Thursday, January 30, 2014

Parfum Caray- Bouquet de Caray (Vintage Perfume)

I picked this bottle of Bouquet de Caray as an afterthought at the antique store. I was actually there to buy a very early Faberge bottle that I had coveted for months and finally negotiated the price down. I never heard about Parfum Caray, but the price was right and I could tell at a whiff that the juice was alive, so it went home with me.

I still don't know a single thing about Parfum Caray. None of the perfume books I have mentions this brand and teh only other evidence to its existence was a bunch of photos on showing an older and much more beautiful Caray bottle:

How amazing is that?

In any case, Bouquet de Caray probably had more top notes in its youth, but what I smell is an incredibly full and ripe jasmine and probably some rose and an elegant iris. There's not much of a bouquet left other than that, but it still smells incredibly lush and pleasing. The dry-down is a prime example of vintage animalic notes: an incandescent musk and a touch of civet kept grounded by a dry vetiver. The perfume has an impressive longevity, especially for its age: I get about 10 hours every time I wear it, and it lives beautifully on my skin. Bouquet de Caray is probably not an "important" perfume, nor does it smell very original. But it's a particularly nice example of the perfumes that used to inhabit counters and dressers, and it's a pleasure to wear even today.

Givenchy 308 Rouge D'Exception Le Rouge Intense Color Sensuously Matte Lipstick

Givenchy Le Rouge Intense is one the most beautiful range of matte lipsticks I've tried. From the luxurious case (embossed leather over metal, quite heavy) to the texture and wear.  Le Rouge Intense is a bit more matte than the regular Givenchy Le Rouge (though from what I've seen the finish varies slightly between colors, so it's probably not a universal rule). What they have in common is the non-drying quality. The feel of the lipstick when I wear it is almost buttery and very comfortable, though it's as lightweight as they come. The finish is matte, though, which requires one's lips to be in an excellent shape prior to application.  I made the mistake once of not exfoliating or moisturizing enough before wearing the lipstick on a cold day and could see and feel the consequences.

Matte lipsticks accentuate every line on the surface, so I highly suggest applying a lip serum or a balm before starting your skincare/makeup routine, letting it soak and wiping off the excess just before painting your lips.
Le rouge Intense leaves a good semi-opaque stain that lasts for about 6 hours. The way the color melds with the lips prevents flaking and feathering. Since there's no gloop factor the lipstick will not migrate to your teeth (paging Lena Dunham).

 Rouge D'Exception (#308) is a warm red, more tomato than the "berry" in the Sephora description. It's an elegant color but not formal, and requires mindful application, as with all full-coverage reds. I admit that sometimes I top it with a hint of gloss, but it has to do with the cold weather-- I need extra protection.

Bottom Line: a great wearable red.

Givenchy 308 Rouge D'Exception Le Rouge Intense Color Sensuously Matte Lipstick ($36) is exclusive to Sephora (not available at Barneys).

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Profumum- Sorriso

I was very excited about Sorriso, the new fragrance from Profumum. How could I not be? The notes are simply described as bitter chocolate, bitter orange and  exotic woods. It sounds like a gourmand heaven for my chocolate-loving heart. The problem started right away: Sorriso greeted me with a harsh and loud saccharine confection that reminded me of dairy-free whipped desserts. It's frothy, sweet, vanillic, and utterly artificial. The worst part? On my skin this perfume smells cheap.

No matter how much I tried, the chocolate Profumum had promised never arrived for me (neither did the bitter orange). I tested Sorriso in the cold air and while working out. No chocolate, but I can tell you that this is not the perfume to wear at the gym (luckily I have an elliptical at home, so no innocent bystanders were harmed). I kept getting this piercing not-really vanilla foam. I did not enjoy the process. The husband's skin was not much help, either. Sorriso on him was a bit fatty with a hint of a coconut-like suntan lotion. Not real coconut, just that manufactured oiliness. No chocolate either.

