMCfragrances.com $45 for 9ml perfume roll-on or $95 for 40ml EDP. If you are lucky enough to live in Portland, you can stop by Una or Nationale to find MCMC’s perfumes.

Image: Something Gathered Along the Way by Kelsey Loomer on etsy.

Disclosure: Samples were provided to me by MCMC. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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