A few weeks ago, I wore Demeter Fragrance’s Cannabis Flower perfume for one week and wrote about the experience. After having wandered around the streets of Toronto smelling like I’d just smoked a bowl for seven days straight, I decided that for my next perfume review, I needed to get right with the law and with the good Lord.
Enter Demeter Fragrance’s Holy Water perfume. As a Lutheran who was raised by a Catholic, I’ve had a little experience with holy water in its literal sense, but I had no idea what holy water-scented perfume would smell like. My best guess was that it would smell something like dust, wood, crinkly old paper, and maybe just a dash of good ol’ Catholic guilt.
When my bottle of Holy Water arrived in the mail, I was super eager to try it out. I popped off the lid, took a whiff, and smelled,…well, church.
Directly out of the bottle, Holy Water smells very woody and musty and yet strangely sharp, just like an old church does. If you haven’t been inside an old church before, imagine the scent of your grandparents’ rec room. It’s familiar and comforting, but there’s also something strangely off-putting about the smell.
Then I sprayed the perfume on my wrist, and holy shit did Holy Water ever smell heavenly. Saintly, even. Godly, I’d say! Gone was the smell of grandma’s basement, and in its place was an intoxicating blend of something very lightly floral, very strongly woody, and lotion-like at the base.
And when I say that it was intoxicating, I mean it. I could not stop smelling my wrist. I spritzed Holy Water in my hair and was kind of tempted to rub a little under my nose. There was no doubt about it–I was a Holy Water convert.
So was my mom, perhaps unsurprisingly, as she was raised in a devoutly Catholic home and had good memories of her childhood. “I love it,” she said upon smelling Holy Water. “Straight out of the bottle, it reminds me of the church, but it smells really different on your wrist. It’s so nice.”
So, my mom and I are fans. 10 points for Demeter! But what would the general public think? Determined to find out, I decided to wear Holy Water for an entire week.
Unlike with the weed-scented perfume, I had no problem wearing Holy Water to work. Two of my coworkers told me they liked my new fragrance, but none remarked that the smell reminded them of the church. (Godless heathens, all of them!) Both of my coworkers who commented on the perfume were surprised to discover that the scent was supposed to be reminiscent of holy water. “I’ve never been to church, so I don’t know what holy water is supposed to smell like, but I love your perfume,” one said. “It’s pretty. I’d wear it.”
Later in the week, I met up with a friend for a drink and asked him what he thought of my perfume. He’s an atheist, but his parents sent him to Catholic school from kindergarten to the 12th grade, so I was curious to see if he would pick up on the holy water notes.
“You smell good,” he said. “Do you want to split a plate of nachos?”
Two days later, I tried again with another friend who was raised in a Catholic home. “I definitely get the church smell here,” she said, taking a whiff of the nozzle. “But on my wrist, it smells different. I really like it, though. It’s different, but I’d wear it for sure.”
My week of wearing Holy Water has already turned into two. It’s just such an incredibly lovely fragrance that seems to work really well with my body chemistry–the scent lasts and lasts. I’m not sure if it was an act of God or a simple, happy surprise, but Holy Water has become one of my go-to fragrances. I guess the moral of the parable here is that you should never judge a perfume by its name. Oh, and that miracles really do happen: Holy Water can turn godless heathens into believers.