As is often the case with overly sweet perfumes that trigger my Do.Not.Want reflex, Sorriso has the tenacity and  determination of Her Majesty The Queen. Admirable, but in this case I could have used a little less of that. I enjoy several Profumum creations, mostly the masculine woody ones. I guess Sorriso will join Dulcis in Fundo and Acqua e Zucchero, two other hugely popular Profumum gourmands that I simply can't stand.

Profumum- Sorriso ($265, 100ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent.

Image via Fresh Magazine.

Chanel Precision Eyelash Curler

A day or so after I reported about my less than ideal experience with the otherwise nice Lancome lash curler a couple of readers commented and emailed to tell me that Chanel has resurrected the much-coveted tool (many thanks to all of you!). It's a limited edition again, which I don't understand. aren't basic tools supposed to be part of any permanent line? Are they doing this to make us crazy and buy five units at a time to hoard?  Probably.

In any case, Chanel Precision Eyelash Curler is exactly what I hoped it would be in terms of fit. It has the right curve for my eye shape, but even more than that, I think I have a small insight now into why Lancome's curler didn't work. Look at the photo above: the curve of the curlers is different, obviously (Lancome is visibly deeper) but it's not just that. There's also an angle. Notice how the sides of Chanel Precision sit firmly on the table. Now look at Lancome Le Curler. The sides of the curler are slanted and point upwards which changes the way you position the curler and affects the grip it has on the lashes. It probably works wonderfully for some eye shapes and less so for others.

The lesson here is that there's more to an eyelash curler than its curve or the springiness of the pads. Chanel Precision offers the sturdiness you'd expect of a high-quality brand, thick rubber pads (with the usual extra set), a good grip, and a shape that works for me.

Chanel Precision Eyelash Curler ($34) is available from, Nordstrom, and most other counters. It's a limited edition and obviously comes and goes on a whim.

Rouge Bunny Rouge New Eye Shadows- Comparison Swatches

As promised, I pulled out some eye shadows from various popular brands to show comparisons to the two new Rouge Bunny Rouge eye shadows: Rain Dove and Rufous-Tailed Weaver. I started doing this over the weekend and quickly realized that I could spend a full day rummaging through various gorgeous neutral colors in my collection and swatching, but what's the point? There are endless variations on these colors, none are identical. Instead, these swatches should give you an idea of what the new Rouge Bunny Rouge eye shadows look like, and a ballpark for comparison.

Above are swatches of Rain dove and Rufous-Tailed Weaver next to two other Rouge Bunny Rouge colors: Abyssinian Catbird (darker and slightly more olive than RTW), and Unforgettable Oriole (warmer and slightly more brown than RD).

Laura Mercier Sable is significantly cooler and more gray:

Edward Bess offers several neutral colors in the same family. I chose to show you Storm (discontinued) which has a distinct lavender undertone, Mystery (more brown), and Dusk (a complex gray-olive-taupe, cooler and darker than RTW).

Le Metier de Beaute Jojo is warmer and more beige than Rain Dove. Wisdom by Kjaer-Weis is straight up taupe:

In the last group we have NARS Ashes to Ashes, which is , and Chanel Hasard. I probably should have chosen another Chanel eye shadow because I tried to keep the swatches in a relatively similar finish (satin/fine shimmer), while Hasard is matte(ish). But it gives a good idea of the texture and pigment of the eye shadows next to it, so I hope it's still somewhat helpful.

Jovoy Paris- Rouge Assassins

Rouge Assassins, "Killer Lipstic",  from Jovoy Paris is a tribute to the women of the 1920s. It was a time of great social change which included the way women saw themselves, dressed, and behaved. It was also the era when some of the greatest perfumes appeared on the scene: Shalimar, Cuir de Russie, Emeraude and many others. It was the beginning of modern times and we tend to romanticize that period quite a bit, probably because of the striking aesthetics. Which brings us back to Jovoy and to Rouge Assassins, a seductive full-bodied fragrance that aims for vintage but to me smells quite modern.

