What's your holy grail beauty product that makes you smell incredible?
August 15, 2014 8:47 PM   Subscribe

What's your holy grail beauty product that makes you smell incredible?

A friend recently brought me some Santa Maria Novella lotion from a trip to California, and it kind of changed my life. It's the sort of lotion I'd happily spend way too much money on. I want to find more life-changingly-delicious smelling beauty products.

What's the most amazing scent you've ever come across? Lotion, soap, body wash, essential oil, shampoo, conditioner, anything really. I do love luxurious products and am willing to splurge, but it doesn't have to be something expensive.

As for my personal preferences, I like unique, mysterious scents that don't smell artificial.

For instance:

Lush's Flower's Barrow perfume
and their Flying Fox bodywash
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab'sAlice
Nubian Heritage's Honey & Black Seed lotion

posted by moons in june to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (47 answers total) 141 users marked this as a favorite
Body Shop White Musk. I've worn it for years and I get compliments alllllll the time from random strangers. It's really funny because people are always confused/surprised about it.
posted by superfille at 8:49 PM on August 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

I can't get enough of Korres' Basil Lemon shower gel. I wish the air smelled like it.

I'm not really a perfume person and I'm very sensitive to powdery scents in particular but I do really like philosophy's Falling in Love. (The various spray versions, not the shower gels and lotions so much.) I wear a tiny bit when I think of it and it's the one fragrance that gets me compliments from strangers, and over the years the men in my life have been very keen on it.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:17 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anything Verbena from L'occitane!!
posted by astapasta24 at 9:22 PM on August 15, 2014 [7 favorites]

Jo Malone scents are heavenly, but they wear off a bit more quickly than I care for at that price point.

I love Ayres lotions and creams. The Patagonia scent smells like the beach.

Joie Folle perfume is grapey and smells expensive and delicious (my boyfriend always tells me I smell "like I just went to the beauty salon" when I wear it, whatever that means).

I love Harvey Prince's Flirt scent - it's a bit "young" but is really lovely. It looks like they changed the name to Temptress for some reason.
posted by sockermom at 9:27 PM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Spa Fresh line that they stock in the Ritz-Carlton hotels. It smells so refreshing.
posted by 26.2 at 9:28 PM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't like most of the scents at Bath & Body Works, they're too perfumey, BUT I love their Eucalyptus Tea Body Lotion. The scent is pretty distinctive but in this case, I love it. I also found an anti-bacterial hand gel there called Winter Cranberry that I really like and use year round.
posted by kbar1 at 9:32 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

For me, it's a malange of Celebrate and Strawberries Feels Forever from Lush.

I'm slightly dismayed at the news that the seasonal scent Celebrate may not be brought back this fall. I am holding my breath that the employee at the store was wrong.
posted by ovenmitt at 9:32 PM on August 15, 2014

This is highly variable because scents really do smell different on different people, and different to different noses. Bandit, a bitter green leather scent, is one of my favorite things ever (in eau de toilette, parfum and body wash, but fuck the eau de parfum, it smells like gasoline to me), but that's not a very popular opinion -- read the comments on that post to see quite a few people hating on it.

In hot weather I can't get enough of Memory of Kindness. In cold weather I love Hinoki. Years ago I really loved Body Shop satsuma shower gel, but I dunno if the formula has changed since then.
posted by clavicle at 9:42 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Kiehl's Patchouli and Fresh Rose or Kiehl's Vanilla Cedarwood. Soap only. The perfume is not anywhere near is good.
posted by erst at 9:46 PM on August 15, 2014

Brown sugar and fig body cream from Bath & Body Works

Oh, Lola! perfume by Marc Jacobs
posted by tackypink at 9:53 PM on August 15, 2014

I love the scent of Aveda products, especially Be Curly Curl Enhancer (great for straight hair too, just adds volume)
posted by DeltaForce at 10:07 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mr. Kitty's Awesome Handcrafted Soap and Stuff sells at (what was) my local Sunday Market. The soap really is awesome and I tend to buy four bars at a time of all the different flavors. My favorites so far are Clove & Tea, Ume Blossom, and Rainforest Cedar, all of which smell great and fade wonderfully but are never overpowering or overly gendered.
posted by Mizu at 10:07 PM on August 15, 2014

Okay, here are some fringey responses. I got aliquots (not entire bottles, I'm not fuckin' made of money) of Comme des Garcons' Garage and Tar in grad school and I loved them. Both sexy, weird-assed unisex scents that remind you of things like bike chains and asphalt and DIY gearheads.

