One Thousand Scents

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Vanilla Extracts

I have a reader who needs help! Let's see if I can't supply some. And if I can't, maybe someone else out there can.

I'm looking for something super vanilla smelling (it's the note my husband likes--if I'm wearing for my own nose, I like Bulgari Green Tea or Joe Malone orange flower blossom). Vanilla scents I've tried that my husband likes include Hanae Mori, Just Cavalli, and Victor & Rolf Flowerbomb.

I do feel a bit weird wearing such girly perfumes (being in my mid-forties), but I figure that my biggest motive for wearing perfume is to be pleasing to other people and my husband is the person I'm happiest to please, so...

If you can think of some other scents that are equally unsubtle in their vanillaness, I'd be most appreciative (I've tried some of the combo vanilla scents and they haven't been a hit).

First of all, you get to wear girly perfumes at any age if you're a girl. It's not like you hit forty and suddenly you have to put your hair up in a snood and wear nothing but fusty old violet water as penance. If you're eighty and you like the latest teenagery Britney Spears and Kimora Simmons scents, well, goddammit, wear them! (Just not too much, please.)

The three scents that you listed aren't heavy-duty vanilla, are they? I mean, there's a lot of other stuff going on in there. I am taking you at your word that you want unsubtle: here are thirty or so scents with vanilla in a starring role, which I've ranked in approximate order of price.

Demeter has a number of vanilla scents, even though it isn't necessarily evident from the names. Egg Nog sounds like it might be gross, but it's actually a delicious French vanilla dusted with cinnamon sugar. Sticky Toffee Pudding is a dense, thickly vanillic bakery scent with dates in it. Waffle Cone is exactly that, with lots and lots of vanilla. You might also like to try Hawaiian Vanilla, Tootsie Roll (chocolate-vanilla), Vanilla Ice Cream, Vanilla Cake Batter, and actually most of the baked-goods scents, pretty much all of which have at least some vanilla in them. You can order half-ounce bottles for $6 each, a steal.

The Body Shop has a nice chocolate-vanilla scent called Amorito. Not exactly earth-shaking stuff, but really not bad, and quite inexpensive. Yves Rocher has a similar scent called Cocoon: it's vanilla, cocoa powder, and patchouli, and again, very good for what it is.

Let's move on to Comptoir Sud Pacifique, a line with which I am extremely well acquainted, since I have nearly a dozen of them. You won't go too far wrong with any of the vanilla scents, in my experience. You can start with Vanille Passion and Vanille Extreme and move on to the pairings: I didn't much care for Vanille Banane and Vanille Coco (coconut), though lots of people love them, but I am very fond of Amour de Cacao (vanilla-chocolate), Vanille Cannelle (cinnamon), Vanille Abricot (apricot), Vanille Pineapple, and Vanille Moka (coffee). Beautyhabit has the entire line, but you can find most or all of them at online discounters; you'll need to do some hunting, but you can save a lot of money.

Lolita Lempicka is a vanilla-licorice scent that's very sweet and dreamy. There's a men's version, Au Masculin, which is similar but less sweet; many people, including many women, prefer it for this reason. Her second scent, L, is also vanilla-based, but instead of the licorice it features immortelle, a flower which many people find has a maple-syrup overtone.

A lot of people like Tocade by Rochas, a rose-vanilla scent. I don't, but it might be worth hunting down.

La Maison de la Vanille is a line of five scents, each based on a particular kind of vanilla from a different part of the world. Luckyscent used to have a sampler set of five half-ounce bottles, but the packaging changed and the price went up, and the set is no more. You can order samples: I would, because it's now $60 a bottle. (It used to be $32 or so, I think.)

Some people consider Guerlain's Shalimar to have a sort of old-lady quality to it, but it's really amazingly good, and it's hugely overdosed with vanilla. Don't judge it until you've tried both the eau de toilette and eau de parfum versions: better yet, try the perfume itself, too, if you can find it to sample. There's also Shalimar Light if the original is too dense. You might also want to cross the aisle and try Guerlain's Habit Rouge, which is essentially Shalimar for Men.

L'Artisan Parfumeur has a couple of vanilla scents. Safran Troublant is a blend of saffron and vanilla with a splash of rose, and it is delicious. But Vanilia is my favourite vanilla scent of all time. You really, seriously must try it. Not particularly sweet, not at all bakery or confectionary, it's dark and spicy and redolent of the vanilla orchid which is its source. It's spectacular, and not cheap, but worth every penny.

I think that ought to get you going.


  • Can I add another Yves Rocher scent that is the best absolutely straight vanilla I've come across: Vanille Bourbon. It smells exactly like the vanilla extract I use in cooking, (though not as alcoholic).

    To be honest, I tend to buy it for my preschooler daughter, who loves perfume. But the body products are good and can add a layer of vanilla ambience underneath whatever perfume you're wearing to increase the vanilla note.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:45 PM  

  • Oh, I just thought of two more absolute vanilla-blasters that are gorgeous:
    Spiriteuse Double Vanille from Guerlian
    Organza Indecence from Givenchy.
    I'm pretty sure you can get trial sizes of both from The Perfumed Court.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:48 PM  

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