Many people who tried Rouge Assassins find it very feminine (you can read Ron's review on Notable Scents). I have to say that other than that buttery iris-rose accord I really don't see it. Rouge Assassins obviously doesn't smell pink and not even very red. It's powdery but not excessively so. This is not Frederic Malle's Lipstick Rose, I promise.  I mostly get a very beautiful woody oriental that leans heavily on a rich multifaceted musk (white musk and the slightly dirty ambrette seed). The wood notes (a mellow sandalwood fortified with cedar) are streamlined and elegant- nothing there is extreme or very loud, but the sum of all these parts is quite robust and rather sexy, though I still don't see it as gender specific.

I had the Husband test Rouge Assassin blindly on his own skin- I didn't even tell him that this was a Jovoy fragrance. His reaction was "nice". No va-va-voom, no excitement. Just "nice". He says that this is all musky base and almost nothing else. It's an interesting reaction,  don't you think? I may have to spray him with some other iris and rose perfumes and see if he really burns through them so quickly.

Notes: bergamot, rose, elemi, solar accord, iris, rice bran, ambrette seed, Virginia cedar, white musk, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka bean, benzoin.

Jovoy Paris- Rouge Assassins ($180, 100ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent and Henri Bendel.

Photo of Tamara de Lempicka by Madame D'Ora, 1929.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hakuhodo New Eye Brushes: BJ142, G5540, G5539

I realize that I'm month behind on some brush reviews (not to mention the unfinished brush guide), including some new(er/ish) Hakuhodo brushes that I've had for months and have become essential go-to items (which is why it's hard to catch them clean and ready to be photographed), as well as a couple of Chanel brushes. But Hakuhodo just released three new blending brushes that are worth everyone's attention.

BJ142 (listed in both J and the Basic series) is a classic whisk-shaped blending brush made of white goat hair. It's a multitasker that does a wash of color, smudges and blends eye shadow, blends concealer, applies setting powder over small concealed areas-- you name it. This type of brush has longer and fluffier hair than a MAC 217 (and its Hakuhodo equivalent J5523), so it doesn't really buff products (for better and for worse). BJ142 is beautifully balanced- soft enough yet springy to perform well.

Now, I've had a J142 brush for nearly a year now and I use it often. I need to have a chat with the lovely Hakuhodo people because for the life of me I can't see a difference between the two. Both are listed as 18mm hair length and 6mm width, all white goat hair, and the shape is identical. I've been testing the BJ142 and the J142 side by side (had to mark them because there's absolutely no way to tell them apart), and I could have sworn this is the same (excellent) brush.

Now, the other new  brushes,  G5540 and G5539 are very different. As you can see, the hair of both is significantly longer (28mm). The G5539 is tapered and pointy while the G5540 is flared like a paddle. I'd say that they're  suited for a very diffused and light wash of color, or for adding a sheer layer of shimmer over an existing color. Since I have nothing similar in my collection I'll have to spend more time playing and experimenting before I can give a real  review. I can tell you that both brushes feel nice and soft on the lids and have no prickliness. I'm hoping to read more about them at some point on the new Hakuhodo blog, but in the meantime I'm testing them with various textures and techniques-- so far really dense cream shadows are a no go, while most powders work well.

Hakuhodo  BJ142 ($18),  G5540 ($21),  and G5539 ($22) are available from

Laura Mercier Praline Crème Cheek Colour

Laura Mercier Praline Crème Cheek Colour is one of the items being repromoted as part of the spring 2014 collection (Spring Renaissance). It's a neutral brownish color that I see more as a bronzer than a true blush that adds warmth to the skin. The soft and blendable texture of Laura Mercier's cream blushes (see my review of the gorgeous Blaze) definitely helps in using Praline to add a touch of sun-kissed goodness (sounds like a dream in this weather). It can be sheered to the lightest level you need, and has a lively finish even after the blush dries down and settles.

The first thing I thought when I saw Praline in the pan was that it had a strong resemblance to Chanel Le Blush Creme de Chanel in Destiny. They really are very close, though Destiny is a hint darker; not that it matters when you blend them. The finish is also different as Chanel is a straight cream-to-powder formula while Laura Mercier retains a bit more of the cream aspect as it dries. Praline and Destiny aren't identical but they're most definitely interchangeable.

