I love summer, with its early morning clear light that quickly turns hazy and warm. Golden hot sun bakes the patio and there is a constant buzz in the air from the bees making their rounds through vividly colored snapdragons, larkspur, day lilies and hollyhocks in the garden. The work pace slows down, water cooler breaks are more frequent, with perhaps even an afternoon espresso break allowed this time of year — a nod of thanks to our European friends across the pond.
Yes, summer is good. And for some of us, summer also brings back fond memories of the beach — gathering shells, dodging the waves, rolling in tired but happy at the end of a long day outdoors, with that slight salty pungent tang on our skin. And it seems that the home fragrance industry agrees. There are an abundance of products on the market designed to elicit sensations of turquoise water and palm fronds, dried up drift wood and tangy sea salt. Today I am going to review two home spray fragrances in this category: Azur by The Thymes, and Aqua by Antica Farmacista.
According to the Thymes, the Azur home spray will "infuse your surroundings with the natural vitality and restorative energy of the sea, as notes of soothing white tea, water lily, and sea grasses wash over sandy shored to mingle with earthy notes of amber and musk". My first impression was of water lily mixed with something salty and earthy. The water lily notes are translucent, and do give quite a pretty 'watery' effect. I did not detect the white tea. The salty/earthy note might have been the sea grass, but there was also an interesting, calcium-like note bringing to mind warm dried crushed sea shells.
The combination of the earthy/salty duo with the crushed shells actually does a pretty good job of evoking the more pungent components of a beach walk, and keeps the water lily from being too feminine or floral. The musk, and a hint of amber do follow shortly, but the lily never fully recedes, and this later combination is the longest lasting. The amber is subtle, and eventually I found myself somewhat overwhelmed by the musk (particularly in this heat), but overall the impression was quite pleasant as even an hour or so after spraying, a fair amount of what could be be described as a salty watery lily/musk with a tinge of earth, lingered in the air.
Aqua, by Antica Farmacista, also contains notes of musk. Their website describes the scent as "reminiscent of a delicate sea breeze, Aqua is a blend of Sweet Musk and the cool blue notes of Marine Algae." It is a much lighter, 'prettier', and slightly more generic aquatic fragrance. It reminds me of the host of light clean perfumes that entered the market in the early 1990s. The musk is sweeter, and the saltiness found in Azur is only hinted at here. It has a more floral 'wash', as well something that might be cucumber, nicely offset by a subtle tang from the algae. It does not seem to evolve as much as the Azur, staying fairly linear until it quietly fades away.
Acqua is an unassuming fragrance, and you need to spray much more of it than the Azur. Where Azur evokes energetic sun, sand, beach, driftwood and seaweed all jumbled together on a bed of musk, Acqua elicits a quiet sense of floating on clear waters under milky skies.
Both products are good quality, and certainly do their job. The Azur is bigger and brasher in it's take, and I would venture somewhat more creative. The Acqua is quieter, more feminine and perhaps better suited to really really HOT weather when almost any scent is too much. At $18 and $28 respectively, they are both on the somewhat more affordable side of home fragrance and would serve nicely as host/hostess gifts — especially if you are fortunate enough to be invited to somebody's beach house!