Scent for the Skin You’re In

Renoir Nude

Renoir Nude

Changing perfumes a lot is the bane of the fume obsessed.  We all do it.  If you are in the business of reviewing on a regular basis you’re more or less required to change perfumes in order to write about the next one, and after a while all this can get dizzying.

What’s my smell you ask yourself, and you may even miss the old days when your signature smell was No19 or Chant d’Aromes or Stella, or whatever it may happen to have been.  Sometimes you want to bridge that gap between the old perfume and a new one and make that transition without all the usual rejection problems you get with unfamiliar scent.  My cure for this is to try a scented lotion.  I find that lotions are much more likely to be adopted by people as their natural scent than perfume itself.  The reason is simple  you spread  lotion over a lot more of your body than pulse points.

Whenever I changed perfumes in the 1990’s my technique was to see if I could buy the scent in a lotion form first.  I’d actually blind buy them this way.  It was cheaper, and the time that it took me to accept a fragrance as my own was fast tracked.

Quelques Fleurs from Ebay listing

Quelques Fleurs from Ebay listing

The problem these days is that it’s not so easy to find good lotion versions of your favorites.  Perfumes generally have to be hits before they become lotions or bath oils or what have you.  You can find them readily enough at department stores for heavy sellers, and I’d recommend those for the times when you want to effect a change and do it quickly and don’t want to spend that much. Even cheaper is to look on Ebay where bottles often come in at less than ten dollars.

What about those perfumes which don’t have a lotion? Hm.  This is one I’ve been pondering over quite some time and if anyone has had good success making up his or her own lotion from perfume or eau de parfum, I’d like to hear it.  I’ve read that some doyennes of make up recommend adding your chosen scent to a good unscented body lotion.  The problem is that I find the lotion changes the scent, something about the formula does this, and I’ve tried Complex 15 and a few other old reliables on the market, but the results have been mixed and I hate to waste expensive stuff. Needless to say, I patch test all of these on my skin for 24 hours-I’m prone to hives-and don’t take chances.

I’d almost be inclined to choose a good body oil and put in a few drops of extract.  I haven’t attempted this strategy with say, Farnesiana yet, but I might, and might achieve a better rate of success than with Eucerin.

Renoir Bather

Renoir Bather

As to the question of acceptance I find this works across the board.  Nothing has ever failed this test with the sole exception of Guerlain’s Nahema, which wore me rather than me wearing her.  Nahema was beautiful but I toiled underneath the weight of pink hyacinths, and the scent made me feel that I was not at all the woman my fragrance said I was. Otherwise everything I tried this way I accepted, all the way from Bandit to Annick Goutal’s Passion.

There is also one final point to make in favor of wearing your perfume as a lotion: your skin feels great.


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13 thoughts on “Scent for the Skin You’re In

  1. Hmmm … I’ve experimented a bit in the past. This was not for your reasons but because I find that the scented versions of fragrances aren’t always very good; either the scent translates poorly into a lotion, or the lotion itself is not very good. (Chanel No 5 body cream is an exception – superb on moth counts.)

    I think I’ve had the best results using an unscented lotion from Aveeno. Less good has been Kiehl’s Creme de Corps, but I’m not fond of that lotion anyway because it’s too greasy.

    Of course the scent itself has to survive the heat and rubbing it gets from being applied with a lotion. I’ve had good results with Rochas Femme, and I imagine any robust oriental would work well. (No point with those whispy things from Hermes!) It can be very pleasant to veil the scent around yourself, and if it’s a strong scent you can control it better than a spray application. One day I must try it with something like Knowing or Aromatics Elixir.

    1. Ah ha! Aveeno, now that one I didn’t try. I was all set to try and find an unscented dry oil but maybe now I’ll give the Aveeno a whirl and see if it translates.
      Good to hear this since I’ve got winter skin with bells on right now!

  2. Moth counts for a lot around here. I’d douse my clothes in NOs 5, 22, 19, 18 and Coromandel if only they’d quit eating our woolens!!

  3. I’ve never gone the associated-body-products route much, that’s a new thing for me. I blame Musette from the Posse, with her worshipful mentions of Carnal Flower Beurre Exquise (she’s right, it is gorgeous) and the Amouage body creams (right again – I have Memoir lotion and it is stunningly beautiful, as well as being slightly less complicated than the perfume).

    I find myself pairing cheapie lotions from Bath & Body Works or The Body Shop with more complex fragrances. I really adore a rose lotion under No. 19 or Silences. Moonlight Path is good with No. 5, though of course the Chanels all have good body products… they’re just expensive. (And it seems silly for me to say that, since I actually sprang for that Memoir lotion when Parfum1 had it on sale. Oh well.)

    It’s my understanding that unscented lotions actually have an odor-stopper chemical aspect to them that negates the addition of perfume – at least, I’ve read that, and that’s my experience with spraying perfume over skin moisturized with unscented lotion. However, I’ve also read that some people add the perfume directly to the lotion and mix it in, and have success that way. It’s all a little too complicated for me.

    1. Yes, I mix them together in the palm of my hand. Rather inexact, I admit. And I too have read that unscented lotions include odour supressants, so perhaps the whole exercise is counter productive.

      1. This is the second mention of odor suppressants, and oh dear does that mean back to the almond oil? Bet it does, anyway almond oil is nice.

    2. Obviously it’s been a little too complicated for me too or I would have figured this one out a long time ago.

      Odor stoppers-OK you learn something new every day, today odor stoppers- tomorrow depreciations on Scedule C (tax season :-(). I love to wear something scented to bed-used to be Anne Pliska body lotion-yum!
      Amouage body lotions might be something for me since I haven’t had much success with Amouages yet.

      1. Musette says of the Amouage lotions/body creams that they are simpler in formula, and some of the more difficult notes of the perfumes are smoothed over or missing in the body products. I’ve tried Gold and Memoir lotions, and she is right about those being easier to wear. You know I love my Memoir, freaky Serge-Noire-ish topnotes and all, but the lotion gets me fewer furrowed “what-is-that-smell?” brows from the people around me.

        (That said, I have received at least four “oh, you smell so good” compliments on Memoir W edp, once it’s gotten past its odd opening and gone very white-floraly.)

        1. Gold is an Amouage that I ought to try- It’s supposed to be like Mme. Rochas-I think? Anyway MR was one of my favorite floral aldehydes, got to be good.

          Memoir Woman also got a lot of good word of mouth and someone on Fragrantica says it smells like Poison- I remember original Poison well from NYC in the eighties. Bloomingdales would reek of it during the release weeks.

  4. I am just beginning to dabble in this category – which I will loosely extend to shower creme if I may, as I have some Ta’if in that. I have tried Roja Dove Scandal body butter which was pretty stonkingly authentic, and own some Tocca scented body lotions I got in T K Maxx (Florence, Marcello). Mostly I only moisturise when my shins cry out for it (bad I know), so my actual woefully low usage doesn’t warrant too much exploration I guess.

    1. The shin indicator is a good one. I use it too. When I see alligator shins I know it’s time and start burrowing through my creams. Usually though it’s back to Complex 15.

      Shower cremes are fun as well. I often mix them with baking soda in order to exfoliate, and that works pretty well. The Roja Dove Scandal sounds really opulent. I’d try his things more but they are so expensive.

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