Bottom Line: I'll take my (fake) sunshine any way I can.

Laura Mercier Praline Crème Cheek Colour ($24) is available at the counters and from The product for this review was sent by PR.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Frederic Malle- L'Eau d'Hiver

I always had a healthy appreciation for L'Eau d'Hiver, a 2003 Jean-Claude Ellena creation for Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums. Admiration, yes. Love came much later, when something in the incredibly soft and quiet composition finally clicked with me and I could smell beyond the almondy  heliotrope over the softest milkiest musk.

There's no doubt that L'Eau d'Hiver is a very white perfume. It tells  its story in a barely audible whisper, reminiscent of that eerie silence that envelops the world in the middle of a snow storm. The crunchy powdery snow is reflected in the dainty puff of heliotrope and iris, all white, of course. And the whiteness continues in the form of a sweet white musk that borders on the gourmand as its milky nature is enriched with a drop of honey, like a  nighttime hot beverage one craves on a dark winter night.

The subdued floral notes in this Editions de Parfums creation are the reason I've always found it hard to wear L'Eau d'Hiver. Just like with Apres L'Ondee that inspired Jean-Claude Ellena in his work for Frederic Malle, I don't have the skin chemistry that allows dainty perfumes to bloom. But years of sampling, paying attention, and sometimes spraying L'Eau d'Hiver like it's my job finally brought me to the place where I can enjoy the soft and cozy white coat that traps the beautiful skin scent around me on a cold day, with its very delicate sweetness and nuanced wood-iris-almond core. L'Eau d'Hiver is not just pretty, it's also incredibly sophisticated as a personal scent if you only let it do its thing.

L'Eau d'Hiver has a close cousin also composed by Jean-Claude Ellena: Blanc from Paul & Joe. It's no surprise that once I've conquered the Frederic Malle perfume I went back to Paul & Joe and discovered that I enjoy it very much. You can read about the similarities and differences between the two on Bois de Jasmin.

Notes: white heliotrope, bergamot, angelica, iris, hawthorn, jasmine, carnation, caramel, musk, and honey.

Frederic Malle- L'Eau d'Hiver ($100 for the 3x10ml travel refills) is available from Aedes, Barneys, and Frederic Malle boutiques.

Photo: Tatler Russia, December 2011

Meaningful Beauty by Cindy Crawford- Crème de Sérum

One evening in the late 80s my mom and I were sitting together watching an infomercial for Victoria Principal's skincare line. I think it was the first time I paid any attention to anti-aging skincare, and I was nearly as mesmerized as my mother. Looking back I realize that my mom was a year or two younger than my age today, so no wonder that finding the perfect skincare routine was a high priority. And Pamela Ewing, three years younger than my mother, was so convincing! Conveniently, both of us ignored the well-known fact that Victoria was married to a plastic surgeon, so my mom made the phone call and bought the entire starting kit of Principal Secret.

She never reordered.

I was reminded of Victoria Principal and her cosmetics (the line still exists. I wasn't aware of that until I googled) when a few years ago Cindy Crawford teamed with Dr. Sebagh and Guthy-Renker (the company that sells Principal Secret) to create her own products under the name Meaningful Beauty. Meaningful or not, establishing an anti-aging skincare regimen is a good idea for everyone. It's just that celebrity endorsements don't really make me buy stuff, especially when the celeb in question has been having work done since she was 28 years old. But a bottle of  Meaningful Beauty's Crème de Sérum appeared on my doorstep thanks to Influenster, and I am here to try stuff, so why not a product that was
"designed to help protect, increase hydration and prevent the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles."
Ok, then.

The serum looks pretty cool, with its creamy part appearing as a spiral suspended in gel. You squeeze the pump and both are mixed together evenly.

The ingredients in Creme de Serum are:

Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, Pentylene Glycol, Castor Isostearate Succinate, Butylene Glycol, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cucumis Melo (Melon) Fruit Extract, Elaesis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Soluble Collagen, Maltooligosyl Glucoside, Decarboxy Carnosine Hcl, Hexapeptide-9, Tripeptide-3, Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment, Cholesterol, Tocotrienols, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lecithin, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Dimethicone, Ethylhexylglycerin, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Ethylhexyl Hydroxystearate, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Polysilicone-11, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Hexylene Glycol, Denatured Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Iron Oxides, And Titanium Dioxide.

