Thursday, May 30, 2013

Max Factor- Primitif (Vintage Perfume)

There are several versions of the ad for Max Factor Primitif perfume, all featuring the photo of 1950s model Jean Patchett. In all of them it is very clear that Patchett (and Max Factor) mean business with this perfume- both in regular bottles and in the famous black cat presentation (usually more associated with Max Factor's Hypnotique). But it's only  when you smell this floral civet bomb that you fully get it.

Primitif, in theory, belongs in the same category with the 1950s version of Arpege and Chanel No. 5. Those were the days of your great-aunt Tilly's aldehydes, big powdery flower notes and a dry-down made of the dirtiest musks and civet (Barbara from Yesterday's Perfume discusses nitro-musks, the musks of the 1950s, in her review of Primitif). But let's face it: Max Factor was never Lanvin or Chanel. The perfume's packaging as seen in the ads tells you most of the story, as does the pricing.

I have various vintage versions of Chanel No. 5. None of them is that aggressive in its opening notes. The aldheydes are like a journey in a  time machine that takes you to Joan Holloway's pre-Mad Men (and before her Shalimar bottle) younger days. The femininity is a bit campy, but very enjoyable if you like these things. The floral heart is not all Grasse jasmine and orris butter, but more like a creamy ylang-ylang, a hint of tropical blossoms and a puff full of powder that also gets on your clothes.

The dry-down starts a bit dry and vetivery before it goes all skank and wild animals. It's as delicious and tempting as Jean Patchett's velvet skin and seductive half-smile. Some say that it's also as dated, but for those of us who appreciate the vintage look and smell, Max Factor Primitif is a delightful place to visit.

All images-- Primitif ads and Jean Patchett fashion photos --via

Dior Addict Gloss 643 Diablotine

Dior Addict Gloss in 643 Diablotine is new for the season and was launched last month, about the same time as Dior Blue Lagoon Palette and the Dior Nude Tan Paradise blus duos. Diablotine  643 is a shiny gloss with a sparkling shimmer in a gorgeous coral red that says "summer". It's pretty, has more than enough pigment and offers the familiar Dior Addict gloss formula- hydrating and comfortable to wear.

The brush applicator of Dior Addict glosses is very precise and doesn't leave the lips covered in goop. I fell in love with the one I got as a GWP from Nordstrom (above) and finished it quickly, so the full size one joined my collection.

Bottom Line: I should also get the matching Dior Addict lipstick.

Dior Addict Gloss 643 Diablotine ($29.50) is available at the counters and from Sephora.

Le Labo- Lys 41

He said, She Said, the friend said, and the brother-in-law complained.

I've been wearing and loving Lys 41 from Le Labo since the press sample landed on my door step. It was an unexpected love since I'm not a lily person. I don't wear Un Lys (Lutens) or Lys Méditerranée (Malle) because they seem to swallow me alive. But something about Lys 41, the new fragrance from Le Labo, seems to work incredibly well and to gain the approval of friends and husbands, though not everyone liked it on themselves, and my sweet brother-in-law was not amused.

If you ask me, it's the tuberose. While Lys 41 is chock-full of white flowers, my skin amplifies tuberose and the warm facets of the musky dry-down. The husband found it very sensual and nicely sweetened. On me, that is. His own skin took the jasmine note and shot it to high heaven. However, not even five minutes after spraying the sharp green screech was gone and the orchidy vanilla and fuzzy musk took over. I definitely want to keep smelling Lys 41 on him, and the husband himself doesn't object, though he says it's not really his kind of thing.

A very discerning friend with a good nose also sniffed this Le Labo fragrance. My friend admired it when I wore it and was taken with it when she tried it on. I thought it was marvelous on her skin, warm and radiant, summer in a bottle.

I made my brother-in-law, a manly man whose current favorite fragrance is Voyage d'Hermes, give Lys 41 a try. It was a little mean of me, because really, he's not a lily person. At all. The good news is that he still loves me. The bad news is that I'm not sure he'll let me spray him with anything else anytime soon.

