Looking for the perfect stocking filler? How about some Cinnamon Soap?

I’ve got to say that when it comes to soap I’m like a little old lady. I love them. I love all soaps –  big, small, cheap, expensive, from Wright’s Coal Tar to Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino. I do. And I love The Scottish Fine Soap Company‘s tinned soaps too. Nanna that I am I’m even partial to the Bluebell one. They also do a range of special limited edition festive ones, including this delicious-smelling Cinnamon Soap which I am reserving for Christmas day. At £4.95 they’re a great stocking filler/Santa’s Sack present too.

For more info go to www.scottishfinesoaps.com

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…especially at Christmas

Fan of Comme des Garçons? Then make sure you grab yourself one (or all) of these special limited edition fragrances. Launching in time for Christmas but delightfully un-Chistmassy they feature the work of German-born artist Sandra Korn and feature bottle designs inspired by the sea. Left to right: Amazingreen, Wonderwood & CDG2. Sure beats Christmas trees and holly.

Launching in the third week of November, each fragrance costs £75 for a 50ml eau de parfum and is available from Dover Street Market.

 

Festive Favourites No3: Neal’s Yard Frankincense Essential Oil

I love essential oils (I use them in oil burners, blend my own massage oils and often wear patchouli oil neat) and one of my favourites is this excellent Frankincense oil from Neal’s Yard.

It’s particularly relevant to this time of year, of course, and has a wonderful heritage, having been traded by man for thousands of years. The Egyptians even used the charred resin to make their kohl eye make-up. It’s difficult to describe what it smells like because it smells like, er, frankincense, but it has a sweet, warm, aromatic and resinous aromas that I absolutely love.

It makes a great massage oil when added to a carrier oil and also has skin rejuvenating properties, which explains why it’s at the heart of the Neal’s Yard anti-ageing products. For me, it’s also one of those smells that brings Christmas alive so give it a try.

To grab yourself a bottle click here.

Festive Favourites No2: Kings & Queens Caspar Myrrh Shower Gel

You can see why in ancient times Myrrh was as valuable as gold. It has a warm, rich, resinous smell which I love all year round (I make my own incense and often include some of it in my blends).

Like many ancient ingredients myrrh has a wonderfully rich heritage. It was used by the egyptians as part of the mummification process, has been used as a ritual incense since Biblical times and has numerous medicinal uses.

This great showergel, by Kings & Queens, utilizes myrrh to give it a rich, warming aroma but it also also contains pomegranate, malachite and blue lotus and has a slightly spicy, fruity smell too. It’s absolutely perfect for this time of year and at a fiver is that rarest of things – a bargain that’s still fit for a king.

Available from nivenandjoshua.com priced £5 for 300ml

Festive Favourites No1: Diptyque’s Epinette candle

With Christmas fast approaching I thought I’d mention a few of my favourite festive goodies –  products with a Christmassy twist and a festive feel – and kicking off my selection this year is Diptyque’s Epinette scented candle, part of the company’s Winter 2011 Collection.

Taking its inspiration from fresh pine needles and fragrant fir tree resin this candle could easily have ended up smelling like toilet cleaner. Luckily, it doesn’t, thanks in part to the addition of cedar and patchouli (the latter being my all-time favourite smell as keen observers of my posts might have noticed).

Surprisingly, it has a fairly intense, sweet aroma rather than a fresh pine one and a thirty minute burn is all that’s needed to fill your house with the evocative smell of festive firs. Grab one while you can though – it’s a limited edition.

The 190g version of Epinette is available from John Lewis, Space NK and Diptyque boutiques priced £45.

Grooming Guru Essentials: Diptyque’s L’Eau Trois

Each year, when it gets to December I like to bring out my ‘winter’ fragrances – the ones that provide something of an olfactory comfort blanket on these cold, long nights. And what do I reach for? Well, this wonderfully aromatic Diptyque fragrance for starters.

Bursting with the scent of myrtle, oregano, laurel, thyme and rosemary, along with pine and myrrh it has a distrinctly Old World (and I mean Biblical Old World) feel to it. It’s meant to smell like a balmy mediterranean breeze I believe but to me it smells of churches. Of musty, old churches. Of religion, creaky old pews and of genuflection. And if I’m honest I find it strangely sexy. There, I’ve said it.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste, for sure, but for me, this wonderfully evocative fragrance (which is harder to find than a dead sea scroll thesedays) is a near religious experience. Yes, yes, that religious metaphor has been stretched to breaking point I know, so I’ll finish by simply saying track some down and enjoy!

Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine.