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: 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.

https://undina.com/2020/07/16/fantasy-vacation-scent/

Do You Ever Put Perfumes in a Fridge?

Sunday Self-care, Episode 7: Give Your Hands a Hand

Long before I got concerned with my hands showing my age, I suffered from dryness of the skin. So, for many-many years I’ve been constantly using hand creams and lotions, as well as trying to avoid subjecting my hands to any household chemicals.

Nivea Soft Moisturizing Cream

For years my go-to hand cream was NIVEA Soft Moisturizing Crème. I think that I liked it mostly for its texture and scent (though, I would have preferred the scent of the original Nivea cream in a navy tin). It was nice, it absorbed quickly, but I it seemed not to keep my hands moisturized for as long as I wanted to. Sometimes, I had to re-apply it during the night if I were to wake up and think that my hands were too dry, but I assumed that was the nature of the game.

Of course, had I spent any time looking into ingredients that were beneficial in hand creams, I would have realized sooner than not all creams were created equal. But somehow, I never doubted “old and proven” Nivea… And then, I did like the scent…

Since I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with the cream I was using, my several next explorations were all based on a scent.

Moroccanoil Hand Cream

Last summer, longing for a tropical vacation, I picked up the Moroccanoil hand cream the scent of which reminded me of my last trip to Hawaii. I liked it, and I might keep buying it from time to time, but since the scent is very pronounced, I didn’t (and wouldn’t) want to use it every night and definitely not during the day, I didn’t have a chance to notice its moisturizing properties.

Thymes Frasier Fir Hand Cream

At Christmas time, I usually crave everything fir scented. Partially, it’s because our Christmas tree, while being extremely lifelike, is still artificial. So, in addition to candles, room sprays and handwash with the coveted fir scent, last December I bought a tube of Thymes Frasier Fir hand cream. I love the scent! And it did a descent job providing moisture for my hands. But fir is a seasonal scent for me. It’s like with Christmas songs: I enjoy them all December long, but come January, they are banned in our household until the next year. So was that hand cream.

Soraya Hand Cream

For my birthday, Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) sent me (among other great things) a tube of a hand cream Plante Odżywczy from a Polish brand, Soraya. WOW. It’s the best black currant note in a beauty product I’ve ever smelled, including perfumes! If I could get it in a bottle, I would love to wear it as perfume. This 99% natural cream has nice ingredients, and I love it! But in our globalization era, there are still things that one cannot buy online and have it delivered. And this hand cream is one of those things. Maybe one day they will deliver to the US. For now, I’ll enjoy what I have.

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Hand Cream

The most recent discovery, thanks to one of my friend’s recommendations, was Aquaphor Healing Ointment. It doesn’t have any scent. It’s colorless. I do not enjoy using it whatsoever (and my vSO plainly refuses to, claiming that “it’s greasy” – it’s not). But it works. I think that my hands have never felt better than now (I mean, since I had to start using any creams). Not only I do not need to re-apply Aquaphor cream during the night, but I recently realized that during the day I feel the need to apply a hand cream much less often than I used to. And it absolutely does not interfere with my wearing or testing perfumes. So, probably for now I found my HG of hand creams. But it won’t stop me from enjoying from time to time some of the scented beauties that I have or hunt for new miracle hand helpers.

Hand Creams

Images: my own

Sunday Self-care, Episode 4: Happy Feet

Sometimes I think that at some period of my life, which for some reason I cannot remember, I was a mermaid who traded her tail for a pair of feet. I talk about the original story, not the gentrified Disney’s version. But while I do not feel like I’m walking on sharp knives, most new shoes I wear hurt for at least the first week. It happens with any type of shoes – loafers, sandals, boots and even sneakers. Same goes for shoes that I haven’t worn in a while. So, I constantly fight with calluses, blisters or corns.

Over years, I found a couple of brands of shoes that usually work for me (or at least I break them in faster), but I wont bore you with the brands: shoes are too individual to make any recommendations. I discovered perfect socks for walking and then switched to them for daily use when clothes allow. The brand is Wrightsock, type Coolmesh II: these are double layer socks that prevent blisters. For example, these crew socks.

Wrightsock Coolmesh II

For sandals and other types of shoes that are worn without socks I use a trick suggested by a friend: to prevent blisters, as soon as I feel friction anywhere on my foot, I apply a solid antiperspirant. Theoretically, there are specialized anti-blister sticks, and I used those as well, but at some point, when a favorite of mine was discontinued, I tried what my friend suggested and was amazed how well that worked. And if to get a travel size 0.35-0.5 oz, it fits perfectly in a small purse. And it is cheaper than a designated product. I tried Dove, Secret and Native. Just make sure it’s solid and not a gel or a cream.

Travel Deodorants

Speaking of wearing sandals. Last year, I discovered two new (for me) products that became a part of my self-care rituals when it comes to making my feet happy: an Electric Foot Callus Remover and Cala Foot Masks. I won’t claim that my feet are “baby soft,” but the results are good. Besides, even without returning my heels to the newborn state, I can feel slight etching on my sandals’ insoles under my heels (remember – a mermaid), so taking off too much of a dead skin probably is not a good idea for me. But I like my feet better after I gently go over any dry or uneven surfaces with this tool. And every time I use this device (once a month or so), I finish the procedure with a moisturizing foot mask. I tried both shown on the picture below, but I prefer the Sea Salt mask because the rose one smells too artificial (but still works quite well).