In any case, Le Labo's newest white floral is lovely. There's something in the base of both Lys 41 and Ylang 49 that seems to embrace my skin and wrap it in a mohair-like warmth. I love the light twist into vanilla territory in the dry-down which lasts for long hours and projects nicely. I doubt that Lys 41 is office friendly, but I'll say it's an incredible date scent. As long as you're not dating my brother-in-law, that is.

Notes: lily, jasmine, tuberose, absolute, woods, vanilla Madagascar, tiare, musks.

Le Labo- Lys 41 (from $58 for 15ml, to $700 for 500ml)  will be available starting next week at Le Labo boutiques and Barneys. The sample for this review was sent by the company.

Art: Alphonse Mucha - Madonna of the Lilies, 1905

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tocca Giulietta Hand Cream

Marigold is my new model

My hand cream consumption has always been high. I have dry skin, I'm rough on my hands and nails and I live in a climate that can go from cold to humid and hot withing 6 hours (this week is a good example). The tube of Tocca hand cream that was sent to me recently has definitely been put into good use, and I'm glad to report that it's not just a pretty tube with a lovely smelling product, but a very (VERY) effective one as well.

The scent is a light and airy green floral. The texture is very rich yet spreads easily and absorbs quickly. I was certain that it was a silicone-based cream, but no, this is all butters and oils that give real results and feel wonderful for quite a while after application.

Giulietta may not be my favorite Tocca perfume, but it's perfect in this cream format that I don't expect to linger for long. It's on the fresh side of things, light and will not annoy or offend anyone if you use it in the office or on a plane.

Bottom Line: I want another one in Tocca Stella.

Ingredients: Aqua, Ceterayl Alcohol, Cocos Nucifera (coconut) Oil, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Vegetable Oil, Isocetyl Sterate, Phenoxyethanol, Polysrobate 60, Carbomer, Butylrpermum Parkii (shea Butter), Disodium EDTA, Parfum, Persea Gratissima (avocado) Oil, Simmondsia Chinesis (jojoba) Seed Oil, Sodium Hyrdroxide, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Amylcinnamyl Alcohol, Amyl Cinnamal, Bht, Butylphenol, Methylpropinoal, Benzyl Benzoate, Chamomilla Recutita (matricaia) Flower Extract, Citral, Hexylcinnama, Linalool, Glycerin, Olea Eurpaea Leaf Extract, Propylene Glycol, Punica Grantum Extract, Sodium Hyarlunoate, Tocopheryl Acetate.

Tocca Giulietta Hand Cream ($20, 4oz) is available from Sephora (online only), SpaceNK, BlueMercury and The product for this review was sent free of charge by the company.

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer- Light

As promised, here's Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer in Light, the bronzer that came with the GWP compact I showed you last week. I loved that this gift included three color products from the permanent collection, allowing me to test items that already had my interest and that can be found at the counters. I like the texture and finish of Estee Lauder bronzers, a satin smooth semi-matte with no shiny particles. It works better in summer, at least for me, because this is a powdery product (according to the Lauder website the bronzer has oil-control properties) that can look a bit dry at first, but it does settles nicely on the skin after 10 minutes or so and is very long lasting.

Bronze Goddess in Light is a bit too light or too warm for me. The arm swatch looks ok, but on my face there's an orange hue that is not the most flattering. In the past I've used Lauder Bronzers in Medium that were a better match for my coloring.

Estee Lauder Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer- Light ($36) is available at the counters and online as well as from The full size product comes in a large round compact and is offered in four shades.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Heeley- Cardinal

There's a bottle of Cardinal by Heeley in one of my perfume cabinets. Technically it belongs to the husband, who often wears incense better than I do. But I help myself to some Cardinal every now and then, which means that I obviously had a change of heart in the years since I first tried to love this Heeley fragrance. It took me a long time to get it. Not having the Catholic context and church memory made it nearly impossible for me to get the grandeur of the cathedral, its cool to the touch stone walls and the solemn atmosphere.

Incense notes can be cold or warm. I think I finally understood the complexity through several Tauer perfumes, especially Incense Extreme, which sent me back to rediscover Heeley's take on incense. Finally it clicked. I still don't smell a church, probably because the last time I stepped into one was when visiting Westminster Abbey. But I do get the meditative and reflective nature of incense and cistus as they're used together.  I still smell something green and cold, but that's the incense itself as its smoke soars into the blue morning sky far above the treetops. I look up at the first hint of sunlight and feel a sense of wonder and gratefulness for the peaceful beauty.

