Thursday, August 29, 2013

Avon- Here's My Heart (Vintage Perfume)

Do you think that anyone today could get away with a name like "Here's My Heart" for any kind of product? It strikes me as so incredibly innocent and simple, just like the rose-colored nostalgic view of the fifties that ignores all of the harsh realities, fears, and less savory aspects of that decade. But when it comes to perfume, we often find  that fragrances that were once considered young and girly smell quite sophisticated to a modern nose that's used to neon pink stuff with names like Pink Juicy Fantasy.

Here's My Heart by Avon was a 1957 perfume. From the info I could gather, it was considered a youthful offering. The 1959 Avon ad above also points in that direction.  Here's My Heart opens like a classic aldehydic floral, very poised and ladylike. Then again, those were the expectations from young women, so the No.5 aspirations shouldn't surprise us. Here's My Heart is not a Chanel copycat. Once the aldehydes settle down, the fragrance gets a green angle, crisp and fresh in the best possible way. It becomes more floral and powdery over time, and the carnation in the ad aren't there by mistake-- they can also be smelled.

As the hours go by, Here's My Heart becomes softer and more powdery. There's an iris note and a woody dry-down. It's very mellow and kind of dry-- none of the bombshellness of vintage No.5, no vanilla or explosive animalic musks. I can see why it was considered very proper and girly for the young ladies in poodle skirts. This kind of femininity is romantic and non-threatening. Yet, cultural references aside, I find the fragrance very pretty, easy to wear, and despite the Avon image and all its baggage, Here's My Heart smells quite luxurious, like quite a few of the brand's old perfumes.

My vintage bottle is labeled "cologne", but it has an all day longevity, so who knows what's in there. Avon discontinued Here's My Heart years (probably decades) ago, but if you look yard sales, Goodwill stores and the like you still have a chance of scoring a bottle for half a song.

Beauty Addicts Play Addict Lip Gloss

I admit that I knew little-to-nothing about Beauty Addicts, a US-based cosmetics company, until a couple of their products landed on my doorstep. It's a small brand, obviously, only available online (, that stresses simplicity and quality ingredients. Sounds good, I think. I also like the fact that the products are made here in the US.

Today we're looking at their Play lip gloss in Addict (Beauty Addicts lip glosses come in a couple of ranges. Play is the newest one and at the moment only includes two shades, this one and Socialite, a light pink). Play Addict is a coppery peach gloss, quite high in shine. It's actually a full-coverage gloss and its opacity is bordering on a liquid lipstick. The texture is quite interesting: it's very thick and dense, but not tacky. I had to get used to it, since just about any other gloss I have feels very light. Not this one. I guess that's why this Beauty Addicts gloss has a slightly longer wear time and less transference than the average lip gloss.

I also liked the nourishing aspect of this Play gloss. It feels more a treatment than a color product, only with some serious level of pigment. Not bad at all, once you get used to the way it feels. I do wish that Play gloss came in more shades. Addict is very summery and nice, but I'd be very happy with berry and a rose. Perhaps in following seasons.

Bottom Line: good, as long as you can deal with the weight of the gloss on your lips.

Beauty Addicts Play Addict Lip Gloss ($17) is available from The product for this review was sent by PR.

Lancome Gris Fatale Color Design Eye Shadow Palette

Lancome Color Design All In One Palettes include both a nude eye base (horizontal, top) and a dark liner (horizontal, bottom) that match the color theme of the other eye shadows. In the case of Lancome Gris Fatale (#600), we're talking about a classic smoky eye .

I love the nude eye shadow base Lancome included here. It has an almost creamy texture that works as a primer when you apply it all over the lid, and lets the color products grab onto it and stay put. On the other hand, the liner is unconvincing unless you apply it with a damp brush. Then it's a pretty standard almost-black with some unnecessary sparkle particles. Why can't Lancome just give us a good matte? Who needs glitter in an eyeliner when the eye shadows themselves are already shiny enough?

Speaking of which, all three eye shadows in Gris Fatale are very shimmery with an almost foiled finish. They're pretty and the texture is quite good- smooth with little to no fallout. The colors are silver, charcoal, and an elegant taupe, which is the one eye shadow in this palette that I know will be used up. I've been applying the base all over the lid with the taupe as my main color, finishing with a dark eyeliner pencil and that's it. Obviously, the silver/charcoal combination can be used as desired, I just don't like the disco ball effect very much.

