Thursday, June 28, 2012

Crush And Disillusionment: Kiehl's Original Musk

I have been crushing on Kiehl's Musk ever since I smelt it. Love at first sniff. Every time I buy skin care products from Kiehl's, I have been given samples of the Musk EDT. The samples have kept me going without even having to buy a bottle but every time I spritz some on, Musk goes on top of my wishlist. Finally, I bought a roll-on perfume oil and it might have not been the best decision.

Got to love perfume with stories! I have heard two versions of Kiehl's Musk stories. The one on the bottle says that it was created in 1920's and discovered as 'Love Oil' in 50's. Another one, according to the sales assistant is that it was produced in 1920's and it was too sexy that they actually had to ban it! In 1963, they had to bring it back by public demand. Well, I think its absence for some decades has got something to do with the kind of musk they used (nitro musk, which is now banned due to toxicity. I am deducing this fabulous article here) Geez, too sexy that it was banned?! I want to believe it because Kiehl's musk is very sexy!

I love this perfume. On me it smells similar Jovan Musk (more like Jovan White Musk in the floral aspect) and somewhat like The Body Shop's White Musk. But Kiehl's Musk is an amplified musk, big and bold. It is like Jovan Musk and TBS White Musk on steroids. So beautiful! I like everything about Kiehl's Musk, especially how delightfully dated it smells! I love the way it begins, like cheap floral incense, kind of like the musk in Montale Mukhallat, only bearable, less sweeter and so much more enjoyable. I am enchanted by the floral sweetness of the this Musk. It is intense without being harsh. I love the 'freshly washed skin' musk quality of the drydown.

Even though I like to smell dirty, animalic musks, I am not comfortable wearing them. Case in point Serge Lutens Muscs Kublai Khan. Contrary to the popular similarities between the two, I do not get any of the animalic, body odour (cumin turns vilely of BO on me) musk of Muscs Kublai Khan in Kiehl's Musk. The first few fleeting seconds from when it is sprayed from the atomiser to when it hits my nose, there is an animalic smell to it. It is intriguing but that is the end of it and I am happy to never smell it again, even in the dry down.

I was so happy when I bought the roll-on perfume after crushing on it for such a long time. Unfortunately, the roll-on has not worked in my favour. The oil is too thick and viscous for it to flow through the roll-on and reach my skin. The reason I can think of is that the cold weather which maybe solidifying the oil. It is absurd and unlikely because at the same temperature, my Amber roll-on is less viscous and flowing well. I have also tried rolling the bottle between my hands but it is still hard to get the oil out. I have taken the roll-on cap off and trying to get the oil out with little avail. I might have bought a faulty product. I will have to look for my receipt and take it Myer.

Another disappointing thing is that the oil doesn't seem to be as 'strong' as the EDT. I feel it is fainter and less dynamic. I also loose the momentary animalicness of the EDT in the oil. Sometimes I can barely smell the oil. Nothing wrong with my nose, I can smell the EDT very well. Then again, you do have to get the perfume out of the bottle to enjoy it, don't you? I might have gotten a faulty piece. I have only been trying the perfume in EDT form and I must have bought the EDT instead of the oil.

All these disappointments have made me sad because it is too much effort to enjoy the perfume. I may not enjoy the perfume like I expected to, even though I love the smell. I don't even have the urge to run and replace it with the EDT. My crush is disillusioned. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

L'Occitane: Immortelle De Corse EDP

Immortelle flowers never fade for days even after being plucked and hence the name. It has an array of descriptions about the way it smells from maple syrup to burnt sugar and ham! I have smelt the flowers at the L'Occitane store when the Immortelle skincare range came out last year and what stuck in my head is that Immortelle has a herbal sweet smell with honey undertones, nothing grand and a bit muted. The same smell is there in all the products of the Immortelle skin care range. I have come to acquire three creams from Immortelle Precious range (which is awesome for dry skin, totally recommend) and they all have the same subtle smell. I imagine the essential oil extracted from immortelle would be a tad amplified though. 
Having been generally impressed with L'Occitane perfumes, Labdanum De Seville being in my top 5 and Eau de Bavx being on my wish list, I am always excited to try new perfumes from the house and grab a bottle if I can because the EDPs from the Voyage En Mediterranee can easily go out of stock or get discontinued never ever to be found again (like the Amber one, I missed it!). I got this cute little mini bottle for spare lolly at the L'Occitane sale.

