Smoking vanilla with Mandy Aftel


This blog only temporarily seems like an ode to Mandy Aftel. She simply is one of the first to pick up on the fact that I am blogging again, and I also like to imagine that we're friends, so she has submitted quite a bit of recent work for me to review. Also, she's just so good I have no reluctance to write because there are none of those not-so-glowing reviews that are always waiting around the corner for a perfume reviewer. Don't worry, I have other reviews coming (DSH (!) among others). 

Today I'm wafting quite literally. I'm smoking! I have an edp on the left hand and a parfum concentration of the same scent on the right. I am so dang lucky I can't stand it. I've got on Vanilla Smoke, and it's so stunning I had to ponder on this review a while before I could get my mind together to write it. (It didn't stop me from buying mini.)

Vanilla Smoke 0.25oz Parfum

Vanilla Smoke edp 1ml
in organic alcohol
Vanilla Smoke 1/4 oz Parfum
 in organic alcohol

So, as is clear from the above, Aftelier Perfumes' Vanilla Smoke comes in two concentrations: an edp/eau de parfum and a parfum/perfume strength. I'll do ye olde compare/contrast here. Remember those papers we had to do in school, comparing and contrasting things? It's going to be like that, but a little more interesting. Well, I hope so. I mean, you're here because you want to be, not because someone forced you to read this review, right? If they did, let me know who did so I can slip them a fiver. That's awesome. 

The general rundown of what this scent smells like is going to sound the same. It's a smokey vanilla, folks. Try not to fall over in shock. 

This is a fairly straight-forward, "simplistic" scent, but don't let that statement fool you. This is not to say the scent is basic or not dynamic. 

According to the perfumer, top notes are yellow mandarin, Siam wood, saffron absolute, and vanillin. There are no "heart" notes listed.  Base notes are listed as vanilla absolute, lapsang souchong (tea), ambergris, and coumarin. 

My vision of Vanilla Smoke edp
Vanilla Smoke - THE EDP

I'm sort of "over" breaking down scents into notes. I'm finding it tedious, trite, and insulting to the perfumes themselves, but due to the fact that I'm comparing/contrasting two versions of the same scent, I'll do it this one last time.

When I wear the edp version of this scent, I find it more transcluscent and bright than the other.

This scent opens with a bit more of the sparkle brightness of the mandarin and the Siam wood.

I get a distinct rootbeer note (or more distinctly, birchbeer - have you had it before?).  I spoke with Mandy and we decided this little trick was most likely the saffron. It made me giggle the first time I smelled it, but now I do find it annoying. It passes quickly, to my relief.

I find the edp airy, bright, sheer, open. It's got more space in it than the perfume.

The edp version of Vanilla Smoke stays lighter and more flirtatious, in my opinion, than the parfum strength, though she does pick up a bit of depth from the ambergris, tea, and coumarin later in her development.

This is a lovely version of the scent and I do adore it.

Vanilla Smoke - THE PERFUME

My vision of Vanilla Smoke perfume
When it came time to order one of these, because I totally "needed" this in my life, I ordered the perfume mini. I'm addicted to these minis, by the way. They are petite little bon bons that should be available by every perfumer - price-wise, right in the zone, size-wise, so portable (I always have at least two in my wallet (my wallet!).

I am totally off topic now, aren't I?

Let's do this. When it came time to order one of these, because I totally "needed" this in my life, I ordered the perfume mini. The perfume strength speaks to me more.

While the notes list seems identical, the way they play out on the skin is subtly, but markedly, different.

The "birchbeer accord" is present, but fleeting. The perfume strength Vanilla Smoke dives more directly into vanilla, spending less time flirting with the mandarin and Siam wood. I smell them. They peek out and then they're gone. This is all about the vanilla and the tea and the coumarin, though.

We're all basenotes, all the time, in this version. And once those deepen, we get that ambergris, and the musky husky depth happens and we get sexy vibes all over the place. This is flirty vanilla all over. And yet it still remains breathy and open, never cloying and heavy.

It's brilliant, really, as any other vanilla-centric scent I've smelled with darker notes like this has always taken that heavy-breathing into a smothering place that isn't terribly unpleasant but certainly gets cloying in hot weather. This, Vanilla Smoke, would never! I can see wearing this in any temperature whatsoever.

And so that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I had to have a bottle. And I may go back and get some of that edp, as well, because it is also beautiful. Speaking of gentlemen: YES, you can wear this. PLEASE DO. I encourage it. Either strength.

