You never see people loitering around the body-spray aisle in Boots anymore. When I was 12, that was the only place I wanted to be – those years in which we were desperate to start sweating, so we could rationalise a purchase of some Soft & Gentle purple edition. There’d usually be a few preteen girls seeing if they could spray a bit in the cap without making too much of a whooshing noise and therefore being told they had to pay for it.
Which is exactly what I did the other day. Twenty years after my last body-spray purchase, an alumni with weak links to my fragrance past, I was drawn to that aisle as one who suddenly remembers an internet meme from 2004 and can’t hold back from a YouTube viewing. As a toiletry category, body sprays are in gentle decline; teens now just jump straight to the Paco Rabanne, barely bothering with their entry-level products. I wanted to survey the scene, get a sense as to whether these little aluminium canisters had any kind of future.
The perfume is fleeting, lasting about half an hour, but wipe one of these over your legs and even the caked-on mud will sigh with pleasure
The shopping exercise was hard on the back. The So…? range was practically on the floor and could not be picked up elegantly. I didn’t get on well, revisiting that lot, despite the nostalgia. They smelt like you’ve spatula-ed Lola’s cupcake frosting up your nostrils. And the Charlie range was too predominent in Coconut Mallow for me. But then there was Impulse’s latest offering. Why Not? is its name, fronted by Charli XCX. “Why not?” I thought, as I picked up the bottle, pretending I was part of Charli’s target demographic. The palm trees, limes and tigers on the yellow tube were encouraging (as opposed to the more usual butterfly made of flowers), though did make me worry that piña colada aroma would be inside. But no. People, this is a really good fragrance, free from Haribo sweetness. Smelt blind, I’d have said it was for a guy. The official description suggests “frozen lemon” and bergamot. To me, it’s predominantly the cooling spices of cardamon and nutmeg with only a hint of icing sugar and musk. I’d have guessed at a perfume worth £40+, not 98p on promo at the time of purchase (the RRP is £1.99). Under a pound!
I do think that, in addition to the application novelty of aerosolling your whole torso, body spray has its uses this time of year when, despite our use of Dove Maximum Protection, come 5pm we could do with a quick dab of something, whether for our home commute, or because we’re at a festival where a wet-wipe wash doesn’t actually cut through the feeling of being stale and sticky. Instead we need to “mask” like they did back before baths – you know, when they used leeches to treat your ailments. I am not one to recommend a perfume for a festival per se (I’m not sure there’s much point bringing something precious it in case it gets lost), but who cares if it’s a 98p tin? One other invaluable product in the sweat-hiding zone is a pack of 10 refreshing “towelettes” (I really wanted to type that word) from 4711 Cologne (£3.29). Like something you’d find in a car glovebox circa 1956, these are impregnated with that joyful solar scent of neroli and bergamot. The perfume is fleeting, lasting about half an hour, but wipe one of these over your legs and even the caked-on mud will sigh with pleasure.