In the winter we can often be pining for the outdoors but feel stuck at home, hardly wanting to crack open a window in gale-force winds, or be able to sit in the garden or take a long walk to feel at one with nature. However, we can bring the feeling and freshness of outdoors inside, and transform the stuffiness and whole atmosphere of a room simply by switching up our home fragrances via ‘green’ and woody scented candles and fragrance diffusers.
Whichever option you plump for, here’s our perfumed pick of perfect home scents to look for right now…
This rich candle combines agarwood with the warmth of white amber, tuberose and patchouli. Known as ‘Wood of the Gods’, agarwood is highly sought after due to the unique richness of its fragrance, and feels like living in a fairytale forest.
Inspired by the mountainside after a summer storm, when the rain clouds part and strong sunshine lances through, stirring up a heavy mist of fragrance. In this haze, notes from our herb garden mingle with fresh citrus. Utterly uplifting!
Uniquely splitting the notes of the fine fragrance between three candles, you can dot these around your room to create the ideal harmonious ‘scent-scape’, with velvety moss, moonlit herbs and roses, wisps of smoke and honeyed wood.
Combining the crisp scent of juniper with the sweet spiciness of ginger, reminiscent of lush, green woods and exotic, evergreen mountains; this uplifting scent has hints of clove, bergamot and patchouli with the freshness of eucalyptus.
“On our mountain, at first light, there’s a heavenly fragrance in the air” Founder Cassandra says. “Before anyone starts an engine, or lights a fire, the air is clear, and still, and silent.” Frosted herbs, wild fennel, and a soothing breeze. Blissful.
It’s definitely the time of year we need a pep to our perfumes, and thankfully many scents showcase pepper – of the black and pink varieties (though chilli and other types are increasingly being used). Pepper pairs so well and enhances many ingredients, just as the spice does in cooking, so are often used as a type of ‘scented seasoning’ within a fragrance formula. However, as you will see, pepper can radiate wonderfully when allowed to shine as a more dominant ingredient, too.
You can read our Ingredient pages for the more about the fascinating history and uses of both black pepper, and pink pepper; but meanwhile, we urge you to seek out these spice-sprinkled scents and add an olfactory tingle to get you through colder days…
Molton Brown Black Pepper Recharge
This iconic sizzle of a scent was WAY ahead of its time, with the magnificent pepper enhanced by lemon and ginger and dark green herbs – a true wake-up call to get you going any time you need a fragrant boost!
Inviting you to ‘take the dare’, clove bud and chilli-flecked incense curls skyward while pepper-flecked ribbons on unctuous myrrh, sticky labdanum and the grounding steadiness of cedar evoke ancient, healing balms.
A wee splash of Islay malt amidst black pepper, tobacco, incense, minerals and rose absolute. Metamorphosing on the skin as it’s warmed to reveal a base of amber resin and leather, it’s an absolutely stunning winter warmer.
This perkily spiced pink pepper is delicately balanced, with the alluring layers enhanced by the complex aromas, it’s the top notes of those peppercorns mixed with tangerine and elemi oil that really reel you in for more…
Using the highest concentration of exquisite quality rose oil, Dominique Ropion, no less, conjures blackcurrant jammy-ness shot through with pink pepper’s tingle. Voluptuous, addictive, the closest thing to Heaven on earth.
Evoking the olfactory adventures of wandering a spice market in the Marrakesh Medina, a sassy pink pepper sizzle atop a classy, classic amber base of resinous labdanum balsam with cardamom, cocoa and vanilla.
Ginger fragrances are definitely having a moment – perhaps we’re simply gravitating toward them more at this time of the year, for their warming spiciness? But ginger can do far more than add a tingle to scent: there’s the juiciness of freshly sliced ginger root for adding an almost aqueous touch to a composition, too.
Many of us are familiar with the beige-skinned, yellow-fleshed fresh spice, which adds pungency to cooking – as the Romans, who first imported it, discovered. Those same roots we love to spice up our food with – rhizomes, to use the perfume world’s word for them – can be steam-distilled to produce this useful scented oil.
Ginger can be variously bracing, uplifting and almost nose-tinglingly spicy, depending on the type (and how much) a perfumer chooses for their formula. And ginger can be very versatile – it pairs beautifully with vanilla, woody notes and citrus, for example; as well as white flowers like jasmine and sunlight-filled neroli. This spice is used quite widely in perfumery – as well as a wide range of foods and medicines, too, produced everywhere from South America to Malaysia, the Caribbean, Japan and Africa.
