Sunday, April 30, 2006

Monyette Paris Perfume Oil

I've gotten addicted to ordering sample packs from Luckyscent over the last few months. They keep me occupied, amused, and sometimes challenged, and it's all good. The full bottles that seem to arrive out of nowhere soon after are the dark side of this hobby, but let's not go there. The last sample pack I got has proven especially lethal. It included  Monyette Paris, a fragrance that was just reviewed by the Beauty Addict  and I didn't particularly expect to like, but was very curious about because of that review.

The first whiff seemed to confirm my suspicion: a big and heady gardenia.  I was strongly reminded of my mom's eternal Chloe (my mother and her one-fragrance devotion are worthy of a separate post). There's no tuberose there, though, and the journey to a tropical destination started growing on me pretty quickly. It's cheerful, petaly, very femme, a kind of fantasy summer vacation thing on that perfect island where there are no mosquitoes, no sweat, and no sand in one's bikini.

The creamy vanillic dry-down has a hint of wood, a spoonful of sugar, and a maybe-incense thing far in the background. It's an indulgence, perhaps, more treat than a cerebral experience, but that's perfectly fine for summer. And for men.

I'm not the biggest fan of perfume oils, especially in a vial (but that's just the sample. The real thing comes as a roll on, so there won't be any more cleavage drippage). It took Monyette Paris a few minutes to set before I stopped feeling glistenly anointed. My recommendation is to apply where you won't be rubbing it on things or exposing it to sunlight. Other than that it's all good.

Monyette Paris ($45, 1/8 oz) can be purchased from BeautyHabit and Luckyscent.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Battle of the Frizz

I’m not a real authority on hair-styling products. For the simple reason that I don’t style my hair. It’s very long, very thick, quite healthy but demands extra moisturizing, not sculpting.

I’ve had different styles and lengths in the past. It was super short with eighties spikes, pixie-ish, feathered, cut into a short bob and a long bob. My hair and my face look better when it’s long. I don’t hide behind it. It’s almost an accessory that is supposed to flatter what I have. I never do bangs, as it doesn’t look good on me. I just keep it swept back, often with a side part and that’s it.

I don’t own a hair drier. You wouldn’t either if you had so much hair. I towel and air-dry it, that’s all it takes.

Here’s what I do use:
I alternate between TRESemme shampoo and conditioner for dry/damaged hair and the stuff by Biolage- the shampoo and conditioning balm. I buy the biggest bottles they make, though (33.8 fl oz). Otherwise I’m running out way too often. I also like hair masks. Right now what I’m using is Neutrogena’s Triple Moisture.

By the way, I used to love St. Ives Vanilla & Edelweiss shampoo and conditioner but it has become almost impossible to find, and basic hair care products is something that I need to be able to easily find.

After washing and conditioning my hair, I always use a leave-in conditioner. My current favorite (which is really the best one I’ve found) is also by TRESemme- their Anti-Frizz Secret. I buy every single tube my local Target brings in.

And for frizz emergency there’s always the legendary Biosilk Silk Therapy Treatment, though I try not to get too much of it on my scalp, because it makes it itch.

Clinique High Impact Mascara

My long road to the Clinique counter.

It started last season and became an obsession everywhere you look:  REALLY big lashes. It looks interesting on magazine pages and evokes memories of old black and white photos of our mothers in the sixties.

It also contributes to the endless amounts of lash products one can get, not to mention the falsies. And if you looked at the latest Vogue, you also read the article about lash extensions. Yup, they actually do that. I’m not going to judge anyone for trying this. Or for buying the Talika cream that’s supposed to be like Rogain for lashes (according to my Bliss catalog there’s also a similar product to help grow out your eyebrows). I have my own crazy plethora of beauty habits that cost a pretty dime, so fertilizing one’s lashes are not that far out there.

My own lashes are dark, thick and of good length, though the upper ones stick out straight instead of curling upward. I’m also too neurotic to have any metallic objects anywhere near my eyes, which means eyelash curlers freak me out (especially heated ones). So, it’s all up to good mascara.

