Sunday, 12 July 2020

Bathing in the classics, 4711, Badedas and Fenjal

I’ve been bathing a lot lately.

There’s something about the cocooning effect of a warm bath that’s deeply tranquil, or the zingy bombardment of a shower with the pressure turned up to max. 

I’ve always revelled in the joy of bathing, but with the outbreak of Covid 19 it’s become even more of a necessity. When I return home from a day’s teaching, I immediately strip off and bundle my clothes into the washer, then comes the race past the window as I leg it to the shower, hoping that I haven’t shocked the neighbours with a high speed nude bounce!

For the perfume lover, choosing a bathing potion is a joy. It’s yet another way to feed our fragrant obsession. In recent months I’ve gone vintage (not literally, I’m not using putrid bottles of bacteria from the 80s), but vintage as in ‘I’ve been around for a long time and there’s a damn good reason why’.

As we know, brands come and go with products being discontinued as quick as they were launched. But these products have been on the shelves for donkeys years, their unique fragrances and super utility commanding a loyal following. Here’s what I’m using:

4711 Original Eau de Cologne Shower Gel

Exactly as it sounds, a shower gel fragranced with the iconic scent that’s been around since 1792.  The bright turquoise gel creates a lush lather with exactly the same effect of dousing yourself with the EDC, a bracingly bright burst of citrus and herbal notes that cool your body and spark your spirit joy-wards. Nothing feels as perky as 4711. 

My bottle marks the transition from an anxiety ridden day to a restful evening, show me a therapist that can do that for less than a fiver.  

Badedas Original Bath Gelee

Another reviving delight hailing from Germany (these guys really know how to bathe). Badedas is probably best known for its saucy advertising campaigns from the 70s and 80s. The strapline ‘things happen after a Badedas bath’ promised bathers anything from a handsome peeping Tom lurking outside their window to a leather booted goddess striding from a helicopter. Sadly after a Badedas bath I usually just have a glass of wine and watch some telly. 

That said, it’s gorgeous. 

Badedas is one for the forest scent lovers. The lurid green bath soak offers up deeply aromatic woody foam, with oodles of coniferous sap and a calming earthiness. Its therapeutic circulation boosting ingredient is extract of Horse Chestnut. I’m not sure wether the extract imparts a scent or if it’s added with perfume, but there is definitely a whiff reminiscent of peeling open a conker ready to thread and bash over someone’s knuckles. 

This is my go to relax bath, soothing and invigorating in equal measure. Its a real treat year round but particularly beautiful in the winter when I crave the scents of nature around me to banish the dark nights.
You can find a large bottle for less than a tenner online and in big pharmacies. 

Fenjal Classic Creme Bath Oil

If Badedas is your reviving soak, Fenjal is your dreamy one. Launched in Switzerland in 1962 (yet another German speaking country), Fenjal has been lulling us to sleep with its pthalo blue goop since the days before most people indulged in a nightly bath. Back then, it must have been a treat for those with time and money. Nowadays most Europeans have indoor plumbing and it costs about £7, a utilitarian treat indeed!

Fenjal is strong, a little capful scents the upstairs rooms of my house with a heady oriental whiff. The fragrance is deeply sensual and soporific, ideal for a late night pre-bed bath. Even the bottle looks sensual, she has a waist!
According to their website, the notes are vanilla, rose and pine, yet neither of those notes dominate. There is a distinct terpene whiff, slightly reminiscent of pine but it reads more as an aged patchouli, underpinned by a sweet vanillic, earthy and powdery nuance that lulls you into a deep state of relaxation. 

Fenjal released a range of fragrances a few years ago which seem to have disappeared from the shelves as fast as they were launched, unless they just didn’t come to the UK? I’m not sure I’d buy one anyway as veering away from the original scent would feel like an act of infidelity. 

In the current crisis I’m staying close to home with my woefully expired passport. But I’m still dreaming of where I’ll travel in the future. Perhaps a trip to Berlin is in order? Whilst tourists flock in their thousands for the city’s arts scene, I’ll revel in the wonder of German toiletry shopping…

If you’ve enjoyed this post, why not subscribe so you’ll never miss a fragrant waffle? You can pop your email in the box on the right hand column to subscribe by email via Feedburner. Or follow me at:

Avid bathers may also like to click here to read a post on another delightful forest bath from Aromatherapy Associates. 

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Life in lockdown and the joy of the outdoors

It’s 3 weeks into lockdown here in the UK.

