Friday, August 31, 2012

What I Used This Summer: Sensuous Products & Yummy Discoveries

We're on the last day of summer, calendar-wise, and Labor Day weekend is upon us so my mind was cast to what happened in the previous months.  It was a summer filled with everything: much needed languor, some necessary stress, moving around a bit, lots of projects, learning new things such as macramé, refreshing my Italian and hot, hot, hot temperatures soaring for days on end (those of you in the US will sympathize and those of you in Western Europe will anathematize). That last bit naturally posed its own little limitations.

Thinking of what made the cut during these past few months, I came up with products, scents, foodstuff and sensuous little touches which brightened the long days and soothed the hot nights. Here's my personal list. Feel free to share your own in the comments!

via livia-momentsoflife.blogspot.com

Dr.Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap
My reader Rosarita recommended this as a relief from the heat when I was complaining I was too hot to even consider continuing breathing (it felt that way) and asked for recs. Two words: it works! Tingling and cooling.

Guerlain Lys Soleia
The best feminine release from Guerlain by Wasser so far. A tropical fantasy of lily and sand dunes warmed by the sun.

Selin Limon Kolonyasi (traditional Turkish cologne)
Because there's something into old traditions that stands the test of time. The most refreshing touch after any activity, kept in the fridge for maximum effect.

Calone isn't totally incongruent with the sea...
Numerous times while swimming in the sea I noticed the faint whiff of watermelon in the distance (replicated by the fragrance industry in the synth Calone which defined the "marine" scents of the 1990s). At first I thought it was vacationers bringing their typical feta and watermelon treat in tupperware on ice-blocks for midday snacking. Then it dawned on me: the sea water does have a watermelon reminiscent component, or rather the fruit has a sea-like nuance (which explains its perfect pairing with the salty cheese). Amazing; it made for a renewed interest in seeing the nuts & bolts of marine perfumery, a very complex segment of the industry.

via hugo.com

Burberry Beauty Sheer Summer Glow
Most bronzers are either too dark or too orange-peach for my coolish skin (which naturally reddens in the sun and then attains a golden tint which fades quickly unless upkept). This limited edition collection of 4 shades in British-cool colors is perfect for managing the dosage for an optimum natural effect. Add mascara and a lip balm you're set for the day.

Ramon Monegal Mon Cuir
Best perfume discovery of the year so far. Dry and sophisticated powdery leather fragrance. To die for; there are no other words. Review coming up!

Ayala Moriel Etrog Oy de Cologne
Etrog is Hebrew for citron and citron is a delightful thing that remains inexplicably under the radar in most commercial perfumery. Light, tangy with pommelo, natural, with an aromatic, oleaginous background, Etrog Oy de Cologne is a scent to see you through hot summery noons and to brighten darker autumn dawns. Review coming up!

collage via pojkfroken.blogspot.com
Hermès Eau de Gentiane Blanche
Total abscence of flowers and fruits. A scent of solid white rock like a volcanic island emerging from the sea. Perennial summer fav. It feels as if Jean Claude Ellena conceived it on the island of Milos.

Bergamot spoon sweet on classic cheesecake
An unusual twist to the classic recipe that provide welcome tanginess and bittersweet nuances.

La Via del Profumo Tawaf
Hypnotic and mystical jasmine like never before, allied to Arabian tradition resins. Review coming up!

Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan mixed with simple white musk (Lutens's own Clair de Musc isn't a bad choice for this, but you can experiment with any clean musk really, a hint of white flowers in the mix is best)
An experiment (at a ratio of 1:3) that proved sometimes an intense, deep amber can fit even a heatwave. I know people use this oriental in the summer thanks to its herbal, aromatic top note which cuts the sweetness, but trust me, we were talking 105F/40C here...no laughing matter.

Jasmine Gin Fizz iced tea
Using jasmine-infused tea instead of soda in the classic recipe makes this super-easy and very cooling.

Roger & Gallet Vetyver Eau de Cologne
Delectable vetiver scent; light, smokey, with a hint of tobacco and hay underneath the citrus top. I'm cursing the day they discontinued this.

