Sunday, January 31, 2016

Snippet Reviews: Abdul Karim Al Faransi Maison de Parfum edition

Musk Warda N.3
If you are a fan of clean rose scents and clean musk scents then this scent is for you. Very much a dewy rose scent with leanings toward the tea rose category, but thankfully nothing overbearing. Definitely of the aldehydic musk variety. Try if you like Serge Luten's Clair de Musc or Sonoma Scent Studio's Velvet Rose.

Sample this immediately if you love Parfum d'Empire's Ambre Russe or Ava Luxe's now legendary long discontinued Madame X. This has the rich baroque spice and amber of Ambre Russe combined with the slinky animalic labdanum and leather of Madame X. The florals used remind me a bit of Caron's Narcisse Noir, a rather narcotic combination of grape-y orange blossom and jasmine with an herbal rose. Very animalic.

Musk Abiyad Optimum
Ever wanted to smell a white musk of high caliber ingredients, such as when a perfumer is using good quality ambrette? Then this scent is for you. I imagine this is originally what white musk smelled like before the note became overtaken by the laundry detergent note that has over the years taken over white musk. An intensely animalic anise opening that settles into a pure white musk note. If you consider yourself a true white musk aficionado then you need to try this.

Musk Al-Qurtabi
If you want a musk with an intense floral opening a la the grape florals as I like to call them, a combination of orange blossom and jasmine, then this musk is for you. Unfortunately this blend never really settled on me so I really couldn't tell you about the musk. My floral wonky skin didn't really allow me to enjoy this.

If you love Jeffrey Dame's New Musk or Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez this scent is worth your time which tells you it is not for me. It has that unique musk on me that goes strangely screechy.

Image by Olaf Hajek

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Musk Quest: Musk Tahara Al Faransi by Abdul Karim Al Faransi Maison de Parfum

I have often jokingly said that if heaven has a scent it would be the scent of the Italian hazelnut liquor Frangelico. It is one of the most delicious things you will ever smell and over the years I have often wondered why the hazelnut note found in Frangelico is not used more often in perfumery. Well the thing is when hazelnut is used as a note in perfumes most of the time it is in the form of nutella on steroids, overbearing, intensely sweet, and frequently paired with chocolate; not what I want to smell like.

So let us bask for a moment in the genius use of hazelnut, lemon verbena, and lemon used in Musk Tahara Al Faransi. This perfume uses hazelnut in all its perfect nuttiness to create a sublime cuddly musk.  Al Faransi has made an excellent argument in Musk Tahara Al Faransi that hazelnut is an underused note to use in musk based scents.  Hazelnut combined with a candied lemon verbena followed by delicious zingy creamy lemon makes Musk Tahara Al Faransi have one of the most unique openings I have smelled in a musk in very long time. Musk Tahara Al Faransi is a part of the white musk family, but I have to say this now the white musk used by Al Faransi is clearly above average in comparison to all of the white musks I have encountered. The white musk used by Al Faransi showcases the rose and sandalwood notes of white musk. Yes, this scent is clean but at no point have I been reminded of dryer sheets or anything industrial, what I am mainly reminded of is cashmere, cream, and rosewater.

Musk Tahara Al Faransi smells like luxury comfort with a very friendly opening, there is something very warm and welcoming about this scent. At the heart of this scent is a rosewater vanilla laced white musk which keeps the tiniest reminder of delicious hazelnuts going throughout. The beginning reminds me of an Italian style hazelnut cake with has generous portion of lemon zest in it but as time progresses I am reminded of rosewater scented cream all of this plushly supported by Al Faransi's sweet white musk. Musk Tahara Al Faransi glows perfectly on the skin, this is the sort of scent that should have a cult following because it is just so good smelling. Yes, I do intend to buy a bottle of this.

Try Musk Tahara Al Faransi if you like Pearl by Sage Machado, Perfect Veil by Sarah Horowitz Perfums, Musc by Reminiscence, Opal by Sonoma Scent Studio, Vanilla Musk by Kuumba Made, Loukhoum by Ava Luxe or Montale's Musk to Musk.

First image from
Second Image Alon Alvissar
Last Image from

Friday, January 29, 2016

Calisson meets Loukhoum: Kayseri by Abdul Karim Al Faransi Maison de Parfum

Sometimes someone makes an awesome perfume discovery and shares it. Finding Abdul Karim Al Faransi's perfumes is very much courtesy of the Facebook group Facebook Fragrance Friends.

Kayseri may be the ultimate wallet friendly and interesting Loukhoum scent you have been waiting for. Although, lets take a moment to reminisce about the time when Loukhoum scents were a big fad in the fragrance community, yup it was the early 2000s and everyone was talking about Luten's Rahat Loukhoum, Keiko Mecheri's Loukhoum, and Montale's Mukhallat. For those of us obsessed with gourmands it was like a new frontier because this was a gourmand that featured roses and nuts prominently. Fast forward a few years and well the trend fell to the wayside. There are still those of us who enjoy the idea of a loukhoum inspired fragrance but the thing is most loukhoum scents have a clobber you over the head aspect frequently.

