Scented Advent, December 10

Scented Advent, December 10

Although it’s apparently a cult favorite, I hadn’t previously heard of today’s Advent calendar offering: Child. It was created by Susan Owens for her own use in 1988 and launched as a product available to others in 1990. Fragrantica lists its notes as: Lilac, Magnolia, Vanilla and Citruses (top); Jasmine, Tuberose and Violet (middle); Musk, Woodsy Notes, Mimosa and Rose (base). The Child Perfume website also lists orange flower, which is clearly present right from the start. The original formulation of Child was a roll-on perfume oil, but it is also available as an extrait de parfum. The sample in my Advent calendar is the oil, evident because of the sheen it leaves on my skin when I apply it.

To me, Child smells like a grown-up, more sophisticated Coppertone lotion. I believe Coppertone’s white flower notes are mostly described as orange flower; the fundamental “tropical flower” scent is present in both and may come from a substance like benzyl salicylate, an ingredient originally used in sunscreen because it both absorbs UV light and smells good.

Vintage ad for Coppertone lotion, with little girl and dog
Vintage Coppertone ad

I find Child to be more sophisticated because as it develops on my skin, the scent evolves away from the white floral, Coppertone accord and becomes more herbal, while new floral notes emerge. At the start, most of what I smell is orange blossom, jasmine, and tuberose standing in for “white flowers”, with a tinge of tangy citrus. As those fade, I smell something a bit more astringent, a bit less sweet, which could be a mimosa accord mingled with woody notes, but there’s also a slightly aromatic accord that isn’t accounted for in the notes list. The musky base also appears during the middle stage, and it lends a softness to the overall scent.

The combination of accords is very clever and appealing if you like beachy scents. For me, it evokes the late afternoon of a day spent at the beach, when one’s skin still smells of suntan lotion, the scent mingling with that of the sun-warmed vegetation nearby, while the temperature cools enough that one seeks a warm wrap of some kind to throw over one’s shoulders. Slanting sunlight begins to throw lengthening shadows, but no one wants to go home just yet.

Beach in late afternoon sun
Image by Robert Barnes for Getty Images