Mirto Lavender cologne
Greek pharmacy stand-by cologne that is sublime. Review coming up!

via rcakewalk.blogspot.com

Sour Cherry Jelly
Just use any red-fruit jelly mix and substitute water with fresh sour cherry juice. The result is more than the sum of its parts and garners compliments from everyone tasting it.

Etro Royal Pavillon
A tender and musky floral combination of jasmine, mimosa and ylang ylang with a mossy segment from 1989.

Ambre Solaire Golden Protection with Monoi SPF 30
Ambre Solaire is a European golden standard in that tropical floral scent we associate with South of France and Capri beaches. This year's edition is even more seductive, infused with a subtle monoi scent that just screams for sensuous application even when not on the beach.

Annick Goutal Musc Nomade
When I wanted to simulate "no perfume" skin, yet sought that indefinable aura that metallic vegetal musks only can render on the wearer. Tripy!

Farewelling summer with this song clip: "Summer rendez-vous upon your body" by Greek group Δυτικές Συνοικίες (i.e.Western Neighborhoods)
"the whole island a pebble by your feet,
the whole wide earth your embrace".

What did you use this summer? What did you discover?


  1. I'm so glad to know that Dr Bronner's has won another fan! :)

    I didn't wear as much perfume as usual this summer because of the heat; just didn't feel like it some days. But between May and August I somehow finished a large decant of Prada Candy. That light, crisp & sophisticated edge to the sweetness was just right. I also discovered modern day Shalimar edc, which smells wonderful in warm weather. Enjoy your weekend, E :)

  2. Anonymous21:05

    I didn't wear as much perfume either but not because of the heat and humidity, that has never stopped me before here in New York but because I just had massive surgery and the recovery is taking longer than expected. That said I've been wearing Miel de Bois (the new reformulation which comes in bell jar only is softer and less harsh), Chergui, A la Nuit, Datura Noir, Santal Blanc (the only scent I could stand the week I had surgery) and Santal Majuscule.


  3. Wordbird21:28

    I've been wearing Ambre Sultan straight, for the warm and comforting factor. It goes well with the thick socks and warm sweaters. No, I'm not in Australia in midwinter, I'm in the UK. This has been the worst summer for 100 years. Wet, miserable and so chilly I have switched on the central heating on several occasions. Can you hear from my tone of voice that I'm pretty envious of your heatwave? :-)

    However, I am very tempted by Dr Bronner's liquid soap, it sounds excellent. Have you used it as a shampoo? Is it really OK?

  4. solanace22:05

    Must try this turkish cologne, I'm sure it will be great here at the rainforest! It was midwinter here, but so warm - much warmer than the UK summer, it seems. I discovered Amouage, and I'm in love with Epic, Gold and Dia man.

  5. I found your beloved, as i understood, Dior-Dior of Chris. Dior and i am "bathing" in it every day during all August. I never smelled the real flower of narcissus, so i can't say if this is close or not. The bottle i found is old enough to be considered vintage and it's vaporisateur. I really can understand the smell of something pissy and it isn't because the juice is old. I feel good to smell old-fashioned, flowery but still classy, if that is possible for a "piss". It's different from everything i ever wore and that's for me enough reason to respect it and make it my own. I must thank you for that. I almost feel jeasousy for the women of older generations who could find such original, charming fragrances. One complaint: it doesn't stay on my skin for too long. Good night.

  6. This summer it's been very, very hot to the point of intolerable. It was to the point where I really wasn't interested in trying anything new and the only thing that I could wear was no. 19 in EDP for because everything was either too much or dissapeared way too quick. One of my finds of the summer was Diorling. It's a pity that Diorling doesn't com in an EDP form because the EDT only lasts 2-3 hours on my skin with lotion.

  7. Its our first day of Spring and its been sunny and just beautiful Helg!
    I do hope that Hermes scent reaches our shores - sounds interesting !

  8. Anonymous07:39

    Joining you in mourning for the R&G Vetyver - it really was rather good (and so cheap compared to others like Encre Noir). Also sad that Crabtree & Evelyn discontinued their Vetivert - it was very different from the smokey R&G as it was a "cleaner" version, but I absolutely loved wearing it in the heat.

    Avalon produce an organic range of hair and bath products, and their peppermint bath gel, shampoo and conditioner have provided me with much needed coolness lately!


