Eau d'Hadrien

Valdorcia, paesaggio., originally uploaded by creativik67.

The mundane meets the magical in Annick Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien*. There is nothing particularly original about this fragrance, which pairs a few intensely astringent citrus notes with a woody base. In fact, the particular accord of grapefruit, lemon, ylang ylang, patchouli and cypress reminds me of a particular aromatherpeutic synergy which left so little impression on me that I completely failed to remember what it was or where I smelled it. Upon research, I discovered that this particular combo if essential oil would result in a synergy for menopausal varicose veins and cellulitis**…

The initial citrus overload can be likened to getting sprayed by grapefruit essential oils right from its pores when attempting to peel it – resulting in two things: grapefruit juice dripping down your wrists and arms, and teary eyes. It will leave those tangy, tingling residues on your tongue for hours to come, and your fingers will remain bitter for the day. The citrus monopoly gradually becomes tolerant to soft, woody, powdery-sweet floral note of ylang ylang (I believe it’s the third grade of the essential oil by the smell of it), and underpinnings of sappy-green, bitter and warm-woody notes of cypress and patchouli. Cypress and lemon are one guaranteed way to smell like cleaning agents. For some reason, in l’Eau d’Hadrien this does not bother me.

Yet, the non-ambitious banality of Eau d’Hadrien is precisely what accounts for its charm: it gives you the same satisfaction of thoroughly cleaned house, fresh acrylic paint fumes still emanating from the walls, the carpets are still moist and exhaling that intensely orange aroma, the beds are made with fresh white sheets, and all you need to do is light a little candle and put your cold (and damp) feet up and relax while your bath tub is getting filled up with a pine-scented bubble bath.

I’ve been ignoring Eau d’Hadrien for many years, solely because it is a citrus. I mostly smelled lemon and a few herbs on the few occasions when I tried it, but I never really worn it properly (i.e.: on my skin, for an entire day). But I did enjoy tremendously the Eau d’Hadrien shower gel and lotion, which I found to be quite different from what I remembered Eau d’Hadrien to be: Sappy, green, citrusy, fresh, woody, brisk, bitter, sour, astringent, herbal. It does not feel mudnane at all. In fact, it has that sappy, resinous leafy feel reminiscent of Grand Amour's mastic. I really love it.
I even lit the candle last night and today (you guessed it, my place and my studio are being painted... I can now enjoy the fruit of my - and other people's - labour). The candle has a gentle throw, which fills the whole house with a delightful green tea and citrus aroma. It is significantly sweeter than the Eau de Toilette, and has the balsamic leafy tonalities of the body products.

Top notes: Lemon, Grapefruit
Heart notes: Citron, Ylang Ylang
Base notes: Cypress, Patchouli

* This review is for the Eau de Toilette, by the way. I haven’t tried the Eau de Parfum yet, but I’ve heard it is softer and sweeter, with the ylang ylang more pronounced and the cypress mellower. The lasting of the Eau de Toilette is excellent – it lasted on my skin for a good 7 hours, and there were still traces of citrus in the dry down.

** With no disrespect to aromatherapy at all, so please don't get me wrong; I do, however, lack the knowledge of understanding how a synergy such as that would work, so my knowledge is based on the separate actions of each of those oils and what they have in common, not being able to predict beyond that...
Both cypress and grapefruit oils are good for treating cellulite and water retention; Lemon and cypress help reduce varicose veins; cypress and ylang ylan gare excellent in helping to cope with menopausal symptoms, as well as menstrual crapms and PMS symptoms; and both cypress and citrus oils in general are stringent and disinfectant, which might explain why they are used so often in household cleaning products.

*** This is the first in a series of citrus-based perfumes, before they disappear on us completely. Let's hope not!

Citrus Splash No More?

orange splash, originally uploaded by Photonut (Mr. Dave).

Citrus perfume ingredients are set to disappear, according to Cropwatch’s recent report.

