Category Archives: body care

The scent of a candidate

A fragrance traditionalist

A selection of Presidential soaps by Caswell-Massey slipped into to my office yesterday. (Just in time to scour myself spotless for a season of mudslinging?) The soapmaker, which dates back to the first days of American politics, venerates George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy with three triple-milled bars—and not the current candidates (which, by the way, is a brilliant idea that would likely lead to profuse bath-time wisecracking). So I kind of expected the soaps to look like commemorative coins. That would be perfect for the Spa of Colonial Williamsburg!

But instead the soaps represent the fragrances “known to be worn by the three Presidents.” Who knew our forefathers were such dandies?

“George Washington” is scented with Number Six, Caswell-Massey’s original fragrance, which was “first purchased by Washington in 1780 long before the Continental Congress convention when he was unanimously elected President.” It smells faintly of oranges. President Eisenhower was supposed to have favored the Almond Cold Cream bath soap (apparently it’s still used today at Blair House, the Official Guest House of the White House), and Kennedy, the preppy president, wore Jockey Club, with musky hints of leather and amber. No surprise there.

Caswell-Massey Presidential Soap Collection

Caswell-Massey Presidential Soap Collection

If these fragrances fit our former politicians, just what are the signature scents of today’s candidates? Until Chandler Burr, the NY Times perfume critic, tells us, I’ve asked some SpaFinder colleagues to name a scent they’d associate with the current candidates. So what scents do our November candidates mostly conjure up in my petite poll?

Barack Obama: mint and citrus (and one patchouli)
John McCain: rose, lavender, and a few “oatmeal” (even thought it’s not technically a scent)

I’ll leave the interpretations to you.



Filed under beauty, body care, presidential candidate, soap

A discourse on depilation, or my hair-growing, hair-removal conundrum

Here begins my somewhat feminist tract on body hair, a pair of words as unseemly to the polite lady spa-goer as third helping.

I invoke the historic form of the tract, because I find myself in the middle of a long-standing American beauty contradiction, one that should have probably gone out of fashion with the corset (not the Vivienne Westwood one):

At the same time I am test-driving a new eyelash renewal serum called RapidLash to fill out my spotty lashes and brows, I’ve been slathering on Bliss’s Get Out of Hair!, a body lotion meant to minimize hair re-growth, as well as exfoliate and moisturize. See what I mean, dear reader?

Bliss says its main fuzz-fighter is Narcissus Tazetta bulb extract, which must be a two-faced ingredient, because it’s also an anti-ager in the Elizabeth Arden’s Intervene range. (Face-waxers, I’d definitely reach for this foundation.) And at $49.95, RapidLash happens to be a fraction of the price of similar products and contains a load of promising peptides—I’ll let you know in four weeks if it works.

But back to my didactic tract: the prevailing beauty mandate—be bare from the neck down, but have lush, cow-like lashes and a shiny full mane—doesn’t correspond a bit to biology, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. And so, with lasers, tweezers, and women named Eliza, we’ve created our own highly idealized female pattern baldness. And while it’s definitely easier to attain with 21st-century skin-care products and technologies, a modern lady can’t help but feel a bit caught in Penelope’s predicament, weaving a robe only to unravel it each night.


Filed under body care, eyelash products, hair removal, skin care