  9. R,

    it was a fab rec, thank you!!

    I didn't wear much of my own Shalimar Eau Legere this summer. It somehow was TOO hot even for that.
    I love both your choices, though!

  10. Emma,

    sorry to hear that! Hope you recover quickly.

    Your Lutensian choices are to be expected. The SM is really very good, I suppose you agree if you wore it a lot. ;-)

    You should try a bit of my new love, will try to send a sample one of these days.

  11. W,

    yeah, I have been hearing from relatives & friends about the atrocious weather this summer. Central heating in the midst of summer sounds horrible!

    I haven't tried as a shampoo, though now that you're saying it, maybe I should! (after all it's my head which seems to get stuck in the oven, in a heatwave, much more than my body!)

  12. Solanace,

    these bright, vivacious, fresh and simple smells like citrus colognes are absolutely perfect for the rainforest!

    Amouage is pure class, in the majority of cases. Enjoy!

  13. Efi,

    GREAT!! You're lucky, hold on to it. It's a rare gem. I think it's very underrated, it's Roudnitska at his mature best, can't understand why it flopped. Anyway. It's pissy in the best possible sense. ;-)

    No recollection of narcissus? Νομίζω είσαι ελληνίδα, δεν είσαι? Ίσως το ξέρεις ως "μανουσάκια"?? (το λέει και το άσμα) Πολύ αρωματικά!
    (sorry if I'm being presumptuous)

  14. Eld,

    ah...the joys of Diorling, smoothest leather on earth beside the Hermes. I wish they'd bring on the slightly older formula out again. It used to be great!

    All the cool, powdery, sharp and bitter chypres are great in the heat: No.19 (love it in edt in summer), Bandit, Koto, Silences, Zen...Something about them cuts the heat. It's just that I overdosed on them in late spring when it was already quite hot and then got bored.

    Does the No.19 edp hold well in its current formula? It's been a while since I last checked.

  15. M,

    first day of spring sounds a delightful promise for the future. :-)

    Oh, I'm sure Gentiane Blanche is already in the stores in Oz!! It's mainstream fare (not smell-wise!) and launched a few years back, so why should they not stock it? It's in the same "sub-line" as the Eau d'Orange Verte cologne (uniform bottles with that and Eau de Pamplemousse Rose). The Gentiane is in a grey bottle, the other two in green shades.
    Grab a tester and spray on. It's very interesting (if I don't really think it'd be to your personal taste for yourself, but it might suit your husband perfectly, since he doesn't want perfumey things; this feels very natural and very cooling)

  16. Jillie,

    :-(( Sad news when I hear discontinuation of products people have an admiration for. I hadn't even managed to tried the Crabtree & Evelyn vetiver yet.....

    Noting down the Avalon range for when I can't access the Dr.Bronner's, then, they sound good! Thanks!!

  17. Miss Heliotrope08:06

    I am sitting in front of the heater as evening draws in - although it is light & my husband is mowing the lawn (I shall go out & smell fresh cut grass soon)...

    Spring has started, and the smells of warmer weather are starting (& everyone around me has hay fever). It has been a long (wet!) winter in Melbourne for once. My toes are looking fwd to heat.

    I am wearing 31 Rue Cambon & was asked what I was wearing in the coffee shop by someone who could smell musk sticks (that odd Australian sweet).

  18. C,

    oh, but think of all the things ahead. Sunny skies, lush gardens (all that rain) and sea dips (never mind the sharks, haha!) Hope you don't have hay fever yourself! (It's so annoying, in't it? I always get it)

    Yes, 31 RC has that ability to illicit questions (have it every time I wear it, it's so intriguing). Perfect choice for every season!

    Gotta love those strange, chalky, dry-sweet musk sticks & candies. ;-)

  19. No, the word is not "jeasousy" but jealousy. Sorry.
    Helena, i don't know this flower not even with the other name you mentioned, maybe i did see it, but i didn't know it's name.
    Anyway, είμαι Ελληνίδα και έχεις ένα σπάνιο blog. Before considering to buy a full bottle a passeggiata on your blog is essential.

  20. Efi,

    you lost me with "jealousy" (where is this mentioned? Must have missed something or Blogger "ate" something above?)

