Saturday Question: What 5 Brands Do You Always Test?

All of us who has been into this hobby for a while are at least a little jaded: it’s not that easy to attract our attention, we have everything and then some, and when it comes to getting interested in trying anything new and unknown, we are not the easiest audience. But today I’m asking not about brand-new brands (pun? probably somewhat) that are growing like mushrooms or established brands spawning new lines trying to cover a larger or different market.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #87:

What 5 Brands Do You Always Test?

You might love and own a dozen of perfumes by Guerlain. But do you follow all of their new releases? You might adore classic Miss Dior, but do you know what was the last perfume from Dior? L’Artisan Parfumeur… Who?

What I mean is: regardless of the “past performance” and presence of the brand in your perfume wardrobe, are there any brands new releases from which you follow diligently and try to get your nose on? Name up to five such brands, if you can think of that many.

My Answer

There are just two brands that are still on my radar no matter what: Amouage and Puredistance. With these two I do make an effort to get to try all of their releases. This loyalty has a couple of components: first, I have multiple perfumes created by these two brands that I love or strongly like, so with each next release I hope that the new one will be as great as the earlier ones (or better!). And the second reason, I suspect, is that I could never sample them at a store, so I’m used to paying for samples from these brands. But since the hit/miss ratio with them was great, at least for a while, I feel more inclined to “risk” it.

There last three brands that I always test are Tom Ford, Jo Malone and Atelier Cologne. But, at least partially, it’s a factor of convenience: I have a relatively easy access to them from local stores. So, I think that I tried all perfumes from these brands in the last, let’s say, 5 years. I do like these brands and have many favorites from them. But I’m not 100% sure I would have been pursuing them with the same rigor if I had to pay for all those samples. Though I still might have…

What about you?


What 5 Brands Do You Always Test?

Vacation in the Time of COVID-19: Episode IV, Hawaii Big Island – Flowers

This work week was so packed with words (I wrote 17 pages of documentation and edited another 50 written by others) that at this point I’m all “worded out” (I promise to find some for the Saturday Question post tomorrow), but I want to share with you the next set of photos from my becoming more and more distant recent vacation.

Pictures of these beautiful, strange and unusual tropical flowers I collected just in one day (and I’m showing not even all!). I wonder if you can figure out which of them is a torch flower, a rattle snake flower or a cat’s whiskers flower.



Images: my own

Saturday Question: Do You Travel Light?

Following my yesterday’s post on perfumes I took with me to the recent trip to Hawaii, I decided to ask you about your packing habits when it comes to bringing perfumes.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #86:

Do You Travel Light?

I know, the last 18 months weren’t great for trips, but before we completely forget how it was in the “old normal,” let’s talk about it. How many perfumes do you usually bring with you? Do you take full bottles, travel bottles, decants or samples? Do you have a set of perfumes that travel with you to specific/all locations, or is it something different every time?

My Answer

Normally, I take with me about 2 perfumes per day away plus a scent to wear on a plane. I don’t wear all perfumes that I bring, but I like to have a choice. For each trip I select perfumes that I think fit the occasion. And since most of my travel destinations do not repeat (or at least that happens not too often), every time it’s something new.

Usually, I take with me decants – either those perfumes that I have in that format or those that I make from my bottles. The only place to where I bring a real bottle is Hawaii: my Bronze Goddess always travels with me there.

Hawaii trips are unique in sense that it’s almost always the same predictable weather and activities. So, I collected a whole wardrobe of tropics-suitable perfumes, and I take them with me every time I have a vacation on one of the islands. And after the last trip, to which I brought about 25 different perfumes for 8 days, I’m thinking about sticking to my “2 perfumes per day” rule in future.



Do You Travel Light?

Vacation in the Time of COVID-19: Episode III, Hawaii Big Island – Perfumes

Whenever I go to Hawaii, I take with me perfumes that I consider my tropical perfume wardrobe. Over years I kept finding more and more perfumes that I thought would be suitable for that purpose. So, each next time I had more and more contenders for my attention (and my body) on those tropical retreats.

This year I think I went a little bit overboard when packing perfumes for the trip: even not counting samples I brought to test (and didn’t!) and shared perfumes, I had more than three perfumes per day of my vacation. Considering that our “social life” (i.e.: visiting restaurants and any indoor venues) was extremely limited and our current physical shape didn’t support the twice-a-day beach visits routine we used to follow when we felt stronger, even two perfumes per day would have been a stretch. But I have so many perfumes that wait their time to join me on a trip, that I couldn’t bring myself to pare down the set. The picture below doesn’t show new samples brought for testing that I didn’t even unpack (I’ll do a post about them later, once I finish testing) and a couple of perfumes that I forgot to bring for the photo shoot.

