To Bee. Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Homage to the Honeybee

I am continually marveled by Roxana Villa. She is a prolific and highly gifted natural perfumer whose work I greatly admire and her dedication to nurturing the native flora and fauna of her home in Southern California is unflagging and commendable. She has created perfumes inspired by local plants such as the native rose of California, lavender from Ojai Valley, and the California Coastal Live Oak. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of several of Roxana’s perfumes are donated to organizations like the California Chaparral Institute and the Ojai Lavender Festival.

As if Roxana didn’t have enough on her activist-perfumer’s plate, over the past year she has become an organic beekeeper. Her efforts are part of a movement to help reverse colony collapse disorder and ultimately save the honeybee (and ourselves) from destruction. Her hard work also gives her the opportunity to savor her bees’ honey. Roxana sent along a tiny pot of this glistening elixir which tasted heavenly as it mingled with melted butter atop my morning toast. Along with this culinary treat, her bees have given rise to Roxana’s newest olfactory creation, To Bee, a 100% natural perfume that radiates the essence of honey.

 

To Bee is available in solid and liquid form, and both are composed of several complex accords, botanical notes, as well as tinctures from beeswax sourced from Roxana’s hive, local hives, and feral rescue hives. The result is a mosaic of scents that swirl together harmoniously which then ultimately distill to a crystalline honey drydown.

Amber and musk accords anchor To Bee with a resinous sweetness and a vegetal musk as tonka, woods, vanilla, ambrette, and hay offer their enticing aromas. It sets a tone of warmth that gives To Bee a glow in which the honey can bask. But it’s Roxana’s intricate leather accord that makes To Bee quite unique and animalic as it’s made up of choya (smoked sea shells), africa stone and oud- along with nearly fifty other essences! This leathery bounty of notes boosts the muskiness of Too Bee and gives its sweet amber accord a sultry sexiness. Clearly, Too Bee is not a one dimensional honey scent. It is sophisticated, alluring, and a pleasure to wear.


In its final hours on the skin, Too Bee dries down to a pure honeyed experience, like the scent of melting beeswax which I find utterly intoxicating. A slightly floral component is more noticeable in this stage as jasmine and mimosa seem to quietly declare themselves. A little musk lingers as well, more so in the solid form, but it’s the honey from hardworking bees that makes the drydown, as well as To Bee in its entirety, so very alluring.

Please leave a comment if you would like to be entered in a drawing for a sample pot of Roxana’s To Bee. US entries only please. Drawing closed, will announce winner soon!

A sampler of To Bee is available at Roxana’s etsy site. Beautiful engraved lockets filled with To Bee are also available as are 5gm solid pots and a 7gm liquid flacon. A spray version is coming, and that’s what I’ll be holing out for!

Images courtesy of ©RoxanaVilla

Disclosure: Samples were sent to me for consideration by Roxana Illuminated Perfume. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Gracing the Dawn by Roxana Villa


Gracing the Dawn is the second chypre to be released by Roxana Villa. The first was Green Witch, which emerged this past spring and was heralded by us perfume bloggers as a gorgeous “marine chypre” due to its sea side aromas. Gracing the Dawn is similar in that it possesses classic chypre notes like oakmoss and galbanum, but it differs from Green Witch of course, even from the opening. It feels more like a vintage perfume as a multitude of complex notes intertwine effortlessly so no essence is distinct, yet the fragrance as a whole is quite distinctive.


To me, Green Witch is a softer chypre with a floral heart that resembles a neroli kissed honeysuckle. By contrast, Gracing the Dawn with its rich abundance of rose, jasmine and mimosa bring to mind vintage chypres like Magie Noir and as Donna from Perfume Smellin Things mentioned, Jolie Madame. Adding to the opulence of the aforementioned flowers is a tincture of violets from Roxana’s mother’s garden that grace the floral heart making it even more rounded and voluminous.


Powdery, violet laden woods appear in the drydown which is enhanced by a minuscule amount of Africa Stone, otherwise known as the fossilized poop of the hyrax. A tincture of Africa Stone provides an ambergris-like dimension that continues the vintage perfume likeness. Unlike Roxana’s other purely botanical fragrances, she has labeled this one natural since Africa Stone is clearly not of the botanical nature. But it is ethically harvested and of course, not synthesized in a lab.


Please visit the other participating sites for more impressions of Gracing the Dawn:

Roxana herself at Illuminated Perfume Journal

Beth at Cleveland Fragrance Examiner

Lucy at Indie Perfumes

Elena at Perfume Shrine


Gracing the Dawn is available at Roxana’s etsy shop, $27 for a 1gm vial.