Unisex. Projection: skin scent; Length-of-wear: edp- 4-6 hours+, perfume 6-8 hours+. The premise of the scent, as set out by Mandy, is that Vanilla Smoke is meant to be sexy, exotic, mysterious. I accept that premise, however I find the edp's version of sexy to be a more innocent, flirtatious type of sexy and exotic, like a young woman in a foreign bar you'd meet on a vacation, while the perfume is more like meeting the Mata Hari.  The pricepoint is reasonable for niche perfume, and the packaging is always a beautiful experience. Samples are available for $6 each. Aftelier Perfumes: Vanilla Smoke.

Disclosure: samples submitted by the perfumer

Photo Credits
Vanilla Smoke perfume photo representation: Esmerelda Seay-Reynolds, Vogue Germany; Photo: Mario Testino

Vanilla Smoke perfume photo representation: Emma Karlsson,Vogue Australia; Photographer: unknown

Meet Miss Hummingbird, Zoologist's newest edp

Hummingbird Eau de Parfum is the latest offering from one of my most favorite houses, Zoologist Perfumes

It's a departure from the heavy footfalls of Rhinoceros and the rutting skank of Beaver. It's closer in tone to the light, transcendent Panda - but not in the same genre of scent. 

Hummingbird is a flirtatious, fun, flickering thing. A "fruity floral," I'm hesitant to say, as I know that name makes some people wander off, but please don't!

Our fun-filled Hummingbird is a delight to wear and nothing like those department store confections. So please, let me describe her.

As first we meet, she is darting about, making preparations. We catch pungent whiffs of juicy pear, a sumptuous rose, sweet and innocent violet, some chilled citrus juice, and a hint of a lilac breeze. Miss Hummingbird likes things sweet but realizes we may not want to go overboard, so she shows delightful restraint. The perfect hostess. 

When next she flys by, shimmering in the sun, she presents us with a brilliant, glimmering bouquet. Again, always considerate, nothing dominates heavily. Everything is effervescent, sparkling, and incandescent like the lady herself. We smell, at times, lilac & peony & ylang ylang & honeysuckle & mimosa. Sometimes we smell them all, like a brilliant flash of colors - daresay like Miss Hummingbird herself?

Miss Hummingbird, tired from flitting about, settles down gently into a creamy musk-laden woods. One is almost surprised to see her resting this softly, but always the genteel lady, her repose is as gorgeous as the rest of her.

Hummingbird Eau de Parfum was created by perfumer Shelley Waddington , of  En Voyage Perfumes, for the brief created by Victor Wong, designer of Zoologist Perfumes

Family: fruity-floral; Projection: good/strong; Length-of-wear: 6 hours+; This is a gorgeous floral blend with a sparkling fruity top and creamy woods bottom. Full bottle worthy and perhaps my second favorite in the line. At $125 the pricepoint is reasonable for niche perfume, and the bottles and labels are divine. 

Disclosure: Sample provided by Victor Wong

Radiant skin from Aftelier and Aroma M

Do you hate your skin? If so, scurry along. I'll wait. Bye.

Ok, now that the riff raff is gone, the rest of us can discuss keeping our skin its radiant best.

Enter: Aftelier and Aroma M.

But wait, Jen! Those are PERFUME companies. Have you gone mental?! 

I have, but that's irrelevant. And rude that you brought it up, frankly. 

Yes, those are perfume companies, but focus, people. I know what I'm talking about. I'm a professional. No, really: I am. I'm a professional makeup artist. 

And my main artist philosophy is "if you have terrible skin, your makeup will look awful."

You heard me. No makeup artist can fix bad skin on set. Only Photoshop can do that.


Meet skincare oils. Yes: OILS.

Stop making me repeat myself. Geesh.

Your skin has oils anyway, so if you add the right oils into your routine, your skin will thank you by glowing in that way it hasn't since you were a child. 

Radiance, not shine. 

Oils were the original skincare. Put away the chemicals and get back to basics, ya'll. Here's how...


Aroma M, by the lovely Maria McElroy, has you covered, with the Cleansing Oil addition to her breathtaking Camellia Oil collection. It's rich in antioxidants and super nourishing, but rinses off and leaves just a hint of dewiness. 

Use this to whisk off makeup easily, as it deftly dissolves even stubborn pigments and nasty bacteria, so you don't have to obsess about all the yuck on there and you can believe your skin has always been as clean as the day you were born. It leaves your skin simply soft, impeccable, and looking radiant, like you've scrubbed it with angels wings. It also stays nice and hydrated for hours, soft as a baby's tushie.

