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I got through a lot of aftershaves as I like a strong fragrance and tend to use aftershaves quite liberally. I am trying to not spend so much money on them though but still enjoy receiving them as presents which is how I ended up with the Carolina Herrera 212 VIP gift set which was a Christmas present from my sister. Carolina Herrera isn't really a designer I am all that familiar with and although I have a passing familiarity with the 212 range this is the first time I have ever actually smelt any of them so was wondering why my sister would buy me it when she knew there were many other aftershaves I liked. Luckily for me my sister knows me quite well and this has quickly become one of my favourite aftershaves to wear and I will definitely be buying a new bottle when my one is finished. ~~~~~ 212 ~~~~~ The 212 range encompasses a whole selection of different fragrances for both men and women. There is the original 212, 212 men, 212 sexy, 212 men on ice, 212 men H2O and several others. 212 VIP is the latest fragrance to be released by Carolina Herrera and was released in 2011 and is available for both men and women. The 212 VIP aftershave contains some fantastic sounding smells with top notes of black pepper, passion fruit, gin tonic and ginger, middle notes are chilled vodka Zubrowska, caviar lime and hot ginger and bottom notes of king wood, leather and amber extreme. ~~~~~ The gift set ~~~~~ The 212 VIP men gift set that I received came in a dark blue box with 212 emblazoned on it in large silver lettering. Inside the box there was a 50ml bottle of aftershave and a 100ml body wash. The aftershave comes in a shiny silver coloured square bottle and has a really cool look to it and is something that I would definitely not be embarrassed to bring out at the gym or have on my bathroom shelf. ~~~~~ The aftershave ~~~~~ As I said the aftershave has some brilliant sounding notes such as chilled vodka Zubrowska. Now I have absolutely no idea what chilled vodka Zubrowska should smell like but I absolutely love the idea that I am putting on something that contains it. First of all let me say that this isn't the aftershave for those people who like subtlety as there is absolutely nothing subtle about this fragrance and as soon as you spray one squirt onto your skin it is in your face with it strong, rich masculine smell. This has to be one of the strongest aftershaves I have ever used. I really like a strong smelling aftershave and for me I have to be able to smell it on myself as I buy aftershaves that I like for me to smell not so I can smell nice for other people. Usually this means I have to practically bath in the aftershave as normally most of them only give off a slight smell. With this aftershave I literally only need a couple of squirts on my neck to be completely enveloped by the fragrance. Longevity is amazing with this too and I can put it on in the morning and be confident that I am still smelling good in the afternoon and right through to the evening. Although it is really strong it isn't (to me at least) overpowering. When you first spray it the aftershave does take a few minutes to settle down but then although strong I don't smell like a teenager who has taken a bath in the stuff. The smell of the aftershave is difficult to describe. It does smell similar to a lot of other aftershaves on the market but it is different enough not to smell generic. It is incredibly musky and spicy and is really masculine. I can smell the black pepper and the leather and there is a slight hint of something sweet which I assume must be the lime. I have no idea about the caviar or vodka though I would love to smell these scents on their own just to see what they smelt like. ~~~~~ The shower gel ~~~~~ I find that sometimes with these sets the accompanying shower gel can be a bit hit or miss in quality. The 212 VIP shower gel is one of the better ones. It smells exactly like the aftershave and it also has the same intensity to it. I have used the shower gel on its own before and it scented my skin just as strongly as some aftershaves have done. The smell from the shower gel also lasts a long time and it is clear that a lot of effort was put into making it and they haven't just packaged some cheap shower gel with minimal smell with the aftershave. It is one of the few shower gels that I would consider buying separately and not just using because it came free in a gift set. You only need a tiny amount of the shower gel to work up a really good lather so I am finding that the bottle I got is lasting me quite a long time in comparison with some other free shower gels I've had where I have had to use quarter of the bottle every time I shower. I also find that it isn't overly drying and although it isn't an all over one I have used it on my hair and it hasn't left it dried out and frizzy afterwards. ~~~~~ Pricing and availability ~~~~~ The gift set seems to be hard to get a hold of so was probably just released for Christmas but the aftershave can be found both online and in most department stores priced at around £36 for a 50ml bottle and at around £48 for a larger 100ml bottle. It is also available in a lotion splash as well as the spray version which I have. ~~~~~ Recommendation ~~~~~ I would highly recommend 212 VIP for men looking for a fragrance that has a bit of punch to it. It is masculine and really fragrant but not to the extent that it comes across as being chavvy and overpowering to other people. Since wearing this I have had loads of compliments from both men and women with two women asking me what it is I am wearing so that they can buy some for their boyfriends.