Bottom Line: what you see is what you get.

Lancome Gris Fatale Color Design Eye Shadow Palette ($49) is available at the counters and from The product in this review was GWP. Regular size palettes also come with two sponge applicators.

Etat Libre d'Orange- Bijou Romantique

What happens when Etat Libre d'Orange does an oriental perfume? You get a hyper-oriental with all the big guns thrown in with abandon. Just the way I like it. And, yes, this massive iris-benzoin thing is very romantic.

Like many other Etat Libre d'Orange fragrances, Bijou Romantique is a modern creation that respects the past and relies on it. There are references to some classics, such as Shalimar: lemon over an ambery vanilla that greets you as soon as you spray or dab Bijou Romantique. But there's more going on there. We're talking ELdO, so there has to be some synthetic weirdness to remind us that the modern world is rough and edgy with some unsavory characters that might invade your cozy corner. I get a whiff of cheap hairspray and a damp basement for a minute or two before the door closes on that bad part of town and I'm back in a plush room where I'm served the best iris-flavored chocolate.

I'm a sucker for iris-patchouli blends and love that perfumer Mathilde Bijaou (Etat Libre d'Orange Like This) fortified it with vetiver for more earthiness. Here's where I get another glimpse of vintage/classic: there's something quite dirty going on behind the well-heeled iris: every time I wear Bijou Romantique I get a reminder of Bal a Versaille, of all things, one of the biggest (and most wonderful) skank queens that ever existed.

In the end, Bijou Romantique is a dark gourmand. It's rich, sweet (coconut-chocolate truffles!), and slightly decadent. Guys who enjoy big ambers and chocolaty patchoulis should ignore the name (I was just as skeptical about it, fearing a pink sugary fondant) and spray themselves to their heart's desire. They'll be immediately transported to lush brocaded interiors with gilded furniture where they'll be served exquisite confections. And since this is a) a fantasy, and, b) a perfume, calories and guilt do not exist.

Notes: Italian lemon, pink pepper essence, ylang-ylang, clary sage, Tuscan iris, Jungle Essence coconut, Haitian vetiver, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla.

Etat Libre d'Orange- Bijou Romantique ($99, 50ml) is available from Luckyscent, MiN NY, and Parfum1.

Art: Les Coquelicots by Leon Comerre.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Laura Mercier Grey Pearl & Sand Glow Caviar Sticks

This is an easy one.  Laura Mercier released the Caviar Sticks two years ago in seven basic colors and I've been a fan since then. I've already had to repurchase Sapphire and Amethyst, and also added several of the newer shades to my collection, just not any of the lighter ones. Silly me. Grey Pearl and Sand Glow might not have the wow factor, but they're complex, pretty, and wonderfully versatile. You can see the comparison swatch that shows Grey Pearl next to Amethyst: it's even more lower lashline-friendly (I usually avoid dark colors under my eyes).

Grey Pearl is a lighter (and grayer) version of Amethyst, while Sand Glow is somewhere between brass and dirty antique gold. Both are excellent neutrals that work alone or combined with other Caviar Sticks. The texture of Laura Mercier's Caviar Sticks has made them favorites of many. They're perfect for travel and use on the go. They're easy to apply: swipe, smudge, and forget about it until cleansing time. Once the color is set there's no migrating or melting (I do use a primer) even in the summer heat.

Laura Mercier Grey Pearl & Sand Glow Caviar Sticks ($26 each) are available at the counters and from

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Donna Karan- Woman

 In her 2012 review of Donna Karan Woman on NST, Robin discusses the trend of marketing a fragrance for women by talking about its masculine notes. I don't know if this approach is a trickle down from what we call "niche" perfumery or just a way to differentiate Donna Karan Woman from lychee concoction in polka dotted bottles, but whatever. It's still amusing that this was the one point the Donna Karan team decided to stress when talking about the actual juice which they named Woman. Oh, and that the bottle design looks like a hand vac. I have no idea what's up with that.