The serum's claim to fame is that melon extract that's supposed to be a strong anti-oxidant. There are also some oils, collagen, and lots and lots and lots of silicone that makes the serum go on very smoothly and create a soft sensation on skin. The product is heavily scented and I have to say the smell is kind of cheap, though that's a matter of taste more than anything. I also find that it stings a little when used on freshly cleansed and scrubbed face, but that can be a feature, I can't really tell.

As for performance, the serum is very lightweight and at least during the cold months doesn't provide enough hydration to my skin. It doesn't affect the way a good moisturizing cream is absorbed, though I do have to wait for the silicone feel of the serum to go away before I can add another product. Does it prevent the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles? I highly doubt it. The only thing to prevent premature aging is wearing heavy duty sunscreens all the time. ALL THE TIME. A good serum combined with regular chemical peels and adequate moisturizing (as well as a healthy lifestyle) definitely helps, though. Is Crème de Sérum from Meaningful Beauty by Cindy Crawford a good serum? It's hard to tell. It's not plumping and hydrating enough for my needs, and after over a month of use I can't see anything significant happening there. I'm back full time to my trusted BFF Serum Oil  that actually makes a difference (calming redness, promotes healing, gives significant nourishing). What's left of the Crème de Sérum bottle  is now a hand cream and I use it before bed.

Meaningful Beauty by Cindy Crawford- Crème de Sérum can be purchased online as part of the $40 starter kit, a full size (1oz) bottle retails for $90. The product for this review was a press sample.

NARS New Attitude Blush- The Final Cut Collection

I didn't realize that I had a hole in my blush wardrobe until I started wearing New Attitude from NARS The Final Cut collection. I'm just not a pink person, and four out of five pink makeup products look utterly wrong on my skin. But most of us do have some level of pink in our skin, and right now in the dead of winter is a really good time to play it up, which is why this NARS collection couldn't have come at a better time.

There are four shades of pink blush in The Final Cut. New Attitude is described as "cherry blossom pink", but I'd say it's a tad richer than that, with a very very subtle reddish undertone that makes this blush a good match for me. It's pink, though, and I had to really dig in my lipstick drawers to find a lip color that goes with it. I settled on Hourglass Opaque Rouge in Ballet, which apparently goes very well with New Attitude. The blush is smooth, matte, and blends right into the skin, creating a natural and flattering look. I had to experiment a little with brushes, but so far I'm getting the best results with Louise Young LY06 because it's the perfect balance of density and softness. Hakuhodo 210 is not far behind. The swatch above was done with the Hakuhodo for best visibility. The pigment level can be built and intensified, but I wear it as you see above on my arm: just to add a little life to my face.

Most NARS blushes have a great longevity on my skin and New Attitude is another good one. The blush is fine enough to not just sit there over my base, yet it sticks to where I place it and doesn't fade. I will say that this is probably the lightest straight pink I can wear without looking ridiculous, so if you're darker or significantly more yellow-toned I'd urge you to try first.

NARS New Attitude Blush- The Final Cut Collection ($29) is available at Nordstrom and will appear on on February 1st. The product in this review was a press sample.

Comme des Garcons- Black

Comme des Garcons weren't kidding about the black thing. Their fragrance Black that came out last year is a dark and stormy night in the city. A city. Any city. There's urban smoke- birch tar and dirty black rubber, a tattered black motorcycle jacked, a well-worn pair of Doc Martens plowing through streets, cold air and anticipation, but also a promise of shelter and warmth once you reach your destination.