With many people now enjoying ginger ‘shots’ for a bracing morning drink – using it to clear the cobwebs and ward-off colds – we’re suggesting you seek out these gloriously ginger-spiced scents for a more fragrantly lasting (and just as soul-reviving) boost…
When this launched as an eau de parfum, it became a best-seller, setting many hearts aflame. Now the latest to be intensified as an extrait, the orange blossom is a new, buxomly formidable accord developed by Sarah, with caramelised zest and ginger’s zing . A car chase through tuberose fields on fire, she says. Oh MY! Fan me.
Alive with Asian aromatics, tingling like a ginger martini, the succulent mandarin squeezes sweetness onto ginger’s vibrantly quenching, just-grated spiciness. Wrapped in the golden glow of amber, the ginger grows spicier and drier as it warms on skin. Utterly delicious, it seems to segue through all the seasons, seamlessly.
Goldfield & Banks Ingenious Ginger £138 for 100ml eau de parfum selfridges.com
Oh this is much-needed at any time, but never more than in winter! A uniquely spicy green floral that boosts confidence via zingy Ethiopian ginger absolute and crisp pink peppercorn; the fresh spices tingle amidst the verdancy, with gorgeous wafts of Indian jasmine absolute and iris concrete to enhance the instant bliss.
Edeniste Lifeboost Well Being£68 for 30ml eau de parfumin our shop
An imagining of a fern in an English garden at twilight, lavender and patchouli entwine galbanum for a damp, earthy beginning. A cool lingering of tempered sunlight is evoked via a bitter-citrus accord of bergamot, neroli and grapefruit, the encroaching darkness cut through with ginger’s sparkle, then grounded in smoky shadows.
Exploring the believed ‘psychoactive and spiritual’ facets of oudh, joyous bergamot greets you like a dear friend, a surge of ginger awakening senses before cedar smooths a path to the main feature. When the oudh hits it’s like a bear hug. One to spritz on sluggish mornings when the duvet refuses to release you from its plump embrace.
INITIO Oud for Happiness £305 for 90ml eau de parfum harrods.com
Over the coming weeks, we’re going to be sharing some of our favourite spicy scents – perfect to add a bit of a sizzle to your life during these cold, grey days. It’s astounding how many fragrances utilise saffron recently – we included a whole section of saffron scents to our just published Scented Letter magazine, in the feature A Feast of Fragrance, in fact.
But with so many to cover, and a plethora of differing perfume styles, wanted to ramp up the spice and add a sprinkling of some more scents for you to consider this season.
Firstly: what do you know about saffron as an ingredient…?
Add a touch to cooking, and it turns a dish bright yellow. Add a touch to a perfume, and it gives a bittersweet, leathery, intimate quality: a little bit earthy, but soft at the same time. Honeyed and hay-like are other descriptions that perfumers give to saffron, which works especially well in Ambrée-type perfumes.
The priciest of spices – known as ‘red gold’ – saffron’s one of the most ancient perfume ingredients: it was popular in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, often as a ‘single note’ perfume, as well as in more complex blends. (The ever-extravagant Romans even strewed it over the floors of public places, to scent the air on special occasions).
Saffron was also used to scent baths, houses and temples, while in medicine it was a narcotic. (Erotic postscript: in the tantric rite of the Five Essentials, saffron was applied to the female’s feet… If you’re planning to do similarly, we suggest you don’t walk on a pale carpet following this practice!)
The plant itself – Crocus sativus, from the iris family – was introduced into Europe in the 7th Century, after the conquest of Spain in the 16th Century, English saffron was prized as the best in the world, grown in large quantities around Saffron Waldon – which is how come that town got its name. Today, we mostly grow crocus in the garden, so can overlook its wondrous properties (until we realise how expensive it is to buy a tiny tube in the supermarket). Often seen as the first herald of spring – oh! How we long for that moment.
Until then, let’s snuggle up with these spicy little numbers…
Merchant of Venice Byzantium Saffron
Taking a pinch of saffron to awaken the warm, aromatic tones of radiant amber, this has an almost glow-in-the-dark warmth, finishing with a molten stream of patchouli and suede in the lingering dry-down.
Have you ever soaked a few strands of saffron in some milk in preparation for a delicious meal? Gold Heart is basically that smell with some added rose water and cardamom shimmer on top for good measure. Delectable!
Rose de mai and cashmere wood are joined by the succulent seductiveness of black cherry, pops of pink pepper and a richly resinous base of precious myrrh, frankincense and ambroxan; and the saffron tingles throughout, passionately.
Celebrating the ancient art of smoked oud wood in the most contemporary way, Shay & Blue add delicious notes of dark chocolate for a sophisticated gourmand ripple of desire. Then, saffron-spiked leather swathes sexily. Yum!
