Monday, November 30, 2009

Tom Ford Private Blend- Amber Absolute

I didn't get Amber Absolute right away. My first couple of testings made me regard this Tom Ford Private Blend creation as a dumbed down version of Ambre Sultan (Serge Lutens). It lacks the challenging parts: the kitchen herbs from the opening and the chewy feel, but it's still a dark amber with very little (if any) powder involved, and a woody heart. For a while I only used it for layering and enhancing softer scents that could use a darker backbone, and experimented with combining Amer Absolute with other ambers (nothing to write home about).

It was actually the pairing with another Tom Ford Private Blend favorite, Noir de Noir, that allowed me to fully appreciate the beauty of Amber Absolute. Unlike the dazzling pyrotechnics of Ambre Sultan (which I still consider the best in its category), Ford's amber is polished like a smooth stone, but warms up gradually into a resinous incense that makes it glow from within.

There is no real connection between the amber accord in fragrance and the Baltic stone, but I can't help but think of vintage Lithuanian jewelry made with only half polished amber chunks that were kept in a vintage hand-painted lacquered box (I have a feeling my mother is the only one who knows what I'm talking about here. And maybe those readers who hail from the same part of Europe). It has an Old World beauty without feeling dated or retro in any way, and the sweetness is restrained enough to be utterly wearable by men. As long as they really love amber, that is.

I'm still rocking the roll-on from the 12 mini bottle set of the original dozen Tom Ford scents, but the way I'm going I'll need a full bottle ($180, 1.7 oz at Bergdorf, Neiman Marcus and select Saks and Nordsrom locations) sooner rather than later.

Fashion photo by George Hoyningen-Huene for Harper's Bazaar, 1940. Photo of lacquered Russian box from some eBay auction.

YSL Holiday 2009- Eye Shadow Duo 1 (Beige Celeste Brun Astral)

One of the most festive looks for the season (for better and for worse) comes from Yves Saint-Laurent. The model in the promotional photo was made up within an inch of her life and had an 80s thing going (bordering n Alexis Carrington, if you ask me). The individual items, though, can be worn a bit more subtly, and I was drawn to the eye shadow duo in Beige Celeste-Brun Astral.

The colors are neutral and very elegant. Beige Celeste is actually more shell than beige and has a cool undertone. The amount of shimmer in both colors makes them an evening-only eye shadows as far I'm concerned. Both must be worn over a primer, because the texture, while fine, is somewhat crumbly, and a primer ensures smooth application. There's also a bit of glittery fallout when used with wide brushes, so I'd suggest using slimmer ones.

YSL Ombre Duolumieres Eye Shadow Duo ($41, Beige Celeste/Brun Astral, is just one option, and there are two new color combinations, including one that looks very much like Nars Habanera with a dark plum and mint green shimmer) can be found at your local Yves Saint Laurent counter at most decent department stores, as well as online. If I remember correctly,I bought mine online from

YSL Holiday Look 2009 photo from, other photos by me.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thoughts about IFRA and skin allergies

Moving house means vacating one place and taking possession of another. A process that includes cleaning. Lots and lots of cleaning. While I had ample help in both locations, I still had to use an impressive amount of various detergents, with and without rubber gloves. And when I say "detergents", I mean the real thing, not the wimpy yuppie stuff. While I love the environment, what I love even more is a shower with no cooties. So I saved the Caldrea and Mrs. Meyer's bottles for the final round in the new house, and put the Clorox, Tilex and every other X-ending substance to good use.

Within 2 hours I had an angry looking red rash on both wrists. The same wrists that have been sprayed countless of times with perfumes containing oakmoss, tree moss, balsam peru, jasmine absolute, natural citrus oil, damascone and other now-restricted or banned materials. I never had an allergic reaction to perfume, but the household cleaners made me want to crawl out of my skin.

Yet, there are no restrictions on Clorox and its ilk, no lobby fighting to ban the use of tub and tile detergents and I'm pretty sure even the city of Halifax allows its residents to scrub their kitchens. No well-meaning bureaucrat has decided to make bathrooms safer for people who can't read a label saying "if a rash develops, discontinue use" and take down an entire industry while doing it.