Posted by ~Trish

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

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Chaparral by Roxana Illuminated Perfumes

Back in July of 2009 I was a part of a “Summer Pastimes and Fragrances” blogging event. One of the categories was “Favorite Meditation/Summer Incense Scent” and I chose Roxana Villa’s Chaparral not only for its beauty, but its appeal as a summertime incense perfume. When I look back on what I wrote over a year ago, I realize that I still feel the same way about Chaparral:


“Roxana’s gentle and expert hand with frankincense and sage allow this to be a very accessible and seasonless incense fragrance. Chaparral never becomes weighted down with dark and smokey cathedral imagery. Quite the contrary. California breezes flow on your skin when you wear this, providing a reverence for the “Cathedral of Nature” as you close your eyes and meditate on the breath that sustains you.”

I am wearing Chaparral as I write, and it does indeed encourage more intentional breaths and to revel in its outdoorsy serenity.Chaparral is offered in two forms, solid and liquid. Both are similar of course, but with some subtle, key differences. The solid and the liquid maintain a strong foundation of fresh sage and are undoubtably green and herbaceous. The solid form -in a base of unrefined beeswax, jojoba oil and infused oils- leans more nutty and smoky, like a recently tamped out brushfire. The liquid on the other hand has a tartness to the green/herbal aspect which ultimately gives way to the arid, hazy scent of Southern California’s natural landscape as embodied by Chaparral’s distinct sage and frankincense blend.

Just days ago, Roxana added another fragrance to the Chaparral duo called Tangent. Roxana told me she views Tangent as the cowgirl counterpart to the more cowboy nature of Chaparral. I completely agree as Tangent is softer and sweeter with what I’m guessing is a more generous use of benzoin. The result has a touch of sensual powderiness that the other Chaparrals do not possess. For quite some time now, Chaparral has been my go-to incense perfume, but cowgirl Tangent has clearly made a gorgeous impression on me.

Leave a comment about Chaparral or Tangent and you’ll be entered in a giveaway for samples of both forms of Chaparral. Extra entries if you follow Roxana on Twitter or her blog. Extra entries as well if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin,Twitter, Google Friend Connect,Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. Please let me know in your comment what you did so you get the entries you deserve! US entries only. Entries accepted until Sunday Oct. 5th 9pm PST. Drawing now closed, we have our winner.


A portion of profits from the sale of the liquid flacon perfume go to the Chaparral Institute.

Chaparral is available on Roxana Illuminated Perfume etsy site. Chaparral solid compact is $65, Chaparral liquid is $150 for a 7gm French glass flacon, and Tangent is $25 for a 1gm vial.

Posted by ~Trish

Images courtesy of Roxana Villa

Disclosure: Samples were sent to me for consideration by Roxana Villa. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Roxana Illuminated Perfume: Vera Solid Perfume

Roxana Villa, of Roxana Illuminated Perfume, is the creator behind one of my favorite lavender perfumes, Vera. I reviewed the liquid formulation of Vera this past fall, and am elated that Roxana is now offering it as a solid in addition to the liquid perfume. Organic lavender from Ojai is used in the formulations and lavender lovers in the Southern California area should consider attending the Ojai Lavender Festival on June 26th.



Both the liquid and solid Veras are comforting and unique renditions of lavender, but they do possess subtle differences. Alongside lavender, there are woods, resins, sage, oakmoss and orange blossom that coalesce elegantly in both formulas. In the topnotes, sage predominates the liquid while resins are much more enhanced in the solid. Resins of styrax (benzoin), Peru Balsam and cistus yield a supple aroma whose delicate sweetness hovers over the rich depth of a sunbaked thicket.


The middle notes of the solid continue to explore the resinous nature of Vera, as cistus (the essential oil of the rockrose shrub) becomes heightened in its rich radiance. In contrast, the heart of the liquid finds itself amidst the floral company of orange blossoms which temper the intensely herbaceousness of lavender. This herbal quality quiets even further in the liquid’s drydown which assumes a more powdery form. The solid on the otherhand, veers away from the powder path and into the deeper terrain of woods like cedar, vintage Mysore sandalwood and the aforementioned resins.



Vera in both of its forms are beauties, but I prefer the solid as the union of sweet, intriguing resins with aromatic florals reels me in effortlessly. Impressive longevity is bestowed upon both, but the solid wears closer to the skin. As always, Roxana’s perfumes are 100% natural, made with only the finest organic and/or wildcrafted botanicals.


