Saffron James Monoi de Mo’orea Tahitian Vanille Bean, $40, ronrobinson.com

If a beauty item is popular with indigenous peoples, it is generally popular with me. Talk about standing the test of time! For centuries, Tahitians have dried coconut meat and tiare flowers together in the sun to produce monoi oil, famous for its mystical, magical powers: It glowifies, moisturizes, protects against the sun, de-ages, even protects against spirits. Gauguin—lately reported to be a somewhat greedy, acquisitive type—doubtlessly bathed in it.

You warm the oil in your hand or under a hot faucet (or, obvs, in the sun) to turn it from butter to liquid; I love it! As far as I knew, there was only the tiare scent—which I love, but in moderation. Then perfumer Kate Growney (my brilliant former assistant, as it happens, and now proprietress of Saffron James) went to Tahiti and brought back this: monoi, but with Tahitian vanilla pods scraped into the coconut meat instead of tiare flowers. Heaven. The vanilla is a dry, grown-up and almost smoky vanilla, more like actual vanilla and less like cake-mix smell. It makes the most indulgent bath/massage/face oil/cuticle cream/body oil/foot rub … Potentially I am now also protected against spirits, but mostly I am just—indulged.

P.S.: Kate, a.k.a. Saffron James, also makes a great tiare.

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