Sel Marin is probably the fragrance that Heeley are best known for. An upscale oceanic scent that contains notes of lemon, bergamot, beech leaf, sea salt, algae, moss, seaweed, vetiver, musk, leather and cedarwood.
It starts off with zesty lemon peel and sea salt, as bright as sunlight and as enlivening as a coastal breeze. For the first hour or so it is a revitalising swim in a secluded rocky bay with not a SPF’ed tourist in sight. It feels like seawater lapping around my sunlit skin.
After about an hour, a clean vetiver drifts in and the mood shifts. We move into the shade under the boardwalk. Algae cling to the huge timber pillars which are repeatedly soaked in saltwater. Green and musty seaweed is strewn across the beach which is scattered with moss covered pebbles. Everything is encrusted with sea salt.
Oftentimes salt notes put my teeth on edge but that doesn’t happen while wearing Sel Marin.
There’s a touch of something which could be the unsettling ozone twang of iodine. That not always pleasant back-note of sea life left behind by the tide. It just adds to the realism and isn’t strong on my skin.
Sel Marin is bone-dry with no sign whatsoever of coconut infused sun lotion. It isn’t the scent of a tropical resort or even a desert island like Heeley’s Coccobello. It’s a rugged seashore in temperate climes, with skies which regularly cloud over and seawater which is murky and briny, not turquoise and crystal clear.
A salty, woody vetiver is not my style, but I admire the way Sel Marin recreates such a vivid scene. I might not always wish to wear fragrances like this, but I admire the way they seek to capture a sense of place with lots of atmosphere. They’re like one of the magical bottles in a tent at The Night Circus:
“He picks up a frosted-glass mason jar and unscrews the silver metal lid. This jar is not empty but contains a small amount of white sand which shifts on the bottom. The scent that wafts from it is the unmistakable smell of the ocean, a bright summer day at the seashore.
He can hear the sound of waves crashing against the sand, the cry of a seagull. There is something mysterious as well, something fantastical. The flag of a pirate ship on the far horizon, a mermaid’s tail flipping out of sight behind a wave. The scent and the feeling are adventurous and exhilarating, with a salty tinge of a sea breeze.
Bailey closes the jar and the scent and the feeling fades, trapped back inside the glass with the handful of sand.”
Extract from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern