Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Comfort(er) Scents

A few years ago I wrote about comfort scents, smells that you go crave when the goings get tough. This is not what we're talking about here. Or at least, not quite. It's the middle of winter and staying in bed has never felt better: pulling the comforter up to your nose while planting your feet firmly under a cat. I've looked for perfumes that give me this feeling, and are also good for long nights under the covers. They have to feel cozy, yet not overwhelm with foody/sweet notes, spice, or too much of just about anything. In no particular order, here are my white sheets and soft comforter perfumes:

  • Etat Libre d'Orange- Fils de Dieu, du Riz et des Agrumes. It's that steamed rice note. Yes, I know I just said "no food", but Fils de Dieu is not quite a gourmand perfume. It's soft and white, easy to wear and not distracting.
  • Serge Lutens- Clair de Musc. One of the sleeper perfumes in the line is delicate, clean, and moves between creamy and powdery. 
  • Ted Lapidus- Silk Way. An oriental musk-wood-incense that wears like a gauzy light blanket. 
  • Ramon Monegal- Cuirelle.  This might be pushing the boundaries a little with its sensual honeyed leather/incense. I guess that's how skin smells after staying in bed all  day with books and cats. 
  • Annick Goutal- Ninfeo Mio. This one is actually for summer. Imagine a cool white canopied bed in a room open to a Mediterranean garden. You feel the breeze and pull the crisp sheet over your shoulders. Bliss.
  • Le Labo: Vanille 44 and Labdanum 18. Two cozy cashmere-like perfumes, not very sweet or too heavy. 
  • Atelier Cologne- Vanille Insensee. A relative of the Le Labo exclusive, not foody and quite grown up. Like having a cup of Earl Grey tea in bed.
  • Frederic Mall- Dans tes Bras. Powdery and a little weird,  feels like finding an old beloved blanket that has been stored in a wooden box with violet-scented sachets.
  • Hermes- Hiris. Another combination of coolness and warmth, a crisp white scent that I adore all year round. It's calming, relaxing, and oddly fitting when the snow keeps falling.

Rose McGowan At Jean Paul Gaultier Show (Paris Fashion Week)

I haven't been following Rose McGowan lately so I had no idea she cut her hair this short. These photos were taken at the Jean Paul Gaultier show in Paris (Haute Couture fashion week). She certainly has the cheekbones to carry it, but I still think it's too short (I'm biased, I know). I do love the dark lipstick and well-defined eyes. The outfit? Well, it's Gaultier and she's Rose McGowan. I like her because she's interesting and always looks imaginative, for better and for worse.

 And here are Carla Bruni-Sarkozy  and Dita Von Teese at the same event, below:

Looks like everyone was having fun.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter

My daily (and nightly) body lotion is the decidedly unglamorous Amlactin (Alpha Hydroxy Therapy in the bottle with the green pump). It has done wonders for my formerly scaly skin over the last year or so. But not molting on a daily basis is not always enough, especially in the dead of winter. So I've been adding and trying various creams, old and new, for the sake of extra hydration and nourishment. Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter is my latest discovery, and it's proven itself through thick, thin, and itchy.

This lightly scented body butter (a soapy lemon fragrance that thankfully doesn't linger much since I don't like it at all) is, indeed, as soothing as Tatcha promises. It comes ina  tub and it's a lovely shade of blue. The product is gentle, not sticky at all, and feels lighter than the average body butter (it's based on olive squalene rather than on shea, and the texture is more cream than butter). You can get dressed immediately following a good slathering (this is an advantage over the Amlactin that takes a couple of minutes to sink in). Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter seems to improve the skin on my limbs over time and frequent use, and it has helped with the occasional winter irritation.

Bottom Line: I'm going to need a bigger tub.

Water, Glycerin, Squalane (Olive Origin), Cyclopentasiloxane, Propanediol, Diisostearyl Malate, Myristyl Myristate, Xylitol, Dipentaerythrityl Hexahydroxystearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Fragrance (Natural), Sorbitan Tristearate, Beheneth-20, Sodium Acrylate/Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Dimethylacrylamide Crosspolymer, Microcrystalline Wax, Dimethicone, Ethylhexylglycerin, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Germ Oil, Inositol (Rice Extract), Sodium Polyacrylate Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Disodium Edta, Sodium Dilauramidoglutamide Lysine, Sericin (Silk Extract), Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (Licorice Extract), Hydrogenated Lecithin (Soy Origin), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Polygonum Tinctorum (Japanese Indigo Extract) Leaf/Stem Extract, Alcohol, Algae Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, and Phenoxyethanol.

