Bobbi Brown Beach and Other Sun Fantasy Scents : Perfume Review

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Patricia talks about an endless summer in a perfume bottle, from Bobbi Brown Beach to Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess.

In his novel Remembrances of Things Past, Marcel Proust used petite madeleines, little cakes shaped like scallop shells and dipped in tea as a literary device to bring his character instantly back in time. One sniff of Bobbi Brown’s Beach does the same thing to me. It transports me to a certain carefree summer many years ago, a summer of wearing madras shorts, skate boarding, kissing my first boyfriend, listening to the Beach Boys and Rolling Stones on the radio, and slathering on Coppertone, a popular American sun lotion.

patricia-summer

Beach isn’t an exact match for Coppertone, but sweet jasmine and orange blossom combine deliciously with salty and marine notes in a way that is strongly reminiscent of it. It maintains the same balance of notes throughout, and there is no real progression from the top notes to the dry down. Although Beach wears very close to the skin, it lasts from five to six hours on me.

An almost exact Coppertone duplicate is CB I Hate Perfume, At the Beach 1966. Wearing it, I feel as though I might as well just apply Coppertone itself. The perfume smells almost too realistic: like a day spent at the seashore with the sun beating down, necessitating frequent dips in the ocean. The fragrance is pleasing enough and wafts its aromatic salty and sandy blend for two or three hours, then it‘s gone.

Two other sun cream perfumes I enjoy, but which don’t create the same visceral reaction, are Bronze Goddess by Estée Lauder and Creed’s Virgin Island Water. After a bright citrus opening, Bronze Goddess becomes all sweet tropical flowers and coconut and then ends with warm sandalwood and vetiver. Lovely and enveloping, this beauty is gone before you know it and requires frequent reapplication.

Virgin Island Water is a crisp coconut and citrus scent, very unisex, but not very long lasting and much too expensive to be frequently reapplied. However, it is very refreshing, and its lime and rum accord makes you feel as if you are on the beach sipping a tropical cocktail. You can almost hear the steel drums in the background. Bath and Body Works used to offer an almost exact match, Coconut Lime Verbena, for far less money. If you like Virgin Island Water, this discontinued BBW scent might be worth searching for at perfume discounters and on online auction sites.

Although Beach isn’t a perfume to which I often turn, in July and August it satisfies a real craving to do a little time traveling. Smelling it evokes the hidden past, with all of the bittersweet memories and emotions of a simpler time.

bb-beachEstee-Lauder-Bronze-Goddesscbi-beach

What perfumes transport you to a different time or place? What are your sun fantasy scents?

Bobbi Brown Beach Eau de Parfum is available at Nordstrom for $70.00 for 50 ml. CB I Hate Perfume At the Beach 1966 Water Perfume is available at Lucky Scent for $85.00 for 100 ml. Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess is available at Macy’s for $60.00 for 100 ml. Creed Virgin Island Water is available at Neiman Marcus for $260.00 for 75 ml.

Photography (top image) by Patricia Thomas

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61 Comments

  • Sandra: Great article ! eau de merveilles reminds me of the beach! August 13, 2013 at 7:27am Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Sandra! Eau de Merveilles is a lovely beach scent…all salty, sandy citrus. I’m wearing it today. August 13, 2013 at 9:21am Reply

  • Isis: Farmacia SS. Annunziata Hyle is all beach to me. It has the scent of a gentle summerwind (probably the lavender), the sunwarmed skin, and while I would not know how to describe the scent of hot burning sand if my life depended on it, it does sort of smells like hot sand to me. I’d love to know what it is about Hyle that inspires the hot sand association for me, I can almost feel it under my toes as I spray… August 13, 2013 at 8:03am Reply

    • Patricia: Hyle sounds absolutely delicious, Isis, but it isn’t a fragrance I’m familiar with. I’ve added it to my sample list and very much look forward to trying it! August 13, 2013 at 9:25am Reply

    • solanace: I wanna try it only because of the great name! August 14, 2013 at 4:44am Reply

      • Patricia: 🙂 August 14, 2013 at 9:51am Reply

        • Isis: If you try it, please let me know what you think! Some days I love it, some days it does nothing for me. I am curious to know how other people like it. August 14, 2013 at 4:09pm Reply

  • BlinkyTheFish: Creative Universe by Beth Terry’s Mare was the ultimate beach scent while it existed (late 90s/early 00s) – it was a salty, sandy, creamy scent (creamy courtesy of avocado!). I don’t know if it was reformulated towards the end, but certainly when I came across is around 2002? it was fantastic. August 13, 2013 at 9:38am Reply