Funny, isn't it?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tom Ford Private Blend- Noir de Noir

Noir de Noir from tom Ford's Private Blend was not a love from first sniff on my part. My first thought was "too rosy, too boozy". I first tested it on a warmish day, when it promptly went sour on my skin, as too many rose scents tend to do. I got the saffron note, but there was nothing dark or mysterious about it, and definitely no "noir", except a resemblance to another black scent I can't wear, Montale Black Aoud.

It was a while before I felt like testing Noir de Noir again, but eventually I got it. While it's as rosy and boozy as ever, on cold days there's no sourness whatsoever, while all the dark notes appear and envelope me in a black velvet cape that is closer to Ford's Black Orchid with its chocolate-earth theme than to a traditional red or pink rose perfume. Compare this broody, secret garden-worthy scent to something sunny and uncomplicated like YSL Parisienne, for example, and it's hard to believe both explore a similar main note.

There's something about Noir de Noir that makes it the ultimate rose scent men can wear. Maybe it's the oud (agarwood) and patchouli combination, maybe it's that earth and stone aspect. In any case, as far as I'm concerned, it's another great beauty in the Tom Ford line, and at least this winter I plan to enjoy it thoroughly.

Noir de Noir and the rest of the Tom Ford Private Blend fragrances ($180, 1.7 oz) are available from top department stores and Tom Ford boutiques. Samples can be purchased online from The Perfumed Court. If you come across the box set of 12 minis, I highly recommend it. That's the one I bought last year and it has allowed me many wearings of each scent.

Photo from

The Moving Chronicles- Part 6

The aftermath.

There's nothing better than the first hot shower in your new house the night after you move. Even if everything is still boxed and you only fish for the basic essentials, it still feels wonderfully indulgent. Not to mention having clean hair (I used the husband's Head & Shoulders with my L'Occitane Shea Butter conditioner and his Vetiver Extraordinaire shower gel. Heaven).

Moving the cats was 8/9 smooth. We started with The Orange Menace at 6 am, before he had a chance to get his attitude. Since it's impossible (and might cost you an eye or two) to stuff him into a normal cat carrier, we used a large (almost wardrobe size) moving box. The Blond dropped him inside with catnip and some food, quickly taped it shut (there were enough holes for breathing) and ran to the car. Two minutes later the beast was released in the new house, where he sulked and plotted his revenge.

The big problem was Sir Peter Fluffball. He got away and hid under the bed before I had the chance to grab him. We decided to let him be for the time and deal with the other cats first, which worked fine. Peter would still not come out, so we had no choice but wait for the movers to arrive. What happened was that Peter ran out so quickly I was terrified for a moment he escaped outside or to the basement (all doors were open at that point). But he was just under the entertainment center, from which he was eventually removed, grabbed and stuffed into a carrier, to the great amusement of the Moishe's guys. I hated that he was so miserable, but it couldn't be helped.

The cats spent the rest of the day in the basement (we prepared it for them) until the movers, the DirectTV and the Internet guys all finished their work. Gracie and Betty were the first ones to emerge and take the grand tour. As of tonight, most of them have adjusted. Peter is still unhappy and Buffy spends most of her time behind the washer in the basement, but I'm pretty sure they'd come around in a day or two.

I went to sleep last night wearing Diamond Water by JAR, as the two Precious Ones were in my purse (all the other bottles were carefully transported by us and are well). It made me feel like the happiest and luckiest woman in the world.

I had a lot to be grateful about this Thanksgiving, from the new house to my friends and readers. I can't thank you enough for all the comments, emails, texts and Facebook messages. It means the world to me.

Photo of Giselle checking her new surroundings by me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Moving Day

Not many coherent thoughts at the moment. My next post will be from the new house.

