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”?

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.

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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?

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.

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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?

Saturday Question: Do You Have a Perfume Budget?

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been involved in budget-related discussions at my work. I absolutely don’t enjoy those, but it’s that time of the year, and we all know where our economy is heading, so there is no escaping from these activities. No wonder money is on my mind.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #136:

Do You Have a Perfume Budget?

Do you have some set amount you plan to spend on perfumes monthly or yearly? If yes, do you fit in that budget? If no, how do you allocate money for your perfume hobby?

We all have different discretionary incomes and live in very different environments, so we do not have to discuss exact sums. The question is more generic – about the principles you apply to that area of your life.

 

My Answer

For the last several years, I was setting an upper limit to what I planned to spend on perfume-related purchases during that year. It was hard at first: I wanted to buy this and try that. And then there was an incredible price drop for something I was already thinking of. Or I would learn about the discontinuation of something I always planned to get eventually or had just half of the… 100 ml bottle left. So, at some point, once the budget was gone, I would start finding some creative ways to justify the next purchase. It has never been out of control to threaten my financial health, but I didn’t stay within the self-imposed boundaries.

In the last couple of years, I haven’t been spending the maximum I would allocate at the beginning of the year. It’s hard to name a single reason. Probably the combination of everything – the pandemic, being too busy or stressed out to test or even wear perfumes, the size of my existing collection, and, what is even more pressing, the size of the space where that collection is stored. And, of course, when you’re testing perfume No 3,000+ in your life, it’s harder to fall in love with something you’ve already smelled before (and probably own already). But I will keep allocating money for perfume purchases: if nothing else, I still want at least to try something new.

 

Do You Have a Perfume Budget?

In the Search for the Perfect Yuzu, Take II or Yuzu Obsession

Among other entertaining aspects of YouTube beauty channels that I started watching in the last couple of years, I find it especially amusing when I hear, “I’m obsessed with XXX!” (Where X is a lipstick, blush or mascara.) from creators who professionally review makeup. I always think that with the sheer number of items in each category that they cover at least 3-4 times per week, I can’t imagine when they manage to repeat wearing the same product enough time to qualify for such an exorbitant reaction.

After such an introduction, I want to confess: I’m obsessed with yuzu.

It started with a friend introducing me to Yuzu Hot & Cold Tea, which I loved, and my search for a perfume that would smell like that marmalade (I told the story here). Demeter’s Yuzu Marmalade was a disappointment. So, of course, I kept looking. And what’s interesting, after testing a handful of samples (Yuzu by Acqua Di Parma, Tacit by Aesop, Oyedo by Diptyque, Tokyo by Gallivant, Smeraldo by Sylvaine Delacourte, Yuzu Rouge by Parfums 06130, Kazehikaru by Di Ser, Peche au Yuzu by Kyse and Note de Yuzu by Heeley), I did find my perfect Yuzu scent – Yuzu by J-Scent and a “runner up” – Jo Malone Yuja.

So, I have the perfect perfume that I enjoy wearing and a perfect yuzu marmalade (I found an online store where I could buy it for a reasonable price). Wouldn’t you think I would stop there?

I didn’t. I kept testing perfumes with this note.

Yuzu Samples

Portia sent me a sample of Yuzu Fou by Parfum d’Empire, created in 2008 by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato. I like the opening mint. It’s unusual. Orange and verbena. Lemon. I’m not sure I recognize yuzu, but it still is appealing and not banal. I wouldn’t describe it as “crazy,” but unusual. Cedarwood is slightly bitter and grounding. For my nose, it has something cumin-like, though notes don’t list it. I think Yuzu Fou is more masculine than I like my perfumes.

Speaking of masculine perfumes, when I was looking for yuzu fragrances, I read more than once that Issey Miyake l’eau d’issey Pour Homme was a good representation of this note in perfumery. So, finally, I decided to buy a sample. No, no and no. Not only is it too masculine (and doesn’t smell like my beloved yuzu products), but it also has something quite unpleasant in the background, which I cannot pinpoint but would not want to smell either on myself or on my vSO. I think it’s whatever makes this perfume “aquatic.” I’ll leave this 1994 Jacques Cavallier’s “classic perfume” to others who might appreciate it better.

Yuzu Soda by Strangers Parfumerie, created by Prin Lomros in 2021, sounded promising as an idea and because of the long list of notes: aldehydes, yuzu, bitter orange, camphor, basil, cream soda, musk, petitgrain, Nashi pear, mint, rosemary, pineapple, seaweed, iris root and vetiver. It starts sweeter, then dries down citrusy and maybe a little minty. It is OK but not that memorable and is not particularly yuzu-centric. My tiny STC sample is all I need; I won’t be looking for more.

I had high hopes for Zoologist’s Macaque Yuzu Edition. It was created by Mackenzie Reilly, with notes: yuzu, juniper berries, mandarin, hinoki wood, myrrh, labdanum, olibanum, sandalwood and oakmoss. It is pleasant and quite unique, but it is more woody than citrusy and rather masculine than unisex.