What if someone created a scent that featured the rosewater powder nutty goodness of loukhoum at its heart but instead of blasting you with powder decided to introduce a completely different element at the beginning, in this case the melon almond French sweet, calisson. If you are not put off by this idea then you need to try Kayseri. Kayseri starts with a sweet candied melon note, not overbearing, but most definitely there, it is very unique and somewhat reminds me of the beginning of Providence Perfume's Provanilla, this melon is most definitely of the cantaloupe* variety. It's a clean and sweet and not going to burden you and as time progresses it transforms to delicious rosewater loukhoum scent. Al Faransi's loukhoum note has accents of lemony rose and at moments I could swear it hints at a tiny smidgen of violet in there too. The beauty of Kayseri is instead of pummeling you with sweet powder as can frequently happen with a loukhoum scent Al Faransi has made a loukhoum that is slightly water-colored. The earthy quality of the melon note lightens it and adds a gentle spicy quality and it all sits on a bed of gently sweetened musky woods. Kayseri is easily one of the most wearable loukhoum scents I have encountered. Most interesting is there is a depth of layering to it that I have not really encountered in most loukhoum scents and much less in oil based scents.

Try Kayseri if you like Loukhoum scents, Sonoma Scent Studio's Lieu de Reves, or Rose Absolue by Yves Rocher

*Fun fact many melons in the cantaloupe family are called muskmelons. Considering Al Faransi specializes in musk scents how appropriate is it that use a muskmelon note in their scent?

Kayseri image from
Calisson image from Butterbadge
Loukhoum image from 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A List of Musks That Have Not Worked For Me

Let's discuss the musk scents that have not worked for me. The variation of how they have not worked is either I am anosmic/my skin sucked them up or they did something horrendous on my skin. I like to make these lists because well I feel like it gives me an idea of where to pinpoint the issue at hand:

Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez (I wanted that gorgeous milky white bottle in my collection but alas that was just not happening.)
Essence by Narciso Rodriguez (Too much laundry detergent in this)
New Musk by Dame Perfumery (I love many of his scents but this definitely turned screechy on me :-( )

Just Kind of Weird
Suaded Musk by GAP (what should have been a safe bet just sort of smelled off on.
Original Musk by Kiehl's (Not uber anything I just did not enjoy the powdery aspect of it)

Disappearing Act
Elephant and Roses by Marie Candide Gentle
Le Parfum by Barbara Bui
Silk Way by Ted Lapidus

Monday, January 25, 2016

Musk Quest: Musc by Reminiscence

As I've mentioned recently I'm on the mission for a new musk. My absurdly long lived Egyptian Goddess roll-on oil by Auric Blends recently turned and I need a new musk to wear. The frank truth is by the end Egyptian Goddess was no longer really me either. We had grown apart. I still consider it one of the best cheap thrills you can get in the perfume world and definitely recommend it to those that love Egyptian musk scents. Still I want a musk back in my collection that I can wear and feel great in. The pleasure of a good musk scent is that they smell like a natural awesome smelling extension of you.

I was recently going through my collection of samples when I stumbled on Musc by Reminiscence. It stuck out even more considering the recent review I read on Chez Pajama for it. Chez Pajama considers it a favorite of her's and that it has a rather intimate quality going on. Well I had to try it with that ringing endorsement and lets be frank if there is one place where mutations of scent on different skin can be smelled it is in the musk category of perfume.

Musc by Reminiscence smells good. It is one of those downy warm sweet creamy musks on me that some people say remind them of babies although I would say Reminiscence sidesteps that issue by keeping a lovely spicy bitter almond note running through out the musk. Musc is all about warm clean skin on me, whatever animalic edge other's encounter in this scent is sucked up on my skin (I can notoriously de-animalic scents that are considered super animalic and I can animalic scents that are considered safe). For me Musc is all comfort and ease with a little bit of spice running through it. I like that Musc is not a white musk or an Egyptian musk, it is closer to the old school 70s musks but a bit sweeter and more interesting.

It's not quite the musk I am looking for but I am most definitely going to enjoy my sample of it while I have it.

Try Musc by Reminiscence if you like Disco Nap by Smell Bent, Clair de Musc by Serge Lutens, or Dana O'Shee by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.

First Image from 
Second image by Jozef Wilcon

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Beyond the Spritz: Balance Conditioner by Everyone

About two years ago my scalp became hypersensitive and it took me a very long time to figure out the culprit of the issue, I eventually figured it out and realized it was sulfates. I tried many different methods of trying to clean my hair the first being the no-poo method of washing my hair but found over time I didn't like the results (especially when combined with hard water), shampoo bars (once again does not work with hard water), and many different forms of sulfate free forms of shampoo and conditioner and almost all could not handle hard water. I eventually lucked out in my journey in trying the rather new Everyone Balance Shampoo and Conditioner, finally a sulfate free duo that could handle hard water.