It doesn't matter. Donna Karan Woman is a really nice fragrance that should be judged for what it is, a chic and gender-neutral perfume that smells very abstract and modern. The most dominant note from top to bottom is orange blossom. Synthetic orange blossom that's a bit too squeaky clean  for my personal taste, but there's just enough headiness and drama to keep it interesting.

Only two other notes are listed for Woman: vetiver and sandalwood. The vetiver is also scrubbed clean, so there's no earthiness or fire to be found. The sandalwood has a vague creamy wood presence that provides smoothness without stealing the show. I would have liked more character and warmth and less generic musk, but obviously we're on a budget here. After all, Donna Karan Woman was composed by perfumer Anne Flipo for the department store/Sephora market, but it doesn't smell cheap or juvenile. It's a fragrance I'd buy for a young woman who just got her first real job after college and is about to embark on a fabulous new life in her new city apartment. The choice of Christy Turlington, Liya Kebede, and Karolina Kurkova as the faces of the fragrance was both intentional and smart.  They're glamorous in a sophisticated and slightly understated way, which I guess is also true to Woman. The perfume smells good. It's well-dressed, well-behaved, has a good and solid sillage and an all-day longevity (that musk lasts forever). Things are sweeter and quite seductive on skin level, especially after six hours of wear, so I guess it goes from day to night. Kind of like a Donna Karan design.

Donna Karan- Woman ($85, 1.7oz EDP) is available from most department stores as well as at Sephora.

Top photo: Donna Karan Fall 2013 fashion campaign.

Want: Etro Paisley Scarves

There's an Etro accessory or three on my wish list at any given time. Right now I'm in a serious lust with these square Etro paisley scarves. They'll elevate the plainest black, brown or gray sweater dress, coat, or as seen above- jeans and a black tee. $590 each at Bergdorf Goodman.

Poppy King Magic Of Lipstick for Boots No7

Just a little guilt-free impulse buy.

These aren't new. Poppy King Magic Of Lipstick for Boots No7 series has been around for over a year (two years, I think, in the UK), but I ignored it when the lipsticks first came out because as much as I like the texture and wear of Poppy King's Lipstick Queen line, I never found a color that really excited me (most of them looked just a little off). I forgot about Boots No7 collection even existed until I was placing a regular order on and one of the lipsticks magically appeared on the side bar. Before I knew it, three of those were added to my cart.

It was a good buy.

The lipsticks are sheer, moisturizing, and unscented. The pigment intensity is medium-low (the swatches above are two coats each) as is the longevity, so they wear like a gloss, only with a satin non-glossy finish (did I lose you here?). They're great for applying on the go, give a shot of color with no fuss and look effortless and casual. The packaging is cute and the whole vibe is of something far more expensive than the $9.99 price tag.

I could have picked all seven shades of this Poppy King collection, but I've stuck with the first three:
#1 History- cherry red. It actually leans berry on my skin and lips . The sheerness makes it a great choice for beginners.
#2 Power- raspberry. It's one of my signature colors, so the sheer version is great for quick makeup looks.
#3 Glamour- a beige pink. In my universe this is a nude color.

When Poppy King Magic Of Lipstick collection for Boots No7 was released they said it was a limited edition. However, the lipsticks are still widely available, including at Target. $9.99 each at

Monday, August 26, 2013

How To Sample And Test Perfume

A couple of decades ago I used to visit a perfume counter, get sprayed with either the fragrance I came for or whatever the store was pushing that day, sniff my wrists a couple of times, and sometimes make a decision right there if I couldn't convince the SA to part with a sample. On those occasion I was lucky enough to obtain a sample I'd wear it for the next day or three, and if I drained it and was still yearning for more, it meant I needed the full bottle. Obviously, things have changed and I don't mean just the size of my perfume collection. The number of perfume releases and interesting brands has been increasing exponentially since the early 2000s. Then I started this blog and eventually found myself publishing about 16 perfume reviews every month. This means a lot of sampling and testing. Lots and lots and lots of sampling. It also means that I've picked up some good habits and learned a thing or two in the process. Here are six tips for testing a fragrance before making  a purchase:

1. Try to get more than a 1ml sample. It's important to me as a blogger to do that before forming a semi-educated opinion whenever possible, but it's just as essential if you're about to spend over $100 (I'm being modest here. We all know some highly covetables at double, triple or six times that price).

