Monthly Archives: February 2017

Civet, Nightingale and Macaque by Zoologist Perfumes

I’m a great admirer of Zoologist Perfumes and am extremely happy to hear they are now being stocked in the UK by Bloom. It’s great to see an independent brand that is brim full of originality and making the most of artisan perfumers.

After writing about the first three fragrances (Rhinoceros, Beaver and Panda)  I was excited to try samples of some of the subsequent releases.

It’s worth noting that none of these – of any of their Eau de Parfums – contains animal products.

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Civet

Top Notes: Bergamot, Black Pepper, Lemon, Orange, Spices, Tarragon
Heart Notes: Carnation, Frangipani, Heliotrope, Hyacinth, Linden-blossom, Tuberose, Ylang
Base Notes: Balsams, Civet, Coffee, Incense, Labdanum, Musks, Oakmoss, Resins, Russian Leather, Vanilla, Vetiver, Woods

Perfumer: Shelley Waddington (En Voyage Perfumes)

I thought Civet was bound to be too much for this fragile flower but not so. Shelley Waddington was aiming for the effect of a fur coat over naked skin and that’s exactly what she’s achieved.  After a glittering citrus start, the warm vintage fur is draped around your shoulders. It’s a real stunner with facets of cosmetic powder, flower petals and body warmth. I find it sensual and a little heady rather than intimidatingly animalic. I particularly love its glamorously retro aura and the way it makes me feel cocooned.

The use of coffee in Civet is an inspired modern twist. You wouldn’t necessarily know it was there without the notes list but it adds a roasted depth which is subtle and – like the touch of vanilla – is blended nicely into the whole. The spices are also handled with a light touch. It doesn’t hit you over the head with its sex appeal but entices you to close your eyes and nuzzle it like a blissed-out feline.

Nightingale

Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Saffron
Heart Notes: Japanese Plum Blossom, Red Rose, Violet
Base Notes: Oud, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Moss, Frankincense, White Musk, Labdanum, Ambergris

Perfumer: Tomoo Inaba

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Nightingale immediately showers you with plum blossom as if caught in a snowstorm of deep pink petals. It’s sweet and powdery, the way a combination of rose and violet often is. This cosmetic-style accord is underlined with a full-bodied opacity that comes from the patchouli and moss. It’s a vivid, striking opening to a perfume that has a unique character.  It’s fully embellished but doesn’t take itself too seriously.

A complex yet playful composition, Nightingale mellows out beautifully, developing that recognisable vintage chypre signature so many of us covet. I can imagine it successfully captures the feeling of celebration and optimism that comes with the onset of spring in Japan.  The tendrils of musk rising up from under its blush coloured skirts prevent it from coming across too innocent. Nightingale is ideal for lovers of classic chypres and the woman or man who is not afraid to indulge in a swathe of pink when the mood takes them.

Macaque

Top Notes: Cedar, Green Apple, Red Mandarin
Heart Notes: Frankincense, Galbanum, Honey, Rosewood, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine Tea
Base Notes: Cedarmoss, Green Tea, White Oud, Musk

Perfumer: Sarah McCartney (4160 Tuesdays)

I imagined a perfume named after a monkey would be about base instincts and therefore rather confrontational and even skanky. It’s actually the exact opposite. On spraying, I’m pleasantly surprised to find myself surrounded by clean air, the head-clearing scent of evergreens and a cascading waterfall. The aroma of lush vegetation and mossy undergrowth is cut nicely by tart citrus fruit.

Macaque is more about the mountain habitat than the mammal itself. It represents not only the forested slopes but the temple that overlooks it. There are the slimmest scented strands of frankincense, flower petal offerings and fragrant teas which drift across the canopy. It’s much more spiritual than beastly and extremely atmospheric. Macaque is a refreshing bright green fragrance which creates a sense of place, far away from our material world and its humdrum concerns.

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Do any of these fragrant creatures appeal to you? Do you have a favourite from the line?  

 

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What Are Your Winter Skin Savers?

Like a lot of people, my skin always becomes drier in the winter but this year it’s suffered more than ever. Here in the UK, it’s been a colder winter than usual with temperatures in London consistently around 5 to 7 degrees during January. I have persistent dry patches on my neck and face which can itch horribly. Some products have helped, but I’m yet to find a magic bullet.

 

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Winter in a local park in London

 

I’ve been squirting a good amount of Johnson & Johnson Baby Oil into my bath water and once a week while having a soak, I apply Clarins HydraQuench Cream Mask which started to make a difference after three applications.  La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+ is still the best body moisturiser I’ve found.