The enforced isolation is affecting us in so many different ways. As a Teacher, I came to terms with the oddity of remotely teaching my students, seeing photos of their Art homework ping into my inbox ready for feedback or a deeply sought well done. I checked in on a vulnerable student via Facetime, we had a virtual brew together whilst she cuddled her dog on the sofa. The absence of the formality of the classroom felt peculiar and I realised how much I craved the normality of seeing these young folk at school again, even if they ordinarily drove me a little bonkers. 

A rota system was created to look after the children of fellow keyworkers. Upon my turn to go in, I approached the door handle with trepidation, fearing the presence of the virus on everything I touched. My imagination turned my cosy art classroom into an environment that could potentially kill me. The trouble is, it’s not just my imagination is it?

Mercifully, I’ve spent the duration of the Easter holiday safe at home, in the grand fluffy company of my beloved cat. As time passed, I’ve grown calmer. In some ways I’ve become used to the isolation. What began as extraordinary has turned into the new way of living, the lack of pressure to ‘do something’ is unexpectedly gratifying. 

The saviour of my mental health has been exercise. As The Government released the order that we were only allowed to exercise close to home, I began to take to local untrodden paths. Living close to some truly picturesque moorland, I’d previously driven to my hiking spots, but now I began to explore my immediate surroundings. The thing is, you have to walk very steeply uphill for a couple of miles before the good bit starts. The journey involves shady woods full of plastic waste, an estate where folk queue for strong lager outside the local shop still in their slippers and gangs of bored teenagers ignore social distancing whilst sharing a spliff. If you’re lucky, you’ll avoid being mown down by topless traveller lads racing through the streets on a quad bike. By the time you’ve reached the top of the hill you feel so invincible that you want to carry on. And I do, I carry on for miles and miles. 

Never has a little green sign been so valued

Once out on the hills a network of trails weaves through the moor and farmland. Narrow lanes are lined with Hawthorn busting into fragrant blossom. Clumps of Narcissus and Bluebells sway a gentle scent into the breeze and remind me that despite the human horror, new life blooms. Up here there are few others, but there is so much beauty in the isolation of the natural world. Bees and butterflies fill the air. A Red Admiral appears to accompany me, landing periodically to spread its wings and bathe in the unseasonably early heat.

I begin to make new friends. A chestnut horse becomes a regular morning pal. I stop to say hello and scratch his neck as he reaches over the fence to nuzzle his enormous head into my belly. Every day I rue the fact that I’ve forgotten to bring him an apple yet again. I keep an eye out for the ginger farm kitten, a confident little fella who strolls over for affection, then prances off proudly displaying his surprisingly large furry orange balls. They remind me again that new life emerges just as it always will. 

I follow a stream through the woods and take a pause to stand on a slate slab over the trickling water. The sun beats down and I find myself raising my arms high in salute to the rays. It feels like a prayer. 

Right now, the relentless pursuit of perfume is far from my mind. I’m reaching for familiar scents that blend with the landscape, mossy chypres, oily green florals and fresh herbal colognes that fit these energetic hikes. Just a little spray, nothing noisy. I want to smell the world around me and connect with the fragrance of life. 

To all my friends in the fragrance community, I wish you good health and happiness and hope that you find some peace and harmony in this unthinkable situation.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Easy listening with harmonious chypres

I have a passion for the easy listening music genre. I still love to dance myself daft to some grizzly drum and bass or steep a dark mood in the haunting howls of Beth Gibbons. But there is a peaceful joy in the honeyed jazz of Henri Mancini or the soulful samba of Brasil 66 from Sergio Mendes.

It’s all about mood. 

Moody marbles - it's a thing now

Our moods fluctuate. At times there may be euphoria, excitement and thrill or darkness, anxiety and melancholia. We hope for contentment punctuated by frequent moments of joy, but the reality is that much of the time we are in stasis, a state of unremarkable equilibrium as we go about our daily routines and habitual behaviour. 

Easy listening complements that equilibrium. 

When I prepare for a night out, I consider my scent choice with great care. Do I want to ooze glamour? Or lay a scented trail of indie quirkiness? Do I want to immerse my companion in a cloud of exotic spice? The selection of a special occasion scent is pleasurable, and one of the reasons why many fragrance lovers own far too many bottles of perfume!

When I consider my own collection, these ‘special’ fragrances are not my most valued. I often fear for their molecular breakdown as they are worn so rarely. I buy the smallest bottles available and store them with the care of a Museum Curator. I don’t own many.

My true love lies in my easy listening scents. The bottles that I can reach for early in the morning, those that will anoint me with companionable grace. Throughout the day I will catch gentle whiffs as they harmonise with my surroundings rather than shout for attention.  

