Saturday Question: Would You Wear Perfume That Your Loved One(s) Dislike?

It comes up in perfume discussions from time to time that we wear perfumes, first of all, for ourselves and not to be liked by others. And we get annoyed by co-workers or strangers who are perfume haters. But what if those are people whom we love?

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #68:

Would You Wear Perfume That Your Loved One(s) Dislike?

We are not talking about cases when someone dislikes perfumes in general (though, it would be interesting how people handle that type of the situation), but rather when someone close to you dislikes particular perfume that you love. Would you still wear it? If yes, then where/how? Somewhere away from the person who doesn’t like it? Or maybe in tiny doses hoping they’ll get used to it? Or will you give up that perfume altogether?

My Answer

I’ve been lucky so far: my vSO doesn’t object to any of my perfumes (not the least because his allergies prevent him from smelling them half of the time). On rare occasions when he comments that he doesn’t like the scent, it’s one of the samples that I’ve been testing and not liking either.

But had it not be the case… I would have probably given up perfumes that I just like: with the number of perfumes in my collection I can probably be fine without any particular one that is not a great love. But if it were one of my most favorite perfumes, I would have tried it several times under different circumstances to make sure that it wasn’t just a fluke. But if no, I would still hold onto my favorite but probably figure out when to wear it so that it wouldn’t bother my vSO.

Under normal circumstances (meaning, not in a hospital, on a plane or any other similar situations), I don’t think I’m prepared to forfeit my perfume wearing for anybody else. But I do choose [not] to wear particular perfumes for when meeting with some of my friends or colleagues when I know that they like or dislike some of my perfumes or perfume styles.


Would You Wear Perfume That Your Loved One(s) Dislike?

The Color of Spring

This year the company where I work decided to change the way we’re naming our regular releases from the previously numeric values (e.g., 2.718 or 3.14) to season names. It was March, and in most parts of the US it was still cold. So, a co-worker from Texas (where it was much warmer than elsewhere) who was responsible for collecting slides from everybody and putting together a presentation of the first “named” release – Spring 2021 – for other departments was quite enthusiastic, and his cover slide was slightly playful:

Spring Is Here

The presentation for the US-based teams went well. But then the APAC team insisted on having a separate session for them claiming that a recording wasn’t enough. It was very inconvenient for most presenters who live in the US, so the manager “volunteered” for that presentation a co-worker from Europe – as a more time-zone-wise-appropriate choice, especially since he was responsible for the feature that was expected to have the most questions. So, he listened to the recorded presentation we all did together, got the slides and confidently opened the presentation: Spring is here!

“Well… We all are in Australia…” interjected someone from the group.

* * *

Had you asked me (or the co-worker who did the presentation) what season it was in Australia, we would have told you “autumn” – everyone knows that, right? But we know that Spring is warm, and Spring is green, having lived our whole lives in the northern hemisphere, instinctively, without pausing we think that March is Spring.

But I wouldn’t start theorizing about being self-centered or any type of bias. I think it is deeper. I remember how a couple of years ago, as Christmas was approaching, I thought that I felt sorry for Australians whose Christmas comes at the pick of summer: since traditionally this holiday is associated with winter and cold and snow – aren’t they missing on the true Christmas spirit?… And then I stopped myself: what am I talking about? How about us, in California? It is never cold here, it never snows – and still, it doesn’t prevent people here including me and my friends (who are not even Christian) from celebrating or feeling festive.

Same as we don’t have winter, we don’t really have Spring: weather doesn’t change much in March or April compared to, let’s say, a warm day in January or February. And still, every March my perfume wardrobe changes: I don’t want to wear my favorite ambers – instead, I crave green perfumes.

If you check Fragrantica, you’ll see how many different perfumes are classified as “green.” This Spring I went through my collection and chose seven to wear as my Green Week project.

* * *

I do not wear Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley too often, but every Spring it comes out for at least a day or two because it’s a perfect Spring perfume and a good representation of the flower.

One would argue that Chanel No 19 is seasonless. I wear it year-round, especially the EdP and extrait, but the EdT for me is a Spring perfume.

I’ve owned DSH Perfumes Vert Pour Madame for years but somehow I never wrote about it other than a couple of mentions. It is an amazing perfume! I rarely fall for indie perfumes. But Vert Pour Madame won me over many years ago, and every time I wear it, I think that Dawn got it just perfectly. I think of it as classic Miss Dior but greener.

Yves Rocher Nature has been with me for several decades. I told its story many years ago, and I still wear it every Spring.

Puredistance Antonia is a green-eyed beauty that I loved from the first time I tried it 10 years ago. I enjoy its sharp greenness and perfectly blended floral bouquet. When I finish the current bottle that I won many years ago in the brand’s competition, I will buy the newer packaging – a wonderful green bottle.

I’m not sure if Hiram Green’s Arbolé Arbolé is considered green perfume, but in my mind it is. Arbole Arbole one of just three all-natural perfumes in my collection, which says a lot. It is so unusual. It is herbal, somewhat medicinal, slightly sweet. I wouldn’t be able to wear it too often, but I’m glad I have it in my life, and I enjoy wearing it in Spring.

I bought a small decant of Amouage Myths Woman in a Facebook split because it wasn’t much more expensive compared to a sample. It was absolutely not what I expected, and the first time I tried it I even disliked it. But as I tested it more in a while, not remembering either my expectations or the previous reservations, I liked it more and more each time. Myths is quite cheerful, which isn’t a characteristic I would think of first when considering Amouage perfumes. It is green and floral and aromatic. Though I wouldn’t say that they smell similarly, I think that Myths has some “weirdness” to it that reminds me of Arbole Arbole. Warmer months (but not hot!) suit much better for wearing Myths – at least for me. I think I’m now at the point where I’m considering a FB purchase (deeply discounted, of course).

Green Perfumes

For more green perfumes, see Narth’s guest post from last May.


Images: my own

Saturday Question: Do You Use Cashback Sites?

It is not a strictly related to perfumes question since most of niche perfume sites do not participate in that type of promotions, but some do. And it is useful in general: money saved elsewhere can be used to buy perfumes, right?

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #67:

Do You Use Cashback Sites?

Do you use them ever? How often? Which sites? Do you have any strategies? Do you use browser plug-ins? Did you get any money back?

If you do use those sites, share your personal links for those sites that give bonuses for/to friends who sign up.


My Answer

When I do not forget, I try to use cashback sites. I have several that I’ve been using for years, I know that they track purchases from the supported stores accurately for the most part, so I usually check them for stores where I plan to place an order, choose the one that offers a better % cashback and click to the store from that cashback site.

Since I do not use just one cashback site, and I prefer not to give any site more information than is absolutely necessary, I do not commit to any one of them – that’s why I do not install browser plugins that offer to track my movements “not to miss any cashback.” I’m fine remembering it on my own (or not remembering, as it happens sometimes – but I’m fine with it).

While I used just two sites, I was usually checking them directly to see if they supported the store I needed. But since recently I subscribed to a couple more, whenever I’m checking who gives the best cashback, I do not go directly to all the sites but instead I use one of the cashback monitoring sites. I used to like one specific site, but it doesn’t track most of the newer sites, one of which I recently joined, so I’m checking out a couple of new sites to see whose technical abilities to keep the list up to date is better. Over years I got back about a thousand dollars – not too impressive since it was distributed over many years, but it is more than I would have without using those sites.

Two tried and true sites that worked fine for me for years are MrRebates and Rakuten (previously eBates).

At the moment, Rakuten seems to have the best referral program: if you use my link (or any of your friends’ link) to sign up for the account before the end of June 2021, shop at one of the supported sites after clicking to it through your Rakuten account and spend at least $30 in the 90 days from signing up, both you and a person who referred you will get $30 cashback. US and Canada only.

MrRebates referral program seems to be broken, but the cashback they offer works fine, so you should sign up if you find that they have the best rate for the store you need.

Recently I subscribed to the TopCashback. I haven’t got anything from them yet (it’s pending), but sometimes the rate they offer is much better than from the other sites, so I decided to try. I do not see any promotions now for signing up, but here’s my link – just in case you decide to join.