As a special treat for Scent Hive readers, Roxana is giving away a trio sampler set of Vera, Rosa and Chaparral. As always, you are eligible for extra entries, one each, by following Roxana on Twitter and/or her Blog. Extra entries as well if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin, Twitter, Google Friend Connect, Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. Please let me know in your comment what you did so you get the entries you deserve! Drawing will close Sunday June 13th at 9pm PST. We have our winner!


Vera is available at Roxana’s etsy site. $7.50 for a solid perfume mini is $7.50, $25 for a 5gm pot, $65 for a compact, or $150 for a 7gm flacon of the liquid perfume.


Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: Samples from Roxana Illuminated Perfume were provided for this review. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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May Flowers: Pink Rhododendrons

It’s a full moon today. When the sun sets, the glow of the moon will illuminate our paths and say goodnight to us through our windows. Its light is not its own of course, but that of the sun, reminding us that we are capable of reflecting light from others in times of darkness.

Fortunately, the darkness is receding and May’s full moon will rise and set at the time many rhododendron flowers are at their peak. They too glow through my window with an abundant pale pink luminescence that brings me joy year after year.

We have two very large rhododendrons in front of our house, so large in fact that they are its defining feature. They are no longer shrubs at this point, we call them trees. Squirrels and chickadees frolic in their branches, while bumblebees collect pollen from their full blossoms. I’m sure they appreciate our rhododenrons’ voluptuousness as much as we do.


I’d like to thank Roxana Villa of Roxana Illuminated Perfume for asking me to be a part of the May Flowers event. Writing this piece makes me appreciate our beautiful rhodies even more. Please visit Roxana’s Blog for more May Flowers!

Posted by ~Trish

Photos by ~Trish

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GreenWitch: A Captivating Perfume from Roxana Villa

If you read Roxana’s blog post regarding her inspiration for GreenWitch, you will find it was named after the book “GreenWitch” by Susan Cooper. It so moved Roxana, that she shifted her creation of a green perfume with an oakmoss base, a chypre (Sheep-ra) in other words, to one a little more oceanic. I appreciate chypres and their fascinating history in perfumery, but they are not my first choice in terms of perfume categories. But GreenWitch is not your typical chypre in a way that will pique the interest of chypre enthusiasts and garner the curiosity of chypre-skeptics. And isn’t today, the first day of Spring, the perfect day to savor a lush-green perfume?

GreenWitch introduces herself decidedly as a chypre with oakmoss, galbanum and a handful of crushed violet leaves and rose petals. The fragrance opening is full, but not sharp. This allows for ease when you sit in her presence, even though you’re not quite sure where you might be lead.

Watery teal was Roxana’s color choice for the art and beautiful hand-crocheted pouch that houses GreenWitch. Apropos since the oakmoss takes on a seaside tone with a vaguely nutty, salty air that vetiver and tonka can both lend. It also develops other floral nuances like boronia and honeysuckle. There are many, many essences in GreenWitch. Far too many to list here. Boronia is on that list, but not honeysuckle. Yet that is what I sense. Could it be that mimosa, ylang ylang and beeswax, which are in the notes, meld together in this fragrance to create a honeysuckle accord? I’m not sure, but I do know that the sweet green nectar of honeysuckle finds its way into my nose everytime I wear GreenWitch. Ultimately, the summery honeysuckle sugar gives way to boronia’s balsamic violet hue which is bright, sumptuous, and augments the green woods of oakmoss.

Wearing GreenWitch after several hours is like a day at the beach coming to a close. It’s the scent of warm skin, salt in your hair, and suntan lotion that barely lingers on your body. Probably not what you’d think from a perfume that started off straight-up chypre. There is a nod to that beginning though, after about six hours of wear when a delicious soapy green freshness develops.It has incredible sillage and staying power which lengthens the fragrance’s evolution, and GreenWitch might well be Roxana’s most multi-layered perfume yet.

GreenWitch is available at Esty. $150 for a 7gm flacon and $25 for a 1gm vial. Each flacon sold will give a percentage to Green Peace.

Please visit these other blogs for their impressions of GreenWitch.

Ida at BitterGrace Notes

The Non Blonde

Perfume Posse

The Windsphere Witch

Perfume Shrine

Portland Examiner

Roxana and Davis at the Illuminated Perfume Journal


Posted by ~Trish

Photos and images ©Roxana Villa and ©Greg Spalenka.

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Valentine’s Day Beauties from Roxana Villa + Giveaway!