Kona Vacation PerfumesLast year, longing for a tropical vacation that we had to cancel, I did a post on my typical perfume selection for these trips. This time in Hawaii I wore seven out of nine perfumes that were featured in that post (I didn’t re-read it until I started writing this one): Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess, Ormonde Jayne Tiare and Frangipani, L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversee du Bosphore, Parfums DelRae Bois de Paradise, Byredo Bal D’Afrique and Yosh Ginger Ciao. I don’t have much new to say about these perfumes in addition to what I wrote last year (I still love them all), but I want to share that on this trip, for the first time, I smelled Ormonde Jayne’s Frangipiani side by side with live plumeria and realized how complex Frangipani was while prominently featuring this note.

In addition to these, I managed to wear Diptyque Volutes (EdT), our shared perfume for plane flights (I decanted it into a tiny roller ball bottle, so we can use it discreetly without bothering fellow-travelers), Moroccanoil Hair & Body Fragrance Mist, which together with Bronze Goddess spent the whole vacation in the fridge, and Serge Lutens La Dompteuse Encagée, which I wanted to try in tropical surroundings – and yes, I still want to get it, even though I confirmed my initial impression that its longevity in a humid hot weather wasn’t great. My vSO wore Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine (love-love-love it) and three of Tom Ford‘s perfumes (I don’t envision any of them in his full bottle collection, but they were fine as the after-the-sunset wear).


The next time I go to Hawaii, I will probably bring that exact line-up, because all of them are gorgeous in tropical weather, and each of them deserves more skin time. I don’t need any more tropical perfumes! And yet, I’m still curious… Do you have any favorite perfumes that are especially great in hot weather?


Images: my own

Saturday Question: How Did You Get Your Screen Name?

It was Portia who suggested this week’s question but refused to lead the discussion. I decided to run it myself because I’m also curious to read your answers.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #85:

How Did You Get Your Screen Name?

How did you decide what to use as your online/screen name in Perfumeland? Leaving aside Facebook where most people use their actual accounts with First and Last Name, what is the handle you use in perfume-related communities to post or comment on posts? Is it some version of your name, a nickname or completely arbitrary or fictional creation? Why have you chosen it?

My Answer

Almost nine years ago, I’ve published a post in which I told a story of how I came up with both my screen name and this blog’s name. What is interesting, in that post I counted comments from at least 9 people who still read my blog these days.

For those of my newer readers who is not curious enough to read an ancient post, I’ll give a short version: Undina (my native language-specific spelling of the word “Undine” – a category of elemental beings associated with water) was a nickname that I’d chosen a couple of decades ago (wow, time swims fast!) for a role-playing chat room that I frequented and where I spent many happy hours. Out of all possible species of the undines group, my character in that chat room had transformed into a mermaid. And one of the virtual props I used there was a looking glass on the wall. So, my screen name and my blog’s name are kind of homage to that wonderful time.

Undina by Lus

A collage made for my character by one of the chat’s habitués

Now it’s your turn.

How Did You Get Your Screen Name?

Vacation in the Time of COVID-19: Episode II, Hawaii Big Island – Tropical Leaves

I know that many of the plants you can see in Hawaii and especially at botanical gardens of the islands are not native to Hawaii, and that even those that are or could grow there on their own wouldn’t have been represented that densely in their natural habitat. But that’s the beauty of botanical gardens. The set below are pictures of leaves that I took within a couple of hours of walking in the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden – a privately established, created and run non-profit botanical garden.

I have many more pictures from this visit, but I had to stop at some point. I’ll share more in my upcoming posts on other topics.


Images: My own


Sunday Self-care, Episode 8: A Mask That Doesn’t Wear Me

I’m neither a proponent nor detractor of wearing face masks in principle: I’m not convinced one way or the other whether they have any effect on [not] spreading the virus. As long as they are required, I’ll keep wearing them. But when they were just coming into our lives 18 months ago, after the first shock subsided, and in addition to ramping up disposable masks production everyone started manufacturing all types of face coverings, for the longest time I refused to look at those masks as an accessory. For some reason, for me mentally it was important to keep their usage as strictly functional not succumbing to the “new normal.” So, I had a couple of black cloth masks that I washed in-between going to a grocery store once every two weeks. And since we weren’t going anywhere else, and for evening walks in our suburban neighborhood masks weren’t necessary, it was enough.

When the first talks about returning to work started, our company sent each of us a couple of very nice reusable masks (a double layer, knit cotton + knit something else) that we were supposed to use while working from the office. We didn’t go back to the office, but with more places opening up, it was convenient to have those extra masks to rotate between washes.

And that’s when I noticed that wearing those masks for longer than a couple of minutes was leaving marks on my face (and those were far from being beauty ones). I wasn’t too surprised since by that time I’ve already noticed a similar effect produced by my cotton pillow cases. So, it seemed to me that the logical solution to this problem would be the same – to get a silk mask.