2. Some samples come as tiny sprayers, but many brands are still only giving away dab-on samples. When you spray, the fragrance is distributed more evenly and covers a larger surface, so the impression it gives can be very different. If possible, decant some of the juice into a sprayer to try it that way. Also try dabbing if the fragrance you spray seem to strong or too volatile. It might change the way you think of it.

3. Only testing a fragrance when staying indoors can skew the impression. Some perfumes feel different (for better as well as for worse) when you smell them in the open air. Go outside. See how it smells when the air has some movement. I didn't fall so completely and hopelessly in love with  Dans tes Bras until after I wore it for several days of  walking around the city wearing it.

4. It's not very likely that you'll get to test a perfume in several extreme weather conditions. But you do want to know how you're going to smell when the heat is on and the sweat is pouring. I'm not telling you to go and fumigate your fellow gym goers with Angel, but try to do a quick workout at home, go for a brisk walk or just carry your laundry up and down the stairs enough times to work up a sweat. Does the perfume still work?

5. The dainty dab on the wrist in the morning is nice, but not enough to show you what the fragrance can do. Spray other body parts and try it at least once in the evening or right before bed. See if the mood changes, if the perfume is more suitable for work or for dancing the night away. Does it help you relax? Is it energizing? Do you need another hot date scent?

6. Let's assume you've done all of the above and you're still smitten. But just how smitten? How big is your collection? Are you going to wear the new perfume every day? every week? Do you need the biggest bottle available? Will a 1oz suffice? Also consider getting a large decant (5-10ml. There are several decanting services on the web- The Posh Peasant, Surrender To Chance, The Perfumes Court, and several others on eBay)  before going all the way. After draining about 5ml of anything, even Secretion Magnifique, I'd say it's really time for a bottle.

Do you have sampling tips? Please share them!

Image: Model Amber Anderson by photographer Simon Burstall for Elle France, November 2011.

Wantable Subscription Box- A Quick Look

Here's a confession: I'm not the biggest fan of subscription boxes. I know that some bloggers adore the idea because it lets us test and review more products for less money. That's a very good reason (not to mention a sanity and marriage saver), but I'm such a control freak that I need the ability to pick and choose items by myself. I simply don't care for random items landing in my dressing/makeup room waiting to be tested and reviewed. Thus, I wouldn't have given Wantable much thought had I not been approached and offered a free trial.

The thing about Wantable is that the service tries to personalize the selection according to one's needs and wants. You're asked a series of questions about each product category-- not just your color preference and skin type, but also what kind of items you're likely to enjoy, as well as what you don't ever want to find in the monthly box. I like this approach. It prevents frustration and waste. Wantable promises that you'll always get full size products (anyone who ever found themselves paying a monthly fee for a bunch of those single-use skincare packets will appreciate this). I doubt that you'll ever find Guerlain or Chanel makeup in your Wantable box, but the stuff I was sent seems not only decent, but actually brands I was at least curious about, so it will be tested and reviewed (I'm already quite impressed with the Face Stockholm brow powder).

Is the Wantable box worth the $40 one-time purchase price or the $36 monthly subscription? A quick calculation shows that what I got adds up to over $60 in makeup. So, I guess it is. The selection is less random than similar services, so you're not likely to find yourself with a neon yellow lipstick unless you specified that you want it. Personally, I still prefer to make the choice myself and have no surprises on my doorstep, but it's a decent option to consider, especially as gift to a young makeup lover.

The Wantable Box seen here was sent to me free of charge by the company.

NARS Black Valley, Ubangi, Solomon Islands Eye Paints

I've had some time to play with the new NARS Eye Paints. Yes, I've been having fun. Lots of fun. NARS Eye Paints are cream eyeliner/eye shadow; I admit that I've mostly used them as liners (with the exception of Ubangi), but then again all three are intense and quite dark color, and NARS is going to offer the Eye Paints in more basic lid colors.

