Hot cocoa: a roundup of chocolate-scented body products for winter 2010

Villainess Dulces en Fuego soap

I’ve never referred to myself as a “chocoholic.” I enjoy chocolate, but I’m an equal-opportunity sweets lover, and I’m usually more likely to seek out cookies or ice cream or a really good piece of apple pie than a cocoa-based dessert. Today, however, I rounded off my lunch with a slab of chocolate cake. I think the last long weeks of winter have finally gotten to me. In this spirit of unexpected cravings, I’ve rounded up a handful of chocolate-fragrance body products for your delectation.

I’m fond of Villainess’ vaguely steampunk aesthetic, not to mention its range of unusual scents. Its Dulces en Fuego (“fire candies”) blend mixes cocoa with cinnamon and black pepper and a touch of musk. The dense, sugar-based Smooch! Warming Body Scrub actually does seem to give off heat when it’s first applied to the skin, and the matching Dulces en Fuego soap (shown above) looks dangerously dark before it foams. The scent of Dulces en Fuego reminds me of the tiny cups of rich, spiced "Aztec" chocolate served at Mariebelle in New York, although it probably doesn’t taste as good. (Just kidding!  Needless to say, you shouldn’t taste any of these products.) ($10 for 8 oz of scrub and $5 for a 3.5 oz bar of soap at Villainess)

Oil-based products can be such a relief for skin parched by freezing wind and dry heated air. Ganache, known for its sweet-flavored lip balms, has branched out into body care with a Whisper Light Body Oil Veil (shown below, center). This blend of nourishing oils is packaged in a neat, convenient spray bottle, and it really does sink gently into the skin in record time. Its Rose de Cacao scent is a velvety blend of natural rose essence and cocoa extracts, with just enough of an earthy edge to prevent it from sliding into cupcake territory. ($10 for 1 oz and $39 for 8.5 oz at Beautyhabit)

Ilove Organic Açai Chocolate Shampoo and ConditionerGanache Whisper Light Body Oil VeilEO Chocolate & Mint Body Lotion

Ikove also specializes in nature-based personal care, and its Organic Açai Chocolate Shampoo and Conditioner (shown above left) are worth seeking out if you’re fond of chocolate-fruit blends, particularly the pairing of chocolate with oranges. These formulas are free of sulfates, petrochemicals, and parabens, and they’re probably best-suited for dry or coarse hair, since their aloe and cocoa butter make them somewhat heavy. They’re fragranced with real cocoa extract and sweet orange oil; I don’t know how well your hair can absorb the health benefits of açai and chocolate, as the company suggests, but these two bottles are certainly sniff-worthy. ($9.99 and $11.99 for 8.45 oz each at Florestas and Whole Foods stores)

Chocolate and mint make a satisfying pairing in sweets, so their combination seems worth trying in body products too. EO makes a Chocolate & Mint Body Lotion (see above right); it applies easily, absorbs quickly, and moisturizes lightly. It smells exactly like an After Eight dinner mint, but the fragrance wears off after a minute or two, leaving hydration without any tell-tale sillage that would have your neighbors looking around for a candy dish. ($8.99 for 8 oz at EO Products and Smallflower)

Roxana Illuminated Perfume recently released two series of chocolate-themed solid perfumes packaged like handmade truffles. These scents include various forms of their key ingredient, including cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and actual Scharffen Berger chocolate. Each of the eleven blends is "flavored" with a distinctive botanical accord, from spicy to sweet. I expected to enjoy Cerise (chocolate with cherry) and Petales (chocolate with roses), but then I realized that the chocolate also enhanced some notes I don't usually wear, allowing me to appreciate them in a new way. Bois de Chocolat (Figure 5, from the first series) has a smoky, vetiver-like note; it's one of the most full-bodied blends of the group, but the cocoa smooths and softens the woodiness. Coeur de Jasmin (Figure 8, from the second series), a more feminine gourmand, marries the creaminess of jasmine petals with a milky swirl of chocolate. ($15 for each 5 g solid perfume, or $20 for each sampler set, at Illuminated Perfume)

Cocoa turns out to be a more versatile note than I'd realized, so I'll be giving it a more regular place on my scent "menu." Do you have a favorite chocolate-fragranced body product or chocolate-inspired perfume? Feel free to share in the comments section!

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21 Comments

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  1. Jill says:

    All I can say is, yum! Thanks for reviewing all of these, I’m definitely going to try a few — the Villainess soap particularly intrigues me and I’ve been curious about the Roxana Illuminated Perfumes. I tend to like a chocolate scent better in bath & body products than in my perfume; I guess maybe because bath & body is a more “pure fun” category for me, while I get more serious about my perfume, LOL. In perfume I tend to just like a very subtle chocolate note, like in AG Eau de Charlotte or SJP Covet.

    • Jessica says:

      Hello, Jill! I’m the same way: I enjoy a chocolatey shower gel, but I don’t want to smell straight chocolate perfume on myself all day. Just a subtle note, like that lovely Annick Goutal Eau de Charlotte, is perfect!

  2. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Great review, Jessica. All these products look fantastic, especially the body oil by Ganache. And I love Villainess.

    One of my first chocolate bath and body discoveries was the Serendipity line of products. Their perfume, Serendipitous, was much more what I thought of as far as chocolate perfumes go as opposed to CSP’s Amour de Cacao, which just smelled stale and powdery to me.

