The essence of over 2500 Gardenia flowers went into this bottle of mysticism. And, it’s a profound exception to the glut of Gardenia inspired body oils that muck up the marketplace. Yes, I’m finicky with my Monoi. The worst ones leave your skin scented with that bargain bin basket coconut scent that you’d only find in a waxy sunscreen. The best ones have been deeply seeped into Coconut oil and impart a smooth aura of a scent. Saffron James has created the latter.
Saffron James is a cool-ish cult find. Carried at Ron Robinson (the purveyor of all things hip in LA), the brand is a line of Hawaiian-inspired fragrances and was founded by a former Elle/Harper’s Bazaar/Lucky beauty editor. Having grown up in Hawaii, Kate Growney knows a thing or two about the Tiare Gardenia and other exotic florals that are more often than not usually sold in synthetic form and packaged up for those weekend 3-for-1 specials. After years of writing on fragrances and the success launch of four wildly popular fragrances at high end retailers like Nordstrom, Saffron James has recently expanded into body oils.
There’s something that excites the nerve when I hear about perfumers getting into the oil side of things. It’s how their brilliant blending efforts always give us richly potent and diffusive oils that are often drawn to simplicity. It’s all about the essence in its purest form, smartly ignoring the contemporary tendency to recreate a scent in an oil base. The bonus is when you can layer the body oils with the house’s signature scents.
Saffron James’ Tiare Body oil ($40) smells like daytime leis, which seem like they are are carefully collected and cut from the first warm days of spring rising above the fragrant fields on the island of Mo’orea in French Polynesia Tahiti. Intensely soaked in a preservative-free Coconut Oil, the hair and body oil really shows off the refined beauty of Monoi in its unadulterated sense. First off, the oil is so pure that is actually solidifies at 76 F with its low melting point. And, because the bottle comes with a convenient pump, be sure to gently warm the treatment in a warm bath of water for a few minutes. Dare you not to microwave this deluxe oil as you’ll just hasten the breakdown of the carrier and essence.
What follows is an astounding quality of an opulent Tiare with an irresistible draw. Gorgeously rich, the sweetened scent remains faithful to its flower’s burst and is warmed by the redolence of the Coconut oil. You can almost imagine the Tiare as a stately scent without the oil base, as the sultry lushness is quite wearable without cloy.
The Tiare inspires so many repeat sniffs, I almost wish for a lighter carrier so I could be able to sniff the Tiare on its own. But, then I wouldn’t have the supremely dense moisturizing effects of the multifunctional Coconut oil, which is loaded with Vitamin E and fatty acids (such as lauric acid, myristic acid, capric acid and more) and helps strengthen underlying tissues and helps remove excessive dead cell on the skin's surface. The super rich oil has also scientifically been shown to work wonders on lifeless manes and split ends. So much so that even Virgin America's flight attendants swear by its use to prevent dehydrated scalps. Warm an ounce or two and work it into your hair as a weekly hair conditioner about a half hour before you shower. The oil does wash out with one shampoo rinse and leaves your locks glimmering with gloss.
Want to get more use out of your Monoi? Try the Monoi oil as an attractive sheen to dry, chapped lips while treating the parched puckers. Or, make your own scented exfoliating face scrub with mixing an equal part of baking soda and oil and massage into face. Rinse with warm water to remove baking soda residue.
Pristinely blended as an homage to Hawaii’s tropical flowers, the Monoi oil is worthy of your bucks.
Scent Classification: Floral
Viscosity: Moderate viscosity