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?

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

Rusty the Cat: On Camouflaging

Of course, I’m not being serious: if anything, it’s not Rusty who has chosen his surroundings (or to live with us, for that matter). But I just want to share some of the pictures I collected for the topic. And I hope you’ll agree: he fits in perfectly, doesn’t he?

In other news, today I got my second vaccine shot. Now I can tell that most people who had their shots and to whom I complained about pain in my shoulder after the first one had no idea what I was talking about! I can feel something in my arm now, and I still might get side-effects in the upcoming days, but it doesn’t come even close to how much my first shot hurt! I’m glad that I’m done for at least 6 months (I really dislike needles).

I do not plan to change how I live even after I’m fully vaccinated: I’ll keep working from home, limit visits to stores and continue to wear masks. We might start seeing more friends, but other than that… Nah. Life has to prove to me that it’s safe on the outside.

Sunday Self-care, Episode 1: The First Year into Quarantine: Embracing Silk

Time Traveler: What year is this?
Me: 2020
Time Traveler: Oh, the first year of quarantine…
Me: … The … WHAT?

 

For a while, I tried to come up with a title for this first post of the (hopefully) new series to be a variation on the phrase “sleepy bliss” or “blissful sleep” constructed from the names of the two rival brands of silk goods. But I gave up having realized that “Blissy Slip” or “Slippy Bliss” would be probably even less transparent for my English-speaking readers than my last year’s exercise with “lilac” and “luck.” So, instead, I decided to play on the joke/meme that resonated with me when I saw it the first time last year and many times since.

* * *

With everything that was happening in the last 12 months, I’m a lucky one: my work kept me so busy all that time that I barely noticed most of the negative sides of the situation we all are more or less in. I did miss my Hawaii vacation and some gatherings with friends, and for a while it was scary… to watch dwindling supplies of TP and, joking aside, just getting out to get groceries for the next couple of weeks. But in general, I didn’t get the anxiety many others experienced. On the other hand, I didn’t get the “free time” that many people weren’t sure how to occupy while staying at home.

But as time goes by, and probably mostly because of a couple of big time-measuring life milestones that have occurred within these last 12 months, more and more I started thinking about getting that free time to take care of myself. This series is the result of my attempts to follow through with these thoughts.

* * *

For some time I was noticing that in the morning my face would have some creases from the contact with a pillow. While telling myself that, probably, it attested to how soundly I slept without turning or changing my position, I didn’t appreciate what I saw in the mirror, especially since I started having video meetings in the morning – often before those signs of agi healthy sleeping would disappear from my cheeks.

I don’t remember how the idea of a silk pillowcase came into my orbit, but once it formed, I, in my usual manner, being skeptical about most miracle cures and hacks, spent probably months reading reviews and trying to figure out whether to buy myself one and, if yes, which one. I could have easily kept doing it until now, but one day a friend of mine decided to show me her new favorite pillow (I was in the process of looking for a replacement pillow). I didn’t like the pillow at all (it was one of those new creations stuffed with shredded foam-like material), but I noticed that it had a silk pillowcase. When I asked my friend about it, she, completely casually, mentioned that she switched to those a while ago and now wouldn’t even consider sleeping on anything else. That did it for me.

I still wasn’t sure which brand to go with: if you try looking for any comparison reviews, you’d end up with very similar affiliated-links-ridden articles equally praising both “luxury” and “budget” buys (all claiming that though they will get a commission from you shopping through those, opinions, surely, are their “editors’”).

When in doubt, I tend to pay rather more than less (which is not necessarily a winning strategy but it has its merits). So, I went for the “luxury” side, but out of the two more expensive brands, Blissy and Slip, I’ve chosen Blissy because it was offering a better deal.

Rusty and Blissy Silk Pillowcase

If you happen to come across ads for silk pillowcases recently, you are probably familiar with all the claims they make (some of those ads are just outrageous, but I won’t dignify them even with negative publicity). Regardless of whether you have tried them yourself, you might be curious what I think about those claims.

After sleeping on silk pillowcases for three months, I can tell that I didn’t notice any changes with my hair, I do not have enough evidence yet to say that it feels cooler (I’ll see how it performs in summer), and I can’t say that it had any effect on acne outbreaks I still have from time to time. But I’m not going back to my old(er) cotton pillowcases, though, I have to clarify that those were of a very high quality, which might explain my hair not being overly impressed by the change. Then why?