    The best chocolate products I’ve found were from the discontinued 3 in 1 line from Bath and Body Works. They had a Hot Cocoa/Chocolate themed pair of 3 in 1 and lotion around the holidays, and it is definitely worth seeking out on Ebay if you like such things. I tried Jacqua’s marshmallow hot cocoa body butter but it felt greasy and a bit gritty on my skin, and Mixed Emotions in Bite Me (smells like brownies) smells okay but I learned the hard way to wash my hands after applying as it has an extremely bitter taste if you get your hands too close to your mouth.

    C. O. Bigelow’s also released variants on the chocolate mint theme in lip glosses that taste nice (not that I make a practice of eating lip glosses but you know…) and smell fantastic. They had a Hot Fudge lip gloss inspired by ice cream treats which blended well with their signature mint, and then a peppermint cocoa flavor last year I’ve yet to try. But they’re really great at what they do and how they smell, which is always nice.

    • Jessica says:

      Absolute, I’m trying to remember my favorite chocolatey perfumes… I owned Exact Friction of the Stars once, in my early MUA days (very sweet!) and I like Geisha Violet from Aroma M, which is floral with cocoa. CSP’s cocoa didn’t do much for me, either.

      B&BW does tend to discontinue products on a regular basis; I never had the chance to try the ones you mentioned! Their CO Bigelow balms and glosses are fun, though. And Lush’s Whip Stick chocolate balm is great.

  3. Abyss says:

    I used to adore a body wash from Lush called Skinny Dip. It had bits of white chocolate, ylang, cloves an all sorts of other stuff. I was one of those love or hate products and unfortunately Lush discontinued it a couple of years ago.

    I also had a chocolate shower gel from Philosophy and really enjoyed it. I think they have a couple of different ones now.

    • Jessica says:

      Abyss, I used to *love* Skinny Dip. It was one of my favorite Lush products; actually, one of my favorite bath products from *any* company. It was really unusual and delightful. I’m still upset with Lush for discontinuing it. I’ve never seen anything else even remotely similar… I know that some etailers supposedly sell products with a Skinny Dip-inspired scent, but they don’t contain actual cocoa butter or clove oil or ylang ylang, so it’s not really the same at all.

  4. sneaky pie says:

    Mmm, chocolate…
    I haven’t found my perfect chocolate fragrance yet. I never liked CPS Amour de Cacao–it is much more about vanilla than chocolate. IL Profumo Chocolat is nice, but it could be too heavy on me. I recently tried Montale Chocolate Greedy, and while it is a very good rendition of brownies, I was not tempted to buy it.

    So far, Coromandel has been my favorite “chocolate” scent. I know its notes don’t contain cocoa, but I find that the patcholi in it creates an irrestistable illusion of dark, slightly bitter chocolate.

    Serendipity has been on my to-try-list forever. I am also very curious about Roxana Illuminated Perfumes Petals; the combination of rose and chocolate is intriguing.

    • Jessica says:

      Sneaky Pie, I just remembered that I used to wear Bond no. 9 So New York, which I liked much more than Amour Cacao or Chocolovers; it was a little more sophisticated. And I’ve been meaning to try Ayala Moriel’s Roses et Chocolat.

      • Jill says:

        So New York is a good one — it’s much less sweet than something like Amour de Cacao.

        • Jessica says:

          Definitely! The coffee and plum notes bring it back to earth. That’s why I’ve been enjoying my Illuminated Perfume samples, too: the combinations are intriguing and definitely not Hershey-like.

      • sneaky pie says:

        Thank you, Jessica! So New York sounds very interesting!

  5. asuperlongusername says:

    I’m the same way with chocolate: it’s good but three three bites into any chocolate cake and I’m wishing I’d gotten the creme brulee.

    I can’t say chocolate is a scent that warms my heart, especially in the shower. Anything sweet at all makes my mornings too surreal. That Body Oil spray sounds quite lovely, though, and I could always use more moisture.

    • Jessica says:

      Superlong, This oil spray really does have a nice texture, and I think it might even be available in another (non-cocoa?) scent!

  6. mals86 says:

    Love to eat chocolate, but I really, really dislike it in fragrance. Even the cocoa in Theorema bothers me.

    But Dulces en Fuego is a genius name!

  7. pyramus says:

    St. Ives used to make the most amazing chocolate body wash, which smelled like a pan of fresh brownies, and then of course they discontinued it. Yves Rocher used to have a spectacular chocolate body wash as part of its Plaisirs Nature line, and then of course they discontinued it.

    Luckily, Demeter makes a number of chocolate scents, including Tootsie Roll, Junior Mint, Chocolate Chip Cookie, and Brownie. Most of them are available as a body lotion and a shower gel. Haven’t tried any of the body products, just the scents.

    • Jessica says:

      Pyramus, I remember that St. Ives body wash!! It was ahead of its time. I saw it in the drugstore (mid-90s?) and couldn’t figure it out; a body product that smelled like chocolate?! How weird! I’ve never forgotten that moment, hah!

  8. laken says:

    This article has SO made me want to try AT LEAST one chocolate product!!

  9. odonata9 says:

    I do like chocolate, but never thought I’d want to wear it. I just received a decant of Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Coffee, which has a bit of chocolate in it – I haven’t tried it yet since I’m getting over a cold and don’t want to waste it (or any other scent really)when I can’t totally appreciate it with my stuffy nose. I also liked Avril Lavigne’s Black Star when I spritzed it in a store – it has a little chocolate to it as well.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi, Odonata — I’ve been meaning to try A*men for ages. And I actually did like Avril Lavigne’s fragrance when I tried it. It did what it was supposed to do, as Robin would say, and the chocolate note gave it some depth.

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