What you need to know if you haven’t used these sites before:

1. You need to go through the cashback site to the site where you shop in order to get cashback.

2. Using coupons not provided on the cashback site for the selected store might disqualify you from getting cashback (but, in my opinion, working coupons that give you an immediate discount are worth risking the cashback).

3. The rate different sites give for different stores changes, so if you use more than one rebate site, make sure to check which one gives a better rate and click through from there.

4. If you do a partial return for the multi-item order, it might cancel the complete cashback transaction.

5. It takes a couple of months for a cashback to “clear,” and most of the sites I saw required you to earn some minimum before you could get money from the account.

6. Don’t spend more than you planned to hoping for the cashback, and be prepared not to get it (though, in the recent years these sites got better with tracking, and you can provide them the order # if you clicked through, completed the purchase but didn’t get it to register on your account).

Do You Use Cashback Sites?

Portia’s Perfume Ennui

Portia’s Perfume Ennui

Hey there Looking Glassers,

Do you ever get so overwhelmed with all your fragrances that it just feels like too much. Suddenly you stop thinking how fabulous it all is and start thinking what a burden this enormous amount of fragrant consumerism has become? What to wear? How to store? Blah! Blah! Blah! and suddenly the whole schemozzle starts to feel like hard work.

Portia’s Perfume Ennui

This happens to me every so often. Sometimes it’s for no real reason at all. Other times there came be triggers. Maybe when things are or have gone askew in perfume land or on the scentbloggosphere. It can be when I’m suffering low level depression. Perfume ennui can hit especially hard when I let my desktop become overcrowded (pictured currently ^^^) or there are a large number of unpaid bills (laziness OR lack of funds). I find myself not wanting to come into my office/perfume room hardly at all. So I call it my Perfume Ennui.

Perfume Ennui can creep up slowly so I’m not even aware until the signs are TOO obvious to miss. It can also be like a brick wall, wide and high. The other way it shows itself is my general lack of enthusiasm for spritzing.

Today I’m asking if you all ever get Perfume Ennui? Do you do something to get over it? Does it rectify itself? How do you cope?

Also, just as an aside. Turbo trivia started a new venue last Thursday and this is the entrance to the bar it will be held in every Thursday. It’s about 1.5x life size and stopped me dead in my tracks when I first saw it. How freaking cool is that?

So, back to the topic at hand. How do you deal with Perfume Ennui?
Portia xx

Sunday Self-care, Episode 3: Don’t Sweat It

Many years ago, when a multi-level marketing stormed the country where I lived, it could have done much more damage if it weren’t for the fact that many people who would have been gullible just didn’t have enough money to participate in the game.

Most people in my circle proved to be immune to the promises of health/beauty benefits and easy earnings, not in the last place because many of us were bad at selling things. But our close friend’s mother had succumbed to the temptation and, as it often happens with new converts, not only she fully embraced ideas and products offered by the brand but she also energetically started recruiting into the enlightened lifestyle all her friends and relatives, including her son and his wife (who were our friends).

Our friends weren’t really persuaded and took most of the things ironically. I remember how our friend was telling us that after using some either face products or supplements (it was a long time ago, so details are fuzzy), his mom got a skin rash that she was explaining “The body puts up a fight.” My vSO and I still jokingly use this phrase from time to time.

I don’t remember how it happened, but I ended up buying one product from our friend’s mom – a deodorant. And I liked it. So, I bought another one. And another.

* * *

The first year after I moved to the US, to my surprise I discovered that the brand I thought was some shady pyramid scheme was a legitimate brand with a long history, and it was sold in the regular stores. The brand was JĀSÖN.

So, for years I kept buying the same two deodorants by Jason that I liked “in my previous life” – Aloe Vera and Tea Tree. Both my vSO and I went through dozens of those before I realized I didn’t like them any longer. Thinking about it, I suspect that they were just reformulated at some point, without informing consumers, of course. Probably it became even “cleaner” and healthier than it used to be. But it didn’t work for me anymore.

