Friday, February 27, 2009

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien- Dirty, Dirty Girl


When Miller Harris launched L'Air de Rien in 2006, some of the discussion around it was about the muse for its creation, 60s sex icon and singer Jane Birkin. But when the hype dies down and people seem to forget or stop caring about the information in the press releases or the celebrity interviews that accompany such event we are left with the juice.

Does it matter that Jane Birkin did not wear perfume until Lyn Harris created L'Air de Rien for her (funny, I thought she'd smell like what's left of patchouli oil after three days), or that Birkin wanted to smell like old houses, chests of drawers and her brother's (hopefully clean) hair? Is this another case of us buying a perfume because we cannot afford the other luxury item associated with the celebrity, the Hermes Birkin bag? Is any of the above even relevant when trying to assess a fragrance?

I don't know if I can answer any of this. what I do know is that I didn't get to try L'Air de Rien until about a year and a half after its release (another case of so many perfumes, so little free skin). Once I started testing it, I knew I was going to need it. I have a thing for musky skin scents with a hint of a dirty, dirty girl. Rumor has it that there's vanilla and maybe amber in the composition, but for once this is not what my skin and nose are telling me.

I get a lot of dry, polished wood here, quite similar to one of the notes in Chene by Serge Lutens. This part is almost prim, austere and masculine. But the musk makes it a lot more human, cuddly and quite tactile. You'd want to touch the skin that radiates L'Air de Rien.

I've learned that if I spray it, the scent becomes a bit disturbing. It has so much personality I feel haunted. But when I dab it, the perfume melds with my skin and becomes part of me. I have to say, it's a very pleasant sensation.

This clip is of , a duet by Jane Birkin and Beck is cool (and despite what Luca Turin says, her music is worth checking out):

Photo of Jane Birkin from mooninthegutter.blogspot.com

L'Air de Rien ($160 for 100 ml) is available from Luckyscent and Saks 5th Avenue, which is where I bought my bottle, but if you're lucky, FragranceNet sometimes have it in stock and there's always a coupon code available for them. Just Google.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Guerlain Sous Le Vent



The first whiff of Sous Le Vent by Guerlain is so fiercely chyper it's hard to believe one is experiencing a 2006 re-issue. This androgynous creation smells mossy, classic and very dry.

Originally created by Jacques Guerlain in 1933, the same year Vol de Nuit was released, the muse for this scent was Josephine Baker, which in her early career was more of a cabaret dancer (often wearing very little), than a celebrated singer. But even back then, Ms. Baker had an iconic style and a larger than life personality, allowing her to unleash her pet leopard on the orchestra pit to the dismay of the musicians accompanying the performance.

Sous Le Vent is my pet tiger. It starts with a sharp green citrus note with quite a bit of lavender, mellows into an ambiguous spicy floral (I've heard rumors of jasmine, but I get more carnation than anything, with a hint of cinnamon and clove). The scent becomes dusty, earthy and powdery once the iris takes center stage and morphs into the promised oakmoss, which is probably more of an illusion, given the strict regulations on its use.


The current release of Sous Le Vent from 2006 is an EDT. I should try to get my hands on some of the vintage parfum, which in my fantasies is more of a green velvet scent. I dearly wish someone up there at LVMH would consider a heavier concentration. As it is, the scent is very light, especially if you dab from the splash bottle. My solution is to decant into a sprayer and spritz with abandon. When properly saturated with the juice, it lasts for several hours, though it stays close to the skin.

Sous Le Vent is in very limited distribution. You can find it at the Guerlain Champs-Elysees store, Bergdorf and Saks flagship in NYC and a handful of Guerlain boutiques around the world. I bought my bottle last summer in Paris, because after sampling almost every one of the typical sweet gourmands they offer, SLV was a welcome change. Sometimes I think I should have gotten Derby instead, but then I take another hit of this green wonder and all is well.

Images: Josephine Baker- somewhere on the web (sorry, I saved it ages ago). Bottle: mine

She's Just That Into Purple

Still talking about the movies, even though not exactly Oscar material: I watched He's Just Not That Into You (and enjoyed it quite a bit. Then again, my street cred must already be gone considering how much I liked Mamma Mia!, and that I've found Pierce Brosnan's attempts at singing to be quite endearing). They put fashion and makeup to a very good use where it came to defining the different characters, but the real star was purple nail polish.

