It really pisses me off that Jo Loves won’t sell single sample bottles. If you can’t get to the shop in London and you want to try a Jo Loves fragrance, they’ll post you a scent strip, but that’s no good if you really want to know how it works on your skin.
Recently Jo Loves released a new cologne – Shards of Cedar and Red Thyme. That sounded interesting to me and the blurb on the website says the notes are bergamot, mint, lavender and vetiver. I’m not a huge fan of bergamot but I like the other three and I hoped they’d balance it out and make something lovely. So, I bought another Shot Box, listed Green Orange & Coriander and Pink Vetiver on ebay because I already know I don’t like them/they don’t work on me, and then I tried Shards of Cedar and Red Thyme.
I don’t know if my nose isn’t sensitive enough, or it just doesn’t work on my skin, but I can’t separate any notes out in this. It just smells like one huge unsubtle 70s aftershave – like being a child in a function hall at a family event surrounded by adults all wearing something different – Denim or Hai Karate or Brut or whatever else men wore in 1976. On me, this smells like something Gene Hunt from Life on Mars would wear when he goes on the pull. It’s eye-watering. Luckily though, like most of the Jo Loves range on my skin, it only lasts about 20 minutes. I’m a bit sad about it, because I love the idea of it, and the reality is just, on me, unpleasant. So, the sample bottle is on ebay now too, and I’m hoping the birthday fairy will bring me one of the ones I like.
Sweet peas are my favourite flower. I love their scent, and the pretty colours, and how they look like tiny delicate butterflies, and I’m fascinated by how one stem can have flowers of many different colours on it. So I was very looking forward to this sample.
It smells nothing like sweet peas. The website says the fragrance notes are ylang ylang, rose petals and marigold. On first application, all I could smell was fresh green leaves and a green foresty undernote. After a couple of hours, there was lily-of-the-valley, and a couple of hours after that, roses. This lingers for longer than some of the other samples I’ve tried from the range; I could still smell it on myself after eight hours, but only after shoving my wrist right up to my nose and sniffing hard. It’s a lovely sweet green floral, but sadly not a sweet pea scent. It’s a bit Yardley, but not in a bad way.
So, of the ten samples I’ve tried, I don’t like Pink Vetiver, Orange Tulle or Green Orange & Coriander, but I like the others enough to keep using the samples and then decide which I want in the full size. So my Pink Vetiver, Orange Tulle and Green Orange & Coriander samples will be going on ebay pretty soon.
It’s a lovely range, with some very different scents in it – the delicacy of A Fresh Shot of Sweet Peas is worlds away from the bright zinginess of A Shot of Thai Lime Over Mango. My only complaint is that they just don’t last on the skin long enough. If Jo Loves could sort that out, these would be well worth the money. As it is, £45 for 30ml of fragrance that’s undetectable after five hours isn’t good value at all.
This was the one I had been looking forward to the most; the smell of a florist’s shop is such a fantastic, green, mysterious smell. Lush used to do a dusting powder called Flower Market which smelled like a florist’s, but when they made it into a perfume it was harsh, didn’t smell the same, and brought me out in a rash.
The website says the notes are crushed green leaves, peonies, freesia and moss. On first application, this is a very green scent – fresh green leaves, lightly floral underneath. After five minutes there were hints of white flowers, and after a couple of hours, freesia. Shortly after that, I stuck my wrist under a colleague’s nose and asked her what she thought, and she couldn’t detect a thing.
This is a delightful fragrance, perfectly capturing the florist’s shop smell. Ideal for spring and summer, it’s young and green and lovely. But like the majority of Jo Loves I have tried, the scent just doesn’t last on the skin.
Muguet is French for lily-of-the-valley, which is one of my favourite flowers. Several years ago, one of my oldest friends got married in France in early May. The local children went into the woods on the last day of April to pick lily-of-the-valley and sell bunches. I bought bunch and kept it in my hotel room (in an Orangina bottle) for the duration of my stay, and it scented the room beautifully. I did wonder why Jo Malone calls this perfume muguet instead of lily-of-the-valley, but writing this post has shown me how much quicker it is to type!
The website says the notes in this fragrance are muguet, fig leaf, cedar, amber. Honestly, I’m not getting much from it other than the lily-of-the-valley, but I love it anyway. On first application, it’s a powerful green floral, pure lily-of-the-valley leaping out of the bottle and up your nose, and it’s lovely. After five minutes or so it loses the brightness and becomes creamier and warmer, and settles into a creamy, warm, green floral, then gradually fades away. None of these samples have lasted particularly well, and this one had pretty much disappeared after about 5 hours. I didn’t smell cedar, fig leaf or amber in this; it came across as very much a one-note fragrance. I love it though, and I definitely plan to buy a full bottle at some point.
30 minutes – as above
The website says the notes in this are vetiver, pink peppercorns, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger.
