As you know, we're enduring a drought in California, which has resulted in lots of worry and excellent weather. Good people speak with furrowed brows about conservation, bad people whoop it up and go to the beach. I do both, depending on the company I keep, which means I'm complex...or a chameleon...or a sociopath.
Putting that aside, I've been wearing all my beach fragrances, sometimes to the actual beach, the perfume-nerd equivalent of wearing a Van Halen t-shirt to the Van Halen concert.
I've avoided the suntan lotion ones (Bond No. 9 Fire Island Perfume, CB I Hate Perfume At The Beach 1966) and also the salty ones that aren't quite beachy (The Different Company Sel de Vetiver, Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel) and focused only on the ones with a prominent salt-air note, of which I have many. Too many.
The seeds of my diminished enthusiasm for perfume are sown in my having too many perfumes. When it comes to trivial things, wanting is always better than having, and I'm afraid I've purchased my way into a perfume torpor. It's similar to the existential unrest surely felt every day by Justin Bieber.
In rotating seven beachy perfumes, I've come to some quick conclusions. One is that no one needs seven beachy perfumes. And no one especially needs Profumum Acqua di Sale. It's loud and crude and smells both too briny and too perfume-y, like I'm wearing some big eighties cologne and I've gone to die in a brackish swamp.
Or I'm already dead and my dead perfumed body is starting to coalesce with the dead water. Ugly but also kind of poetic. I don't like Acqua di Sale and yet I keep wearing it, perhaps out of disbelief. Bad perfumes can be so compelling.
On the other end of the spectrum is Demeter Salt Air, which is salt and ozone and nothing else, it smells good on the skin, and considering its price, it's a better buy than almost anything. Considering Acqua di Sale's price, I want to stab myself.
The most immediately pleasing is one I know you love: Céline Ellena's L'Artisan Côte D'Amour. It's the least literal of all my salt scents, more of a pretty, light floral, with a wisp of sea air, nothing like the oceans near me, more of a fancy resort ocean, the sort of place George Clooney visits when he gets bored of the house in Lake Como.
Andrée Putman Preparation Parfumée by Olivia Giocobetti has no salt note but it's beachy nonetheless. An easygoing driftwood and thunderstorm/ozone, it once earned me a backhanded compliment from my therapist.
She said she loved the smell of it before adding, "and I normally hate all fragrances." Which prompted me to think about her hating everything I'd worn for the prior two years and how that might've affected our sessions. Which prompted me to think about how little progress I'd made and how so much of my life is spent just wasting people's time. This, KP, is called "negative self-talk" and it's ruining Preparation Parfumée for me.
Speaking of wasting time, I recently read that the different colored Froot Loops are all the same flavor and thus my years of saving the "lemon" ones for last was not time well spent.
I have two salt perfumes, Profumi del Forte Tirrenico and Hilde Soliani Acquiilssssima, which are the perfume versions of Froot Loops: both have a prominent sea-salt accord and smell like understated, sane versions of Acqua di Sale. They also smell almost indistinguishable from each other. I think the Hilde Soliani is slightly more bright, enduring and complex, but I'm the person who saves lemon Froot Loops, so how can you ever trust me?
The beachy perfume that's easiest to wear to places that aren't the beach is Heeley Sel Marin. In comparison to some of the others here, perfume people might call it "a proper fragrance," in that it does more than just smell like a place.
Its notes are subtle and balanced and there's a touch of early morning citrus that seems to say, "Not only the beach but also you, you in a crisp white shirt and Italian leather sandals splashing on a nice eau de cologne while on the beach, which, yes, isn't an entirely natural act, except perhaps for, again, George Clooney, which makes Sel Marin doubly aspirational and what is life without aspirations? You depress me with all your negative self-talk." Or something like that.
You lived near the beach for a long time, KP. Did that make you more or less likely to enjoy this genre of perfume? And how do you feel about Froot Loops? Discouraged? Betrayed?
First things first: I feel that Froot Loops have made a fool of me, like other sundry things in which I put my wholehearted belief that later turned out to be a sham.
But because innocent, trusting belief feels so floaty-good, and because I'm hardwired to look for the positive in life, I shall continue to insist that that the hearts, moon, stars, and clovers in Lucky Charms are all different flavors.
Second things second: living near the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles certainly put me in the frame of mind to enjoy beachy fumes. But the ones that really get me conjure memories of adolescent summer vacations at Virginia Beach: that smell of '70s suntan lotion mixed with skin salted by sun and surf.
For that, I turn to Bobbi Brown Beach. The jasmine and sea foam blend here is a mood-lifter that dries down to the creamy skin scent of classic Coppertone.
It's irresistible because it makes me think of carefree times and unselfconsciously running around in my neon flame-colored swimsuit, getting sand burns from body surfing in the choppy Atlantic swells.
Perfumes discussed can be found at KP Smells' trusted advertisers LuckyScent.com, FragranceX.com, Perfume.com, Sephora, and Amazon.com, among others.