Smelling directly from the bottle, Immortelle smells like sugar. It feels like sticking the nose into a jar of raw brown sugar. Not syrupy but dry and sweet. On the skin, the sugar transforms into honey with hints of tea. Smelling closely, the tea leaves seem to have a slightly burnt aroma. It smells like smoked tea drenched in honey. Unusual but so good. After the initial intrigue, it turns into Prada Candy on my skin! Is it Prada Candy or is it Guerlain's Bois d'Armenie (minus the smoky incense) or is it the sweet booziness of Labdanum de Seville? It is the Benzoin used in all of these that is ominous in Immortelle. The warm caramelly benzion smell is cozy and un-gooey-ly sweet still retaining the herbalness of Immortelle.

The way Immortelle is used (organic essential oil) is stunning. The honey and benzoin enhance the quality of Immortelle and make it stand out. This is an opulent perfume that is balmy and sweet but has depth and dimension making it really pretty, cozy and easy to wear. If you are a sucker for honey scents or sweet scents with a twist, take your $6.80 to L'Occitane store's current sale and get yourself a little bottle to try for yourself. You won't regret. This is the best spare change I have ever spent and I may get a full bottle later this year. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Liquorice Perfumes

Liquorice, yum! Even yummier in perfumes! This post was originally a 'Kitchen Smells' post but you really need not go to any cooking effort to experience Liquorice. Just buy a pack and bite into the chewy yumminess. Or get the real liquorice roots. I am pretty sure you can get them at the tea stores like T2 or any health food stores. The root of liquorice is extremely sweet, sweeter than pure sugar but has that 'liquorice flavour' to it.
Interestingly, liquorice, fennel and anise (not star anise, star anise and anise/anissed are totally different) all have the same flavour though they are derived from totally different plants. The common chemical they have is called Anethole which gives the spices their characteristic aroma. The notes of Liquorice, Fennel and Anise are indeed used interchangeably in perfumes for the liquorice effect, absinthe effect, Ouzo effect and so on.
Avon - Christian Lacroix Absynthe: anise, artemisia, orchid, freesia, intensive woody accords, myrrh and musk.
Having not tasted Absinthe (the alcoholic drink with artemesia, fennel, anise and herbs) and one day hoping to do so, in my mind Absynthe is this sweet, green, boozy anisic drink that blows anyone away. Avon's Absynthe is a perfume-y absynthe. Not quite literally Absynthe but a nice rendition to the drink that is actually wearable. Not so green or spicy as Absynthe should be, but it is sweet in a licorice kind of way. The sweetness disappears into a light woody musk base leaving behind the smell of mild licorice. If this perfume had stayed on me for more than an hour, I would have loved it. Unfortunately it doesn't last but in its short life on my skin, it is quite enjoyable.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Absinthe (Bewitching Brews, General Catalogue)
Fall under the spell of our Green Fairy! An intoxicating blend containing wormwood essence, light mints, cardamom, anise, hyssop, and the barest hint of lemon.
Yes! This is how Absinthe according to my imagination should smell/taste! First sniff, green anise hits my nose, powerful and pungent. There are mild but detectable hints of wormwood (Artemesia, which gives an aromatic green edge to the drink). There is something that smells like 'rubber' in it, not off-putting but kind of interesting (like Bvlgari Black?). It maybe the medicinal quality of licorice combined with mentholated mint. I also get traces of cough syrup-ish smell that doesn't last very long. The dry down is all mentholated liquorice, sweet but spiked with herbalness, a bit of booze and lot of anisic liquorice-y goodness! Eventhough it is a literal liquorice-absynthe scent it is quite amusing. It sits well on my skin, like a perfume instead of smelling like Darrel Lee store. 

Haus Of Gloi Licorice Chew (From Halloween, Candy Bowl, Limited Edition)
Reviewed here
I was expecting a lot of liquorice but it doesn't really satisfy my lust for liquorice. It smells like the the base of Vice (my absolute favourite) with teeny tiny bit of liquorice. It is a nice perfume, warm and sweet but the liquorice doesn't really shine.

Bvlgari Jasmine Noir: Such nice combination of jasmine and woods on velvety base of almonds and a little bit of liquorice. Liquorice is mild and in the background but my skin makes it a little more prominent than it actually is. Everything is well blended. The white florals are not screechy, the woods are soft and the perfume has the right amount of warmth. It is not too dark but has enough depth to keep it interesting. It is pillowy soft, delicate and very feminine.

Lolita Lempica: I don't think the list would be complete without mentioning this. Lolita Lempica is epitome of liquorice used in popular perfumes. I think it is a standout from all sweet scents in the way Liquorice is incorporated as the sweet note to make it appealing to the playfulness of sweet perfume lovers but maintaining the feminine, elegant side. All I can smell is sweet liquorice on a powdery floral base. I don't have the pretty bottle but I have a 'dupe' oil from Hayward Enterprises that does smell like the real thing but somewhat not so elegant and rounded.