Because not a single morning after switching to Blissy silk pillowcases had I seen any signs of my pillow on my cheeks.

Rusty and Blissy Silk Pillowcase

If you are considering this experiment, read multiple “infomercials” to understand in principle the difference between a “silk pillowcase” and a “silk pillowcase” and choose what you feel comfortable with quality-, price- and reviews-wise. If the description doesn’t mention something, assume that whatever that something is, it is not present in the particular item.

I have several suggestions in addition to those that you’ll read everywhere:

  • Resist buying golden, pink, plum, etc. colors: “marbled” or “tie-dye” colors will hide spots in-between washes better than solid colors (and there will be spots – from your skincare, tears, etc.). Mine are white and silver, and I regret my choice.
  • Disregard the “hand wash” instructions: put it into a mesh bag and wash it in a washing machine in cold water on a gentle cycle. Notice: I’m not saying that you could do it; I mean that you should: the manual washing itself is fine, but short of just hanging a pillowcase straight after rinsing and letting it drip, there is no way to remove any water from it without causing wrinkles that are much harder to iron out. And a washing machine’s centrifuge does it with much less wrinkled results.
  • Speaking of ironing, the way you see all those smooth and shiny silk pillowcases in the ads, you will never see them on your bed (unless you steam a new pillowcase from the box to remove folds and put it on your pillow “as is” without washing first, which I wouldn’t recommend): the picture on the left is a pillowcase freshly laundered and ironed while still damp – and I love ironing and do it very attentively. But whatever the result of the ironing was, the next morning (or a couple of days later) your pillowcase will look like the picture on the right. Which doesn’t seem to matter in how it affects your skin, but it doesn’t look pretty.
  • Since you will probably iron those pillowcases at least in the beginning, to make it easier, take them out of the washer, turn inside out and iron on the setting that feels right to you: on my Rowenta iron I would have been ironing on the recommended “Silk” or “the lowest” setting ’til the cows come home.
  • If you decide to buy anything from Slip, don’t spend time looking for coupons for the brand’s site: I don’t remember seeing any in a long-long time. Your best bet would be to get 15% off for your first purchase by subscribing on their site or wait for a general beauty sale at Nordstrom, Sephora or other similar stores that carry Slip brand.
  • If you decide to buy anything from Blissy, if you don’t have an account with them yet, use this link to subscribe and get a coupon for $20 off your purchase (if you use it, I’ll also get a $20 off coupon). But if you were to buy anything this week, don’t use that coupon because they have the best sale I’ve seen so far – 35% off with the coupon BLISSYMOM35. The Nordstromrack site also carries Blissy pillowcases, but always check which of the two has a better price (including S&H, since both have a minimum for free shipping).

Rusty and Blissy Silk PillowcaseEvery time I look at the picture above, I start yawning. I should probably go and check how my Blissy is doing…

 

Disclosure: Just to be clear, this post is not sponsored or compensated in any way by any of the mentioned brands or stores.

Images: my own

Saturday Question: What Was Your Starter Brand?

Last week when Portia posted about the most worn L’Artisan Parfumeur perfumes, I noticed that several commenters mentioned that they started their niche perfume stage of the hobby from that brand. That’s why I decided to run it as a formal Saturday Question.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #62:

What Was Your Starter Brand?

Many of us came to this hobby through the years of using 1-2-5 (or more) “OTC” perfumes at a time. But then there was a moment when we discovered niche perfumes. And usually the next step would be hunting for samples of perfumes from that brand and, more often than not, becoming a lifelong fan of the brand.

So, it would be interesting to know whether it happened this way for you and, if yes, what was the brand and whether you still love and wear it.

My Answer

Formally, I could have named Jo Malone as such a brand since back 15+ years ago it was still kind of niche-ish brand, and the only place I could try it was at a local Neiman Marcus, to which I didn’t dare to go for a long time (unless accompanied by a family member visiting from another state where she worked at NM). The fact that back then they didn’t accept any credit cards but their own wasn’t helping either. Only later, when they started accepting all American Express cards, I remember venturing into the store to pick up a bottle of Jo Malone’s perfume, fearlessly presenting my Costco AmEx card to a quite snobbish SA.

I think Jo Malone is still the most represented brand in my collection. I still like and wear perfumes that I own, and whenever I can I check out their latest releases. But these days I rarely like any of them enough to buy.

