My fellow perfume enthusiast and writer Nathan Branch decided to send me some goodies to review from For Strange Women. When I unpacked them, I was greeted with the phrase "Welcome to the Forest" printed on the outside of the box, which instantly made me smile. I was struck by how pretty and thoughtful the presentation was. Equal parts rustic and Victorian, each sample vial comes with a beautiful card explaining the intention of the scent. For Strange Women is an eco-minded brand, and proves that that doesn't need to mean tacky, pretentious or boring. I don't always actively seek out Earth-friendly products, but when given such aesthetically pleasing and quirky options such as these, I will happily go for the quirky stuff.
my lovely package [photo by me. I know, I'm no Nathan Branch]
Lip Embellishment Gift Set: For Strange Women's Lip Embellishments are lip balms with outrageously good fragrances and interesting packaging. My husband immediately grabbed the Poison Ivy for himself, and I went for the Pine Cone. At first, the wax can be a bit stiff, but I find that it melts with body temperature to spread more easily. I recommend heating it up by rolling it between your palms for a minute before using. The packaging is made with a biodegradable and compostible cardboard-like tube and printed with soy ink, with a cap you pull off. The lip balm is 100% natural, containing beeswax, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, meadowfoam, tocopherol, stevia extract, essential oils (that differ depending on which one you have), rosemary extract and mica. It reminds me a bit of the kind of popsicle that you push up out of the long, clear wrapper to get to the goods. The scents are brilliant and include Poison Ivy, Clove, Pine Cone and Rosewood. They are effective lip protectants and very emollient, and despite the inclusion of stevia, you can barely taste any sweetness- just a tiny hint. Perfect! A set of 4 come in a gift box for $24, or they are $6 individually.
Perfume Enhancing Fixative Base: This waxy base comes in a tin, and the idea is that you apply it before using natural perfume oils to help them last longer on your skin. The directions are: apply to skin, wait three minutes, then apply perfume. It forms a barrier so that the oils don't get sucked up by your skin immediately. It is made from shea butter, cocoa butter, beeswax and vitamin E. The base does indeed help to make the fragrances last longer, and if you generally apply natural perfumes in the morning before work and don't really touch it up during the day, this is something that could be really helpful in extending the fragrance. The tins of Perfume Fixative Base come in two sizes, for $8 and $18.
I love the concept of the Fauna Cologne trio. They are all-natural and are named after animals. These fragrances have an oil base (jojoba and coconut), and are rather mysteriously referred to as colognes. They are not traditional colognes- instead, I believe the word is used to imply that these are more masculine fragrances. There is a 25% fragrance concentration to the Fauna Colognes, and they are all pretty tenacious, especially for natural compositions. Individual bottles of each scent are available, 8ml for $46, or you can get a sample trio for $18.
Horse: Let me just get this out of the way first: I am ALL about Horse. Horse is everything. My kingdom for a Horse? Yes, please. This is a very rich, deep hay fragrance- fresh and comforting. It is animalic in the way that I hope everything labeled an "animalic" fragrance will smell, but rarely does. There is saddle leather present, and even the saddle wax that goes on it. It really takes me back to when I was a kid, hanging out at my mother's horse barn. While including all the elements that make us Barnyard Chic Freaks titter with excitement, Horse manages to mostly focus on the sweat-covered skin of the horse itself after just having been for a long run. It's an emotionally tender scent for me, and frankly, it almost makes my eyes well up with tears. Horse has the kind of imagination contained within it that you don't see very often. It has a linear development, but that's a positive thing here. Everything is present all at once and it just fades as a whole over time. Once it dries down in the extreme, it's very much a dry hay scent. Horse is completely enchanting, I will need a bottle of this.
notes: hay, clover, leather, cedar, oats, musk
Coyote: Coyote is meant to evoke the warm fur of this elusive canine creature. Coyote starts and finishes in the masculine realm. Bay is one of those things that are rarely (if ever) used in feminine perfumes, and the bay is fairly strong here and stays throughout the entire wearing. The neroli and bergamot give a nice little citrus acidity to the blend, and after about 10 minutes go by, the warm fur accord emerges. It is not "wet dog" kind of animalic fantasy accord, so it's not quite as literal as Horse feels. Coyote is a dry, aromatic fougere with the fur element represented by a musky, woody combination. There is a smokiness that is not overwhelming nor does it give smoked meat or barbecue, thankfully. It is a slightly bitter, dry wood smoke. I think Coyote is very nice, but its classic, masculine fougere nature is not something I would reach for frequently (especially since now I can easily make myself smell of Horse).
notes: neroli, bergamot, bay leaf, patchouli, wood smoke, musk, warm spices
Sand Dollar: Sand Dollar comes out of the gate with a lovely pine and lime combination. I'm not usually partial to aquatic themes in perfume, but this one is not your run of the mill Cool Water type of aquatic. The fact that Sand Dollar is all natural works in its favor. Again, there are several fantasy accords here (salty citrus? Ocean pine?). I do get the salty sea thing, but it's not overbearing. The citrus really pops, lending a nice contrast to the pine, and in the end, citrus and pine is what I remember most about this fragrance. I forget that a sand dollar is a living creature, maybe because I've never seen one in person that I can recall. Almost everyone has held the dried-up skeletal remains of one before, but contemplating this perfume has reminded me that the Fauna collection is about the living wonders of the world- animals and creatures of all kinds and sizes. When I'm not thinking about perfume, I can always be caught thinking about animals.
notes: salty citrus, rosemary, seaweed, musk, ocean pine, lime, jasmine
living sand dollar [follybeach.com]
I still have samples of several more For Strange Women perfumes to try, and based on my opinion of what I've tried so far, I'm looking forward to it. There is much fun to be had with this line, and it won't cost you dearly.
Jill McKeever [how cute is this photo? It's from her Etsy store]
[products were purchased and sent to me as a gift by Nathan Branch. The For Strange Women website is HERE, and the Etsy site is linked at the top of the page]