When deprivation begets addiction

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As a pre-teen and teenager living at home, I had the usual number of parental rules to rebel again. Retrospectively, they mostly make sense--I understand now why my mom wanted to know where I was going and with whom, and why she wouldn't let 14 year-old me go on a co-ed camping trip with my new 18 year-old boyfriend, and even, to some degree, why she balked at letting me out of the house in some of the outfits I picked out. One rule I absolutely hated then, though, and still sort of feel for my teenage self on, is the no smelly stuff rule.

Perfume was not allowed in my house. Neither were highly scented lotions or soaps, or candles or incense. The reason for this ban was my mom's sensitivity (she calls it an allergy, but I'm not sure it actually is in the clinical sense) to scents--both artificial and natural (fresh flowers weren't allowed in the house either). And she knew if you tried to get around it--I would try to apply perfume at school and she'd smell it on me seven hours later (the fact my perfume of choice was Malibu Musk probably didn't help). The embargo was total.

As soon as I left for college, I became a Bath & Body Works junkie. I may have worn the same pants every day for 90% of my freshman year, but I smelled like Cucumber Melon (in retrospect, not a huge step up from the Malibu Musk). I bought whole collections. I had a dresser drawer stockpile. I spent hours in that store. I was a bonafide stinky stuff junkie.

As I got more comfortable in my late-teen/early-20s alternative skin, I moved on from Bath & Body Works. I started wearing essential oils, and burning them. I colored my hair pink with that Jason's Pomegranate shampoo that that smelled like candy (I don't think you can get that stuff anymore, can you?). There was, possibly, patchouli involved.

At the beginning of my post-college "professional" career I found my happy medium in The Body Shop. I could smell good, use relatively earth-friendly products, and still shop at the mall! Since it had been a few years since living under my mom's no-scent reign of terror, I didn't take my smell quite so seriously anymore, but I never stopped using fun scented lotions and potions.

Then, a few years back, an online friend introduced me to Lush. And I was back in Bath & Body Works land, spending countless hours and dollars on bath bombs and melts, excessive soap, and fancy shampoo. I read Lush message boards. I planned purchases in advance. I re-built my stockpile.

Since then, you sort of know what has happened. I got disillusioned with Lush's extortionist prices and branched out to lots of smaller indie companies. Then I started making my own stuff, and then I started Crushworthy. My obsession with the scented and frou-frou plateaued into something manageable. A hobby and sometimes business, but not an obsession.

Now, though, I'm in the throes of Obsession: Round 3. Once again, it is courtesy of the amazing women I meet online. I've been introduced to the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and their insanely named and charmingly goth perfume oils. First, it was just a few samples to try. Then a couple of message board posts to see if I could buy a few more samples for cheap. Now there's a spreadsheet, a storage plan, decanting, files on how different scent notes work on my skin. There are other, similar companies I plan to try or have already started trying (Villainess, Possets, Happy Housewife, Archana). There is a growing stockpile. What was intended as a trial run to see if I could identify one or two scents I'd like to wear on a daily basis has become an obsession to try everything, smell everything, possess everything.

(In case you are curious, my favorite BPAL scents so far are Mata Hari (rose, jasmine, vanilla, fig, tonka bean, mahogany, and coffee bean), Catherine (orange blossom, rosemary, and rose), Glasgow (wild blackberry and heather), and Lady Macbeth (Bordeaux wine, red currant, thyme and wild berries)--sensing any patterns?)

Why? Well, I blame my mom. Childhood deprivation has led to adulthood obsession. I buy and wear countless highly scented and expensive body products because I can, now. I'm making up for lost time.

6 Comments

I don't think you can get that stuff. i looked! Because I wanted a shampoo that would continue dyeing my hair regularly. While Jason has a red shampoo I think it no longer dyes hair, just keeps your dye in. Which is sad.

Re: BPAL I am too cheap to buy anything from them but I really want all the Alice themed ones, and all the tea scents.

Glad someone comes out of this in a good way (well, one that smells nice) - my tendency to untidyness comes from the same source!

I've got alllllllmost all the Mad Tea Party scents, in imp form at least. Hop hop!

Sorry for the enabling. It had to be done, though.

That's right; blame mom...


*tightens belt on trenchcoat lined with perfume samples; sneaks back into the shrubbery*

I feel mom's pain. I have the sensitivity too, and while it seems fussy and uptight, it is a real thing, and we can't help it. A strong scent is like getting punched in the face - it HURTS. I can hug someone who has cologne on and have a headache for hours. I know we seem like asses, running away from smells, but it really makes us sick. Walking by a perfume counter at a department store ensures I will be in pain for the rest of the day.

The interesting thing, though, is that natural oils don't bother me. I can walk into an aromatherapy shop that only has natural oils and be delighted by the scents. And I LOVE beautiful smells. I have spent $20 on 1 ml of really fine jasmine oil. Aveda products are like heaven. They smell so good and don't hurt me.

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