Friday, June 08, 2018

Summer Top Picks: Scented Body Powders

Summer is the season for perfumed body powders. Sometimes it's for physical comfort, for other people it's the preference to go with something lighter than an actual perfume (don't ask me. I use them together). I love a good lashing of fluffy puffy powder before bed. The problem is that there are fewer and fewer of these little luxuries. Once upon a time most perfume lines had a range of body products that included a body (or an "after bath") powder. It's a rarity nowadays, and I can't even blame millenials. I'm pretty sure it was gen X that killed this category, rejecting our mothers' powder puffs.

There are still good ones to be found at just about every price range. Here are my top picks for summer:

Acqua di Parma Colonia Talcum Powder Shaker ($56, at Barneys and Bloomingdale's). It's the obvious partner to their Acqua Colonia eau de cologne.

Maja. Lovers of this classic Spanish perfume probably don't need me to tell them. The bars of soaps still live in my drawers and perfume my loungewear (I'm a shower gel person), but the powder is out on top the dresser for frequent use. Available from various online retailers and local stores, usually for under $15.

Shalimar. You knew it was coming. One of the most consistent products by Guerlain where reformulations, civet level, and packaging don't really matter. The body powder ($72) can be picked everywhere from Ulta to Saks.

Let's stay with the biggest classics for a second. Chanel body products go in and out of production, but the No.5 body powder (not to be confused with the bath powder) is alive and well. The most current version is even more finely milled than ever and comes with a powder puff ($72, Nordstrom, Macy's, and

Thymes Goldleaf Dusting Powder. This is a heady scent, lush and floral in a style we know (and either love or hate) from the 80s. More Krystle Carrington than Alexis, perhaps, yet utterly fabulous, and in my case addictive ($45,

Woods of Windsor Lavender Dusting Powder. A classic cheap thrill that cost £6.66 in the UK and usually under $15 here. The powder also comes in other scents such as rose and jasmine, but for the Englishness of it and because I love lavender this is my favorite. Available on Amazon, from CVS stores, and other retailers. 

Estee Lauder offers body powders for a few of the brad's perfumes, including Youth Dew and White Linen. But my personal pick is Beautiful ($55, at Ulta, Macy's, and other authorised sellers). It's another grand floral straight out of my youth, and I find that it gains a softer and cozier quality when worn as a powder.

I admit that Houbigant Quelques Fleurs was an acquired taste for me. It used to overwhelm me, but nowadays I keep a couple of vintage bottles stashed away. The current version, Quelques Fleurs L'Original is nice and comes in a couple of body products, including a stroke-inducing $300 Perfumed Body Powder. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus both offer a $100 refill (5.2oz) that comes in a sachet. I'd find a gorgeous vintage container on eBay and dump it inside.

Lush Cosmetics really messed up the packaging of their powders. They're now sold in little bottles, like shampoo. At least they don't leak like earlier versions, but it looks... undignified. Still, Silky Underwear is kind of a modern classic by now with its brilliant jasmine-vetiver combination. The powder itself has the best feeling on skin (it somehow contains cocoa butter), and I use it all year ($10.95

I have a soft spot for Santa Maria Novella's Rose fragrance. It speaks of secret gardens behind ancient stone walls, and narrow path among fragrant bushes. Obviously I'm dreaming of Italy again. SNM currently offers their soliflores in dusting talc form ($45 from and at Aedes Perfumery on Greenwich Avenue in NYC. Maybe I should try the one in Iris next. Have you?

For more fragrance picks for summer please visit Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, and Now Smell This


  1. I love the Thymes Goldleaf Dusting Powder. Another favorite is Lady Primrose dusting silk, the powder is exquisite and oh-so feminine, I have an old powder shaker from the 1990's. It's beautiful dusted on freshly washed linen sheets.
    I do love Youth Dew bath oil, I should try the powder sometime.

  2. As a child I thought powders with the big poof were the height of glamour. My grandmother always had them and I used to ask her to let me wear some. She always applied some after my bath and it made me feel like a grown up.

  3. I, too, love the Maja powder - albeit not as ardently as the soap. Thanks for the additional suggestions. It aggravates me that so many powder offerings are turning into cornstarch. I'm bathing, not baking!

  4. My grandmother was a Coty Paris wearer and loved the perfume and powder way back when. Another of her favorites was Johnson's Baby Powder, especially in Summer! I adore the Bottega Veneta Shimmering Body Powder which, I believe, is still sold on the Bottega Veneta website for around $75.00. The shimmer is faint, but the scent is lavish and wonderful, even in Summer. Ms. Gaia, I still enjoy very much your studied takes on all the products you review. Thank you so much for your time and effort. Judy

  5. SMN used to have a vetiver scented talc that was lovely in the summer.

  6. I remember my mother using scented powder in the ‘50s. I think she stopped after that. I’ve never been a fan of powder myself...except for my sons when they were babies!

  7. Love this list!
    In Tokyo I could still find old tubs of body powders in various Shiseido scents, and it's not too difficult to find seasonal powders released for the summer season. I had a lovely one from Ayura.

    My MIL loves body powder, and my mom loves Chanel No 5; maybe I'll pick it up for her. I'm going to pick up Woods of Windsor and Silky Underwear for myself.


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