A swooningly gentle take on saffron here, which nonetheless sizzles on skin as it slowly warms the sandalwood, amber and tonka-enriched notes surrounding it. Like a furtive glance that grows to something far hotter, it’s utterly beguiling…
Seemingly endless grey days of rain and chilliness call for a snuggle of warming fragrances, so we are currently hunkering down with soul-hugging spices and mood-shifting citrus-burst scents that have the power to uplift and slice through ‘meh’ like a hot knife through butter.
Come on, let’s buck-up via these tempting, tingle-laden perfumes…
VYRAO Sun Rae
Seasonally sad? Console yourself with this gloriously uplifting scent – infused with ‘a supercharged Herkimer diamond crystal for clarity and to boost energy levels’, the brilliant Lyn Harris creates her own magic from a ZING! POP! FIZZ! of citrus explosions that feel like you’re being beamed above the clouds with every spritz. Turmeric and black pepper add layers of welcome warmth while bergamot, lemon, and aqueous ginger sparkle like bottled sunshine throughout.
Eau. My. God. Vanilla lovers, you are going to NEED to get this on your skin. Vanilla naysayers? You’re going to need to try it, too. Swoony Bourbon vanilla (deliciously dark, decadently delicious) will be to blame for your new addiction, generously swirled through tobacco smoke rings, which seduces orange blossoms to embrace praline, convinces sparkling citrus to kiss sizzling spices and swathes guaiac wood in butter-soft leather. Go on, we dare you to succumb.
Brilliant in every sense, the vibrant yellow bottle hints at the explosion of freshness within – a zesty wake-up call at a time when spirits may well be flagging, wonderfully enlivened with this welcomingly vivacious gem. Lemon peel, sharp gooseberry and luscious pear get the nose a-tingle before a beautiful bouquet of freesia, jasmine and lily of the valley are mellowed by the woody musk of the base. And look at the price!
Inspired by his frequent travels across the Middle East, perfumer, and co-founder (with his daughter, Anais) Olivier Cresp here explores the love affair with oudh – a note he skilfully coaxes to still surprise. Paired with raspberry, the sharpness slices through the smoky-spiced woodiness, and one can imagine it placed on a burning coal, the sootiness and succulence a marriage made in scented heaven, the fruitiness contrasting yet utterly complimenting the smouldering depths. Quite magnificent.
When you need a fragrance that keeps going and powers you forward through any obstacle, this is the one to reach for when spirits are flagging. As Paco Rabanne says, it’s ‘A potent elixir made to push victory beyond limits. The time has come to embrace your moment of immortality.’ A thrust of freshness up top from Provençal lavandin provides aromatic, almost peppery pungency with bursts of green cardamom and mysterious, vanilla-swirled woods as it warms.
At this time of year we’re suddenly surrounded by spices – precious ingredients once so rare and expensive they were kept in locked wooden boxes, and have been beloved by perfumers for thousands of years. And ‘noses’ today still love weaving these warmly tingling, simmeringly sensual ingredients into their compositions. So, why are we so attracted to spices, and which fragrances are the best to wear today?
Over the next few weeks we’ll trace them in turn, starting with…
Even 2000 years ago the Egyptians were using cinnamon in perfumes and incense burned to send scented prayers to the gods (though it probably originates way before that, in China).
Cinnamomum verum is thought to have been an ingredient in the original holy ‘anointing oil’, mentioned in the Bible. The Greeks and Romans used it too, often with its near-relation cassia. It’s long been considered to have aphrodisiac properties, when eaten – though if spicy scents turn you on, maybe when dabbed onto pulse-points, too.
Cinnamon bark oil ihas to be used very sparingly in a scent – it’s a sensitiser, and as such, you may see ‘cinnamates’ on perfume packaging, as a warning. Where natural cinnamon’s used, it’s likely to have been distilled from the leaves and twigs. But it’s often also synthesised, adding a spicy warmth to amber scents.