But the true niche brand – something that I’ve never seen or even heard of before and then got to investigate – was Amouage. After reading multiple reviews, I bought a set of five 1 ml vials from Aedes de Venustas – and that was a beginning of long relationships with the brand.

I love, own and wear several Amouage perfumes (to name a few, Gold, Dia, Lyric and Memoir), and having been given a choice of getting perfumes just from one brand for the rest of my life, I would have been really torn between Amouage and Ormonde Jayne, with probably Amouage winning because of Gold that reminds me a lot of my most favorite perfumes of all times – Lancome Climat (I’m just not sure that these days I would be able to settle on one perfume, even if it’s my number one, but I wouldn’t be able to choose too many alternatives from Lancome – that’s why it wouldn’t have been a contender in that cruel hypothetical choosing game).

But as to Amouage newer perfumes… I should probably do a separate post about it. Soon.

Rusty and Amouage Epic

What Was Your Starter Brand?

“All that is gold does not glitter…”: Parfums Dusita Le Pavillon d’Or

As I started writing this post, it dawned on me how prescient were the lines that inspired Pissara Umavijani to create Le Pavillon d’Or: “… to live more happily in just any confinement” (Montri Umavijani, a Thai poet and the perfumer’s father). In just several months after the perfume release, the whole World suddenly had to slow down and start learning how to live in confinement and if not be happier but at least survive.

Le Pavillon d’Or is very fitting to the circumstances: it is not manifestly shiny, so you don’t have to rationalize to yourself wearing it while working from the kitchen table or blitzkrieging through a grocery store in search of TP, but it possesses an internal beauty that elevates your spirit and contributes to the feeling of well-being and… well, happiness.

Dusita Parfums Pavillon d'Or

Do you remember how Parfums Dusita brand appeared on the scene? It came seemingly from nowhere around 2015, released 3 perfumes by a new perfumer, and those perfumes were offered at a price point that not that many niche brands dared to put on their price tag back then. Especially not those without some history/standing in the community or at least done by renowned “noses.”

While I do not think that perfumes (or any luxury goods for that matter) should be accessible or even reasonable in their price setting, I remember being slightly annoyed by that launch. (Little did I know that from that point on there will be dozens of brands springing up like mushrooms and flooding the market with perfumes at astounding prices.)

But since back then many blogs that were reviewing and discussing new perfume launches were still around, I got curious about the brand because of the general buzz those reviews created. So, as soon as I got a chance, I tried those first three perfumes and … let me put it this way: I still didn’t get either the prices or the buzz. I guess, the fact that two out of the first three perfumes were built around ingredients I usually dislike (agarwood and tuberose) didn’t help.

The next three perfumes that were released I found interesting, but I didn’t want to wear any of them – so, I decided that Parfums Dusita wasn’t “my brand” and could have never tried another perfume from this brand if it weren’t for my perfumista friends. Cynthia (The Fragrant Journey), after in comment to her wonderful review, I expressed interest in testing Le Pavillon d’Or, had shared with me the remaining portion of her tiny sample. And it was enough for me to fall in love with Le Pavillon d’Or.

Dusita Parfums Pavillon d'Or

I’m a little confused with the notes for Le Pavillon d’Or. The brand’s site has the following list (explanations in parentheses are mine): Wild Menthe Citrata (bergamot mint), Honeysuckle Extrait, Boronia Absolute, Frankincense Green Sacra, White Thyme Oil, Vanilla, English Oakwood and Sandalwood Spicata (Australian sandalwood). I do not smell mint, but Cynthia in the review linked to above shares what she discovered about the ingredient used. Fragrantica, Luckyscent and the perfumer’s older posts on Instagram also mention fig leaves, heliotrope and orris butter. I wouldn’t recognize heliotrope (in general, not specifically here), but I thought that I know both fig and iris enough to distinguish them in the composition, and I can’t. So, I’m not sure if they are there, were there before but not anymore, or if they are created by some other ingredients that I don’t recognize as such. Le Pavillion d’Or starts as a very green perfume – a tad herbal, slightly bitter and somewhat uplifting. It develops through sheer resinous frankincense into a woody base, though my nose isn’t sophisticated enough to recognize which wood. But when you like what you smell, it doesn’t really matter what you smell, does it?

Rusty and Dusita Parfums Pavillon d'Or

The pavilion is golden not because it’s made of gold. Imagine a late-Spring morning when a rising sun reflects in dewdrops on the wooden beams of a pavilion making them sparkle through the leafy branches of the old tranquil park.

