Thursday, August 4, 2016

Southern Comforts: Perfumes for vegans who don't want to smell like hippies

By Giselle Wedemire

As you may know, I've got a huge soft spot for perfume, and am constantly looking for fantastic vegan, cruelty-free perfumes to replace my chemical-soup favourites from my pre-green beauty days. I'm still working my way through my old, not-so-vegan favourites (because it'd be wasteful to just throw them away), but for the most part, I've been using this as an opportunity to broaden my horizons and scope out some solid vegan- and eco-friendly options.

Included in my collection right now are some tried and true favourites from Pacifica and Tulip, but I recently fell down the rabbit hole that is Etsy's vegan perfume marketplace. I found Southern Comforts' quirky shop by complete accident one day, and within a day, I was following them on Instagram. Within a week, I had taken the plunge and ordered their 5 Pretty Perfume Samples deal, which allows you to hand-pick any five 2 ml samples you'd like to test out. (I also tacked on two more sample vials because I am terrible at making decisions, and couldn't limit my sampling to just five scents.)

Since I'm a slut for spicy, complex perfumes that have a light touch of creaminess in their dry-down, I often gravitate towards incense- or amber-filled concoctions that have tinges of vanilla in the background, and it seemed like Southern Comforts had quite a few fragrances that ticked all of my perfume criteria boxes. So, after an excruciating amount of time spent narrowing down the scents I wanted to test-drive, I placed my order and waited with bated breath.

Within two weeks, my order had arrived on my doorstep, and with mounting excitement, I poured the package's contents out onto the kitchen table and stood in awe when I really should have been making dinner. But who can focus on cooking when they've got such a cute (and exciting!) package in their hands?

Not me!

In the interest of fairness, I gave myself two weeks to test each fragrance out a few times to see which one(s) ended up becoming a contender for Holy Grail perfume status. Though I immediately fell in love with two of these samples, here's a breakdown of each scent and what I thought of each sample*:

Woman Enough to Take My Man - Packed with sultry, yummy notes like honey**, honeycomb**, almond, and brown sugar, Woman Enough to Take My Man is gorgeous through and through! It starts out as a very almond-y and vanilla-y scent, and it dries down to a very complex fragrance that's creamy and heady. The only downside is that it didn't seem to last super long on me (I think it maxed out at four hours on my skin before disappearing completely), but I found that layering it with a vanilla scent really helped to prolong its staying power

Bonus point: Mr. Picky Bitch, who didn't know about my perfume sampling journey, leaned in for a kiss and told me that I smell "so good today." Win!

Baby Cakes - Layered with notes of orange blossom, birthday cake (and icing), bergamot, and birthday candles, Baby Cakes is, at first sniff, super creamy and dreamy without being too sweet in the vial. On my skin, though, it was a bit of a bust -- I got nothing but super strong orange blossom and birthday candles, which was a bit of a letdown. Layering it with some Island Vanilla perfume from Pacifica helped tone it down and make it work a bit better on me, but I wouldn't try it again since it gave me a major headache the first time around.

Fancy - With notes of apricot, vanilla, and ginger, Fancy is a refreshing, laid-back spring/summer scent that's spicy yet light and fresh. The vanilla and ginger mingle so well together without ever becoming cloying. It feels almost like the perfume equivalent of sipping a bellini on a patio while wearing a flowy maxi dress, which makes sense when you consider that the website describes it as "simple but sexy" and "a little bit country and a little bit uptown".

The Lady is a Tramp - Described on their website as a "dark vanilla floral", Lady is a Tramp combines vanilla, bourbon, amber, and tobacco with a touch of gardenia. That may sound like it's got a whole lot going on, but trust me, it is dead sexy. A very creamy and dreamy scent, the gardenia is very pronounced at first, but mellows after about half an hour, when you're left with a boozy, creamy and slightly floral dry-down that's super long-lasting (about eight hours on me). For me, it was super confidence boosting,  and definitely worthy of a date night. Out of all of five of these samples, this one definitely stole the show. This one is also a favourite of Mr. PB's, who likes to tell me that I smell "really really good" whenever I wear it.

Mama Tried - With whiskey, vanilla, gardenia, and honeysuckle, Mama Tried is creamy, complex, alluring, and light -- making it a good summer date night scent. At first, the vanilla and whiskey notes are very prominent, but they quickly step aside to let the gardenia notes bloom. It's a beautiful scent that's like a less potent version of Lady is a Tramp, and I really like layering it with Woman Enough for a sweet and spicy combo that's fun yet sophisticated.  

Happy Challah Days - Before trying out Southern Comforts' fragrances, I would've told you that it's impossible to smell like sexy bread. But now I know that that statement is a lie. With notes of fresh bread, poppyseeds, tonka bean, amber, and honey**, this has quickly become one of my favourite (and only) ways to smell like a sultry loaf of bread. Bonus: this scent is approved by my Nana, who told me that I smelled gorgeous when I leaned in to hug her one day.

West Memphis Sweater Weather - With a scrumptious mix of French vanilla, amber, wood, coffee, and white chocolate, I fully expected to love this scent forever and ever, amen. And I did, until I realized that the yummy scrummy scent in the bottle evaporates immediately after I apply it 

At the end of my Southern Comforts sampling journey, I treated myself to two eau de toilette rollerballs (Lady is a Tramp and Happy Challah Days), as well as two sugar scrubs (Woman Enough to Take My Man and West Memphis Sweater Weather). Now I always smell bodacious, and my showers are absolutely amazeballs.

If you're in the mood for unusual and complexly beautiful fragrances, check out Southern Comforts. They're bound to have something to tickle your fancy, and they're currently having their amazing one-year anniversary sale on right now, so if you're debating trying out some rad fragrances, now's the time!

Have you ever tried Southern Comforts' fragrances? What are your thoughts on smelling like sexy bread? Let me know! 

* Note: Fragrance is very subjective, so what floats my boat might make you plug your nose. Also, perfumes react with individual body chemistries differently, so what might work on my skin might become a stanky mess of hot garbage juice on you. Moral of the story: your mileage may vary, so try out some samples before committing to a full-sized bottle of any fragrance you're considering buying.

** Southern Comforts uses completely vegan fragrance oils, so even when some of her perfumes contain notes of non-vegan ingredients like honey, bacon, or aged leather, you can rest assured that these are derived from a vegan source. 

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