Rodin, and an Aside on Spa Scents

My first retail experience with Lush was when my then-middle-school offspring Diva and Enigma* kept getting those heinous Lush bath bombs as gifts from their friends. Have you ever coped with the aftermath? Bomb is right. I still remember the first time Diva emerged from a pleasant soak, leaving behind a six-inch-wide blue ring of flotsam in the tub.  Really, who thought that was a good idea? Those bath bombs are full of scent, soap, dye, glitter, confetti, mini hearts and stars, ripped-up theater tickets, wood chips, shredded newspaper…I don’t know what all.

Since the girls were a lot less interested in cleaning the tub afterward than they were in the initial soak, that was the end of the Lush bombs. And until I had to suck it up and go into a store to smell some fragrances Luca Turin raved about, I studiously avoided Lush, because I find the store’s smell overwhelming. I was reminded of this while in New York recently.  Patty and I were walking to Macy’s Herald Square, minding our own business, and I inhaled and glanced around, startled. Yes, it’s true – you can smell the signature Lush miasma a block away in the middle of Manhattan, it’s not just a trapped-air mall phenomenon. I feel kinda sorta the same way about Aveda, although not as strongly. I use some Aveda products, and I like going in there on the right day. On the wrong day, again, it’s just too much of whatever that Aveda-essence is.  I’ll stop right here and state that I’ve had any number of people tell me how much they love the smell of both places and would cheerfully scent their homes, and/or themselves, similarly if a spray were available.  You do you, as the girls say.

lindarodin2I got a chance to smell a more pleasant (to me) scent with Rodin, a fragrance based on the smell of Linda Rodin’s cult-luxe face oil, Olio Lusso (sticking in photos of Linda Rodin because I love her long, silver hair and stylish clothing.) Legend has it that so many people raved over the smell of the oil that they created a matching perfume. I can’t find a list of notes for the fragrance, but according to the Rodin website, Olio Lusso itself is composed of neroli oil, sunflower oil, calendula flower oil, arnica montana flower extract, rosehip oil, sweet almond oil, argan oil, evening primrose oil, jojoba, apricot, and jasmine.

lindarodin3It goes on smooth and heavy, and like an essential oil it takes a moment to bloom. And bloom it does – really, it’s lovely. It’s a jasmine/citrus, sharp and green, overlaying a murkier, complex smell, as if you’re standing in the immediate vicinity of one of those displays of, say, 50 nice-quality essential oils. It has the cool, vaguely medicinal smell of arnica and calendula. It’s earthy with a bit of incense, sharp/sweet, and if I look for it, I can find it on my skin 24 hours later.

I like Rodin a lot, and would happily wear it if someone gave it to me. But at $240 for 30ml, I don’t feel compelled to rush out and buy it. It did, however, get me thinking about what I’m going to call “spa scents” in today’s post, for lack of a better term. These are the sort of vaguely feel-good, possibly herbal-earthy scents you could imagine being used inside a day spa, a massage place, and/or some other well-being establishment, although I’m not suggesting there’s anything natural or healthful about these kinds of scents. (You know what else is natural? Arsenic. Also methane.)

jatamansiBesides Rodin, which is the sort of scent I’d love in a nice massage oil, I thought of a couple others. L’Artisan Jatamansi has the perfect spa vibe, with citrus, herbs like clary sage, and a dash of dry woods and resin, and if I recall correctly, it was advertised as organic when it was first released.

Also I’ve mentioned it before, but in the cheap-thrills department, Clear Light Cedar Company in New Mexico makes a scented spray, Cedar Mountain Mist, which I fell in love with when I lived in Santa Fe; it was used throughout Ten Thousand Waves, a glorious tub-n-spa just outside the city on the road to the ski basin. The scent is called “green cedar needle” but smells nothing like cedar blocks or closets – it’s much more green/aromatic. If you’ve ever hiked in the glorious Sangre de Cristo mountains in summertime you know what I’m talking about. Spraying it on my towels and bed linens is an instant mood-booster.

