Strange Invisible Perfume’s Latest Release: Fire and Cream

fire and cream

Fire and Cream launches today, the newest fragrance from Alexandra Balahoutis, perfumer and creator of Strange Invisible Perfumes. The name Fire and Cream is not so much descriptive of the perfume, but rather of Ms. Balahoutis, as she created this fragrance for herself. Yet, Fire and Cream not only alludes to her red hair and pale complexion, it also refers to the sky one summer evening when Ms. Balahoutis looked at what must have been a gorgeous sunset and thought, “The sky is full of fire and cream.”

Fire and Cream begins with heaps of pure orange, and a healthy dose of herbaceous white lavender. Both hydro-distilled orange and orange blossoms are in the top notes, allowing for a luscious mix of rich citrus, sweet blossoms and aromatic lavender. The herbal quality continues into the heart of the fragrance where frankincense and tuberose enter the picture. I confess that my nose did not pick up these individual notes, (they are listed on the press release), but I did sense resinous and mildly heady after about an hour. I also took note of vetiver which is listed as a base note, but mingles unabashedly throughout the fragrance hierarchy. In fact, Fire and Cream reminds me of Magazine Street with its similar vetiver vigor, (blended beautifully with vanilla) but Fire and Cream is toned down on the sweetness and turned up on the herbaceousness.

Another similarity to Magazine Street is the well-mannered patchouli dry-down that gives both fragrances an earthy yet smooth base. Fire and Cream still remains much more aromatic than the more confectionary Magazine Street, and I do believe it would wear very well on a man. In addition, the drydown comes full circle with a glimpse of its lovely orange opening. Alongside sandalwood, the final unfolding evokes petitgrain, an essence which can easily be worn by a man or woman.

Fire and Cream also seems to be one of those fragrances that will move effortlessly from season to season. The citrus/lavender duo is not overbearing in its liveliness and the patchouli/frankincense/tuberose triad never becomes a heavy floriental. All notes are well-balanced and being a fan of Magazine Street, I am enjoying that it feels like a familiar favorite, but is different in its cologne-esque edge.

So is there fire and cream in Fire and Cream? I’m not sure the name befits the juice in the literal sense, but I do love the fragrance itself and the story of a stunning sunset as its inspiration. But I’m certainly no red head with a pale complexion. I’m a brunette with brown eyes and olive skin. So Alexandra, you’re gonna have to move over…Fire and Cream is mine!

Leave a comment and you will be entered in a giveaway to receive a sample of Fire and Cream direct from Strange Invisible Perfumes. There will be two lucky winners! You will have until Sunday September 20th at 10pm Pacific time to enter. US entries only this time. Good luck! The winners have been chosen.

Strange Invisible Perfumes Commitment (from their press kit):

Strange Invisible Perfumes is committed to respecting and preserving the earth. Its practices as a company, boutique, and manufacturer are vibrantly green. All products are authentically pure and natural. They are completely free of synthetic preservatives, genetically modified ingredients, parabens, petroleum, coal tar, and industrial phthalates. While sincerely recognizing the value of organic certification, Strange Invisible Perfumes adheres to its own standards of purity and authenticity, which are arguably far more rigorous. The company aggressively pursues ingredients that are organic, fair trade, wildcrafted, and biodynamically cultivated, with every ingredient satisfying at least one measure. All perfumes are set in a base of 100% organic grape alcohol. Ecologically sound packaging reinforces its green stance.

Fire and Cream is available at Strange Invisible Perfumes

posted by ~Trish


Kahina Giving Beauty; Discover Organic Argan Oil


Argan oil, which is extracted from the nuts of the argan tree, is the heart of the Kahina Giving Beauty skincare line. It is indigenous to Morocco where Kahina’s founder Katherine L’Heureux has lived and devoted much time and energy to the women who work in the argan cooperatives that provide the argan oil for Kahina. The argan cooperatives afford these women the opportunity to learn to read and write, sustain valuable friendships, and help provide financially for themselves and their families which is a dire need. When you buy a Kahina product, a generous 25% of the profits go back to programs that help these women.

wk_zahraAmarirThe word Kahina is the name of an 8th century Jewish Berber queen and prophetess who successfully resisted the first Arab invaders, and symbolizes empowerment to women worldwide. The last part of the company’s name Giving Beauty, is self evident.