My most melodic easy listeners are the classic chypres: Guerlain Mitsouko, Chanel Cristalle and Clarins Eau Dynamisante. There’s a theme here, they all smell natural. 

Mitsouko and Cristalle both feature an earthy dollop of oakmoss and lush layer of fruit. The mossy undergrowth is reassuringly grounding, the fruit, cheering and summery. They are the opposite of a Northern Winter. Whilst Mitsouko is warm, subtle and sensual, Cristalle is vibrant and full of daylight. Both have the capacity to be sprayed through my skin into my soul. They feel like me.

Oakmoss - prozac for witches

I rocket through bottles of Eau Dynamisante, at least one supersize Scarlett flacon per year. It’s the only bottle that I keep in my bathroom, safe in the knowledge that I’ll have used it up before the light and the humid heat can get their molecular meany mitts on my scent. Nothing refreshes like Eau Dynamisante and I will never be without her. 

A browse through the forums of Fragantica or Facebook often reveals threads where members ask ‘how much is too much?’ Or ‘when does a hobby become an addiction?’.  The answer is a personal one, we all know what we can and can’t afford to buy, what we can realistically use up before it turns and what will make us feel joy rather than guilt. 

When I observe my own collection, I see fragrant friends, the number of easy listeners far outweigh those that will only anoint only ‘the right’ mood. These infrequently worn exotic beauties are loved, but ruthlessly edited. I am happy in the knowledge that I will actually wear most of my perfumes to the end of the bottle. Maybe this is the answer to a carefully curated collection? 

Henry Mancini breezes easy in the med

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Ill communication

Just a quickie to say thanks to anyone who comments on the blog and an apology to say that you won't get a response from me!
For some reason I can no longer comment on my own blog. I may have unwittingly banned myself. 
I shall try and sort it out before I offend my readers and nobody ever comments again. In the meantime, please bear with...


Well not really. It's a problem with Safari. But if I switch to Chrome it's fine. I imagine that's probably the best option for anyone with disappearing comments. 

Puredistance GOLD, a tender Oriental

I can divide my perfume collection into roughly two camps. On one side sit the fabulous oddities, scents like Robert Piguet Visa with its strange odour of overripe fruit and leather trousers, and the original Gucci Eau de Parfum, an exercise in darkly spiced vanilla with an air of antiseptic dental clinic. Whilst I adore them, I wear these scents infrequently, their personalities being so huge that they serve to accompany a specific mood, usually a gregarious one!
On the other side sit my faithful companions, those with a tender beauty, gentle compositions that I’m happy to let in to my space whilst dressing for work at 6.30am. Mitsouko is often reached for at this sensitive hour, as her subtly earthy aroma caresses rather than engulfs me, a hint of peach peeping through to perk up the dark morning. 
These tender beauties are a rarity in contemporary perfumery, especially within the niche market, who’s creations are often either artfully odd or bombastically bold, sometimes linear creations, ‘full on’ from the first spritz. 
A rarity is the perfume house who refuses to follow contemporary trends, a house that simply desires to make extraordinarily splendid perfume. No novel quirky concept, no loud space domination, simply sprayable beauty. One such house is Puredistance
When I smelt GOLD, their latest release, I was immediately struck by the complete absence of novelty. The brief was simple, Jan Ewoud Vos, founder of the company, desired an exceptionally fine fragrance that would synesthetically communicate the concept of Gold. 

With the release of GOLD, Perfumer Antonie Lie describes his latest creation for Puredistance as “naturally rich, warm and harmonious”. The aspect of synesthesia relates very much to the colour of Gold. Aesthetically, gold radiates warmth in the same way as silver emits iciness. Gold is voluptuous and sensual whilst silver is spartan and cool tempered. Gold welcomes us into her glow, Silver shines from a distance. Lie’s GOLD is a sprayable good mood, a cosy embrace, she's a deeply congenial scent. 
Gold could alternatively signify prestige, superiority and wealth, Amouage have a Gold creation, popular in Arabia where Gold is a much utilised sign of wealth. Kim Kardashian and Jay Z have their own Gold scents, again hinting (or pointing obviously!) to a lavish lifestyle. But that is most certainly not what Puredistance GOLD is about. 
JAY Z loves a bit of bling

I’ve said it before, Puredistance make ‘proper’ perfume. GOLD harks back to a time when perfume was a mysterious elixir that we applied with joy rather than ingredient analysis. Indeed Gold smells vintage, almost as if you remember it from the past but realise it never existed. 
The notes for GOLD are:
Top Notes
Green Mandarine Essence - Italy, Bergamot Essence - Calabria, Pink peppercorn Essence - Reunion Island, Rosemary Essence - Morocco, Clove buds Essence - Madagascar

Middle Notes
Jasmin Absolute - India, Ciste Absolute - Spain, Geranium Essence - Morocco,
Cinnamon Bark Absolute - Madagascar

Base Notes
Styrax Essence - Honduras, Benzoin Resinoide - Laos, Myrrhe Resinoide, Patchouli Essence - Indonesia, Vanilla Green Beans - Madagascar, Tonka Beans Absolute - Venezuela, Castoreum Absolute, Vetiver Essence - Haiti.

