Friday, March 10, 2006

BATH & BODY: Sephora Indulgences: Triple Layer Cake Hair and Body Wash

What is it? Doesn't that name say it all? Scented with creamy confectionary notes and blended with honey, pro-vitamin B, and buttermilk for moisture, this all-in-one hair and body wash smells like a cupcake.

Why should I buy it? This is fun, and a great first layer for sandalwood and vanilla scents.

Where can I buy it? $16 for 10 ozs at

The Bottom Line: Not the best bath product in the world, I mean it's not organic or all-natural, but at $16 it would make a great gift, and feels and smells great. Not as sweet as the description makes it sound, this would be a great companion product for Givenchy Pi or Burberry Brit Gold.

Rating (out of 10): 6.5

What's your favorite "confectionary" themed body product?

ASK MARLEN: Try before you buy - but HOW?


I'm newly discovering the fact that I will become a fragrance junkie. After reading, I've found more colognes I want to try than I can find available in sample vials online.

What is the best way to get cologne samples to try before you buy? I previously used a site called, but they just limited their quantity you can order (and upset me to the point where they've lost my business now) Other sites have a few, but nothing comprehensive like scentmonkey...

Any advice you have for a newb would be great. I don't live near any stores with a decent collection, and even when I go they don't carry many of the scents I want to sample (I'd have to travel 3 hours to even buy a bottle of Bulgari PH if it wasn't for the internet) I'm discouraged because I NEED to indulge in this addiction, but I can't find a reasonable way to sample
the endless list of scents I find intriguing...

Dear PH,

Take heart my friend, there are a number of great ways to try before you buy! First, let me direct you to a thread on Basenotes that should help: Internet Sites That Offer Samples. This is pretty thorough and many of the entries address free samples, so this would be a great place to start. My next recommendation would be to browse the decants for swap and sale at Basenotes: Sell and Swap Your Stuff. This is another great way to only spend smaller amounts of money on a variety of scents that interest you, helping you to better choose when buying larger bottles.

Hope this helps, but a warning: Decants and samples can be dangerous...Sure, it starts with just a few, but then slowly, as if having the ability to freakily reproduce, they begin to spread out and take over your life, showing up in drawers, pockets and backpacks, sometimes even invading washing machines and car trunks. Not to mention the brainwashing ability they posess, as if crying out some subliminal mantra - "Just one more! Just one more!" - until you can no longer control your impulses...

But as long as you can keep that in check, you'll be fine.

Oh, and one last thought: Never leave a department store without asking for samples! I don't care how scary the old biddies behind the counters are...I know they've got them, secretly stashed away in those formica-covered drawers...

One more thought: Never be afraid to play the shame game: "Oh well, it's a shame you don't have any samples, I was really hoping to wear this to a party this weekend to make sure I liked it before coming back and buying the large EDT...and the Aftershave...and the deodorant and bath soap...Oh well, I guess I'll just see if [insert name of department store here] has any..."


MUST-READS: New scent and new look from L'Artisan

Click on over to PerfumeSmellinThings and checkout the latest about the new look and new scent from L'Artisan!

My opinion - I'm not crazy about Absinthe, but hey, I wasn't crazy about patchouli until Patchouli Patch and I wasn't crazy about rose until Voleur, so who knows...Definitely time for a new look - wonder what the boxes will look like...AND finally - the good sense to offer an EDT and an EDP...

MUST-READS: Beckham Instinct

Click on over to NowSmellThis to read my review of David Beckham's first fragrance for Coty, Instinct:

Thursday, March 09, 2006

FOR THE HOME: Illume Cucumber Candle

What is it? Candle in tin with lid, cucumber scent; 30 hrs burn time, 8 ozs, 2” Tall by 3 1/8” Wide.

What does it smell like? Grassy greens and cucumbers.

Pros: Smells great, excellent throwing power, even when not burning.

Cons: It's a paraffin candle and I'd prefer soy-based candles (petroleum free).