While almost all the women had either a French manicure or a simple clear polish, Ginnifer Goodwin's character, Gigi, had metallic purple nails. If I'm not mistaken, there were two different shades: one lighter and more on the lilac side, the other dark and very purple, maybe with a bit magenta in it.

Purple polish is not the easiest to pull off, especially on skin with yellow or olive undertones. Personally, I'm more into mauve, but you just can't deny how pretty it is- in theory and on Ginnifer's hands. Here are some options for this look:

Essie It's genius (left) and China Doll (right):


Zoya has a great selection of purples with different levels of shimmer. Several of their colors could have easily been the one(s) from He's Just Not That Into You, but I have a soft spot for Juno, though I probably shouldn't wear it:

Different than the purples in the movie (and not entirely wearable for the olive skinned), but interesting and worth mentioning is Purple Rain from the Lippman Collection, originally created for Zac Posen's Spring 2009 collection:

Do you have a favorite very purple polish?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscars 2009 Red Carpet Recap

So what did we have, other than the Tim Gunn alternative on ABC (I will never watch the E! red carpet show ever again)?

Red dresses:



Asymmetric necklines:



Belted dresses:


Godawful dresses:


When it came to hair, the formal updos are back, replacing the messy buns as they ought to for such a glamorous event. Those who opted to let their hair down have done it in long and pretty waves.


My favorite part was the attitude towards makeup. There was no one ruling trend and the stars went for individual looks and let their tastes (or that of their stylist) and their best features make a statement. Queen Latifah was radiant in the nude, natural look while Evan Rachel Wood was all glam. Angelina Jolie was all about her eyes (and earrings) while Tilda Swinton chose a bold red lipstick (I'm not sure that was the best choice ever, but at least she's never boring). Generally speaking, things were quite tasteful on the red carpet last night, and I think we can officially say that the overdone, too dark smoky eye is gone (and not a moment too soon).



All photos: A Socialite's Life

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscars 2009- Red Carpet Live Blogging




















First question of the night: Does Ryan Seacrest want to shoot himself after having to interview certain underaged so called celeb?

It looks like the cool guys are still not shaving. While Zac Efron is scrubbed clean (and has ridiculous hair), Dominic Cooper is scruffy. I'm willing to forgive him anything because of the accent.

Some interesting jewelry on gorgeous Amy Adams, Taraji P. Henson and creepy Madonna (who seems to have gone overboard with the inner-eye highlighter).

Heidi Klum confirms my early suspicious: Her dress is highly uncomfortable. I'm not crazy about her hair: she seems to be sharing a stylist with little Zac Efron.

What's eating Sarah Jessica Parker? Is it the dirty water dress or whatever it is she's done to her face (botox, probably).

Natalie Portman is redefining pink and stardom. She's stunning.

I considered saying something about Robin Wright-Penn, but decided not to. Being married to Sean Penn is hard enough. I wouldn't be smiling, either.

A perfume moment: Apparently Evan Rachel Wood is wearing something by Benefit. I'd never have guessed in a million years. Good thing she hasn't ruined one of my favorites for me. I used to like her in her pre-Marilyn Manson days. And before I heard her talking unscripted.

Should I bother commenting on that thing sprouting out of Jessica Niel's dress? Does anyone care? It makes her look stiff and unapproachable. Oh, wait...

More dresses, hair, makeup and what's up with Reese Whitherspoon tomorrow, as photos and clarity become available.

Images: Faded Youth Blog, A Socialite's Life and Just Jared

Friday, February 20, 2009

Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Moisturizing Cream


Unlike Buffy (in the picture above), who is always white and glowing, my main skin care concern is brightening and fighting sun damage.

I picked the Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Moisturizing Cream on a whim, just because it looked promising and I wanted a change in my skin care routine (one doesn't become a beauty blogger without the endless curiosity about products and a minimal attention span). This is a rich product and contains vitamin C and some other brightening agent, so I incorporated it into my regimen by dropping my regular vitamin C serum and using the cream only at night while continuing to use my regular moisturizer (which is quite an over achiever by itself) every morning.

