Tag Archives: smell

Perfect Scents

Scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. Catch a whiff of fresh-baked pie, or the shampoo a friend used in high school, and suddenly you’re transplanted back in time. You could see a picture taken at a specific moment, or hear a song that reminds you of a guy you used to date, but when you smell something—good or bad, it causes a visceral reaction unlike any other.

I have a sweatshirt that belonged to my grandfather, it smelled like him for years after he passed away. When I’d wear it, the scent would bring me back to the happy memories of planting snapdragons with him in his garden, or making gingerbread houses every December with my cousins in my grandma’s kitchen. I didn’t want to lose that connection to the past, and I feared that when the scent faded, the memories would fade as well. I can still remember those moments, but they aren’t as vivid, in some ways the lingering scent is like a crutch that eases you slowly out of grief. If by chance, we re-discover the unique fragrance of someone we loved, either from the perfume of a stranger, or from opening a box in the attic where the scent has been preserved, we experience that life all over again, it’s a bittersweet experience, and it’s why smell can be so meaningful.

I’ve had awful allergies all my life, it was a running joke that I couldn’t breathe through my nose for most of my childhood. I still feel like scent is the weakest of my senses, maybe that’s why I’ve always been so fond of perfume. When I was in Junior High I was all about body splash, specifically the Plumeria or Vanilla Bean scents from Bath & Body Works. To me, body splash is what teenage girls are supposed to smell like. The spray comes in plastic bottles, it’s icky sweet, and once the odor starts to fade what’s left is a not so pleasant chemical undertone—and that’s when you know it’s time to spray on some more!

If I smell Chanel Allure I am instantly seven years old, sitting on my mom’s bed watching her get ready as I wait for my favorite babysitter Tatiana to arrive with taped episodes of Kids Incorporated (she was the best). When I walk past someone wearing Navy perfume by Dana, I’m stuck in the nauseous heat of Miami in August, the smell mingles with the scent of dinner being served in the old age home where we’re visiting my grandmother. The smell still makes me sick — all I smell is nursing home food, it’s just part of the memory. There are hundreds of memories linked to scent in each of us, and when we choose a perfume it’s not just the pleasure of the smell, but it’s how each note makes a different impression on your brain based on experiences in your life.

Once I hit high school I started looking for a more mature scent, something in a pretty glass bottle. I went a little overboard when I discovered Poison by Christian Dior. It’s an incredibly strong scent and I layered it on, feeling mature, and mysterious, and dark. I still have a bottle of it, and sometimes I can’t help but spray some on just to feel the rush of memories it brings.

I think there are women who love perfume and women who hate it, I guess there are a lot of in-betweens too, but people usually have strong feelings about it in one way or another. On a job interview I was once asked by the woman I would be sharing an office with, if I would mind not wearing perfume, she was snapped at by her superior, but obviously she felt very strongly about it. I don’t think she could smell perfume on me, I usually don’t wear perfume to interviews, but I’m not sure what exactly constitutes perfume either. Do essential oils count? Some deodorants are really strong, even some hair products give off incredibly strong scents. Often when people hate perfume it’s due to an allergy, and I myself have had allergic reactions to perfume too. But humans have been dousing themselves with all sorts of aromas for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Perfume is such an intimate thing, there is a sensuality about it. The bottles, the way you mist it on, the gesture itself is romantic. There is a reason that a gift of perfume is meaningful. I’ve heard of lots of men who buy women perfume, but not too many who buy them moisturizer or eyeshadow. Scent in itself is sexy, pheromones, those chemicals in our sweat that another person may find alluring without even realizing, they’re scientific proof that humans are driven by their noses equally, if not more than, their eyes.

By college I was actively seeking out perfumes. I would go to Sephora, or Macy’s and spritz them on my wrists, my forearm, my neck, or any other accessible skin— because you have to try it on your own skin. The same perfume can smell different on every woman. Part of the beauty of perfume is that it mixes with your personal scent and they settle together, to work in harmony. I’ve tried on perfumes that I thought I would love based on the scent in the bottle, but on my skin they smelled awful. One of my favorite perfumes, La Dolce Vida by Dior, isn’t very pleasing sprayed from the bottle, but I love the way it smells on me at the end of the day.