Cardinal is just a little sweet (less than CdG Avignon, a Bertrand Duchaufour creation to which it's often compared). It also feels more clear and pure, cold spring water to Avignon's bottled holy water. There's a green thread that runs through Cardinal thanks to the vetiver note. It's not grassy or earthy, though, but more like a cut tree branch. The minimalism of notes and imagery makes me think of a Japanese tokonoma display, which in itself is a shrine of nature and aesthetics.

Notes: incense, cistus, grey amber, patchouli, vetiver.

Cardinal by Heeley ($180, 100ml EDP) is available from MiN NY and Luckyscent.

Images of  Giuliano Mauri's Temple Of Growing Trees in Italy via

Let's Talk About Bobbi Brown

My records show me that the last time I bought anything from Bobbi Brown was last December. Once upon a time Bobbi Brown was one of my favorite makeup brands. I relied on the perfect neutrals from the permanent collection as the base of many makeup looks. I went through more than one pan of Cement and Grey eye shadows. Then there were the limited edition seasonal palettes that used to be sensational and sell out within days (Chocolate, anyone?).  While I never found a match in the base products (far too yellow even when the depth was just right), I kept buying palettes. lipsticks, blushes, eye shadows and liners, knowing that I'll get fresh ideas with an elegant and grownup color/finish.

This hasn't been the case for a while now. Bobbi Brown seems to be a follower rather than a leader now (the  Longwear Cream Shadow Stick is a reaction to the success of Laura Mercier's Caviar Sticks. While Chanel did basically the same thing, they at least came up with several original colors). Something also seems to have happened to Bobbi's powder eye shadows. Thankfully, my favorite mattes are still there and will be replenished in due time, but new offering seem to be too sheer, too sparkly, too pale to show up on my skin and compared to other leading brands the quality and finish are not what I'd expect.

Then there's the question of innovation and originality. Or lack thereof. I promise you that I don't expect to get a case of the blown off socks with every release, but I do hope for more than what you see above, Bobbi Brown's Navy & Nude Eye Palette for Summer 2013 ($60, available in June). I love the combination of navy and natural skin and sand colors. It makes perfect sense to offer a palette with this color combination, and the deep blue in this Navy & Nude seems to be Bobbi's matte Navy eye shadow from the regular line that I own and like. The taupe shade next to it also looks fabulous. But is there a real need for six more pale and mostly shimmery variations on the same beige idea? From years of experience with Bobbi Brown eye shadows I already know that some of these will not show up on my lids and the ones that will are going to be undistinguished from one another. Add to that the fact that most Bobbi devotees already own at least one of her nude palettes. So what exactly is the point of a double-decker  compact full of recycled ideas and less-than-great eye shadows?

I'm not buying it. What about you?

Photo via

Hourglass Icon Femme Rouge Velvet Crème Lipstick

This one is for red lip addicts: Hourglass Femme Rouge Velvet Crème Lipstick in Icon, a red cherry (blue toned) color.  Hourglass lipsticks have one of the creamiest and most luxurious formulas, combined with some serious color payoff (at least in the dark shades). My other Femme Rouge staple is Nocturnal, a perfect plum that sees a lot of use here.I guess I should also get Fresco for natural lip days, but I'm in the mood for red at the moment, and Icon is very satisfying. On dark pigmented lips like mine, even Icon has a rosy undertone, but if you're paler or warmer in tones you'll get more of the red base.

Longevity, just like with Nocturnal, is impressive. The creamy texture does transfer to teacups, other people's cheeks and cat foreheads, but there's a lot of stain left behind. Using a lip liner or crayon as a base reduces the transferring issue considerably.

Bottom Line: a modern classic.

Hourglass Icon Femme Rouge Velvet Crème Lipstick ($30) is available from Berfgdorf Goodman, Sephora, Barneys and Hourglass website. The product in this review was sent free of charge by the company.

