Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How Do You Choose Your Scent Of The Day?


I woke up this morning knowing with certainty that I was going to wear Guerlain Angelique Noire. It was not open to negotiation. I could smell it in my mind before I got out of bed and just had to wear it, even though with its out-of-the-world longevity, Angelique Noire has messed up my testing schedule and will continue to do so tomorrow (it's shower resistant).

Some days are guided by said testing schedule (which is more or less just a bunch of samples and decants and a vague idea of what should be worn next, which perfume is on its second or third try, and what I can and should review in the coming days. Obviously, this takes away a lot of skin and attention, and keeps me away from my personal collection several days a week, even if I'm actually in the mood for MKK.

On days (or part of the days) that I'm not testing something new I tend to just go with my instinct. Sometimes I'm inspired by a conversation with other perfume people-- a friend mentions a fragrance I haven't worn in ages or a fellow bloggers writes a review, so I dig up the bottle. Occasionally I go for something the husband had worn the previous day because I want to smell more of it (it usually happens if he wears Tam Dao to bed, and I wake up with creamy sandalwood on my mind).

Every once in a while I spend a few days with a certain note. I've had an iris week more than once. Date night often means an oriental or a recent purchase/gift. Special occasions call for Onda, JAR or an Amouage, but on my wedding anniversary I usually wear Panthere de Cartier (original), which I've worn on my wedding day. I have other little traditions: Fumerie Turque for the first cool day of the fall,  Vetiver Extraordinaire and Lonestar Memories on the hottest days of the year, Nuit de Noel around the holidays, Le Parfum de Therese on almost every vacation.

When I don't know what to wear I usually end up in a classic: Chanel No.5 (or Eau Premiere), Miss Dior, Mitsouko. Other times the obvious answer is Shalimar, and in the last four months also ELdO La Fin du Monde.

I have absolutely no idea what I'll be wearing tomorrow. Probably something that goes with washed Angelique Noire. What will you be wearing tomorrow? How do you choose your scent of the day?


My current Favorite Sunscreens


I had to round up my sunscreen tubes from several rooms in the house, as well as from various handbags, because all of them are in regular use. I've been extremely diligent about sun protection long before my skincare routine became all about acids and retinoids (they make you very vulnerable to sun damage), but even more so in the last three years. For a while my favorite sunscreen was the now discontinued Kanebo Sensai SPF30 that sat beautifully under makeup. It's light texture made the husband steal my last tube and I moved on. These are the ones in my current rotation:

1. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Primer SPF50. This is the thickest substance in this group and actually the one that takes the longest to meld with the skin and be ready for makeup, yet once it does it really is a good primer that keeps everything cemented into place. My first tube was a press sample, repurchased since. $39.99 at Ulta.

2. Chantecaille Protection Naturelle SPF 46 Loose Powder. My constant companion for touchups throughout the day. The one drawback is that you cannot be sure how much products is dispensed and gets on your skin, which is why it's a touchup product and not the main form of protection. $72 for the tube+brush. Each refill is $33. At select department stores and SpaceNK.

3. Paula's Choice RESIST Super-Light Daily Defense SPF 30 & 4. Paula's Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy SPF 50. These are my favorite sunscreens for humid weather, as both are incredibly light. The RESIST one is full of antioxidants, while the one in the orange tube is water resistant and has the higher protection level. Both require ample of moisturizer underneath. $27 and $16 respectively on paulaschoice.com.

5. Kate Somerville Daily Deflector™ Waterlight Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ PA+++ Anti-Aging Sunscreen. An incredibly silky cosmetically elegant sunscreen that feels like skincare. I can sometimes skip extra moisturizers when using it (depending on products used the previous night). $48 at Sephora and select department stores. Press Sample.

 6. Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Protect Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen PA+++. Laura Mercier produces excellent primers and this is no different. I'm on my third tube since last year and can tell you that as long as I use enough product and let it fully set on skin, this really works to protect from the sun.

7. Bioderma Photoderm SPF50+ Laser Cream. This one is not sold officially in the US, which is a shame. I started using it after introducing chemical peels to my routine and it's never let me down, as it's geared towards skin that has undergone far more serious treatments than mine. $29.95 from frenchcosmeticsforless.

