I went into Bath & Body Works several years ago, glanced around, took a couple of deep, exploratory sniffs, and vamoosed just as fast as my clogs would carry me. They were still in their Strawberry-Shortcake-Doll era bushel baskets resting on nasty plastic plaid cloths, displaying nasty, plastic product in scents you couldn´t pay me to wear grape, green apple, lemon cheesecake, whatever. I´ve avoided that store like the plague ever since (along with the only other beauty-products shop with a smell that repels me: Aveda.)
So I guess I am now the last person in the U.S. to discover that they´ve, what, been sold? Changed their target market? Got taken over by aliens? (Aliens with better taste.) My girls dragged me in there recently, and I was stunned to discover that in addition to a fresher, streamlined look, they´ve got a whole bunch of great stuff. Sure, you can dig around and find something like Fresh Melon Bubble Bath, but here in no particular order are a few things that wowed me, all of which are probably available in their online store:
C.O. Bigelow – This is the original, legendary NYC apothecary. But even if it fell off the back of the truck in Buffalo, it´s still rich, great-smelling stuff. I liked: the Lemon Body Cream; the Quince Hand Lotion; their dry skin products. However, all of it smelled good.
Le Couvent des Minimes – I am a fan of the smell of beeswax and/or honey (with the exception of Lutens´ Miel de Bois), and their honey and shea butter line really worked on my super-dry skin. Honey is also a smell that tends to disappear or can go slightly off and this one didn´t. I also liked: the verbena and the orange blossom, which I guess is new.
Their Aromatherapy line, especially in Lemongrass Mandarin. Lemongrass is another smell I can´t get enough of. (Hey, does anyone know a fragrance with lemongrass as a prominent note?) Their Lemongrass Mandarin was delicious and doesn´t smell like anything else I own.
Patricia Wexler, M.D. – She´s the queen of celebrity skin care right now, and I have no idea what´s in this stuff or whether it works (although I have friends who love it), but it smelled pleasant but not too strong or medicinal.
The Savannah Bee Company – I read a story about the beekeeper behind this company recently. I´m not going to weigh in on the healing magic of bee products, but they smelled gorgeous. I liked: the Magnolia hand lotion; the Tupelo Honey Hand Soap. I didn´t like: their beeswax lip balm pots, which were too waxy (yeah, I know, it´s beeswax, but still) and smelled a little rancid, which is probably what´ll happen to you if they sit around too long in your purse.
Stuff I Thought Was Awful: The Tutti Dolce line (sickeningly sweet), their new Temptations line, which smells like tropical drinks and which – full disclosure – the girls thought smelled wonderful (they thought the Tutti Dolce line was crap too).
The store also carries a number of nationally recognized/niche/cult brands: Joey NY, Henri Bendel Home, Molton Brown, Vincent Longo, to name just a few. A nice feature on their website: you can sort by fragrance as well as by brand.
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The winner of last week´s Festival of Weirdness giveaway was — Sariah! Email me your address via Contact Us (on the left column, above the search box), and I´ll get them in the mail to you.
I’ll try to squeeze in another post before I leave for Chicago on Wednesday, returning early next week. I will be helping an old friend move into new digs, with some extra time for retail therapy and whatever sniffage the Windy City has to offer.