If you have ever visited the South of France and its open marketplaces, you will know that there are usually several stands selling fragranced soaps, with scents such as lavender, rose, violet, mimosa, and muguet (lily of the valley). Lily of the valley-scented soap may seem redundant, as many people perceive the smell of real lilies of the valley as “soapy”, but this isn’t a coincidence: the smell of lilies of the valley, which has to be artificially re-created, has been so popular in non-perfume, or functional, fragrances for items like soap that in Western culture, at least, we tend to merge them in our minds. That overuse in functional fragrances has been blamed for the relative dearth of muguet fragrances among modern scents; while I tend to agree with that, I also think that the note became associated in many people’s minds with older female relatives, because it was so popular among personal scents about 60-100 years ago.
Luckily for me, I still love a good lily of the valley in most formats, and actually there have been some very interesting muguet fragrances released in recent years, such as Kissing, from By Kilian, and the 2016 Muguet from Guerlain. On my January trip to Nice, I wandered through the market in the old part of the city and saw many lovely muguet soaps, so of course I brought some home as gifts and kept one for myself.
I also own a set of Crabtree & Evelyn “Lily” soaps, which I think have been discontinued. That is unfortunate, because they smell remarkably like the flowers, even more so than my bar of Muguet soap from the market in Nice. Do you have any favorite floral soaps, that smell like lily of the valley or other floral scents?
Crabtree & Evelyn make some wonderfully scented products, many with floral fragrances. One of them is Lily Ultra Moisturizing Hand Therapy, a rich hand cream that smells like lily of the valley. The Lily fragrance also comes in a body lotion, bath and shower gel, and home fragrance. It used to come in an eau de toilette also, but I think the whole collection has been discontinued, so while it is easy to find the other products, the eau de toilette mostly appears on online auction sites.
The hand cream is excellent: it is in fact very moisturizing without being greasy at all. It sinks quickly into dry skin, but lasts a long time. The scent is very evident but does not overwhelm. Like most Crabtree & Evelyn scents, it is floral, light, fresh, and it gives a natural impression. I like it very much although I don’t use hand cream very often. The notes listed for the eau de toilette are: hyacinth, ylang-ylang, oak moss, lily-of-the-valley, violet leaf, woodsy notes, musk and green notes. While. of course, these play differently in a hand cream formulation, the hand cream still has a green floral scent.
Crabtree & Evelyn hand therapy cream
The ultra moisturizing hand therapy line of hand creams is based on shea butter and macadamia seed oil, and its texture is silky and soft. Lily would make an excellent base to layer with other muguet-centered fragrances, as it will prolong the green floral notes. The style magazine Marie France Asia raved about the line, and had fun matching each fragrance with a different celebrity; Taylor Swift was their pick for Lily on the basis that it is a fresh and free-spirited woodland scent. I don’t know that I would necessarily associate her with a lily of the valley hand cream, but I would agree with their assessment that these hand creams are unusually appealing and effective.
Do you have a favorite scented hand cream? Floral or not? Why do you like it?