Yet, the thing that strikes me every time I used the Everyone Balance Conditioner is that real smoky earthy vetiver essential oil is used in it. If you have ever wondered what vetiver essential oil smells like but don't want to pick up a bottle of it then I recommend going out and smelling the Everyone Balance Conditioner. The funny this is that the Balance Shampoo definitely does not smell of vetiver, in fact it is rather a natural citrus scent, so this draws me to the conclusion that the vetiver actually must play a genuine role in the product.

It is rather refreshing to have a shampoo and conditioner that do not smell of fruits or flowers, I've actually always been a fan of earthier scents when bathing and this definitely fits my earthier scent predilections when bathing.

First Image from
Second Image from

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Beyond the Spritz: Cinnamon Orange & Shea Soap by Pamela Soap

I'll say it now I love bar soap. I mean shower gels are nice but for some reason bar soap remains my favorite still. On the other hand cheap bar soap is not a favorite of mine and I believe is the number one reason bar soap gets a bad rep. The Cinnamon Orange & Shea Soap by Pamela Soap is the perfect example of why handmade bar soap should be held in esteem. I found Pamela Soap because I went to my very local and very tiny Farmer's Market and saw their stand. I was even more thrilled when I found out that the soap being sold was being made so close to where I live. Well I dithered about and bought one of their soaps as a Christmas present and then I bought two soaps for myself. I spoke to the very nice husband of Pamela, the soap maker, who was the sale's rep for the day, and got to learn about their soap and overall it was a very nice experience.  On the other hand the real proof of how good the soap is in the actual use of it.

The first soap I have used so far is the utterly winter perfect Cinnamon Orange & Shea Soap. This is a cinnamon scent supported by lovely soft haze of orange. The cinnamon in this scent smells of real cinnamon not the fake awful stuff that causes headaches and makes me question my whole liking of cinnamon. Nope, this is type of cinnamon that has real layers, it reminds me a bit of my current cinnamon, Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzey's, open this cinnamon up, and you smell all the complexity that cinnamon can have from floral notes to herbal notes.. The cinnamon used in the soap has hints of lavender, rosemary, and cedar in it, the scent is very warm and natural. Supported by all of this is light soft orange.

Okay, I said I would not do too much of a review of the actual qualities of the product, but as a long time bar soap user I feel like I can actually bring a little clarification to this discussion. I use all my bar soaps with a Japanese style wash cloth to get the best lather and longevity out of my soap. I highly recommend. On the other hand if you are finding that your soap is leaving a film on you and this includes also your shampoo and body wash it means you have hard water. I have hard water and this is also why I am so in love with Pamela Soap, Pamela is making a artisan natural soap that is able to handle hard water. I am left with with clean, soft, and not overly dried skin with this soap. If you have hard water you will understand that this can be incredibly hard to find in almost any cleansing product and even more so in natural products.

First Two Images are from
Third Image from

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Beyond the Spritz: Bohemian Rose Olive Oil Body Balm by 80 Acres

So I thought I would start the new year with a week dedicated to a new column/subject matter idea that I have had floating around in my head for awhile, which is looking at different products that purvey fragrance. I don't necessarily want to call it a body products review because frankly it is just not my area of expertise and there are much better reviewers on that subject matter but I do like the idea of talking about fragrance in different formats. So the perspective I am bringing is first the scent part and then the actual qualities of the product.

I recently took some out of town friends to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I love the building but admit at times it gets way too crowded but for once I was in the holiday spirit and playing tour guide in the Ferry Building was a lot of fun. As always I had to stop at the McEvoy Ranch shop and taste their olive oils and test out their body products. I feel like it was rather serendipitous that we stopped their that day because they had a new body product line, Bohemian Rose on display. As always rose has a siren call for me and I had to try the new scent out.

What Bohemian Rose reminds me of is
another moment I had a few years ago in the Ferry Building. I was taking myself out once again for my yearly birthday adventure and after visiting the comic museum to see an exhibit on Neil Gaiman's Sandman series I stopped at the Ferry Building to pick up cheese at Cowgirl Creamery. I felt like getting myself a sweet though before tackling the cheese shop so I stopped at Miette Bakery and I got myself a rose geranium macaroon. That little macaroon was a real eyeopener for me in discovering the beautiful flavor rose geranium can have when used properly. The flavor was at once softly rosy with hints of lemon and sweetly softened by the buttercream base. I've thought about that macaroon quite often since I've had it. Bohemian Rose smells a lot like that for me it is at once wonderfully rosy and tart like rose geranium but has a delicately sweetened base that keeps it tempered it is a bit more herbal than the macaroon but it is still a delicate interpretation of rose geranium to my nose.

The formula for body balm is wonderful. It is deeply moisturizing and leaves my skin feeling moisturized without feeling greasy which is a frequent complaint of mine when it comes to body balms.  While researching the product it turns out that I found that 80 Acres has only released their Bohemian Rose line at their Ferry Building shop but will be releasing it online in February 2016. It makes me wonder if they are trying to get the Valentine's Day crowd.

First image from Day Spa Magazine
Second Image from Sabrina Ko Photography