8. Rodan & Fields REVERSE Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Sunscreen. The tube in the photo is actually empty because I've been using it almost daily for weeks. The texture is wonderful and I've found that it acts as a decent primer, thanks to the Caprylyl Methicone (a silicone). Some of the ingredients will not be to everyone's liking (there's also alcohol somewhere in the mix), but the result pretty impressive and I used up the entire tube without triggering any skin issues. $41 from rodanandfields.com. Press sample.

Make Heavy Metal Gel Eyeliner Pencil




I'm a sucker for this eyeliner color. It's one of few I can use on my lower lashline and smudge all over like it's my job without ending up looking ghoulish or like Lindsay Lohan after a spectacularly bad night. The combination of the light sheen of the finish and low-key color are perfect emphasizing the eyes while not drowning them in a black goo.

The texture of Make Gel Eyeliner Pencil is nothing short of heavenly. It has a perfect slip without melting all over the lid, and enough opacity despite the gel feel. I've been using the pencil on my waterline, under the lashes, and all over the lid. The eyeliner, despite its decieving softness doesn't migrate or smudge on its own, and has a good longevity of about 8 hours (less on the waterline, onviously). It's not a waterproof formula, but walking in light rain didn't affect the eyeliner (I do use a primer).

Heavy Metal is described by Make as a gunmetal gray, but as you can see this is not quite as cool a gray as the name hints. I'd call it a classic taupe. Rummaging through other eyeliner I have,- grays and browns, I couldn't find anything similar. Guerlain Amber Silver from last fall is shinier and lighter, and I never bothered with the limited edition Chanel from a couple of years ago, so I can't compare. So I'd say that Make Heavy Metal is a unique enough yet incredibly versatile color.

Bottom Line: obviously, now I want a similar pencil in navy or medium blue.

Make Heavy Metal Gel Eyeliner Pencil ($23) is available at select Barneys locations, barneys.com, and directly from the company's website, weseebeauty.com, where 33.3% of each purchase will directly benefit the WE SEE BEAUTY Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds women-led co-ops in the US.
 The Product for this review was a press sample.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sonoma Scent studio- Yin And Ylang


Yin and Ylang is a bewitched spring morning in a forest clearing. Soft rays of sun move slowly over the carpet of small yellow and white flowers that grow from the rich mossy soil and old wood debris. The light twinkles just so, making the scene feel fresh yet eternal. There's no knowing how this day will unfold. Maybe it'll be an ordinary one, maybe there'll be magic.

Yin and Ylang is the newest perfume from Sonoma Scent Studio, composed by perfumer Laurie Erickson based on an idea by Michelyn Camen of CaFleurBon. It's labeled as a floral and, indeed, is brimming with petals. But from the dry bergamot opening that feels like the most calming and satisfying cup of Earl Grey tea, to the crunching of twigs and small brunches under your feet, you know instantly that there's a lot more to Yin and Ylang. The flowers are steeped in honey and smell slightly animalic, yet fresh and alive, like they're still growing from the stem. The moss is green and tactile, and smells incredibly real and 3D.

As floral and delicate (at times) as Yin & Ylang smells, I don't see it as particularly feminine. There's something about its warmth, its crisp and dry parts and the obvious woodiness of the dry-down that I think would appeal to men. Yes, I know- flowers! tuberose! aldehydes!-- it doesn't exactly spell cowboy, yet the very natural character of the perfume (92% natural ingredients) and the outdoorsy feel it has about it are enough to make a man smell like that special place in the forest. and that's a very good thing.


Notes:  bergamot, blood orange, soft aldehydes, beeswax absolute, ylang complete oil, jasmine sambac absolute, tuberose absolute, rose damascones, ginger CO2, Mysore sandalwood oil, oakmoss absolute, amber, patchouli, vanilla and musk.

Sonoma Scent studio- Yin And Ylang ($55, 17 ml EDP, other sizes and samples available) can be purchased from sonomascentstudio.com.

Image via alegriphotos.com.

Makeup Artist's Choice Gly-Luronic Acid Serum


Here's another reminder that effective skincare doesn't need to come in glamorous packaging from names known for their high fashion and/or luxury perfumes. Makeup Artist's Choice is a line famous for some very potent acid peels. Some of the stuff they offer is downright scary and should not be used by non-professionals, and even their milder acids need to be handled with extra care. But the Gly-Luronic Acid Serum is a gem for those seeking a good AHA exfoliator that's more heavy duty than most stuff on the market, yet does not cause excessive drying and peeling.