The one thing I actually bought an entire bottle of with my hard-earned simoleons (though at the time it cost around half as much) was Burning Leaves by CBIHatePerfume. It smells like October and bonfires. I got it as a water-based perfume, which is also a nice delivery mechanism because unlike some alcohol/oil based products you're not crop-dusting everyone you walk by, just the people that get quite close to you.

It depends whose interest you're trying to pique, I guess, and since you do not appear to be a gay dude YMMextremelyV, but I figured part of the point of AskMe is to bring in responses you wouldn't ordinarily consider. I also think all of these scents would work (potentially very well) on the right woman.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:14 PM on August 15, 2014 [9 favorites]

Breath of God cologne from Lush.
posted by jrobin276 at 10:21 PM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Provence Sante Lavender soap. Thymes bath and body products in Eucalyptus or Lavender scent. I love L'Occitane Shea Butter in the travel size--easy to use and stays fresh. In the winter, I like having something in my kitchen that smells of Frasier Fir. After at least a decade, I opened an old bottle of Jean Patou 1000 eau de toilette and found it exquisite. I fell in love with it all over again and sometimes I touch a bit to my wrists for my own enjoyment. It's not fashionable, as the review says, but it is definitely beautiful.
posted by Anitanola at 10:31 PM on August 15, 2014

I enjoy the scent of Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, a "dry oil" that I use on my legs and neck. It's a warm, summery fragrance (official notes are orange blossom, magnolia, and vanilla) that's not too sweet and doesn't scream "perfume". It definitely smells luxurious. As a body oil/moisturizer, it's good, but not extraordinarily so, and I think the scent is a big reason for its popularity.

MakeupAlley reviews
posted by beatrice rex at 10:39 PM on August 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

Moroccan oil hair product...I think it was the leave in conditioner or conditioning oil. Also, Bobby Brown Beach lotion. Exactly what it says on the tin.
posted by buzzkillington at 10:39 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I recently tried a sample of Providence Perfume Company's fern shower gel. I used it once and it scented my bathroom for two days, which was unexpected and lovely. Fern is a leafy green fougere, but there's also a sandalwood version.

Molton Brown bath and body washes stay on my skin much longer than other scented body washes. I'm extremely partial to the orange and bergamot.

As for perfume, Comme de Garcons does a lot of incense scents like Blue Encens and Black, but I adore Kyoto the most. Other cool weather staples for me include Bvlgari Black--a dry vanilla with an interesting burnt rubber note--and Luctor et Emergo by People of the Labyrinths because I like smelling like cherry cough syrup and play-doh.
posted by peripathetic at 11:05 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Aesop deodorant and coriander body wash. Aesop anything, really.
posted by third word on a random page at 11:36 PM on August 15, 2014

Seconding I Hate Perfume's Memory of Kindness. Another great, strange perfume is Breath of God by Gorilla Perfume (which is sold by Lush).

Origins Ginger Souffle lotion is one of my long-time favorite products. I also really like Bliss Lemon + Sage and Vanilla + Bergamot body lotions.
posted by neushoorn at 2:11 AM on August 16, 2014

I once swiped my teenage son's Old Spice and threw it on my neck and chest and ever since then people have told me I smell amazing. (I'm a woman.)
posted by kinetic at 3:36 AM on August 16, 2014

Avon has a product called Sanctuary Lemon Sugar - I use it very rarely (super sweet!) but when I do, I smell like a pastry.
posted by needlegrrl at 4:59 AM on August 16, 2014

I often keep a little tube of L'Occitane's Rose 4 Reines hand cream in my bag - it smells like a real rose garden in full bloom - it smells fresh, not fake or old lady-ish. I almost always get sick of scents after a while, but not this one. When I put it on, I want to just keep smelling my hands constantly, but thankfully I have a modicum of social grace to keep me from doing that!
posted by raztaj at 5:07 AM on August 16, 2014

Aveda's Anti-Humectant Pomade. Keeps your hair from getting frizzy and puffy, and smells elegant.

When I was in high school I LOVED Fabrege Wheat Germ Oil and Honey shampoo. It made your hair pretty, it smelled AMAZING and now I can buy a similar thing at the Vermont Country Store. Isn't America awesome?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:32 AM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Showing off your wildly expensive Diptyque candles is pretty much de rigueur for beauty bloggers, and they now have a face and body line.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 5:48 AM on August 16, 2014

The only scent I wear anymore is Not a Perfume from Juliette Has a Gun. It's just one ingredient, Cetalox, which is synthetic ambergris, so it's hard to describe but you'll recognize it when you smell it. Not a Perfume is hypoallergenic and smells different on everyone.
posted by workerant at 5:58 AM on August 16, 2014

I like unique, mysterious scents that don't smell artificiall.