After over two months of use and nearly finishing the jar, I can happily say that White Lucent Brightening Moisturizing Cream is an impressive and effective product. It doesn't perform miracles and the leftover sun spots/freckles on my left cheek haven't vanished, but it brought them down another notch while the overall texture and color of my face has improved, including some pore minimizing.

The cream is quite heavy, and at first I was worried it was a bit too greasy, but I've realized that if I apply it before brushing my teeth, by the time the electric brush stops buzzing almost all traces of the White Lucent are already absorbed. By morning there's absolutely no oiliness, and my skin looks happy, though ready for its day cream.

I'm so satisfied with the results that I'm about to not just repurchase, but also give the serum from this line a chance and see how it goes. The nice thing about the White Lucent line is that they also offer a lighter version in the form of a moisturizing gel, which would be great for summer (and for those of you with oilier skin). Word of caution for the sensitive and allergy prone: the cream is (very nicely) scented.

Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Moisturizing Cream ($54, 1.4 oz) is available from most decent department stores and at Sephora, which is where I bought mine.

photo and cat are both mine

Thursday, February 19, 2009

rms Beauty Cream Eye Shadow And Lip2Cheek


I first read about rms Beauty on the monthly One Lucky Duck newsletter I get from Pure Food & Wine, one of my favorite vegan/raw restaurants in NYC. The place, for those not familiar with the scene, is much more upscale and completely lacking the homespun crunchy granola vibe one would expect. I've been a fan for years, so hearing about a raw organic makeup line endorsed by PF&W's beautiful owner, Sarma Melngailis (who is the best advertisement for the lifestyle and anything else she touches), has definitely sparked some serious curiosity.

rms Beauty (lower case in names annoy me to no end) is not the first makeup line promising skin benefits (29 Cosmetics is all about grape seed and anti-aging), but I liked the idea of a small, local brand, created by a makeup artist (Rose-Marie Swift) which only uses organic ingredients and is committed to healthy living. And the colors looked nice, modern and very elegant.

I ordered one eye shadow and one lip/cheek tint. Both products come in a little pot, which is not my favorite form of makeup packaging. The whole thing about repeatedly sticking your finger (or even a brush) into the open tin is not the most sanitary, and you end up having to scrub the color from your finger before you touch something that shouldn't be tinted. But I was still eager to try.

The metallic cream eye shadow in Magnetic looked promising. It's a taupe mauve, very neutral, but I would have liked it better one shade darker. It's very metallic and provides some serious shine, a bit out of my comfort zone, but unquestionably pretty. The big issue, though, is staying power. It's supposed to act as a moisturizer, so you should avoid using an eye cream underneath. A primer is a must, unless your lids are extremely dry, because without it there's some serious creasing. even with a thoroughly prepped canvas, the eye shadow creased and like most cream products, set into the skin's texture which looks wrinkly and messy. Very disappointing and definitely not worth the price.

I also ordered the lip2cheek color in Rapture. It's a brown based red, and probably the most flattering one I have. It's way too dark for me as a cheek color and requires a lot of work and expertise to get it right and avoid a clown face, but on the lips it's perfect. Before using it, you must exfoliate the lips and use a good (but not greasy) balm. Benefit Smooch is my holy grail in this department. You also need to use a lip liner to make sure everything stays in place. The color is buildable and you can stain just enough for a sexy but mellow look, or go all the way.It's the one matte lip color that doesn't feel or look weird on me, so I'm completely in love. I'm still experimenting with gloss on top (not necessary), but one to stay away is that YSL black gloss. It usually works for me on true reds, but not in this case. I think I also need the one in Illusive, which is a rosy plum color.

rms beauty cream eye shadow and lip2cheek ($36 each) are available from rmsbeauty.com and oneluckyduck.com (I purchased mine from the latter).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two More Reasons To Avoid Louis Vuitton Bags




Seriously.

Just like most of us, I like exquisitely made hand bags and own a couple. But I can't be the only one who thinks anything with such a huge flashy logo is nothing but tacky. Add to that the particular celebs who seem to favor these, and you get something that is never making it into my wish list.

They makes me want to go on an Etsy shopping spree.