MUAC combined a 15% glycolic acid (compare to the excellent Paula's Choice Resist Resurfacing Treatment which offers 10% AHA or the 12% Souffle from Alpha Hydrox) with 50% hyaluronic acid, which is a powerful humectant, antioxidant, stimulating agent for collagen synthesis-- all good things that promote hydration, anti-inflammation, and skin healing. Thus, as strong and effective as the glycolic acid in the Gly-Luronic serume, it's still a gentle product.

The result of a semi-frequent use of MUAC Gly-Luronic serum is first and foremost brighter skin. It chemically exfoliates the outer layer, revealing healthier skin underneath, but without the telltale flaking that often accompanies stronger acid peels. AHAs are good for various skin concerns, from sun damage and loss of firmness to mild acne (though it's not as effective as deep-reaching BHA). Combined with hyaluronic acid the serum is a very convincing option if you're taking a break from other peels, retinoids, or just don't want to go there just yet.

Makeup Artist's Choice Gly-Luronic Acid Serum is a slightly tacky liquid that sticks nicely to the skin without showing any residue. It can sting a little and should never ever (ever) be applied to cut or broken skin-- I had a drop touch a cat scratch on my hand and that was enough for a lifetime. Frequent use reduces the prickling sensation, but as with any skincare products you need to make sure you're sensitive to the stuff. Also, AHAs make skin extra vulnerable to sun damage and burning, so a religious use of high SPFs is non-negotiable (but you do that anyway at all times, right? ). I let the serum dry before layering a good moisturizer on top. I suspect that those who don't suffer any dryness and/or live in a humid climate me find the hyaluronic acid hydrating enough.

Ingredients: Deionized Water, Glycolic Acid Ultrapure (buffered w/ Ammonium Hydroxide), Aloe Vera Gel, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Ethoxydiglycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Benzyl Alcohol (Preservative), Methylisothiazolinone (Preservative)

Makeup Artist's Choice Gly-Luronic Acid Serum ($26, 1 oz, you can also purchase a generous sized sample for $8) is available from makeupartistschoice.com.

Image: detail from a 1950s Revlon ad.

Dior Addict Lipstick- Transatlatique Cruise & Mayday







There's something about Dior in the summer. While you can't pay me enough to even consider a transatlantic (or any) cruise, the fantasy of wearing Dior on a sunny deck while sailing to a beautiful destination is quite magical. So is Dior Transatlantique Summer 2014 collection. Transatlantique includes a couple of shimmery face powders, two eye shadow quints (and for once I didn't choose the blue one), three nail polish colors, and assorted lipsticks and glosses. The ones you see here are the two limited edition Dior Addict lipsticks: Mayday (651) and Cruise (611).

While my fears of being lost at sea make me raise an eyebrow at naming a lipstick after the maritime distress signal, I can't deny that Mayday is a gorgeous red. When I wear it, the semi sheer formula makes my natural lip color pull it towards raspberry territory, which is easy and flattering for me. By contrast, Cruise is a sheer color that brightens the face and sings of endless summer days.

Fans of the Dior Addict formula don't need an introduction to this glossy yet pigmented gel-like lipstick, with its beautiful sheen, perfect amount of slip, and comfortable wear. It's not the most long-lasting lipstick, of course, but like most reds in this range, Mayday leaves a natural-looking stain.

Bottom Line: got lipstick, will travel.

Dior Addic Cruise & Mayday ($32 each) from the 2014 Transatlantique Collection are limited edition lipsticks. Available at the counters and from dior.com. Products in this review were press samples.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Masque Milano- Tango


Tango by Masque Milano is beautiful and sensual to distraction. And I mean it literally. It's hard to concentrate on much when wearing this spicy jasmine, as it lures you in, seducing you to step inside the dimly lit crowded room where the air is dense with heat of slightly too many bodies on a summer night, but the windows are open towards the inner courtyard where jasmine is in its full intoxicating bloom.


