Sunday Self-care, Episode 10: A Woman In The LED Mask (And Other “Tools Of The Trade”)

Until recently, Clarisonic, an electric facial cleansing brush, was the only skincare appliance I’ve ever tried. Long before it became common knowledge, I figured out that washing my face with that brush produced the opposite of the desired effect: it was causing me to break out (and no, I didn’t forget to either clean or replace the brush head). I ditched the device and at least one unused replacement brush and never looked back.

But by the end of the first year of the “new normal,” after looking for many hours in the mirror and watching enough beauty influencers on YouTube, I got curious.

NuFACE Trinity, a device that “tones, lifts, and contours the facial muscles while also reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” was the first one I bought in the series of gizmos that, as I learned, have been created in recent years.

Rusty and NuFace Trinity

I’ve been using NuFACE Trinity quite frequently (though not 5 times per week, as recommended). After I bought it, I came across explanations (from the sources I trust) that face muscles are among a few that don’t require exercising: not only do they not get weaker with age, but extra muscle movements contribute to setting wrinkles rather than improving their appearance. And yet… I don’t know how or why it happened, and I cannot offer an explanation, but NuFACE has helped my jawline: it looks better.

Some people reported that they experienced some pinching or stinging, but for me, it has never been bad enough to notice. One thing I did not like was using the conducting gel: applying it by hand is messy, wasteful of product and quite cumbersome. For each part of the face you plan to massage, you need to put away the device (either turning it off or keeping it running), apply the gel, then wash your hands, use the device and repeat for the next area. But I found a way around it: I’m using a small pod to dispense the gel into and a brush to apply it to my face.

I know that the effect is temporary (and they do not promise otherwise), but I like this device: it seems well-made and is easy and pleasant to use. So, I will keep using it.

The next came Dr Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro, a “wrinkle-reducing and acne-fighting […] FDA cleared […] device” with “100 LED lights in red mode and 62 LED lights in blue mode that work together to help boost collagen production, improve skin density, smooth wrinkles, diminish discoloration, and clear acne for a clear, younger-looking complexion.”

I had some doubts… But I read multiple articles about the legitimacy of LED therapy for improving skin conditions. And then, my favorite YouTube dermatologists from the Doctorly channel voiced their support for this type of device. So, I went for it (in the photo below, I persuaded my vSO to try it too).

Dr Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro

I’ve been using DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro mask for almost two years. It takes just 3 minutes per day. Clearly, it is not too long, but the issue is that you’re supposed to use it after you clean your face. Which makes it slightly inconvenient for my mornings: being a night owl, I try to sleep up until I absolutely must get up for the morning meetings. So, it’s very unlikely that I have an extra 5 minutes in the morning for this ritual. And in the evening, it’s also not that straightforward: I need to wash my face, lay down with the mask, and then get up and continue with the evening skincare routine. It’s a little bit cumbersome. The device has straps that theoretically allow wear while standing, but they are amazingly poorly constructed and keep unfastening. So, if I do not want to risk breaking that quite expensive mask, doing it in a horizontal position is the safest bet. I see that the brand has probably realized the poor design decision with the straps because they changed them slightly compared to those I have. But still, those are too flimsy for the expensive device they are selling. The second complaint I have is the absence of the battery indicator. You never know when it’s time to charge it. So, periodically, after I had done all the dances finding time for it and cleaning my face, the mask would turn off in a minute instead of 3. Very annoying. If my electric toothbrush, which is also annoyingly expensive (but not even close to the price of the mask), can warn me that the battery is running low before there is not enough charge to function properly, that mask could have done it as well. And now, two years after the purchase, I noticed that it doesn’t keep the charge longer than for 2-3 applications.

 

 

But after all the grievances I collected and vengefully shared with you, does DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro work? I do not use it every day (for the above-stated reasons), but on average, I find time for it about 4 times per week. I cannot say that I see the effect. I cannot say that I do not see the effect. My skin does look better, so I could assume that it works. But since this mask is not the only tool or product I use daily, I wouldn’t be able to attribute all the improvements to any of them. But I’ll probably keep using the mask – just in case. But when it dies, I don’t think my next one will be from the same brand.