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Body Butter ($48, 6.8 oz) is available from A deluxe sample was supplied by the company.

Image: Rene Gruau for Jacques Fath via

Friday, January 23, 2015

Ralph Lauren- Tuxedo (Vintage Perfume)

Ralph Lauren Holiday, 2005

When I started writing about vintage perfumes here I called it "The Lost Perfume Series". I felt that some these treasures from our perfume past were not only gone, but close to being forgotten. Or in the case of bad reformulations, their true nature was being forgotten. Then there are the ones that truly slipped through the cracks of time, and most people don't even know they existed.

Case in point: Tuxedo by Ralph Lauren. The 1979 follow up to Lauren's classic (now badly reformulated) Lauren, meant as its evening counterpart. It didn't live to see much of the 80s.  Amelia on The Vintage Perfume Vault shares her thoughts about why Tuxedo was a flop. I agree with her about the gender confusion, to a degree. But I think it's also an issue of brand identity. Back in the 1970s and even today to a degree, despite Lauren's Black Label line and evening wear, the designer's image is horsey and outdoorsy. Is the woman who aspires for the life depicted in the original Lauren ads the same as the one who buys a leather-floriental named Tuxedo? A woman in a tuxedo is very YSL, not necessarily Ralph Lauren's customer.

Which brings us to the perfume itself, the lost Tuxedo. The bottle is a black version of the classic preppy Lauren, with a red logo. It's the only color combination possible for this dark and sexy beauty. It hits you from the very first whiff with a vintage vibe that was probably already considered dated by 1979 (the seventies seem to have been more about green chypres than about smoky leather ones). I smell the oak moss right away, a leathery moss or a mossy leather. It's probably due to the perfume's aging that it takes a bit for the floral bouquet to unfold and show its grandness. The blend is smooth and quite seamless, an animalic floral fortified by wood and a sweet thick ambery base. It hints towards the big-boned florientals of the approaching decade, but in my opinion Tuxedo is superior.

There's certainly a gender-bending element here. The aged leather, hints of a smoky library with its worn Chesterfield couch and a glass of aged cognac are not necessarily a typical seventies or eighties perfume, which is another reason to love and appreciate Tuxedo. It was unique back when it was created and it's even more special now. I think of it as an incredibly romantic perfume. How ironic it is that Ralph Lauren's anemic, scrubbed-clean Romance is the one that people know and recognize everywhere, while Tuxedo is lost forever.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush

You'll have to excuse the Hakuhodo's (right) appearance: I had to retake the photos on a day the brush was dirty, so I quickly washed it but had no time to let it dry, so what you see is a very damp G534.

Ever since reviewing the magnificent Hakuhodo G543 brush back in 2011 I've been getting request to find a synthetic equivalent. It took a while, but here it is:  Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush. Like the Hakuhodo brush, it's kabuki sized, with very short bristles (shorter than the Hakuhodo, actually), and a completely flat head. Both are designated for buffing powder, especially powder foundation, onto the skin, and both do an awesome job.

The synthetic hairs of Tarte Airbuki (was this name really necessary?) are soft, densely packed and firm enough for a  perfect buffed full coverage. They might lack the extra puff-like plushness and luxurious feel of the Hakuhodo, but even I have to admit that only marginally so. Cleaning them is about the same- the Hakuhodo hair is white, so returning it to its full glory takes a bit of a time and a good face cleanser, and the same goes for the synthetic bristles, so no real difference here, though if you never use the Tarte brush with any liquid product it should be easier.

I've tested the brush with a bunch of powder foundations (Laura Mercier, Youngblood, and Dior), all with perfect results. Do note that on dry and flaky days (or after using a chemical exfoliant) it might add to the situation, but that's a given.

Bottom Line: probably the best brush Tarte ever produced.

Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush ($26) is available from Ulta, Sephora, and

Paul & Joe Spring 2015

I admit that there's nothing about these Paul & Joe Spring 2015 palettes that's age-appropriate. But I don't care. The only thing stopping me from ordering one or three is the fact that these are eye and face palettes, so the eye shadows and blush live in the same pan and touch each other, which is a recipe for a big ugly mess (what's with the combination palettes this season?). Of course, there's that all brown palette in the tiger box, but I'd never use the yellow eye shadow. Or would I?