Le Labo- Ylang 49

Ylang 49, the new fragrance from Le Labo feels like stepping into a dream of a perfect balmy day wearing a flowing dress and having a spectacularly good hair and makeup day despite being outdoors. In this little fantasy you're also wearing gorgeous shoes that remain magically pristine and unmarred by the forest wood and whatever else is out there in nature.

Ylang 49 may be my favorite out of all the Le Labo flower perfumes. It has  a lot of warmth and a substantial base that surround the tropical flowers and make them more abstract and mysterious. The yellow blossoms are rich and enticing, but they're also restrained and wonderfully elegant: this is what they mean by calling Ylang 49 a "modern chypre". I was ready to protest and request that the label "chypre" be retired as were the true perfumes in this category, but you won't find me kvetching this time. Ylang 49 is as chypery as it is modern. It moves from floral to a recognizable oakmoss-patchouli base; there's  a hint of chypre soapiness, a  touch of roasted tea, and instead of the  animalic base of yore you get the familiar Le Labo sandalwood enriched with benzoin.

My skin loves Ylang 49 the way it loves most of Le Labo's other fragrances. Their perfumes, even when interpreting classic themes, have a certain modern airiness that makes them appealing to both sexes and defy what we think of as a "sandalwood", "vanilla" or or "iris" perfume. Thus, Le Labo's ylang offering (a Frank Voelkl creation) bears no resemblance to other ylang-ylang centered fragrances (from the semi-recent Micallef Ylang In Gold to Les Nez Manoumalia or the dearly departed Aqua Allegoria Ylang & Vanille). Ylang 49 is entirely in its own world, which is a place I'd love to visit often.

Notes: ylang ylang, pua noa noa, (gardenia from Tahiti), patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, sandalwood, benjoin

Ylang 49 is one of two new La Labo perfumes (the other one is Lys 41 which I'll review soon) that join the "Classic Collection" (i.e. available wherever Le Labo perfumes are regularly sold) in less than two weeks. It's  an extrait de parfum concentration (a whopping 30% perfume oil) and will come in the usual sizes (from $58 for 15ml, to $700 for 500ml. Body products will join the range in the fall.

The press sample for this review was supplied by the company.

Photo: Guillermo de Zamacona, 2010

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day: Navy Air Evacuation Nurses of World War II published this little-known story about the Navy Air Evacuation Nurses of World War II who had an important part in the battle of Iwo Jima. It's worth remembering, today and always.

ENS Jane Kendeigh was the first Navy flight nurse on Iwo Jima (6 March 1945) and later Okinawa (6 April 1945).

Flight nurses on Guam, April 1945

Photos: BUMED Archives via

Memorial Day

Photo: Female Pilot of the US Women's Air Force Service, 1943, via

The Ten Best Perfumes You're Not Wearing-- Part II

**Before we start with tonight's list, here's a reminder of the Micallef Pomelos giveaway (ten mini bottles).**

It's been almost a year since my previous list of The Ten Best Perfumes You're Not Wearing. Since then I kept remembering other neglected gems that rarely (if ever) get the hype and attention they deserve. Here's the sequel, and as usual I'm cheating a little and talking about ten brands but fifteen perfumes.

  • Cartier-Must Pour Homme. I didn't mean to include discontinued fragrances in my list and was dismayed to discover that the elegant Must de Cartier Pour Homme is a gonner. However, it's still easy to find online and from various mall kiosks and such, so this spicy oriental deserves a mention.
  • Tommi Sooni Eau I, Eau II, Tarantella. The whole line, as a matter of fact. Tommi Sooni is modern French perfumery from Australia, which probably accounts to the brand's low-key presence. Nevertheless, it was my favorite discovery in the past six months, so now that the full line is back at Luckyscent as well as on the shelves at Henri Bendel in NYC it's a good opportunity to get acquainted if you haven't yet. A sixth perfume, a green chypre, is coming out in September.