Are there any fragrance favorites that you think would be perfect as the background of a spa? Have you ever fallen in love with (or bought) a hotel or spa line of scented product? If “Aveda” or “Lush” came in a room spray, would you buy it? Do you think employees struggle to free themselves and their clothing of that smell when they leave work, like fry cooks at McDonalds?  Do these salutary scents need an herbal aspect, or would a green tea scent work just as well?  Should day spa and massage joints in fact be unscented?  (A position I respect, by the way.  I’m all for the multi-sensory experience; mine includes “absolutely no Enya,” which is easy to comply with, but removing an ambient scent isn’t.)  If you’re trying to create that clean/relaxing vibe in your home, what scented products do you use?

*for anyone unfamiliar, my children as they appear on the Posse are Diva, Enigma, and the twins (Hecate and Buckethead, the only boy.)  No, those aren’t their real names. 

43 Comments
Mrs. Honey May 28, 2015

I would NEVER scent myself with Lush OR Aveda. I don't mind going into a Lush store. I don't think I'm the spa scent type. I suppose if I was seeking something calming in my home, it would probably be an incense scent.

Ann May 27, 2015

Howdy, March! I'm with you on BBW and Lush, etc.. (except for their Rose Jam shower gel). My fave-ish spalike scent is Kai, although it doesn't get a ton of respect from the perfumista world. They have it in a Nordstrom salon and it's nice and refreshing.

ElizabethC May 27, 2015

I am turning gray, growing out my hair and love a red lipstick- Linda Rodin is now my style idol!

tammy May 27, 2015

I have never been to a spa; true story! But one of my favorite B&Bs uses toiletries from a company called H2O that fits my idea of what a spa might smell like. It's very brisk and refreshing and I think it has a fair bit of rosemary in it. I totally agree that the Bvlgari green tea (one of my HGs) would make an outstanding spa fragrance!

malsnano86 May 27, 2015

I escape a lot of the Mall Assault because A) both my "local" malls (one 20 miles away, the other about 55) only have one B&BW each, with no A&F, no Lush, no Yankee Candle, no Anthropologie, no Body Shop, etc, and B) none of my kids really dig the mall anyway. Not even my daughter... she'd rather hit the boys' department at Target for her clothes, that or Goodwill. If she wears anything else, I bought it for her at Belk. Sigh. Farm kids. I've only been to a spa once... had to ask the massage therapist not to use lavender EO because it gives me such a massive headache. My son's orthodontist office, though, uses a rosemary-basil-lemon-rose spray thing in their bathroom, something one of the receptionists makes for her own use, and that is really lovely. Seems like a "spa" sort of fragrance.

Tena May 27, 2015

I have always thought that the Bulgari Green Tea line would be fabulous in a spa. I certainly use the spray on my sheets when it is hot and sticky.

Dina C. May 27, 2015

My DD, age 15, is in the Lush bath bomb infatuation stage right now, so I've been force marched to their store in the local mall more than once lately. I gasp out, "make it quick!" and then stand there trying to see if they have any Lush Rose Jam shower gel, but they never do. :-) In fact, I've got a gift of some bath bombs for her hidden in my closet right now, and I'm hoping it doesn't "contaminate" my clothes! I'm with you all on the horrors of scented stores like Yankee Candle (brisk trot past it), Abercrombie & Fitch (jog), and B&BW (hold breath and race walk). For me, the perfect spa scents would be ones that smell like a combination of Bulgari green tea line, Diptyque Tam Dao, and those herbals scents like rosemary, clary sage, and pine needles. Love some of Enya's songs, but for a spa I'd prefer instrumental music. Sounds like I need to sample some Nancy Boy scents and some Clarins Dynamisante. :-)

Caroline May 27, 2015

ugh, hate Eau de Mall. A few of the April Aromatics frags would make nice spa background scents: Jasmina, Unter den Linden & Nectar of Love spring to mind. Haven't purchased any of these either--they don't seem to last on me. Don't mind a bit of incense or subtle scent at a day spa, but fragrance-free is fine too. At the risk of sounding morbid, I detected the loveliest, non-nostril assaulting frag when I went to pick up the ashes of a family member who'd passed--the cremation society had "smudged" their offices--a Native American custom I think--and it was the most soothing, peaceful aroma.

