Citrus scents can be such cheerful, uncomplicated fragrances, and they can brighten up a gloomy day with their connotations of sunshine, cleanliness, and good health. I particularly like to layer citrus-fragranced shower gels and lotions under my favorite summer perfumes, to boost their bright-and-crisp qualities.
However, the available range of lemon-, lime-, and orange-scented products is occasionally disappointing — especially at the higher end of the price spectrum, for some reason. One example is Strange Invisible Perfumes Wild Orange Invisible Body Lotion. I’m assuming it’s intended to be layered under Strange Invisible Perfumes’ citrus-accented perfume oils, such as L’Invisible or Fair Verona. It’s a nice enough medium-weight lotion, packaged in a bottle that suggests a fancy hair mousse. It’s all-natural, with aloe vera and olive oil for moisture. It smells like, well, sweet orange oil. But for this price, I was expecting to be amazed, and I just wasn’t. ($40 for 8 fl. oz.; for buying information see the listing for Strange Invisible Perfumes under Perfume Houses.)
NARS is best known as a creator of trend-setting color cosmetics, so I was surprised to learn that the company also sells a line of body products. Its Ginger Grapefruit Body Lotion promises a fragrance that “fuses the vibrant essence of grapefruit and cassis with the romantic floral touches of sweet peony and violet flower.” This sounds like something I’d love. However, the product’s actual scent conjures up a bowl of lemon-flavored hard candies that has been sitting out too long, until the various pieces have stuck together into one sour-sweet mass. And the lotion itself feels slightly tacky to the touch, as well. ($40 for 6.7 oz. at the NARS website)
So, then, what would I recommend for a citrus body product? There are, fortunately, a few satisfying options on the market that deliver better scents for a much lower price. For example, The Body Shop’s Total Enlivening Body Gel (shown above left) lists bergamot essential oil as its main fragrance component, but it’s also packed with extracts of orange, lemon, lime, litsea cubeba and grapefruit — and spiked with ginger, for an energizing effect. It provides light moisture, and it can also be used as an eye-opening pulse-point balm. ($24 for 6.8 fl. oz. at The Body Shop website)
4mula is a small, Philadelphia-based company that focuses on pairing natural product recipes with functional (yet appealing) design. I’m very fond of its Bodywash in “4mula 101,” (shown above right) a vegan blend of mandarin, grapefruit, and petitgrain essential oils. It’s a liquid-y product that foams up well, without any sulfates, and it fills the shower with an incredibly lifelike aroma of pulpy citrus fruits and their accompanying twigs and leaves (thanks to the petitgrain). The wide-necked bottle can be a bit difficult to maneuver, but it’s cleverly meant to be rinsed out and re-used when you’ve finished the body wash inside. ($22 for 10.25 oz. at the 4mula website)
Lemon & Lime Body Soufflé, from C. O. Bigelow Chemists (shown above center), looks and smells just like the filling of a lemon-meringue-and-key-lime pie, if such a thing exists. It feels like a creamy gel, rather than a soufflé, when it’s applied. It hydrates with aloe and glycerin and it seals moisture into the skin with various silicones. I’ve even gone “off-label” and applied a tiny, tiny bit as a finishing or de-frizzing product to my hair, where the scent lingers for a minute or two. ($15 for 8 oz. at the C.O. Bigelow website)
And, in the less-is-more category, Trillium Organics offers Organic Body Oil in a Pink Grapefruit scent. The oil itself is actually a combination of oils (sesame, safflower, olive, sunflower, joboba, and vitamin E), and the fragrance triggers the sensation of tasting a freshly sliced grapefruit. This oil can be used for massage, as bath oil, or as an intensive moisturizer after a bath or shower. It’s mouthwatering, as well as smile-inducing, and you could probably cover its cost by running a lemonade stand for a day. ($10 for 4 oz. at the Trillium website)
Have a favorite citrus-scented body product? Feel free to share in the comments section.