Or once a week let it sink into the skin during a 3-4 minute massage (face/neck/décolletage). Thank me later. 

Ingredients:  beneficial fatty acids like Organic Camellia Seed Oil, Organic Rice Bran Oil, Organic Golden Jojoba Oil, Organic Vitamin E, Organic Essential Oils of Neroli, Yuzu, Rosemary and Frankincense. It smells heavenly.

Suitable for all skintypes. Really. Even you boys.

See also: Camellia Body/Bath Oil*; Camellia Perfume*; Camellia Hair Oil*; Camellia Face Oil* all available at Aroma M.
Geisha approved.
*This Blog Really Stinks owned and approved



Aftelier, by goddess Mandy Aftel, creates skincare divinity: Organic Face Elixirs. Today's offering is her newest, Jasmine

Here's the thing. I love to hydrate with oils. Especially Mandy's. 

Organic Jasmine Face Elixir is SO good it's like inhaling the Garden of Eden and all of the goodness and sin that comes with it. Only, this time the gods and goddess approve, and so does your skin. And there's no snake or apple.

Wait. This is getting confusing.

Just put a few drops of this elixir (oil) on your fingertips and press it into your skin after cleansing, then let it soak in. You'll swear unicorns blessed you with their magic. You'll radiate glowy youth and vigor without a hint of oiliness. Scout's honor. 

And it smells slightly spicy and jamine-y (literary license says I can make up that word). If you put this on at night, you'll fall asleep to lovely dreams and awaken looking like a model*. I also wear it during the day, but you may not want to if you wear face makeup - it may be a tad too hydrating. 

Ingredients: jasmine sambac, harvested in India, in a base of organic oils - rice bran, sweet almond, apricot kernel, camellia, grapeseed, squalene, and rose hip seed. Some oily skins or combo skins in the oily areas may find this a bit too rich - so try a sample first. 

See also: Organic Honeysuckle Face Elixir**; Organic Rose Face Elixir; Ancient Resins Body and Hair Elixir**; Chocolate & Saffron Body and Hair Elixir; Patchouli Spice Body and Hair Elixir; Pear, Fir, and Coffee Body and Hair Elixir. 
All available at Aftelier

*This may not be a real thing. But your skin will be lovely, I promise. 
**This Blog Really Stinks owned and approved

Disclosure: samples provided by the perfumers/manufacturers, with thanks.

Euphorium Brooklyn has the answer for dark mysterious perfume: Pétales

Do you remember back when edgy, dark, shadowy makeup artistry line Illamasqua released their fragrance, Freak? The one in the dark tilted bottle with the snail on the side? 

Illamasqua Freak
Freakily disappointing 
That's about as dark as we got there. To say I was disappointed was a huge understatement. Nice perfume, but not worthy of the Illamasqua reputation. 

I envisioned something haunting, yet pretty. Something a little dangerous, but seductive. It was good but I wanted more. More darkness. More edge. More mystery. More staggering beauty. More... MORE. 

I found it.

Euphorium Brooklyn's Pétales fits the bill in spades. 

I swear it starts with an innocent olfactory feint that smells like, I know I'm nuts, but--- well, I get rootbeer for a second. The fizz of grapefruit and florals must be to blame, as they mix with the spicy sweetness of star anise and pepper, the bite of galbanum, and the smoothness of honey. 

But that's just a little game, because this flirtatious scent turns quickly into a much more mature scent.

Spray Pétales to wrap yourself in a slightly mysterious perfume with naughty indoles, an armful of blossoms, and a deeply sexy base. Then watch out! 

Pétales , Brooklyn Euphorium. Available at
Family: Floriental. Firmly unisex. Projection is moderate, though you could amp this mother with extra sprays - if you dare. Length of wear is "hours and hours." Cost is in the moderately-expensive range, but snatch up a sample for only $4 and see if you agree: it's worth it. I smell rose and lily and crisp greens snapping over sparkling citrus. A river of honeyed spice flows beneath, before ending in a musky animalic heaves.

Notes: Rose, Lavender, Orchid, Hyacinth, Linden Blossom, Lily, Iris, Orange Blossom, Violet, Orris, Jasmine, Geranium, Palmarosa, Pettigrain sur la Fleurs, Galbanum, Green Stem, Moss, Pink Grapefruit, Fig, Honey, Star Anise, Elemi, Black Pepper, Vetiver, Labdanum, Benzoin, Tolu Balsam, Ambergris, Indole, Tonka Musk