    Never mind about narcissus. I'll tell you what: Go to an open fair market/λαϊκή (any one has a flower stand) and ask for μανουσάκια/νάρκισσους.
    Είναι "λαϊκό", ταπεινό λουλούδι, όχι φρού φρού σαν τα τριαντάφυλλα (αν και πολύ πιο ενδιαφέρον απ'τα τελευταία κατά την γνώμη μου!). Θα τα δεις και θα τα μυρίσεις έτσι με την ησυχία σου και θα μπορείς πλέον να τα διακρίνεις και στα αρώματα. Αν πάρεις ένα ματσάκι θα ευωδιάσει όλο σου το σπίτι! (το ίδιο συμβαίνει και με τα ζουμπούλια/hyacinths που ανήκουν στην ίδια οικογένεια). ;-)




    Thanks for the lovely words on the blog and viva la patria!! :-)

  21. Efi, oh right, I saw the "jealousy" mention in your very first comment, about being jealous of older generations of women having access to such great perfumes. Yup! Makes sense. Then again, we have to consider that the ones that survived to this day (or are lauded) are indeed the very best ones. There was also much dreck back then as there is now (OK, not *so* much, possibly! LOL)

  22. Anonymous12:07

    This wonderful post makes me think I need to put away my summer perfumes, only to look forward to getting them out again next year....so farewell, Lys Soleia, Bronze Goddess and Ambre Solaire Tiare sunscreen! Creed Virgin Island Water will be going back into my underwear drawer, as will Organza's heady jasmine and tuberose. I'll be keeping Shalimar out, though, it became a skin scent for me this year. My autumn scent will be Dior Hypnotic Poison and I don't know what else yet but your enticing snippet on Ramon Monegal mon cuir sounds delightful. Steffie (UK - not such a great summer, here).

  23. Mega-humid this summer, rain several times a week, yuck! I discovered lemony Monsieur Balmain, inexpensive enough on the discount sites to spray all over. And the pleasure of an old-fashioned spa (in this case Calistoga, CA's Indian Springs) where you swim in the purifying water, drink it, bathe in it, take steambaths in it, etc -- "Taking the Waters," as this was once called.

  24. MariaA16:15

    Lys Soleia was my favorite discovery of this year I absolutely fell in love with it and I an jealous of the lemon cologne! Will try to buy some online! As for soaps I bought Kappus soaps this summer from Hondos - mimosa, blue iris & violet lilac they smell amazing very reallistic and the smell really stays on your skin !
    The Gentine blanche sounds really appealing by your description! I will try to find a sample of this!!

    Καλό μήνα!

  25. I am a big fan of Dr. Bronner's and Burberry's products!

  26. Helg --- I have not seen this but .... maybe I was not looking properly - shall do !

  27. Winter and work in Melbourne have got me wearing a lot of Serge Lutens - I think my Serge collection veers toward the more wintery side of things - particularly Fille en Aigulles, whic every time has me compulsively sniffing my wrist as soon as the dry-down starts :)

    I've also ordered a bunch of samples of botanical perfumes by Roxana Illuminated on your recommendation. And a few more by ForStrangeWomen (another etsy perfumer) and April Aromatics (a perfumer based in Berlin). Can't wait to try them! :)

  28. It's been a dry hot summer in East Canada. I will not complain of the heat since I will regret it very soon when my legs are covered in snow up to my knees. Seriously, -30 makes 40C look like paradise

    I enjoyed my summer fumes so much I don't want to put them away
    My two discoveries these year were Vittoria Apuana and for a cheap thrill Lily Pulitzer Beachy.
    Adding Tahitian Holiday, Ensoleille Moi, ML Vacances
    I miss my summer staple O de Lancôme. There are days when this is the only scent that would cut through the heat unlike anything else. I do not love the current version, it has lost its bite and it smells like a body spray
    Got a bottle of another of my summer staples long time discontinued MARIEL by H2O. This one is not known by many, but it's just heavenly. It has some similarities to Calyx but it lacks that rotten fruit opening and the rose notes replacing it by jasmin
    The cicadas are nowhere to be heard by now , a clear sign that summer is leaving us behind. I cursed them from waking me up with their loud buzz, but I'm missing them already

  29. So feel you on R&G Vetyver. Have a few mls left using them by the drop. Countdown to extinction... Gentian is a favorite of mine but oh so expensive for a cologne damnit!