Tom Ford Private Blend- Oud Wood

Today's theme is serenity, and nothing promotes it better than a serious wood scent. Oud Wood from Tom Ford's Private Blend has the familiar dark, astringent punch of oud without being too thick or difficult. It's still quite cerebral, but the perfume's demands from the wearer are minimal before it yields to one's body chemistry. The result, after the first refreshing blast of peppery top notes, is much smoother than many other oud scents, for better and for worse.

I'm not a big Montale fan, because too many of their ouds are lost to me in a sour rose. Tom Ford's creamier interpretation is a better match for my skin, and I admit to fantasize about a full line of Oud Wood body products. Sliding into a hot bath scented with an Oud Wood oil would have been heavenly, though it might just be my weariness speaking. In any case, there's something very satisfying in Oud Wood's drydown, which has far less to do with the actual oud note and a lot more with a somewhat sweetened wood-tonka bean blend.

Oud Wood is generally considered a masculine fragrance, as are many oud scents. The sharpness is, indeed, the opposite of what's normally accepted as feminine. Not that I've ever let these ideas stop me from wearing a perfume. However, to my nose, this is such a mellow and friendly oud that I'd recommend it to any woman trying to figure out her relationship with this note. It's a good introductory oud before one moves on to try the truly magnificent ones, like By Killian's Pure Oud.

Oud Wood and the rest of the Tom Ford Private Blend perfumes ($180, 1.7 oz) are available from Bergdorf, Neiman Marcus, some Nordstrom locations and Saks NYC store, as well as from Tom Ford boutiques. I bought the limited edition box set of the original 12 scents in mini roll-on bottles.

Photo of agarwood (oud) trees from somewhere on the 'net. I forgot to save the source.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Moving Chronicles- Part 5

Serenity now.

One day till moving. We're in the homestretch, and you know it's bad if I'm using the word "homestretch" or any sports reference. All that's left to pack are half the books and all the little odds and ends that are driving me crazy.

Tackling mountains of stuff is a difficult experience. It's very different than previous moves when we were in our early, mid and late twenties. I've been trying to tell myself that it's perfectly normal- we're pushing forty, of course we've accumulated all these things, from books to kitchen equipment. And clothes. And shoes. But there's always some guilt attached to your worldly possessions. Mostly, because they are, well, so worldly, and one can't avoid thinking of all the places and people whose problems go far beyond the proper way to transport a Kitchen Aid mixer.

Trying to stay calm. It's important not to make yourself feel worse, so I've been just as meticulous about my skin care routine. Last night was the closest I've been in twenty years to fall asleep with my makeup on. But I could hear my mother's voice in my head, informing me I'd get zits if I don't wash up right away. So I did it, scrubbed and slathered. My back still ached when I woke up this morning, but my skin looked fabulous.

Photo by me, of course. Kosh, the orange menace and Lizzy marveling at an empty closet.

Paul & Joe Fall Collection At Bergdorf Goodman

I really should finish packing, but this little PSA really can't wait, because only a handful of items from Paul & Joe's Fall 2009 limited edition collection with the gorgeous cats are still available at Bergdorf Goodman. I know some people are still searching and it's nearly impossible to find online (unless you want them shipped from England), so it's worth your time to give them a call and order what's left. I also found the cutest matching nail file, as you can see in the picture.

When I first saw the stock photos on the various websites, I thought the colors were not for me. The lipstick looked too light and the eye shadows looked glittery. As you can see, that's definitely not the case. I tested everything in store and loved both. The lipstick is a great everyday color and the eye shadows are blendable, satiny and smooth. I didn't swatch them because everything is packed (and already in the new house), but I hope the closeups here give a good idea of the actual colors.

Beauty Habit also carries Paul & Joe, and last I looked, the eye shadows were still in stock.

All photos by me.

Le Metier de Beaute Classic Flawless Finish Compact Powder

I had every intention to buy a Chanel finishing powder. After replacing my foundation with a lighter shade of my favorite Vitalumier, I realized that I was also in a dire need of a lighter face powder, and since I love Chanel's face products, that was the counter I approached at my local Neiman Marcus. The problem was customer service. The Chanel SA was not around, and the young woman who desperately tried to deal with seven customers at once was not only frazzled but also clueless and tried to convince me that Chanel doesn't carry pressed powder, despite the obvious proof in the form of testers.