Inspired by my success with silk pillow cases, I bought one mask from each of the two rivaling brands – Slip (leopard) and Blissy (tie-dye). Remembering my own advice on the color choice, I stayed away from solids.

Silk Face Masks Slip and Blissy

Both masks have 2 layers of silk, adjustable ear loops and a nose bridge.

A face mask from Blissy is much less expensive: now on the brand’s site it’s on sale for $14.95, and you can get either additional 20% off using the coupon they offer on the site, or if you’ve never bought anything from the site before, use my link and enter your email in the box on the bottom right, the one that says “get your reward”, to get a $20 off coupon).

A face covering from Slip is more expensive: its on sale on the brand’s site for $29.95 (!), and if you haven’t subscribed to their site yet, you can do it and get a 15% off coupon for the first purchase (if you’re not getting that offer, launch the site in the private browser window). Slip’s face cover has an additional 100% cotton internal lining, and it comes with spare 2 sets of silicone stoppers for ear loops and 10 spare nose wires.

When I tried them, both were very pleasant to the touch on skin. But as I started wearing them, I discovered that I couldn’t use the one from Blissy at all: it creates the weirdest “aerodynamic,” and my ears feel plugged. I’m not discounting the mask altogether because my vSO doesn’t have a similar reaction to the one I got for him, but for me it’s a total fail.

Slip’s face covering feels much better and doesn’t cause any ear discomfort. It drapes nicely and leaves enough breathing space. So, out of the two, I decided to keep using the Slip’s one, and it proved to be relatively comfortable on my recent 6-hours flight to Hawaii.

Slk Face Mask Slip

The funny thing is: even silk masks leave marks on my face. Now I’m thinking: maybe I should try a woven mask? Recently, I gave one as a gift to my vSO. I’m sure he won’t mind lending it to me in the name of a scientific experiment. OK, maybe not so much scientific…

Face Mask with Cats

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.

Images: my own

Saturday Question: What Brand Would You Like To Know Better?

We all come to discovering different perfume brands in many different ways. Some brands are naturally available for easy testing where we live or travel. For others we happen to get a discovery set. Some get recommended by fellow perfumistas whose opinion we value. And some we discover on our own, purposefully getting samples after falling in love with one perfume from the brand we tried.

At the same time, the more brands are out there, the more expensive their perfumes get and the less people with an independent opinion express it in media we choose to be exposed to, the less inclined we are to blindly pay to get to know a new brand or a brand we skipped discovering previously for whatever reason.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #84:

What Brand Would You Like To Know Better?

Is there any particular brand about which you know and with perfumes from which you are not too familiar but would like to? What’s the reason why you haven’t tried those perfumes yet? Do you plan to do anything about it, or is it an abstract interest of the maybe-one-day-type?

My Answer

From the beginning of the deep dive into this hobby I was a “serial tester”: especially with brands whose perfumes I liked or with a completely new to me brands I had a tendency to seek out all perfumes from such brands that I could get. I think I still feel that way, but with the number of new brands and releases I had to concede that it just wasn’t feasible and, frankly, didn’t make much sense.

But I think that I still have that internal drive to complete the “research,” and if I had an easier access to testing some of the brands at a store or could get those brands’ sets for testing without paying an arm and a leg for them and their delivery, I would have still be chasing at least some of the brands.

Short of that, I discovered an acceptable way for myself to indulge in my series-oriented testing proclivity: I participate in the Beautyhabit‘s event series (some pun intended) “Up Close & Personal with <XXX>” (where XXX is one of the brands they carry). It’s a Zoom call (though, that part isn’t required) with the Beautyhabit’s co-founder and either a brand creator/owner/etc. or at least a representative. For $20 I’m getting 6-7 samples, including S&H in the US. They also offer a $10 coupon off perfumes from that brand, but I haven’t used that offer so far, so I just assume that I’m paying $20 for samples (Disclaimer: No affiliation, not sponsored).

The most recent event I signed up for is for Parfums de Nicolai (I don’t want to link to it because it’s a temporary link, but you’ll easily find it on the site under Events, it is not sold out yet, if you’re interested). I know that this brand was one of everybody’s darlings 8-10 years ago, so I’m not sure how it came that I don’t know them better. I tried several of their perfumes back then, but somehow mostly it passed by me. I remember that I liked Odalisque, but by the time I thought I might want to buy it, I heard it got reformulated. And it felt wrong to pay for another sample. I have a small decant of Le Temps D’Une Fete from a friend and wear it from time to time, but it has that vintage component that I do not love… and it has been reformulated and discontinued. Had I come across the brand in a B&M store, I would have tested the whole line. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen any Parfums de Nicolai perfumes in RL anywhere. So, now I’ll get a chance to try 7 new to me perfumes for the brand. I’m very curious.


What Brand Would You Like To Know Better?