For several years after that I switched to the deodorant that my vSO was using (I’ve chosen it for him): Terre d’Hermes. We both still like it, but it is very expensive, it contains several ingredients that are currently are considered… well, let’s say, they are controversial, and though I do not really subscribe under all the current trends, it is hard to ignore that completely. So, at some point, I decided that I wanted to find an alternative daily deodorant.

Terre d'Hermes Deodorant

What am I looking in a deodorant? I don’t know. I do not use antiperspirants. Not because I think those are unsafe or anything to this effect – I just do not like how it feels. I do not want perfume scent in my deodorant, but I do want a pleasant scent for the scent itself, as I apply but not as much for masking any odors. It needs to work to some extent, though I do not expect miracles. And whatever it does or does not, it should feel nice on my skin.

The first one I went for was from the same brand that started this story – Jason. But I decided to try their newer item – Men’s Forest Fresh. I’m sure that the “men’s” part is a pure marketing shtick, and not just because of the “anybody can wear anything,” but because the most “feminine” aspect of their other deodorants is the packaging, otherwise they are absolutely gender neutral.

Company’s claim: Men’s Forest Fresh contains Zinc Ricinoleate, Corn Starch, Baking Soda, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Cedarwood Pine and Eucalyptus Oils. No Animal Byproducts, No Artificial Colors, No GMO, No Parabens, No Petrolatum, No Phthalates, No Sulfates, Cruelty Free.

It glides on very nicely and smells good. I think it works to some degree, but it sits on my skin slightly sticky contributing to the feeling of being sweaty even if I do not sweat. I will finish it, but most likely I won’t repurchase it.

Jason Forest Fresh Deodorant

The next one that I decided to try was Death By Lavender – Organic Deodorant from North Coast Organics.

Ingredients, according to the brand, (Vegan): 100% organic coconut oil, 100% organic carnauba wax, 100% organic arrowroot powder, 95% organic shea butter, aluminum-free, natural baking soda, & Organic Essential Oils (Lavender, Lemon, Cypress, Rosemary). It is certified organic, certified vegan, certified cruelty-free, certified non-gmo, gluten-free, aluminum-free, soy-free, and handmade.

It was just awful. The scent was fine, but it was so dry and gritty that it felt like I was rubbing a pumice stone over my armpits. My only hope is that the item I bought at the store spent too long on the shelf and that usually it is much better. But I will never know because I won’t be spending $15 more to confirm this hypothesis. Into the bin it went right after I took the picture.

North Coast Organics Death by Lavender

What I liked about (Malin+Goetz) eucalyptus deodorant was that I could get a small version of it. Of course, it is more expensive per gram than the full version and much more than many other full-size deodorants. But I hate wasting products, so after the fiasco with the previous deodorant, I was glad to get a mini.

According to the brand, it is vegan and cruelty-free. Includes eucalyptus extract and citronellyl.

eucalyptus deodorant is smooth in application and has a light, slightly medicinal scent – I wouldn’t have minded a stronger eucalyptus aroma. It absorbs well without an unpleasant residue. Once I finish the mini I have, I might come back to this deodorant if I don’t find anything better. It is good but not ideal.

(Malin+Goetz) Eucalyptus Deodorant

The most recent deodorant I tried is Sweet Pitti Deodorant Cream from Drunk Elephant. I had high hopes for this one: this brand has a good reputation, and I liked a couple of other products they make.

Brand says that Sweet Pitti contains Mandelic Acid, Arrowroot Powder, Shea Butter, Marula Oil, Mongongo Oil, Baobab Seed Oil. It has a pH of 4.0 and is free of baking soda and aluminum-derived ingredients, sulfates, silicones, essential oils, fragrance, dyes, and drying alcohols. Cruelty-free.

I’m not sure if Sweet Pitti works because I really dislike the scent. I’m not sure I care about how efficiently it combats my natural odor since what it replaces it with doesn’t smell much (any?) better. In addition to that, the way it dispenses: you have to turn the pushing mechanism extremely carefully to get just a tad of the content to appear from those four holes – otherwise, you’ll either waste the product or will be covered in it. I will probably finish the one that I have (I’ll use it for when I’m exercising), but under no circumstances will I repurchase it.