Photos: Faded Youth Blog

Sniffing At Hermès- Vanille Galante And More


It's probably not the best idea to sniff anything by Jean Claude Ellena while wearing Robert Piguet Visa (take a minute and let that sink in). Especially when one is not the greatest Ellena fan to begin with. But today's visit to the Hermès boutique was a spur of the moment thing and I was too curious to smell Vanille Galante, the new release from the Hermèssence collection.

I was cautious and started by spraying a card. After all, the last time I tried a new Ellena I was assaulted by the infamous rotting melon juice. But Vanille Galante seemed harmless enough and quite nice, so my wrist was next. It was quite obvious that this was not a Lutenesque vanilla. There's nothing gourmand, thick or yummy about this fragrance. As expected, it was airy, watercolor-like, and the vanilla is only a whisper. Right from the start there were two distinct layers: a pale pink floral and a beautiful smoky, ashy undertone. The flower is a cross between that orchid I get from some vanilla scents and a big lily that smells like my wedding bouquet.

The problem, of course, is the lily. It takes over the scent, and as elegant and fascinating as the initial combination may be, I can't do lily. I get the idea behind this and I wish I could like it, but I just can't. I have a similar issue with L'Artisan Vanillia. The opening always makes me consider buying a bottle, even though I know well what's to follow. Then come the big orchid and gnaws at my wrist until I break down and run ascrubbing. Vanille Galante is at least not a scrubber and I know I will try it again and again, but it is just not meant to be.

Since I was already there, I gave the other Hermèssence a good sniff, just to remind myself why I don't own any. Ambre Narguilé is still a baked apple, Paprika Brasil is as vile as it ever was and Vetiver Tonka is lovely on my husband. I actually wish he liked it better, because I could have lived with sharing a bottle.

After spraying the Blond with Vetiver Tonka, I directed his attention towards the regular line. It's been a while since I've smelled the classic masculines and I wanted to see if he liked any. I had fond memories of Bel Ami, and now I'm kicking myself for not hoarding some of the pre-reformulated juice, because the new stuff, at least on my husband, is extremely cuminy and he does not wear it well. At all. For hours. Until the vile element disappears and it dries down reasonably enough (my opinion. He can't stand it).There was no enthusiasm on his part for any of the other classic Hermès scents, but then again, he was wearing Tom Ford Oud Wood, so it's not really surprising.

One parting thought: Hiris should be released as a parfum. I'm not buying until then.

Image: Bag Snob

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nail Candy, Take 2


I had a little deja vu moment when I opened the newsletter from Sephora announcing their spring 2009 nail color collection from OPI. The title was "Nail Candy" and the bright colors are happy, bright and sweet. And very much like a cream version of the ChitChat collection Zoya introduced last summer, which was shimmery with gold undertones .

The link above goes to my post from May 2008, titled Nail Candy, and here are the color samples from both Zoya and OPI/Seophora press releases. Fun colors, for sure. I'd still stay away from painting your nails yellow. I tried it last year and wouldn't repeat it.

Zoya ChitChat Summer 2008






Sephora by OPI Spring 2009



What do you think? which ones looks better?

original image is mine

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day


Everything In Moderation


Some of you have probably noticed that I've turned on the comment moderation thingy, which basically means I need to approve every comment. I hate doing this, but the amount of spam the blog was getting lately has become ridiculous. They were shilling everything, from questionable blogs (splogs, more likely) to fake watches, so I'm pretty sure we can live without this kind of crap. The silver lining in comment moderation is that it helps me keep track and actually reply to each comment right away, so that is actually an improvement. Still, I apologize for the annoyance.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Guerlain Quand Vient la Pluie


I'm on a classic kick lately. There were a few Chanel days, but there's no doubt Guerlain is my biggest love of the old houses, and among the Guerlains, my preference is for the iconic perfumes. The ones that are older than my grandma.

Among the new ones, I like some more than others with no rhyme or pattern. I should have lusted after Spiritueuse Double Vanille, but it doesn't rock my world the way Cuir Beluga does. I like Bois d'Armenie better on my husband and the masculine Coriolan on myself and can't stand L'Instant in any version or formulation. Go figure.