Ayala Moriel Black Licorice: The bestest liquorice perfume I have ever smelt! Wow, it is sweet, a bit spicy, deep and dark version of the candy. The sweetness is all from honey and the spice I smell is pepper. Liquorice more like the real root than processed candy. It is rich and balsamic with mild rose in the background giving it a bit of a 'candied and spiced rose petals' effect to it. But it doesn't let the rose takeover. It is all about Liquorice, sweet and spicy, just heavenly. Perfection!

Raw Material - Acetanisole: I bought it from The Perfumer's Apprentice website because I wanted to play with liquorice note in my DIY experiments. I also have Anisic Aldehyde which also smells like liquorice with lots of sweet mimosa. Acetanisole has the anisic note without any floral elements. It comes in powder form and can easily be diluted with and is completely soluble in Di Propylene Glycol (DPG). Just as the powder dissolves the reaction is endothermic (draws in all the heat), feels so cold. It forms a clear solution. It is very potent and just a tiny drop can give the desired liquorice/anisic effect to the perfume. It can only be used up to 5% (see here for safety) Being so potent, even 5% can be a bit much in the perfumes. The combination I have tried has Acetanisole (with little bit Anisic Aldehyde), Acetophenone (for almond effect, used in the teenist amount) with sandalwood and vanilla base blends. I can't say it smelt the best but it did feature liquorice and almonds.

For liquorice scented candles, look no further than Edgar Allan Poe by Paddywax. Other perfumes that have a nice liquorice that I don't own but have experienced are Diesel Loverdose, Jo Malone Vanilla and Anise Cologne, La Petite Robe Noir 2, J. Del Paso In Black, of which I think owning a bottle of Loverdose is well worth it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Narciso Rodriguez Essence In Color and Essence Eau De Musc

Narciso Rodriguez has come out with about 15 perfumes in the past 6 years. The names, the bottles and even the juice are quite similar and it is hard to tell which one I just have tested. After a quick sniffing at the shops, I often find myself thinking "Is it Essence, or Eau De Musc or is it Musc For Her? Or is it Essence In Colour or For Her In Colour?" Colour me confused.... in my mind, NR has two classes of perfumes, For Her (and its flankers) and Essence (and its flankers).

So, if you have smelt one NR perfume, have you smelt them all? I don't think so. They do have the beautiful musk note in common but that is not all. I am huge fan of NR perfumes for the simplicity that makes the perfumes gorgeous. Props to NR for not making 'let's-all-smell-the-same' sweet scents and stepping it up a notch to make simple yet classy, couture perfumes.

Narciso Rodriguez Essence In Color and Essence Eau De Musc
(aka Essence and its flankers)
I reluctantly grabbed these two during my recent trip to CFD. Even though it was for a bargain, my heart was not set on these. I wanted either of NR For Her but I guess I bought these to teach myself to love something out of my comfort zone. 
Essence In Color and Essence Eau De Musc are flankers of the original NR Essence. Let us take a minute to see what Essence smells like. Essence is a play of rose, iris and musk, a light, feminine, soft and wispy rendition to musk. It is an EDP but is kind of thin and delicate. The musk shines. It is clean, soapy, fresh and bright with a floral quality to it. It is harsh with a sharp edges but feminine. I think it is because the musk is cold and dry. It needs patience to be liked. It takes a while for the harshness to round off into a milder, gentler, more pleasant musk.

Essence In Color is similar to the original Essence but I sense a more prominent powdery Iris. It is hasher and needs way more time to settle down for me to feel the bright and beautiful musk note. This EDP is quite strong and you may just need a spritz or two. Eau De Musc, EDT, is a more radiant composition which begins with a fresh citrus note that dissipates into a heart of powder. The musk is softer and smoother than even the original. What is striking about Eau De Musc is its radiance. It has the quality of lighting up the room in a gentle soothing kind of way.

Essence and its flankers are based on expensive-smelling powdery clean musks. They evoke a modern, feminine elegance that needs a modern and sophisticated personality to pull them off. I love these but I find them hard to wear and hard to like. These perfumes wear me than me wearing these perfumes. But it is an experience nevertheless. Also, I have never been keener to own a little bottle of Narciso Rodriguez For Her (either in EDP or EDT form). They have something that Essence doesn't, the warmth that I seek for in musk perfumes (you maybe witnessing the birth of a new musk fetish!).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Perfume Inventory: Full Bottles

Okay, finally my full bottle inventory! After seeing all my full bottles in one place, I have some thoughts. 
1. I don't have a lot of perfumes. No, I am not deluded! Paradox, huh? I may not have a lot but I think I have enough. Counted: 29 full bottles, 34 miniatures, 52 perfume oil bottles and about 100 samples, I think I have enough to smell for a lifetime. 