Black by Comme des Garcons is mostly a leather-incense scent that manifest itself very differently on people. When I first smelled it on a friend it I thought that Black belonged in Comme des Garcons Incense Series, as it smelled the way I imagine Nepalese temples to be. Exotic and meditative, uplifting and wafting towards the endless sky above the mountains. It was hard to believe that the same fragrance on the husband's skin translated as dirty as a back alley in a spice market. His skin chemistry connected Black to Serge Noire, a cumin-infused (he'd say cumin-infested) sooty black incense. My skin, though, amplifies all that is gourmand and sweet, making the licorice note a major star. I love the warmth created by licorice and black pepper, and the thickness they add to the incense, making it more corporeal and tangible.

Black fits these dark winter days and nights. It doesn't fight the melancholy but sort of accepts it, plays along with it, and soothes the heart without making a big deal out of it. It's a fragrance that lets you be, not making any false promises but delivers on every account. We all could use a bottle, or better yet, they need to run it through our water supply so we can bathe in it.

Notes: cedarwood, vetiver, leather, licorice, birch tar, pepperwood, black pepper, incense.

Comme des Garcons- Black ($100, 100ml EDT) is available from Luckyscent and Barneys.

Photo by Nic Leister, 2012

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Rouge Bunny Rouge Rufous-Tailed Weaver & Rain Dove: New Eye Shadows

Rain Dove

Rufous-Tailed Weaver

Rain Dove

Rufous-Tailed Weaver

L: Rain Dove R: Rufous-Tailed Weaver

There are still a few things that excite even a jaded beauty blogger, and new makeup from Rouge Bunny Rouge is pretty much at the top of the list. The two new eye shadows, Rufous-Tailed Weaver and Rain Dove were announced a few weeks ago and I've been waiting eagerly to get my brushes into them and see what they can do.

The official description was:
Rain Dove is a complex and very light taupe with rosy gold highlights.
Rufous-Tailed Weaver is a medium taupe with bronze-gold highlights.
That's pretty accurate, though Rufous-Tailed Weaver appears warmer on my skin and certainly more bronze than taupe. Both eye shadows have the typical Rouge Bunny Rouge satin shine that make the eyes sparkle without any visible shimmer or shiny particles. The texture is the buttery soft one that won Rouge Bunny Rouge its cult status, and pigmentation is superb, even in a light color such as Rain Dove. The complexity is exactly what we were promised: the eye shadows look slightly different from every angle, and the effect of the subtle highlights of the colors changes with the light. All the photos were taken indoors with various degrees of artificial light to show the subtle variations (I love you all to pieces, but I'm not setting up shop outside in the below freezing temperature and snowy tundra that used to be my back yard). I'll do a color comparison post in the coming week with eye shadows from Edward Bess, Chanel, Le Metier, and older Rouge Bunny Rouge ones. If you have particular requests for comparisons please comment and I'll try to help (as long as I actually have the eye shadow in question).

Bottom Line: A worthy addition to a much-beloved line.

Rouge Bunny Rouge Rufous-Tailed Weaver & Rain Dove ($25 each) will be available in the coming weeks from BeautyHabit, and very very soon also at Twisted Lily in Brooklyn. 
The product for this review was a press sample.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Loris Azzaro- Azzaro 9 (Vintage Perfume)

Many years have passed from the last time I smelled Azzaro 9 until I acquired a couple of mini bottles of this 1984 Loris Azzaro feminine perfume. Azzaro 9 was a pretty popular fragrance for a hot minute in the mid-80s. But my mother who received a bottle or two as a thank you gift from some well-meaning neighbors whom she helped on occasion (with their newborn baby, I think) hated it with a vengeance (she wasn't all that crazy about the neighbors, actually). Long-time readers may remember my mother's method of putting unwanted perfumes to good use: as a household disinfectant. Thus, for nearly a year the phone in our house permanently smelled of Azzaro 9.

I remembered  Azzaro 9 as a predominantly green perfume (which explained my mom's dislike), but nearly 30 years later when I started playing with it I realized that this is actually a very round floral. As a matter of fact, Azzaro 9 seems like an ancestor of the modern fruity-floral, only nicer and far more intricate. It's the kind of rich floral perfume you'd imagine paired with a beautiful special occasion dress, serving as its final touch for exuding the confidence of the well-heeled and exquisitely coiffed.