  • Chanel Bel Respiro and 28 La Pausa. Les Exclusifs de Chanel series has bigger crowd pleasers than these two green charmers. La Pausa is the quirky iris tea one while Bel Respiro is grassy and crisp. Infinitely better than Beige and co.
  • Esteban Paris-Classic Chypre. Beautiful and very French. Esteban perfumes deserve to be on more shelves, but at least you can get them online, even in the US.
Pierre Guillaume in action
  • Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture. According to Pierre Guillaume, I'm one of few people who adore Tubereuse Couture. Neither one of us understands why, as this is a green and complex interpretation of tuberose. Worth the time of all Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle worshipers who have a high tolerance for weirdness in their white florals.
  • Caron Infini is one of the mostly neglected Caron perfumes. It's a green aldehydic fragrance with all the good stuff: narcisuss, iris, and lilac. It's hard to find outside Caron boutiques, but vintage(ish) bottles are everywhere online.

  • Donna Karan Chaos. I'm always surprised to hear that many people have no idea Chaos was relaunched in 2008 and can be found on the shelves at Bergdorf Goodman and online from Donna Karan's own website (under "Accessories"). Spicy and incensy, yet airy and uplifting, I believe Chaos is a modern masterpiece and one of the best things $120 can buy.
  • Tiffany by Tiffany. Once again, many people mistakenly believe that Tiffany perfume was discontinued, while it was merely pulled out of locations outside of Tiffany stores. This massive floriental can also be ordered online from Tiffany's website (under "Gifts"), including body products and parfum concentration. One drop and it's 1987 again.

  • Ramon Monegal- Impossible Iris. The Spanish perfumer launched a line that offers something for everyone. The focus seems to be on the addictive Cuirelle, but Impossible Iris is a study of things iris can do and be, from juicy and pretty to the sexy secretary. Monegal managed to make his iris both romantic and intellectual. 
  • Molinard Chypre d'Orient. This one is a cheap treat, as are most Molinard perfumes. It smells too retro for words, like a torpedo bra of a scent, and can be equally lethal. If you're into more subtle temptations check out Fleur de Figuier.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Giveaway: M.Micallef Pomelos

We have a fabulous giveaway this week: Ten  M.Micallef Pomelos 5 ml miniature bottles will go to ten lucky readers who live in the US. All you have to do is leave a comment telling us what's your favorite summer perfume.

Also, the nice people at Micallef request that as part of your entry you go to Facebook and "Like" their page. Since we know not all of you are Facebook users and none of us in interested in policing this giveaway more than is required by law, this part is optional/honor system, but I do recommend doing it simply for easy access to news, giveaway and such.

This is what Micallef minis look like
Now the not so small print: Because of annoying postal shenanigans and regulations, the giveaway is only open to US residents.

The even smaller print:◆No purchase necessary. Ever. Because I don't sell anything◆participants must be 18 or older◆void where prohibited by law◆regulated by the State of NJ◆Prizes will be sent by the Micallef company.

Again: leave a comment telling us what's your favorite summer perfume. And please (please!) include your name in the comment if you're not signed in-- we kind of need to be able to reach you in some way or another.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Diane von Furstenberg- Tatiana (Vintage Perfume)

Diane von Furstenberg relaunched the fragrance branch of her business in 2003 with D (now discontinued) and once again in 2011 as she released Diane and later a bunch of flankers. Apparently, it didn't work so well and whatever's left of the line is now in final clearance on her website and can also be found on sale for 50% off from the various retailers that stocked it (Nordstrom, Sephora, etc.).  I liked Diane well enough, but I doubt it has made a mark or that it'll be remembered fondly and mourned for decades to come the way DVF's first perfume, Tatiana, has been.

Released in 1975 and named after Diane's daughter, Princess Tatiana Von Furstenberg (she doesn't use her title these days), Tatiana was a rather bold and assertive white floral. It was meant to be heard, seen and smelled from afar. Tatiana was created to hold its own in crowded and smoky clubs, such as Studio 54 in its heyday, a favorite location of the model/designer.

I own Tatiana parfum in the pretty multifaceted bottle. I can't say it's the most sophisticated of the 1970s vintage perfumes I know, but it definitely makes a statement. The top notes of both have been mangled a bit, but within minutes I get a massive dose of orange blossom, powder and a somewhat tropical tuberose-gardenia wave. Tatiana becomes rather powdery at some point and I could swear I smell a spicy carnation in its heart. There's also quite a bit of green stuff that complement the gardenia. The note list says hyacinth and narcissus, but if that's the case these notes are not constructed all that well and they lack the refinement I'd expect. Tatiana is not Chamade or Valentino, and I suspect it was not meant to be.

