I am a little behind with my usual blogging schedule, on account of what has been - in my semi-hermit terms, at least - an unusually sociable week. This also prompted a visit to the hairdresser yesterday, where once again the stylist made a surprisingly small number of judicious snips, before transforming my skull cap of fine, flat, lifeless hair into a tousled, textured, artfully dishevelled mane. As though I had spent all day romping in bed. Or as Mr Bonkers' mother might observe, as if I had been dragged through a hedge backwards. To which I would reply that this look is in fact achieved by walking frontways and voluntarily through a hedge, negotiating the tangled thicket with the confidence and panache of a certified arborist.
And in my case, the look lasted for a full 30 minutes after I left the salon. We might have stretched to three quarters of an hour had it not been so jolly windy.
And as anyone attending a 21st century hair salon knows (which excludes Mr Bonkers, who still favours a £9 cut from the barber's round the corner), these sassy, fashion looks are achieved with something known monolithically as "product". Yes, the term "product" encompasses the full armoury at a stylist's disposal, from styling mousse to gel to putty, and from light hold hairsprays to shimmer mists - to name but a few of the many arcane unguents that are now essential in modern hairdressery.
In my own case, the stylist achieved this volumising effect using Label.m soufflé just before he blow dried my hair.
A reviewer on Amazon perfectly sums up the head-enhancing benefits of this product:
"My hair can be very flat and...it gives it a proper little bouffanty look."
I am particularly partial to the scent of this soufflé, as it reminds me vividly of the salty smell of the seaside. On the side of the pot, we learn a little about the ingredients:
"Re-invent the curl with this uber nourishing, protective mix of avocado, Barbados cherry and olive, which creates loose, glossy waves or instant volume."
I am reassured to learn that Label.m also contains this "Enviroshield Complex". If routine applications of a white gunk eliminate the need for tedious domestic recycling initiatives, I'd consider it well worth the £11 odd price tag. I often cut myself while washing out tin cans, for example.
On reflection, it is curious that this product makes me think of the seaside, when its chief ingredients are avocado, cherry and olive. That places it somewhere between an English - or, indeed, a Barbadian - orchard, an Italian hillside and various parts of the Americas. On the website of the California Rare Fruit Growers organisation I found this interesting titbit on the habitat of the avocado:
"Avocados will grow in shade and between buildings, but are productive only in full sun. The roots are highly competitive and will choke out nearby plants. The shade under the trees is too dense to garden under, and the constant litter can be annoying."
Golly! On the face of it then, this does not come across as a beach dwelling kind of cultivar, but I also note that avocados account for 57% of Hawaii's agricultural output, and Hawaii is definitely noted for its beaches. So, you know, the jury may still be out. If anyone has recently been on holiday to California, Mexico or Hawaii, and recalls fronds from avocado trees hanging over their sun lounger, or even extreme cases of being nutted by the whole fruit, please do leave a comment.
Anyway, this apparently surprising choice of avocado in a haircare product for its maritime connotations got me thinking about how perfumes known to be associated with the sea and/or coastal scenery achieve a similar effect.
First up was MILLER HARRIS - FLEURS DE SEL:
Notes - rosemary, thyme, clary sage, angelica, iris, rose, narcissus, leather, amber, oakmoss and vetiver.
This is very piquant and aromatic and an excellent rendition of the wild grasses in the sand dunes behind the beach. It is grainy in texture and a bit salty too, as though someone had gone for a swim and then rolled around immediately afterwards in a carpet of marram grass, sea rocket, holly and spurge. Maybe even the odd sprig of mouse ear hawkweed.
So notwithstanding its strongly vegetal focus, I think FdS is a very successful olfactory interpretation of the Breton coast which was its inspiration.
Next up was THE DIFFERENT COMPANY - SEL DE VETIVER
Notes - grapefruit, cardamom, Haitian vetiver, patchouli, iris, ylang ylang.
There is a slightly salty tang to this one, but my overriding impression is of the grapefruit and vetiver, so I am not feeling the seaside so much with this one, nice as it is (or might be on a man).
And lastly, I tested CREATIVE UNIVERSE BY BETH TERRY - MARE
Notes - sea salt, avocado and ginger lily.
Well, well, well. The Italian? for "sea" in the name, and both sea salt AND....drum roll....none other than our pear-shaped fruity friend the avocado! in the fragrance.
So there clearly IS an established association between the sea and the avocado, even if it is not immediately apparent to me. Mare smells quite strange to begin with - there is a disagreeable, almost off note to the fore, "off" in the sense of "dead" - it is very hard to explain.
Had the avocado gone all brown and stringy, one wonders? Like bananas, it is one of those fruits with a subliminally short "optimum consumption window". Blink and it is soft and manky. And so Mare smelled at the start. It is a lot better now, more in line with Fleurs de Sel, but with less of the herbal / aromatic stuff going on. Which is most of FdS, in fairness.
So that was all rather interesting (to me, anyway). I also learnt in the course of my research that "avocado" is derived from the Aztec word for a testicle. And thinking about it, I may have put my finger on yet another salty connection, but on balance I don't think I'll go there...