    • Patricia: Now there’s one I’ve never heard of! Avocado is an ingredient that I think of for creamy luxurious soap, but I’m not sure I associate it with a scent. Next time I split an avocado open, I’ll have to take a good sniff 🙂 August 13, 2013 at 9:52am Reply

  • Caroline: I hardly ever use it, because I think it skews a bit masculine, but AG’s Vetiver reminds me of driftwood and walking along a desolate rocky beach (maybe more fall than summer). I hear that Nuxe’s new scent based on their huile prodigeuse is a nice summer mood enhancer. August 13, 2013 at 9:38am Reply

    • Patricia: That’s a lovely image, Caroline, and fits AG’s Vetiver so well! Vetiver and I don’t always get along, but this is one I do like (in small doses).
      Will have to keep an eye open for the new Nuxe scent. August 13, 2013 at 9:55am Reply

    • solmarea: I agree. Lovely article, also. August 13, 2013 at 10:52am Reply

      • Patricia: Thank you for your kind words, solmarea. August 13, 2013 at 11:40am Reply

  • Annikky: I am one of the many fans of Bronze Goddess – it’s a fragrance I’ll happily wear to the beach, as opposed to just being reminded of it. Martin Margiela’s Beach Walk seems to me a more sophisticated (but not necessarily better) version of Bronze Goddess.

    And kind of similarily to Eau de Merveilles, the salty note in Sel de Vetiver has a touch of the sea about it. It’s not a summery beach, though – late autumn, maybe.

    Creed and I usually don’t get along, but you have really inspired me to sniff Virgin Island Water. Nice post, thanks! August 13, 2013 at 9:45am Reply

    • Patricia: I love the beach in late autumn and winter (when dogs are usually permitted) and consider myself lucky to live within driving distance of many beautiful beaches. Next time I take a cold weather beach walk, I’ll wear Sel de Vetiver. Thanks, Annikky, for the suggestion and let me know if you like Virgin Island Water 🙂 August 13, 2013 at 10:27am Reply

  • rosarita: Thanks for a fun read! Another vote for Eau de Merveilles, I’ve enjoyed it all summer, but it’s been so cool here (US great lakes region) lately that I’m into fall incense and spices. Summer feels as fleeting as Bronze Goddess 🙂 August 13, 2013 at 9:58am Reply

    • Patricia: Thanks, Rosarita! I’ve been itching to pull out my fall fragrances all month, but it is still too hot and humid here in the NE USA. What have you been wearing? August 13, 2013 at 10:39am Reply

      • rosarita: Neela Vermiere Trayee! I have a decant, and it’s the perfect fall scent. August 13, 2013 at 11:11pm Reply

        • Patricia: I love Neela Vermeire’s fragrances. If Trayee is a favorite, just wait until Ashoka comes out this fall. It’s a beautiful fig and leather perfume. August 14, 2013 at 9:50am Reply

  • Nancy A.: Hi Patricia,

    I’m not a big Bobbi Brown fan when it comes to her fragrance but I do appreciate Virgin Island Water as the upbeat, bright summertime fragrance mentioned in your post. How sentimental when it comes to mood and nostalgia our noses capture a time of memories that went before. August 13, 2013 at 10:44am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Nancy, That’s what I love most about perfume: its ability to allow us instant connection to past memories. August 13, 2013 at 11:04am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Sogni del Mare by Antonia’s Flowers reminds me of the beach. Every time I wear it someone remarks about it. I also agree about Eau de Marveilles. August 13, 2013 at 12:20pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Phyllis, Sogni del Mare is one I’m not familiar with. It’s nice to get compliments, though, isn’t it? August 13, 2013 at 5:58pm Reply

  • Tomate Farcie: My summer discovery is I Profumo di Firenze’s
    Brezza di Mare, not much longevity but beautiful! August 13, 2013 at 3:05pm Reply

    • Patricia: Sadly, it seems as if some of the most beautiful fragrances are only fleeting pleasures. I don’t mind reapplying if the fragrance isn’t too expensive to start with. August 13, 2013 at 6:00pm Reply

  • Terry Edwards Futrelle: “Bronze Goddess”, comes in a body oil spray. I apply the oil after my shower and then spray on the perfume just before dressing. Long lasting and lovely… August 13, 2013 at 3:28pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Terry. What a good idea to extend the life of BG with the body oil spray. I may have to spring for a bottle, as I love applying dry oils after my shower but only have a few to choose from. August 13, 2013 at 6:04pm Reply