2. I am enthused as ever to try new things but not keen to accumulate more.

3. I will not be getting any more full bottles. I don't have the space for them and they are not transport-friendly. I will try my best to let go of all those perfumes that I don't care for. That is minus 10 bottles.

4. I prefer to cherish what I love and let someone who appreciates, have the ones I don't. I will not use up the perfumes I love, just for the sake of finishing them. I don't think I can do it. Who knows, I may not be able to afford my favourite bottle again. 

5. I'd rather expand my perfume oil collection than mainstream/niche brands. It is just that I enjoy those more.

6. I don't own anything flash, mostly prestige/masstige brands, some luxury and a couple of niche. I do like most of them irrespective of what kind they are.

A general observation, which also reflects my taste in perfumes is that most of the perfumes I own and love are big/huge perfumes, ambers, vanillas and spices being the common notes in my favourites.

(Here are photos of my Perfume Oil Inventory and here, my Miniature Perfume Inventory. Thanks to Dee and Liz for the Inventory idea)

The Classics: 
Chanel Nº5 and Guerlain Shalimar. I love both.  Shalimar is stunning and my love forever, nothing beats it when layered with BPAL's Snake Oil. Nº5 is really soft and elegant on me. It is not really 'me' but I do like to wear it.

Perfumes I like:
Tom Ford Back Orchid: Really like this. It has the right amount of heaviness and sexiness.
Bvlgari Omnia: A beautiful spicy perfume, kind of light but good. Reviewed here.
Badgley Mischka: Oh, ripe fruits and mashed flowers, in your face and wow! Reviewed here.

Avon Chrstian Lacroix Absynthe: Nice enough but doesn't stay long on my skin.
L'Occitane Labdanum De Seville: OMG, heaven! Love anything with Labdanum and this is Amber/Labdanum galore!
Agent Provocateur Strip: Amazing amber perfume. Reviewed here.

Bottega Veneta: Classy, soft, leather/suede perfume that smells like 'lady who lunches'. Love the bottle, it has a patterned frost at the bottom and a tassle like leather band with a little butterfly detail on it!
Mont Blanc Presence: I have the most precious memories associated with this. It takes me to the time when I was newly wed with lovey dovey eyes, punting away in Cambridge.

The most unusual bottle I own, Ame Toscane by Isabel Derroisne: It is shaped like a very sexy looking woman's body. Most human part shaped bottles freak me out, especially the heads (Anna Sui Dolly Girl) and decapitated, limbless torsos (Jean Paul Gaultier) but I like this one. It smells like powdery florals, delicate and elegant.

La Prairie Life Threads Gold: This is one of those great looking bottle with average juice. I bought it for the bottle's sake, love the construction, especially love the gold threads woven around the bottle. It is a huge floral with a punch of well, everything to it! It is a bit messy and harsh but wearable.

The Body Shop White Musk Libertine: Powdery skin musk with hints of Rahaat Loukhoum. Lovely, quiet and well made perfume. Passed on the bottle to my sister in law who seemed to like it as soon as she smelt it.
Tokyo Milk Dead Sexy Reviewed here. Almost empty now and I will surely replace the bottle, not right now though.
Provence et Natural Lavender and AmberReviewed here

Overpriced perfumes: 
Bond No 9 West Broadway: Reviewed here. Love it. The most amazing summer scent with cool incense, fresh lilies and a bit of musk. But is it worth the price tag?
Bond No 9 Fashion Avenue: What a waste of money! I could have bought many bottles of Ylang Ylang EO for the same price and smell the same.
Etat Libre D'Orange: Don't Get Me Wrong Baby (.....I Don't Swallow) Reviewed here. Gimmicky name for an average floral. There is nothing naughty about it. I wish it was as interesting as the name.

Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh: Reviewed here
Jessica Simpson Fancy: Reviewed here
Viva La Juicy: I liked it at first but I seem to have gotten bored with it. Of late it smells like sugary water with nothing and smells like nothing on me.

The ones which I don't really care for:
Burberry Touch, Lanvin Rumeur, Elizabeth Arden Green Tea, Yardley Honeysuckle, Charlie Red

Tabu: Reviewed here
Aquolina Chocolovers: Reviewed here
Vera Wand Princess: I can't even bring myself to open the bottle. I have tested it at the shops various times and don't really like it.

Family photo:
They all happily live in their boxes. Total count: 29 (hoping to reduce it by half)