But you don’t really need to know that. 
You’ll most certainly smell the Cinnamon, Pepper and Clove buds. They’ll greet you from the first spritz and dance around your olfactory bulb energetically. But then everything seems to become one, a harmonious composition where no individual fights for domination. Despite some strident notes, the overall effect is soft and mellifluous, a grand oriental with the volume turned low. 

GOLD is not a ‘statement’ perfume, she’s your companionable accessory. And you’ll always feel content in her glow. 

Monday, 4 November 2019

Forest Therapy - The unexpected Parfum

We shell out oodles of cash for the joy of owning a ‘parfum’ or perfume extract. They are often considered to be the finest version of a fragrance, comprising of the highest concentration of raw materials (usually above 30%) and possessed of the most tenacious grip to our skin. Vintage perfume collectors talk about parfum as being authentic i.e. the Perfumer’s original vision in the creative process. 

Vol de Nuit - The prettiest parfum in the world

Curiously, the difference in raw material content in an eau de parfum and a parfum is often only about 10 to 20%. So why is it usually at least 100% more expensive?

I don’t have the answer. But I have discovered an unusual and significantly less purse-hurty alternative.

My passion for forest themed scents is well documented at Odiferess. I’ve written of the witchy delights of Ormonde Woman, the festive cheer of Fille en Aiguilles, and the outdoorsy vibrancy of Wrappings with deep adoration. As a sufferer of Seasonal Adjustment Disorder, these scents give me a much needed burst of green sapped clarity to cut through the oppressive fug of the dark nights.

With this in mind, I treated my morale to a bottle of the latest bath oil offering from Aromatherapy Associates - Forest Therapy. This 100% natural bottle of oily goodness promised to raise my spirits and give me a sense of serenity which I tend to think of as a little bit of tree magic. 

Aromatherapy Associates specify an application method. You don’t just pour it into your bath and step in, you are encouraged to apply the oil to your torso, deliver a quick massage and a take a deep mindful huff of your hands before climbing into the bath. This works brilliantly as the oil disperses from your body into the bath but retains a great volume of aromatics right underneath your nose. It works similarly in the shower but it feels a bit wasteful in a short-lived experience.

Whilst pondering the emerald scented steam from my bath tub, I considered what this product actually is, a 30% concentration of essential oils in a carrier. It’s essentially a perfume extract. That evening I swiped a little Forest Therapy over my wrists and dĂ©colletage to explore the idea of wearing this bath oil as a perfume. Much in the same manner as Estee Lauder’s clever oily origins of Youth Dew, it worked. I delighted in several hours of it’s scent in full technicolour and fell asleep to a soft earthy drydown. 

Forest Therapy isn’t a ‘Judderman’ style scent. It doesn’t have the glacial Swedish element of cool air breezing through Pine. It feels much warmer, giving the sensation of a Southern European landscape, the arid element of sun soaked evergreens and dense herbal scrubland. When worn on skin, the Lemon note dominates the opening, giving a grand sunny tone to your walk in the woods. It’s definitely more High Summer than Christmas, which is exactly what I need right now. 

“Native to the Peruvian Andes, exotic Pink Pepper berries lend their spicy, fruity scent to uplift and energise, revitalising the senses while also easing breathing. Gently steam distilled from delicate young Cypress needles, soft, woody Cypress essential oil fills your bathroom with the scent of fresh forest air, washing a sense of calm and comfort over you. Our Juniper Berry, foraged from the mountainous regions of Macedonia, grounds and balances emotions as if you were taking a soothing stroll under the canopy of tall, majestic trees.
A woody heart of balancing Petitgrain, cleansing Ho Wood and earthy Patchouli, complemented with sweet, floral notes from the Davana plant, warm, buttery aromas from luxurious Mimosa flowers and sparkling Sicilian lemon, all our ingredients come together to form a fragrance that is synonymous with the crisp smell of nature. Open the cap and be transported to giant evergreens and woodland walks.” (Aromatherapy Associates website)

Indeed, you will be. 

Other foresty treats for the bath:

Badedas foam bath: bright green bubble juice with the unique woody green scent of Horse Chestnut. It hasn’t changed since my childhood, for which I’m grateful.

