It was recently my birthday, so my lovely pal Sharon took me out for a proper ladies' afternoon. I was, of course, late for the whole thing, most likely because I am rude but also probably because I was putting up some VIPs (very important posts) to share with you guys. I believe it’s my civic duty to report every single cool/new/different fashion and beauty thing I happen to stumble across. This makes me late for most of my life's occurrences and causes many near accidents due to my habit of screeching my car to the side of the road whenever I spot something interesting. Nothing any publicist sends me is ever as groovy as the stuff I find while I’m out just living my life.
On my birthday outing, we had a lovely sit down lunch, complete with vanilla lattes and white-on-white wedding-style cupcakes.
The whole thing could have stopped right there and been perfect, but then we did a little window shopping and Sharon took me for the most brilliant surprise -- to an unassuming mini-bar in the back of an adorable retail store in downtown Burbank, where the lovely Jennifer Hardaway, queen bee of scents at KleanSpa, reigns supreme.
KleanSpa is a bath, body and scent line handmade in the USA, using all natural ingredients and fragrance oils. KleanSpa makes 42 unique fragrances in-house, but they also specialize in custom, bespoke fragrances -- basically you get to devise a personalized, individual scent under the guidance of "headmixtress" Jennifer. My birthday surprise was a one-on-one session to create my very own signature fragrance!
I was initially a little hesitant about the whole thing, because I am a pretty princess who already owns approximately one million bottles of perfume, most of them either vanilla based or meant for babies. What could this fragrance spot possibly have to offer me that I don’t already own? My shit is FRENCH parfum, for the record. There is absolutely no eau de toilette allowed 'round these parts.
It turns out I’m also a total snot-faced fool, because the scent Jennifer created for me is SO INSANE AND MARVELOUS THAT I CAN’T STOP RUBBING IT ALL OVER MYSELF AT INNAPROPRIATE TIMES.
Jennifer begins your fragrance session by asking you what type of scents you like in real life. I, of course, instantly said vanilla and then added "wood," as I actually like a little earthy-ness to my scents. When pressed further, I told her that I also loved the smell of the beach -- by which I meant "coconut" but she took to mean "ocean breeze," to my eternal joy.
Jennifer has a way of giving you what you didn’t know you loved -- it would have been super easy for her to throw together some basic cookie-cutter vanilla crap and call it a day, but she has the ability to turn your scent likes on their head and give you something deliciously unique yet perfect for your individual tastes.
My concoction was distinctive and light, yet had enough oomph to wear it out at night. That’s the big fragrance divide for me -- day (light and unassuming) versus night (stronger, spicier, sexier) fragrances. The blend of white amber, gardenia, "ocean breeze," floral musk, sandalwood, vanilla and ruby red grapefruit she dreamed up for me is perfection. It’s light enough that I can apply it before bed or going to the gym, and it never gives me a headache. It’s really soothing to have a familiar smell going on when I am physically/mentally exerting myself or trying to sleep.
KleanSpa packages their fragrances in a convenient glass rollerball bottle, so you can drag it everywhere. They also keep a record of your personal fragrance recipe, so you can re-order in a snap from anywhere.
The very best part is that you get to name your concoction whatever the hell you want. If you live in the Los Angeles area, I obviously highly recommend hitting Jennifer up for a personalized fragrance of your own. A 1/3 oz vial of KleanSpa custom fragrance oil is exactly $35.00, making it a crazy good value.
If you can’t visit her in person, don’t worry -- because her nose is totally on point, and her in-stock fragrances are equally divine. They have an immense amount of presence without being fake, heavy or cloying. I smelled as many as I could while I was in the shop before I finally lost all smelling comprehension. Here are my favorites:
- Beach House: This is actually one of the notes in my fragrance. It mixes the breeze of ocean scents with fresh jasmine flowers and mandarin essence, and totally smells like a ritzy Malibu beach house.
- Cecile (“Cecille”): Light, white amber notes blended with white tea, vanilla and a dash of anise. Super sophisticated to my nose.
- The Devil Made Me Do It: Um, I just ordered this one. Go smell a warm, gooey brownie and let me know if you can tell the difference. It's hard to do food scents without that chemical aftertaste.
- Grounds: This simple scent combines my 2 favorite things in life: coffee beans and vanilla! A great wake & bake. ;)
- Lemon Love: By now my obsession with food scents is really obvious. This is basically a lemon bar: sweet and tart lemon essence mixed with pound cake and topped with sugar.
- Tiare Blossom: This fragrance was really exotic to me. It's a blend of white ginger flowers, gardenia and jasmine married with citrus notes of lemongrass, orange, vanilla, nutmeg, bergamot, coriander, hints of musk and sandalwood.
- Isle of Juicy: I won't even attempt my own description of this one, so here's Jennifer's: "A mélange of berries and citrus notes blended together to make your mouth water and send you into fruity bliss."
- Pink Martini: A very “grown-up “ fragrance--like a Sex and the City-era cosmopolitan that blends tangy lemon-lime with fruity cranberry and red currant with a dash of sparkling vodka.
The non-custom scents are an even crazier deal -- because they are only $18.00! (Plus if you sign up for the KleanSpa newsletter, you get 25% off your first order.) I love the idea of buying directly from the mixologist herself -- because if she ever cycles your fave fragrance out of her rotation, she will always recreate it for you. I’m sick of loving a scent and then being driven to eBay when it is eventually discontinued. (YSL Elle, I’m looking at you.)
Almost all of KleanSpa's scents are also available as a sugar-based body scrub, moisturizer, cleanser, or candle. I think the best deal on the site is the sampler of 10 different fragrance oils for $35 that you can select yourself. I despised the idea of ever trying a new scent until I discovered Jennifer's blends -- now it's like the whole world is my smell oyster.
What would you name your very own custom blended fragrance? Surely you can beat me, I named mine after my own dumb self. I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison.