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=== Background ===
To be honest, I'm not a very perfume-y person - I wear perfume because I have been given it as gifts. This set was no exception - a recently-met friend of mine presented it to me as a surprise, which I thought was so lovely! Who does that nowadays?!
Anyway, I had never heard of Carolina Herrera before (apparently she's a successful fashion designer), or any of the perfumes, so for this review, can safely say I was not conditioned by any advertising or images beforehand!
The perfume for women seems to come in the eau de parfum form only.
Apparently there are 9 other Carolina Herrera scents out there - including men's and women's. There is a Carolina Herrera 212 sexy for men - I can't say anything about these as I haven't tried them
The perfume comes in different sizes (30ml, 60ml and 100ml). Tester sized bottles can be bought on Ebay and other places.
The 30ml perfume costs around £20, and the gift set (again I'm talking about the 30ml one) - there are a couple of differently packaged ones out there, sells for around £30, although debenhams has it on sale for £21.50 just now (there are lots of places that sell online, so I'd advise shopping around for the best deal)
=== What you get in the gift set ===
In my gift set (from internet research, I can see there are some options for different gift sets), there is a 30ml bottle of the perfume (eau de parfum) and 100ml of body lotion.
=== The scent ===
I don't know much about perfume notes, but here is what the scent consists of apparently:
Top Notes: Fresh citrus, bergamot and rose pepper.
Middle Notes: Pink pepper and fresh petals.
Base Notes: White musk, sandalwood and vanilla.
Here is the official description:
212 Sexy reflects the personality of a vibrant, confident woman. The satiny citrus of the top notes, echoing the freshness of the original 212, are shot through with the warmth of pink pepper and stimulating bergamot. Slowly, the middle notes of gardenia and geranium reveal themselves. The lasting impression is created by the depth and warmth of the base notes, where the delicious aroma of cotton candy blends with tempting vanilla, a spicy hint of sandalwood and the mysterious sensuality of musk.
=== The perfume ===
Ahh - having read this, it makes sense that I like this as gardenia, geranium, vanilla, musk and sadalwood are all scents that I tend to favour individually
I definitely love the scent, and it's a unique scent too in my opinion. To me, when I spray it on, the words that come to mind are: warm, exotic, spicy, sweet, oriental, blossom, feminine, floral, powdery, sexy and successful. I would say it is a heavy scent (if you prefer lighter scents, you may find this cloying) and that it smells expensive and of good quality. I tend to spray it once inside my top, and once under my hair. This way, I can smell it all day, but everyone else doesn't have to! I personally hate it when people wear strong perfume so that when you walk past them, you can basically taste it. Because of this, only people who get close to me can smell it, and I have had compliments on it. If I spray it on in the morning, I can still smell it on my skin at the end of the day, and on my hair the next day if I don't wash it. The fragrance lasts on any clothes it has come in contact with too.
When I spray this perfume on, I feel happy, beautiful and successful (I realise how cheesy this sounds, having never changed my feelings about myself because of a perfume!). Maybe it's because I've worn it to parties where I've been complimented, and interviews I have been successful in, but I'm not going to fight the feel-good factor I get from this perfume!
I would say this scent would suit anyone who wants to smell feminine and pretty, but still grown up. I think if you spray a little bit and keep it subtle, it can be suitable for daytime wear, but it is definitely more of an evening or night-time scent in my opinion.
=== The hydrating body lotion ===
The lotion has the same scent, except that it's a bit less sharp. I find it more convenient to use the spray. I'm glad I have the lotion as a back up, but I don't use it very often. Sometimes it's nice to use after showering, to smell nice all over. I'd say the smell of the lotion fades to a musky fragrance much more quickly than the spray, and doesn't last all day on the skin. Someone would have to be right up close to your skin to smell the lotion on you - after a few minutes, it is quite subtle and delicate compared to the perfume
The consistency is very runny - The hole in the tube for the lotion to come out is not very big, yet I don't have to squeeze the bottle for some of the lotion to come out, as it's so thin. It is a white milky liquid. I definitely use normal moisturiser first (unscented, so it doesn't clash with the fragrance) as the lotion is not very moisturising at all. When I first rub it into my skin, it feels a bit greasy. A little bit of the lotion spreads to quite a decent area with this lotion. After a few seconds, it feels tacky, then once it dries in, it feels like a layer over my skin. I don't mind this too much but I know that feeling can bother some people.
The lotion is find on my body, but I find it irritates my hands and meks them a bit itchy.
Overall, the lotion is okay - I wouldn't especially buy it on its own, but in the case that buying the set that includes the lotion is better value that buying the perfume alone (which often happens in the post - Christmas sales), I would buy the set with the lotion included. I don't think the lotion lives up to its 'hydrating' title. I just think of it as liquid fragrance, rather than a lotion.
=== The packaging ===
My gift set came in a matte metallic pink coloured cardboard box, with a striated looking background, and '212' in large shiny lettering across the box (as shown in the picture above). The box is really pretty and sturdy (even though it's cardboard) and I leave it on display in my room (I store hairbands in it!). I seem to remember there being a nice pink satin bow on the box too.
I think that the inside had a standard plastic tray with spaces to hold the perfume and the lotion in place separately, but don't quote me on that!
The perfume bottle is a capsule shape. At one end is a removable dusky pink matte metallic plastic cap, and at the other end, a matching non removable cap to make the bottle symmetrical and round ended on both ends (the shape can be seen from the picture dooyoo has included). The middle part of the bottle is mauve-brown (maybe sepia would be a better description) coloured glass with a slightly mottled looking texture. It has the text '212 sexy' in large dark red lettering and 'Carolina Herrera New York' beneath this. On the other side of the bottle is the information 'eau de parfum, 30m'l and 'Made in Spain by Antonio Puig Barcelona', plus some other small text.
Overall, I like the look and feel of the bottle - the colours are attractive too, but I find it annoying that you can't stand the bottle up. When I put it down on a surface, I have to put something in front of it so it doesn't roll off onto the floor. This has happened a few times - sometimes it has rolled away and I can't find where it went and forget about it for a while, and sometimes I'm scared the bottle will hit a hard floor and break - which would be really upsetting! The extra cap also takes up more space, which is not good when you're taking this perfume along with you somewhere and have limited space. Even though it would look less unique, I'd prefer if one end had a flat bottom, or the whole thing wasn't cylindrical, and had a flat surface part so it could stay put.
The lotion comes in a tube that's a bit like a giant toothpaste tube, with a plastic screw cap and a hole in the tube for the lotion to come out. The tube is opaque, and a similar colour to the plastic cap on the perfume bottle. It also has '212 sexy, Carolina herrera New York' in red lettering on the front of the tube, and tells you it is 'hydrating body lotion' at the bottom. The back of the tube tells you it's good for 12 months. It also tells you the amount in the tube (100ml or 3.4 fluid ounces), the website (www.carolinaherrera.com) and some other small print. I find the lotion too bulky to take with me anywhere, and don't like the pointy edges on the top of the tube, as if I put it in a bag, they can jab my hands as I reach in to get the tube, or damage the lining of my handbag if it's delicate.
Overall, the packaging is pretty but not very practical.
=== Final verdict ===
I would probably not buy this as it's a bit expensive for my budget, but if I run out and someone asks me what I'd like as a gift (I have some very generous family), I might just suggest this! I would recommend it to some of my friends, but people have very definite opinions about perfumes, and they can smell different on different people, and last for different amounts of time on different people too, so I don't know if they would like it!