Providence Perfume Co. Body Oils

She’s a crazy flower lady you’ll see sniffing lilacs along the seaside gardens of Providence. A native of Rhode Island, Charna Ethier’s fledgling botanical studio,Providence Perfume Company, is where she hand plucks local flowers and essences to craft a line of elegant, monochromatic body oil scents with an urban edge. Her taste is exquisite—I wanted everything in her shop.

She selects oils like a great sommelier, with an intimate appreciation for nature's bounty, but with an added glint of disdain for the norm. Rejecting the use of petroleum based oils and synthetic aroma-chemicals was the obvious choice for Ethier, who creates small batches of body oils (and fragrances) using only natural essences, oils and absolutes procured from locally grown plants and flowers. “My lilacs were bountiful this year,” Ethier gushes. “Thankfully, I didn’t have to ask my neighbors to “borrow” any.” There is an intriguing play of ingredients in her yummy oils. In them, you’ll find a supercharged base of apricot, sweet almond, safflower, and jojoba oils with a dollop of aloe to nourish your skin like no other. Among these, bet on the sweet almond oil for its superb penetrating properties and range of nutrients: vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, E), minerals, fatty acids, and protein to correct skin’s ravages. [A side note - almond oil is similar in composition to the oil a baby secretes to keep their skin and hair healthy.] While most oils use 1-2 base oils, it's this cornucopia of intense moisturizers that may explain why Ethier’s essentials offer such marvelous cure-all benefits.

Here’s the lowdown:
  • Lavender Vanilla Body Oil: Organic Madagascar vanilla beans macerated in oil for months before added to a trio of fragrant lavender absolutes, which yields a treatment to heal cuts, burns and sunburns rapidly.
  • Orange Blossom Body Oil: A sweetly scented floral oil, which will help treat and prevent unsightly scars from shaving nicks.
  • Wild Lime Leaf Body Oil: The crisp kaffir lime leaves, toning juniper and lime zest bring tightening properties, which help with cellulite and mature dry skin.
Of the recherché body oils, it’s nearly impossible to say which one you should take to bed. But, the greatest draw to this collction is the delicate 100 ml vintage milk glass bottles, which help protect the essential oils from light and heat exposure keeping them fresh and fragrant. Simply put, Ethier's oils are carefully balanced. The scents are persistent, ambitious in character and depth, but don’t overwhelm the senses.

While I can never get enough of the cordial pairing between Lavender & Vanilla, I was pleasantly taken aback by the Orange Blossom Body Oil, which is most scintillating in scent and smooth in texture. A very lightweight oil that evolves beautifully over time to impart a sparkly refreshness to skin after a shower. Really, the satiny finish seems to go on and on. But, there is some final flourish to its harmony, one I couldn't put my finger on. Ethier says, “I consider the Orange Blossom deceptively simple. It may smell of orange blossoms, but it's a carefully crafted blend of bitter orange, petitgrain, neroli, orange blossom absolute, violet leaf and sweet orange oil.”

The luxury oils work well for skin, face and hair. A hint: to keep hair nourished, thick & glossy, apply to dry ends and leave hair wrapped in a dry warm towel (microwave works best for us) for 15 minutes while you are soaking in the tub or replying to the glut of emails. The results are immediate as split ends are tamed. Because you use so very little, the body oil will last for months at a time. Ethier has a sculptural sense of essences and oils. It's her relentless respect for nature that emanates from the body oils and serves as a nod to the imperfections and impermanence of delicate flowers. In convenient retro chic packaging, these decadent delights will become welcomed gems for your vanity table.