These feel like tumultuous and uncertain times, so even though the weather is getting warmer for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it still feels good to wear a perfume that wraps us up like a comforting blanket. One perfume that provides much needed succor while feeling heartsick, is Flora, a warm and gently spicy fragrance that envelopes you in its pillowy petals.
Roxana Villa, of Roxana Illuminated Perfume, is the creator behind one of my favorite lavender perfumes, Vera. I reviewed the liquid formulation of Vera this past fall, and am elated that Roxana is now offering it as a solid in addition to the liquid perfume. Organic lavender from Ojai is used in the formulations and lavender lovers in the Southern California area should consider attending the Ojai Lavender Festival on June 26th.
Both the liquid and solid Veras are comforting and unique renditions of lavender, but they do possess subtle differences. Alongside lavender, there are woods, resins, sage, oakmoss and orange blossom that coalesce elegantly in both formulas. In the topnotes, sage predominates the liquid while resins are much more enhanced in the solid. Resins of styrax (benzoin), Peru Balsam and cistus yield a supple aroma whose delicate sweetness hovers over the rich depth of a sunbaked thicket.
The middle notes of the solid continue to explore the resinous nature of Vera, as cistus (the essential oil of the rockrose shrub) becomes heightened in its rich radiance. In contrast, the heart of the liquid finds itself amidst the floral company of orange blossoms which temper the intensely herbaceousness of lavender. This herbal quality quiets even further in the liquid’s drydown which assumes a more powdery form. The solid on the otherhand, veers away from the powder path and into the deeper terrain of woods like cedar, vintage Mysore sandalwood and the aforementioned resins.
Vera in both of its forms are beauties, but I prefer the solid as the union of sweet, intriguing resins with aromatic florals reels me in effortlessly. Impressive longevity is bestowed upon both, but the solid wears closer to the skin. As always, Roxana’s perfumes are 100% natural, made with only the finest organic and/or wildcrafted botanicals.
As a special treat for Scent Hive readers, Roxana is giving away a trio sampler set of Vera, Rosa and Chaparral. As always, you are eligible for extra entries, one each, by following Roxana on Twitter and/or her Blog. Extra entries as well if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin, Twitter, Google Friend Connect, Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. Please let me know in your comment what you did so you get the entries you deserve! Drawing will close Sunday June 13th at 9pm PST. We have our winner!
Posted by ~Trish
Disclosure: Samples from Roxana Illuminated Perfume were provided for this review. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
This review continues my exploration of natural perfumes from Gabriel’s Aunt. Last week I wrote about Royal Couple, a radiant and sultry rose/jasmine duo that comes in both a cream perfume solid and a candle. Today, I will focus on two of her roll-on perfumes, one that also features jasmine, but from a different perspective.
Venasque is an homage to the lavender and chocolate loving Southern French town by the same name, and uses jasmine in the top notes to enhance the experience. One would not smell Venasque and think, “my what a fabulous jasmine scent”, as it’s decidedly a lavender based perfume. But this lavender is fuller than usual as jasmine melds into the purple buds, enhancing its herbaceous essence with a juicy floral lift. Lovers of lavender will appreciate the lushness that Venasque brings to the plant which can oftentimes be dry and crisp.
A dusting of cocoa powder lands gently on Venasque after an hour, meeting the expectations set by the perfume’s back-story. Lavender continues to be the star of this fragrant experience, therefore it doesn’t become a lavender infused chocolate truffle (which sounds really tasty come to think of it!). Venasque is more like a lavender field that has been nourished by dark chocolate in its soil. The rich, bittersweetness effortlessly evolves as jasmine receeds. A judicious use of patchouli adds to this earthy imagery. As with Venasque’s jasmine, it’s the suggestion of patchouli that enhances the richness of the chocolate and the herbal aroma of the lavender.
Even though the drydown is similar to the delightful vanillic ending of Royal Couple, I wholeheartedly recommend men try Venasque as well as women. I happen to be a lover of lavender, so Venasque is a perfume I would reach for again and again. I already have two lavender favorites, Roxana Illuminated Perfumes’ Vera and Ajne’s deLavande, but Venasque rounds out the collection beautifully. Both of those fragrances lean more powdery and cozy, while Venasque is an amplified, aromatic lavender with a gourmand flavor.
Bohem, GA’s best selling fragrance of 2009, resides in the spicy-incense realm with its allspice and cedarwood blend. In addition, vetiver, patchouli and tobacco give a good deal of body to Bohem, most notably being vetiver. I thoroughly appreciate vetiver’s ability to provide a smoked earth quality while simultaneously allowing the surrounding essences their full glory.