This Valentine’s Day, Roxana Villa of Roxana Illuminated Perfumes has created the perfect gift, a beautiful set of solid fragrances. Chocolate is the unifying note of this solid perfume series and is presented in adorable truffle boxes as a duo or quartet, as well as a complete sample set of all six. Roxana works only with pure botanical essences including the chocolate aroma for her new series. The solid perfumes are made with Scharffen Berger 99% cacao, cocoa butter, organic cocoa powder and theobroma cacao extract from South America. Beeswax, and jojoba seed oil comprise the base of the solids, making them creamy and luxurious to apply.

Noir is dark and bitter with a richness only high quality chocolate can impart. But as the darkness of the chocolate opening faded, the darkness of moist earth began. Patchouli became the prominent note in Noir’s heart, and remained so until the drydown. This patchouli doesn’t have the fecund mintiness that I have grown to prefer, but it nevertheless is a superb patchouli that gets your hands dirty in rich, warm soil.

Cerise is a cherry truffle scent. I am not a cherry/chocolate person when it comes to my preferred candy choices and I probably would have passed it by if it weren’t for this review. Turns out, Cerise is one of my favorites of the six. Its cherry was like a sweet port rather than a cloying syrup and was very well-balanced against the intensity of Scharffen Berger’s 99% cacao. The cherries morphed into blackberries on my skin, recalling the dog days of summer. Yet, as those last summer days are a reminder that time is fleeting, Cerise was fleeting too. It didn’t last nearly as long as Noir, but because I adore Cerise I would not hesitate to buy the compact and I do hope that Roxana makes this into a body butter.

La Forêt is probably the least chocolatey of the six, but nevertheless, my favorite of the bunch. It’s a “dense conifer forest” as Roxana describes, and indeed the aroma of pine, spruce, and fir welled up when applied.La Forêt is reminiscent of Mandy Aftel’s Fig which has an equally sophisticated and dense piney scent. But whereas Fig is jammy and teeming with jasmine’s floral intensity, La Forêt’s greenness is augmented by unsweetened chocolate. Winter holidays come to mind whenever I smell such a lovely pine scent, but keep in mind, this scent is used in aromatherapy to refresh and revitalize any time of year.

L’Orangerie took me by surprise. I thought it would smell just like those chocolate covered orange sticks that are scrumptuous, but I wasn’t sure I would want to wear that scent on my skin. Well, I was right and wrong. They do smell like those candies, and I love smelling like a box of them!  The orange is radiant, and more like a ripe juicy tangerine with its sweetness. The chocolate in L’Orangerie seems sweeter because of this, never overwhelming the bright citrus.

Bois de Chocolat is the solid I have worn the most, and after wearing it again last night, I might have to rethink claiming La Forêt as my favorite. “Smokey woods and chocolate” is the scent description from Roxana, and it is indeed smoky. My impression of the woods in Bois de Chocolat is that of Agarwood (oud). It’s got the tangy, freshly chopped wood quality that I associate with Agarwood. Bois de Chocolat is a gentler version of Oudh Lacquer, another smoky/chocolate/agarwood scent that Liz Zorn created last year. Oudh Lacquer is a gorgeous perfume, but might be too intense for some tastes. Bois de Chocolat is the Yin to Oudh Lacquer’s Yang. So give Bois de Chocolate a go if you’re looking for a more subdued yet equally enticing experience.

L‘epice is a spicy mix of cloves, cinnamon and bitter orange rind. Are you familiar with Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice tea? I drink that brew frequently, and L’epice is reminiscent of its spicy goodness. Roxana doesn’t list the specific notes for her chocolate fragrances, but states that L’epice is: “Spice, hint of vanilla and chocolate”. The vanilla and chocolate escaped me, and I would love to smell more of those notes in L’epice. Regardless, it’s a lovely mulled spice perfume that hastens comfort and a touch of sensuality.

Now for the giveaway info! Go to Roxana’s Etsy site to check out the 5gm jar and pick the one from the Chocolate Series you would like to win. Leave a comment telling me which one you want and you will be entered. You are eligible for extra entries, one each, by following Roxana on Twitter and/or her Blog. You can get can also get extra entries if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin, Twitter, Google Friend Connect, Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. (Check the right sidebar for the Scent Hive links). Please let me know in your comments what you did so you can get the entries you deserve!

Update: Because of the amazing response I need to pick the winner sooner than I thought!  You can enter until Friday January 29th at 9pm PST. Comments closed, I’ll announce the winner soon!

And just for fun, two extra entries if you Tweet about this giveaway. Use this short link (http://bit.ly/5SIuAx) within your tweet. You can let me know by posting the Twitter link in your comment.