You might want to try this sampler from Lucky Scent.

It has some very interesting fragrances in it that might meet your criteria. Also:

Lyric for Women by Amouage (Anything Amouage is worth trying)
posted by nanook at 7:26 AM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Antica Farmacista lemon and cedar bath products. They smell delicious without being cloying and the texture/consistency is aesthetically pleasing (no sticky or filmy residue after you wash your hands, etc.)
posted by marguerite at 8:25 AM on August 16, 2014

Fresh's Sugar Lemon is an amazing lemon scent -- super sharp, bright lemon notes, not bitter at all. The lotion is exceptionally thick and it works super well, so sometimes I double-team with the lotion and the parfum and it just makes me really, really happy.

I used to use Aveda's Control Paste for my hair, and I liked the scent of it enough I sent them a letter asking if it was used in any other products or could be purchased for a scent. Sadly, no. But it's nice if you spike short hair at all!
posted by sldownard at 9:19 AM on August 16, 2014

Thinking about your question a little more, it occurs to me there are actually three different directions you can go if you want things that don't smell artificial. CB I Hate Perfume and some of the Comme des Garçons line are meant to be "hyper-realistic"--may include additives and fragrance notes that have been isolated in a lab, but the result is a scent that's meant to evoke something that exists in the world, botanical or otherwise. Then there are lines like Providence Perfume, Pacifica, Aftelier, and Sonoma Scent Studio (and I think BPAL?) that use primarily natural extracts; less strong than your average drugstore scent, but smells real. Then there's stuff like Amouage; my understanding is that they incorporate synthetic aromachemicals, but they're synthesized out of super high quality, expensive botanicals (and that's why the perfume costs so much). I think Santa Maria Novella might fall into this third category: just really well made.

Incidentally, Pacifica is particularly good and cheap imo; I'd say it's the best scented stuff you can get at Target. Tuscan Blood Orange is great if you like citrus.
posted by clavicle at 10:38 AM on August 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

This isn't a beauty product per se, but I received some of these recently, and they have been awesome. Drop some essential oils on them, let them sit, then throw them in the dryer-- voila, interesting-smelling clothing that's not overwhelmingly perfumey and awful.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:23 AM on August 16, 2014

Red Flower makes incredible products, but I'm particularly fond of the guaiac perfume and the kinmoxei wild lime oil.
posted by evoque at 11:33 AM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Orofluido hair oil.
posted by thirdletter at 1:33 PM on August 16, 2014

I will co-sign the Moroccan Argan Oil, but if you don't want to spend $50 a bottle, the Suave styling oil smells nice, and is only $6 or so.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:26 PM on August 16, 2014

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolue smells like blood orange and salt and is amazing.

Sabon's products in the Lavender Patchouli Vanilla scent are wonderful, especially the body scrub.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:19 PM on August 16, 2014

I love Penhaligon's scents and would recommend either visiting a store or getting their scent library. Their stuff is so nice and unusual - I wear either Juniper Sling (gin, mm!) or my carefully hoarded sample of Vaara (spicy and warm). They're pricy but worth it, I think.
posted by halcyonday at 11:51 PM on August 16, 2014

Late to the party! As I have gotten older I have developed a strong sensitivity to perfumed things, to the point that I can get severe headaches and nausea. I used to love Annick Goutal's Gardenia Passion, but it's too heady for me now. Instead my go-to fragrance is good ol' 4711, the "original" cologne, which has a crisp, pleasing lemony main note and a follow-up of bergamot. It comes in a huge bottle and in the summer it's especially nice to keep in the fridge and splash on after a shower. They do make a small variety of other products such as deodorant stick if you like to layer, too. It's available from Amazon and the Vermont Country Store and probably many drugstores as well.
posted by Otter_Handler at 6:23 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also late to the party, but I would be remiss if I failed to recommend my #1 life-changingly-delicious smelling beauty product. It gets tons of compliments whenever I use it: Happy Happy Joy Joy conditioner by Lush. I have super-short hair but the gorgeous scent still stays with me all day long.