Now, some of us are on a constant quest for the perfect lengthening and curling mascara. Others have been loyal to theirs for years. Some will always go high end. Others swear by a $7 drugstore product, mostly because they feel the end result will always be a little clumpy, so why pay more?

I don’t have one definite answer, but I can tell you what works for me. In 20 years of wearing makeup I’ve tried everything. I’ve used Lauder and Lancôme products for years and was mostly happy. They always have some new mascara out. Over the last decade I've ventured out- I had mascaras by Dior and Chanel, tried samples of Stila and a few others. They are all okay- you know the drill- you paint the lashes, they look longer, bolder and thicker to some extent, and if the product is decent there won’t be much clumping.

A couple of years ago I got my first sample of Clinique High Impact mascara, which sent me the next day to the counter and I’ve been buying it ever since. I use both the black and the black/brown. The latter is for a look that’s just a bit softer. This Clinique mascara actually does make a difference in curling my lashes just enough to make my eyes look really nice. And the product’s consistency is smoother (hence better on the clumping front) than those by Chanel and Dior. For now, I think it’s the perfect mascara.

Clinique High Impact mascara is available from most department stores and online.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

My Adventure at the Chanel Counter

‘Tis the season for new makeup, new looks and the general renewal. Combine that with my sister’s upcoming wedding and you see why I was heading to the Chanel counter at Saks. Well, my formal excuse was that I was running out of my beloved Vitalumier foundation (in beige. I’ve never had a foundation that matched my skin tone so well). Also, I’ve come to realize that the dark under eye circles have won permanent residency on my face and are about to apply for citizenship, so with a special occasion looming ahead there might be a need for a good concealer.

The Chanel lady insisted that I try a stick concealer. I’m not a fan of those, because they are just too heavy for my under eye area. But I relented. It was awful. Even the warmest beige turned ash grey on my skin (that’s what green undertones would do to you) and it was cakey and pasty, setting into the skin in a way that aged me 20 years, and not in a graceful way. The thin barely-there crow feet became instant wrinkles.

A quick clean up and my friendly (but tired and not very interested) Chanel lady has produced the liquid stuff. Medium beige, and this time it was the right color, right texture, just a dab erased the green and I was happy enough to start playing with the new eye shadow palette- Goldrush.

I’m usually a bit skeptic about shadows so light- too often they don’t have enough pigment in them to actually show. But these were great. I can use the gold and bronze for evening and the shimmery pink and beige for day. It’s the kind of pretty that makes you happy.

While the helpful lady was at the back I checked the Glossimer and nail polish. The nail colors were not for me- one too coraly and the other one too shimmery. I did get the Glossimer in Summer Plum. It only adds a hint of color to my naturally dark lips, but again with the pretty.

Then came the disappointment- they were out of the concealer. Unfazed, I paid for my other products and went across the mall to Bloomie’s, where I’ve learned that Chanel have actually discontinued their liquid concealer. You can still find it at a few stores and online retailers, but the formal Chanel retailers (like and others only offer it in one color- roselight, which I suspect that is very wrong for me. I ended up getting my medium beige from It’s the first time I’ve bought something from them, so I opted to pay with PayPal. We’ll see how it goes.

That was my Chanel adventure. It reminded me why I don’t like cosmetic counters, but sometimes they are necessary evil, since my local Sephora (and the other one I frequent more, near my husband’s Union Square office) don’t carry Chanel, so I can’t experiment on my own.

And on a side note, the big online stores need to improve the way colors and textures are displayed. What you find at Chanel’s is so 1999. Lancôme’s web site is way better in this regard.