The EU regulatory boards are hitting again with draconian regulations to an essential natural component of the fragrance industry. This time it is citrus oils, present in almost all perfumes today. In another mind-blowing act, without public consultation, the EU cosmetic regulatory board have decided to pull the rug under all citrus oils, because the alleged danger of their furanocoumarins (FCF) contents. On April 4th 2007, Sabine Lecrenier, EU’s Head of Unit for the Cosmetics Sector reported to Cropwatch that by the end of this month (April 2007), both bergapten (5-MOP) and xanthotoxin (8-MOP) (either individually or additively) will be restricted to 1ppm in all finished products, even when naturally present (meaning: in natural essential oils such as citrus and angelica).

It has been known for along time that furanocoumarins (that are found largely in citrus oils) present a risk of phototxicity (burning and pigmentation of the skin when the area covered with the oil is exposed to the sun). This risk is fairly low when the low levels of citrus oils in the composition are maintained, and is even further lowered when citrus oils where the furanocoumarins have been removed is used (i.e.: bergapten-free bergamot essential oil). Furanocoumarins are also present in high levels in other oils than citrus, for instance: angelica. Furthermore, when talking about fragrance, the risk is particularly low when the fragrance is applied to specific areas that are not typically exposed to the sun, such as the wrists and behind the ears.

The reasons behind this decision could not be just safety. There must be a hidden political agenda behind this move, which is remained to be revealed – and is most likely going to benefit the mega corporations of synthetic aromachemicals.

It’s far away, in Europe, you say? Why should we care?
If you think that way, I suggest you glipse quickly at the “made in” lable on your perfume bottle. It will mostly likely be a country in Europe, France in most cases. If you think this won’t affect you because you live somewhere else, you are terribly wrong! Besides, the mega corporations that produce most of the perfumes for all the mainstream labels are probably not going to bother and formulate a different fragrance according to different regulations in each country. They are probably going to go on the safe side and just go ahead and blindly comply with the EU regulations.

And what’s more disturbing, no one has asked the consumers what they want. No one asked the perfumers if they will be able to handle (or want to) such restrictions on their creativity. Citrus notes are such an viable part of the perfume world that it’s going to be feel very lonely and depressing to see them removed from my organ… Thankfully, I am my own boss.

And last but not least worrying of all - the entire industry of citrus growers, distillers, wholesalers, traders is going to suffer so badly – just imagine the loss of jobs, world wide, just because of the greed of the aromachemical companies. Perhaps only the dryout of petroleum will stop their greed from growing on the expense of others. We’ll just have to wait and see.

A few words about the importance of citrus oils:
Citrus essential oils have been an essential component of the modern fragrance industry for centuries. The first alcohol-based perfumes were made of citrus peels tinctured in alcohol along with herbs and spices. These early perfumes were called “Aqua Mirabillis” (Miracle Waters), and were used both internally as a medicine and externally as a refreshing perfume. You may be familiar with famous names of aux such as Carmelite Water, Florida Water, Eau de Cologne, Hungary Waters, and others. Such perfumes will no longer be manufactured if indeed this new regulation is to be realized. So stock up on your 4711 and Eau Imeriale!

This is without mentioning many other perfumes that would have been completely different without the use of pure citrus oil – Shalimar would be come a sickeningly artificial vanilla & lemon pudding, the Chypre family, already suffering from a large reduction of the oakmoss content, would now become even further compromised (can you imagine!). When I look at all the formulas of my perfumes, there are only very few that have no citrus in them - Film Noir and Epice Sauvage, and that’s about it. Citrus notes add an aldehydic and a cheerful fruitiness to many compositions, from all the fragrance families – Oriental, Chypre, Floral, Woody – and of course, the entire fragrance family that is named after them for a very obvious reason – Citrus.