Here’s renowned niche perfumer Andy Tauer on the restrictions on using cinnamon, which he shared with The Perfume Society – and why he loves to use it, all the same:
Andy Tauer: ‘Ah… a forbidden fruit. Sensitising cinnamal, potential allergen. So warm, metallic almost, spicy of course, gourmand, hitting the nose with memories of rice pudding with cinnamon sugar, and making your saliva flow. I love to cook with cinnamon. It brings out the flavors of ginger, onions, adds warmth to the cocktail of exotic flavors from clove, pepper, cumin, fenugreek. In my perfumes, I love it – like a synthetic aldehyde – as it switches the light on, brings out the colours and contrasts. One fine day, in perfumery heaven, we will all smell and enjoy cinnamon in heavy doses: Until then, we have to live life with the regulations that we have…’
Here we travel to the land of Assam via the richly resonant aromas of the East. Cinnamon leaf oil and nutmeg make for a lively opening that tingles all the way to wonderfully exotic citrus-fresh elemi oil. Black tea accord marks our fragrant journey with its smoky tendrils slowly opening to the deeper base and that sweet, wet earthiness and smooth wood played out with notes of oudh and vetiver. Honey is drizzled to sweeten the mix but never becomes sickly, the stunningly smooth tobacco accord putting us in mind of freshly-rolled cigars and dense canopies of greenery outlined against mountains beyond.
Molton Brown Mesmerising Oudh & Gold Accord £120 for 100ml eau de parfum Molton Brown
One of those unforgettable ‘sexy church’ scents, the cinnamon here infused into wafts of sheer smokiness, all shot through with a surprising, champagne-like airiness. Transparent in the opening (definitely more organza than velvet, at this stage), Angelique Encens’s warmth emerges on the skin, kindling notes of pepper, sandalwood, patchouli and oodles of smoothly simmering cinnamon. You shall not only go to the ball wearing this, meanwhile, but perhaps find yourself partying way beyond midnight wrapped in its enduring musk, vetiver and incense embrace.
This fresher take on cinnamon is inspired by ‘mountain of paper, autumnal hues of corduroy… thoughtful parting words and a reminiscence of dry oil paint.’ It’s golden light on crunchy leaves, rich fabrics in earthy colours gleaming in the honeyed light, a cool, herbaceous breeze of rosemary and basil just sing with the fizz of green peppercorns in the top notes – the cinnamon all the while a link to the deep thrum of oudh, earthiness and smooth woods in the base. One to wear while wrapped up for a country walk, breathing glad lungfuls of air and exalting nature.
Lapped by milk, snuggled by soft blooms of immortelle flower, the cinnamon in this is neck-nuzzle-worthy – you’ll definitely want to move closer to the person wearing it. Inspired by Manos Gerakinis’s Greek heritage, the immortelle is a yellow flower found in Greece, its story dating back to the Trojan war. In myth, during Helen’s capture, she asked Paris to validate her beauty against Venus. Paris replied: “Do you not see this flower? Your hair shares the same golden colour and your body smells like the flower while your skin is as soft as its petals. Your beauty will be everlasting.’ The resonant warmth the cinnamon affords sizzles for hours, beautiful indeed..
Nose-tinglingly warming, rich and exotic: Sunil Makan explores the opulence of black pepper – which we’re increasingly finding (and enjoying) in fragrance…
We implore you to take heed – and pay attention to the humble peppercorn. Such a versatile ingredient, it can be the hearty sprinkle on your caprese salad – or the crowning glory atop a blood red Bloody Mary. But more and more often, black pepper can often be found doing all sorts of wonderful things to your fragrance. Whether you prefer a woodier scent, something with florally notes or scents with a somewhat masculine edge, we’ve found seven exquisite ways to enjoy pepper…
Jo Malone Dark Amber & Ginger Lily Cologne
Pepper intensity: 2/5
Staying power: 5/5
A full-bodied elixir with a hit of ginger, which cuts through rich and warm amber. The pepper is subtle here but gives life and lift to this bold and intense concoction, making it perfect for wear all year round.
Clean soapy vanilla beans meet freshly-laundered silk sheets. The black pepper lingers and tones down any initial headiness from the vanilla adding spice to this sophisticated, aromatic but sweet fragrance, which is creamy with sandalwood, too.
Like salty waves crashing off the coast of LA, this contrasts citrussy fresh lemon with the sweetness of juniper berries. The pepper leads you towards a soft and powdery dry-down; a sublimely elegant fragrance construction in which you can really appreciate every single note.
A vase full of freshly hand-picked creamy and herbaceous magnolia. Pink peppercorn and notes of green tea deliver an organic and natural feel; we think this would be perfect for ballet dancers on opening night, as well as lovers of classically floral fragrances.
The femme-fatale of the group: unabashedly opulent and sexy. A grandiose garden full of pink roses and violet geraniums by night, from ‘nose’ Michel Roudnitska. Black pepper adds mystery to this decadent Ambrée creation – this is old-world fabulousness at its most decadent.
Like a vase full of crisp wild grasses next to a freshly-run mineral bath: although not precisely a peppercorn, the green pepper holds the same qualities and characteristics and caresses the subtlest notes of coriander and white musk, resulting in a raw and natural – and yes, green – scent, which we find very ‘shareable’.