Are you old enough to remember when Garden Botanika stores were still in shopping malls across the United States? The 1990s were a wonderful time for affordable women’s fragrances, when it was not uncommon to find The Body Shop, Bath and Body Works, Victoria’s Secret and Garden Botanika all under the same roof. (The Gap was pretty strong in their fragrance game then, too.) The brand distinguished itself by offering custom-scenting options on a variety of botanically-based bath and body products, as well as having in own line of ready-made fragranced products for purchase. Garden Botanika‘s success as a brick-and-mortar didn’t last long, with the last shops closing in the early 2000s, but this scrappy brand found ways to remain relevant and evolve with the times, as a catalog/online retailer and by maintaining a small footprint in department stores. Here we are almost 20 years later and the brand is still available today, with products (even the custom blends!) now for sale exclusively through Amazon.
I had the pleasure of visiting a store just once in the 1990s, and I didn’t buy anything but did a lot of sniffing. I believe the subject of today’s post, Heart, was even available then, though I don’t remember if I tried it that day. Heart remains the brand’s top-selling fragrance, available as body mist, eau de parfum, perfume oil, soap and lotion, as well as a solid perfume stick. This was a blind buy for me, and while looking for reviews of Heart online before purchase, I came across some old Makeup Alley reviews from as long as 19 years ago, and as recently as three years ago. It seems like the folks who love this one REALLY love it, with multiple reviewers saying they’ve worn it for ten or more years. One commenter on Amazon notes she’s been wearing it since 1997.
Encountering it for the first time in 2020, it does have a bit of a 1990s vibe to me, but it’s definitely a pleasant, easy-to-wear fragrance that fans of light feminine fragrances will appreciate. All that being said, I’m not sure the solid is the best format for this perfume. Let’s take a closer look.
Garden Botanika Heart Solid Perfume Stick Review
Size: a hefty 0.5 oz./14 g (like the very big tubes of lip balm–see comparison to a standard lip balm tube size in the photo)
Packaging: plastic twist-up tube with a plastic cap and a printed label. The tube arrived in a plastic zip-lock bag bearing additional labeling info. The brand emphasizes minimal packaging. Bag, tube and cap are recyclable.
Base: sunflower oil, beeswax, caprylic/capric triglyceride, tocopherol. The brand also notes its product is free of parabens, glycols, PEGS, phthalates, articfiial dyes and gluten.
Vegan-friendly: No, due to the beeswax, but the eau de parfum and perfume oil are vegan options.
Color and Texture: This is a white, extra creamy formula that’s almost too soft to be in stick format. Keep this one out of your pocket and whatever you do, don’t leave it in a hot car! It is a texture that will melt quickly. That does mean, though, that it spreads easily and moisturizes the skin well.
Natural perfume or mixed media: unknown but presumably mixed media or possibly entirely synthetic.
Fragrance description and notes: from the Garden Botanika site on Amazon (Heart EDP page): “Powder-soft blend of gardenias, jasmine and roses blended with orange, cedar and cardamom and deepened with a hint of warm musk.”
Longevity: It’s pretty brief in the solid format–just a couple of hours, maybe three under clothing. However, I have worn this fragrance only in warm late summer/early Autumn. I’ll keep trying it as the days get colder and update this post if the performance improves in cooler weather.
Sillage: Noticeable several inches above skin for the first hour; a skin scent thereafter.
The experience: Let’s talk about the scent first. This is one of those fragrances I feel like my “sophisticated” nose should have moved beyond, and then I can’t stop sniffing my wrist…
It’s a soft, pretty floral-woody musk, with noticeable lemon (to my nose, anyway–the citrus note listed by the brand is orange, but there’s no sweetness). The floral notes are present as a bouquet and no individual floral note dominates. Heart has that “clean” musky aroma that was popular in 1990s fragrances like CK Be and Cacharel Noa and which carried over into the 2000s with fragrances like Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely and Narciso Rodriguez. If you enjoy powdery floral musks, you’ll probably adore this one. Fragrances like this are always good for daytime/office wear and the Heart solid will be a safe choice even for those who share very close spaces (more on that in a moment).
Unfortunately, I feel like I’m just getting to know the fragrance when poof! It’s gone! Its persistence is so brief as a solid that I can only conclude this is not the optimal format for Heart. (This is sometimes the case with “quiet” scents that feature tender top notes. The softness and subtlety of the solid format whittles them down to next-to-nothing.) I haven’t tried the perfume oil or EDP of Heart, but those are likely a better medium for a fragrance of this type. Another option would be to layer the Heart solid with its matching body care products.
All that being said, there are a few people for whom the Heart solid might be suitable: children or tweens who already want a perfume of their own; people who are in close personal contact with others (doctors, nurses, caregivers, elementary school teachers); people who enjoy fragrances but can’t tolerate strong scents. For everyone else, the solid’s fleeting beauty will only frustrate you, as it has me. I really like this one but it always leaves me wanting MORE…
Additional notes: The zip-lock bag my perfume arrived in bears a sticker that says “Expiration Date 07-2021.” I got this in September, so I don’t even have a full year to use it up. If you constantly rotate through a large collection of fragrances, that’s something to consider.
All photos and original artwork by me.