miu 10/23/20 05:57
Addicted: Yes, I Wear Room Sprays
"Who smells like a fireplace?"
"Why do you remind me of a hotel?"
"Are you sure that is supposed to be sprayed on your skin?"
Chances are if you've ever heard these questions, then you are just as addicted to scent as I am. And of course I'm talking about wearing room sprays as personal fragrance. That's right - room sprays.
I know what you're probably thinking...so let me clarify: No, I'm not talking about dousing myself in Febreze or scenting myself with sprays from aerosol cans of Glade. I mean using room sprays from actual fragrance companies. So many brands offer them and they are often much more affordable than typical eaux de parfums or eaux de toilettes. Many of them contain around 10% fragrance oils and so wear quite well on the skin. But I'm getting ahead of myself....I know, you're also thinking, "But if they were meant to be sprayed on skin, why wouldn't it just say so on the bottles?"
Well, let me begin my story with a trip to Osaka ca 2003, Herve Gambs and Takashimaya department store...I had been walking through a shopping arcade in the Shinsaibashi area when I noticed in one of the window displays an eye-catching array of silk plants and flowers, and something that looked potentially like bottles of perfume. I'm the kind of person that has the ability to spot a glass atomizer from half a mile away; it's a gift and a curse.
Image of Herve Gambs products from Wickermoss blog
I stopped dead in my tracks, turned 90 degress towards the department store door and walked straight up to the display. The original bottles, like the current iteration above, only displayed the designer and fragrance names and didn't immediately display the words "room spray" and so I picked up the first bottle I spied and sprayed it on my skin. Mmmmmm, warm amber. And then I picked up another. Mmmmmmm, brown tea. If memory serves me correctly, the back of the bottles read "Parfum d'Intérieur" which roughly translates to room spray.
"Huh?" I surely exclaimed out loud.
I looked down at my arms where I had sprayed the scents, looking for some sign that the liquid was eating through my skin. But despite my fears, I survived. Not even a rash.
And a new obsession was born.
I returned to Takashimaya at least three more times to buy more of Herve Gambs' amazing aromas, but that Brown Tea scent was hands down one of my favorites. I remember the sales woman spying me applying the room spray to my skin and rushing over to me, gently taking me by the arm and waving my bottle-clutching hand into the air from side to side! She pointed to her skin and neck and shook her head and made a cross with her arms. I nodded that I understood while thinking to myself, "If she only knew!"
Sadly, Brown Tea is not a part of the current line up of Parfums d'Intérieur from Herve Gambs, but there are quite a few interesting options such as Encens Nobilis pictured above. Note: I can't attest as to whether or not the formulas/ingredients are similar to the ones I previously owned and wore.
That same year I had learned about another non-traditional scent that people were covertly dousing themselves in. Back in 2001, Olivia Giacobetti had created a sweet, woody ambient aroma for the Parisian Hotel Costes at rue Saint Honoré and the room spray was finally available stateside for purchase.
Notes: Waxed wood, rum, mahogany, bitter orange peel, paprika, oak moss
My first experience with Costes was a 2004 visit to Aedes des Venustas, the famed New York City fragrance boutique in the heart of Greenwich Village. I had fallen hard for Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier's sandalwood room spray which had recently been discontinued. While conversing with one of the owners, I asked if I might purchase the remaining tester since the product was no longer in stock and no longer available and he very kindly obliged. I sheepishly admitted that I loved the sandalwood room spray so much that I might wear it as a personal fragrance; I half-expected him to burst out into laughter or warn me of the toxic dangers. Instead he admitted to wearing Costes.
"Costes?" I asked.
"Like the hotel...it's really an incredible scent. We spray it in the store and I spray it on myself," he explained.
This was a huge relief to gain validation that there just might be something to this whole room spray thing. It felt good to learn I wasn't alone. But of course I decided then and there that I NEEDED to smell like a Parisian hotel lobby. And so I added Costes to my fragrance wishlist.
And this led me to sniffing John Galliano's Essence. Yes, his Essence.
Back in 2005 when John Galliano was at the height of his fashion career as head of Dior, avant garde fragrance and candle company Diptyque collaborated with Galliano and released his Essence to the world.
"And what exactly does John Galliano's Essence smell like?" you might be wondering.
ESSENCE OF JOHN GALLIANO
Notes: Russian leather, dark bark, mellow musks and dried herbs...a wild, sophisticated scent.