The 2007 special limited release of Quand Vient la Pluie is among my most favorites. It feels like an updated take on the classic theme, L'Heure Bleue for the generation of "yummy", a somewhat Angelified Guerlinade. I shouldn't like this heliotrope and praline confection which is so gourmand you can practically taste the macarons, but I adore it. My skin kills most of the floral parts, except for a hint of orange blossom, and goes straight for the candy. It's girly, it's pretty and it makes me happy on a gray and windy day.

Retail-wise, Quand Vient la Pluie was not meant for normal folks. Someone at LVMH decided to give us two options: an EDP in refillable crystal bottle for over $400 and an utterly obnoxious 500 ml set of the extrait de parfum that includes a bottle, a refill jug and a funnel (and a lifetime or two to try and use it all up). The target audience is obviously oil tycoons and mafia bosses, not the average perfumista, but these huge bottles were born for splits, which is how I acquired my large(ish) decant of the parfum. Quand Vient la Pluie is available from Guerlain boutiques. I don't remember seeing it at Bergdorf the last time I was there, but then again I wasn't looking for it. The Paris store still had both versions last summer.

Image: http://www.sybarites.org/

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Oscar Blandi Smoothing Hair Cream Trattamento Di Jasmine


My hair has never been happier. Every hair care product I've tested in the last six months has been a success, and the result is a simple, almost minimalistic routine. I wash, condition and use small amount of just one leave-in product, be it a curling mousse or a smoothing serum or cream, and that's it. For someone with the amount of hair I'm sporting, this is a huge improvement that saves time, money and general fuss.

Oscar Blandi Smoothing Hair Cream that also answers to the romantic sounding name Trattamento di Jasmine, is a (very) thick conditioner. The directions tell you to leave it for 3-15 minutes and recommend wrapping your hair in a towel and then covering the whole thing with a shower cap, because it performs better if there's some heat involved. I skip the towel, because there's no shower cap in the world big enough to host both my hair and a towel. I just pin it up with a clip, wear the shower cap and do my thing. In my experience, 5 to 10 minutes are more than enough to get excellent results.

It's a bit odd at first. The cream is thick and the hair feels heavier and texturized after you wash it off, as though you've used a volumizing or a no-grease product, which scared me when I first used it (the last thing I need is more volume. My hair would take the entire Easter Seaboard). But once the hair is dry and everything was in place, with or without a styling product I could tell things are smoother and significantly less frizzy. A good shine and a very pleasant low-key jasmine scent (no sillage, you need to bury your nose in my hair to smell it, but please don't) make this a great product that has earned its place in my rotation.

Oscar Blandi Smoothing Hair Cream ($26) is available at Sephora, online and in store. My original travel size was a GWP, I've bought a full size since.

Image: The Jasmine Fairy by Cicely Mary Barker, shamelessly swiped from an eBay auction.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fendy by Fendi (1985)- The Lost Perfume Series


It was announced today that LVMH (known to some as Forces of Darkness) is pulling the plug on the Fendi perfume franchise and discontinuing Fendi Palazzo, the last remaining Fendi scent on the market. According to WWD:

The company will stop selling its Fendi Palazzo women’s fragrance, which it introduced in 2007, due to sales that “while encouraging, didn’t meet expectations” in 2008, stated Gabriella Scarpa, country general manager for LVMH Perfumes and Cosmetics in Italy. At the time of its introduction, industry sources estimated Palazzo would ring up $50 million in global retail revenues during its first year on counter.


Palazzo, a scent with a nice top and a drydown out of a laundromat, joins the older (and better) Fendi fragrances that were sent to the great perfume counter in the sky in 2005, after LVMH acquired the license from YSL Beauté division . I've already reviewed the gorgeous (and cult favorite) Theorema, so today in honor of the deceased line we can talk of the original Fendi from 1985.

Like other 1985 releases, Dior Poison and CK Obsession, Fendi is big Big BIG, complete with mall hair and a power suit. Back then it was meant to evoke luxurious femininity (there was something about fur coats in the publicity material, but I'm not the right person to comment about that). Nowadays it mostly calls to mind an era when various perfumes battled over control of small spaces. In a way, you can blame Fendi for the disturbance in the force that brought upon us the following decade of Seinfeldian scents that smell of nothing.