The subtle temptation begins as Tango appears soft and ambery, almost edible with a lovely cardamom note. But behind it lurks cumin (not enough to make the husband complain, but still), and as the door of the room closes behind you, you can smell the sweat and booze that have taken over the dimly-lit room. The dancers are completely wrapped in each other, the women showing quite a bit of skin, and as you're taken by the music and the rhythm, the sweetness engulfs you. The tonka bean on my skin gets a vintage quality, like some classic perfumes dripping with coumarin. This is amplified by the ripe and indolic jasmine and more than a hint of good old animalic notes.

Perfumer Cécile Zarokian (Amouage Epic Woman, Parfums MDCI Nuit Andalouse) composed Tango for Masque Milano, the first new release since the brand's meteoric launch last year (Montecristo, Luci Ed Ombre, Terralba). Ms. Zaokian's work balances the popular modern fondness of the yummy/almost edible notes with classic robust perfumes with a not-so-fresh sensuality. Tango is incredibly sexy, as you would expect from a fragrance meant to evoke a sultry dance. It's also a smart perfume that doesn't hit you on the head all at once with all its tricks and movements; instead, Tango unfolds and exposes itself little by little until you're ensnared by its charm and can see or smell nothing else.

Read other reviews of Masque Milano's Tango by Mark on Colognoisseur and Tama on Ca Fleur Bon.

Notes: Amber, Jasmine Sambac, Turkish Rose, Cumin, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Tonka Bean, Benzoin, Sandalwood, Guaiacwood, Cedarwood, Melilotus (sweet clover)


Masque Milano- Tango ($240, 100ml EDP) is available at Twisted Lily.

Art by Fabian Perez.

My Favorite Blue Eye Shadows


My first blue eye shadow was a gift from a high school friend. It was a no-name three color palette that included a chalky white, a frosty baby blue that looked a bit dated even in 1986, and a rich matte blue that was somewhere between cobalt and teal and had a workable texture. I used to wear it with a chocolate brown and a light bronze from another palette, certain that Cyndi Lauper would have been proud of me. Blue eye shadows have been a staple of my collection ever since. I love them all: navy, turquoise, aqua... you name them. I have the hardest time resisting blue in seasonal collections (see the latest one I got, YSLBleus Lumiere Palette Collector Summer 2014), but I'm just as likely to fall under the spell of a good single from a permanent line. I gathered my most used blue eye shadows here, and as much as I was trying to avoid discontinued and impossible to find products, I had to include the two Chanel items. There was just no way around it: the 2003 Jeans de Chanel is the only eye shadow quads I've purchased a backup in the last 15 years (the one you see here, which I opened around 2007 and still use). The single, Bois Bleu, was inexplicably discontinued a year or two ago. It's a beautiful and unique shade.

Here are my all-time favorite blue eye shadows in no particular order:

1. Dior Bleu de Paris 5 Couleurs ($60, at Sephora). Shimmery finish, silky texture. The second darkest is my most used.
2. La Prairie- Hematite ($45, at select department stores). A rare cadet blue with an elegant finish.
3 &6. Rouge Bunny Rouge - Mountain Bluebird & Mysterious Tinamou ($27.90, rougebunnyrouge.com) are exclusive to RBR website. They're shades of tropical seas with an iridescent finish.
4. Laura Mercier Sapphire Caviar Stick ($26, at the counters and lauramercier.com. I think this is my second or third one in this color (I'm definitely on my third Amethyst). It's that good.
5. The blue side from NARS Mad Mad World ($35, Sephora and narscosmetics.com. Press sample). Now, I don't use this parroty blue quite as often as the other ones, but when I do it makes me very happy.
7. Jeans de Chanel from Fall 2003. The four darker colors are nothing short of brilliant.
8. Chanel Bois Bleu (discontinued).
9. Ellis Faas Creamy Eyes E113 ($36 at Sephora. Press sample). Both the color and the texture are peerless. And you can see what Ellis has done with it here.
10. Kjaer Weis- Blue Wonder ($25 at Osswald NYC). Medium blue with a beautiful finish. The color is not quite like the discontinued Chanel, but if I had to choose a replacement that would be it.

Do you have a favorite blue eye shadow? Any recommendations?