Vacation in the Time of COVID-19: Episode I, Hawaii Big Island – Getting There

For three years I dreamed of going back to Hawaii. I know that Hawaii are great almost year round. But I have a very particular time when I prefer to go there – the end of September, when water is very warm already, but the weather is not excruciatingly hot any longer.

In 2019, we had to do a long European business trip right at that preferred time. So, we added a visit to the UK as our vacation, which was great not just as a consolation but on its own as well (and having to choose between these two destinations I might have chosen London anyway).

In 2020, we had to cancel the trip because the islands were closed for short visits, and we couldn’t have left Rusty for 2 weeks of quarantine + a week of vacation. We booked this year vacation back in April. But as we were getting closer to the date, the Delta variant was on a rise, the situation in Hawaii was getting worse, and a couple of days before the departure my vSO was persuaded that he had the symptoms (we checked and both tested negative, which cost us an equivalent of a really nice bottle of perfume). So, until the time we boarded the airplane to fly to Kona, I wasn’t sure that we would make it to there this year.

We did, and it was an extremely enjoyable vacation.

Flying into Kona 2021

I have shared already several glimpses into my days in Hawaii with those of my readers who follow me on Instagram as well. If you don’t have an IG account, you still can click/tap on the picture to the right (web)/on the bottom (mobile) to see all 8 posts. But I decided to do an additional show and tell (mostly show) on my blog.

Over the next days, in-between the regular posts, I’ll be publishing sets of pictures from my vacation combined by some topic and maybe adding some descriptions if anything comes to mind as I choose pictures for sharing.

The condo we stayed in was nicely decorated with some elements of Japanese and tropical decor and a large sub-zero refrigerator, into which we immediately placed some white wine for dinner and two bottles of perfumes that I brought with me.


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And Hapuna Beach, the largest of the island’s white sand beaches, to where we went right away for the first swim, was still as wonderful as we remembered it. That evening the ocean was probably the warmest and calmest of all days we swam.

Hapuna BeachTo be continued…


Images: my own

Saturday Question: Do You Ever Put Perfumes in a Fridge?

As extensive as some of our collections are, Osmothèque Museum they are not, so I don’t expect that any of my readers (or at lest those who usually comment on my posts) maintain 12C/53F temperature where our perfumes are stored. But do you ever do that?


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #83:

Do You Ever Put Perfumes in a Fridge?

Maybe not for the permanent storage but for using on hot summer days? Or as a temporary solution for especially hot days? Or for the most precious or volatile perfumes in your collection? Or maybe for the transportation?

My Answer

I remember being impressed by Vanessa’s (Bonkers About Perfume) two wine fridges that she used to store her perfumes at some point of her fragrance j****y. And when we were getting a large wine fridge for my vSO’s wine collection (OK, it’s “ours,” but I tend to attribute it to him), I had some ideas that I would claim one shelf for storing my perfumes. But it proved to be completely impractical: I wouldn’t want to go downstairs every time I want to use one of the perfumes stored there; it’s not the healthiest way for the wine fridge to be opened once a day to get out perfume I wanted to wear that day; all of my perfumes would not fit on that one shelf anyway, and, finally, my vSO’s wine collection outgrew already the whole cabinet, so there is no extra space in it even for wine.

But I do use a regular refrigerator from tie to time. It started with me bringing my bottle of Estee Launder Bronze Goddess with me on my Hawaii vacation. It was a tradition, so unlike all other perfumes, for which I would make a decant for traveling, Bronze Goddess was coming with me for the last 10 years. I would be worried that my perfume would get too warm during the day when we were away, and an A/C was out, so I started putting it into the fridge. And then I discovered that I enjoyed spraying it cold. So, since then, on unpacking in a new vacation spot, a bottle of perfume would immediately go into the cold/

Over time, I found a couple more perfumes that I enjoyed sprayed cold from the refrigerator in summer. As an example, I could offer Jo Loves No. 42 The Flower Shop.

Recently, I bought one more perfume refrigerator-friendly perfume. I brought it with me to my Hawaii vacation, and I enjoy it immensely: a year after I told you how much Moroccanoil‘s Dry Body Oil and Hand Cream’s scent is associated for me with Hawaiian vacation, the brand came up with a Hair & Body Fragrance Mist with that scent. Of course, I had to get it and bring it with me to Big Island. Now my Bronze Goddess isn’t all lonely and intimidated by those large wine bottles.

In case you were wondering about the scent of that Hair & Body Fragrance Mist, it is very close and recognizable compared to the body and hair products, but I think that this is the case where in the oil-based form it both smells slightly better and lives longer. But I wouldn’t be able to spritz those oil products cool from the refrigerator. So, al-in-all, it was a good find for my vacation. And it combines perfectly with the body oil.

Do You Ever Put Perfumes in a Fridge?