The heart of Bohem becomes a little sweeter as cassie and davana lend a honeyed, fruity glow to the incense swirling on your skin. Tobacco and the allspice aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves infuse the smoke from beginning to end which like Venasque, would smell wonderful on either a woman or a man.
Nikki Sherritt, the woman behind Gabriel’s Aunt, is a bit of a dark horse in the world of natural perfumery. She flies under the radar, probably because she is more well-known for her candles, but should receive due recognition for her artistic hand in blending natural perfumes. Nikki has samples for sale on her site, and I encourage you to experience them for yourselves.
Venasque and Bohem are available on the Gabriel’s Aunt website. $38 for a 1/4 oz roll-on.
You can read Ayala Sender’s review of both Bohem the fragrance and the candle on SmellyBlog.
Posted by ~Trish
Disclosure: Samples from Gabriel’s Aunt were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
Image of Venasque, France from TravelWebshots
You may have read back in May, that Oracle Organics Body Wash is my favorite way to suds up sans bar in the shower. There’s a tiny glitch though, my supply is depleted and Oracle Organics is on maternity leave. Which leaves me to my second favorite body wash, of which there are actually two: Weleda’s Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash which I have already spoken of, and Pangea Organic’s Pyrenees Lavender with Cardamom Wash.
I had forgotten how much I love Pangea’s Lavender Wash! The beautiful, luxurious suds that this wash creates are astounding. No puff is needed to achieve this lather, but of course feel free to use one. The scent is lovely as well. It’s a light lavender, with a hint of blood orange. I’ve never noticed any cardamom as the name suggests, and I’m on my second bottle.
I’ve tried a sample of the Canadian Pine with White Sage and it certainly lives up to its name. It’s all about the pine and sage, and lots of it! If you like forest hikes that are balsamy, piney, sagey, and green, with loads of fresh air, go for this one. You’ll be enveloped in a sudsy woodland, right in your own shower. Quite apropos for the rapidly approaching wintry holidays.
If bar soaps are your preference, which I have to admit I’ve become partial to lately, Pangea’s are not to be missed. Like the washes, theses dense bars pack some serious suds-action. I’ve tried two, Pyrenees Lavender with Cardamom and the Indian Green Tea with Mint and Rose Petals. To be honest, I can’t tell you much about either scent. They both became a variation on a subtle rosemary theme, but what stood out was the exceptionally silky lather. I bought them when they were on sale at Whole Foods a few months ago, so keep your eye out for those specials!
I appreciate the full disclosure on the packaging that there are no petroleum-based ingredients, sulfates or detergents, synthetic preservatives, artificial colors or fragrances, or GMO’s. In addition, all of their products are handcrafted, organic and fair traded, and cruelty-free.
And PS: Happy Thanksgiving to you, your friends, and family!
Pangea Body Washes are $16 and available at Whole Foods and Pangea’s Website.
Pangea Bar Soaps are $8 and available at Whole Foods and Pangea’s Website.
Posted by ~Trish
Most of you fellow perfume lovers know the uncontainable fervor of a “note obsession.” That desire to experience every perfume that features a specific note until you find the perfect fragrance in which that scent, be it cedar, vanilla, gardenia, whatever… comes alive for you as it never has before. If you are new to fragrance and intrigued by this world, you will almost certainly find yourself on a “note obsession” bender at some point.
I have been on many over the past six to seven years. The most recent ones have been vetiver, tobacco and lavender. My lavender fascination took me by surprise, as most “note obsessions” do. Usually a subtle passing whiff or a mere suggestion in casual conversation can trigger a full-blown infatuation. It was two summers ago, and I must have tried every lavender scent I could get my hands on. I won’t bore you with my research details, but the final contenders were Annick Goutal’s Eau de Lavande and Caron’s Pour un Homme. Both are fantastic lavender renditions, but neither felt completely at home on my skin. My lavender crush became a summer fling.
It’s in those moments when you let go of finding perfection, that little treasures enter your life. Summer left and the bone chilling northwest rain made its entrance. Along with it came the discovery of Ajne, an exquisite natural perfumery in Carmel, California. They do chakra evaluations in their boutique, and also over the phone, if you’d like guidance in selecting your perfume. I figured it would be interesting, so I took the test. The results directed me to the lavender scent I had been looking for all along, deLavande. According to the folks at Ajne, deLavande helps open the throat chakra, the area that allows you to speak your truth. (Their chakra test also revealed that I needed some work on my crown chakra, so Fleur Blanche, my gardenia holy grail, was also recommended). So here I am to tell you about it.
deLavande is created with three types of lavender, Ajne’s own that they grown on their organic farm, as well as lavender from Provence and Bulgaria. Ajne does not list specific notes other than “smoky-almond wood” which hopefully is enough to stir up the warm, softening experience of deLavande in your mind. Lavender of course is the vital element of this fragrance, providing the herbal and slightly medicinal quality that brings rejuvenation and relaxation to those of us who enjoy the scent. But alongside the subtle smoky woods, is a luscious powderiness that must come from either benzoin or labdanum, or a blend of the two. The result is like being enveloped in the aroma of bread baking in a lavender infused wood stove. It’s not gourmand, or foody, it just possesses the warmth and comfort of freshly baked bread on a fall day.