I have been looking for organic argan oil to purchase for about a month now. I loved my little sample that came with my Josie Maran Earth Day Kit and knew I would purchase a full bottle at some point. Fortuitously, Lucy at IndiePerfumes brought Kahina to my attention and I wanted to give the line a serious look, due to Ms. L’Heureux’s generous donations back to the Moroccan women. When I checked out the Kahina website, I was thrilled to see several tempting skincare offerings.

sustainableBeautyI would have thought argan oil would be argan oil, but I have read several reviews of different brands that have alerted me to the fact that some argan oils can be rather unpleasant smelling. Not so with Kahina’s. It does have a very mild nutty scent, but it is not bothersome in the slightest and is hardly noticeable (and I am very sensitive to smells in my skincare products). My only comparison is Josie Maran’s, whose argan oil has a more distinct smell, almost a petroleum type scent. But that was not unpleasant either, just a bit odd and faded quickly. My point is, if scent is an issue for you, I don’t think you will be bothered by Kahina’sArgan Oil. As for its performance; I love facial oils and Kahina’s 100% Organic Argan Oil is wonderful. I use it at night and wake up with soft skin. It doesn’t break me out, and in fact is purported to have antibacterial properties. It’s also rich in vitamin e and antioxidants. If you’ve never used oil as a moisturizer I know it can be a little strange to consider, but it feels amazing to massage on your skin and discover its benefits.

The Kahina Facial Cleanser is a lovely foaming cleanser that I have enjoyed using on those days or nights when I’m wanting a little extra clean-up. I typically use a facial oil or cream cleanser, but I do like gentle foaming ones and Kahina’s is perfect. The scent is amazing, let me just tell you! The organic floral water and neroli oil create a light citrusy floral scent that is refreshing and relaxing. The gentle foaming action gets my face clean, but does not feel stripped dry thanks to the argan oil, oat amino acids and organic honey in the formula.

Finally, I have also been able to try the Kahina Facial Lotion which is a highly efficacious, yet lightweight moisturizer. 95% of its botanical ingredients are organic and like all Kahina products, it is 100% natural. It also contains organic argan oil as well as organic shea butter and is ideal for this time of year as it’s not heavy in the warmer temperatures. My skin gets quite dry in the winter months, so I’ll definitely need more hydration at that point, and would love to give the Kahina Seruma try underneath the lotion to give it a moisturizing boost. There’s no SPF in the lotion, but since it’s so lightweight, it would wear very well under a tinted moisturizer with SPF.

Here’s huge kudos to Ms. L’Heureux for creating such a gorgeous skincare line that gives 1/4 of the profits to programs that will benefit those women who work hard to create the argan oil. And not only that, just by purchasing the product you are helping sustain the argan cooperatives and thereby sustaining these women’s livelihoods, educations, sense of community and empowerment. Additionally, the Kahina website states : “Our products do not and will never contain parabens, synthetics, sulfates, petroleum, GMOs, animal byproducts, artificial colors or fragrances.”

I also give Ms. L’Heureux raves for the packaging. Yes, the bottles are recyclable and the boxes are made from 100% recycled materials, but scroll back up to the top image. Do you see the inscriptions on the bottles? Those are the signatures of some of the women who work in the argan oil cooperatives. Yet they are not words, as most of the women are illiterate. They are symbols and designs they have created to meaningfully represent themselves, and Ms. L’Heureux has chosen to put their marks on the bottles. Beautiful.

Photographs from the Kahina Giving Beauty website. Photos from Morocco taken by Katherine L’Heureux


Carol's Daughter Body Butter. My Mother's Day Pick

groove_bb_mMother’s Day is rapidly approaching on Sunday and I wanted to post about a product that is affordable, easily accessible, and something that would make most moms feel special. My pick is Carol’s Daughter Body Butter ($18) and is available online and at most Sephora stores.

Carol’s Daughter Body Butter is filled with ingredients your skin craves to keep it soft and supple: shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil and sweet almond oil. And what’s even more important, is what isn’t in the Body Butter. You won’t find petrochemicals, phthalates, parabens, or synthetic dyes. Carol’s Daughter does not claim to use 100% all-natural or organic ingredients, but again, we’re looking for a lower price point here and I am happy that no petrochemicals or phthalates are being used, at least in the Body Butter. You’ll want to be sure to read the labels of their other products if this is important to you. The consistency of Carol’s Daughter Body Butter is thick and balm-like, but warms readily and absorbs quickly. It’s super hydrating and feels luxurious as you massage it into your skin.

Finding a scent for the mom in your life can be challenging, but I say just go for it. With a body butter in general, she can use a little on her hands for a subtle scent, or go crazy and put it all over if she really falls head over heels with your choice. Carol’s Daughter gives you many to choose from. Love is laden with honey, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Ocean has rosemary, cyclamen and rose. Ecstasy is pineapple, white florals and musk. Almond Cookie is for the real sweet lover and has marzipan, tonka and vanilla orchid. Mango Melange is succulent fruit and coconut, and Jamaican Punch is Fuji apple, cinnamon and musk.