      • Janet in California: I love the Bronze Goddess oil. Either alone, or with the perfume, it is lovely. August 13, 2013 at 11:39pm Reply

        • Patricia: Another vote for Bronze Goddess body oil! August 14, 2013 at 9:46am Reply

  • Jennifer C: My beach scent is Tokyo Milk Marine Sel. The opening starts out a little weird, but it settles into a really nice sea air scent with a little creamy suntan lotion-ish note. The first time I tried it, I was in Galveston and went down to the beach after I spritzed it on in a shop. While I was on the beach I thought it had faded, but I started smelling it again on my way home, and I realized it had just merged with the smell of the beach. I thought that was pretty cool and decided I needed a bottle. It’s not super-long-lasting, but Luckily Tokyo Milk is relatively cheap. August 13, 2013 at 3:39pm Reply

    • Patricia: Jennifer, that is cool! I haven’t tried anything in the Tokyo Milk line except a lip balm that tastes like salty caramels. Yum. I definitely need to explore further 🙂 August 13, 2013 at 6:08pm Reply

      • Jennifer C: Oooohh that does sound yummy. I haven’t tried any of their lip balms. I’ll have to look for them next time I’m somewhere that sells the line.

        The perfumes are definitely worth exploring. The regular line and the Dark line both have some good stuff, especially for the price. August 14, 2013 at 4:49pm Reply

        • Patricia: The Salted Caramel lip balm is in the Dark line. Lip balms aren’t usually my thing, but this one is a good balm in addition to being delicious. Highly recommended! August 14, 2013 at 5:15pm Reply

  • Aisha: What a coincidence that your post today talks about the beach. I actually tested Christian Dior’s Hypnotic Poison today at the mall — just for fun. As soon as it started to settle on my skin, I kept thinking of beaches in Hawaii. I’m not sure if it’s the jasmine or vanilla, or something else entirely, but for some reason the perfume takes me back to my childhood and those lazy summer days during which my friends and I would walk down to the Keyhole Lagoon at Hanauma Bay on O’ahu. It’s funny that a Dior perfume would capture that scent so closely.

    I normally associate gardenia, tuberose and plumeria fragrances with Hawaii. Who would have thought that Dior’s Hypnotic Poison would create a stronger association. 🙂 August 13, 2013 at 5:27pm Reply

    • Patricia: Aisha, How great that Hypnotic Poison brought you back to what must have been a magical childhood in Hawaii. I have only been there once (as a teen) and keep promising myself that I’ll return one day. August 13, 2013 at 6:10pm Reply

    • LP: Hi Aisha -Might you be able to recommend a simple pikake fragrance? I’ve even looked at oils on Etsy hoping to find something “authentically” Hawaiian? August 14, 2013 at 6:58pm Reply

  • LP: I loved reading everyone’s faves. I find Hypnotic Poison reminds me of the beach, too. I just spend a few days down the Jersey Shore, and I brought a bunch of samples for beach recreation, and I really enjoyed Parfums Nicolai Eau De Soleil, which finishes off with a smokey vanilla that is lovely. Also discovered Olivene Atelier “Amongst The Waves” which has Black Coconut (Yum!) in it. Another random find is Carol’s Daughter “Goddess” which smells like suntan lotion- not sure which one, but it comes in an oil. And my old faves are Heeley Sel Marin- salty and lemony, and good old Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil which I use year-round. To me, it smells of cedar. I’m really on a coconut lookout, so I can’t wait to try Heely Coccobello- why isn’t this out already? August 13, 2013 at 7:28pm Reply

    • Patricia: What a nice list, LP! Another beauty with black coconut is Yosh Ginger Ciao, which also contains notes of ylang ylang, basil, sandalwood, and of course ginger. I finished my sample some time ago, and it is on my too-long to-buy list. August 13, 2013 at 9:41pm Reply

  • E.Lime: Costamor’s Beachwood is also a very nice beach perfume (as one might guess from the name!). Sweet, light, and coconutty, with a lovely musk drydown. I think musk reminds me the most of the beach because of its sometimes saltiness, and thanks to the fact that I’m usually a tiny bit rank after a day of salt and sun. August 13, 2013 at 9:06pm Reply

    • Patricia: Oh, I think I have a sample of Beachwood somewhere. Will have to dig around to find it so I can try it again. I do seem to remember that musk dry down, though! August 13, 2013 at 9:44pm Reply

  • casey23: What about Jil Sander Sun 🙁 August 14, 2013 at 1:55am Reply

    • Patricia: I’ve never tried that one, Casey. What is it like? August 14, 2013 at 9:34am Reply