Make Molten Shadow Pewter




I don't know why Make only offers the Molten Eye Shadow in two colors: Pewter (above) and Mud ( a metallic moss green). The beautiful finish and whipped texture have the potential to make the Molten Shadow a cult favorite despite the limited longevity. They just need to come in a few more colors. How about taupe, navy, teal, bronze, and emerald? But let's look at what we already have: Molten Shadow in Pewter.

The cream/gel formula is wonderful to touch and work with. I feel like my 20-month old nephew when presented with fingerpaints-- pure unadulterated glee.  I've played with brushes and fingers, did a light wash, several thin layers, a heavier coat of paint: it all works. The metallic finish is very smooth and quite dramatic. For me, the Molten Shadow is better for an evening look. It really puts the smoke in a smoky eye, and the only additional products you need for it are a standard black eyeliner and mascara. Everything else can be done with this Make eye shadow.

I've tried using Pewter over a bare lid as well as with a few eye primers (NARS, Laura Mercier, and Make's own excellent Transforming Eye Primer), and my conclusion is that a primer is defintely a good idea here, but it does not extend the skin life of the eye shadow beyond six hours. The molten here is true to its name-- this is a very soft eye shadow that doesn't hold onto the lids for more than that. On the up side, the finish doesn't change one bit and remains pretty, even as the eye shadow becomes more sheer and the pigment fades. That's another reason to declare the Molten Shadow as evening product and not something I'd wear for a long day out and about.

Bottom Line: beautiful, just remember to be back by midnight.

Make Molten Shadow ($26) is available at select Barneys locations, barneys.com, and directly from the company's website, weseebeauty.com, where 33.3% of each purchase will directly benefit the WE SEE BEAUTY Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds women-led co-ops in the US.
 The Product for this review was a press sample.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bois 1920- Agrumi Amari Di Sicilia


The Italian affair continues, which calls to digging up all the Bois 1920 samples I have, chanting a spell and hoping to be transported to a place where the sea is blue, the air is sweet, and you can leave the house without a jacket in late April. Sicily sounds like a good option.

"Agrumi amari" means bitter citrus. In this regard Bois 1920  Agrumi Amari Di Sicilia delivers on its promise. It opens with a tall glass of tart juice, pretty realistic and satisfying when I'm in the mood for that kind of thing. It feels like sitting in the garden of a beautiful boutique hotel right on the coast, breathing the scent of the citrus trees, the herbs growing nearby, and taking in the beautiful view. It's relaxing and delightful, a sensation that increases as  Agrumi Amari Di Sicilia takes a turn and morphs into a sweet lavender scent.

The sunny day continues, but the perfume becomes sweeter, musky-woody, and frankly: laundry-ish and a bit generic. It's a nice fragrance, wearable, friendly, and utterly free of gender conventions. But I just can't help feeling a bit cheated when the promise of an adventure in Southern Italy turns into a day at the laundromat. I know that I'm not the biggest fan of cologne-style citrus perfumes, but my little list of Citrus Top Picks has quite a few fragrances that manage to keep both the Mediterranean mood and my interest (and have a better longevity).

Notes: Sicilian bitter citrus, hesperidium berries

Bois 1920- Agrumi Amari Di Sicilia ($205, 100ml EDT) is available from Luckyscent, MiN NY, and Barneys.

Art: Leif Nilsson- St Ambrogio lemon tree garden - morning, 2012

Friday, April 25, 2014

Vintage Perfume Ads


Let's take another trip back in time through old perfume ads (see also this one). The one above is obviously not that old. Model Shalom Harlow was the face of Shalimar in 1998-1999. Still, it looks from a different era. Perhaps because of the classic Guerlain bottle.


Parfum d'Hermes, 1985 was ready to tangle you with its ribbons (I'm seriously butchering the translation, I know). Hermes has recently standardized their bottles into the classic Caleche style, and Parfum d'Hermes is no longer in production, and its younger sibling, Rouge d'Hermes, has been reformulated at some point. Too bad.

The more famous Miss Dior ads are the classic ones by Rene Gruau, but how lovely is this one from 1977?



Who's more qualified than Cristobal Balenciaga himself to sell his Le Dix perfume?


Less mysterious but oh so pretty, Blue Grass by Elizabeth Arden in a 1967 ad. I haven't smelled the perfume in ages, but this imagery makes me want to go hunt a vintage bottle.