Olverum bath oil: More Judderman than Forest Therapy, distinctly Pine and herbal with a dominant Lime note. This has been loved and sold at London perfume emporium - Les Senteurs for years. 

Make your own: I favour a combination of essentials oils of Spruce, Eucalyptus and Rosemary blended in a little fractionated Coconut Oil or a cupful of Epsom Salts. 

N.B: Since my discovery, Aromatherapy Associates have released a Forest Therapy wellness mist which is actually designed to be applied to the body (or spritzed into your surroundings). This might be an alternative for those concerned about safety as it features a lower concentration of essential oils. I haven’t had any reaction to the bath oil when applied to the body, just don’t put it on your face!

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Puredistance AENOTUS - a journey to old Hollywood

Do you wish you could smell in technicolour?

I believe I have. My first spray of AENOTUS by Puredistance unearthed the memory of one of my favourite films, Hitchcock’s - To Catch a Thief. The extraordinary ability of scent to link the olfactory sense with the visual burst in action and journeyed me from my soggy Yorkshire home to the glittering solar playground of The French Riviera. 

Last year Puredistance released WARZSAWA, a composition so opulent and grand that I described it as ‘proper’ perfume. 

AENOTUS, the latest release from Puredistance, feels like the masculine partner of WARSZAWA. It is once again a ‘proper’ perfume that feels far removed from the masses of trend led industry releases of recent years. 

Jan Ewoud Vos, Founder of Puredistance, briefed Perfumer Antoine Lee with the creation of a signature scent for his personal wear. The scent was required to “combine freshness with long lasting sensuality”. Indeed it does, and with a profoundly picturesque quality.

Which leads me to Hitchcock's glamourous masterpiece. In this 1955 movie, Cary Grant plays a retired cat burglar, framed with a copycat crime on the sparkling French Riviera. Locations are lush and verdant, as viewed from the many scenes of Grant and Grace Kelly speeding around the cliffs of Cannes in the ubiquitous open topped sports car. 

AENOTUS evokes this landscape.

The ‘fresh’ phase of AENOTUS is exuberantly Mediterranean. Rocky scrubland peppered with aromatic sunbaked herbs, the waxy green whiff of citrus tree leaves and the lush swollen fruit growing within, the piercing cold sharpness of botanical sap and bursting buds. It’s all there, and it moves in an extraordinary rhythm. The scent doesn’t sit still, notes move in and out of focus, now you smell it, now you don’t. It’s an olfactory kaleidoscope. There is a sense of illuminating optimism, the hope of adventure, all played out under piercing radiant light. 

For a Northern European, this dazzling opening creates a feeling of otherness, so distant from our often dulled landscape that it reeks of technicolour film stock. Fully saturated escapism.

Cary Grant is far removed from the youthful male leads of contemporary movies. He represents the archetype of old Hollywood masculinity. Whilst inarguably suave, he is also somewhat dishevelled and aged. A leathery suntan colours a craggy expressive face that hints at a decadent lifestyle, a wild ride. He is deeply sexy and unashamedly masculine.

I long for a man with sock-free loafers

And this is the thing about men, they smell. No matter how freshly showered and sweetly perfumed they are, they emit a musky, slightly feral whiff. Enter a man’s bedroom and it will smell instantly recognisable as such. They are the ferrets of the gender divide. AENOTUS emphases the muskiness of masculinity. As it begins to dry down, the freshness retreats and a warm fougère-like base emerges. It is deeply mossy. Oakmoss absolute smells earthy, musky, fusty and animal. Distinctly not fresh and green, it is nature at its muckiest and most intriguing. 

In this way AENOTUS exaggerates masculinity, unapologetically creating a gentle trail of post party Cary Grant.  

AENOTUS is a complex and contradictory scent. Fresh and exuberant yet earthily sensual, vibrantly light and softly dark, freshly soaped cleanliness and morning after filth. What is intriguing about the contradiction is that it was created as a signature scent. The purpose of which is to define the personality and presence of its wearer. The most fascinating people are complex individuals who’s contrasts attract our curiosity and desire to know them.
If AENOTUS defines Jan Ewoud Vos, I’d really like to meet him…

Jan, is he a modern day Cary Grant?

Watch the trailer for To Catch a Thief by clicking here.

Thank you to Puredistance for my sample of AENOTUS. In the interests of integrity, the views expressed here are entirely my own and the post is not sponsored.

If you enjoyed reading this article, ensure that you never miss a post by using the ‘subscribe by email’ box on the right hand side. Or follow me at: