Monday, October 25, 2010

Tokyo Milk Parfums Part 1

By Mag Teo

Housed in sleek rectangular glass bottles, these fragrances are distinguished by the brand's type-writer font (I love text in this print!) and the vintage water-colour images that decorate the Tokyo Milk scent flacons. At once simple and complex, the fragrances – like the brand – walk the fine line between trendy and nostalgic. Here are my thoughts on some of the parfums from Tokyo Milk.

Cherry Bomb No. 05
Notes: wild rose, osmanthus, chocolate, vetiver (chocolate floral)
Cherry Bomb reminds me of chocolate-dipped cherries. It isn't really a gourmand scent but there is a definite warm sweetness and an almost-delicious whiff to it. The lovely osmanthus notes lift it from being too sugary and while there is youthfulness to this scent, there is a suggestion of darkness in the splash of vetiver.

Dead Sexy No. 06
Notes: deep vanilla, woods, ebony, orchid (sweet woods)
A woody vanilla, Dead Sexy is laced with spicy warmth. It has touches of creamy sweetness and a subtle undertone of musk. I like how its blend of strength and softness lends it allure; I could't stop sniffing my skin when I splashed some on it! The spice in this linear fragrance gives it a unisex slant - I can imagine this on a man, certainly.

Gin and Rosewater No. 12
Notes: citrus zest, rosewood, mimosa, mandarin (citrus and rose)
Sparkling citrus notes are balanced with a sugary overtone in Gin and Rosewater. With its sweet burst of vivre, this delightful scent is great for lifting dreary days. In this aspect, it reminds me of Love & Toast Gin Blossom. There is a coy floral tone in this – it appears as an after-whiff every now and then, sometimes not at all.

Honey and the Moon No. 10
Notes: sweet honey, sugared violet, jasmine, sandalwood (warm melted sugar)
One of Tokyo Milk's best-selling perfumes, Honey and the Moon is intense - this fragrance is not for those who prefer delicate scents; there is nothing subtle about it! Oriental and spicy, it seems suited for chilly days. Its raw honey notes are apparent from the first splash but the sandalwood dry down is most obvious on my skin. There are hints of the floral tones but they are rather faint on me. The sillage of this perfume is quite marked, so if you'd like to make an impression, this is the scent for you.

I Want Candy No. 04
Notes: crisp apples, peaches, violets, roses (sweet fruits)
More a gourmand scent than Cherry Bomb, I Want Candy is a sweet, fruity scent that reminds me of confectionery like hard-boiled bon bons. It has a sugary, almost creamy overtone that seems to play well with the fresh apple and peach tones. There is also a distinct floral whiff to this light and subtle scent.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Love & Toast Fragrances

Love & Toast fragrances are not only prettily-packaged in sleek glass bottles, they are also decorated with the whimsical illustrations that are typical of Margot Elena's artistic style.

As a whole, the notes are simple but these botanical essences make mélanges of unique and memorable sniffs, when put together. Here are my thoughts on the Love & Toast fragrances available at Soap 'n Sorbet.

Gin Blossom
Notes: Citrus zest, mandarin blossom and verbena leaves

An olfactory highlight of the year for me, Gin Blossom is fresh, clean and absolutely uplifting! I adore this bracing scent for its citrussy notes balanced with the almost-sparkling, green and crisp verbena accents. A sprinkling of sugary hints rounds off this beautifully-refreshing fragrance.

Mandarin Tea
Notes: African rooibos tea, pomegranate, neroli and orange blossom

At first sniff, Mandarin Tea is sugary with citrussy tones; its sweetness underscored by a soft powdery after-whiff. There is no sour tang, just a hint of tartness to lift the sugary touches. It's light but not flighty; fresh but not brash. The rooibos tea gives it a unique whiff – there are woodsy, earthy hints in the dry down but not so warm that they overpower the citrus. It's quite a comforting sniff (think sweet treats) and is unmistakably feminine.

Paper Flower
Notes: Waterlily, dewberry rose and ylang ylang

To me, Paper Flower is a distinctly modern scent. Of the four fragrances featured here, it is the most complex, with the deep notes of ylang ylang mingling with the rich floral tones. Laced with a delicate fruity sweetness, this perfume - also the strongest sniff of the four - is an intimation of feminine strength, contrary to its whimsical name.

Sugar Grapefruit
Notes: Pink grapefruit, orange citrus and warm musk lily

More citrussy than Mandarin Tea, this scent awakens the senses with its burst of juicy pink grapefruit notes. Fresh and invigorating, the citrus tang of Sugar Grapefruit is tempered by clean sugary tones. The sweetness accentuates the fruity notes, while the hints of warm musk lily give the fragrance a very soft floral after-whiff.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Making Scents of Basic Aromatherapy Oils

By Mag Teo
Essential oils can be good for the mind and body, hence the word 'aromatherapy'. Some can be used straight, while others have to be mixed with carrier oils to dilute their concentrated potency.

I like to put drops of essential oils into warm water in a burner, allowing the gentle flame of a tea-light to warm up the mix and diffuse the scent in my bedroom. At times, I like to dab them on my pillows or a hanky, to aid sleep (lavender) or stave off nausea (peppermint).

Here's a simple introduction to six common essential oils and their properties.

1. Citronella – An insect-repellent, this oil is favoured by people who prefer a natural alternative to ward off pesky pests, especially mozzies.

2. Eucalyptus – Although the eucalyptus plant is widely known as sustenance for koalas, its oil is also a germicide and a palliative for respiratory illnesses like coughs and colds. I use it when my sons have a congested nose or a particularly bad cough.

3. Jojoba – A popular carrier oil, jojoba can be mixed with other essential oils to ensure their safe use on the skin. It can also be used on its own as a gentle moisturiser.

4. Lavender – Calming and relaxing, lavender soothes frazzled nerves and helps eradicate insomnia.

5. Peppermint – A common scent, peppermint not only smells nice, it also works wonders for digestion and nausea. A dab of it on a hanky for sniffing goes a long way in relieving indigestion, as well as alleviating morning sickness or vertigo-related nausea. It is particularly effective as an invigorative oil too.

6. Tea tree – An antiseptic and anti-bacterial essential oil, tea tree oil combats germs and infections. A few drops into the laundry load cleans clothes more effectively.

Often, essential oils can be combined. Some blends that I favour:

lavender oil + eucalyptus oil in a diffuser for a better night's sleep
lavender oil + tea tree oil in hot water as a disinfecting foot bath
eucalyptus oil + jojoba oil as a decongestant applied on the chest

Whichever one(s) you choose, do remember to buy essential oils from reputed stores – these oils can come in many grades and the price you pay generally reflect their purity (or the lack of it).