The rose is an astonishingly sensual flower. Its deep and vivid hue enraptures, the velvety, eerily skin-like feel of its petals titillates. Not only is its aroma a twitterpating syrup of wine and lemon and earth and honey, but depending on the preparation of the rose, you can also eat it, drink it, or schmear it.
I'm a long-time devotee of the cult of the rose, and years of pursuing its seductions has resulted in the following bouquet of delights, picked just for you.
My focus may be perfume, but I'm actually pursuing an unofficial double major in lipstick and all things lip-oriented. I can spout emphatic opinions in foamer detail about the colors, consistency and performance of just about any form of pout-perfecting goo. So take it from me, By Terry Baume de Rose is the ultimate lip balm. It's emollient without being Vaseline-greasy. (Wearing gloppy stuff like Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream and Kiehl's Lip Balm #1 always makes me feel strangely claustrophobic.)
Baume de Rose sinks into flakey, abandoned lips and transforms them into pillowed lusciousness. That's the “Baume” part. The “de Rose” part is what seals the deal for me: it's a soft, realistic rose that doesn't veer off into lemon, patchouli, berries or candy, like many cheap-o “rose” scents do.
Ren Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish from “clean skincare” line Ren is my all-time favorite body product. And calling it a "product" doesn't do it justice, because it's really a nirvana playground for your skin. It's a disarmingly simple paste of cane sugar, rose oil, olive and almond oils, plus kola nut and tea extracts to give your skin a buzz.
But oh my giddy aunt -- once you scoop out a pawful and commence to scrub-a-dub-dubbing, your world turns into a symphony of sensuality. There are two irresistible sensations competing for your attention. First, there's the smell: the rhapsody of a rose garden in full bloom: honeyed and green and rich and fresh. And then there's the savage, playing-with-your-food-feeling of rubbing this glorious paste all over yourself. It's a little naughty, like you're a cupcake and you don't know when to stop frosting yourself.
And while you're tripping out in ecstasies of pleasure, Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish is quietly going about its business. The grit of the sugar gently exfoliates your body into heretofore unexperienced smoothness, allowing the dense oil to permeate your skin, leaving it plumped and softly fragrant.
Read more on Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish on my beauty and lifestyle blog, Mixties.
Ren may call this stuff a serum, but to me it's an oil, perfect for skin that seeks to reclaim its former rose-petal dewiness. The rose smell is great: not too shrill or perfumey, just right for a face product. The oil is...oily, but it's not too thick and sinks in well enough, especially after a little glow-inducing facial massage. Check out the Ren website for their spiel on Bio Extracts this-that-and-the-other, but all I know is that putting it on at night (and sometimes on dry, desert air mornings) feels like an indulgent, pampering treat. Bonus: it's packaged in a pump bottle that eliminates messiness and waste.
Having established my double major in perfume and lipstick, I can also reveal that I am pursuing a minor in hand cream. There are so many ways to go wrong with hand cream: the texture, the lubricity, and oh the smell, the smell, the very bad smell. Rose Hand Cream by Australian brand Jurlique avoids all the pitfalls: it has a light feel but it's also moisturizing, it sinks in fast, and best of all: the smell, the smell, the very fine smell. This rose hews more to the “idealized caramelized flower” of something like Brûlure de Rose by Parfumerie Generale: a little sweet with wisp of musk.
By now, you might be getting the picture that I'm big on lubricating my hide, and you'd be right. I've read all those Allure magazine articles where experts say we'd be just as moisturized with a can of Crisco, but I prefer to wait until the zombie apocalypse before I consider that alternative. In the meantime, my hide lubrication preference is the Rose and Jasmine Body Oil from the Organic Pharmacy, a British line I discovered earlier this year. I immediately zeroed in on this particular body oil, which takes the savory plushness of rose and sexes it up with bed-tousled jasmine. Je dig.
Weleda Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash from German natural skincare line Weleda comes in an appealingly hot-pink squeezy tube inscribed with the words “pampers, harmonises and nourishes”. I'm the suggestible type, so I'm already well on my way to total harmony with Oprah's best version of myself by the time the lightly musked rose scent fills the shower. The smell is pretty and soothing, and the body wash is indeed creamy.
Miller Harris is not only the purveyor of strikingly lovely perfumes, but also of gorgeous teas, olive oils, wallpaper, and other life-enhancing treats. I'm still going strong on Thé Pétales, Lyn Harris's rose tea blended with vanilla Ceylon, Taiwanese white tip oolong and geranium bourbon. Drinking it is a joyously synesthetic experience.
Une Rose is like living inside the most enormous, lascivious, carnivorous rose ever to bloom. This winey rose has roots deep in the earth, soaking up the nectar of salted honey, truffled dirt and spiced amber. This is a rose perfume with a lust for life.
Portrait of a Lady is not so much a perfume as a byzantine presence that embellishes even the most mundane day with mystery and dark beauty. For all of its dusky patchouli-rosy-oudy-musky-minty-berry divinity, it's not bombastic. This is a big scent, but incredibly, not a loud one. The sillage caresses, rather than oppresses. A proper adult perfume, Portrait of a Lady is a swirl of sensation compressed into a halo that generously gives you all the credit for its worldly complexity.
A*Maze parfum is always in my high rotation of perfume picks. The smell is a thick molasses of rose, saffron, orange blossom, henna and oud. I'm mesmerized by its conflicting sensory triggers: the jammy rose starts to make my mouth water, and then the lemon floor wax oud dries up the drool. And then the drool-to-dry cycle repeats. I'm a regular Möbius strip of saliva.
Along with A*Maze's odd, herbal side, there's also a honey cast: an animalic floral niff that marries the saffron/rose/floor wax to the skin in a salty, sensual way.
I've smelled many of the attars from Amouage, and Ayoon Al Maha (translated as “fawn's eyes”) is my favorite. Yes, I still think Homage Attar is glorious, but Ayoon Al Maha is the one I reach for when I want to feel special, or comforted, or as me as I can be. The classic rose-frankincense-sandalwood-oud attar blend is brightened with orange blossom and sings with sunshine. It's the Queen of Sheba skipping out from her dark palace to take the air in her miles of gardens.
Nothing beats the satisfaction delivered by Tea Rose. It's the life cycle of a rose on your skin: dewy fresh, then fruity wine, then the soft memory of a lover’s dozen. A shimmering rose hologram, and all for ten bucks!
Follow your rosy nose to the other participants in this rosemantic blogfest:
All I Am A Red Head
The French Exit
The Non Blonde
Roxanna Illuminated Perfume
Thanks to Ayala Moriel for rounding up us rose-luvvas!