I shrugged at moved over to the Le Metier de Beaute counter, where I found a true love (and excellent service).

Classic Flawless Finish Compact Powder is, indeed, flawless. Light in texture and finely milled, it gives the right amount of support to whatever else I've got on my face, creating a very smooth surface. My face doesn't look powdered or covered with paint, just "finished". It holds everything else in place, blends well with my foundation and blush and simply looks beautiful. There's a sponge/puff thing inside the compact, but I rarely use it (it gives more coverage when stippled). A good powder brush swirled lightly does the work perfectly.

My color out of the eight ones available is No. 2., which is translucent with a hint of yellow.

Le Metier de Beaute Classic Flawless Finish Compact Powder ($48) is available from Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.

Photos by me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stoned- Solange Azagury-Partridge

Let's start at the end: If you don't like the Guerlain powdery violet accord, the drydown of a vintage Shalimar, Frederic Malle and Maurice Roucel's Musc Ravegeur and most powdery heliotrope-rose-musk perfumes of the Loukhoum variety, you're not going to enjoy Stoned by jeweler Solange Azagury-Partridge.

Now, if you like all of the above and can ignore the price tag and the gimmicky use of diamond dust in perfume (why? who needs that?), there's a good chance you'd find true love. I sure did.

Stoned is a beautiful creation. It starts with powdery rose-violet blast and moves into a smooth vanilla musk with a wild labdanum touch that I personally adore and find very sexy. Applied lightly, it's a sweet skin musk for an intimate moment. Sprayed lavishly and it's the equivalent of that dress you'd wear for your third date (as long as you've verified your beau is not a fan of the Eau d'Issey school of perfumery).

Bottom line: Must like powder.

Stoned by Solange Azagury-Partridge ($285, 100ml) is available from Luckyscent and BeautyHabit. I bought a decant from The Perfumed Court.

Image of a Solange Azagury-Partridge ring from Jezeerpar on Photobucket.

The Moving Chronicles- Part 4

Things that suck about moving: It throws off your routine, shatters your comfort zone and wreaks havoc on your hands and feet.

I had to cut my nails short as they started breaking and splitting the second the word "boxes" was heard around here. I filed them as neatly as possible and applied a coat of something clear and glossy (OPI Start to Finish, if I remember correctly) and a second coat of something random I found while packing, just because. I also left out three different creams (L'Occitane, Shielding Lotion and my trusty Chanel, for anti-aging action), so  there's a tube wherever I turn. It's important.

My aching feet (eventually I'll learn not to run around in high heels at times like these) are being treated with Bliss Foot Patrol and my secret weapon: Vicks Vapor Rub. I'm serious. This stuff works wonders on all kind of foot issues and smooths even the roughest patches. Glamorous, I know.

Photo by me, with the help of Lizzy.

Kanebo Sensai Deep Moist Shine Rouge (MS 111 Usuhanasakura)

Out of several Kanebo Sensai lipsticks I've been testing lately, this Deep Moist Shine in MS 111 Usuhanasakura should have been my least favorite, because the color is much too pale for me to wear- this type of shimmery pink is about two tones lighter than my natural lip color, so worn on its own it looks chalky and weird, even though it's semi-sheer. However, I find myself reaching for this Deep Moist wonder quite often and wear it on top of many of my super diva dark purples and plums to make them more approachable for day or casual evenings.

The wonderful texture of Deep Moist Shine adds a balmy feel to any lip color I'm wearing under it, and the glossy shine is surprisingly sleek and wearable. I'm still discovering pretty options and combinations, which is a lot of fun for anyone who likes to mix and match colors. Of course, if you're pale, this tender pink would probably work beautifully on its own.

Kanebo Sensai products are available from Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, but I couldn't find the Deep Moist Shine Rouge on their websites. However, sells these lipsticks ($40) online. I received a press sample directly from the company's PR.