The dry-down is somewhat musky and powdery. It's very pleasant and actually smells quite elegant and expensive. Apparently the night out clubbing in the city has transformed into a more intimate and quite swanky uptown lounge. Tatiana remains just above skin level for several hours and becomes almost snuggly. It's been a very good night.

I'm not sure when exactly Tatiana was discontinued but before its demise the perfume was heavily and badly reformulated. For a while it could have been found at drugstores and other less than stylish locations (von Furstenberg closed her business and sold the fragrance license at some point). Rumor has it that you need to beware of the newer (late 80s?) version that smells like a limp and cheap carnation. I don't know when and how DVF plans to reboot her perfume line (the contract with ID Beauty was terminated in late 2012 after the latter started dumping vast amount of bottles at various discount stores). Let's hope the next incarnation will fare better.

Notes: bergamot, hyacinth, orange blossom, gardenia, jasmine, narcissus, rose, tuberose, amber, musk and sandalwood.

Also read Donna's review of Tatiana in the Examiner.

Images: various online auctions and Straight, Stirred Up With A Twist.

Packing Makeup For A Short Vacation

You know that I don't travel light. I've already shown you the makeup train case and brush roll I pack when going away for a 10 day or two week vacation. But when only leaving for three or four days even I don't need to carry my weight in cosmetics. I picked the Paul & Joe cosmetics bag on sale last year (still available at, $38) for exactly this purpose. The size is great but what's even better is the layout. The bag holds several space saving compartments, including a perfect one for makeup brushes. I love it so much I'm considering getting a second one to carry skincare items or to use as a set for longer trips.

Now, to the items I packed. Most of the skincare products were in a separate bag, except for two I packed here: an SPF 35 moisturizing sunscreen (Olay. A press sample that I'm about to repurchase), and my BFF, the Best Face Forward serum oil that I can't be without. The makeup was:
Laura Mercier Radiance Primer (travel size from a GWP), NARS eye shadow base, Serge Lutens compact foundation, Hourglass Ambient Powder (press sample), Chantecaille powder compact, NARS Creamy Concealer (press sample), Louise Young Essential Eye Shadow Palette, Chanel Eye Shadow Stylo in Black Stream and Jade Shore, Youngblood Mineral Blush in Blossom, The Estee Lauder blush/bronzer GWP compact I talked about yesterday; I still need to post a review about the bronzer), Chanel mascara sample (meh. I have yet to find a Chanel mascara I really love), NARS Satin Lip pencils in Rikugien and Luxemburg (press samples), NARS Larger Than Life lip gloss in Paris Follies (press sample), Chanel Glossimer in Crushed Cherry. I always have a couple of extra lipsticks in my purse as well as Chantecaille Protection Naturelle SPF 46 (a lifesaver on the go).

The brushes I packed were Hakuhodo small pointed Yachiyo, Hakuhodo eye brush G5523, Trish McEvoy 2B Sheer blush brush, Rouge Bunny Rouge Large Eye Shader, and three beloved Paula Dorf brushes: Smokie Lid, Sheer Crease, and Eye Contour. I was perfectly fine applying foundation with the sponge that's in the compact as I didn't need it all over the face, only in certain areas.

Lastly, allow me to introduce the newest addition to our family:  Gemma, Pippa, and Marigold.

Aroma M Camellia Hair Oil

You know that a product is special when you finish a generous sample and instantly order the full size, pondering getting a crate full of the stuff. I was good and only bought one bottle for now, but I must tell you: Aroma M Camellia Hair Oil makes my hair look and feel incredible. It also smells heavenly.

Many of you probably know Aroma M for the Geisha perfumes. Geisha Noire is on my short list of favorite perfumes and I'm in awe of the creativity and work of Maria McElroy. She has now added a face oil (review coming soon) and this Camellia Hair Oil that nourishes, softens, and leaves and incredible shine-- I have other excellent oils, but none makes my hair this shiny. The difference is very noticeable.

