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. 

  • Mrs. Honey says:

    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.

    • March says:

      I love the smell of incense as well — actual burning incense, and incense scents, but some people clearly do not.

  • Ann says:

    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.

    • Ann says:

      P.S. Need to sniff that Rodin scent. And would love to see your longer hair (think the last pic I saw of you was with a slightly shorter ‘do by your car when you first started your new job a few years back). I know you look FAB-ulous!!

    • March says:

      Yeah, what’s the deal with Kai? It’s a nice scent (although I mix it up with that other one … Child?) Isn’t it kind of pricy, though? Someone gave me a small bottle of shower gel and I worked through that, it was very pretty. Next time I’m at Whole Foods maybe I’ll spring for something similar from Pacifica.

  • ElizabethC says:

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

    • March says:

      Good for you! I can’t figure out how to post a pic of my hair, but it’s curly, mid-back, and mostly silver, with some darker streaks. I’m thrilled not to be coloring it.

  • tammy says:

    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!

    • March says:

      Loooooove the smell of rosemary. I have a plant by the front door and I run my hand over it just for the smell.

  • malsnano86 says:

    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.

    • March says:

      Lucky you, not having to get malled with your kids! And I’m not a huge fan of lavender, although it doesn’t give me a headache. As you know, lavender is one of the most common herbal scents — it’s in everything, mainstream stuff. It’s their default “natural” scent, the rest being Linen and Spring Rain or whatever. No thanks.

  • Tena says:

    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. says:

    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. 🙂

    • Eloquaint says:

      Yankee Candle, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Lush are all very hard for me to get near. I feel the prickle of a stink-induced migraine in the back of my teeth every time. Oh, and Victoria’s Reekret. That place makes my eyes water.

      Just this once I have to say-screw the perfume-I want that woman’s hair.

  • Caroline says:

    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.

    • March says:

      We used to smudge in Santa Fe, or you’d go into a business that smudged. It’s often sage, sometimes combined with something else (pinon, juniper, etc.) I like the smell.

  • Cee says:

    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.

    • March says:

      I know about Nancy Boy! Tom has written about a number of their scents, he was smitten. Both of the ones you reference sound like they would make excellent “spa” scents. And now I’m curious, what does a certified aromatherapist do? I feel like I should know this already.

      • Cee says:

        A certified aromatherapist (in my case) has another day job to pay the bills, but I use my certification in conjunction with a part time practice I have working with Bach Flower Remedies. I use e.o.s to help people (and myself) with emotional and physical issues. I got my certification in the UK and have studied with Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D. in Marin CA. Essential oils are not just things that smell good. They are living, potent chemicals; I don’t recommend anyone just dabbing them on for relaxation or stimulation. Some aromatherapists, like Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, make perfume but that’s never been my calling.

    • Queen Cupcake says:

      Hey hey! Nancy Boy is running a shipping promotion beginning June 1. I was inspired to send for a couple of things from them after reading Cee’s comments. I had ordered last week, and they sent me a nice note with a refund for the shipping. How sweet is that?!

  • Michele42 says:

    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.

    • March says:

      No huge fans of A&F on here…. I resented them more for their prices, during the five minutes my oldest felt she *had* to have something from their store. Fortunately she moved on quickly, even she could see their prices were jacked. I now have long, silver hair… there’s a post on here somewhere, I think. I quite like it, because it’s streaky salt and pepper. I’ve even had people ask me where I get it colored! I don’t miss the time and money in salons, for sure.

      • Michele42 says:

        Oh, you are so lucky that your hair is a nice salt and pepper! I wish I took after the other women in my family, like my mom – her’s was a wavy silver. Mine is so coarse and frizzy the only thing that keeps it tame is the coloring and hair oil. Haha. I do hate the cost though.

  • rosarita says:

    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.

    • March says:

      Hehe the mall trips! The two eldest have outgrown them, but the next wave of that for me will be soon, twins are entering middle school. Funny about 10CC, I feel the same way. I think it’s lovely, but never had to have it. The same about the original Costes.

    • Dina C. says:

      I just used up a bottle of 10 CC bubble bath, and it was great stuff. Love that sandalwood scent. I love scented bath gels and body washes in general. Pacifica makes nice ones that are available for a song. I use these up way faster than I go through scented body lotion, which is also very nice.

      • March says:

        Pacifica stuff is fabulous. I figure part of the reason they stay in business is they’re in Whole Foods, so they get visibility. At various times I’ve used their Fig, the Tibetan incense, and some of the white flowers.

  • Tiara says:

    “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.

    • March says:

      What is the deal with Enya and massage places? I think her music’s lovely, but find it very melancholy, not relaxing. I haven’t been in a Crabtree in forever, are they still around? And no Yankee Candle near us, although I have to sprint by one to get into Nordstrom at the mall near my dad. BBW bothers me a lot less than some folks.

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    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.

    • March says:

      Now you’re making me crave Dynamisante…. I grew clary sage all along my driveway at one point, and we’d bump it with the car. I loved the smell, but the neighbor on that side used to complain about it regularly.

  • poodle says:

    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.

    • March says:

      Hah! Verification! I did wonder whether that smell permeates all your clothes… it would, unless you’re keeping them quarantined in a separate closet or something. I have three freestanding Aveda boutiques near me, so I think of them as an upscale Body Shop, a description I’m sure they’d object to strenuously.

  • Julie L says:

    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 !

    • March says:

      They’re really very nice at Lush in the mall near me, I went in there a few times and tried all the Gorilla (?) scents, although I didn’t end up buying any. I feel sorry for them, having to smell like that all day, but I’m sure people feel the same way about some of my fragrance choices.

  • Amy K says:

    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?

    • March says:

      Totally forgot about Eau Dynamisante! Perfect example. I had a friend who wore it and it smelled amazing on her. And no, I can’t bear that Abercrombie scent. I avoid walking past it in the mall if I can.