Rusty and GloPro

 

The most recent tool I got was a Facial Microneedling Tool from GloPro. I wasn’t even considering it until the last December when a department where I work decided to reward the employees with a gift. It wasn’t a gift card or some allowance. Instead, there was a link to a special rewards store where one could choose what they wanted from the offered selection. As I’ve seen before with that type of portal for employees, the value of provided rewards is very “uneven”: it might be a $50 headset, $90 designer perfume, or a $300 dish set. Prices aren’t shown – I just checked some of the offerings in regular stores. But regardless of the price, one can choose just 1 item. I usually struggle with those gifts because it’s hard to choose something I like or need, and I would hate to get something that would be just sitting and gathering dust. So, after going through the complete catalog back and forth several times, I finally realized that I wanted absolutely nothing. I sighed, went through it again and found that microneedling device.

Just in case you’re not familiar with this type of device (I wasn’t), you roll it over your skin, the head of the tool has tiny needles, and it vibrates. As it creates tiny traumas in the skin, it supposedly stimulates the skin to boost collagen production and improves products’ absorption. It is not painful while you do it.

I think my skin is too sensitive: the next day after I use the GloPro tool, I find red dots or even longer marks here and there on my face and neck. It’s not too bad or painful, maybe like a slight irritation (my crow’s feet are especially sensitive), it doesn’t happen every time, and it goes away in a day or two, but since those couple of days are not the most pleasant for my eyes, I tend to skip using the tool. The recommended frequency is 3 times per week. I manage to do it once a week (if that). Same as with the mask, I have no idea how effective the Facial Microneedling Tool is. But I’ll use it for a while.

Rusty and GloPro

Have you used any of these devices or any other tools?

 

Images: my own

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Saturday Question: Have You Ever Done Perfume “No-Buy”?

With the [Early] Black Friday [Day/Week/Month] happening this year, I thought we could talk about not buying something for a change.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #141:

Have You Ever Done Perfume “No-Buy”?

If yes, was it a complete halt on any perfume-related spending? For how long? Were you tempted to break it, or were you firm in your decision? Did you strictly stick to it, or did you have any “relapses”? Has it affected your interest in perfume in general or perfume-related activities, such as reading blogs, participating in SOTD discussions, etc.?

My Answer

Until now, I’ve never done “no-buy.” My perfume acquisitions slowed down compared to previous years, and I haven’t exceeded a self-imposed perfume budget in the last several years. But I was buying some new perfumes and recently a lot of samples.

Starting this December, I’m doing my first “no-buy.” I won’t discuss the reasons (nothing too dramatic, everybody is healthy), but I will temporarily refrain from buying perfumes to wear (i.e., travel/full bottles or decants). Since it is a perfume blog, and I plan to keep it going, I will probably keep a small budget for samples and postage for swaps. But until the underlying practical reasons are resolved, my current collection should be more than enough to enjoy all aspects of my hobby – wearing, writing about and discussing perfumes.

 

How about you?

 

Have You Ever Done Perfume “No-Buy”?

Je Veux Mon Livre by The Strange South

Je Veux Mon Livre by The Strange South

Hi Crew, Je Veux Mon Livre by The Strange South is a fragrance from 2017. Here we have yet another perfume house I’d never heard of but bought a decant blind from Surrender To Chance because the notes sounded good and the names were very alluring. I think it might have come up as a suggestion and I jumped on it.

Both the following copy and picture are from their site:

Je Veux Mon Livre by The Strange South

The Strange South Je Veux Mon Livre features notes of tea leaves, sage pressed between the ancient pages of a leather-bound grimoire. It is an eau de parfum, edp.
The Strange South’s perfumes are blended by hand and bottled in small batches. They are alcohol, paraben, phthalate, and cruelty-free; the only testing being on willing human subjects.

Je Veux Mon Livre by The Strange South 2017

Parfumo gives threse featured accords:
Tea, Sage, Leather, Aged paper

Sometimes the world works serendipitously. I’ve read a couple of threads lately about the smell of old bookstores. That combination of disintegrating paper and leather, dust, sometimes hints of mould, very old floorboards and shelves. Often accompanied by the scent of the flatulent, not quite clean owners and if you’re incredibly lucky their cat. I love the smell of old bookstores. Each different but all following a common theme. We also have a couple of very ra sha sha bookstores in Sydney that do interesting first editions, have a cafe and are not of the oeuvre. They smell like MONEY. We aren’t talking about them here. Well, I’m not. I like the ones with piles of books, some order but also bedlam. The ones you can scurry around in for half a day. HEAVEN! Haven’t done it for years.

Sorry, Back to perfume.

How does Je Veux Mon Livre smell? The opening is greener and fresher than expected. I think we might be in one of this quite expensive first edition type bookstores. Maybe the greenness is trying to capture the slightly mouldy bread smell but it’s too sunny and springlike to do that properly. More hotel lobby than grimoire. Very pretty though, just my expectations being trampled underfoot.

As we enter the heart it’s tea and sage in the forefront. Green tea and chamomile seem to be the major protagonists. Yet again. A lovely fresh, bright scent that in no way reflects my dreams of old bookstore or even a grimoire.

I am surprised that something so very perfumes is alcohol, paraben, phthalate, and cruelty-free. My mind keeps saying this would be so beautiful in a very upmarket hotel lobby. It would be refreshing and surprising.

Maybe I’m not getting what the perfumer intended on my skin or with my nose. Still, very nice, low projection and longevity but much better than expected. Unisex. I think I’d be more inclined to glowing revue if it was called Garden Tea.

Dry down becomes the softest waft of scent. It’s still green but the leather and slight vanilla of disintegration books is there at last. Sadly, by the time it gets to this point I can hardly smell it. BUMMER!

Did you love the smell of books and old bookstores?
Portia xx

Saturday Question: What Are You Thankful For Perfume-wise?

I realize that many of my friends and loyal readers live outside of the US and thus either celebrate their own Thanksgiving on a different date or do not celebrate it at all. I grew up not even knowing about that holiday: somehow, it wasn’t a part of pop culture or a well-known fact about a foreign country. But Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays since I moved to the US. So, with the upcoming week being Thanksgiving week here, I want to somehow connect this Saturday Question to the topic of being thankful.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #140:

What Are You Thankful For Perfume-wise?

It can be very precise or completely generic, something that has happened recently or in general – as long as you consider it a positive thing.

My Answer

There are many things that I could mention, but I do not want to hog all the possible answers, so I’ll keep it short – and then join you in the comments section. You could do the same: name one or two most relevant points and concur with others’ comments.

  • I’m thankful to all of the perfumistas who shared, swapped or just gifted me with samples and decants: it allowed me to try many more perfumes than I would have been able to try otherwise.
  • I’m thankful that Covid-19 strand that I had did not impair my sense of smell: not counting possible serious health complications, that was my worst fear.

 

How about you?

What Are You Thankful For Perfume-wise?

Saturday Question: Do You Test Perfumes Released 3+ Years Ago?

I’m traveling this long weekend without my laptop, so let’s see how well mobile publishing works.

* * *

Do you remember how pre-Covid we used to complain about a huge number of new brands and new releases? I’m not sure what’s the situation now, but when I went to the Luckyscent website to buy… tea as a gift to my friend, I discovered that I didn’t know most of the brands I saw on the front page. People must be sampling those perfumes (since I don’t expect them blind buying them). But what about older releases? All those thousands of new perfumes released per year 3-5 years ago??

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #139:

Do You Test Perfumes Released 3+ Years Ago?

If you buy or swap samples, do you try perfumes that were released years ago but you haven’t tried them yet? Or do you go for the latest ones leaving behind all those that you haven’t tried when they were released?

My Answer

As I was choosing my free samples with a purchase, I went for 4 most recent releases. These weren’t new brands for me, but perfumes were all from this year. It made me think: am I not taking a part in encouraging brands to keep releasing new perfumes to keep us interested?

In my defense, this year, I did test the majority of perfumes from the past years that I was interested in (and even some that I wasn’t). But I know that I accepted that I’m missing on many perfumes, and after a while the only way I’ll try them will be if I come across them at a store.

 

How about you?

 

Do You Test Perfumes Released 3+ Years Ago?