      • casey23: It is the first perfume when summer is mentioned 🙂 Mostly it smells like a suntan oil, though its flanker sun delight perfected that “suntan oil smell”. You should at least smell it once if you get a chance August 15, 2013 at 1:12am Reply

        • Patricia: I will! Thank you for the description 🙂 August 15, 2013 at 8:56am Reply

  • solanace: Nice article, Patty, and you made me smile. My mom used to anoint me with a Coppertone pommade that was meant for the lips, because it had the highest SPF back then – SPF 8. (I’m old as the isotopes.) Sooo sticky! But only to think of that smell, a thousand beach scenes rushed through my memory! Gotta try this Bobbi Brown. Actually, I’m buying a Coppertone for next summer, if they still smell the same (hopefully there will be a wider SPF range :-)). August 14, 2013 at 4:39am Reply

    • solanace: As for a summery scent, Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien. This one conjures Rome for me, which is always welcome. August 14, 2013 at 4:42am Reply

      • Patricia: Oh yes, Eau d’Hadrien is one of my favorite citrus fragrances! Great for summer 🙂 August 14, 2013 at 9:39am Reply

    • Patricia: I think I remember that Coppertone sticky stuff. Was it reddish in color? Or am I thinking of Bain de Soleil? August 14, 2013 at 9:36am Reply

      • Andrea: Patricia, the orange “sticky stuff” is Bain de Soleil. Coppertone is white and creamy. I speak as a Miami native (and went to boarding school in Ft. Lauderdale when every college spent Spring Break there); I love the smell of sun lotion! Hawaiian tropic coconut is the best smell, but Bain is the most nostalgic for me. August 14, 2013 at 9:17pm Reply

        • Patricia: Bain de Soleil had a very low SPF as I remember, but it certainly smelled good! August 14, 2013 at 9:39pm Reply

  • annemariec: The association between ‘coconut’ and ‘beach’ seems to be one of the strongest of all scent associations. And there is such sense of nostalgia in that – sunscreens these days smell of chemicals, usually, not coconut or tropical flowers. Not fun.

    I get a coconut-y scent from Le Labo’s Lys 41 so it often reminds me of beach smells. Cheaper but in the same league for me is Nuxe Huile Prodigiuese. I’ve never had a chance to try the perfume version of the famous Huile. One day, hopefully!

    Thanks for the post. Warm weather is on the way where I live. Can’t come too soon! August 14, 2013 at 4:45am Reply

    • Patricia: I have a sample of Lys 41 that I haven’t tried yet. You have inspired me to make today the day (after yoga class). Today is 65F, sunny with no humidity. My idea of perfect weather! Fall can’t be far behind 🙂 August 14, 2013 at 9:43am Reply

    • Andrea: How funny! I literally just had the thought today that a whole generation will grow up without that association! I was using some new Neutrogena (Beach-yellow bottle) and it smelled similar to orange chewable aspirin. I wish that today’s sun lotions would smell like ours did! August 14, 2013 at 9:20pm Reply

  • noele: Nice to hear mention of CB I Hate Perfume’s line here. I fell in love with ‘Mr Hulot’s Holiday’ which shares some resemblance to ‘At The Beach’ I feel…the former colored a year living near the ocean…technicolor beach dreams. August 14, 2013 at 1:06pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Noele, “Technicolor beach dreams”…well put! August 14, 2013 at 3:53pm Reply

  • Andrea: Victoria once told me to get Bond No. 9’s Fire Island as a smell similar to Beach (which gives me a headache). It is truly beach-y! A great one to try if you are looking for a summer fragrance. August 14, 2013 at 9:22pm Reply

    • Patricia: Thanks, Andrea. I’ve never tried Fire Island and will see if I can locate a sample. August 14, 2013 at 9:44pm Reply

  • Anka: Thanks for a wonderful post that makes me dream of a sunny beach, hot sand and the ocean! For me the ultimate scent that transports me to that place is Aqua Motu from Comptoir Sud Pacifique. It smells of the salty skin after a swim but thanks to the immortelle it is not too aquatic – I actually get some licorice (which it doesn’t contain…). August 15, 2013 at 4:05am Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Anka! Immortelle can be a bit tricky for me, but I still want to try Aqua Motu. A salty skin scent is one of my favorite types of fragrance…and so wearable. August 15, 2013 at 9:03am Reply

  • Alice Dattee: Rem from Reminsicence: it smells the salt of the waves and the warmth of the sand August 29, 2013 at 7:00am Reply

    • Patricia: That sounds lovely, Alice. Summer in a bottle 🙂 August 29, 2013 at 7:50am Reply

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