I never buy a new hair care product or shower gel before sniffing it first. In fact, I filter out my picks by going on fragrance even before I look at what the stuff is meant to do to my hair or skin. So I lift box lids and caps, hoping I won’t be called out on it, but most of all, hoping to find something that doesn’t smell of calone or fruit salad. I mean, I spend enough money on divine perfumes not to want them ruined by some clashing concoction.
Unsurprisingly, the higher-brands sold in French pharmacies are the most interesting. My best buys, fragrance-wise, have been in the René Furterer, Phyto, Klorane and Leonor Greyl lines.
The René Furterer Fioravanti range for shiny hair has a citrus-chypre vibe, lemon-y and woody. Klorane’s Shampooing Vitaminé à la Pulpe de Cédrat (citron) was actually recommended to me by Annick Menardo, who said it reminded her of Eau de Rochas.
But my most delectable recent finds were Phyto’s Phytonectar shampoo which, true to its name, has an almost edible orange blossom honey scent, and their Phytobaume, coconutty but not in a cloying way – lactones are marvellous on hair, and in fact if we didn’t lather up regularly, there is a type of sebum-eating bacteria on our scalp which actually produces lactones…
I’ve long loved Leonor Greyl’s Lait Lavant à la Banane, a non-lathering shampoo with a delicious banana smell that marries perfectly with jasmine, but because it is so liquid you have to pour tons of it on, and the bottle goes too quickly. But their Algues et Fleurs restructuring styling spray has the same jasmine-banana fragrance. As it is a leave-on I find it a tad strong, but frankly quite as good as half the fine fragrances you’ll find in a department store.
My best surprise, though, came from a Leonor Grey shampoo I couldn’t smell before I bought it since the box was sealed. The Shampooing à la Moëlle de Bambou is a blast from the past: practically Chanel N°5, probably a bit closer to the old Estée Super by Estée Lauder. In fact, I suspect the exact same perfume base is used in another exceptional product, Clarins Renew-Plus Body Serum.
Which opens up an entirely different can of worms. I want my body lotions to be as scent-free as possible – even the ones that claim to be do have scent added to counteract the smell of their ingredients. Menardo had recommended La Roche Posay Lipikar and I used that for a long time, until another perfumer testing a mod on me complained my skin was “contaminated” by my moisturizer. I mentioned this to Isabelle Doyen and Camille Goutal, who recommended Eucerin Crème Corps Réparatrice. I haven’t had a complaint since.
And now, on to you: which hair care products would you recommend for their fragrance, and which body lotions for the absence thereof?