First impressions: Top notes
Before we go any further, let’s take an olfactory Rorschach test. Spray your wrist, breathe in, and tell us the first word that comes to mind.
If you said “beach,” you’re not alone. Perfect Coconut Milk from Sarah Horowitz Parfums has been called the perfect beach scent by many, many adoring fans. It’s an instant escape to a place that we all know.
But how did this association become so universal? The real beach can smell of seaweed and fish—smells that most people don’t want to bottle up and spray on themselves. But just the word “beach,” it seems, has tremendous pull on our imaginations. So no matter what our last day on the sand smelled like, we forever associate the beach with romantic, beach-like things: coconuts, tropical flowers, salty air.
It’s worth pausing here to consider how much of this association we owe to Coppertone. The iconic brand of suntan lotion, which was released in the 1940s, has always smelled of cocoa butter, coconut oil, and orange blossom—as do countless brands of suntan lotion and sunscreen on the market today. Given that we humans are nostalgic creatures, it seems plausible that the post-WWII generation grew up strongly associating this scent with the beaches of their childhoods, then slathered it on the bony shoulders of the next generation, which then slathered it onto the cheeks and noses of the next generation… and on and on.
This brings us back to Perfect Coconut Milk, which smells exactly of the word “beach.” What you smell here is an elegant, grown-up version of the beach-associated notes of coconut and tropical flowers—a nostalgic, romantic replay of all the magical power that the word “beach” holds over our imaginations. So now we have two reasons to love it: It reminds us of a happy place and time, and it just smells wonderful.
The opening of Perfect Coconut Milk is juicy, sunny, happy, and relaxed. Coconut is the most prominent note throughout, and it has a nutty, marzipan-like feel in Perfect Coconut Milk. This effect comes from the pairing of coconut with almond. Here, pairing almond with coconut has the effect of pairing milk chocolate with a bit of salt: It adds dimension, polish, and just enough complexity to keep things interesting.
As you smell your wrist, how does it make you feel? Does it pull you back to old memories? Does it make you want to teleport yourself to the nearest 85-degree beach? Does it make you feel content, wistful, or both?
Sensations and scenery: Middle notes
As Perfect Coconut Milk warms up on your skin, the floral heart emerges in the form of a light, ethereal, almost transparent gardenia that lifts the heft of the gourmand notes and draws the fragrance into floral territory. Gardenia can be a powerhouse, but Sarah’s gardenia is gentle. It is not the gardenia in which you bury your nose but the gardenia that grows 20 yards from your beach chair and visits you when the breeze shifts.
In the middle of the composition, that initial beachiness is less prominent. Now, the fragrance has turned into a soft, summery floral.
Integration: Middle and base notes
When you have worn Perfect Coconut Milk for several minutes, you’ll find yourself embraced by a soft, sweet, vanilla-coconut with smooth floral undertones. You may not actually sense the almond distinctly but you might notice that it gives the gardenia and orange blossom a creamy character.
In the dry down of Perfect Coconut Milk, you’re left with a sweet, simple, warm musk that lasts for hours . The perfume sits very close to the skin now, and you’re likely to be the only person who smells it. The way Perfect Coconut Milk winds down is very much like the winding down of a wonderful day on your most perfect beach vacation: cool breeze through the open window, palm trees rustling, tide rolling in. It's a simple pleasure that is, nonetheless, immensely fulfilling.
Take it on vacation, wear it when the sun is hot, wear it when the snow is thick and the only vacation you can take is in your mind. Because of the universal associations we have with its notes, Perfect Coconut Milk is a wonderful perfume to engage your imagination no matter where you are.