Roberto Cavalli vs. Annick Goutal Eau D'Hadrien- Morning Perfume

This morning, before working out and starting my day I'm testing a sample of Roberto Cavalli for women. It smells ok, a bit on the fruity side when touched my skin, but not in a peachy way (which I'm very glad about, otherwise I'd be washing the stuff off immediately). It's supposed to have apples in it, and I can smell that combined with a little musk. But it smells like another fragrance, I just can remember which one- not anything I currently have, but definitely something I've tried before. Anyone has any idea?
I don't think I'll be purchasing this one any time soon. It's okay, but not exciting for me.

Edit, later in the day: It's a nice enough musky fragrance, just not very interesting. I cleaned up and put on a favorite for the season: Annick Goutal's Eau D'Hadrien. That one smells just right. Amazing how citrus can be sexy when it really wants.

Cavalli sample was a GWP.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Creme And Other Treats

A year and a half ago my skin got out of hand. It was a combination of hormonal crap and Clinique 1-2-3 (that I’ve been using since my twenties) not working all of a sudden. So I tried other brands. I tried Lancôme, I tried Kiehl’s and every sample of any quality product I could get my paws on. Things (and my face) were getting really ugly, until a brown envelope landed in my mailbox.

Several months before I found myself on the Mario Badescu website filling their questionnaire and promptly forgetting about it. The envelope contained samples of products they recommended personally for me (with a handwritten consultation card and a personal letter). They sent me cleanser, toner, gentle scrub, calming mask, moisturizer and eye cream. Within a week of using that I could see dramatic results. My skin was beginning to clear and it felt like everything was on the mend. I made my order before the samples ran out and haven’t looked back (much) since.

I’m still using their enzyme cleanser and two of the toners: the aloe lotion and the glycolic lotion. The honey-almond scrub is nice, but not as effective as I’d like it to be. I’m still looking for the perfect one (that would be a separate post). I’m alternating between several of their masks, for cleaning, calming and hydrating (but also use something from Bliss every now and then).

As for moisturizers: The herbal eye cream is nice. It’s not very “active” and I’m starting to feel a need for something more dramatic. I might check their other offerings soon. The aloe moisturizer (SPF 15) is good and effective in the same way that my old Clinique DDML used to be- like letting my skin have a drink of water, which makes it a) feel good b) receptive to other creams and products I load on it. My husband uses it too.

The other creams I use are the Ginseng-moist cream (on the web site it hides inside the Protective Creams category).

But the really important point of this post is their Seaweed Night Cream. As far as I can tell this stuff is pure magic. It hydrates my skin even on the most parched winter days, it calms and it makes discomfort go away. I use it at night, for plain trips, after sun exposure and whenever I feel a need for something extra. One day I might graduate to La Mer or other heavy guns, but for now, this is the best cream I’ve come across.

Just what the world needed

Gaia Fishler

Another beauty blog. I don’t know about you, but I already read several. All are dedicated to the pursuit of creamy, shiny products, things that smell good, beautiful accessories (Dear Manolo, how I love thee) and the occasional comment about how crazy Tom Cruise has become.

The thing is, that as far as I can tell all the talented bloggers who write about cosmetics and makeup are blessed with peaches-and-cream complexion, Jennifer Aniston hair and a body chemistry that embraces Prada perfume. I’m none of the above.

I tan easily and nicely, my complexion is olivey enough that on a bad day I could audition for and get the lead in Wicked, because it’d save them money on green face paint. The plus side of this, is that I can actually sport a green eyeliner and look very nice in it. How many of you can say that?

On the other hand all the peachy, purple and most pink stuff looks really bad against my skin tone, and many other colors are not pigmented enough to make a difference on my face. I’m Caucasian, so I can only imagine how hard it is for women of different races to find colors that do what they’re supposed to.

As for things like hair care, My hair is thick , wavy and goes down to my butt. Designer 8 oz shampoo and conditioner bottles make it laugh. But I need good products that can nourish and moisturize my locks. I’m always on a quest for the perfect leave-in conditioner. I don’t do much as far as styling it goes, you can’t really with this length. I wash it, cream it and let it be. It works very well.

This is what I look like, and this is where my documented journey begins.


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Art: La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Frank Cadogan Cowper, 1926