Saturday, 29 August 2020

By gum! For some resin I am myrrh and myrrh drawn to perfumes with this note...

For much of the summer, I have been behaving in perfect conformity with the principle of seasonal fragrance wardrobe rotation, wearing perfumes with lilies and white flower bouquets for the most part. I also had a long run of Annick Goutal's Chevrefeuille (accents throughout this post on request), because its zingy lemon meringue note put a spring in my step, while the tomato leaf accord chimed with my prevailing gardening mojo. 

Then I don't know if it was the sudden turn for the worse in the weather, but I have been on a bit of a myrrh kick lately, which shows no signs of letting up. And not just perfumes showcasing the note, but to my surprise I realise that quite a few of my summery florals also have myrrh in the base. I recently scored a 5ml decant on eBay of that iconic beachy scent, Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess, which is a good example of this unexpected incense phenomenon - perhaps the myrrh is intended to connote the grittiness of the sand between your toes?

And I wore DKNY Gold a few times this summer, and blow me if it doesn't also have myrrh in it. Ditto Annick Goutal's Grand Amour. I wonder if I might be subliminally drawn to myrrh's grounding, meditative quality, though at such a small percentage in the formulation I may be rather overstating things, like detecting a soupcon of Worcester sauce in a meat pie.

Source: Fragrantica

Some other, more overtly myrrh-y scents for which I have reached lately (did I say 'reached for'? Feel free to shoot me) are:

Armani Prive Myrrhe Imperiale 

Hermes Myrrhe Eglantine

Eau d'Italie Baume du Doge

Papillon Perfumery Bengale Rouge

Puredistance SHEIDUNA

NB A couple of these reviews are worth a (re-)visit if only for the truly appalling puns in their titles.

Then I had a delve into my samples and decants and it seems there are quite a few more myrrh-containing scents to retry, including Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir, Dior Bois d'Argent, Guerlain Myrrhe et Delires, Huitieme Art Myrrhiad, Caron Parfum Sacre, Neila Vermeire Trayee, Mona di Orio Myrrh Casati, 100BON Myrrhe & Encens Mysterieux, YSL Opium(!) and more. Also worth mentioning is that on this list there are not one but TWO perfumes featuring that well known combo of myrrh and licorice.

I remember once owning a bottle of AG Myrrhe Ardente, an impulse buy on eBay in response to Boisdejasmin's four star review. Her and my tastes generally have a high degree of congruence, but on this occasion I found myself troubled by the oddball Coca-Cola note. It did smell amazing on fellow perfumista Donna in Belfast, but it wasn't right on me, and I sold it on.

Meanwhile, I have been dabbling again in burning myrrh resin with the help of my friend Gillie. The first time we did this was in 2014, and I ended up accidentally getting my finger trapped in a sash window, but as they say of women and labour pains, I have long since forgotten that traumatic association and entered into our experiment the other day with enthusiasm. Gillie is a real pro, and burns all kinds of incense in resin form in a variety of receptacles: charcoal holders, bowls, on spoons, and even on the end of a pin. I left with a 'party bag' of figs and flapjack as well as a delicious olfactory memory in my nostrils, and once home promptly bought two little bags of the resin on eBay - of which one was organic and from The Yemen, to hedge my bets on the quality if not the human rights front.

I had never really researched myrrh's botanical origins to any degree, and have only just learnt that it comes from the Commiphora Myrrha tree. Before I go any further - and especially given my earlier mention of giving birth - I should warn readers that 'this herb is contraindicated during pregnancy because of its emmenagogic activity'. 'Emmenagogic' - a splendid word which connotes the more strident kind of zealot, but means nothing of the sort. Speaking of pleasing amounts of 'g's in a word, a close relation of the Commiphora Myrrha is the Commophora Wightii (which has pleasing amounts of juxtaposed 'i's, while we are on the subject). The resin of the Wightii variety is known as 'gum guggulu' - as well as 'bdellium', not to be confused with the brand of makeup brushes of the same name. But how good is 'guggulu'? While browsing Wikipedia, I also learnt the excellent term 'anti-tussive', which is one of myrrh's various medicinal benefits.

Source: Wikipedia

It will be interesting to see if my craving for myrrh abates when the good weather returns, as surely it must before we have to declare the summer over. Or maybe it will segue into a similar fixation on frankincense, hehe...

