Saturday 1 October 2016

The beauty panel: Eau so summery

It doesn't matter if the sun refuses to shine, says our beauty expert, a seasonal shift in your scent can lift the spirits

Sarah Caden

Published 30/05/2016 | 02:30

Pictured, from left, Jo Malone Nashi Blossom Cologne; YSL Black Opium Eau de Parfum; Nuxe Body Relaxing Fragrant Water; L'Occitane Violette and Rose de Mai Eau de Toilette; Giorgio Armani Si Rose Signature Eau de Parfum. Photo: Kip Carroll
Pictured, from left, Jo Malone Nashi Blossom Cologne; YSL Black Opium Eau de Parfum; Nuxe Body Relaxing Fragrant Water; L'Occitane Violette and Rose de Mai Eau de Toilette; Giorgio Armani Si Rose Signature Eau de Parfum. Photo: Kip Carroll

Some days lately, there's a sense of change in the air. The sun shines, we strip off some layers and get outdoors. We sit on the grass and pretend it's not soaking wet and, gloriously, it's summer. Obviously, the next day, we wake up and it's not, but still, being Irish and optimistic in the face of experience and evidence, we start acting like it's high summer. So, some days it might be too cold to leave the house without a coat, but that's no reason to have a wintry air about you. Full bronzer is a bit much if it's lashing hailstones, but a scent that speaks of summer sunshine is more subtle.

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There are various camps when it comes to fragrance. Some people have a signature scent that they wear all year round and never vary, come snow or sunshine. Their opposites are those with a vast collection of scents that they flit between, never finding a favourite. And then, somewhere in the middle, is the person who likes a change, but only when it means something. This is the person who shifts scent for summer, shedding musky, heavy, dark fragrances for those that are more green, or more warm, or more evocative of the beach or freshly cut grass. For them, we have the new spritz sorted.

Best Overall

Jo Malone Nashi Blossom Cologne, €54, Brown Thomas

Annually, this brand issues a limited-edition blossom-inspired fragrance, and this year's is a fresh cologne that's not overly flowery. Nashi blossom, in case you didn't know, is the flower that precedes the growth of a pear on the fruit-tree variety of the same name. Nashi is a crisp, juicy fruit that's almost like a cross between an apple and a pear. Apparently. OK, it's news to us, too. So the cologne reflects that crisp juiciness, as well as the whiteness of the flower, while it also has a base note of white musk and a top note of lemon. "There is a soft edge to the floral fruitiness that's slightly honeyish," said a panellist.

Best Deep Summer

YSL Black Opium Eau de Parfum, €79, YSL counters nationwide

There will always be those among us who can't cope with the lighter scents. Maybe they smell wishy-washy on us; maybe we can't understand the appeal of smelling like sun oil or cut grass; maybe we just don't like them. Whatever the reason, there's always a more intense option. Many of us grew up on the heavy, heady scent of Opium, but this twist on it is more modern, and less '1980s shoulder pads'. "This is musky, rich and sexy," said a panellist. "It thumbs its nose at all those green-ish, wimpy modern perfumes."

Best Enveloping Warmth

Nuxe Body Relaxing Fragrant Water, €30, available nationwide

This brand has a slew of new body products for summer, but this stands out among them. It's perfect for those who don't really want a full fragrance hit, particularly in summer, but like a hint of scent around them. They're calling it a "refreshing" product and it has that fresh feel, but fans of the brand's Huile Prodigieuse will recognise a beachy, nutty similarity to it. "Spritzy, if that's a word," said one panellist. "If it wasn't for the glass bottle, I'd make this a summer gym-bag regular."

Best Glorious Garden

L'Occitane Violette and Rose de Mai Eau de Toilette, €62, L'Occitane shops; selected pharmacies nationwide

Roses are big in this summer's scent releases, and this one is a good example of wearable rosiness. Some rose scents are too girlie, some are too heavy and headache-y, but this strikes a nice balance, thanks in part to the inclusion of the lighter violet layer. Bergamot and mandarin provide a zesty hit, and as base notes, it has musk and sandalwood. Designed to evoke the south of France, it certainly has a hint of the scent of summer-holiday evenings. "It's a rosy floral, with an ever-so-slightly dark edge," one panellist said.

Best Rich Rose

Giorgio Armani Si Rose Signature Eau de Parfum, €127, available nationwide

Two varieties of rose, fruit, bergamot and patchouli are some of the fragrance notes in this bottle, which is an eau de parfum, and therefore has more staying power than the summery colognes or 'waters'. The rose element is very pronounced, but, when it settles, there are more subtle layers of other elements. If you like the original Si, this is a sweet twist on it, but not too sugary. "It's heavy and dramatic," a panellist said, "but that's not to say wintry, as the big rose scent is so 'summer garden'."

Email thepanel@independent.ie

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