Like others on here, especially Tom, I like to explore the “cheap stuff” occasionally for fun scents and hidden gems. I found myself wandering our newish Five Below store in town, which is sort of like a dollar store only everything’s $5 or less, and it’s kitchier and more fun vs. bare-bones and practical. Less cheap groceries, more glitter-covered notebooks and lava lamps. My girls loved that place as tweens, and I have fond memories of spending time in there with giddy teenagers while they picked things out for themselves or friends’ birthdays.
I realized there was a shelf of fragrances so I got to sniffing, setting myself the challenge of trying to find one that I’d wear if I had to, and write a post about it. Clearly some of them were copycat fragrances (a bottle resembling Britney Midnight Fantasy, etc.) and at least one box mentioned it was a dupe of some frag from Victoria’s Secret … and oh, they were terrible, and not in an interesting way. I found myself getting weirdly enraged, standing there. They made Bath & Body Works scents look like Chanel. It was a hot, depressing mess, although you could argue that I got what I deserved, sniffing a $5 dupe of Aquolina Pink Sugar. I mean, what did I expect? I went home and stuck my nose in some Serge Lutens samples and wondered if the degree to which those things offended me meant I was secretly becoming some kind of snob.
I was disabused of that notion when I got a big hug from the 20-something kid of a friend who, as it turned out, smelled great. I thought it was either aftershave or cologne and of course I had to ask. As I went into detective mode, it turned out that my nose was roughly armpit-height on him and what I was smelling was his deodorant. Cue the embarrassed chuckle (parents, they’re the worst, amirite?!?) I assured him that his deodorant was working for him and please send me a text telling me what it was. Which is how I discovered Old Spice Lavender Wilderness (hey, at least it wasn’t Axe, or Bod!) I could definitely smell the lavender which is not generally a note I like in fragrance, although I love the smell of the plant, it’s drought tolerant and everywhere here. This was very lavender-forward with a hint of musk. I’m not going to buy it because I don’t want my deodorant competing with my fragrance, but you could do a lot worse to the people close enough to smell you.
Then I was at the gym and got a whiff of the woman walking past me in the locker room. Her hair was damp, she was fully dressed but freshly showered, and I was guessing her delightful scent was some sort of bath/body product – lotion, maybe. I asked her about it in a way that I hoped wasn’t too weirdly intrusive and she … looked a bit sheepish. She practically apologized as she pulled a bottle of Calgon Hawaiian Ginger mist out of her backpack.
Well, Calgon – take me awaaaaay! Remember that tag line? (If you’re as old as I am, probably!) I used to say it as a joke, but to the best of my knowledge I’d never dabbled in a Calgon scent; I’m remembering a lot of Jean Nate from neighbors’ bathrooms as a kid, but that’s it.
On their website (www.takemeaway.com hahaha!) it says “For over 70 years, Calgon has been dedicated to creating uniquely exhilarating bath and body experiences that stimulate the senses, restore the spirit and take you on a special, fragrant journey to the place you want to be.” There’s the usual array of bath products for each scent: bubble bath, shower gel, bath bombs, etc.
A quick search on Amazon unearthed the assorted scent options for purchase, although it turns out I can buy it right up the street at the CVS. The online reviews were so interesting – clearly a lot of people have very fond memories of these scents. Lots of “my mom wore this” or “I remember this growing up, this was my first perfume” etc. etc. LOTS of nostalgia for something called Morning Glory, which kept getting described as “fresh” so I’m imagining maybe a precursor to all the Clean Laundry scents of the, what, early 2000s?
The Hawaiian Ginger is recognizably “ginger” in the way that it would be if, say, Bath & Body Works did a ginger (and maybe they have.) It had a “good smelling body product” vibe rather than haute parfumerie, and that’s fine, not everything needs to be Guerlain. It’s less sweet than you’d expect, a little peppery, some ginger, a wisp of musk, some faint generic floral backdrop. It’s a nice post-shower scent, which is how I plan to deploy it in the evenings, during our too-long, too-cold winter which will be here all too soon.
Now, my next post is going to be quality niche perfume, in case you’re wondering whether I’m capable of writing about such a thing. In the meantime, though, is there a bath/body product that throws you into a fit of nostalgia that you’d actually wear today and enjoy? What’s a favorite cheap & cheerful scent in your lineup, if you have one?