All photos by me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Il Profumo- Encens Epice

Encens Epice by Italian house Il Profumo has been with me for several years now. I don't wear it often, so my decant is still half full, but I reach for it when I'm looking for something calm and maybe somewhat meditative. It's a perfume with muted colors, evocative of a foggy early morning or early fall, when you can smell the earth and the trees.

The incense part of Encens Epice is not the main show. It's more about resin, acorns and conifers that are revealed after a spicy opening. Sometimes I think I'm getting cumin, but not enough to create the dreaded chicken tikka effect. There's a lot of coriander there, freshly crushed, and maybe also a hint of warm cardamom paving the way for patchouli- raw, live one, not the head shop oil.

Encens Epice is probably what I wanted Serge Noire to be instead of the cumin horror it turned out. It's a dry, spicy scent, which smells like a woody landscape, even if it can be a bit gamey at times. It would probably appeal to more men than women, but anyone who likes cypress, spice and dry resins should give it a try.

Encens Epice ($125, 100 ml) and the rest of the Il Profumo line are available from Luckyscent, where I bought my first sample. I purchased a decant from The Perfumed Court.

Photo of a Mendocino Cypress from

The Moving Chronicles- Part 3

Three nights and two days until moving...

One of you asked about moving the cats, which is, indeed, the biggest issue. The last time we moved we "only" had five cats, but the move itself was a lot more serious and included three nights at a hotel. Yes, with the cats. Fun times. We hope for minimal drama, but still, it's not going to be smooth, considering a couple of the creatures are prone to freakouts. We're going to start with the two most problematic ones early in the morning, get them into their carriers and quickly to the cars. A two minute drive straight into the garage in the new house, close its door and open the access to the basement (where the cats will stay until the movers are done).
Got Xanax?

I packed the perfume collection yesterday. It took forever and enough bubble wrap to cover a village. Kept a few items out for wearing and reviewing, but that's all. Today was harder. I tackled the bedroom and the bathroom while my fearless husband dealt with the kitchen, including the worst of the drawers and cabinets known as "bane of our existence" and "pit of despair". I packed away almost all the cosmetics and personal care items. Last week I said I have enough stuff for a mini-Sephora. I was wrong. It's enough for the biggest store they have. And then some. I wasn't really horrified, because at least I didn't have any "what's that and why do I own it?" moments, but the process was still daunting. My bathroom is now amazingly bare. Only a handful of bottles and jars are left. Is that how normal people live?

Thinking of unpacking and organizing is just as overwhelming, but new cabinets and dressers were purchased, including some very neat storage solutions. Alex cabinets from Ikea. Only moderately ugly, but they have these shallow drawers that are perfect for cosmetics, I'm actually almost excited about putting everything away and having a place for everything. Maybe I'll manage to organize my lipsticks by color!

The perfumes are packed in sturdy plastic bins, small enough that we can fit in our cars and move them ourselves (though probably too heavy for me to carry alone). A couple of bottles will go in my purse, so I can keep a close eye on them. Hopefully, I did a good enough job to avoid any damage. The two new perfume cabinets are waiting in the new house. Hopefully they are large enough.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte (Luscious Pink/Rose Savoureux 23)

I blame the YSL newsletter. It had a photo of their four nude colors for the wonderful Rouge Volupte lipstick that actually acknowledge that "nude" can be various shades and giving us options, instead of one generic beige that rarely looks good. Since their Exquisite Plum is among my favorite high drama evening colors, I was very happy to find an everyday, easy to wear neutral color that goes with almost any eye makeup and outfit.

Rouge Volupte in Luscious Pink is now my constant companion, together with my wallet, phone, sunglasses and car keys. I need it with me. The color is a warmer pink version of my natural lip color, and it lights up the face. It's not too pink, not too warm, just perfect for a happy, healthy, effortless look. This lipstick has all the great qualities of the Rouge Volupte line: creaminess, rich pigment, great coverage, superb lasting power and the feel of a lip balm.