  30. Sofi09:45

    As this was an extremely hot summer, I discovered Baise Vole by Cartier! The three dimensions of lily make this fragrance at least unique!So fresh, clean with a sense of powder!I simply love it!

  31. I'm going to have to try that Ambre Sultan and Clair de Musc mix. Yesterday I layered Clair de Musk and LUSH's Orange Blossom, quite lovely.

  32. Steffie,

    yeah, I heard from friends and relatives: UK missed summer altogether this year. Lucky I didn't make the scheduled trip then, as planned a long while ago. Another time with better conditions, as my memories of the UK are not that wet or cold really (have been relatively lucky so far).

    Love your choices and wow, what a great reminder to put something in the underwear drawer! ;-)

  33. P,

    sounds pretty gross, being humid all the time...sorry about that!

    Monsieur Balmain is a great classic, alongside Moustache by Rochas I consider them very underrated frags one can find cheaply indeed.
    Taking the Waters is a great rejuvenator for the soul as well as the body; I firmly believe in "thalasso" (as the French and us call it). :-)

  34. Maria,

    oh yeah, the Kappus soaps are great. I love the packaging too!

    Gentiane Blanche should be on every Hermes counter really (certainly prominently in the boutique downtown on Voukourestiou St.); if they don't have a tester ask for one, they should have one tucked someplace, it's relatively new not to have one around ;-)

  35. Rola,

    thanks for confirming my recs, these are just great products!

  36. M,

    please do and take a sample home for the hubbie ;-)

  37. Masha,

    oh I just love Fille en Aiguilles and wonder why I didn't wear it more this summer. To me it's a warm pine-like scent, very summery, though I can see how its warmth can be appreciated in the cold of winter too!
    I think Lutens is perfect for any season as there's so much selection and the fragrances are so carefully constructed for the most part so as to fit moods rather than the weather (they can adapt, which is technically a good trait).

    Glad my rec was successful and eagerly awaiting your impressions on the other two artisans if you care to let me know!! :-)

  38. Yoca,

    you do have a point there: I cannot imagine for the life of me living anywhere where the temps drop at -30C...The humanity of it all!! Decked in snow for months, I suppose. I just couldn't take it.
    I try to remember that when my forehead gets all sweaty and I curse the soaring heat :-D

    Lovely choices and what's more excellent point about the O de Lancome: it used to be sooooo fresh and so cooling. More chyprish citrus than plain citrus. It's been sweetened a bit and that ruined the effect. :-(

  39. K,

    isn't it a shame that everything we love is getting axed eventually? While mediocre things circulate unfazed...

    Gentian is a stellar plant for perfumery because it's so unique. I also like Gentiana by Guerlain in the Aqua Allegoria series: herbal and cooling. (axed as well, I believe, just our luck!)

  40. Sofi,

    you're absolutely right: this summer made it very hard to pick something that would remain pleasant and not turn into an instant headache after half an hour and you chose wisely. BV is a very fetching specimen, fresh, youthful, with backbone and a green nuance that keeps the powder and spice from becoming too much. It's very becoming!

  41. Jen,

    do try it! It "airates" it quite a bit and thus makes it "summery" for those of us in quite warm weather! (no Luxembourg or Canada applicants need apply, LOL)
    Your combo sounds great too! (Amber goes so well with orange blossom)

    I have also tried it with a very simple white musk & white flowers cologne from a Swedish brand (Oriflame) and it worked wonders: it became powdery and lightly ambery-biscuit; you can control the ratio on skin to your satisfaction.

  42. brie00:31

    Thanks to your wonderful article I discovered Turkish cologne affordable and easy to order through Amazon and went wild blending it with all different essential oils (my favorite miix was agarwood,cardamom and new caledonia sandalwood with the lemon cologne). I cannot thank you enough for your recommendation!

  43. B,

    I'm so happy it proved a useful and pleasurable recommendation! :-)) Who would have thought, eh?
    It's the definition of a simple, humble product that works wonders.
    I'd think that your combinations are spot on: cardamom especially should be heavenly! (need to try that one myself, love cardamom)


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