My favorite is Groove Body Butter. And groovy it is. There is nothing about the notes listed that say I should like this. Red currant and sugared dewberries (too sweet!), Tahitian vanilla and cocoa (that might be OK, but with that sweetness I was thinking too foody) and musk (dear gawd…..I cannot do musk). But somehow, it all works and I love it. The red currant tempers the whole deal and keeps its fruitiness just tart enough so the scales don’t get tipped too far into the cloying realm. And the vanilla and cocoa are not of the foody type, just the aromatic swoon-worthy variety. And the musk? What can I say….it’s one of those rare breeds that works for me. It’s not a clean musk, white musk or an “Egyptian” type musk. It’s a fruity musk I guess, a groovy musk.

All of these scents, Groove, Ocean, Mango Melange, etc. also come in other products like scrubs, oils and gels. So you could make your mama a lovely gift set and even mix and match the fragrances. So have at it and pick one up for yourself.

Carol’s Daughter is available at Sephora, their online store and their US stores.

Posted by ~Trish


Pacifica Update!


After I posted my review of Pacifica’s Spanish Amber perfume, there was some concern in the comments about the use of synthetic ingredients in their formulations. I corresponded directly with owner Brook Harvey-Taylor and she clarified this issue. Pacifica’s products contain 85-95% naturally derived ingredients, with most products falling on the high end of this scale. And to be clear, their products (perfumes, lotions, washes, etc) do not contain petrochemicals, parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes, phthalates, GMOs, or triclosan (an anti-bacterial derived from benzene). In addition, Pacifica adheres to the following practices:


•No animal testing or ingredients
•Manufactures in the USA
•Works with local suppliers
•Provides full health and dental benefits for all employees
•Provides full 401K and 125 savings for all employees


(I also like the fact that the perfume solids are made with organic soy and coconut wax and the tins are recyclable!)


In the spirit of putting closure on this issue, I will not be opening this post up to comments. If you have any specific questions about my correspondence with Brook or have a question you would like me to ask her, please contact me at scenthive {at} gmail {dot} com.


Posted by ~Trish


Pacifica Spanish Amber


Pacifica makes a bold claim on its website. “This is the best Amber in the world.” I am not an amber lover, so I can neither confirm nor deny that statement, but I certainly love their confidence. And I do love their business model. Take a look at the founders’ Standards and Ethics and you’ll know they have a deep commitment not only to the environment, but also to the health of their customers and employees. 


Not being one who is enamored of amber, I had not actively educated myself about this particular scent. But I recently read Mandy Aftel’s “Essence and Alchemy” and learned that amber is actually a blend of several scents. Typically labdanum, which is a resin from a Mediterranean shrub; benzoin, which is a secretion of the Styrax tree, and vanilla. There are other blends that can go into an amber resin, but this represents a simple example. So it’s no surprise that Spanish Amber’s notes are amber resin, as well as rose gernanium, sandalwood, bergamot, and elemi. (Elemi is a tree native to the Philippine Islands, and its fragrant resin oil apparently has a sharp lemonish scent, which for the record is no where to be found in this fragrance).


Spanish Amber comes in both a perfume solid and spray perfume. I tried them both, and they are very similar in scent and their excellent lasting power. The base of the solid perfume is organic coconut wax, organic soy wax, and non-GMO hydrogenated soy wax. Applying the solid perfume was very sensual. It warmed easily and absorbed well. The fragrance itself is definitely for amber lovers. But fair warning to the amber connoisseur, I would not call this complex or sophisticated. It’s a lovely, soft, straightforward amber that is wearable for even someone like myself who typically shies away from anything with amber in the name. For the first few hours, neither the rose geranium nor the bergamot assert themselves, and the sandalwood is present just enough to provide a gentle footing to assure the amber plays nice. Yet, after about five hours of wear Spanish Amber did evolve somewhat and the sandalwood emerged as well as a hint of vanilla which was not so prevalent in the initial amber mix.


And can I get an Amen? solids-group-fall-08-standardimageThe price of these fragrances is just what the penny-pinching perfumista ordered! $9 for the perfume solid and $22 for the perfume spray. I say go for the perfume solid. They are portable, really cute, and the scent lasts for hours. And if you’re like me and amber isn’t your thing, not to worry, their selection is outstanding. I will be reviewing more of their fragrances since they are so affordable. Pacifica also makes wonderful body butters and candles. Additionally, Pacifica products are free of parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates and lead wicks.


Pacifica is available at their website, Sephora, Whole Foods, and probably your local health food store.


Update: I emailed Pacifica customer service to ask about petroleum ingredients in their products as well as the use of synthetic aroma-chemicals in their perfumes/perfume solids. The answer back was: They do not use petroleum based ingredients in their perfumes and body products but they do use paraffin in their pillar candles, (but not their soy candles) and please see this post for more detailed information regarding synthetics.

Posted by ~Trish

photo by loutraje on Flickr