Ok, that might be true, but actually Essence of John Galliano offers a rich, smoky, resinous aroma that reminds me very strongly of this:
And I LOVE smelling like that! Imagine Donna Karan's Black Cashmere, but not as ambery, and mix in a little smoked tea and you'll get the general gist of Essence. Upon its launch in 2005, this product was incredibly popular and I remember people explaining that they were wearing the room spray as personal fragrance...and I also remember thinking, "Oh I've been doing that for years now." I mean, if others weren't being hospitalized after wearing an ambient fragrance, I reckoned that I was still within the confines of safe fragrance use. But this opened a Pandora's Box. At the time, Diptyque had a large number of fragrant room sprays that correlated to their larger collection of popular scented candles. The biggest surprise was that the cost of the room sprays was significantly less than the cost of the actual eau de toilette. And so I quickly became a wearer of Diptyque's tuberose, sandalwood and orange blossom room sprays; I bought all three for less than it would have cost to purchase a single 100ml EDT!
Notes: Amber resin, sandalwood, vanilla orchid
So at this point you're probably either thinking I'm totally nuts or you're now intrigued and considering attempting the same. Well, let me introduce you to Voluspa, a brand that actively promotes their products for both room and body! Just look at that bottle and box - it says right on the label "Room & Body Mist"!
But of course this made me wonder if ALL room sprays were created equal; are Voluspa products different from many others in terms of safety for skin?
Launched in 1999 by Traci and Troy Arntsen of the USA, Voluspa (named after the mythical Viking story of Thor and Odin) started as a home-based candle company. But the popularity of their candles quickly grew and soon they expanded into home and body fragrances.
|“Voluspa is truly affordable luxury. Our ingredients for fragrance are sourced globally and are on par with fine fragrance. Not your typical mid range candle fragrance. That is why we have such a cult and celebrity following for our scents.” - Troy Arntsen|
What is most exciting about Voluspa's room and body sprays is their affordability; most range in price between $20-$25 USD for up to 3.8 oz sprays. One of my favorites is their Baltic Amber, a creamy vanilla and amber aroma that is one of the company's best sellers. The longevity and sillage are both excellent considering it doubles as a room spray. They are constantly launching new scents (and sadly retiring old ones). Take a look at my review of their Atelier Provence Lavender over HERE.
And this brings me to Milan.
While in Milan in the spring of 2016, Italian editor Lucia Remigi and I visited the showroom of Italian artist Fornasetti, now a brand that is quickly developing beyond home decor. We were invited to meet a brand representative to explore their candle, incense and room spray line. The first thing Lucia and I noticed upon entering the atelier was the intoxicating aroma wafting through the air - incense, spice, woods all greeted my nose.
We descended to the lower level and were given an introduction to the brand and the opportunity to sniff some of their beautiful products, all of which are contained on or accompanied by a porcelain container showcasing traditional Fornasetti designs. I immediately recognized the aroma that had earlier greeted me - the "Otto" aroma created by Olivier Polge:
Notes: thyme, lavender, orris, cedarwood, tolu balsam, incense, birch, labdanum
First I sampled Otto as a candle, next I sampled it as incense and finally I sniffed it as a room spray. I so enjoyed it that I asked our host if I might spray it on my skin, joking that I was a long time wearer of room sprays and asking why something so wonderful wasn't being launched as a personal fragrance. To my delight his response was that the room spray really wasn't any different from a personal fragrance in terms of ingredients (yes!!!) and that Fornasetti (the brand) was considering a number of additional creative projects such that there might be some interesting developments in the future.
Otto is one of three aromas, the other two being Giardino Segreto and Sole di Capri and refill bottles without the porcelain can be purchased at around $75 USD. I think I might have to splurge and make Otto my latest room spray acquisition.
So I hope I've maybe opened a door of curiosity for you when it comes to expanding your scented horizons. But I do have to stress that one should always consider ingredients and do a modest skin test with a small spray before lavishly dousing themselves in a much-loved room spray. I've also had luck with Annick Goutal, Creed and L'Artisan room sprays and can attest to their skin safety.
Now, I wonder if anyone has ever tried to wear incense or candles....
(Note: As of this writing, I am awaiting the arrival of Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier's Green room spray, an affordable find on a popular auction site!)
Have you ever worn a room spray? Tell us in a comment below!
Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison Columnist
Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison’s journalism in the fragrance industry has appeared in international print and online publications such as Playboy, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health and the New York Times. Marlen is also a regular contributor to BeautyAlmanac.com and works as a graduate professor, thesis advisor and faculty supervisor for MA programs in TESOL, Education, Writing and Literature. Learn more about Marlen by visiting www.MarlenHarrison.com.
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