To finish off this depressing post, let’s try to find some hope. There is something you can do. You, as a consumer, have a lot more power than you may like to think. You can protest, you can write letter to the EU regulatory boards, and you can join Cropwatch’s Campaign for Real Perfume by emailing Cropwatch and expressing your interest in joining the campaign and be able to decide for yourself what you use – real perfumes, containing the richness and beauty of real botanical essences, or completely artificial fragrances, made only of test-tube molecules.

Ormonde Jayne's Osmanthus

Ormonde Jayne's Osmanthus is my least favourite from this collection of exotic-flower-themed line. The citrus and marine scents that are amongst my favourites are scarce - so it shouldn't surprise you. Ormonde Jayne's Osmanthus is a citrus woody with hints of florals that are hard to detect. I cannot find the osmanthus notes there at all but than again it could be my body chemistry playing tricks on me.

It is very similar to the Creeds in my opinion - something metallic in there. The base is woods with light musk. My favourite part of the perfume is the beginning -though I wished the Pomelo note was more true to the real fruit. I don't find the davana there, nor the osmanthus or jasmine sambac or even a hint of spicy pimento that are listed in the notes. It is mainly a citrus, musk and cedar scent on my skin. When I smell it I miss the originality and mystique of Cahmpaca, Ta'if, and Ormonde.

I found this one quite anemic in comparison to the rest of the Ormonde Jayne line, but it is a fun scent to wear sometimes, when running along the grey-beach-sand early on a chilly morning.

Top notes: Pomelo, Davana, Pimento
Heart notes: Osmanthus absolute, Water Lily, Jasmine Sambac
Base notes: Cedar Wood, Labdanum Resin, Musk, Vetiver

Citrus Blossoms

Citrus blossom is the quintessential scent of spring in Israel. And if you think that it ends with orange blossoms, you are seriously mistaken. All citrus trees are in full bloom, and if the humming bees don’t waste their time to make honey from all the sweet & tart fragrant nectar, even more so the perfumer and fragrance enthusiast should not miss this fabulous season. I am surprised that the Middle East does not have a tradition of going out to the orchard to admire the blossoms, much like the Japanese admire their Sakura.

The most fantastic thing about citrus blossoms is that the while their scent is distinctively floral, they are also reminiscent of the fruit to come. After all, the fruit is what will come out of the flowers! And as you can see in the pomelo blossom photo above, the little fruit are already starting to emerge.

Orange blossoms

Lemon Blossom

Le Parfum de Thérèse

One of my new discoveries during my trip to Israel was Le Parfum de Thérèse, which I enjoyed on those hot dry spring days when the wind from the desert blows steadily and hydration is a question of sanity, not just simple survival necessity.

Le Parfum de Thérèse is both fluid and stable. Slippery like a cool veil of satin, moist and refreshing like a film of cucumber and aloe vera gel on a sun-warmed skin verging on a burn. Yet it breathes out coolness like a stone-house in the summer, and has the dry sensuality of a marble rock. It is so utterly Mediterranean and is most magical when worn on a hot and dry desert day – than its true beauty glimmers and shines.

With sparkling top notes of basil, lemon, melon and peach, Le Parfum de Therese was revolutionary for its time and preceded the watery trend of the 1990’s by a few impressive decades (and also is far superior in my opinion to any of those). The hedionic jasmine heart is sheer and uplifting, and creates a unique feeling of reviving euphoria. Some of the rose heart notes remain until the very dry down, which is a simple and gorgeous chypre accord of oakmoss and labdanum. Le Parfum de Thérèse shares a lot of its charm with the more widely available Diorella, only is somewhat deeper and more complex in my opinion. Though I barely notice any of the plum and leather notes that it shares with Femme (another great creation of Roudniska), it has a similar sensuality and warmth that is softly captivating and sensual.

Le Parfum de Thérèse reminds me of all that is summer – folding the tart grapevine leaves stuffed with rice and spearmint on a marble-tiled patio and the scent of laundry drying fast in the desert wind, and enjoying the coolness of fragrant melons in the evening.

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