Drunk Elephant Sweet Pitti Deodorant Cream

My search continues. Luckily, working from home, I have a luxury of using a wrong deodorant, washing it off and trying another one. But I would love to find one or two deodorants to use for several years until I find something better. And I still plan to replenish my and my vSO’s favorite Terre d’Hersmes.

Do you have any deodorants you would recommend?


Images: my own

Saturday Question: What Three Perfumes Will You Repurchase?

It’s a long weekend in the U.S. (Memorial Day). But since the restrictions have been just recently relaxed, I expect a lot of people attempting to get out to somewhere. So, other than short trips out to meet with friends or get a walk somewhere else than around where we live, for the most part of it I plan to stay close to home and do some damage shopping online. Probably not for perfume, but shopping is on my mind – hence the question.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #66:

What Three Perfumes Will You Repurchase?

We are not talking about the situation where you lost your whole collection and need to restart it. These are not necessarily the top three perfumes that you will always have in your collection. Selecting three, you do not limit yourself or preventing any further purchases, so you do not have to be creative with your math. Just think about your current collection and name any three perfumes that you currently own as a bottle (FB or travel bottle but not decant or mini) and think you will repurchase when/if you finish the current one.

Just to introduce some limitations: do not include those perfumes for which you already have back-up bottles.

My Answer

Today’s topic wasn’t the one I initially planned to do this week. But as I was dressing up to go to the friends’ place for dinner (what a luxury to be able to make plans on a short notice, not thinking about who was in contact with whom in the last two weeks!), without thinking for too long, I picked up perfume to wear – Lieber Gustav by Krigler. I looked at my 50 ml bottle that was just about half-full and immediately thought that despite the steep price I knew already that I would buy the next bottle once the remaining half was gone. I love-love-love Lieber Gustav, probably not less than I did six years ago when I told the story about it in the post In the Search for the Perfect Lavender).

From there I started thinking about other perfumes that I’m not hoarding (yet?) but would definitely buy as soon as I finish the bottle I have (or even before that).

Chanel No 19 EdT was the first perfume from Chanel that I fell in love with. It is not my most favorite perfume, and I’m not prepared to build up a stash (maybe because it doesn’t feel rare or inaccessible), but I know that I always want to have it in my collection, so I will repurchase it whenever I finish the bottle I have (though, for this one I might try looking for a vintage one if I don’t like the current version at the moment).

And the third one is Tea for Two by L’Artisan Parfumeur (my story here: Tu-ti-tu-rum-tu-tu or Musical Perfume). I find it somewhat demanding, so I don’t wear it too often. But every time I do, I think how interesting and special Tea for Two is. I would be very sad if I couldn’t have it in my life. But a back-up bottle doesn’t make sense with how infrequent I wear it.



What Three Perfumes Will You Repurchase?

Chanel Paris – Edimbourg

Last weekend, as I stopped by the perfume counter at my local Nordstrom to quickly pick up a birthday gift for my friend (a nice Diptyque candle, if you’re curious), I experienced a light shock: I discovered a new addition to Les Eaux de Chanel collection.

Of course, it wasn’t the fact of its release itself that surprised me (after all, it’s the fifth installment in the series in less than that many years). What startled me and even made a little sad was that I was completely unaware of this release happening. Yes, I’ve been busy with work and spent even less than usual time on NST or other perfume-related platforms. But still… It shows how fragmented this world has become since the number of blogs and both people writing and reading them declined. Can you imagine missing a new release from Chanel (or, let’s say, Serge Lutens) five-six years ago?

I asked the friendly SA O., from whom I usually buy those rare perfume-related items that I buy at Nordstrom, if she could give me a vial so that I could make myself a sample (since they are not allowed to do it any more), and she conspiratorially told me that she had a real sample for me; but that, probably, it would be more to my vSO’s liking (who patiently waited not too far away for me to finish purchasing the gift and talking to O.) than to my. Than she stopped herself (probably remembering all the trainings they are getting these days) and said (without much conviction though): “Or you might like it…” That was how I got to try Paris – Edimbourg sample.

Chanel Paris-Edimbourg

She was right on both accounts. I kind of like it. And it is quite masculine.

