Beauty: 91 posts

Scented products other than perfume: candles, creams, incense, oils, soap and much more. I also include skincare tips, favorite makeup discoveries, DIY ideas and beauty rituals incorporating scents.

Rosewater in Food and Fragrance

The 10th century Persian philosopher and scientist Avicenna is credited with many contributions to astronomy, geography, psychology, logic, mathematics, and physics. He also found time to delve into perfumery and devised methods to extract essential oils, experimenting on roses. If Avicenna were to step into a fragrance lab today, he would orient himself quickly enough–modern perfumery is a curious amalgam of state-of-the-art science and traditional techniques. For instance, rose oil is prepared in much the way as in Avicenna’s time through the process of steam distillation.

Even older than rose oil is rosewater, an ingredient with a history predating Avicenna. Lebanese food writer Barbara Abdeni Massaad, whose award winning cookbook Mouneh explores the traditions of preserving fruit, vegetables and flowers, includes a section on making rosewater. “Yes, the distillates from roses and orange flowers continue to be made in villages,” she commented on the vitality of the tradition. “Older people still believe that homemade is best.”

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Home Scents : Spring Edition

I started this morning with a stroll through a bluebell forest, continued to a Japanese peony orchard, and got lost in an Italian garden before falling asleep in a cypress grove somewhere in Greece. I never left my room. I only changed home fragrances.  Perfumes uplift our mood, satisfy wanderlust and inspire daydreams, and selecting the right scents for the interior achieves the same effect.

Floris’s Hyacinth & Bluebell Room Fragrance is inspired by its iconic Bluebell fragrance, with a stronger emphasis on green, earthy notes.  It lingers gently and makes the space feel brighter and fresher. If I close my eyes, I can envision the vivid blue of wild hyacinths and the rustle of trees in their springtime verdancy.

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The Pleasure of Scented Creams

I am a recent convert to the pleasure of a scented body cream. I used to think that a plain lotion was sufficient, and as for fragrance, I could always spritz on a perfume. Yet, when a friend gave me a jar of Chanel No 5 Body Cream, I discovered how enjoyable such a luxurious product can be. Not only does applying it entail a special pampering ritual, it leaves one’s skin fragrant and moisturized.

To ensure a lasting scent, selecting a cream with a high proportion of aromatic oils is essential. I recommend testing a cream the way one would try a fragrance—applying it on clean skin and taking an inhale throughout the day to observe how the scent evolves. For instance, Chanel No 5 Body Cream has a brighter floral fragrance than the matching perfume, but its musky drydown lingers for the whole day. It creates an intimate sillage, which makes Body Cream ideal as a daytime scent choice. While it can certainly be layered with No 5 Eau de Toilette or Eau de Parfum, Body Cream pairs perfectly with an iris composition like 28 La Pausa or a violet bonbon like Misia, both from Chanel’s Les Exclusifs collection.

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Facial Mists (Naturally Fragrant and Unscented)

In the grand scheme of skincare, facial mist didn’t seem to me like a relevant item, particularly since I associated it with plain water spritzers. This would change after my sojourn in Japan. While I was in Tokyo studying the kodo incense ceremony, I had plenty of time to explore Japan’s vibrant beauty scene. This is how I discovered that my facial mist ideas were rather out of date.

Forget water in a canister! Modern mists address many skincare needs, from radiance to hydration. It may sound like a tall order, but it reflects a particular approach Japanese women take towards skincare—layering. The idea is to start with the lightest product in terms of texture and then build up the layers to the moisturizing cream, before ending with sunscreen. In this routine, mist can be used as a first step, a boost throughout the day or for setting makeup after touchups.

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Cleansing Gels with Beautiful Scents

Should it be orange blossom, lavender or pepper today? Scented hand washes make this everyday ritual that bit more enjoyable. A good hand wash should cleanse thoroughly but gently, and although foam is not an indicator of cleansing ability, a generous lather feels satisfying. Last but not least, the fragrance should strike a fine balance – a pronounced aroma straight out of the bottle and a veil of fresh scent on skin.

Perfumers have their own secrets for creating blends that smell “clean and fresh”; they rely on a palette of citrusy, floral and musky notes. Orange blossom and lavender, for instance, are the classical choices for hand washes, because they convey a wholesome, pure impression. Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom Body & Hand Wash foams well and genuinely smells of blooming orange groves. Senteurs d’Orient’s Fleurs d’Oasis Nourishing Hand Wash layers orange blossom with mint and basil for extra zest. The aroma of white petals lingers on hands without being overpowering.

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