Disclosure: Samples from Roxana Illuminated Perfume were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

Illustration by Greg Spalenka at Spalenka.com

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Advent to Hanukkah

Advent is usually associated with Christmas, but my husband and I have decided to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in our house so I thought a mixed title was quite appropriate for my contribution to this holiday blogging event. Yes, there’s the chance my boys will grow up to be very confused about their religious upbringing, but I figure life is confusing enough…why not make is more so? And since I’m not converting to Judaism, many Jews won’t regard my boys as “true Jews” so we’re really stacking the cards against them. But hey, their waspy-goyish mom can make a mean latke. Seriously, they’re beyond. Here’s my secret: you’ve got to hand-grate the potatoes. No food processors allowed. And keep the already grated potatoes in ice-cold water while you’re grating the others so they don’t turn pink and brown.


Friday is the first night of Hanukkah, and we’re having a small gathering on Saturday night. I’m in charge of the organizing and cooking, as I have been the last nine years of our tradition, and I love the smell of frying potatoes, apple sauce, melted wax, and chocolate wafting throughout the house. Kids playing dreidel and running around the house add to the festive scene and I especially like it when Hanukkah and Christmas don’t overlap, so Hanukkah can be the sole focus of the night. Lighting the menorah to commemorate the miracle that a single day’s worth of oil lasted for eight during the purification of the Temple’s rededication is my favorite Hanukkah moment. Bringing light into the dark is a ritual many people cherish, especially during the Winter Solstice. So while the lighting of the candles is on a menorah, it also feels very all-inclusive and transcendental.


I know I joked about religious confusion above, but the crux of this is a warm and loving home with traditions children can hold onto. Love transcends religion and my boys will feel that, regardless of what path they choose. Whether they have a menorah or a Christmas tree, or both (or neither) in their adult homes, they will always remember having playful and loving Hanukkah parties when they were kids. (Even if there was Christmas music playing in the background every now and then).



So what perfume will they remember me wearing this holiday season?  Probably a delicious mash-up since I’m constantly trying new scents, oils and body creams. DSH Perfume’s Epices d’Hiver is getting a lot of skintime this fall/winter. I reviewed it here, but I’ll reiterate that it’s a spicy gourmand, powdery-vanillic comfort perfume that will no doubt become a cold weather staple.


Ayala Moriel Parfum’s Fête d’Hiver has become another winter favorite, and is spicy in a completely different way. It’s richly floral as gardenia, rose maroc absolute and rose otto lavishly glisten throughout Fête d’Hiver’s structure. Just a pinch of allspice and nutmeg impart the piquant edge, while Ayala’s amber accord adds a delicious and cozy, powdery vanilla. A resinous woody base of frankincense and sandalwood, gilded by the winterized gardenia allows us to leave our fête with perfumed snowflakes lingering on our skin as the night comes to a close.


Much thanks to Roxana Villa of Roxana Illuminated Perfume for organizing this Holiday Blogging Event. Please visit the links below to read the other participants’ contributions.


Sunday – November 29th: Guest blogger Jane Sibbett opens the Circle

Monday – November 30th: Guest blogger Wendel Meldrum

Tuesday – December 1st: Roxana Villa

Wednesday – December 2nd: Guest blogger Ida Meister

Thursday – December 3rd: Memory and Desire, Heather Ettlinger

Friday – December 4th: Memory and Desire, Jason Ettlinger

Saturday – December 5th: Guest blogger Jade Shutes

Sunday, December 6th, Eve and Roxana

Monday – December 7th: Indie Perfumes, Lucy Raubertas

Tuesday – December 8th: Scent Hive, Trish

Wednesday – December 9th: Olive Bites, Catherine Ivins

Thursday – December 10th: Perfume Smellin’ Things, Tom

Friday – December 11th: Lillyella, Nicole

Saturday – December 12th: The Non-Blonde, Gaia

Sunday – December 13th: Portland Examiner, Donna Hathaway

Monday – December 14th: Xenotees, Noelle

Tuesday – December 15th: The Beauty You Love, Lee

Wednesday – December 16th: Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom, Mrs. B

Thursday – December 17th: The Artful Gypsy, Wendy Amdahl

Friday – December 18th: Perfume Shrine, Helg

Saturday – December 19th: Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume, Wendy

Sunday – December 20th: Grindstone Girl’s Daily, Kathi Roussel

Monday – December 21st WINTER SOLSTICE: Perfume Smellin’ Things, Beth

Tuesday – December 22nd: Guest blogger Davis Alexander

Wednesday – December 23rd: Guest blogger Greg Spalenka, Artist as Brand

Thursday – December 24th: Fringe, Dennice Mankarious

Friday – December 25th: Asking Leah, Leah

Photograph by my husband

Posted by ~Trish

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