Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Scent of Love

A million years ago when I worked for Habitat for Humanity fulltime, one of my colleagues was an unofficial ambassador for Clinique products. At the time, I was using industrial-sized vats of drugstore brand moisturizer that would last me for years. I remember being amazed that someone actually visited department store makeup and perfume counters. I'd always been daunted by them. I decided that I needed to take better care of myself.

My friend told me to keep an eye out for Clinique's bonus days -- when I could get a good deal along with special products or makeup cases along with my purchase. I duly did this and then bravely ventured up to the counter to have my skin tested.

I came away with small vials of what my kids call lotions and potions and a round silver cosmetics bag. I felt special as I used the products for the better part of a year.

Except that I didn't really like the way my skin felt. I actually preferred the way it felt when I used the drugstore brand. It was a bit of an ah-ha to realize that part of self care is knowing yourself and living within your budget. I liked the cosmetics bag, but I went back to my old routine.

Over the years, I've found products I like and places to splurge. I'm fairly low-maintenance even now, but I won't tell you how much I spent ordering the soap I had found overseas.

In honour of Valentine's Day, though, I thought I'd offer some shameless product placement in case you're looking for a little gift for someone special. These are what I'd like to receive:

Dreamtime - This is one of the most relaxing, romantic smells I can imagine. It's a rose-lavender cross that leaves my skin feeling amazing. I only use about a third of a bath melt in one bath, so it lasts.

When we went to Italy three years ago, we had heard about this perfumery/pharmacy. It was amazing. I watched women with a lot more money than I had spent literally hundreds and thousands of dollars on cosmetic products. I bought three things: rose-scented wax tablets to hang in my closet, rosewater skin toner, and violet-scented soap. The wax tablets were lovely but broke. I'm still doling out the rosewater on occasion and it still smells magnificent, but it's the soap that made me a violet lover. Violets smell a little bit like candies, like Valentine candy actually. Trying to reproduce their delicate scent is a tough one -- usually it turns sickly, headache-inducing sweet. But this soap is amazing. When I used up the bar I had purchased, I found a company in Toronto who was able to order me a couple of bars. A friend is visiting Florence this spring and I've begged her to bring some back. It's just that good.

Since discovering my fondness for violets, I've spent time and money trying to find a cheaper, local substitute. It is not easy. The only product I've actually found is from Lush. The only problem is that they've kind of discontinued their Bathos bubble bar. The only way you can purchase it is in a gift box -- but fortunately it comes with a Dreamtime bath melt and a Waving not Drowning bath bomb.

Lest you think I'm completely frou-frou in my tastes, let me tell you about an utterly different, equally captivating product. I stocked up on this guy when it was temporarily discontinued from, you guessed it, Lush. It used to be called Middle Earth Turns to Rock and now is called Waylander Rhassoul. It's a completely earthy smell that has patchouli and mud and sandalwood in it. It smells like the woods, like the seashore, like everything green and good. It's a scent that would work whether your Valentine is male or female. I keep this one in my teeshirt drawer so I can enjoy the scent on all my clothes.

Wishing you a lovely Valentines Day, filled with scents and people you love.

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