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Growing up in a single parent household, beauty advice wasn’t something my sisters and I got at a measured, consistent pace. Instead, it was either on-the-fly or in observation; especially when it came to discovering the best perfumes. In fact, it’s probably the one thing I’ve adopted from my mother’s otherwise no-frills regimen. She always had time to smell good.
Mornings in our house consisted of my mother catering to us as opposed to the other way around. We’d stand in line, waiting to have our hair pulled back into the same ponytail and matching bang, along with matching outfits (overalls in my case), always clean shoes and money for lunch. Once we were all set, she’d barely have enough time to make herself presentable, except for a spritz of perfume before running out the door. It was a non-negotiable and a reminder that all of us deserve a little luxury in our lives. Plus, smelling like florals–her personal favorite–is never a bad thing.
My only caveat with having such a simple, yet effective beauty addiction is that it has never been good for my bank account. Once I got to college and started making a mental note of my mother’s oft-crowded vanity, my weekends were spent at the mall. There, in between marathon sessions at Forever 21 and plenty of McDonald’s in the food court, I managed to blow my entire savings in just one semester, but somehow build an impressive fragrance lineup at the same time. Because while my wardrobe was pretty low-budget (but always fashion-forward), I was determined to mimic my mother’s taste, investing in copious amounts of Chanel No. 5 and other pricey labels, if only for the pretty packaging that elevated my dorm room.
Now, several debt collection payments and life lessons later, I’ve realized it’s wise to rotate in more affordable (but just as fragrant) options in. But still, even as my penchant for makeup and hair is continuously changing, I’m grateful for the one beauty lesson passed down from my mother. No, she didn’t teach me how to apply foundation or put on lipstick but watching her practice a small, but poignant form of self-care continues to have a profound effect on me. So in the spirit of tradition, here’s what I’m currently wearing on any given day:
ALLSAINTS Incense City
For a long time, I wore cologne because it seemed a lot of women-focused fragrance brands were dedicated to sweeter, lighter notes. Now, with the long-overdue emergence of unisex scents, we’ve been gifted with some truly unique formulations. This one says incense on the packaging, but it isn’t as intense, thanks to softer cedarwood notes. In other words, the perfect winter scent.
$79 at ALLSAINTS
Bath & Body Works Stress Relief All-Over Mist
I love keeping eucalyptus in my shower. Breathing in those leaves after a stressful day is almost as great as a spa day. So having it in bottle form is quite literally a godsend. When I’m feeling anxious at my work desk, I spray this into the atmosphere, take a deep breath and keep it moving.
$13.50 at Bath & Body Works
I’ve had this bottle for well over a year and still crack a smile whenever I spray it on my pulse points. Like Incense City, it’s got cedar notes, but there’s also sandalwood and the sweeter scent of pink peppercorn to even things out.
$105 at Sephora
MEMO Paris Irish Leather
This is by far one of the most unique scents I’ve ever worn. But such is the case with every MEMO Paris fragrance, whose note combos are literally like nothing I’ve seen (or smelled) before. This one’s are juniper berry, leather and green mate absolute.
$295 at Nieman Marcus
Miu Miu Twist
As someone who normally goes for heavier scents, I was initially turned off by the frilly pink bottle. But once I put it on, all reservations were put aside. It’s hard to describe what makes me love this one so much, but the warmness of tonka bean notes may have something to do with it.
$71-$125 at Sephora
Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Crush Fragrance Mist
Do no sleep on fragrance mists. They have a reputation for being perfume’s cheap younger sister, but they honestly get me just as many compliments. This one is basically vacation in a bottle.
$32 at Sol de Janeiro
Rahua Palo Santo Oil Perfume
This is the newest addition to my collection and instantly makes me think of yoga class, where the instructors burn palo santo wood to create a calming atmosphere. This perfume version does the same thing.
$32 at Rahua