Some of the eye paints have a smooth cream finish that dries completely matte. Black Valley and Solomon Islands (the tropical waters one) are an example of that. There are several shimmery ones like Ubani, the stunning blabkened navy with blue shimmer. They can be blended and sheered within the first minute or so, or smoothed across the lid. The colors remain true to the jar and they stay put  without smudging or budging. Ever. I do use a primer out of habit, but I have a feeling that it's not completely necessary in this case. The performance of these NARS Eye Paints is truly phenomenal.

NRS released a new angled liner brush for use with the Eye Paints. I don't have it, but I've applied the products successfully with other angled brushes I have (Smashbox, MAC), as well as with other eyeliner brushes (Bobbi Brown, Hakuhodo, Louise Young). It's all good. As far as application as an eye shadow, I mostly used my finger with a Paula Dorf brush for blending.

Bottom Line: as good as it gets (and looks).

NARS Eye Paints ($25 each) will be available from starting September 1. The products for this review were sent by PR.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Van Cleef and Arpels- Bois d'Iris (Collection Extraordinaire)

Bois d'Iris. Even the name of this fragrance from Van Cleef and Arpels's Collection Extraordinaire spells Love, and indeed, it is. As a matter of fact, it makes up for the other Boid d'Iris, the one by The Different Company, a beautiful perfume that suffers from lack of longevity and a sickly pallor on my skin. But back to Van Cleef and Arpels and the seductive magic it exudes.

Bois d'Iris is very much a bois fragrance. It uses several facets of wood to make its point. The perfume opens as dry and windswept but becomes richer and sweeter as it develops on skin. There's a pencil shaving element at the beginning, but it disappears rather quickly together with the whiff of smoke. It is then that the iris makes its first appearance from behind the large chunks of the salvaged wood. Two things happen from that point: Bois d'Iris becomes considerably sweeter and even vanillic (think of an exquisite quality vanilla- a boozy and precious vanilla extract). It also smells downright animalic and even a little dirty, like second day hair (and I mean it in the best possible way). I thought I was imagining it until I saw that ambergris is listed as a note. It explains not just the driftwood scent, but also the sensuality and warmth.

If I were to be picky, I'd complain that Van Cleef and Arpels and perfumer Emilie Copperman who composed Bois d'Iris didn't go far enough with the iris. This isn't Iris Silver Mist (Lutens) or even Iris Gris (MPG). But this is such a satisfying and sexy fragrance it's easy to love it for what it is. Sweet or not, there's a sophistication about the perfume that's equally at home in well-cut evening attire as it is in a bohemian setting. The wearer that leaves the penthouse apartment and slides into the towncar on the way to a perfect soiree can be a man or a woman; either one of them has an expensive haircut and wears a pair of custom-made shoes that don't make a sound on the city pavement. The shiny black car moves down the avenue and disappears, but you're not quite sure if the destination is all about glass and metal or a fantastic wood full of magical creatures. Bois d'Iris goes well with both.

Notes: Iris, exotic wood, and ambergris.

Van Cleef and Arpels- Bois d'Iris ($185, 75ml) from the Collection Extraordinaire is available from Berdorf Goodman and Luckyscent.

Art: Virginia Frances Sterrett, 1920.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jean Patou- Colony (Vintage Perfume)

When Colony by Jean Patou was released in 1938 it was created as a nostalgic fragrance. The economy in shambles and the world was on the verge of disaster; Patou himself  has been dead for two years. Everyone needed comfort, thus perfumer Henri Almeras turned to what he considered a simpler and kinder time and place: the French Colonies. Nearly 80 years later, colonialism is not exactly something that gives us the warm fuzzies, but Colony is better than politics. Much better.

Colony by Jean Patou is famous for its pineapple note. Decades before L'artisan Ananas Fizz, Colony was a real pineapple chypre-- oakmoss and all. The yearning for the tropics of yore is very different from the frothy beachy fragrances we know and love (or not) today. In her review of Colony for Perfume smellin' Things, Donna calls it a "tropical romance" and I agree. This is a picture in sepia of a walk on a fantasy beach. The sepia tone of colony develops further on skin. It's woody, dark dark green with a tinge of chypry smoke that I absolutely love. It makes you forget about the pineapple and just get lost in the sexy green leather. I have two versions of the Ma Collcetion reissue EDT and its richness and longevity are impressive, especially when I decant the juice into small spray atomizers.