I’m cleansing my face with La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser after a recommendation from my pal Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume (who has been blogging about her contact dermatitis). I’m following this with La Roche-Posay Soothing Lotion for sensitive skin because although toners are supposed to do no more than water, I like using them.

HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase by Clarins is the consistency of water which makes it a little tricky to apply but also means I can use it on my parched eye area and it soaks in quickly. I follow this with La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intensive Eyes. I’ve turned to Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Repairing Cream (again La Roche-Posay) combined with a couple of drops of RESIST Hyaluronic Acid Booster from Paula’s Choice for extra moisture, but the effects have only been temporary. MAC Prep+Prime Lip provides a moisturising base for lipstick.

 

 

Unless it’s a gym day, it doesn’t make sense to use an antiperspirant during winter so I’ve switched to Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant. This stuff smells absolutely fantastic when sprayed but isn’t potent enough to clash with your perfume.

At night I’m mostly sticking with my usual Paula’s Choice evening routine except I’ve dropped the liquid exfoliant while my skin is so sensitive.

I apply Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm before bed and the truth is that I’m more than a little bit in love with this product. Previously, I was using Lano Lips but my bottom lip still split open, which was beyond grim. Since using the Nuxe balm my lips have been totally transformed even though I wear drying lip pencils and matte lipsticks most days. It also has a gorgeous honeyed lemon scent.

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What products do you turn to in the winter to protect and nourish your skin? Have you found anything that works on dry patches? Should I just use Vaseline or is there a better alternative? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

 

 

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Fragranced Organic Teas by Aftelier Perfumes

After I shared a surprisingly popular post about tea a couple of weeks ago, the wonderful indie perfumer Mandy Aftel kindly sent me samples from her own tea collection. I was thrilled and had a fine time trying each one.

 

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I drank them without milk and without sugar (on my first cup at least) to get the true taste. All four teas are organic and use edible essential oils and absolutes on a base of premium tea leaves. Depending on what method of infusion you use, on the first steeping you can watch the leaves unfurl in the water. You can also re-infuse them several times, which is great. Below are my impressions of each variety.tea-roseginger-2tOolong Tea Rose & Ginger 

This organic Tieguanyin oolong tea from Taiwan is infused with Mandy’s Chef Essences of Turkish Rose and Fresh Ginger. I thought I didn’t like floral teas, however either rose is an exception or this tea is so subtly flavoured/scented it’s a joy. I was also concerned the ginger might be overpowering but it added a lovely gingerbread background warmth. I think I might struggle with straight-up oolong but this combination of flavours gives it body and make it work beautifully for me. Now I’m looking forward to trying more rose flavoured teas.

Black Tea Cardamom & Orange

I love the scent of black tea, cardamom and orange so it’s no surprise that this turned out to be a hit with me. The cardamom comes through more than the orange but it’s a gentle backnote to the tea itself which is full, rounded and satisfying in the way black tea usually is for me. According to the website this is “Organic Red Pearls Black Tea, a rare tea from Fujian, is fully-oxidized Mao Feng tea leaves that have been rolled into small black pearls. They are then pan-fired where they develop a burnished sheen, toasty caramel-like aroma, and spicy, assertive — yet wonderfully sweet — flavor.”

Oolong Tea Frankincense GABA

An incense tea! I love incense so this was a novel and fun experience for me. The scent is fantastically resinous, rather than smoky and it’s the fullest oolong tea I can imagine.  The oolong tea from Taiwan has fruit and honey notes and is infused with hojary incense. GABA is a natural enzyme that calms and relaxes which is a definite plus. You’d think it might feel strange drinking incense but doesn’t. It’s perfect for de-stressing after work on a cold winter’s evening.

Aged Pu’erh in Tangerine Peel

Until late last year I hadn’t even heard of Pu’erh. It’s actually a fermented tea from Yunnan, China. Here, the leaves are packed into the rind of a whole tangerine.and aged for four years. They take on the flavour of the tangerine and the citrus is enhanced further by the addition of Mandy’s Yellow Mandarin Chef’s Essence. I found the unique scent very comforting.  It’s earthy and rubbery and laced delicately with citrus. Perhaps surprisingly, this tea is really refreshing and I found it easy to drink without sugar, which is rare. I also love that it comes in the tangerine peel.

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Each tea composition is expertly balanced with essences and absolutes that complement and enhance the leaves; never overwhelming them.  They are clearly created with the same care and artistry as the Aftelier perfumes. They’ve brought home to me just how closely smell and taste are connected and how making a cup of tea can become, in Mandy’s own words, “a time-stopping pleasure” during a demanding day.

 

Do you like the sound of any of Mandy’s teas? Are there any scented teas you currently enjoy?

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