Where can I buy it? $9 for an 8 oz travel tin at

The Bottom Line: I've got the pillar, votive and travel candle in this scent and kept the travel candle at work on my desk. Though I never burnt it, I constantly found myself wondering where that fantastic green fragrance was coming from, only to realize that it was the Illume Cucumber travel candle! For $9, I think it's totally worth it!

Rating (out of 10): 8

Know any other great candles with fresh green notes?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

IMAGE: I've Got Wood

Bogner Wood for Men me...Why not just call it "bone"?


REVIEW: Givenchy Insense

Notes: Blackcurrant, Mandarin, Basil, Magnolia, Lily of the Valley, Iris, Lentiscus, Firbalsam.

Pros: Smokey floral, incomparable, timeless, comforting...

Cons: Not-a-one...

Development: A unified composition, starts and ends the same...with magnificence.

Longevity: Excellent - lingers on the skin for a good 6-8 hours...

Sillage: Perfect - not too strong, not too soft...

Reminds me of: Creed Irisia; Romeo Gigli for Women (2004)

Where can I buy it? $16.95 for a 100ml tester at

Bottleworthy: And how! Ladies, check this one out...if you hate it, give it to the hubby!

The Bottom Line: One of the most innovative and perfect men's fragrances of the 20th century. Ranks right up there with Caron pour un Homme and Eternity in terms of innovation. A surprising floral combined with fir balsam and mastic, adding a smokey woodsy tone. I remember the first time smelling this, and thinking the name must surely be a reference to incense...Years later I realized that it was the French for "out of one's mind" but still feel that it might be a play on words. I recently got a craving for re-visiting this one when in Shanghai, wondering why a certain temple incense had smelled so good to me - simple, it reminded me of Insense!

Rating (out of 10): 10

What's your favorite Givenchy scent?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

ASK MARLEN: For Her vs Lovely

Hi Marlen,

What are your thoughts one SJP Lovely EdP vs. Narciso Rodriguez For Her EdT? I can't decide which one is FBW - Full Bottle Worthy. I want to say Lovely but it may be because I have the lotion. For Her EdT was somewhat off-putting yet strangely compelling (like me!). The fact that I swapped away a 15ml decant might be very telling.

Hi R,

Well I have and enjoy both, and have routinely voiced my objection to NR actually being named "For Her" and SJP went all fem with the grey ribbon and "Lovely"... ultimately, I don't give a rat's ass; a rule I wear what I like. That being said, I personaly prefer Lovely's composition due to its sheerness. NR is thicker, heavier, sweeter overall with a more pronounced floral tone, whereas Lovely is lavender, apple, musk and patchouli on my skin. I like NR in colder weather and Lovely, well, any time of year. If I had to choose one to re-purchase, it would definitely be Lovely.


What do you think? Weigh in by posting your comment below!

BATH & BODY: Lush, Honey I Washed the Kids Soap

What is it? Block soap that can be purchased in any size you wish, made with honey water, aloe vera, beeswax, gardenia extract, bergamot oil and sweet orange oil.

Why should I buy it? Not only does it (subtly) smell great, but the beeswax on the top of the soap works great for exfoliation. You can cutomize the size you buy, like choosing a slice from a wheel of cheese.Where can I buy it? ex. $7.15 for 3.5 oz block at any Lush store near you; Ebay

The Bottom Line: Though a tad on the pricey side, the soaps are my favorite products from Lush. The Honey soap has a wonderful aroma, and though it doesn't really scent the skin, it sure
did scent my shower! The combination of oils left my skin feeling moisturized. I liked it so much I bought a second bar!

Rating (out of 10): 7

Additional Information:

Ingredients:Honey Water (Mel Aqua), Propylene Glycol, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Perfume, Beeswax (Cera alba), Sweet Orange Oil (Citrus dulcis), Bergamot Oil (Citrus bergamia), Aloe Vera Extract (Aloe barbadensis), Aloe cupensis), Sodium Chloride, Glycerine, EDTA, Tetrasodium Editronate, Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides), Titanium Dioxide

What's your favorite honey-scented product?

REVIEW: Trophee Lancome

Notes: Lemon, Basil, Lime, Petitgrain, Patchouli, Bay, Cedar, Jasmine, Musk, Amber, Labdanum, Tonka

Pros: Rich, green aroma, the scent of a freshly mown golfcourse.