Below you can see the most common version of the note list you'll find online and in several books, but according to Nigel Groom (The New Perfume Handbook, second edition 1997):
"It is founded on a bouquet of nine flowers- jasmine, mimosa, violet, broom, wild iris, orange blossom, tuberose, ylang-ylang and water hyacinth- together with sandalwood and vanilla in the base".
 Azzaro 9 feels golden. Some of it can be attributed to the jasmine-mimosa-ylang in its core. The floral notes are blended into one lush bouquet and sweetened with a very light fruity nectar (I can't say that pineapple or mandarin truly stand out to me, just again- a golden juice in a sparkling pitcher that reflects the sun). The base is very smooth and warm. It's woody more than oriental, and incredibly well-behaved and balanced. There's nothing over-the-top and no 1980s vulgarity. Just a very pretty (and rather long-lasting) piece of nostalgia.

Notes: Pineapple, Mandarin, Bergamot, Aldehydes, Muguet, Ylang-Ylang, Carnation, Muguet, Rose, Tuberose, Cedarwood, Musk, Vanilla, Cistus, Moss.

Top image: 1984 Loris Azzaro fashion spread via Sighs & Whispers.

DIY Mani-Pedi: Foot & Hand Scrubs

This is kind of a preview for a few posts about home manicure and pedicure. There'll be some demystifying, some practical advice and several product recommendations, but today we're looking at some foot and hand scrubs, which are perhaps my favorite part of the process:

  • H2O+ Targeted Case Pumice Foot Scrub. This is exactly what I think of in terms of "foot scrub": a cooling (menthol is one one of the ingredients), reasonably abrasive (made with pumice sand particles), and effective. A squeeze tube is an ideal packaging that you can easily keep in the shower. $15, press sample.
  • Gena  Likepumice. This is a weird one and deserves a separate review. You squeeze out the mousse, rub it into your feet and it makes dry dead skin melt away. Not for everyone, but I kind of like it. I think. $13, but sold for less on Amazon.
  • Gena Pedi Warm Scrub. I hoped it would be more warming. This is a thick paste that somehow gets everywhere (including on cats), adequately scrubbing and noticeably softening. $7.29 at Sally Beauty.
  • Barielle 60 Second Mani-Pedi. Sea salt in a mix of various good-for-you oils. A very effective treatment but leaves a stubborn orange tint on skin, which is why I don't use it on my hands, only on feet (and wearing gloves). Overpriced at $25.
  • L'Occitane One Minute Hand Scrub. Sugar suspended in shea butter and other nice oils, this is my current favorite. Incredibly softening and luxurious. I wish it came in huge tubs. $22, press sample.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jardins d’Ecrivains- Wilde

Jardins d’Ecrivains is a small French perfume line dedicated to writers and their work. That alone is a good reason to try them, and a green fig/floral fragrance named after Oscar Wilde? I was a goner at first contact. How could I not be? Fig was the very first thing I smelled. A green just-picked fig with perfect green skin and a ripe feel. But the ripeness doesn't translate as sweet. Quite the opposite, actually, as Wilde gains a leafy and even peppery quality. Aromatic herbs aren't listed among the official notes but I can smell a nice bouquet of them somewhere in the background.

Renoir: Still Life- Flowers and Fruit, 1889

Leaves, flowers, and fruit-- it's kind of like a Victorian still life, but with added sensuality thanks to the fig. There's a phase there where the greenery and carnation take on a soapy turn before melting into the skin with a warm fig and tea note. Wilde doesn't lose its greenery, though. This Jardins d’Ecrivains creation settles into a streamlined base that's very gender neutral:  vetiver and and whatever stands for oakmoss these days. It's not quite the stuff of our vintage dreams, but it's still very nice and soft. Wilde smells tender on my skin and elegant when the husband wears it. We share the bottle- what's more romantic than that?

Notes: bergamot, grape, fig, carnation, tea, oakmoss, vetiver.

Jardins d’Ecrivains- Wilde ($110, 100 ml EDP) is available from Twisted Lily and BeautyHabit.