Beekeeper’s Daughter by Sucreabeille

Beekeeper’s Daughter by Sucreabeille

Hi Crew, This is another blind buy decant from Surrender To Chance. Suceabeille seems new to the STC site but Beekeeper’s Daughter was released in 2019. On looking up Parfumo there seem to be dozens of perfumes by Sucreabeille and this fragrance is so affordable, especially for its being vegan and cruelty free. Extra plus is that it’s woman owned, Andrea. Based in Washington state USA. Also it comes in oil or EdP. Sucreabeille site sends to most of the world except the EU

Beekeeper’s Daughter by Sucreabeille

The Beekeeper's daughter by Sucreabeille

Sucreabeille gives these featured accords:
Pure honeycomb, freshly harvested from the hive; a blooming herb garden full of clary sage, fennel, and thyme; peach blossoms and a touch of medicinal camphor.

O M G! Rich honey, funky and herbal. We get our honey from friends who get it directly from their hives. It is so tapestried and flavoursome that it doesn’t even compare to the stuff in the shops. Every batch is slightly different. Sometimes it has a green tinge, exactly like this. Honey from the shops is much cleaner, sweeter and far less animal.

I can smell the garden through the heart but it’s still honey in the forefront. There is also a reference to the smell of dogs paws, well my beautiful dog’s paws smell like it. Also, the super sweet smell of men’s urinals from outside the block. Not that disgusting foulness from inside, up close. It’s one of my favourite animalics and honey quite often reflects it.

Beekeeper's Daughter by Sucreabeille

This is not for the faint of heart. Absolutely unisex and delightfully feral. From wrist length it smells much less confrontational but bring it up to my nose and it’s all the growly honey. Amazing. I seriously can’t recommend this highly enough if off the charts honey is your jam.

Does vegan and cruelty free make you more interested?
Portia xx

Saturday Question: Do You Like Gunpowder Note In Perfumes?

Remember, remember
the 5th of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.

This nursery rhyme stuck in my head and kept turning on and on, so I decided to turn it into the SQ.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #138:

Do You Like Gunpowder Note In Perfumes?

Do you know any perfumes with this note? Do you like it? Do you like the smell of gunpowder?

My Answer

If it weren’t for my database, I wouldn’t have remembered that I smelled any perfumes with a gunpowder note, and I didn’t care for two of them – BeauFort London 1805 and L’Artisan Parfumeur Amour Nocturne. Not because of that note. The third one I like – Jul et Mad Stairway to Heaven. Not because of that note. I don’t think I can smell it in that perfume.

I’m lucky: my only association with gunpowder is from visits to a shooting range. So, I like the scent of freshly burnt gunpowder. Not sure though, that I would want to wear it in any discernible quantity.

 

How about you?

 

Do You Like Gunpowder Note In Perfumes?

Small Things That Brighten Life: October 2022

It has been a while since I posted anything in this series, which isn’t surprising, everything considered. But since I believe it is helpful for one’s well-being to concentrate on positive aspects of the present, I decided to resurrect the topic.

So, here are random nice things that brightened my life in October.

It was a Hunter’s Moon, and my friend whose birthday we celebrated that day took an impressive picture of it.

* * *

This Fall, we see more than usual birds around where we live, and it introduces highly appreciated variety into our evening walks.

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Squirrels and birds compete for the crop of wild berries on the bush in our backyard, and it is highly entertaining for the whole family to watch them.

* * *

Speaking of the family, Rusty shares our appreciation of Boo Chips. We used to buy a similar product, Ghosts & Bats Crispy Potato Snacks, but this year Trader Joe’s didn’t produce them for Halloween. He was so interested in the plate’s content that he didn’t even notice that I put a headband with horns from my Halloween costume on him.

* * *

Speaking of Halloween, I slightly decorated our house to signal to neighborhood kids that we were “open for business,” but to my MIL’s disappointment, not a single child rang our bell that evening. I’m not sure who to blame – the holiday falling on Monday, our community that didn’t have enough decorated houses to attract anyone to our kind of remote location or our city’s decision to have an organized Halloween parade. Or maybe the rumor that we torture kids with mostly dark chocolates has finally spread widely. On the positive side, as a result, we have probably a 6-months supply of Ghirardelli and Lindt dark chocolates.