Cons: Can't think of any.

Development: With a fresh blast of sweet basil and tart lime in the opening, toned by petitgrain and jasmine, the scent, seamlessly blended, eventually dries with warmer accents of cedar, labdanum and bay.

Longevity: Excellent, a good 6-8 hours on my skin.

Sillage: Enough to make a presence, but not overwhelming.

Reminds me of: Sisley Eau de Campagne; Diptyque Virgilio

Where can I buy it? $29.95 for a 100ml edt spray at

Bottleworthy: Absolutely, and something for the ladies to look into as well!

The Bottom Line: A somewhat forgotten gem from Lancome, and usually overlooked by women, Trophee Lancome was a 1982 homage to the Trophee Lancome Golf Tournament. It's no wonder then that this scent is a smashing blend of leafy greens, along the lines of Sisley Eau de Campagne, but without the tomato leaf notes. Though not as bitter as Virgilio, the two scents share the same somewhat salad-ish effect, but I think Trophee does a much better job. To my nose, it's hard to find a better green scent, and one that could more easily be a good unisex fragrance.

Rating (out of 10): 8

What's your favorite leafy green fragrance?

Monday, March 06, 2006

IMAGES: Why doesn't this work?

Aramis, ca 1986

This guy does NOT look like he wears Aramis...

Was this the attempt to revive a dated brand?

REVIEW: Loree Rodkin, Gothic I

Notes: Blend of two vanillas, Near Eastern patchouli, rare woods.

Pros: Yes, it smell goods, but...

Cons: This is nothing more than another run-of-the-mill vanilla oil with a ridiculous price tag.

Development: ZeroLongevity: Lasts a good 4-6 hours on my skin if amply applied, with a faint echo thereafter.

Sillage: Is someone baking cookies?

Reminds me of: Where do I start? Everything...just pick a vanilla/patchouli oil.

Where can I buy it? $250 for a .5 oz oil; $140 for .25 oz oil at

Bottleworthy? Absolutely not...For $140 I could buy 3 or 4 100ml bottles of lesser-priced scents with a heck of a lot more artistry.

The Bottom Line: Yes it smells great, and yes it's produced by very talented jewelry designer, Loree Rodkin, but at these prices, I can only laugh. This is a scent for the money crowd who want the name and prestige.

Rating (out of 10): 4

I'm a little insulted, much how I felt when sampling the Clive Christian scents, though those are significantly more interesting than Gothic I. What scent insulted you?

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK: Eau de Biarritz by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

Notes: Iodine, Seaweed, Ylang from Comores, Magnolia, Sandalwood from India, and Benzoin from Siam.

100ml tester spray: Retail price $95;'s price $29.95

Why should I buy it? One of the least known of CSP's fragrances, and one of the last great creations before the company turned into everything-vanilla-kitchen sink. An amazing floral marine with aromatic warm woods notes in the drydown. Simple, airy, and truly amazing. As easy for a man to wear as a woman, this one is hard to track down and a true original! One of my all-time favorites!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

RANT: And the Award Goes To...

On the evening of the Oscars, another kind of award has been handed out...

Click the icon above and take a peek at this year's winners....Personally, I disagree with nearly every winner.

Here's how I voted...

Best Fragrance: (to me, that stands the test of time) Chanel Bois des Iles and Caron pour Un Homme
Best New Fragrance: Lovely and Dorissima Narziss
Best Packaging: Donna Karan Parfum and Caron L'Anarchiste
Best for Daywear: La Chasse aux Papillons and Michel Germain Deauville
Best for Evening: Angel and Agatha Brown Jade Emperor
Best Niche: Ormonde Jayne Champaca and Creed Millesime Imperial
Best Fragrance House: L'Artisan

How about you?

RANT: Eadward the Great

So remember my remark that Eadward's slogan missed the mark by stating "Fun Fragrances for the Contemporary Woman"?

Well, I emailed Kareema, the company founder, and suggested that she tweak it just a little bit.

Checkout the new slogan...