What are your favourite myrrh-forward or 'hint of myrrh' perfumes? What else should I try?!


Anonymous said...

Love your puns! Parfum Sacre immediately sprang to my mind, then I saw you mention it ... it's one of those that I can't stop sniffing although I am never too sure I want to smell of it myself. I think it's because this, and some of the other incensey perfumes, bring back memories of having to breathe in steaming bowls of water laced with Friars Balsam when I was ill with chest infections as a child. A sort of comforting and a sort of repellent experience in equal measures. Just did a quick internet search and discovered that FB is now discontinued - what a shame (although I could buy a bottle on eBay for £65) - I would have thought that this could have been a huge seller in the time of Covid. Maybe one could achieve the same restorative effects by putting its main ingredients, benzoin and storax, in essential oil form, in a diffuser - along with some myrrh!

I like the whisper of incense in Ormonde Jayne's Tsarina, although I think the resin there is labdanum. So perhaps that doesn't count!


Tara said...

Hi V
It's nice to hear how much you've been enjoying wearing perfume over the summer. I haven't been wearing it while working from home which is a shame. I associate it with getting dressed to go out.
I don't generally get on with myrrh perfumes precisely because of that licorice facet. Did you ever try Song D'Un Bois D'Ete by Guerlain? I think that might have been the one in the desert collection with a bit of skank but it could have been the frankincense frangance. And of course there's La Myrrhe.

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

I enjoyed your tale of Friars Balsam, not to be confused with Facebook in its contracted form! I only remember Oil of Olbas as a decongestant in such chesty cough circumstances.

I absolutely love Parfum Sacre, and cherish my remaining decant. It is a scent I associate more with winter, but never say never, based on what I have been wearing lately.

Not familiar with Tsarina: I kind of lost track of - and interest in - the OJ line once they started to get a bit fanciful and exotic in their naming strategy.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

That is interesting about your not wearing perfume while working from home. It's a bit like ex-Mr Bonkers, who only drinks alcohol when he goes out. His consumption has fallen massively during the pandemic. ;)

To be fair, there were only those two scents with licorice in that I have come across - Myrrhiad and Myrrhe et Delires. It isn't a problem in any of the others that don't have it in - I don't think myrrh inherently smells of licorice, which I never liked as a sweet.

I don't know that Guerlain scent you mention, or I may just have forgotten it as I think I tried that desert collection when it came out. La Myrrhe is a bit cold and prickly for me, as I was saying to Val on Facebook. There's a mini-review of it in my Myrrhe Imperiale post in fact - I was perhaps a bit harsh, looking back? Having now tried FM Superstitious, I'd say that La Myrrhe is to incense perfumes what Superstitious is to aldehydes ie the full on, diva version!

Undina said...

While I like myrrh in perfumes, every time now I hear/read about that ingredient, I recollect your injury story, believe it or not :) Mighty word, as they say ;)

You and Tara named all the perfumes I like and wear, though I do not own a FB for any of them - decants and travel bottles satisfy my myrrh cravings, which I usually get in colder weather.

Are you sure Myrrhe Imperiale is discontinued? I still see it online at the brand's site and on one of the large US department store's one.

Free Tap Water in Belgian REstaurants said...

I discovered myrrh (and learned to spell it!) with Tolu by Ormonde Jayne, and then I was given one of their Christmas candles with it which is too good for christmas alone! It scents the room without even burning it. Can't remember the name, either Nocturne or Etoile, but as myrrh like as they get!

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I am touched that you associate myrrh with the terrible finger incident - one of the worst five seconds in my life, no question, before my friend prised the sash window off it.

And I do agree that I don't crave a FB of a very myrrh-forward scent - I definitely prefer scents where it is playing a supporting role.

Ah, thanks for putting me straight on the availability of Myrrhe Imperiale - I will amend the post accordingly!

Vanessa said...

Hi Free Tap Water in Belgian Restaurants!,

Now there is a name to reckon with. ;)

Myrrh is a bit tricky to spell - in a similar way to rhythm, which still foxes me even now. I am a fan of Tolu and have a little decant left - didn't realise it was another myrrh-containing perfume, how interesting.

The OJ candles sound great for when you want a big hit of the stuff!