The only Bourjois perfume I've tried is the classic Soir de Paris. Is anyone familiar with Endearing?


Back to Guerlain. I'm trying to remember  if there ever was a non-blonde Chamade model. This one is Christine Bloster, probably in the mid 80s.


Chanel Eau de Cologne was actually around before the Les Exclusifs version. This elegant ad is from 1947.


And in a sharp contrast, one of the iconic images from my childhood: Charlie. I can still conjure the scent even though I haven't actually been anywhere near it in more than twenty years.


Another throwback to my childhood, my mother's Chloe. I wear the masculine Lagerfeld on the right.



Two Coty classics: Chypre and Paris in gorgeous Lalique bottles. Ads from the 1930s.


Corday perfumes. I'm kind of on a mission to find these bottles. The only one I have is L'Ardente Nuit.


Fath de Fath, 1957. A real gem.

We can't have a vintage ad post without Rene Gruau. This one is from 1979. I'm trying to remember if I ever tried Dior-Dior.


Shalimar, again, in a 1927 art deco ad.


More art deco: Houbigant, 1930. I'd remodel my bedroom after this bottle and box.
This 1937 Lancome ad is a good fit for the modern reissue of Peut Etre.



More Rene Gruau, this time for Lucien Lelong.


Back to the 80s, this Paco Rabanne ad cracks me up. You'd never see a bespectacled and fully clothed male model in a perfume ad today, and that's a shame. And didn't I date a guy who looked like that somewhere around 1991?



I thought I knew everything about Piguet perfumes. But Dingo? DINGO? It's a 1946 ad and I'm guessing the dingo didn't live to see the 50s. Still, I'd sell a soul and some internal organs for a bottle of what may be a lost Germaine Cellier creation.


This is a much later ad for the 1937 classic Sortilege that appeared in Vogue UK in 1973. Still very fitting for the perfume, wouldn't you say?



The last one is not a perfume ad, but I love the classic Dior bottle (looks like Miss Dior in eau de cologne concentration. I have one just like this) in this 1972 hair spray advertising.

All images via hprints.com, myvintagevogue.com and topmodelsoftheworld.com.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Favorite Lotion/Toners


As promised, here's a look at five of my favorite skincare items: lotion toners. All of them are in my current rotation (I gathered the bottles from both bathrooms, my dressing room, and the dresser in my bedroom. Basically, I live in a spa). I use these lotion/toners either patted onto clean face, or as mask (similarly to the Chizu Saeki lotion mask). Just to recap for those not familiar with the toner/lotion concept, and still think of toners as astringents used to remove residue from cleansers/grime/makeup and "tone" the skin to shrink the pores-- that's not it (and shouldn't be). Toners, which Asian companies refer to as "lotions" are a soothing product that replenish moisture and help bind your serum and cream with the skin. All the products I'm talking about here belong in this category.

Lancome Tonique Confort is the one I've been using for longer than I can remember. It's a thick-to-gooey liquid that binds moisture to the skin. Using it in a mask feels like a real spa treatment.  ($25, 6.8 oz, the bottle in the photo is the GWP size, available at the counters, Sephora, select Ulta locations and lancome.com)

Paula's Choice Resist Advanced Replenishing Toner- This is probably the lightest of this bunch of products (read: not as rich) and would suit just about any skin type. It's an anti-aging product, chock-full of antioxidants.  I especially like using it in the morning, as a wake-up treatment for my skin.   ($21, 4 oz, paulaschoice.com)

Kanebo Sensai Collection Lotion II (Moist). A long name for a fabulous product. If the Lancome one feels like a spa treatment, this one feels like the swankiest spa in town. It has the most elegant texture yet does the job like a workhorse ($70, 4.2 oz at Bergdorf Goodman and neimanmarcus.com). Repurchased several times after getting a press sample.