 

Images: my own

In The Search For The Perfect Mandarin

How often do you see print ads for a fruit? I’m talking not about store fliers, delivery service leaflets or motivational magazine collages about healthy eating, but actual ads that promote fruits. Not too often if you ask me. So, when I saw the ad in The New Yorker magazine, I registered it as something unusual.

Sumo Citrus

I’ve been seeing so-called Sumo Citruses/Mandarins for at least a couple of years, but it wasn’t until my vSO told me its story that I decided to try it (before seeing that ad). If you’re up to reading, here’s an article in the Los Angeles Times from a decade ago that gives a lot of details. But in short: it’s a Japanese hybrid citrus fruit known as Dekopon. Due to the high susceptibility to “exotic pests and diseases,” this fruit is prohibited from being imported into the US. It took a private grower many years to get trees grafted with legally imported branches cleaned off diseases, in quarantine, before those could be planted, legally but in secrecy, on 430 acres in California. So, now these are legally produced locally Dekopon fruit given in the US name Sumo (I really hope Japanese are secure enough not to claim “cultural appropriation”).

I like Sumo Citruses, but since they are two-three times more expensive than regular mandarins, I won’t eat them casually but will be buying them several times during the season (January – April).

What makes me even more fond of Sumo mandarin is that this hybrid is a “grand-child” of my most favorite mandarin – Satsuma. And my quest for the perfect mandarin perfume is based on it since I know it the best.

Of course, when the perfume pyramid mentions “mandarin,” it doesn’t usually clarify its variety or origin. So, I went just by the note in my database and selected a bunch of perfumes that I either remembered had that note as a prominent one or I thought they might.

* * *

I’ll start with samples.

Mandarin Perfumes Samples

From time to time, Antica Farmacista decides to step up from their usual ambiance scents ampluá and produce “Fragrance for Home & Body” or even “Le Parfum” version of their scents. These appear for a short period and then disappear, never to be seen again. I’m not sure whether they are different from Antica Farmacista’s Room Sprays. But if it says “body,” I feel better about spraying them on the skin. Vanilla Bourbon & Mandarin was one of such scents. I got it as a part of the sample set offer a couple of years ago, and I’m not sure if I tested it before, but now it seemed like a good occasion to finally get to it. Notes (according to the brand’s site): Crisp Satsuma Mandarin, Sweet Clementine, Orange Peel, Heliotrope, Bright Verbena, Spicy Bourbon, Warm Amber, Bourbon Vanilla, Labdanum Balsam. It’s a nice ambiance scent with juicy citrus in the opening and not overly sweet but boozy vanilla. I think it would be perfect in a diffuser, but there is no good reason to wear Vanilla Bourbon & Mandarin as perfume.

* * *

I’m not sure whether Atelier Cologne still produces Mandarine Glaciale: it’s “out of stock” everywhere I checked. But even if it has been discontinued, I won’t be upset since I’ve never warmed up to their Collection Azur, as a part of which Mandarine Glaciale was released. I don’t know if subconsciously I thought less of the collection because it appeared at Sephora first, or if it actually was less interesting than Atelier Cologne’s earlier lines. But whatever it was, I’m done with the sample. It is not mandarin I am looking for.

* * *

Pont Des Arts A ce soir was a “false positive” in my list: the promised “green mangarin” note was completely indiscernible. I’m mentioning it here only because it got into the “group photo” before I decided it wasn’t a part of this exercise.

* * *

BDK Parfums Citrus Riviera has an impressive list of notes (from the brand’s site): Essence of Moroccan Neroli, Essence of Italian Mandarin, Essence of Italian Lemon, Fig Accord, Moroccan Orange Blossom Absolute, Jasmine, Strawberry Neo Jungle Essence, Eucalyptus Essence, Everlasting Flower Absolute, White Musk, Patchouli from Indonesia, Vetiver from Haiti and Tonka Bean Absolute. For my nose, it opens with a nice citrus accord – bright, juicy and happy. I don’t get any fig, which surprises me since usually it’s a note I easily recognize. Citrus Riviera settles down to a drier composition with recognizable vetiver, but it’s not too insistent, like, for example, it feels for me in Hermes’s Vetiver Tonka. All the announced florals are probably there but blended without any prominent outliers. I’m a little bit annoyed by the promise of the strawberry note: as much as I do not trust my nose, strawberry is one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable aromas, so why to even mention it if it’s not really noticeable? It’s not like they put in some natural and extremely rare/expensive strawberry enfleurage or strawberry butter and now want us to know that, right? All-in-all, I like this perfume but… I’ll explain it while talking about the next sample.