The first spritzes were spicy, warm and aftershavey. After five minutes there was sweet green woody vetiver, but very soon afterwards it smelled watery and faint. Three and a half hours later, I can’t smell it at all, even if I put my wrist right up to my nose. I know Jo Malone describes them as fragrances, not perfumes, but at £45 for 30ml, I expect more than a couple of hours wear. This has faded so quickly I haven’t even had time to work out if I like it or not.
Jo Loves say the notes in A Shot of Oud Over Mango are mango, black pepper, freesia and oud wood.
On first application this morning, the first notes I got were woodsmoke followed soon afterwards by mango. After a few minutes, there was smokiness, tar, creosote, subtle melon and subtle mango. After a few hours, it was a smooth warm blend of woody smoke and mango. I haven’t detected any black pepper or freesia in this. As seems to be the norm with Jo Loves, it doesn’t last long, and I reapplied after about 5 hours. On second application, the mango came out first, followed by the woodsmoke, and now, about two hours after that second application, it’s a warm, sophisticated, sexy smoky mango. I get the feeling that there will be something new to discover in this every time I wear it – and I will definitely be wearing it again.
I think this is a fragrance Lush would have loved to create, but can’t. It has the mixture of sweet and smoke that Breath of God has, but it’s much less brash and much more pleasant, and it has the creosotey tarriness they tried to put into Lord of Goathorn which so many people hate but works really well in Oud Over Mango. I guess Jo Malone really knows what she’s doing.
The reviews of this elsewhere on the web are mixed. Several people say that although they like mango and they like oud, the two aren’t blended well and it seems like wearing two different scents at once. I don’t find that – for me, the mango and oud are successfully melded to create something much nicer than the sum of the separate parts. After one day of wearing it, A Shot of Oud Over Mango has intrigued and entranced me – I’m looking forward to discovering more of it.
Wow. This is fantastic. The website says the notes are mango, kaffir lime, black pepper, mint leaves, and vetiver.
On first spray, A Shot of Thai Lime Over Mango is like being slapped in the face with a bowl of freshly-cut mango drizzled in fresh lime juice. The mango and lime is bright, zingy, sharp, and sweetly refreshing. After five minutes or so, there’s subtle cooling mintiness and black pepper which gives a bit of contrasting warmth. Five minutes after that, there’s the sweet warm woodiness of thyme too, which gives the whole thing a more grounded feel. The mango sweetness stayed for a few hours, but six hours after application, was hardly detectable at all.
This scent is perfect for a sunny day, a holiday, or a day you wish was sunny but isn’t. I just wish it lasted longer on the skin.
This is much nicer.
On first application, there is a strong but not overpowering scent of white flowers, with a musk underneath. Jo Loves says the notes are gardenia blossom, white narcissus and ylang ylang, and the ylang ylang comes through clearly from the start. There’s no doubt that this is a floral, but it doesn’t have that in-your-face old-fashioned old lady floral feel about it. This is warm and pure and heady without being brash. It has a comforting sweetness, and it smells very natural, no hint of plastic or artifice.
Again, it doesn’t last very long.I got about 6 hours out of it before it was almost undetectable, and a top-up application lasted about the same.
The Jo Loves website describes Orange Tulle as orange blossom flower, mandarin and neroli. All of those are scents I like very much, in fact I used to wear Body Shop neroli oil as my perfume of choice when I was a student. I don’t like this perfume though.
On first application, it is a strange, musty neroli, smells like fly spray, and although Jo Loves describe it as a bridal scent, the only bridal image it brings to mind for me is a little girl playing brides with grandmother’s fusty net curtains in the 70s. The mustiness tones down and you’re left with a subtle, sweet mandarin, for a short while and then it just disappears altogether. Looking at reviews of this scent, I think perhaps it’s just not right for my skin.
The website blurb describes this as
A blend of bitter green citrus and culinary herbs create an incredibly warm and soulful fragrance.
Fragrance Notes: Bitter Green Orange, Black Pepper, Oakmoss
I like orange smells, especially neroli, but I really don’t like coriander leaves (like soapy aftershave) so I wasn’t sure how I’d take to this. When first sprayed on my skin at about 0845, it smelled of sweet green oranges. There was an equal balance of sweetness, greenness and orangeness, with a slight hint of black pepper underneath it all. A couple of hours later it was very coriandery, and smelled to me more like aftershave than perfume.By late afternoon, I had to press my nose right into my skin and inhale deeply to detect any scent at all, and what there was was a deep green woody smell, a bit like Lush’s Tramp used to be. By 6pm, there was nothing to detect at all. I gave myself another application about an hour ago, and it’s quite coriandery already, with a bit of oakmoss underneath, but the scent really does seem to have faded very quickly.
I don’t think this one is right for me – the coriander isn’t for me, and it doesn’t seem to last well on my skin. If it was a mixture of green orange, black pepper and oakmoss without the coriander section, I’d be tempted though.