Perfume lovers have been lamenting the demise of Patou's Ma Collection for years. For a brief moment there was hope that the newest incarnation of the house will also bring its revival. I'll believe it when I see it, so I'm not holding my breath and not stopping hunting for vintage bottles.

Notes: pineapple, ylang-ylang, carnation, iris, oakmoss, vetiver, opoponax, leather and musk.

Art: Aida Ermat
Jean Patou Colony vintage ads via

Heidi Klum Raided Taylor Swift's Closet

Dear Tim Gunn,
Would you mind having a talk with Heidi Klum regarding her taste problem? Please remind her that she's Heidi Klum. For the love of puppies, she doesn't need to try so hard. Please get Zac and Nina to join the intervention.

A Devoted Fan

I'd say that a rule of thumb is that if you're over 40 it's probably not a good idea to borrow your clothes from Taylor Swift:

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Manhattan, Tina Fey (who's older than Heidi, for those who care) looked beautiful and beyond sexy for her appearance on Letterman. She chose a Reed Krakoff dress which I'm now coveting with all my heart:

All photos via Zimbio.

Rouge Bunny Rouge- Mountain Bluebird & Mysterious Tinamou Eye Shadows

Because one can never have too many blue eye shadows.

Mountain Bluebird and Mysterious Tinamou are exclusive to the Rouge Bunny Rouge website. They ship worldwide, which is nice, but this limited availability is kind of annoying. That's why I didn't get these glorious colors until they were on sale early this summer (sadly, they're now back to full retail price). 

Mountain Bluebird and Mysterious Tinamou are of the light iridescence finish. The texture of Rouge Bunny Rouge eye shadows, both matte and shimmer, is legendary. They're silky and feel almost creamy to the touch, sit beautifully on skin, and last the entire day (over a primer) while maintaining their vibrancy. The pigments are quite unique, and even the brighter colors are wearable and flattering (see Periwinkle Cardinal, another exclusive color).

Mountain Bluebird is tinged with green, almost aqua-like, while Mysterious Tinamou is darker and much more blue . I'm sure the most adventurous among us can wear them together (I did layer them at least once), but for me they're mostly accent colors that look wonderfully flattering against brown eyes and olive skin. Both shadows come in the full size rouge Bunny Rouge packaging with the mirror. There's no refill version, which is too bad. I'd love to have the option to put them in the RBR duo keeper.

Bottom Line: gorgeous.

Rouge Bunny Rouge- Mountain Bluebird & Mysterious Tinamou Eye Shadows (about $26.90 each at the current exchange rate) are available from

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Maria Candida Gentile- Lady Day

Billie Holiday was the inspiration for two gardenia perfumes that were launched last year: Serge Lutens Une Voix Noire and Lady Day by Maria Candida Gentile. A coincidence, obviously, but it also means that the two fragrances are going to be compared and contrasted often. It's unfair  to both, as they're nothing alike. Instead of discussing the obvious, I'll just say that Une Voix Noire doesn't shy away from dealing with the darkness in Billie Holiday's life and character, while Maria Candida Gentile and her gardenia are a quest for the hope and beauty the singer had created and gave to her audience.

Only three official notes are given for Lady Day: galbanum, gardenia, Peruvian balm. The opening is, indeed, green but barely bitter. It's stemy, leafy, and airy while the gardenia slips in smoothly. The flower has just bloomed and it's slowly releasing its scent into the morning air. The galbanum is joined by an herbal medicinal note that morphs into a full-on spice cabinet. I could swear that Lady Day is pretty heavy on cinnamon as the fragrance warms up and develops on skin. It's a striking contrast- the young gardenia and the smell of yesterday's spices still captured in the closed off room. For a while the astringency of the green blades and the pungent space overwhelm the gardenia on my skin. Slowly, the windows are opened and the air begins to shift.

The result is a dry-down where the sweet gardenia and its promise hover just above the warm skin. The perfume is captured there, between the body and the clothes. It's the late afternoon of a good day. Your dress is slightly crumpled but still clean, a lot has happened and you're still energized and ready to go. There's a full evening ahead and it's full of joy.