* * *

If it weren’t for the current situation, for this post I should have got a sample of Tom Ford’s Mandarino di Amalfi. But I don’t know when I get to the store next time, so I decided to go with Neroli Portofino, a sample of which I had at home: after all, it has a mandarin note listed. I like this perfume, same as many other Private Blend variations in “blue bottles.” But I always felt like all these aromatic, aquatic, etc. perfumes, while quite nice and not simple or linear, in my book were “lesser” perfumes than, let’s say, chypres, orientals or even florals. So, leaving aside the absolute price of each perfume (e.g., Citrus Riviera is much cheaper than Tom Ford’s offerings), I could never justify paying any luxury brand’s “standard” price for their citrus perfume. I know, it’s not rational, but this is how I feel.

* * *

For someone who proclaims herself not a citrus perfumes fan, I discovered that I had quite a few perfumes featuring mandarin in my collection.

Mandarin Perfums

I had a small bottle of Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien for the last 10 years, and I’m not done with it yet. I don’t think it has enough mandarin to be a contender in my search – it’s more lemony and rather astringent than sweet. But today when I smell it, I like it much more than I did back then. I blame the industry! Compared to hundreds of releases of similar genre perfumes in that period, this 40-years old creation seems like a masterpiece.

* * *

Jul et Mad Aqua Sextius was a wrong choice for this post since official notes on the brand’s site do not even claim mandarin, but that note got into this perfume description in my database from Fragrantica – and that’s how it ended up here. If you haven’t tried this perfume and are curious, read Lucas’s review. From me, I want to add that I find it a little bit on the masculine side (but not overly) and that I think it wears much better in warmer weather. And if you like the scent, the combination of its longevity with the available bottle formats (7 ml, 20 ml and 50 ml) makes the price almost tolerable.

* * *

Hermès Eau de Mandarine Ambrée is one of my most favorite Hermes perfumes. And it is a great mandarin. Recently I wore it “hajusuuri-style” – 8 sprays. It produces a pleasant burst of mandarin in the opening, and in a couple of hours, it’s just a sheer amber with a hint of the initial fruit. I do not mind: the cute bottle that I have can easily fit into the smallest purse for the re-application (in case I ever again need to go anywhere for longer than a couple of hours, that is).

Rusty and Hermes Mandarine Ambree

Prada Infusion Mandarine is probably my perfect mandarin perfume. It combines wonderfully juicy and very realistic mandarin with some recognizable aspects of the “Infusion” line, which makes it more interesting in the drydown than many other citrus-centric perfumes. I plan to finish this small (8 ml) bottle in the next couple of months and will probably buy a FB – luckily, it can be found for a very reasonable price online.

* * *

I previously published a post about Atelier Cologne Clementine California (When Life Gives You Clementines, Enjoy Them), but I want to mention it here again since, as I admitted then, I have no idea what fruit I smell – it can be either a mandarin, a clementine or both. But I enjoy it every time I wear it, and it’s one of those perfumes that I would consider repurchasing if I ever go through the bottle that I have. It is extremely juicy, bright and uplifting.

Mandarin Samples and Perfums

Have you tried Sumo citrus? Do you like mandarins? Do you have a favorite mandarin perfume?

 

Images: my own

Saturday Question: Do You Dream About Perfume?

We all dream in our sleep. Some people remember what they saw in their dreams, some don’t. They say, as we get older, we dream less. It doesn’t feel like that to me, but it might be.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #58:

Do You Dream About Perfume?

I don’t mean constantly and repeatedly – that would be probably extremely unusual even with our shared hobby. But have you ever had a dream that involved perfume – buying, smelling, finding a “treasure trove”?

My Answer

I came up with this question a while ago when I woke up remembering a dream. In that dream I found myself in a deceptively recognizable perfume store (it’s a non-existing one, outside of the dream I cannot place it, even though I still remember a little how it looked). As I was walking around, there were many perfumes in different parts of the store, grouped by their brands, I think. I was evaluating what I saw and planning where I’d start testing, but as it often happens in a dream, I was constantly interrupted by something else and couldn’t get to smelling those perfumes. And then the store was closing…

Another time I remember smelling something in a dream. I woke up thinking that it was an unusual experience: I didn’t remember ever smelling anything in my dream before. I even told about it to my vSO. Unfortunately, I can’t remember now what it was that I thought I smelled in a dream.