 

 

November has also started promising: we had a nice rain on November 1st!

 

Do you have anything positive to report for October?

 

Images: all but the one of the Hunter’s Moon – my own

Saturday Question: What Are Your Top 5 Leather Perfumes?

I saw that Perfume Posse just had a similar topic earlier this week. But I swear I had this question in my head before I saw that post (something must be in the air!). And since not all of my loyal SQ participants read or comment there, I decided there would be no harm in talking about leather perfumes again here.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #137:

What Are Your Top 5 Leather Perfumes?

Do you wear them in general? How often? Do you prefer them in colder weather?

Bonus question: what is your favorite leather product? (Not perfume-related)

My Answer

When I came up with my answer to this question, I was somewhat surprised by the fact that after ten years since I published In the Search for the Perfect Leather post (below, I decided to re-use one of the photos from it), in addition to all the perfumes that I mentioned there, I can add just two new leather perfumes that I really-really liked – one for my vSO (Tom Ford Ombre Leather) and one for me (Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka). The other four from my list (I won’t count my vSO’s perfume) are:

  1. Chanel Cuir de Russie
  2. Serge Lutens Boxeuses
  3. Six Scents Nappa Noir
  4. L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversee du Bosphore

Leather Perfumes SamplesAs to the non-perfume-related items, I like Nappa leather bags/purses. I know these are less sturdy than other leather types, but I loooove soft and supple leather for my bags.

 

What Are Your Top 5 Leather Perfumes?

Divine Vanille by Essential Parfums

Divine Vanille by Essential Parfums

Hey crew, In my last order from Fragrance and Art there arrived a bunch of manufacturers samples to try. I also just noticed an Essential Parfums 8x2ml set for under US$20!. Not affiliated in any way but it’s good to know. They have an excellent radar for things I’ll like and this time there were a preponderance of vanilla rich fragrances. Maybe because the north is heading cool but also maybe because I bloody LOVE vanilla. It has so many facets and depths, and rarely disappoints. Divine Vanille by Essential Parfums immediately had me excited by the name alone.

Perfumer Olivier Pescheux is one whose work you definitely know; One Million, Herod, 34 boulevard Saint Germain, and Yohji Homme are just some highlights of his current 123 perfumes in Fragrantica.

Divine Vanille by Essential Parfums

Divine Vanille by Essential Parfums

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Black Pepper
Heart: Incense, Osmanthus, Pomarose
Base: Madagascar Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Siam Benzoin, Texas Cedar, Musk, Patchouli

Sometimes I write part of a post and then lose the sample. It stays here, in limbo, till I give up and delete the post or till I find the sample! Well, here we are moths later and I have refound it. I’m so dumb, could easily have come checked this post and found that it ws a grey carded manufacturers sample, not a red box. Who knows what I’ve mixed it up with? So we are here today to FINALLY write about Divine Vanille.

The opening is vanilla rich amber with some bells and whistles. Lightly spiced and a faint scratchy whiff of black pepper keep us firmly in the kitchen but savoury rather than super sweet. We have some South Korean cracker biscuits that are a little like this. A line drawn between the two poles.

As the heart makes itself known I get the rustic greenery of clary sage and subtle hints of osmanthus, that leathery white floral. Still reigning supreme though is the amber. It has started to gain a little smooth earthy patchouli that gives it some grunt, it also takes it into L’Artisan Havana Vanille territory. Add to it some lightweight animalic references and the fragrance remains interesting.

 

Divine Vanille by Essential Parfums

Heading towards dry down and Divine Vanille starts to get sweeter and more cookie in the oven-ish. Held grounded, and even a skew towards masculine, by the various resins. That smokiness giving the cookies a baking feel probably comes from somewhere there too. The patchouli takes itself in and out over time. I find that keeps my nose interested and the fragrance doesn’t send me nose blind.

I REALLY like Divine Vanille. It’s not incredibly ground breaking but it smells so good. Unisex, good longevity and moderate projection. It’s also very well priced, even bargain.

The question is, “Do I have enough vanilla perfumes?” Do you?
Portia x