I have to correct myself. Paris – Edimbourg is not masculine-masculine cologne that would be classified as such unequivocally. But compared even just to perfumes in that collection, not even talking about other Chanel perfumes, Paris – Edimbourg is the most masculine one. Had you smelled it blindly, you would have thought Atelier Cologne before thinking Chanel.

Notes (according to Fragrantica): juniper berries, cypress, lavender, cedar, vetiver, vanilla and musk.

Perfumer: Olivier Polge

I can clearly smell juniper. Lavender in Paris – Edimbourg isn’t as prominent as it is in several other Chanel perfumes. And vetiver is much tamer than it usually is in masculine perfumes. It is fresh, uplifting, slightly woody (very slightly) and quite naturally smelling, which these days pleasantly surprises me since more and more perfume brands seem to have discovered financial joys of creating escentric-molecules-style perfumes. In addition to that, it is reasonably priced compared to many other modern offerings.

All in all, I’m not disappointed. I like Paris – Edimbourg, and I could wear something like that in summer, but I prefer other, more feminine numbers from that collection. So, I’ll pass the sample to my vSO, but I do recommend checking it out the next time you find yourself close to Chanel counter.


Image: my own

Saturday Question: What Are Your Top 5 Floral Perfumes?

I suspect that being “into perfume” it is almost impossible to avoid having some perfumes from this family, even if you are a self-proclaimed “not a floral perfumes fan.”

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #65:

What Are Your Top 5 Floral Perfumes?

OK, if you are really not a fan, maybe not 5 – but how about three? Those do not have to be just plain “Floral” – but maybe “Oriental-Floral” or “Floral-Fruity” or “Floral-Woody Musk.”

And if you are a fan of florals, please do not feel like you have to name real top 5 – those can be top 5 today, this season or all times, whatever comes to mind.

My Answer

I am a floral perfumes fan. So, probably if I had to choose perfumes just from 1 family and stay with them forever, florals would be my choice. But when I started thinking about the list, it proved to be harder than I thought. Not because I have a huge list of those (though, it contributed to the situation), but because, as it happens with any list, I started overthinking: Is it a good representative of the family? Would I want to wear it often? Should I choose it, or are there better candidates? Etc., etc.

But since I had to choose something, here we go (in no particular order; I won’t link to my previous posts, but I wrote about all of these, and you can find links in My Perfume Portrait):

Keiko Mecheri Johana

Ormonde Jayne Tiare

Jo Malone French Lime Blossom

Guerlain Cruel Gardénia

Ineke Hothouse Flower

What Are Your Top 5 Floral Perfumes?

Jin and Portia: The Ghan Train Trip 2021

Jin and Portia: The Ghan Train Trip 2021

Hey Crew. Jin and I have been trying to get back on this train for over a year. There have been three previous dates, all postponed due to C19. Finally it’s happened. So I thought you might like a few photos and some small commentary. We were away for nine fun filled nights. A few in Darwin, three on the Ghan itself and one in Adelaide. We flew up to Darwin and back from Adelaide. I know your first thought is “What perfumes did you take?”

I thought it might be a good time to wear some of the decants I loved but have lain forgotten in the mad rush for new around here. All these decants (Except Rouge Saray, sent by my beautiful buddy Megan In Sainte Maxime) are quite old in my collection and really need to get worn. It seems my selection is VERY vanilla heavy. No problem. It’s one of my favourite notes. It’s like I’ve picked four vanillas on four very different points of the spectrum. One thing they all have in common though is how beautifully created they are. Also how easy wear and versatile, yet interesting statement pieces as well.
Coeur de Vetiver Sacre by L’Artisan Parfumeur: Vetiver, tea, incense sweetened by vanilla/amber. This was the most worn of the selection in daytime. It’s sheer yet interesting beauty went so well with the trip.
Mon Precieux Nectar by Guerlain: Vanilla heavy white floral with almond & incense.
Rouge Saray by Atelier des Ors: Spiced fruits and fairy floss over a patchouli/vanilla base. Very ra sha sha. I wore this to almost every evening event and had compliments every time. So beautiful and noticeable.
Neroli 36 by Le Labo: White floral citrus backed by a lightweight vanilla.