Koh Gen Doh Oriental Plants Lotion—II (I think this is the older packaging-- it's my backup bottle) has the elegance of the Kanebo Sensai lotion but is not scented. At the rate I drained my other bottle I'd say this is a favorite. ($54, 5.7 oz at Sephora and Barneys)

There are two Hada Labo products on my list. As far as I can tell from the ingredient lists these are slightly different formulas, but both focus on hyaluronic acid and I tend to use them interchangeably. The Replenishing Hydrator is sold at Ulta in the prettier packaging ($17.99, 1.7 oz, press sample) and comes in a pump bottle (I love the cleanliness). It's a serum-like product that allows for repeat application over makeup, but I admit to never doing that. The other Hada Labo is the Gokujyun Lotion ($19.99, 5.7 oz on drugstore.com). At the price and level of performance I could just swim in it.

Do you have a favorite lotion/toner? Please share.



Rouge Bunny Rouge - Quartz Eyeliner - Tanzanite Essence (051)




Rouge Bunny Rouge Devotion Ink Quartz Eyeliners offer a fun way to add color and shimmer to your makeup look. They're meant to be noticed and admired, and are better suited for a glam evening than for a meet-the-parents kind of a day (Rouge Bunny Rouge also offers regular pen eyeliners in solid colors as well as pencils and khols). The applicator makes creating a bold graphic look very easy, and you can wear them as is or layer them over an opaque pencil or gel eyeliner for even more drama. See my review of the RBR Quartz Eyeliner in Tiger Eye for more details.

Tanzanite Essence is a silvery medium blue with lots of sparkle. It's very flattering against olive skin and brown eyes, with or without a black or navy base underneath. It is a bold choice as I discovered when wearing it during the day. I might have looked slightly out of place at Whole Foods sporting a shimmery blue cat eye, but let's face it: it was not the first time.

Rouge Bunny Rouge Quartz Eyeliners have an incredible longevity. They dry quickly and once set there's no budging. The liner doesn't flake or disintegrates in any way. The best way to remove is by soaking a cotton pad with a mild but effective duo-phase cleanser and letting it sit for a few seconds to avoid unnecessary rubbing.

Bottom Line: It's fun and blue. What's not to like?

Rouge Bunny Rouge - Quartz Eyeliner - Tanzanite Essence ($28) is available from BeautyHabit, RougeBunnyRouge.com.

Bois 1920- Sushi Imperiale


There's a large Japanese market and shopping center here in North Jersey with an incredible food court. Some of the counters there specialize in Japanese sweets. Despite the stunning presentation, these little treasures can be an acquired taste. I love most of this stuff: weird doughy or gelatined textures, ingredients such as mochi and red bean paste, and flavors that sometimes border on the savory yet are most definitely dessert. Sushi Imperiale from Bois 1920 reminds me of these mysterious little dumplings.

When Bois 1920 first appeared on the American niche market somewhere around 2006 it caused a bit of a stir. The name Sushi Imperiale was enough to create some excitement. The first connotation, raw fish, is not exactly the stuff perfume dreams are made of. But spicy orientals tend to gain fans and followers rather quickly, and I'm pretty sure that the mention Sushi Imperiale got by March of the Posse in her excellent Vanilla & Smoke article pushed even more people in that direction. Still, there were others who were already bored  with this particular genre, and the fact that Bois 1920 in general (and Sushi Imperiale is a good example of that) makes nice, accessible fragrances that are not challenging or groundbreaking in any way, yet get that "niche" hype (and price tag).

I get both sides. Sushi Imperiale opens with a zesty and peppery bergamot note that we've smelled countless of times before. It creates a somewhat masculine impression at first and shares some DNA with a bunch of other Bois 1920 perfumes. The only other bottle I have from this line is the sweet fougere 1920 Extreme and I can see the connection (something about the vanilla and tonka bean of the base, but also the spice and aromatics that precede them). In any case, the similarities do point out towards the masculine aromatic-oriental direction. But it's the way Sushi Imperiale develops on skin and dries down into a fully grown and very rich oriental, with a hint of smoke, tons of spice (nutmeg, anise, cinnamon, cinnamon, and more cinnamon), and a pretty basic sandalwood that adds a dollop of cream and helps it all go done easily.