Bottom line: Big, big love.

YSL Rouge Volupte lipstick ($34) is available from most decent department stores, Sephora and (or the matching company site for your country).

All photos by me except the top one, which came from the YSL newsletter.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jean Patou- Lasso

There's very little information available about Lasso, an old and long-forgotten perfume from the house of Patou. It's not even clear when exactly it was launched. Some online sources are dating it as a 1936 release, the year Jean Patou died. But I've also seen various mentions of 1956 and 1957, which seems to be supported by ads from the late 1950s, stating Lasso was a new perfume.

One thing is for sure: Lasso was created with one thing it mind. Seduction.

The English version of these ads call Lasso "Your secret weapon", which is quite appropriate for this beautiful leather chypre. I could not find a list of notes, but some things are quite apparent. Lasso was not a Bandit clone. If anything, it's more closely related to Mitsouko, as before the more leathery drydown there's a rich fruity heart which smells more than a little peachy. It's a little powdery and I wouldn't be surprised to find out there's some heliotrope in there. The combination feels very round and smooth, no jagged edges and spiky heels. More like a velvet evening gown and matching satin shoes, but with more than a hint of tasteful cleavage, an elegant updo and heirloom jewelry. Lasso is well-bread but promises a little naughtiness if you linger close enough.

Just as it is unclear when Lasso was launched, I can't find any information on what year Patou has discontinued it. Bottles pop up here and there on eBay, and I've noticed they come in several shapes, and that there must have been both an EDT and a parfum extrait. As you can see, my own bottle looks different than the one illustrated in the ad. I have a couple of other vintage Patou perfumes in a similar bottle, but they are from different years, so it doesn't help to solve the mystery.

Lasso ad from Joan Thewelis on Flickr, bottle photo by me, handsome model: Peter.

Fresh Brown Sugar Body Cream

The 1 oz tube of Fresh Brown Sugar Body Cream was a Sephora Beauty Insider GWP, and I must say I'm glad I didn't pay for it. I used to have several favorite products from Fresh and I still remember the wonderful scent of the Bulgarian Rose line. But that was before the company was sold to LVMH and lost its soul.

Kristen, The Beauty Addict, has already touched on the silliness of naming a product Brown Sugar while making it smell of lemon. The very synthetic citrus has nothing of the dark molasses-like aroma you'd expect from the name, and there's nothing rich or comforting in the cream's texture or performance. Maybe someone whose skin is not dry and doesn't require deep nourishment from body creams would find it acceptable, but I don't. I kept testing the Brown Sugar cream under several circumstances (day, night, exposed skin, covered skin, cold day and balmy weather), but the result was always the same: within an hour of application I had to reach for another cream or lotion, because my skin was showing signs of dryness.

Bottom line: No.

Fresh Brown Sugar Body Cream ($35, 6.8 oz) is available from Sephora and Fresh boutiques. As I said above, the 1oz tube I have was a GWP.


Laura Geller Eye Rimz (Potion)

Sephora calls Laura Geller's Eye Rimz a baked eye shadow. The label on the actual box says "baked wet/dry eye accents", which is much more accurate. Using Eye Rimz as a plain dry shadow is a bit frustrating. The pigment is very dark and takes too much work to blend, there's a lot of fallout and the color itself (at least of Potion, the dark purple) was far less pretty than in the compact. But wetting the brush and using it as an eyeliner was a different experience. It goes on smoothly, creating a flawless line with a pearly finish that brings out the best of the color.

Used dry, Potion Eye Rimz was more of an inky violet. Wet application brings out the rich purple hues (cool tones). Lasting power is very good, but it flakes a little when used dry and I had to do several clean ups to keep my face from turning purple, so I can't recommend it as a dry shadow.

Bottom line: Only if you're looking for a purple cake eyeliner.

Laura Geller Eye Rimz ($26) is available from Sephora and I ordered it from the latter.

All photos are mine.

