Chinoise by DSH Perfumes. A contemplative perfume.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes flew under my naturals-loving radar until a few months ago. One of her purely botanical gems that I discovered is Chinoise. Dawn refers to this perfume as “a quiet and contemplative moment amongst groves of whispering camphor trees; a grounding aroma.”  I have yet to experience such a moment in a camphor tree grove, but I concur with her opinion that Chinoise is a grounding aroma.

Its notes are white camphor, sandalwood, himalayan cedar, and agarwood. All of them blend seamlessly making Chinoise greater than the sum of its parts. This is not an overtly camphor fragrance, or a strong sandalwood fragrance, and most definitely not agarwood-esque either. Cedar is possibly the most noticeable note, but it’s dusky, not sharp. Very subtle. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to identify any individual note as they meld and mingle with soothing parity.

Somehow, the combination of these notes create the scent that is emitted when you set a hot iron on crisp, freshly washed cotton linens. It’s not a dryer sheet smell, or the “clean” smell that has become so ubiquitous, but rather, the comforting aroma that’s suffused into the air by warming natural fibers.

Because the notes are so diffuse, they create a mood moreso than a floral, woody or smoky perfume experience. Indeed this fragrance would be appropriate for work, or around those who might be sensitive to strong perfumes. But Chinoise encompasses more than that. I’ll harken back to Dawn’s words and agree with her once more that Chinoise is very contemplative, and even though I don’t have a camphor tree grove in my vicinity, I’d like to sit admist one, with Chinoise on my wrists and a book of Chinese Buddhist teachings in my hands.

Chinoise is available at DSH Perfumes.

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: I received a sample of Chinoise EdP as an extra with a DSH Perfumes order. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
Buddhist Painting from


D.S. & Durga: Siberian Snow

My maternal grandfather made my grandmother a cedar chest when they were fifteen years old. He had the interior quilted and lined at a funeral parlor which I find both fascinating and macabre. (Where else would you have that sort of thing done I wonder?) Both of my grandparents are dead now, all of them are actually, or should I say they have “passed on”? My eight year old son asked me recently what “passed away” means. After I told him he said that it seems like a more peaceful way to say “dead”. I guess euphemisms aren’t as insubstantial as I had allowed myself to believe.

The faint smell of cedar lingers when you open the chest, and I can only imagine how potent it was eighty years ago. Lifting the lid used to reveal the dusty rose colored layers of remaining fabric that blended seamlessly with the wood’s pinkish tones. The satiny quilted lining became increasingly tattered and has since been removed as my mom had the chest refurbished many years ago. The restoration has created a new chest in appearance, but it still holds many memories, both cherished and painful.

When I first sprayed Siberian Snow on my skin, I immediately thought of my grandmother’s handmade treasury. Not that the perfume smells exactly like the chest, more like what I want my fragrance memory to be of the chest; cedar, wintergreen and jasmine. The D.S. & Durga website has frankincense listed rather than cedar, but you could have fooled me. Cedar it is in my mind.

Wintergreen opens the fragrance and remains an undercurrent throughout the Siberian Snow experience. The mintiness has a multi-layered effect that was unexpected and intriguing. Initially the wintergreen was enlivening, and then evolved into a familiar, comfortable feeling. My dad loved to have WintOGreen LifeSavers at the ready when my sister and I were growing up, which probably explains my nostalgia for the wintergreen scent. But it also added a quirkiness to the otherwise traditional woody floral composition of jasmine and cedar. (I mean, frankincense). The wintergreen used in Siberian Snow has an attenuated bitterness that tames jasmine’s floral lushness and gives the woody aspect depth and interest so it’s not thin and reedy.

It seems almost meaningless to call a perfume a “woody floral” these days. There are so many out there that they all begin to smell alike. I can assure you that when I say Siberian Snow is an “interesting woody floral” I’m not using that as a euphemism for “it’s just a little better than average”. D.S. and Durga, the creators of their eponymous line, have truly created an interesting woody floral perfume. Not every fragrance is 100% all-natural, but Siberian Snow is, along with Rosa Americana and Cowgirl Grass. And for men, Cowboy Grass, Barbados and Marblehead Reds.

I’m claiming Siberian Snow as my new favorite all-natural cedar fragrance, and D.S. and Durga can rib me a bit if it turns out that there really is no cedar in there after all. It doesn’t matter. My grandmother’s chest has been restored, my son has taught me to embrace euphemisms, and I publish perfume reviews even if I don’t get the notes right.

Siberian Snow is available at DS & Durga

Posted by ~Trish

Photograph by ~Trish
Wintergreen Illustration from


Jo Wood Amka

 I have learned that Amka means “to wake” in Swahili. (This information is on every site where the line is sold). And I agree that Jo Wood’s Amka possesses a lively quality, but it is soothing as well. I wear it to bed frequently because frankly, its lack of sillage and faint lasting power are good for the late night hours. I love crawling into bed after a bath, having just hydrated my skin with the Amka Body Oil and spritzed my skin with the Body Dew. I guess ultimately that is how I appease my heartbreak that this fragrance just does not last. Sad, but true. Because I love this scent so much.


Now that I have lamented its ephemeral quality, let me tell you why I still love it. I said it’s lively. This is due to the effervescent neroli Jo Wood has chosen. It’s slightly spicy, bursting with a piquant citrus aroma, yet mellowed by a beautiful warm cedar that envelops the neroli charge ever so perfectly. These opposing qualities have been balanced harmoniously. It is such a special fragrance that I am willing to forgive its transient nature, and enjoy its short-lived comfort and tranquility.


I know not everyone will have this kind of patience given its steep price tag. But take into consideration that Jo Wood has sustainable organic standards, and follows strict ECOCERT guidelines. She never uses petroleum products, phthalates, or parabens in her natural products. (See her website for more detailed information).  Also, I have found the best way to get the scent to last. I spray either the Body Dew or the Eau de Toilette (EdT) in my hair and then very liberally on my skin after applying the Body Oil, to get about an hour of scent time. I know, remember reading above about how much I love this perfume?


The difference between the EdT and the Body Dew is the EdT is softer and more floral, whereas the Body Dew has more cedar. Additionally, I’d say the EdT lasts longer on my skin; I can squeak out maybe two hours. But keep in mind that it wears very close to the skin. The Amka line includes the EdT, Body Dew, Body Oil, Body Lotion and Bath Oil. As an aside, the Body Oil is rich and luscious. It is very hydrating, and soaks into skin after about two minutes. The scent evokes the neroli, but the cedar is deeper and there are more hints of the rose otto than in the EdT or the Body Dew. And take note, I do not recommend the lotion. The texture is very watery and separates easily. Mine was quickly returned.


Jo Wood Amka is available at

Posted by ~Trish