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Recently Tested: Assorted Skincare Products

I've already told you how I simplified my skincare routine for the sake of of my complexion and sanity. This means that I rarely test anything new. Because the consequences are rarely pretty. But I'm still curious enough to try things here and there, so these are my impressions of stuff I've let in during the last six months:

DHC CoQ10 Lotion & Resveratrol Lotion. I'm more open to trying Japanese toner/lotions than I am to any other skincare products. Most of them are mild, hydrating, and make the skin happy and eager to absorb the next step in pampering. These two are no diiferent. They're pretty similar to each other, except that the more "advanced" Resveratrol has some more plant extracts and whatnots. Is it more effective? I doubt it. These two DHC lotions are competent, but I admit that my heart belongs to the simple Hada Labo products that feel gentler even when my skin is raw from allergies and other winter troubles. ($37 & $61, respectively, on Press Samples).

Lumene BB Serum. Ignore the stupid BB name because it has nothing to do with popular BB creams (is this still a thing? Lauder has moved on to an EE). This is a light vitamin C serum that is supposed to be an anti-aging product. It might be a brightening serum if you don't use anything else for this purpose, but for someone who does chemical exfoliation on a regular basis and uses a heavy duty vitamin C serum daily, this Lumene serum is a lightweight in every sense of the word. I sometimes use it under makeup, just because, but I can't say I see any real benefit.  ($21.99 at Ulta, Dermstore, and most drugstores. Press Sample)

Fresh Seaberry Face Oil. I like face oils and use them all the time. This one from Fresh is a reasonable one, though you can't use it in the morning under a sun block, because it causes the white stuff to ball and look so horrendous you need to clean up and start all over with a different moisturizer, as I've learned the hard way. The ingredient list (Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Fragrance, BHT, Linalool, Limonene, Citral, Coumarin, Geraniol) includes several items that are heavily restricted in perfume use because they're known irritants and allergens (linalool, limonene, coumarine), so it makes me laugh bitterly to see them in a skincare product that goes all over one's face. Where's IFRA when you really need them? ($50, 1.6oz at Sephora. GWP).

Auriga Flavo-C Forte. I think I forgot to mention vitamin C serums in my routine post (linked above). At the time I was using the one from Paula's Choice, which is an excellent product, except for its size. Vitamin C serums are highly unstable and lose effectiveness once unsealed. You're supposed to chuck them after three months, and I've found myself disposing of half full bottles of serum. Enter this little bottle of 15% l-ascorbic acid, just like Paula's, only smaller (15ml compared to 20ml). Now, it's more expensive, so you don't save anything, but you don't throw away stuff, either, and the smell is a little less offensive, which is the real winner in my case. ($52.99 on Amazon).

Hakuhodo Brush Soap

Brush geeks take brush washing pretty seriously. I usually devote an afternoon for that, making sure my brushes are well-pampered as well as clean. As I've mentioned in the post linked above, I'm not particularly fussy about the detergents I use, as long as they're mild enough. But now Hakuhodo has their own brush soap (orange, of course), which is supposed to be the best way to wash their brushes. Basically, it's a gentle glycerin soap (ingredients: water, sucrose, glycerin, ethanol, sorbitol, HEDTS-3Na, Etidronic acid, BHT, pecan shell extract, paprika pigment), which should tell you what we've known all along: a gentle soap is the best way to wash makeup brushes.

Hakuhodo Brush Soap does a good and effective job on natural hair brushes that have been used with powder products, and to a certain extent also with synthetic brushes and light liquid makeup. I still find that I need a stronger product (such as an oil face cleanser) to break down cream foundation or pigmented cream blush from synthetic and even white goat hair brushes. The soap dissolves slowly and doesn't fall apart. It holds well for reusing again and again. While I tend to prefer liquid soaps in pump bottles for germy reasons, I have to admit that this one looks and feels perfectly clean. I pat it dry, make sure there's no more moisture on the surface and put it back in the resealable plastic baggie, and store until the next time.

Bottom Line: why not?

Hakuhodo Brush Soap ($8, 30g) is available from The product in this review was sent by PR.

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