Easily. That's a key term with Sushi Imperiale. The smoothness and warmth that envelope the wearer are one part of it. But there's no denying that despite the exotic spices, the savory starchy hint (that's the part that reminds me of Japanese dessert dumplings) and whiffs of smoke there's also a very familiar and comforting aspect to this scent. Not just because vanillic gourmands are the definition of comfort scents, but also due to the fact that it's reminiscent of many other perfumes in this category (sans red bean paste) . None of this changes the fact that Sushi Imperiale is a terrific and very satisfying fragrance. Very satisfying, actually, since it's quite a powerhouse that stays with you for 18 hours and longer. It can be a getaway to niche for someone who's worn stuff like Givenchy Pi, Opium (women's or men's) or various Lolita Lempicka perfumes.

For another take on Sushi Imperiale read Victoria's review on EauMG.

Notes: citrus, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, Madagascan vanilla

Bois 1920- Sushi Imperiale ($205, 100 ml EDT) is available from Luckescent, MiN NY and Barneys.

Image via web-japan.org


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kjaer Weis Spring Look


Here's another thing I love about Kjaer Weis: a fresh makeup look that doesn't require purchasing a limited edition palette. While I do tend to go gaga over all those special seasonal colors in collector's packaging, there's a special place in heaven for creative directors who create gorgeous and fresh looks with their permanent collections. And this is exactly what Kirsten Kjaer Weis has done for her April Look of the Month (it's not too late for that, is it?). It's a fresh-faced pink cheek with a classic smoky eye. Spring with a little edge, I think.

Here's the how-to (Links go to my reviews and swatches of the products used):

* Foundation:
Model is wearing Kjaer Weis Skin Perfecting Foundation in Like Porcelain (my own color match is Illusion). According to Kjaer Weis you can use it as lightly or as heavily to build the coverage where needed (I'll test it soon). Since the foundation sets to a semi-matte finish no powder is needed (and actually discouraged).

*  Eyes:
Eye shadow is Cloud Nine (an ivory-champagne), applied from the lashline to the brow bone as a sheer wash that evens out the lid. Wisdom (a perfect taupe) is used to create depth and shape from the lashline to the crease, extended up towards the brow and in towards the nose as much as possible (depending on your own eye shape, of course). Using a thin brush, define the eye by applying Onyx eye shadow along the upper and lower lashlines. Blend Onyx into Wisdom on the top lid, until the two colors seamlessly meld into each other. Finish with black mascara.

*Cheeks:
Blossoming Cream Blush ( a bright rose) generously patted into the apples of the cheek. This look really  require some serious cheekbones (I have none, so I'd take the color a bit higher and blend upwards).

* The look is completed with a pale, pinky-nude lip. Kirsten Kjaer Weis combined Bliss Full Lip Tint with a dab of foundation and applied with a lip brush (the Kjaer Weis one is excellent, by the way). You'll need to make sure that your lips are well moisturized and appear in top shape, since the opaque texture of the combined lip tint+foundation might be a bit dry and enhance flaws.

Details and photos courtesy of Kjaer Weis. You'll notice that their website is under (re)construction at the moment, but products can be purchased from Osswald (osswaldnyc.com) online, in store, as well as by phone, where Nik and Josie will be glad to assist (and both of them know their stuff and are glorious human beings). 

YSL Bleus Lumiere Palette Collector Summer 2014







Blue water, blue sky, red hills. It must be summer in the Mediterranean.

YSL Bleus Lumiere Palette Collector Summer 2014 is an irresistible piece to my blue eye shadow-loving little heart. The compact is gorgeous and I love that it's not just about blue, though, and offers two additional salmon colors, one with more sheen than the other as a counterbalance that lets you create wearable looks.

All five colors in YSL Bleus Lumiere are saturated and rich. The glimmer you see in the pan is more subtle on skin, and the texture is beautiful and soft. The eye shadows are NOT of the YSL wet-dry formula of the Pure Chromatics, and as you can see, they perform beautifully dry. The darkest blue, which is meant for use as a liner does create some fallout (visible in the swatch photo), so I do prefer using it with a damp brush (the line swatch) to eliminate the issue.

The colors in the YSL Bleus Lumiere Palette are classic. The two salmon shades end up looking very similar on the lid, except for the shiny finish, so I would have loved a golden sand color instead of either one. The blues are gorgeous: aqua, medium teal, and a shimmery navy as the liner.

Bottom Line: where is my yacht?

YSL Bleus Lumiere Palette Collector Summer 2014 ($60) is available at the counters and from yslbeautyus.com.


Book in the background is Yves Saint Laurent: Style

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