I can't believe it's been nearly three years since I wrote a post about vanilla lotions, with suggestions for fragrance layering; but time has indeed flown, and the new year seems like as good a time as any to revisit some favorite themes. I still agree with my own recommendations from that earlier post, and now I can add another half-dozen ideas for products that feature vanilla, often mixed with other notes for results that may also appeal to the non-vanilla-lovers among us.
First, an option that's traditional all around: Caswell-Massey Vanilla Orchid Hand & Body Lotion (above center), from the venerable toiletries company. Even though its name mentions the flower of the vanilla plant, this is a rich gourmand vanilla with a caramel note. If you're really in the mood for some head-to-toe vanilla-bean sweetness, you could also try the matching shower gel, dusting powder, and Eau de Toilette. ($17, currently on sale for $12.75, at the Caswell-Massey website)
I have a weakness for certain high-end natural lines, and since I already loved certain skincare and haircare products from this company, it wasn't surprising that I fell for John Masters Blood Orange and Vanilla Body Milk (above right). This light lotion is packed with antioxidant-rich oils, soothing botanicals like comfrey leaf, and extracts of vanilla, honeysuckle, blood orange oil, and grapefruit peel oil for fragrance. It smells like a Creamsicle, if anyone ever whipped up a Creamsicle from handmade gelato flavored with real blood orange and vanilla. ($18 at the John Masters website)
Naturopathica Bourbon Vanilla Body Lotion (above left) offers an intriguing twist on the simple idea of vanilla. Its fragrance blend marries organic vanilla bean extract to palmarosa oil, litsea cubeba, and massoia bark extract. The result is a buttery vanilla meshed with woodsy-citrus notes and further sweetened by a silky, coconut-like heart (from the massoia). This scent reminds me, strangely enough, of Serge Lutens Datura Noir. The lotion's formula also has a wonderfully creamy, skin-soothing consistency. ($28 at the Naturopathica website)
I think I avoided this one for a while because its name reminds me of the overplayed 1991 hit "Groove Is In The Heart," but Lush Vanilla Dee-Lite Body Lotion (above left) was a pleasant surprise for me. I expected something excessively foody, since I'm still traumatized by Lush's recent addition of too many cotton-candy-and-cupcake-icing products to its roster, but Vanilla Dee-Lite is a more grown-up (and long-lasting) vanilla that gains a nutty aspect from the lotion's inclusion of illipe butter, cocoa butter, and tonka absolute. It brings back memories of an old favorite of mine, The Body Shop's Brazil Nut Butter. ($25.95 at the Lush website)
If you're looking for just a hint of vanilla but you really prefer earthier notes, Evan Healy Whipped Patchouli Vanilla Shea Butter (not shown) may fit the bill. Its base is shea butter and olive oil, scented with a coconut-oil infusion of Madagascar vanilla, rose petal extract, and aged Indonesian patchouli. The fragrance is a no-nonsense, dirty patchouli, the way patchouli oil used to smell on my friends who wore it during our college years, and the comforting vanilla note adds just enough smoothness. This product also feels intensely moisturizing and healing on winter skin. ($28.95 at the Evan Healy website)
I should round off this list with one bargain item, so I'll suggest Aveeno Positively Nourishing Soothing 24-Hour Body Moisturizer (above right). I don't really buy into its promise of “active naturals," but I think its formula is better than that of most drugstore body lotions, and I do like the fragrance. It's a creamy floral vanilla that reminds me a little bit of L’Occitane Eau des Vanilliers (now discontinued, sadly enough), and it clings to the skin all day. (about $8 at drugstores)
Have you recently come across any vanilla-fragranced body products that you'd like to recommend? Feel free to share in the comments.