But back to Fendi. While obviously not of this time (a polite way to say dated), and something to be taken in small doses, this is a beautiful spicy chypre, chock-full of oakmoss and labdanum. It's rich, deep and has a bite you either love or hate. It's also extremely recognizable and has an assertive sillage, as I discovered a couple of years ago when I was asked at the post office if I was wearing Fendi. I've been saving it to open spaces and one spray a day ever since.

Very often when I (or other American bloggers) write about a discontinued scent we get comments from readers in Europe telling us they can still buy it in their local stores. Sometimes it's a case of different markets, but more often than not, the scent is no longer manufactured, but unlike the US, Europe does not believe in discounters, which is where leftover stock is directed here, to be purchased online. Instead, they keep the bottles on the shelves (usually fully priced) until every last one is sold.
I bought a bottle of the eau de parfum for a song back when I first heard it was a goner. It's still available online, but mostly in EDT form and usually well under $50.

Lancome L'Absolu Rouge Berry Noir




It's been a while since I bought a Lancôme lipstick. Some of my old favorites were discontinued, others just forgotten. I've been distracted by newer and shinier things and didn't get myself acquainted with the specifics of the L'Absolu Rouge lipsticks, probably because the name was too similar to the classic Le Rouge Absolu and didn't capture my attention (note to the naming people: get creative).

I found a tube of L'Absolu Rouge Berry Noir in a gift with purchase bag I got from Saks a few weeks ago, and discovered it has a very pleasant texture. It feels rich and moisturizing while having all the pigment and color depth one can ask for. It also stays on for quite a while as long as you don't challenge the lipstick with its arch-nemesis, hot tea.


Berry Noir is a raspberry-ish color (the swatch from the official website is as close as it gets), not so much "noir" as deep pink which was unexpectedly flattering. It's a bold color and dark enough to warrant all the steps you must take before wearing assertive lipsticks: exfoliate, hydrate and use a lip liner to keep everything in place. It's quite perfect for the upcoming season which continues the comeback of real lipsticks. I plan to wear it on Valentine's Day.

Lancome L'Absolu Rouge ($29) is available online and in store wherever Lancôme makeup is sold, which means just about every department store, Sephora and Lancôme boutique. I got it as a GWP.

Image: Snow Berries by ktpup on flickr

Monday, February 09, 2009

When I Grow Up I Want To Be Joan Collins


75 is the new black.
Unlike the other Joan, Ms. Collins seems to have excellent plastic surgeon.
I love the red lips.

Photo: Dlisted

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Parfums DelRae Bois de Paradis


My bottle of Bois de Paradis was bought on a whim. It was a summer day and I was sniffing bottle after bottle at Aedes after taking inventory of my own perfume cabinet and deciding I'm seriously lacking in the feminine fragrance department (I must have conveniently forgotten the vintage classic Guerlains, Fracas in parfum, a bunch of Goutals, several vanilla-musk scents and enough others that spell GIRL).

I was determined to find something pretty and unquestionable ladylike, and the first whiff of Bois de Paradis seemed all that and then some. I rarely buy any fragrance after only one try, but the 15 minutes I spent with my nose planted firmly on my wrist didn't leave me much choice. Here was a jammy rose I not only liked, but also loved me back without turning sour. It was lush with ripe fruits, but firmly held on the sophisticated side by a woody drydown. I did the only thing one can be expected to do when falling in lust and took it home.

Later, doing some research I've learned that once again I fell for a supposedly unisex perfume. It has fans among the guys at Basenotes, who seem to be getting more of the ambery-wood base than the fruity-floral (in the best possible way). Everyone agrees on its richness and depth, though, and I could swear there's a chocolaty musk somewhere in the composition. I find it sexy in a similar way as Visa by Piguet (the modern version) or a more civilized Black Orchid (which I adore), but probably better composed.

While I started wearing Bois de Paradis over the summer, it's much more suited for winter. This juice is strong and assertive, survives showers and would clear an elevator faster than Anna Wintour. One full spray is all I need in winter and a light dabbing in summer.

So, can a man wear this? Depending on the man, I guess, and Nathan Branch agrees. I know some men prefer the feminine version of Amouage Lyric. They'd probably love Bois de Paradis, which hits a similar spot. My scent twin is a 6'4" guy, and I guess I'll need to spray him with this next time we're in ScentBar and see what happens. As for me, I'm seriously coveting the matching body cream.