Speaking of dreams (not perfume-related though), once I had a dream that I was telling something to Rusty, and suddenly he replied. I mean, he didn’t meow but actually said something. At that point, still sleeping, I told (? him),“It’s clearly a dream! No, cats do not talk!” To which he replied defiantly, “Yes, they do!” In our household this “Yes, they do [talk]!” became a recurring joke.

Rusty Sleeping

Do You Dream About Perfume?

Rusty the Cat: On Favorite Note

When Rusty was younger, he used to like perfumes… or at least some of them. But as he got older, at some point he started avoiding close exposure to strong scents. He seems not to mind any of my perfumes when I apply them to my neck, especially after the initial application settles down. But he strongly objects to my testing on wrists, and whenever I put something on a wrist and try to hold him, he runs away indignantly shuddering.

But it looks like he still has some favorite scents. See what happened when our friend brought us a freshly cut piece of cedarwood.

Rusty and Cedarwood

I should probably try and see what he thinks about Dyptique‘s Tam Dao. Speaking of which… When did you try it last? Is it still any good? A bottle I have is of the EdT, and it’s about 11 years old. I used to like it, especially on my vSO, but I’m not sure if I tried any version of EdP. I’m sure it has been reformulated at least once since it has been launched because of IFRA regulations, but I don’t know how far the current iteration is from what I used to like.

A Gift Horse’s Mouth?

When was the last time you won anything at all? How about anything big? (It is kind of an introduction, but I am curious, so please share if you can.)

A couple of days ago I got a winning lottery scratcher from a local realtor with whom I’ve never had any dealings, but who keeps sending those red envelopes every year for the Chinese New Year. I’m not sure why: neither of us is Chinese, and she never recognizes any other holidays, for example, Christmas or New Year. But since she sends them, I dutifully scratch them. I haven’t won anything in the last 10 years. Until this year. I won $2 (two dollars!). I have no idea where I could get my prize, and My vSO suggested just to keep it for good luck. So, after persuading Rusty that he would get a treat if he stares into my phone camera for a couple of seconds, I put the ticket back into the envelope and pinned it to my documents board.

Rusty and Lottery Ticket

Last Saturday I asked you about giveaways you do not (or do) enter. One of the rules that I usually follow but forgot to mention is that I do not participate in social media giveaways that require providing my personal information, especially if it would be linked to my social media profiles that I try to keep separate from my RL persona. So, when a couple of months ago on IG I saw a draw for a gift certificate to one of the online perfume stores, which required my real name and address, I almost passed it by… but then realized that not only I could participate in it outside of IG, but also I’ve recently purchased perfume from that store, so none of the information that was required for the entry was new to them. I entered and forgot about it.

You can probably imagine my shock when in one of my Undina social accounts I saw a post that announced me, a person, as a winner. The first second I thought it was some type of a clever targeted/personalized ads that insert something saved in your cookies. I never click on those but do notice them. But then I worked out that it was quite unlikely that information was available to be used like that… and the next day I got an official confirmation in the email that my entry – one of more than 100K submitted – in fact, won the prize. $200 to buy whatever I want in the store.

I do not have an extensive wish list, if any. Given that sum of money to spend wherever I want, I would have probably come up with an idea or two. But trying to figure out what to get from a particular store proved to be an undertaking. I know, I know, it’s not even a First World problem. But I didn’t want to get just anything because I’m not good at either swapping or selling anything, so I’d be stuck with whatever I got.

After going back and forth, I decided on a bottle of perfume that was in my Top 10 Perfumes in 2020L’Aimee by Parfums MDCI. As of the time of that post, I liked it but didn’t plan on buying it. But as I tested it again (before I knew I won the prize), I liked it even more. And I didn’t have any perfumes from this brand in my collection. So, it seemed like a good choice, and I got that bottle just in time to think of it as my birthday present from the Universe.

If you were in this hobby 8-10 years ago, most likely you remember perfumistas being excited about the next new launch from Parfums MDCI but being conflicted about the “special edition” that for about $150 on top of the not that affordable regular bottle price offered a resin bust bottle cap. But since that additional decorative part wasn’t the only available option, its existence didn’t cause any high emotions. Those busts looked quite nice, and I remember thinking that “maybe one day…” If you’re interested, I found a story about these busts creation and inspiration.

