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New Phase, New Perfume: My Take on Eli Rallo’s Birthday Tradition

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Eli Rallo, often described as Gen Z’s big sister, is a podcaster, influencer and a budding author known best for her iconic rule lists that she breaks down for over 700,000 of her “besties” on TikTok. While she is all of these things and much more, I know her better as simply a New York icon. As a matriarch of the treat yourself movement, she always encourages her followers to celebrate the little things, whether that’s through a self-care night, afternoon treat or if you’re lucky enough, through her “buy your coffee Friday.” tradition. It should be no surprise that the queen of celebrating the little things is even better at celebrating the big ones – namely a birthday. With Cancer season in full swing and her birthday right around the corner, Eli posted a TikTok in mid-July sharing what she claims to be the “best birthday tradition ever.”

The tradition began when she turned 20, in response to a conversation between her and her mother about the increasingly anticlimactic nature of birthdays as we age. As a 20-year-old, I could see myself in Eli’s past self, who also felt that she hadn’t experienced the same giddy excitement once elicited by childhood birthdays. Her mother, also known as “Libra,” suggested an impromptu trip to Sephora in hopes of restoring Eli’s ability to usher in a new year with a sense of tangibility. The two decided to pick out a perfume that reflected Eli’s new age and set the tone for the next year. After keeping the tradition alive for the last five years, Eli was invited to Jo Malone in London to hunt for her new signature scent for her 25th birthday over the summer.

When I watched her video in July, I felt subtly disappointed that I had an entire six months ahead of me before I could partake in her fabulous birthday tradition. But my impatience stirred a question: weren’t there other events in my life besides a birthday that were just as deserving of proper commemorations? After all, I had just moved to Manhattan for the summer by myself. What could justify a celebration more than that? With that, I threw on a pair of sneakers, grabbed my purse and walked straight out the door of my apartment with only one destination in mind: Sephora

On my walk there, I considered my options. While I was not in the market to make a big purchase, I could absolutely choose to make my coffee at home for the week and reallocate my shaken espresso budget towards a new perfume. After an hour of smelling so many test strips to the verge of a headache, I decided to buy a travel size bottle – Dulce by Rosie Jane if you’re interested – to last me through the summer. This way, I would always remember it as my “New York Summer 2023” scent. 

Like I hoped it would, my travel size perfume ran out just days before I departed Manhattan. But now, each memory of my summer was tinged with notes of warm vanilla and hinoki wood, mixed with the smell of sunscreen, espresso, and city air. Linking an additional sensory connection to my memories of a certain time made me feel like I was able to not only better distinguish different chapters but to better honor and celebrate time passing. The success of my summer perfume plan left me plotting a hypothetical conversation with Eli Rallo about rebranding her birthday tradition as a “New Phase, New Perfume” tradition.

As we kick off fall quarter, now is as good a time as ever to decide how you want to commemorate the start of a new school year. I plan on continuing my adopted perfume tradition, which means I’m currently searching for my next scent. My favorite thing about a new scent is that it invites you to curate the aura that will accompany the memories you make during that period of time. Whether you choose to go for sweet, sophisticated or sexy, each time you dab your perfume on your wrists you will be reminded to celebrate both the small phases and the big ones. We all deserve to feel giddy with excitement for what comes next, regardless of our age.

Ellie is a second-year Global Studies major at UCLA, from Charlotte, NC. Her favorite author is Sally Rooney, and she loves re-reading books, playing field hockey, cooking for friends, and photographing them on her camera. In the summer, you can find her in downtown Manhattan peeking into a vintage store or writing in a coffee shop.