Currently I alternate between two perfumes, Anna Sui’s Sui Dreams, and Lolita Lempicka’s signature scent. I also change things up with essential oils from C.O. Bigelow’s in Manhattan, and various other samples that I’ve collected along the way. I’ll never stop looking for new scents, you never know where you’re going to find them, but when you do, it can be like finding a whole new aspect of your personality.

What’s your signature scent? Do you hate perfume? Love it? How does it make you feel when you spray it on?

Advertisements

11 Comments

Filed under cosmetics, shopping

Live a Lush Life

Have you heard of Lush? I’m assuming most of you have, it’s been around for a while, but if you haven’t heard of it you should. Let me tell you why.

Firstly I want to say I think more advertising should be done by people who genuinely like the products and are happy to promote them. I’m not saying companies should ask anyone to do this for free (although I’m about to do that right now), but if you can’t find people to promote your product who really like it and use it, then maybe it’s time to change the product.

Lush seems to understand this, they put out a great newspaper called Lush Times every season with new products and tons of reviews by real people who love the brand and are happy to talk about the products they use. They share their stories and pictures and It feels both authentic and fun, two things not seen too often in normal cosmetics promotions.

In the cosmetics world, Lush is a very unique brand. Although they don’t sell makeup, they do sell lip balms, hair products, and perfumes as well as bath products. It’s all organic and natural (like actually totally, not just labeled that way to appear “green”), has quite a selection of vegan items, and they make products that do amazing things while smelling absolutely delicious without the addition of chemicals. They also tell you exactly what is in the products they’re selling you, wild idea right?

It’s  nice that Lush doesn’t use model or celebrity endorsements or feature them in their ads, in fact they don’t seem to advertise much at all from what I can tell. They seem to function mainly on word of mouth and getting people into the stores—and it should be a lesson to other companies that if you make a good product, you don’t need to spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns.

One way that Lush cuts down on the cost of their products is by making their packaging from recycled plastic. Sometimes it’s a little wonky, but for the cost and the green factor it’s worth it. So often with cosmetics 75% of the cost goes into the packaging, so I’d rather get more product for the price anyway, although I can be a sucker for good packaging. Some of their products don’t use packaging at all, like their bath bombs.

My sister and I first stumbled on Lush when we were visiting family in Ireland in 2002, we took a day trip to Dublin and the most fun we had the whole day, aside from Dublinia! an interactive exhibit for children in the basement of Christ Church, which we played in like we were four-year olds, was discovering Lush (we made the mistake of going on a day when all the museums were closed). We could literally smell Lush from down the street, and wandered into the shop mesmerized by the colorful products and friendly staff. I think our Irish relatives thought we were crazy when we came home that night, each with a big bag of bath bombs and bubble bars, but it was exciting, we had never seen cosmetics sold in such a way before.

When we arrived home in New York, our whole suitcases, all our clothes, everything, was filled with the beautiful aroma. From then on, every time someone was going overseas we begged them to get us some Lush—I’m sure this was incredibly annoying, but we couldn’t get it in the states, so what could we do but beg? Finally after several years they opened stores across the U.S., unfortunately they don’t produce products in the states so they have to import them from Canada which drives the prices up a bit, but the cost still doesn’t touch what other cosmetics brands charge, so it’s worth it.

I’m going to run-through some of my favorite products, and if any of them appeal to you I hope you’ll check them out!

if you haven’t discovered Lush yet, or even if you have, you can find a store near you here. And if there isn’t one near you, they’re opening new shops all the time.

Let’s start with a soap that is great if you like your products earthy, scrubby, and delicious smelling. If you don’t like little bits of leaves in your soap you might not like it, but if you don’t mind bringing some nature into your shower you’ll love it.

Also a note on Lush soaps, at the stores you can get them cut into any size for you, so if you only want say a $5 piece to try, just ask them. Isn’t that nice?