Parfums MDCI

Parfums MDCI stand in Harrod’s

L’Aimee, created in 2020 by Nathalie Feisthauer for the brand’s new series “Painters and Perfumes,” isn’t offered in the “bust presentation,” so I wasn’t even tempted. But also, I didn’t expect what I got.

The box itself is made from very thin and flimsy cardboard. I don’t like the quality of the print, and it can’t even be argued that it’s a reproduction of an older painting because the same print on the bottle itself looks much nicer.

The insert for protecting the bottle and holding it in place looks cheap, and on top of that it’s cut the way that you cannot open or close the top flip without moving insert itself out of the box partially – you can see where that top part stops otherwise, and there is no possibility to close it (those uneven edges in the round hole are results of my attempts to do so).

And to add insult to injury, the bottle cap is beyond cheap. I didn’t take a picture, and it’s not obvious from photos, but it’s made from an extremely light and cheap-looking plastic painted in gold. It doesn’t have any heft when you hold it in your hand. It doesn’t have either a magnetic closure or a nice “gripping” layer inside that would normally snuggle the sprayer.

I compared them side by side and discovered that L’Aimee bottle and box are amazingly similar to those of Mimosa perfume by Monotheme Fine Fragrances Venezia sent to me as a gift by Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle). It does not sit well with me that perfume 75 ml of which retails for $250 has a packaging of a $50 perfume.

 

 

But what about the most important part, the perfume itself, you might still be curious even after all the points stated above?

I like L’Aimee. I wonder where Fragrantica gets their notes, but their list is more “colorful” than the one I can see on the brand’s site. I’m not sure if Fragrantica embellishes or clarifies, but many of the ingredients on their list are accompanied by the origin qualifier (e.g., it’s not just “jasmine” but “Egyptian jasmine” or “Australian sandalwood” instead of just “sandalwood”). I’ll go with the brand’s list: bergamot, mandarin, blackcurrant bud, rose, jasmine, champaca, lily-of-the-valley, orange, heliotrope, orris, raspberry, peach, cedarwoood, vetyver, patchouli, amyris, oakmoss, sandalwood, vanilla, amber and musks.

I often state that my nose isn’t sophisticated enough to pinpoint specific notes in perfumes, even when I have a list of those in front of me. But with this perfume, I would expect that all but very experienced “sniffers” wouldn’t be able to do much better. It’s a perfect blend that can be appreciated (or not) as a whole.

L’Aimee is done as a classic perfume – well-rounded, without unexpected twists or complex development. I’m not saying that it’s linear. No, it has noticeable development during its lifespan (it is quite tenacious), but it is an expected progression of the scent living on your skin, without any surprises. The composition seems muted, which you don’t expect after reading the list of notes. But the way I visualized it in my head (and it is not based on any scientific knowledge of the process, just an image): if you were to take a couple of dozen of paints from a painter’s palette and mix them all, you’d end up with some kind of a brown color, more or less mudded (dependent on what went into the mix). So, this overly polite blend of 20+ notes reminds me of that paint-mixing experiment.

L’Aimee is not a controversial perfume: I don’t expect either a strong “dislike” or “love” for it. To be fair, it doesn’t go into the territory of “pleasant scent” either, where anyone at least does not mind wearing it. I mean that it is complex enough not to be a universal pleaser, which (I realize that) might be a good thing only in perfumista’s book, but I wanted to mention it.

Do I regret getting L’Aimee? No. Since I like the fragrance itself, I still think it was a good choice as a gift. Would I recommend it? Given a chance (meaning “for free”), try it – just out of interest and to see that I was right in its description. As to buying it… I would have never paid full price for it, even before I had a chance to look at the packaging: I think it is not… well, controversial or even “just pleasant” enough to justify that price. But even with enough money to spend on any, even the quietest and simplest perfume, I would still say “No.” Because, in my opinion, when a luxury brand while selling luxury products at a luxury price cuts corners this way, they disrespect me as a customer. And to afford that they should be releasing more than a blurred classic-painting-themed illustration (I’m talking not about the box).

MDCI L'Aimee

As to the really big wins (just “material” ones – happiness, health an other more important things highly appreciated but not counted here), many-many years ago I won in the Green Card Lottery.

 

Images: my own