Maria Candida Gentile- Lady Day ($165, 1oz EDP) is available from Parfum1 and Indiscents. Samples can be ordered from both. The press sample for this review was sent by PR.

Art: Billie Holiday by Jaxable on DeviantArt.

Caudalie Divine Scrub vs. Elemis Nourishing Body Scrub

I love body scrubs. Or rather, I love the way my skin feels after using them. While I'm also a fan of dry skin brushing, using a luxurious scented exfoliant is always a pleasure. The two currently residing in my bathroom are Caudalie Divine Scrub and Elemis Nourishing Body Scrub from the Sp@Home series. I love both for different reasons and alternate between them.

Caudalie Divine Scrub is aptly named. The scent, Caudalie's Divine signature scent (grapefruit, rose, pink pepper, vanilla, cedar, and white musk. ) is one of the best in the bath & body category. The scrub is sugar-based, but despite the temptation, don't try to taste it. I did (so you don't have to) and was left with a sugar soap taste in my mouth for hours. Caudalie Divine Scrub is effective in removing dead skin cells and smoothing one's limbs without leaving a waxy residue behind. There are two issues with this product:
1) The scrub comes in a round jar with a screw top, which means you need to scoop the product out. It's not the best packaging for use with wet hands and in a shower environment. You also need to keep water from getting in the jar.
2) Caudalie Divine doesn't stick to the skin and you need to use small amounts and keep going back to the jar for more.
Other than that: it's divine.

Elemis Nourishing Body Scrub has the pleasant low key spa scent of all the products in this Elemis range.It comes in a plastic tube with a screw-on cap (I wish it had a pop-up cap that doesn't fall or slide onto the shower floor). The people at Elemis weren't kidding when they called it a Nourishing Scrub: while this is an excellent exfoliator, it really does give the skin some extra TLC. The product kind of clings to the body, so you don't end up with chunks of expensive scrub on the floor, yet it leaves no waxiness behind, only smooth and soft skin.

Bottom Line: Elemis wins for me, especially since my skin is extremely dry. I do like the Caudalie scent better.

Caudalie Divine Scrub ($38) and Elemis Nourishing Body Scrub ($46) are available from Nordstrom.

Photo via

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Parfums de Nicolai- L'Eau Chic

I don't enjoy L'Eau chic by Parfums de Nicolai. There. I said it. and believe me, it's painful to say that I can't see the point of this fragrance from one of my favorite perfumers, Patricia de Nicolai. I get that L'Eau Chic is supposed to be a light and harmless summer thing; it's probably geared towards the random tourist who happens upon the Nicolai store in Paris and steps inside unprepared. That person is less likely to buy Vetyver, Vie de Chateau or Maharnih Intense, so the minty fresh L'Eau Chic is a safe bet. I just expect more from Patricia de Nicolai. A lot more.

L'Eau Chic has an interesting note list that immediately made me think of Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur. However, the Dominique Ropion fragrance is weird and brilliant, while L'Eau Chic is as bland as its name and never manages to rise above laundry soap and toothpaste.

The opening of L'Eau Chic is watery and only slightly herbal. There's kind-of-lavender and kind-of-geranium, and my nose (and heart) try to cling to them and get more. But it's just enough, and soon the diluted mint mouthwash becomes the more prominent note. All of that is quickly drowned by sudsy water and a sad and generic pale laundry musk. Supposedly, there's another white musk in the base that makes L'Eau Chic very long lasting. However, I'm utterly anosmic to whatever Patricia de Nicolai used to anchor the fragrance, because all I get is the sheer faded soap that (thankfully) goes away after about an hour. So far I've drained a couple of samples, about 4 mls worth of this perfume in my attempts to befriend it (who doesn't want to be chic?). I'm sure this thing has its fans and its market, but I had enough.

Notes: Bourbon geranium, peppermint, spearmint, lavender, sandalwood, Roman chamomile, iris, clove, pimiento, white musks.

Parfums de Nicolai- L'Eau Chic ($5, 30ml) is available from Luckyscent, Parfum1, MiN NY, and Osswald.

Watercolor by Jojo LaRue.