Tsi-La’s Misaki and Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Vera are like sisters to deLavande. They all look similar, but have their own individual characteristics that set them apart. Misaki has much more of a tannic and slightly green feeling, which makes sense as warm tea, green tea moss and crushed mint are listed in the fragrance description. French lavender is too, (no big surprise there), but Sicilian bergamot, Tahitian vanilla orchid and neroli are as well, none of which made an impression on me. I could not sense any citrus or vanilla tones in Misaki. Once the intense tannic quality quieted and the drydown settled, a hint of maple-kissed tea leaves developed, redolent of immortelle essential oil. I would consider both deLavande and Misaki wearable for both men and women, and appropriate for all seasons. Yet, Misaki might lend itself more unisex and more seasonless since it’s less powdery.
While I did find Vera to have a powdery-lavender nature, it is also the most herbaceous of the three due to its prominent sage note. California lavender, sage, hay and orange blossom mingle to give Vera a well blended bouquet. At the top, Vera has a fabulous boozy hit, like that of a lavender infused vodka allowing for a seamless transition to the verdant sage and hay notes. All of those herbal ingredients could have turned Vera into just another lavender perfume, but Roxana’s masterful touch drew upon orange blossom in just the right amount, giving the fragrance softness and a gentle floral garnish. Like deLavande, it’s cozy, a little sensual, and beckons all lavender lovers to try the perfume on their skin.
All of these perfumes are 100% all natural and are wonderfully long-lasting. Roxana Villa gives a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Vera to support the Ojai Lavender Festival.
deLavande is available at Ajne: $40 for 0.125oz Parfum Petite, $80 for 0.5oz, $130 for 1 oz
Misaki is available at SpiritBeautyLounge: $125 for 1.7oz
Vera is available at Roxana Illuminated Perfume: $150 for a 7gm flacon in a hand crocheted pouch.
Posted by ~Trish
“Lavenlight” original photograph by AliciaBock on etsy.
Disclosure: A sample of Vera was sent to me by Roxana Illuminated Perfume for review. The others were bought by me. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
When exactly Patañjali wrote the Yoga Sutras is debated among scholars, but for our purposes, we’ll go with the broad range that Ravi Ravindra provides in his book, The Wisdom of Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras: A New Translation and Guide, and call it anywhere between the 3rd century BCE and the 3rd century CE. In this ancient text, which many a yogi considers the foundation of yoga, Patañjali states per Ravindra’s translation:
A clear and tranquil mind results from cultivating friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion towards those who suffer, joy towards the virtuous, and impartiality towards wrong-doers.
Or from attention to the outward and inward flow of breath (prana). (1.33, 1.34)
For real? Is it possible that attention to the breath is as powerful as being impartial towards “wrong-doers”? Why not I suppose. Ultimately being mindful of the breath throughout our hectic days might be as difficult as impartiality, and therefore as potent. Attention to the breath can be quite astonishing in its simplicity, but it requires dedication. Actually observing the process of inhaling and exhaling brings you to the present moment, and allows you to let go of the trappings of the past and anxiety about the future. But it’s challenging to remind yourself to take a “breather” isn’t it? I’m still trying to achieve this at least once a day, even just for few minutes, and yoga helps keeps me on that path.
We fragrance hounds do a lot of intentional inhaling. And whether or not we do yoga, there are some scents out there made specifically for grounding and getting mindful. I wore Rouge Aromatics Ground Me Aromatic Balm a few times over the past couple of weeks to yoga class. I had never worn fragrance to yoga previously, and the experience was definitely fulfilling. Ground Me was created specifically for use during mediation and yoga, so it wears close to the skin and won’t disrupt your neighbor. Its blend of organic balsam fir essential oil, organic vetiver essential oil, and sweet grass infused oil is just what you’d expect from the description. That’s if you have high expectations. Kari Morford, the creator of Rouge Aromatics, is a certified aromatherpist and she knows how to blend. The fir is very well balanced by the earthiness of the vetiver and therefore never strays into the dreaded “Christmas potpourri” territory, and the sweetgrass lends a (shocking!) grassy greenness that again balances the piney balsam of the fir.