One of our friends, Martin, was our travelling companion on the journey. He’d always wanted to do The Ghan and when his wife Jane heard we were going she pulled out all stops to get him on ours. It was excellent having him on the trip and it made the whole adventure even more special. The photos below are a mixed bunch taken by all three of us. By this stage I’m not sure who took what.

The class we travelled on this trip was Gold Superior. There were only two of these larger cabins on the train, the rest of the Gold class has less floor space. There is a higher glass, Platinum, but we think the Gold Class bar car is infinitely more fun. Quite pricey for a four day holiday but there is no more comfortable or fun way to see the centre of Australia. My pictures hardly do the whole trip justice and don’t show any of our four night stay up in Darwin. Also, all food and booze are included in the price. VERY dangerous! I drank more alcohol in the four days than I’d drunk for the whole year beforehand.

Jin and I are currently planning our next adventure, also on a train with the same company. This time from Perth to Adelaide ands then up to Brisbane. That’s how much we enjoyed the experience.

As a final aside, how freaking gorgeous is my husband Jin? He’s a bit of a fool in some of the pics but he is so charming and lovely the whole train fell under his spell. Every morning or evening the staff and voyagers would fall over themselves to greet him and he had smiles and chats for everyone. It was like travelling with a celebrity. We had a beautiful time and now we are back home, refreshed and ready for another few months of work and life before the next adventure.

Sunday Self-care, Episode 2: Fun Out Of The Sun

This post is dedicated to the skin cancer awareness month. It is not sponsored in any form: all products mentioned have been bought by me.

* * *

Sun never liked me.

I grew up when a tan was considered a healthy indication of nice summer vacation. And each September when in the school gym changing room my classmates proudly demonstrated to each other the degree to which they managed to darken their skin over the school break, I’d never had anything to produce: my skin above and below the sports short’s demarcation line stayed unchanged despite all my attempts to slowly build up anything reminding a tan. I remember relatives joking that money was wasted on taking me on a seaside vacation.

The dislike was mutual. From an early age, I learned to stay out of the sun or cover myself if I had to be outside because the only result I could achieve was to burn my skin, after which, ironically, it would go back to being completely fair skipping the step of getting at least a little darker as it happened to many of my friends.

Sun through Leaves

From the American coevals, I know that at the same time sunscreens existed but weren’t that popular in the US. Where I was growing up suffering from the sun, sunscreens just didn’t exist as a product. Luckily for me, at a latitude where I lived, one could burn only during 2-3 months per year and only if staying outside for hours, not covered. Or if to go to the above-mentioned seaside, which most people couldn’t afford to do even every year.

Once I moved to California, I quickly discovered two things: 1) my sun tolerance here has shrunk to mere 15-20 minutes outside, after which I would burn, and 2) despite sounding too good to be true, there were magical potions that would prevent that. And that was when sunscreens came into my life permanently.

In more than the last 2 decades, I can recall just a handful of times when I would get a sunburn. In most cases just because I missed a spot or something else happened completely unexpectedly.

Over years I went from one sunscreen to another. I would find one that worked for me and would keep using it until it would get discontinued. I never paid much attention to ingredients – if it worked for me, it worked. But I don’t like the feeling of extra products on my skin, plus from time to time (not always!) some of the products cause or worsen my mild eczema. And I have acne-prone skin. So usually as soon as I get home, I wash sunscreen remains off.

You might imagine how glad I was to remove that part of my daily routine once I started working from home! I would still use my current favorite Paula’s Choice RESIST Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50 when going outside during the day, but I didn’t bother with anything else for my day-to-day home office life (unless I had a video meeting, then I might use a tinted moisturizer or a light foundation with some sunscreen properties, but most of my meetings are voice-only).

Rusty and Paula's Choice Sunscreen

And then a couple of months ago for the first time, I heard that we were supposed to apply sunscreen even when staying inside. My first reaction was that it was complete nonsense. I went online to find some reputable source to debacle that claptrap… only to find a dozen in support of it. I’m sure that I was one of the last to learn about it (as I mentioned before, my first year of Covid-19 hadn’t provided me any free/extra time to kill, so I wasn’t reading much on self-care, etc.), but just in case some of my readers were in the same boat, here is just a couple of sentences for an explanation – and then you’ll run your own search to confirm to yourself that I was not dreaming all that up.

