Suddenly I want to smell like a coconut again

 Maya Njie Tropica fragrance

Well this is awkward. After a lifetime a year in relative isolation during which my longest journey away from home has been the decidedly unexotic Hastings pier, I find myself craving tropical coconut-laced smells.

That’s maybe not so surprising though. As with the power of touch and what’s known as ‘skin hunger’, the pandemic has not only literally stolen the sense of smell from some unlucky individuals, it has also heightened the link between scent and nostalgia.

“Fragrance can control your mood,” says perfumer and founder of her eponymous brand, Maya Njie. “If you’re feeling low and you need a boost, put fragrance on and it will elevate you.” Njie’s popular fragrance Tropica* (above) does exactly that with its transportive notes of fig, pineapple, fresh citrus and musk, blended with what we all consider the smell of eau de suntan lotion, the all-important coconut note.

Coconut is the omni-present heart of such classics as Tom Ford’s sultry Soleil Blanc* and Estee Lauder’s Bronze Goddess*, a summer ritual so popular it has inspired a mini sub-brand of ancillary products. (I 100% recommend the Smoothing Body Crème*). So potent is its power, it appears to have spawned an entire TikTok aesthetic. ‘Coconut Girl’ is this summer’s teen trope that encompasses hibiscus prints, 90s Roxy bikinis and the nostalgia of grainy disposable camera photos. Or in short, “youthful summer optimism” according to Nylon. Even supposedly avant-garde Comme des Garcons got the ‘Coconut Girl’ memo. Its brand new collab with cult L.A label ERL is a coconut-heavy eau de toilette called, unashamedly, Sunscreen – aka ‘the scent of Venice Beach’ (below).
ERL X Comme des Garcons SUNSCREEN fragrance

Coconut won’t do all the heavy lifting on its own though. To really bottle beachy escapism, you need the sweet notes of vanilla or its more sophisticated sibling, tonka bean, a sultry waft of white floral – jasmine, ylang ylang or neroli – and a juicy twist of citrus. Juliette Has a Gun’s Sunny Side Up* eau de parfum says it all, a unisex ‘skin scent’ that starts out fresh, bright and floral, leaving behind a musky dry down. Vanilla Vibes* (below) is less about the sex-on-the-beach coconut note and more about the après-beach warmth of vanilla, sea salt and musk.
Juliette Has A Gun Vanilla Vibes

For the less floral-inclined, citrus is the way to go. One of the most enduring summer classics is Creed’s Virgin Island Water (below). Still going strong since 2007, its blend of coconut, lime and white bergamot, with a floral heart and sweet, rum-laced base notes is familiar, wearable and cool. Another light citrus is Sunspel’s Neroli Sun eau de parfum* (below), a Lyn Harris creation that blends bitter orange, English herbs and neroli. It’s my gentle citrus of choice and a good holiday-esque scent for the coconut-shy. Meanwhile, Byredo’s Sundazed eau de parfum* couldn’t be a more timely release. Olfactory escapism in a bottle, this sweet-and-sour cocktail stirs up mandarin and lemon with candyfloss, neroli and musk.

Sunspel Neroli Sun

Back to ‘skin hunger’, the combination of tactile body oils and creams with mood-boosting aromatherapy ‘feels’ is perfect for a summer of back garden staycations. Summer Fridays just launched its Summer Silk Nourishing Body Lotion*, an indulgent cream scented with coconut and almond, as well as its Pool Time Glowing Body Oil*, a blend of macadamia, jojoba and sunflower oils infused with coconut, warm almond and vanilla blossom.

Then there’s my eternal favourite, NARS’ Monoi Body Glow I. This elusive deep bronze oil – scented with tiare blossom, white frangipani, ylang-ylang, and vanilla – is currently having stock issues but if you’re quick, Fenwick has it here. Or try the equally lush untinted version, NARS Monoi Body Glow II, here. One other sensorially uplifting recommendation: the Urban Apothecary Coconut Grove Luxury Hand and Body Wash*. I discovered this line at The Conran Shop and it’s so nicely formulated. Coconut Grove is clean, sweet and citrusy with a tropical coconut heart sharpened by bergamot, lime, mandarin and mint.


WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Maya Njie, Comme des Garcons X ERL, Juliette Has a Gun, Sunspel
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman

TRP Travel Retail Style Index: February 2021

Amorepacific Off-White beauty collaboration

Welcome to the latest travel retail column for DRG by Alison Farrington aka The Retail Planner (TRP).

This month, we welcome all the auspicious brand news in celebration of the Lunar New Year for 2021’s Chinese Year of the Ox. We also look at some new skincare launches that will appeal to clean and K-beauty fans.

1/ SHISEIDO ‘INSPIRES JOY’. For Asia Pacific and US travel retail stockists, SHISEIDO has launched an exclusive set of Lunar New Year products for bestselling skincare products, Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate* and Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Cream (below). They feature gold and red packaging that is inspired by the art of calligraphy and designed to evoke feelings of empowerment for the Chinese New Year celebration. (more…)

TRP Travel Retail Style Index: September 2020

NARS Icons Sanya travel retail

Welcome to a new travel retail column for DRG by Alison Farrington aka The Retail Planner (TRP)

As global travel picks up again, we look at the business and shopping trends of the travel retail world. In particular, the beauty, fashion, accessories, and watches & jewellery categories, dipping into the product exclusives and digital strategies that often launch in Asia and give the rest of the world an idea of innovations coming soon.

DFS X WECHAT LIVESTREAM.  If you’re getting ready for a Golden Week shopping trip at the end of this month in time for the Chinese autumn break, then DFS is a go-to retailer with downtown and airport locations in Hong Kong and Singapore among others. Whether you still shop in physical stores or not, if there’s one thing Covid has done for consumerism, it’s to accelerate the trend for live stream shopping and this has been especially prevalent across China via WeChat. Now DFS has joined the live stream party. (more…)

Retail round-up: Lunar New Year airport pop-ups are a data-capture gift to beauty retailers

Lancome Renovated Absolue Cushion

DFNI associate editor, ALISON FARRINGTON reports on the travel retail beauty opportunity for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is upon us and travel retailers across Asia have been creating special promotions designed to attract passengers for the biggest Chinese shopping opportunity of the year. Travel retail or duty free shoppers are big business. Often referred to as the ‘Sixth Continent’, in 2018 the global market was worth $79bn.

Beauty remains the biggest and fastest-growing product sector in travel retail, while Asia Pacific is the category’s main growth driver. In 2018 the region saw beauty sales grow 23.5% to a total of $31.5bn. Beauty and fashion accessories are the biggest pull for Chinese travellers eager to snap up seasonal limited editions at the airport. This year’s theme is Year of the Rat (sometimes interpreted as a mouse) and we’ve seen brands adopting characterful themes such as Rocket Rat and even Mickey Mouse. (more…)