I think I have well established the fact that I am addicted to fragrances. I use them to affect a mood that makes me feel…happy (hopefully). Since the scent-center of the brain is so strongly bound with memory, coconut (or coconut-inspired) scents are like summer in a bottle for me. Put a little bit of mango with that, and I am whisked away like in those old Calgon ads, except to a tropical island drenched with sun and sweetness. And in the face of the impending time and season changes to something ever more dreary and less sunshine-y, I intentionally cling to my summer with coconut and mango inspired products.
I know most people are all into the “pumpkin spice” or chocolate or mint or other seasonally appropriate scents, but not me. Not yet. So…let me, as your all-natural product guide who is also addicted to summer, offer some things worth trying and some things to avoid.
Let me first start by admitting that Alba Botanica is the brand that first introduced me to “good for you” products in the form of it’s Honey Mango Very Emollient Bath & Shower Gel. This product literally smells good enough to eat. When you look at the details of the ingredients, you will even find that there is no actual honey in the product, meaning that it is vegan (the company also conducts no animal testing and is cruelty-free). This bath gel creates a creamy, moisturizing lather that seems to work (for me) against the drying powers of more wintery weather. You can find a 12 oz. bottle for about $8-ish in natural stores and probably for less online. If you aren’t super excited about a “honey mango” fragrance, they do have other scents like French Lavender, Island Citrus, etc. I haven’t tried ’em, but I am sure there is something everyone can love. I give this product a “Hooray!”
And just as a refresher, straight from the company’s website:
Alba Botanica® products are formulated without: parabens, phthalates, artificial colors, propylene glycol, aluminum, mineral oil, petrolatum, oxybenzone, PABA, nano-particles, DEA, MEA or TEA, PEGs and PEG derivatives, ethoxylated ingredients associated with 1,4 dioxane, formaldehyde donors, or GMOs.
Which leads me to the second Alba Botanica “Endless Summer” selection: “Coconut Milk” Shampoo and Conditioner for “mega moisture.” I bought a dual-pack of these two (also in a 12 oz. size), for around $11 at the end of September. I expected something that looked, well, like coconut milk. I also expected it to smell like, well, like coconut. So, the shampoo is clear and gel-like and smells like coconut mixed with something that reminds me of that oh-so-popular potpourri fragrance: mulberry. Now I like the smell of mulberry, but I don’t think it smells like coconut, and I’m not sure how they arrived at that fragrance given the ingredients listed like pineapple and papaya and ginger. Must have been a magical alchemy of sorts. The shampoo works to clean my hair, but it seems to take a bit more than usual to get a good lather going and I sometimes feel compelled to “wash, rinse, repeat.” So, that’s a bit wasteful. The Coconut Milk conditioner is very thick and creamy, coming out of the bottle very “dollopy” instead of runny. It smells like a lighter version of the shampoo, which is fine. Still not too coconutty. It does a good job at detangling and moisturizing without weighing my hair down. So. I’ll give this duo a “Yay.” It does the job, and it smells fine, but just not what I’m looking for to satisfy my “coconut” craving.
On to Desert Essence, another brand I have featured before…they are dedicated to natural products that are phtalate-free, cruelty-free, organic, etc. The Coconut Shampoo/Conditioner (Nourishing for Dry Hair), is also specifically touted as having no: “parabens, sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfates, Phthalates, artificial fragrances or colors, silicones, EDTA, glycol or petroleum based ingredients (from drugstore.com’s product details).” For about $7.49/8oz., I think this product (on sale) is a bit too expensive for me. But I wanted coconut shampoo and it was on sale! This shampoo is also clear, but lathers really well…I’d say it’s just like “regular shampoo” with a nice rich lather that really leaves my hair feeling clean. Unfortunately, I think the fragrance is…terrible. I’ve really tried to like it, but I just can’t. Again, it is another instance of coconut not being the “superstar” of the fragrance. This was meant to smell like a pina colada, I think, but…sigh. Okay, I’ll tell you what it smells like to me. You know that white shoe polish people use to write on their car windows? Yeah. That’s what it smells like to me. If I *try* to think about pina colada, I can kind of get it, but no. White Shoe Polish. The conditioner is similar to the Alba Botanica above, thick and rich, moisturizing without being heavy. The fragrance is much diminished in the conditioner and I WOULD consider using just the conditioner with some other shampoo. So…in the end. This shampoo gets a “Not So Great” and the conditioner gets a “Yay.”
And now, the piece de resistance…the one that has NOT let me down, once again…Pacifica Perfumes, I love you. I swear they are not paying me. This IS summer in a bottle, to me. It is a “true” coconut in my mind, not mixed with a variety of other fruity fragrances that detract from the star of this show. There is some vanilla in the mix, but even with the dry down, coconut is the feature of this perfume. I also think that this particular perfume lasts longer than some of the other, more citrusy fragrances that I love from Pacifica. Here it is 3pm on a warm day and I still smell great. One of my friends says it smells like sunscreen…which is just fine with me. I wish they sold “Coppertone” as a fragrance. All those childhood memories of my favorite time of the year come rushing back when I use this perfume. Winter-schminter…now I can keep it summer all year long (which makes me happy–mission accomplished)! So, if you haven’t guessed…this one gets a “HOORAY!”
I am still on the search for a natural shampoo/body wash that will really strike home that coconut summer of love when January rolls around. If you have any favorites that achieve that feat, please DO share! Stay tuned…I’ll share if I find some other good ones!