The perfume I liked the most out of the bunch I tested in this round was Eau de Yuzu by Nicolai Parfumeur Createur (did you know that they’ve changed the name? I didn’t realize it until recently). It’s mouthwatering citrus (literally!) – crisp, refreshing and … high-pitched in the opening, slightly woody and with just a hint of sweetness that increases in the drydown. I like it even though I don’t smell yuzu, at least in the form I recognize (since I haven’t smelled real fruit yet). I don’t think I’d wear Eau de Yuzu, but it is enjoyable and worth sampling if you like this type of perfume in general.

I wouldn’t have called it an obsession had my interest stopped at perfumes. But I liked the scent of my yuzu marmalade so much that wherever I saw yuzu as an ingredient in anything, I would immediately want that product.

It was innocent at first – a shower gel and a hand cream. The shower gel was neither here nor there: I’m still using it, but I’m not enamored of it, and once I’m done, I won’t replace it. The hand cream was a disaster, though! Forget yuzu! It doesn’t matter if it does or doesn’t smell like it. I find the whole aroma completely repulsive. The first night I applied it, I had to get up and wash it out. I wouldn’t have even mentioned these products by name, but I must warn you if you decide to try them. Both hand cream and shower gel are from the brand ShiKai (unless I’m mistaken, both were at least mentioned, if not recommended by Robin from the NST).

Yuzu Beauty Products

I was much more successful with the next yuzu-centric beauty product I bought – Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask from Saturday Skin. I love-love-love it! I mean, since my skin isn’t dry, I can’t say if it works or not, but I enjoy the subtle scent of this mask. And it has a slightly unusual texture: it feels as if it contains some citrus pulp or pieces of the rind. Most likely, it doesn’t. I read that it freaked out some people. But I enjoy using this Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask, and I’m on the second jar of it. The link is to the official site, but it is available at different retailers (run the search in your country). If you’re in the US, Amazon currently has a good Subscribe & Save price for it, and if you’re a member of Costco, the price is fantastic (but it’s sold in a set of 2). Even Rusty seems to like it.

 

 

I liked the Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask so much that I immediately jumped once the brand released Yuzu Vitamin C Bright Eye Cream (not shown in the photos because I bought it later). I don’t know what I expected. In retrospect, I realize that an eye cream cannot possibly smell yuzu or any citrus, for that matter. And it doesn’t. It doesn’t have any scent, which is probably a good thing nowadays. But I was disappointed. And its texture is denser than I like it to be in my eye creams. So, while I will go through the jar I bought, I will not be repurchasing it.

After that came the food items. Miracle Mile Yuzu Bitters – good in cocktails though not the most prominent yuzu note when used as directed. Ikinokura Yuzu Shio Salt – rather a novelty, but I like to use it when I cook salmon. Mariage Frères Yuzu Temple Tea – a lovely tea, but I’m not a huge fan of green teas.

Yuzu bitters, salt and tea

The most recent yuzu product I tried was Mighty Leaf Tea & Company Organic Chamomile Yuzu tea. I’m not sure whether I would be able to tell it apart from my regular Chamomile Citrus tea from the same brand, but it looks like I won’t have to think about it since the Yuzu one seems to be an experiment that didn’t pan out, and I don’t see it offered any longer.

Yuzu Tea

All-in-all, I don’t think that I’m done with yuzu. I still haven’t tried yuzu essential oil, vinegar or powder. And I might still find some body products that I like.

Do you have any interesting yuzu products to recommend?

Rusty and Yuzu Products

Images: my own

Saturday Question: Have You Ever Tried JAR Perfumes?

Fifteen years ago or so, probably not all but most perfumistas knew about the existence of that obscure brand. JAR perfumes were rumored to be uber-expensive (~$500-800 per 30 ml) but without the exact price because that information was guarded just slightly less strictly than perfume names or, G-d forbid, notes. And with just two known locations – a Parisian store and a salon in Bergdorf (New York) – not too many perfumistas tried those perfumes. Since then, with the raised tide of niche brands and exclusive lines, these prices do not shock any longer. Though, to be fair, I do not know either today’s prices for these perfumes or even whether the brand is still around. And I stopped hearing anything about them many-many years ago.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #135:

Have You Ever Tried JAR Perfumes?

I should have started with a more generic question – have you ever heard about this brand? But I decided to fold it into the current one. If you have tried those perfumes, which ones? Did you like any of them? Would you have bought them if money were no object?

My Answer

Out of seven perfumes JAR has in their line-up, according to Fragrantica, I’ve tried only Golconda (thanks to a generous friend who sent me a sample vial). To my nose, it was a perfect carnation, and I thoroughly enjoyed this perfume. And I wanted to love it, despite the price. But I didn’t. If they are still alive, one day I’ll visit the New York store and sniff them all. But Golconda will not be going home with me.

I thought about this perfume and came up with this question as I was wearing Guerlain Lui and thought that I liked the carnation in it very much – but probably not enough to try to hunt down a bottle of it once my decant is done. And this carnation is times less expensive than the one from JAR.

Carnations Red and White

How about you?

Have You Ever Tried JAR Perfumes?