One litmus test of a store's success in New York City is the frequency with which its logo shopping bags are spotted on the street and on the subway. I've noticed quite a few Sabon bags being carried and reused for other purposes by my fellow commuters, so I decided it was time for me to revisit one of this company's local boutiques. I've visited Sabon a few times before, but I usually left empty-handed. Some of the products and scents just didn't appeal to me, and others bothered me slightly by looking too similar to items from other brands (Agraria, Côté Bastide, Lush...).
On my latest trip to a Sabon shop, however, I ended up purchasing a bottle of Patchouli Lavender Body Oil. I liked its antique-looking, ribbed-glass bottle, the idea of concentrated, oil-based moisture for my dry elbows and legs, and oh yes, the scent. I surprised myself by being drawn to this fragrance, because it doesn't smell like lavender essential oil, vanilla absolute, or actual patchouli; in other words, it's definitely a synthetic scent. However, it's a sweetly comforting smell: the patchouli is just a trace of warm spice, not at all earthy or aggressive, and the lavender-vanilla blend is as soft as a well-laundered pair of flannel pajamas. In fact, Sabon's Patchouli Lavender Vanilla fragrance reminds me of nothing so much as a grown-up baby oil, which would account for its soothing effect on my mood.
My one quarrel with this product is the packaging. Initially, I thought a spray dispenser was an excellent idea, since it would prevent me from accidentally spilling oil all over the bathroom floor. Now, having used it several times, I wish Sabon had used a pump attachment instead. The spray nozzle is fiddly and slow to react: you need to depress it once, wait for it to rise sluggishly to its original position, press it again, wait, and repeat, until you've released enough oil to massage into your legs, arms, and so on. This process somewhat detracts from the potentially relaxing experience of using the oil.
Oh, and I'll just mention that this product's scent is very close to Bath and Body Works' "Sleep" aromatherapy blend. So, again, the copycat issue. However, Bath and Body Works itself is so ubiquitous (it would be impossible to count those migrating B&BW shopping bags!) that I prefer any smaller alternative. Sabon has a more intimate feeling, at least, and this Body Oil is a good way to start trying its merchandise if you're curious.
Sabon Patchouli Lavender Vanilla Body Oil sells for 100 ml for $19 at Sabon's website.