Tom Ford Private Blend- Purple Patchouli

Today's edition of "What was Luca Turin smelling?" is brought to you by Purple Patchouli from Tom Ford's Private Blend. Labeled in The Guide as a "harsh floral" and declared a green chypre "with a rasping floral accord reminiscent of those sticky spring blooms that smell halfway between fish skin and honeysuckle", it was probably not the biggest seller of the 12 original Private Blend perfumes. But not because of any fish skin issue, if you ask me. Purple Patchouli's downfall was most likely that it smells like a real perfume of yore- a dark, big flower looming behind a sweet leather screen. For some odd reason, people don't want to smell like this, and that's a very sad thing.

I don't know about patchouli. I don't smell much (if any) of it in Purple Patchouli. But it sure smells purple. While I agree with Dr. Turin about a chypre leaning, it's definitely not green when I wear it. It's sweet, but doesn't cross the line into candied violets, and have I mentioned this perfume is dark? There's certainly an image of a weird and exotic flower, a mutant orchid ensconced in a beautiful leather case. It's elegant, noticeable and feels very feminine, though I'm sure some men can pull it off. For me, it requires a hat and a matching nail polish. This season's Vendetta from Chanel comes to mind.

Purple Patchouli is one of several scents from the Private Blend line that are being discontinued . It is still available ($180 for 1.7 oz, $450 for 8.3 oz) from the top department stores.

Photo by Richard Avedon for a Harper's Bazaar fashion spread titled Ultra Violet, 1958.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kanebo Sensai Cellular Performance Wrinkle Repair Cream

One thing I've learned in the last four or five years is that skin care really matters. It won't make you taller, skinnier or smarter, but good skin care used consistently (religiously, actually) makes a world of difference in the way we look. And feel.

It's not always a question of price, gold packaging and a formula made of Martian minerals and unicorn tears. Independent studies and my own forehead have shown that the $22 No. 7 serum from Target is an extremely effective wrinkle correction substance (these studies say nothing about battle scars you get when fighting other shoppers over the last bottle on the shelf). But when it comes to face creams and moisturizers with anti-aging properties, the more research and advanced technology that goes in the product, the better it can be. While this means a hefty price tag, it's usually worth it.

I've been using Kanebo Sensai Cellular Performance Wrinkle Repair Cream for the last couple of months. I don't have any serious wrinkles (and we all know that there's only so much a face cream can do once they actually set in), but I can confirm a case of a very happy skin. The Cellular Performance cream does an excellent work on the nourishing front. My skin looks and feels plump and very smooth. A few days of use revealed an extra radiance, and no matter what- it seems to retain a high level of moisture, which is probably half the secret of the Kanebo Sensai products I've encountered so far.

I've been using the Cellular Performance cream alternately with my Holy Grail, Lancome Secret de Vie. The Kanebo Sensai product is thicker and takes a little longer to absorb, so I prefer it at night. When I wake up in the morning there's a visible difference in the liveliness of my skin. My husband, of course, has no idea what I'm talking about.

Bottom line: I wouldn't expect miracles, but it works very well.

Kanebo Sensai Cellular Performance Wrinkle Repair Cream ($240, 40 ml) is available from Bergdorf Goodman. I was provided with a press sample by the company.


Paul & Joe Eye Color (Russian 19)

I have a thing for teal and green eye shadows. We all need a bold, unusual color in our wardrobe, and teal is mine. I'm not daring enough to go all out with it, but I like blending teal with a neutral eye shadow, so there's just a hint of color to brighten the eyes.

Paul & Joe Eye Color in Russian (no. 19) is my current favorite. It's quite similar to Laura Mercier's Satinée Crème Eye Colour in Teal Cashmere, both in color, ease of blending and the ability to build the color. It has the advantage of being a pressed powder, which is quicker to get right (at least if you're me).

There's a great overview of Paul & Joe's makeup line over at The Beauty Look Book. We seem to be on a similar wave length, shopping-wise, which is a lot of fun. Lina usually covers the light and nude colors while I go for the dark ones. So stay tuned for some more Paul & Joe fun on both our blogs.