Applying Ground Me set an intention right before my yoga practice as I had the thought of grounding in my mind while dabbing the balm on my skin. Every time my wrists passed my face as we moved through the various poses I was reminded to breathe. I have also worn Ground Me a few times outside of class when I needed a little reminder to slow down, and because the tins are so portable, doing this is very convenient. Kari makes many balms, Pamper Me being my other favorite. This is a delightful vanillic jasmine that is slightly indolic, really addictive, and makes for a gorgeous organic perfume. It’s loaded with goodies for your skin like mango butter, rosehip oil and vitamin e. The balms are just $9 for a one ounce tin, so I encourage you to check out her etsy site and consider giving Ground Me and Pamper Me a try.
Renew Elixir by Drops of Nature is another scent for grounding as well as stress relief. The Drops of Nature website suggests applying the elixir to your neck, earlobes and temple to help clear your mind before yoga or pilates class. As with the Ground Me balm, Renew Elixir helps you connect with your breath. You intentionally inhale the clarifying aroma of peppermint, lavender, bergamot, and clary sage; and then hopefully exhale feeling more connected with yourself and maybe a little more relaxed. Jessica over at Now Smell This has already written a fabulous review for Renew Elixir, and I agree with everything she has said, and am loathe to risk repeating it. I will say that I mostly sense peppermint and lavender in the elixir which is wonderful as they are both refreshing and renewing, so breathing in Renew does what it sets out to do. On the skin, Renew lasts about 10 minutes, and I’m not sure the purpose of this product is to last longer than that like a perfume would. As Jessica mentioned in her review, I too enjoy having Renew in my bag for chaotic moments, as it’s a suggestion to reconnect with my breath and clear my mind.
Posted by ~Trish
Breathe image by KathyMortonStanion on etsy
A couple months ago I reviewed Oracle Organics Body Wash and declared it near perfect and I’m standing by that claim. It truly has become my favorite body wash for all of the reasons I mentioned in my earlier review. The lather is amazing, really lush and foamy. The top screws off easily making the #2 plastic bottle a snap to clean and recycle or reuse. And of course, the scents are fabulous. My first experience with Oracle Organics Body Wash was their Earth scent, a vetiver/patchouli blend with a hint of fir that is deep, earthy and warm. Its comforting redolence was ideal for those cold and rainy spring days of March and April (and let’s face it, here in the northwest we’re still having some in May). But looking onward to summer, I wanted to try some of their floral offerings.
Organic Garden was an obvious choice. Rose geranium is the primary note in this body wash, accompanied by subtle hints of lavender, lemon, and rosemary. I often shy away from rose geranium as its strength can be very overwhelming to the point of being headache inducing if used with a heavy hand. Michelle Gomez, creator of Oracle Organics, has showed restraint with this blend so the brightness of rose geranium can shine without overtaking the Organic Garden experience.
I also gave Soothing Lavender a try which is a lavender, green tea and rosemary blend. While the rosemary in Organic Garden yielded mere wisps of its herbal nature, in Soothing Lavender, it’s a standout. The fresh, aromatic, and herbaceous qualities of rosemary and lavender compliment each other fluidly. And depending on how rosemary interacts with your mind-set or possibly the time of day, I could see this body wash being soothing or invigorating. I love Soothing Lavender, and Michelle makes it in her massage oil as well, but I would only recommend this scent to those of you who love rosemary.
Speaking of the massage oil, Michelle added some of it in my last order for me to sample, and I give high praise for it as well. She sent the Strengthen Massage Oil which has rosemary and spearmint and it’s wonderful for achey muscles. The oil itself has great slip, only a little is needed, and it would also make a lovely after-bath moisturizer. In my first order I got the Ginger Lime Sugar Scrub and I also recommend that. Be aware that it’s strong on the ginger. I’ll be trying the citrus or mint next go around, but the scrub itself is wonderful.
So now for the sale details!! Everything in the store is 35% off. Michelle is about to have a baby so she is closing her online store starting in June and will re-open once she gets settled being a new mama. When she does, she will be fully stocked including new items. When you put your item in the shopping bag, you will see the sale price reflected. For instance, the Body Washes that were $12 are now $7.40. The Sugar Scrubs that were $11 are now $7.15. As you can see, the prices are fantastic for this line of organic body care! I really can’t recommend Oracle Organics strongly enough and now is definitely the time to check them out. You can read here about the details of their green and ethical philosophy.
Oracle Organics, available at their website
Posted by ~Trish