While it’s true that you can’t get a sunburn through the window glass since it blocks UVB rays responsible for that, UVA light that causes premature skin aging by breaking down collagen and elastic tissue and contributes to the formation of skin cancers still goes through regular house or car window glass. You might not be sitting in front of the unprotected window, but those light rays reflect from light surfaces and still might be harmful.

I might have been still skeptical arguing (with myself) how much of the sunlight actually gets into my house, but some other realization hit me: while I was examining my face on the subject of pillow-produced creases (or lack thereof), which I covered in Episode 1 of this series, I noticed also that my skin tone got very uneven, and I could see a lot more dark spots than I remembered before.

Of course, this is anecdotal evidence, and it could be just a coincidence… But somehow I doubt it: until I started working from home, I wore a tinted moisturizer with SPF every single day – just to cover my walk from the car to the office and then 2-3 walking breaks during the day. And I used to work in a virtually windowless office.

It looks like I’m going back to wearing sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. Inside or outside.

Another personal discovery was the amount of sunscreen required for the proper protection. Again, I might be the last one to learn that, but on the off chance that at least one of the readers hasn’t got that memo yet: if you plan to spend enough time outside, to cover your face and neck only and get to the declared protection strength, you’ll need about ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) of sunscreen cream or lotion.

Sunscreen Amount for Face and Neck

And for those who prefer not to carry around a measuring device, you can figure out once for each cream/bottle how many fingers’ length it takes to place the necessary amount of product (dependent on your fingers’ size and tube opening), and then just stick to it.

* * *

I don’t remember exactly when but by my estimate it was about 15 years ago that I learned about Sephora’s yearly collection of products intended for skin protection from UVA/UVB rays. It was before the most current beauty subscription boxes. Back then it was called Fun in the Sun. Its cost was $25, and it included both full- and travel-size products from different brands. The kit was extremely popular, and it was usually sold out within hours after “dropping.” (Am I the only one who dislikes this new term?) Getting that kit required an approach similar to buying tickets for popular concerts. I tried to buy it once or twice but didn’t succeed. And then I found sunscreens I liked and wasn’t too interesting in trying anything else.

This year I thought it would be a good idea to see what was out there in the sunscreen arena, and with the current situation with testing anything in stores getting Sephora’s kit made total sense.

Since I wasn’t following Sephora too closely, I don’t know when the name changed, but now it’s called Sun Safety Kit (and I see that name back to 2015 at least). It costs $39 ($25 of which are donated to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). And since the price of one of the full-size products offered in the kit that I wanted to try anyway (Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Dark Spot Sun Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50) is more than the price for the whole kit, it was a no-brainer.

Sephora Sun Safety Kit

I’ve started testing products from the kit, and I hope that by the time I finish them, I’ll find new favorites to add to my sunscreen wardrobe. I’ll share an update once I’m ready.

I also hope that I was the last one who came upon all this information, and as you were reading this post, you kept saying “Dah!”. But if no, please take this seriously. You do not have to believe me – do your research, find sources you trust, gather the information that is relevant to your lifestyle and place of residence – just do not dismiss it because you think that it doesn’t concern you. Skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. And, as we age, we all want to look younger, right? Of course, sunscreen on its own will not turn the clock back and undo the damage done, but while preventing further damage, it helps your skin to renew on its own and gives other actives that you use to improve your skin a better chance to work.

In conclusion, I want to share with you two useful considerations that you won’t read in every article on this topic:

  • Choose a sunscreen that you like how it feels applied, how it smells and how it looks on your face (with or without makeup, dependent on your preference) – otherwise, you will not want to wear it every day.
  • Disregard the general recommendation to re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours: sunscreens deteriorate not from the time on the skin but from exposure to the sun. So, if you spend most of your day inside with a very limited natural light, your morning application might take you through the whole day.

Sun from Plane Window

Stay safe on and off the sun this summer!


Images: my own