Aroma M Camellia Hair Oil is all-natural and uses organic essential oils (tuberose and rosemary, jasmine, and frankincense) and organic cold pressed oils of the best kind: camellia oil, argan oil, and jojoba oil. I apply to slightly damp hair, re-wrap my hair in a towel for a few more minutes and allow the oil to do its thing. No need to rinse. I also add a drop or two before styling (or rather what stands for styling in my case) and to tame frizz.

Ingredients: Organic Camellia Seed Oil,Organic Virgin Argan Oil, Organic Golden Jojoba Oil, Organic Rosemary Oil, Tuberose Oil.

Aroma M Camellia Hair Oil ($65, 1.6oz) is available from Luckyscent and directly from Aroma M website: (copy and paste the address, since it's a bit hard to find on the site). The original sample for this review was sent to me free of charge.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jo Loves- The Mango Collection

 Jo Loves...- Mango Nectar, A Shot Of Oud Over Mango, A Shot Of Thai Lime Over Mango

Life Style entrepreneur Jo Malone sold her company to Estee Lauder in 1999 but stayed on board until 2006. She left her name to Lauder and had to start from scratch when she was ready to come back after a battle with breast cancer. The new company, Jo Loves, launched the first scents in 2011 and added four more in 2012, including the three fragrances of the Mango Collection which we'll talk about today. At first Jo Loves perfumes and candles were only available in the UK, but now they're shipping to the US.

I decided to start with the Mango Collection because this note used to be far out of my comfort zone.But Neela Vermiere has taught me a lesson with her wonderful Bombay Bling, so now I'm eager to see what else is out there.

Mango Nectar (notes: mango leaf, bitter orange, pink grapefruit, mango nectar, apricot blossom, jasmine, musk). This one is decidedly not for me. Mango Nectar is a sweet fruity-floral, very juicy, very sunshiny and a bit too Bath & Body Whatever. The opening is downright scary after the initial burst of orange juice-- it's all Tropicana all the time, but it mellows into a mellow white floral and sweet musk. Surprisingly, Mango Nectar is the least tenacious of the three on my skin, but in this case I'm not complaining.

A Shot Of Thai Lime Over Mango (notes: mango, kaffir lime, black pepper, freesia, mint leaves, white thyme  absolute, vetiver) is the fun one. The fragrance opens with a huge kaffir lime note in all its green and lime-like glory. It's green, herbal and zesty in the best possible way. I can't get enough of this and if there was a matching body butter or even a shower gel I would have already ordered it. The mango in A Shot Of Thai Lime is not too sweet and maintains the green quality that makes this an exotic treat. The dry-down is more green- this time grassy thanks to the vetiver. It's also gender neutral and easy to wear.

A Shot Of Oud Over Mango (notes: mango, black pepper, freesia, oud wood) is the sexy surprise. Even if you're already over the oud trend in perfumery this Jo Loves fragrance is still worth your time, because apparently what oud has been missing all along is a lighthearted infusion of mango. Who knew? A Shot Of Oud is a game of contradictions: light and shadow, cool and warm. There's a hint of incense somewhere in the core, making the perfume even more interesting. A Shot Of Oud is obviously my favorite of the trio and the longest lasting in this Jo Loves collection. It's also an original and unexpected creation and the husband's favorite.

 Jo Loves... The Mango Collection: Mango Nectar, A Shot Of Oud Over Mango, A Shot Of Thai Lime Over Mango (£45.00, 30ml EDP) is available exclusively from Please note that they can only ship this small size outside of the UK because of the currents restrictions and regulations (and shipping to the US is priced at  £20.00. Ouch). The samples for this review were sent by the company.

Mango by Jean Heelen
A vintage seed packet via an online auction
Paul Gaugin, Woman With  A Mango, 1892
Underneath The Mango Tree by Ruth Sampson

Estee Lauder Pink Ingenue & Peach Passion Pure Color Blush

A gift-with-purchase event has allowed me to try a couple of Estee Lauder Pure Color Blush shades: Pink Ingenue 05 and Peach Passion 08 (also a Bronze Goddess bronzer in Light 01, which I'll talk about tomorrow). Estee Lauder Pure Color blushes are a solid performer with an excellent texture that is too often overlooked in favor of brands with an edgier image. It's a shame, really, because the pigment intensity is superb despite the almost sheer quality that makes these Lauder blushes work with one's skin without looking painted. The finely milled texture is one of the best you can find at your local Macy's.