Figs and Leaves Soap,$7.60 for 3.5 oz.

This is my favorite moisturizer, and it’s so much less expensive than a lot of department store creams. It smells like vanilla and cream and it is specifically made for sensitive skin which is great for me, also a little goes a very long way.

Celestial face moisturizer, $22.95 for 1.5 oz.

I’m very upset that I no longer have a bathtub because it means I can’t use Lush bubble bars anymore. I love bubble baths, and these bars create so many bubbles and leave your skin so smooth and sweet-smelling it’s perfect for the end of a stressful day. You can cut one bar up into pieces and save them so it lasts longer too, because they really do produce a lot of bubbles.

Creamy Candy Bubble Bar, $7.25 for a 3.5 oz. bar

Probably my all time favorite Lush product. If I could afford it I would put this on my hair every week. It’s one of the products my sister and I were completely hooked on as soon as we discovered Lush. It’s a hair mask, you put it on your dry hair (you need to saturate your head, I usually end up using half the container on my hair) and then leave it on for 15 minutes, or put on a shower cap to keep in the heat, and leave it on for hours. After you wash the treatment out you’re left with shiny, lovely, amazing, spicy scented hair. I love it, but I love most things that smell spicy, so if you do too, you will definitely love this. Your hair will smell like a spice market in some beautiful far-off eastern country, yum.

H’Suan Wen Hua Hair Treatment, $18.95 for 7.9 oz.

Do you like Almonds? I love almonds, I love marzipan, I love the smell of almonds, I love almond milk, and I adore this soap. The only downside is that it is so creamy it melts away fairly fast, but it leaves your skin smelling heavenly, so it’s worth it.

Alkmaar soap, $7.95 for 3.5 oz.

Since I can’t take baths anymore, I have re-discovered shower gels, and this is one of my favorites. It’s great if you shower in the morning and have trouble waking up because it has a bright, cirtus-y scent that gives you instant pep for the day.

Happy Hippy, $26.95 for 16.9 oz.

I’m a little obsessed with body powders. Especially in the summer, I cover myself in powder every-time I get out of the shower, the cloud of dust scares both my cats and my fiancé, but I wouldn’t stop it for the world. If you don’t powder I highly suggest it, I love that in yoga class once I start to sweat, instead of smelling gross, the people around me are treated to a gorgeous vanilla aroma, lucky them. I love Lush’s Silky Underwear, but I just bought this new scent and it’s making for some serious competition.

Vanilla Puff Powder, $11.95 for 3.5 oz.

I did a whole post about shampoo because I’ve been questioning my whole hair care procedure recently. So I went back and tried Lush shampoo bars again, and now I can’t remember why I ever stopped using them to begin with! They can get a little crumbly in the shower once you get near the end of them, but no more so than a bar of soap. It is amazing how much lather these things produce, I mean seriously, I had enough lather on my head for three more people, and like everything Lush, they smell spectacular (except for the soak and float bar which is for dandruff, and kind of stinky, but supposedly effective).

Karma Komba, 9.95 for 1.9 oz.

If you’re lucky enough to have a bath tub, you should definitely try one of Lush’s bath bombs. I love the Butterball which smells (obviously) buttery and creamy and has little pieces of coca butter that melt into your skin, ugh, it’s so good.

When you go into a Lush shop they will give you a bath bomb demonstration, that way you can see how it fizzes and buzzes around your bath tub, sometimes changing the water colors, or releasing sparkles, but always smelling amazing.

The next time you’re feeling romantic, or sharing a bath with someone else, I recommend trying out this bomb. It releases a whole jumble of flower petals into your bath, as well as the incredible smell of roses and lavender. You may have to clean the petals out of your drain, but who doesn’t want to bathe in rose petals?

I like to buy bath bombs (or bubble bars) just to keep them in my drawers, they make all my clothes smell incredible.

Softy, $6.25 for 6.3 oz.

Anyone else have some Lush product recommendations? I’m sure I could go on forever because I’ve sampled most of their products, so feel free to ask questions too! Happy bathing!

18 Comments

Filed under cosmetics, shopping