And if you're a fan of BPAL, I would highly recommend giving Alkemia Perfumes a try. My personal favorites are Ghost Fire, Les Mystères, and Arcanum (especially layered with Hex).
posted by divined by radio at 9:03 AM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Highly recommend Donna Karan Cashmere Mist deodorant. It's legit deodorant that works, and although it's not a scent I'd wear personally as perfume, it's by far the most awesome smelling deodorant ever. Other companies that make really great smelling deodorant are often natural (LaVanila), but don't work well as actual deodorant for me. You can buy in Sephora, or of course online.

Also, I love Penhaligons scented talcum powders, especially Lily of the Valley, Jo Malone bath oil (orange blossom is my fave), and Lush's jasmine scented products (Godiva shampoo bar, Lust perfume, jasmine and henna fluff eaze). Oh, and Victoria's Secret very sexy shampoos and conditioners also smell great, come in a lot of different formulas and are an excellent way to use any gift cards I receive for VS, since I don't really like the quality of their clothes/undergarments.
posted by PinkPoodle at 9:15 AM on August 17, 2014

Lush's Big.
Demeter Paperback scent.
posted by augustimagination at 2:50 PM on August 17, 2014

Best answer: So, late to the party, however getting a deeper understanding of perfume "flavor notes" will maybe help you as these are frequent descriptors that will help you discover unusual perfumes that trend towards your style. I can probably tease this out, as it looks like many of the answers above are just "my favorite perfume" answers, not actually looking towards the ones you listed as unique personal faves. At a glance, I'm thinking "sheer and floral" is not really your style?
As for my personal preferences, I like unique, mysterious scents that don't smell artificial.

For instance:

Lush's Flower's Barrow perfume
and their Flying Fox bodywash
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab'sAlice
Nubian Heritage's Honey & Black Seed lotion
Lush's Flower's Barrow at first glance appears to be a "green wood/floral herbal" scent, however from the description I'd hazard a guess they're also incorporating grace notes of "age" which would indicate a slight cellar/musty quality. That would be the unusual part I think.

Flying Fox appears to be a warm oriental wood.

Alice is a spicy bergamot floral with honey grace notes.

Nubian Heritage Honey and Black Seed incorporates musk, sativa, honey and spice. "honey" in perfume-speak is frequently just vanilla with a bit of caramel/burnt sugar overtone.

All of the ones you listed are what I'd refer to as "warm" so you should be looking for spice/citrus/musk/herbals/orientals with odd grace notes that set them apart. Most of today's modern perfumes tend towards light, "clean" herbals, sweeter florals or light fruity and citrus scents. It sounds like you're looking for something a bit less ethereal with more spice and/or depth?

The fact that 3 of 4 favored scents you list feature musks, deeper woods and earthy scents like bergamot and sativa (sativa is simply perfume-speak for "cannabis"; aka "skunky") should point you towards perfumes that lean to the darker, muskier "oriental" side of things.

I am an Old Lady, so take this with a grain of salt but my holy grail of perfume (when I ever wear it) is the classic Chanel #5. So out it's probably in again. Or it just smells like "old lady", whatever, I don't care. It does, though, incorporate linen, woods, bergamot, neroli and very slight grace notes of patchouli, so it might be right up your alley.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:21 AM on August 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

Seconding Bliss vanilla & bergamot products.
posted by naoko at 4:00 PM on August 19, 2014

Response by poster: I'm totally blown away by the quality of these responses. I'm not sure my wallet will ever recover from this thread.

Special thanks to lonefrontranger, it was really cool to see that you had taken time to look through the favorites I'd linked and come up with a sort of scent profile for me. You're spot on with everything you wrote, I'm always looking for scents exactly like you described. Thank you!
posted by moons in june at 6:16 PM on August 19, 2014

Bergamote 22 is an amazing bergamot scent. Some Kimpton hotels stock their body lotions and I hoard them.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:34 AM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sandalwood oil along my ley lines.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:09 PM on August 21, 2014

Wow, just saw this post (late to the party) and I'm totally intrigued. I've never really been much for scents, mostly because for the past 20 years I've been with someone who didn't really care much for them and I didn't give it much thought. Now that I'm splitting up with that person, though, I've begun to realize I like smelling nice. FWIW, I'm a straight dude, although I did really like that old Gap "Grass" unisex cologne they had back in the day, as well as wood/tobacco scents so some of these mentioned sound really intriguing- particularly the Comme des Garcons' "Garage"/"Tar" and the I Hate Perfume "Burning Leaves" posted earlier. Just ordered a bunch of samples... can't wait to try them. :) Great question!
posted by 40 Watt at 8:21 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

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