Cee May 27, 2015

My favorite spa/home scent is from a small indie store in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco called Nancy Boy. It comes in a product line (room spray, candle, soap, linen spray and so on) which has the simple name of "Signature." Here is their description..."SIGNATURE is our most popular scent, outselling all others by a significant factor. French lavender makes it calming and restorative; Washington peppermint and Tunisian rosemary give it clean, fresh, bracing notes to which men and women are both drawn." It is very simple, clean and refreshing. I never get tired of it. The prices are reasonable, the packaging is simple. If I spray my sheets and pillows with the linen spray in the morning, I can still catch whiffs of it that evening. On really hot, humid days I spritz myself with the linen spray and keep bottles of the room spray in my office, the bathroom and the kitchen. Great stuff. They also have a scent line called "SPA" composed of Australian eucalyptus, California lemon and Washington mint. It has a clean, astringent smell that does remind me of a California spa. No, I don't get a kick back from them, but after decades of Rigaud candles, Diptyque sprays and bougies, barely scented but high priced Cire Trudons and Yankee-the house scents from Hell, Nancy Boy never lets me down, always lifts my spirits and spares my purse. I'm a certified aromatherapist, have an armoire full of e.o.s and primarily use Nancy Boy's products because they always smell real, clean and don't annoy me. The store is small, they do mail order and there is no cloying scent in the store. I agree with March about LUSH and Aveda. I feel that the only way to go into those stores is wearing a respirator and a hazmat suit, and I'd rather smell of McDonald's at the end of the day than either of those 2 houses of olfactory horror.

Michele42 May 27, 2015

Linda Rodin....I can only hope to be that elegant at her age (whatever that may be...). Although I'm convinced I will color my hair until I'm 90. Her fragrance sounds lovely though, but sooo expensive. Your description of Lush reminded me of when my daughter was young and went through the "Abercrombie and Fitch" stage. Ugh. They sprayed their fragrance everywhere in the store. In a mall, you could smell it long before you got there. Instant headache.

rosarita May 27, 2015

This post is bringing back long repressed memories of trudging through the mall with my teenage daughter and her friends during the heyday of Bath and Body Works cucumber melon and sun ripened raspberry *shudder*.....I have always liked 10 Corso Como but haven't felt the need to own a bottle, my decant is still half full after seven years or so.

Tiara May 27, 2015

"No Enya" That made me laugh out loud! I could go for that too. I'm not wild about scented stores and will avoid them at all costs. Crabtree and Evelyn is the worst for me, although a trip some years ago into Yankee Candle with a friend wasn't much better. I often wonder how those who demand a scent-free office handle a trip to the mall.

Queen Cupcake May 27, 2015

I'm still using up a bottle of Clarins Eau Dynamisante that I bought a couple of years ago. I guess I don't really use a lot of what you might call spa scents, although I like the sound of Jatamansi because I like clary sage. Maybe I'll hunt that one down.

poodle May 27, 2015

I worked in an Aveda concept salon and yes, the scent permeates everything after a while. It was a bit frustrating to always smell like work. I used to smell it on lots of people too if I was out somewhere. I don't smell it as much anymore. Aveda seems to have dropped off the radar. In their quest to be super exclusive they've managed to all but disappear.

Julie L May 27, 2015

I happen to love those smells as well as those at Whole Foods and Earth Fair! Pacifica, Zumba, etc all release my inner hippie....yeah, I was in high school in the late 70s and early 80s... But lush is overbearing! I like those a lot for the money boy!.. At least they last and are as advertised! I have Karma. Would love to try others listed on their website some day too. Just goin and don't make eye contact and you'll be fine; they are very willing to give samples if you DO strike up a conversation by the way !

Amy K May 27, 2015

I remember liking the original Costes, but not enough to purchase a bottle. The only spa line I've purchased is Les Bains du Marais in their Musc Blanc scent. It's the ultimate clean, unobtrusive fragrance for those days when you just want to smell like a nice soap. (Anyone know if it's still sold? I haven't seen it in the US in years now.) One fragrance that I find spa-like in a good way is Eau Dynamisante -- if I owned a spa or hotel, I think I'd want it to smell similar. Cedar Mountain Mist sounds lovely. Whew, can you imagine working at Abercrombie and having that unholy smell following you around all the time?