Pink Ingenue is my favorite of the two. It's a very organic medium rose that adds life to the skin. It's more pink than Alluring Rose which is still my favorite, but still almost universal in its appeal. Peach Passion is not my thing. I know peach and orangeish blushes are summer favorites for many but they tend to clash with the green undertones of my skin. No matter how light and glowy Peach Passion looks when swatched it does nothing for my face unless I mix it with another color. Still, if this is your kind of color I do recommend that you give it a try- the finish is very pretty and on the right complexion I'm sure this is fab.

 The swatches above were done very lightly with the crappy little brush that came in the GWP compact. I'd say that just any good blush brush you already own will suffice. The blushes have great color payoff and are easy to apply and blend. Estee Lauder Pure Color blushes meld with the skin very easily and last for the entire day (over a good base) with or without a finishing powder.

Estee Lauder Pink Ingenue & Peach Passion Pure Color Blush ($28 each) are available at the counters and from The products in this review were a GWP and didn't come in the regular Pure Color size/packaging.

Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil

The only issue with Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil is that it makes me crave apricots in the worst way and we're still not quite in the right season for fresh local organic fruit. Other than that, Essie offers a nice treat for nails and cuticles in the form of a sweet (and delightfully smelling) oil that sinks right into the skin and doesn't leave any greasiness behind.

Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil is an instant feel good treatment. I'm not yet sure how much of the long time effect is really due to the oil itself and how much is the result of paying attention and pampering my nails and cuticles often, but the bottom line is that this is an effective treatment.

Looking at the list of ingredients (below) I was somewhat disappointed to discover that the only apricots in Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil come from the fragrance used in the product. The oil itself is a blend of cottonseed and and soybean oils enriched with vitamin A and collagen. Nevertheless it is a good and easy treat (not to mention cheap)-- you just brush it over nails and cuticles and massage it in. Do remember to wipe away any oil before applying base and color polish. Your nails need to be oil free for a manicure to hold.

Ingredients: Cottonseed Oil, PPG 15 Stearyl Ether, Polysorbate 81, Soybean (Glycine Soja) Oil, Vitamin A Palminate (A269), Vitamin E Acetate, Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance, Isostearoyl Hydrolyzed Collagen, D&C Violet 2 (CI 60725), D&C Red 17.

Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil ($8) is available at Nordstrom, Ulta, Target, and

Art: Apricot Delight by Priska Wettstein.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

M.Micallef- Pomelos

Here's something easy and light for the oppressive summer weather we're heaving: Pomelos by M.Micallef.  Despite the name (and the notes listed on Fragrantica), Pomelos is far less about citrus fruit than it is about powdery flowers. This 2002 Micallef perfume opens with a breeze carrying a whiff from a lemon grove and settles on the skin in a heap of tiny pollen-laden blossoms. The fragrance has the sheerest hint of fruit, mostly in the musky dry-down, a touch of fuzzy peach skin and peachy smelling iris (sounds crazy, but if you're familiar with the subtle iris note in Serge Lutens Daim Blond or Clair de Musc you probably know what I'm talking about).

 Pomelos makes me think of a blush-colored silk dress. It clings to the body here and there but still looks and feels demure. So does the fragrance. The pretty heavy white musk of the dry-down is of the very clean variety, though it's not laundryish. The impression it gives is of a weather-blanched driftwood, which contributes to the summer beach in late afternoon image. Said shore scene is probably more of a wishful thinking than anything grounded in reality (or in actual perfume notes). What I do know for sure is that Micellef's Pomelos is a pretty chill perfume. It's casual and relaxing, somewhat lacking in longevity (about four hours unless I really go to town spraying) and a good fit for the heat and insane humidity of this week.

Notes: pomelo, lemon, tangerine, jasmine, rose, iris, lily of the valley, cedar, sandalwood, white musk.

Pomelos by M.Micallef ($89, 1 oz EDP) is available from Osswald in NYC and

Art: Pomelos by Pierre Farel