Bois de Paradis by Parfums DelRae ($135 for 50 ml) is available at At ScentBar/Luckyscent, BeautyHabit.com and Aedes, which is where I bought mine.

Image: Torch of Paradise by N. Robert Wagstaff. I want to live in his world.

Ask the Non-Blonde: Mascara Mystery


Two readers emailed me this week with an almost identical question regarding mascara, a topic worth some discussion. Basically, we all want the same thing: long, thick, curly lashes. But reading reviews of mascaras you will find the same product getting the full range of reviews from the biggest raves to some serious trashing. My readers are wondering how it's possible, considering the end result is not a matter of taste. A mascara either performs well or it doesn't, right?

It's not that simple, actually. For the sake of this discussion, let's ignore reviews that aren't what they seem and are influenced by advertisers and other commercial interests. We'll only talk about user reviews and independent bloggers.

The biggest factor is the starting point. What's in the tube is the constant ,but a mascara will perform differently if your lashes are fine and sparse or thick but stubby. The level of coverage varies with the texture, which is why you need to experiment and learn what work better for your specific needs, because some great mascaras will not work for you if the material doesn't have much to cling to.

It would also affect the endurance: A heavy textured mascara on thin lashes is more likely to start flaking earlier if it doesn't have a good base. This is where a lash primer might be of help.

Another point to consider is the brush. Sparse lashes are less likely to benefit from those big brushes that are more likely to "miss a spot" and would do better with a delicate curved wand.

So there you have it. the very definition of "your mileage may vary", which I try to always mention my own lash stats (above average in length and thickness, but defying most curling efforts).

Image: http://blog.modernmechanix.com

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Lush Dream Cream


It's not exactly a secret I have issues with the scent of many (most?) Lush products. Dream Cream isn't different in this regard and is probably one of the worst, scent-wise, but it performs so wonderfully I must talk about it.

Dream Cream is more of a lotion than a cream in the texture department, and absorbs quickly enough. It moisturizers with the best of them- just as good as my favorite L'Occitane shea butter cream, only much lighter. I didn't expect it to have a lingering effect, but it does and keeps skin calm and soft all day. It even helps tremendously with the horrible winter itch.

The scent, however, is horrible. It smells like a household detergent, and not an expensive one. I don't know which of the many essential oils in the ingredient list is responsible for the stench, but I can only describe this as a demented lavender. And it's strong enough that I have to wait at least 20-30 minutes before I can wear perfume. And even then, I'd recommend going with a green or herbal fragrance, preferably a masculine (Coriolan is a good choice here). I don't want to think about Dream Cream mixing with anything vanilla.

I've been using Dream Cream since last summer and lately have been finding myself reaching for it several times a week. I'll have to replenish soon, but the Lush website says it's out of stock at the moment. If you've seen the cream at your local Lush store please say so in a comment.

Lush Dream Cream ($22.55) should be available at Lush boutiques and normally it's online. Mine was a gift from my sister who shares my opinions about the high performance and stinkiness.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Return Of The Padded Shoulders




I like Jennifer Connelly, really, I do. But this dress (worn to the L.A. premier of He's Just Not That Into You) is straight from a 1983 bar mitzvah, and that's not a good thing.

Photo: Faded Youth Blog

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Erno Laszlo Intensive Hand Cream


While my personal holy grail hand cream is still my beloved Chanel (because of the amazingly light texture and the noticeable long-time effect), Erno Laszlo Intensive Hand Cream is becoming another favorite.

It's thicker and takes a couple of extra seconds to fully absorb and also leaves what I can only call "an aftertaste" - a fuzzy feeling similar to what you get after wearing kitchen gloves- on my palms-which disappears after about 15 minutes. The greatness is in the immediate hydration and comfort my skin gets, even under dire circumstances, as I discovered after an unfortunate encounter with a very harsh detergent. The Erno Laszlo cream fixed the situation immediately.

Add to that the SPF 25 and a fairly large tube (4 oz), and this is a very good product, as long as you don't have issues with the texture.

Erno Laszlo Intensive Hand Cream ($55) is available from Nordstrom, Saks, Dillards (and I'm pretty sure I remember a Laszlo counter at Bergdorf), as well as from the company's web site. I got my tube as a PR freebie.

Photo: Life.com

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