I Fell for Le Labo's Santal 33 Just Like the Rest of the World and I Don't Care if That Makes Me a Sucker
I mean, even Justin frickin' BEIBER wears it.
My Jerusalem, my Stonehenge, my Holy Land... is a drugstore. Wandering the aisles, reading every ingredient on a shampoo label, throwing string cheese in my basket, wondering if the honey-roasted peanuts are the healthier choice over the cocoa-dusted almonds--this is where I find solace, peace and sense of control in a world full of chaos*.
Everything is pretty much affordable and, here in New York, it's as close to a French pharmacie as I’m gonna get on my lunch break. I should have probably set up Mint to track my purchases at Duane Reade, Rite-Aid and CVS, but I don't really want to know. It's that bad of a daily K-hole.
So, with that in mind, when I found out CVS launched a line of Essence of Beauty body mists made by fancypants perfumers, I clapped in glee. What a brilliant idea!
"Accessible everyday indulgence" is a phrase they throw around a bit on the website, which made me consider these scents to be an egalitarian concept: bringing lovely scents to regular people. It's as though they support the idea that everyone can be interested in perfumery and the chemistry behind it. That's actually incredible to me, as I think the lower tier of fragrances has had its fair share of ridicule and shame, so by stepping up the game a bit, all price points can produce a quality product for women and men to enjoy.
In short, we can't all drop a hundo on a bottle, but that doesn't mean we have to smell like a synthetic cliché. Give us quality fragrances or give us death!
On that note (wink, nudge), each fragrance mist has been formulated to include skin-nourishing vitamins and aloe, and is free of parabens, phthalates, petrolatum and gluten. So, you know, more clapping!
And now let’s get into the really real: what do they smell like?
Created by master Vera Vanore, a New York City native and creator of Marc Jacobs and Bond No. 9 fragrances, Exotic Blooms smells like freshman year in college (actually, all of these smell sort of like that, which is to say they are fairly light and innocent). This ephemeral floral was inspired by the first days of spring and “an afternoon reflection in a beautiful garden,” translated into bergamot, verbena, lotus and amber.
Long story short, the first impression is that of SweeTarts in Vodka (freshman psych rears its ugly head*) but dries very quickly down to a citrus grass scent. Refreshing, but also sweet.
Out of the four scents, this one would be the most... how should I put this... promiscuous or flirtatious. While it is still a light splash of scent, the predominant notes are jasmine and sandalwood, which are known for their passion-inducing heady “aroma.”
Created by French nose Olivia Jan, this scent was inspired by soaking up the sun on a tropical island. It’s a bright, relaxing scent, but doesn’t really read as very tropical. The citrus top note fades very quickly, leaving what my boyfriend says, "Oooooh, smells like the '80s, like lots of hairspray." I also felt there was just a touch of creamy skin emanating through from the sandalwood.
IN YOUR ARMS
I was hellbent on loving this particular fragrance because the nose behind it, Donna Ramanauskas, states in her profile, “One of her earliest fragrance memories includes the sweet honeysuckle blooming in a nearby backyard” and honeysuckle is MY JAM; so I thought for sure we would bro down, nasally speaking, on that alone.
And you know what? We sort of did. Y’see, one of my other favorite smells in the whole wide world is an indistinguishable shampoo scent, and In Your Arms smells like a rich girl's bathroom after a shower. (Is this visually creepy? I’m not sure).
The notes include sweet bergamot, soft peony and cashmere musk, and are described as “a bedroom kiss.” While I get that the story of love and desire is integral to selling it, let’s get one thing clear: this smells like a high-end salon (and don't get me wrong--this is one of my favorite scents of all time).
I sincerely wish this fragrance lasted longer, but as it is a body mist, it disappears into the fog fairly quickly.
I am a sucker for gardenia, so this is my clear winner of the bunch. The gardenia floral here is gentle and feminine, inspired by a “chic woman lounging on a yacht watching puffy white clouds drift by a crisp blue sky.” Perhaps this fictional woman has gardenia plants around her, as I’m not totally sure how the floral notes connect with a yacht, but whatever.
All in all, the scent is very pretty with a base of “sheer blonde woods” that solidifies the scent and veers it away from being grandma-y. Also created by Vera Vanore, I actually doused myself in this (including my hair) hoping it would last longer. It vanished as quickly as I sprayed it, sadly, but it did provide a nice base for my favorite gardenia scent, which is Chanel. So mix it up with the high/low for maximum longevity.
Have you spotted any drugstore finds that reek or enrapture? Also, just so you know, I bought the cocoa almonds. I know my nutrition. Plus, if you found the Clueless* references, we should be friends in real life.