Paul & Joe Eye Color single eye shadow ($20) is available from Bergdorf Goodman, Beauty Habit and, which is where I purchased mine.

Photos by me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yves Saint Laurent- Parisienne

The first time I tried Parisienne, the new perfume from YSL, I hated it. I thought it was one of those chemical warfare perfumes- all synthetic berries, plastic flowers and that ubiquitous modern patchouli note. It's not like I was expecting a lot. I can't stand Elle, YSL's previous release, and while I appreciate the idea of the original Paris, something there was lost in translation between the bottle and my skin. There's also the obvious reformulation of Paris (I assume it's IFRA-related. Luca Turin had mentioned damascone as one of the newly restricted ingredients), which no longer smells the way it used to when I made every attempt to wear it in 1989-1990. Combined with having Kate Moss, a model I absolutely loathe, being the face of the Parisienne campaign and the way was paved for that instant dislike.

I've done my duty, though, and tried it again and again. Eventually, I got used to that plastic feel- they call it a vinyl accord, I call it a cover-up for cheap raw materials. But I have to admit that a rose that doesn't turn sour on me is a welcome change, and the berry notes aren't half bad. They are sunny and cheerful, something I actually enjoyed here and there as a guilty pleasure when the weather started getting cold. Parisienne has a youthful feel without insulting one's intelligence or good taste. And it makes me think of wearing a poodle skirt, so it can't be all that bad.

Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne ($39 for 1 oz, $65 for 1.6 oz EDP) is available from Sephora and most department stores. I got a couple of samples with various online purchases.


The Moving Chronicles- Part 2

Some things are obvious. Just like the wardrobe rule about editing your closet and getting rid of any item you haven't worn in the last three years (the number of years varies according to the style luminaries giving the advice), this is even more true about makeup and other cosmetics. I'm pretty good about this- tossing out mascaras at the 3 months mark and not keeping anything that looks or smells past its prime. So I don't foresee a lot of bottles and jars tossing out, though my cleaning lady's daughter might find herself with a lot more nail polish than she would be able to use in a lifetime.

One of my biggest vices is bath products. Long before I had beauty blogging as an excuse, the area around my bathtub looked like a mini Sephora. You can imagine what happened since. So now I'm on a mission to use as much as possible of the bottles I have out, not to touch any samples of bath products I have around and to try and finish at least one shampoo bottle and one shower gel before moving day. We'll see how it goes.

Then there's skin care. Moving is stressful enough, so the last thing I need is a case of skin freakout. So no testing of new creams, cleansers and serums until I'm settled in my new bathroom and beauty closet. All the samples I currently have waiting are going to be packed first and unpacked last, to ward off temptation. And as for the current products in my rotation, I'm going to check if I have travel size and samples of the same things, so I can put away as many pots and jars as possible. If nothing, it'd make me feel more accomplished and productive.

If you have any bathroom packing advice, please share in the comments.

Photo: Janet Leigh in Psycho (1960). Found on the Daily Mail website.

Le Metier de Beaute Nail Lacquers (Recherche Red)

Trendy nail polish colors are fun. I've been playing with the darkest purple, taupe and gray, not to mention Chanel Jade, but in the end there's nothing like a sexy deep red. I was reminded of this when I first tried Le Metier de Beaute nail polsh in Recherche Red at my local Neiman Marcus. The color was stunning even in the ugly artificial department store light, and even more so when I gave myself a proper manicure later at home.

One of the best things about Le Metier de Beaute nail polish (other than the depth of their pigments, the shine and overall quality, that is) is the size. The bottles are very small and you're less likely to get stuck with a million barely-touched polish bottles. Let's face it: as much as I love many of Chanel's limited edition colors, one bottle of each is a lifetime supply for those of us who constantly change their polish colors.

Le Metier de Beaute Nail Lacquers ($15) are available from Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. The Le Metier de Beaute counter at my local Neiman in the Garden State Plaza is fairly new- only opened a couple of months ago, and the service is impeccable.

All photos are mine.