If you live in the United States, chances are you’ve probably stepped into a Bath & Body Works store, or at the very least, smelt one of their 1001 fragrant creations on someone. If you haven’t, you’re one of the rare ones. And for your benefit, allow me to summarise what the majority of their fragrances smell like in three words: FUN! FRESH! FRUITY! (Caps lock and exclamation marks are absolutely necessary). For the fragrance snob, Bath & Body Works fragrances tend to belong to the cheap and trashy category of fragrances that are only appropriate for tweenage girls who obsess over One Direction.
Yet I must confess that Bath & Body Works fragrances pose some sort of guilty pleasure to me. Firstly, they’re dirt cheap at USD29.50. Factor in the Buy 3 and Get 3 Free promotion that’s perpetually ongoing and you’ve got a 75ml perfume going for USD15. Secondly, not all of them are terrible. Most are, but once in a while something surfaces that’s actually decent. Thirdly, they’re actually not too bad as room sprays or linen sprays.
So, on to the perfumes themselves:
1. Japanese Cherry Blossom
Japanese Cherry Blossom is a sweet, warm and fuzzy floral oriental. It begins and ends with a generic floral base (magnolia?) laid over a huge dollop of vanilla musk. Interestingly, though, if I press my nose very close to my wrist and take quick, short breaths, I actually manage to get something resembling cherry. Be warned, though, that Japanese Cherry Blossom is terribly pink through and through. It doesn’t smell anything like actual cherry blossom. Spray on your sheets for a warm, cozy night. For its price point, it fulfills its role better than mainstream designer fare that can be found in departmental stores. 3/5
2. White Citrus
White Citrus is Lemon Pledge. It is more Lemon Pledge than Lemon Pledge is, if that even makes any sense. Although we tend to associate anything containing lemon with Lemon Pledge, White Citrus is the epitome of Lemon Pledge. It even captures the acidic and astringent twang of the lemon in Lemon Pledge as well as the insect-repellent note. It would do you better to get a bottle of Lemon Pledge furniture spray, at least you get to keep your wooden furniture shiny, smooth and well-protected with it. 0/5
3. Twilight Woods
Twilight Woods opens like any generic masculine designer fare would, with a fresh (sigh, I hate this word. Fresh what? Fresh fish, fresh vegetables, fresh meat… but you get what I mean when I use the word, so I shall rely on that common experience) peppery accord. What follows is a dry cedar and vetiver that’s wholly unremarkable. Still, price-wise it achieves at a fraction of the cost what your Ralph Laurens seek to achieve, so why not, if you’re into that sorta thing. Definitely not for me though. 2/5
4. P.S. I Love You Spring Fling
They might as well have named this P.S. I Love You Spring Fling Bling Ting-a-ling Sling Such Love I Bring. Oh, and the notes they list are vapid beyond measure: “sparkling water”, “fresh air” etc. What do these things actually smell like, aside from the fact that they don’t actually have a smell? Parodies of flanker names and ridiculous notes aside, P.S. I Love You Spring Fling is actually a decent aquatic floral that’s sure to leave you feeling clean clean clean. Also, on the plus side, it’s not hideously sweet, opting instead for measured decency. 3/5
All said and done, I find that Bath & Body Works fragrances tend to be somewhat of a hit-or-miss, with most tending to fall on the ‘miss’ side of things. For those that aren’t immediate scrubbers, however, they’re actually decent enough to rival many departmental store fragrances while costing a fraction of the price. The question, though, is whether one should spend that little amount of money or save it up toward that full bottle of Carnal Flower (£205 for a 100ml bottle, last I saw it). Although I enjoy cheap thrills, my answer to the conundrum would be to save up the money. I’d spend the money on cheap thrills if the fragrances I find are surprise bargains at discounters that I already know I like, but not for something that I’d only wear very irregularly, and most Bath & Body Works perfumes tend to fall in that category (based on my empirical observations of and philosophical reflections on my own perfume-wearing behaviour). So, gift me a Bath & Body Works perfume that’s decent and I’ll wear it for sure, but don’t count on me to spend money on them. Too bad I don’t have a never-ending pot of gold, like Oprah Winfrey does (P.S. if you don’t laugh yourself off your chair watching this you’re probably an internet bot haha. I apologise in advance if you find any of the language offensive):
~ The Smelly Vagabond