Callus Remover and Foot Masks

Do you have any favorite products or tricks when it comes to taking care of your feet?

 

Images: Socks – from Amazon product page; deodorants – collage with manufacturer’s photos; the last one – my own.

 

Disclaimer: This post doesn’t contain any affiliated links. All recommendations based on products I purchased.

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

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

Portia’s Bathtime Goodies

Hi there Posse, Beauty Queens Bathe! I don’t know where I originally heard it or if it is my own invention. Either are believable. I seem to be the ONLY person on Insta who has ever used it. Thing is, it utterly describes the way I feel about baths in a tongue-in-cheek way. When you want to feel totally pampered and cleaned then full submersion with a quick rinse at the end seems perfect.

Seriously, even if it’s 1am and I’m dead tired. A good steaming hot soak in a bath full of bubbles for at least 20 minutes then sets me up to sleep deeper and wake up more refreshed, smelling gorgeous. I know it feels like a lot of work (especially at ridiculous hours) but believe me, it’s worth the effort.

Portia’s Bathtime Goodies

FRONT ROW:

Olympic Orchids Amber Labdanum Bath Oil

Want to smell and feel unbelievably gorgeous? Just a few drops in the bath. It coats my skin, and afterwards there is no need for more fragrance, especially if you are going straight to bed. You can drift off in the most delicious, lightly animal amber dreams. It also works perfectly as a fixative for and amber fragrance. I particularly love to wear Mitzah by DIOR after a bath in Olympic Orchids Amber Labdanum Bath Oil.

JOOP! Le Bain

I read a Fragrantica piece about this scent not so long ago. INSTANT lemming. So, off I went looking for some. A small bottle with shower gel was less than a regular niche 3ml decant, so I splurged. It wears like a female veering barbershop, with vanilla and flowers rather than lavender. Softly resinous and not as sweet as the base notes would suggest. I’m eeking out this shower gel because it’s so precious.

Vintage Caron Bellodgia Bath Oil

This popped up on eBay about 10 years ago, maybe more. When I bought it, I thought it was a large bottle, like 150ml. When it arrived I was totally bummed, it had been expensive and come from overseas. Then the smell hit me. O M G! One drop is all I need to put in the bath, and the whole apartment is suddenly awash in the divine smell of vintage Bellodgia. As you can see, the bottle is about halfway empty. When it’s gone, I’ll have the amazing memory of having owned such lavish luxury.

Tabu

OK, I know. This is not a big ticket item. Reminds you of great aunt Agatha who you despise. Stop your bitching a get some. FragranceNet has this regularly for under US$5 before coupon. It smells like a soft version of vintage Tabu and gives excellent bubbles. Another good base for all your ambers but also works beautifully with woods, resins and leathers.

Reem Acra

This fragrance came out to general acclaim by perfumistas in 2012. Radiant white floral with enough bells and whistles to make it interesting as well as lovely. You can buy a bottle at FragranceNet of the perfume for peanuts nowadays and stock up on Shower Gel US$4 and Body Lotion US$7 before coupon! Remember to GOOGLE FragranceNet Reem Acra 90ml and follow the link to get the 35% discount code applied. Currently you’ll get a 90ml EdP, Shower Gel and Lotion for around US$25! (Not affiliated, just LOVE DISCOUNTS!)

L’Occitane Neroli & Orchidee

The only one on my shelf I’m yet to use. It was a birthday gift, and I loved the fragrance when it came out. Will be very excited to have myself a bath in these bubbles.

BACK ROW:

Guerlain Champs Elysees Bath Balls

These are PRECIOUS! A gift from my mate Scotty a couple of years ago. I have only had two baths in them, and the smell is so damn glorious. Every time I go to use them though my TOO PRECIOUS button kicks in. Just seeing them and having them is enough.

Cuir Vetiver

Bought on one of our holidays. Can you believe Yves Rocher isn’t in Australia? I think it was a stand alone store in Budapest, and I went a bit crazy. Their product is super affordable, smells great and makes excellent gifts in a world of multinationals. One of the downside to being able to get almost everything is that it denigrates the fun of shopping overseas for friends. What’s not to love here? Leather and vetiver with a few extras for cohesion. Perfect base for Penhaligon’s Halfeti Leather, vintage Trussardi donna and YSL Jazz.

L’Artisan Premier Figuier

I seriously wish I’d bought 100 of these bottles when I saw them deep discounted as they were being phased out of Australia. I did buy about 20 with a few Chasse and Amber in the mix and then gave most of them as gifts. NOW I’m kicking myself because they are so beautiful. Fig is in a few of my favourites like Premier Figuier & Extreme, Neela Vermeire Ashoka and Mugler Womanity.

L’Artisan Caligna

I just bought a pre-loved bottle of Caligna off a friend’s FB sale doc. I’m yet to wear the fragrance over the shower gel but have high hopes for extended longevity. This is the old style bottle that I bought at the discounters a while ago. The plastic wrap had started to come apart on the box, so I took it as a sign that it wanted some use. Another fig-centric fragrance but this time with lavender and woods. This also works beautifully as a base for CHANEL Boy and Caron Pour un Homme.

LUSH Rose Jam

You all know about this ridiculously beautiful rose shower gel? It is virtually free! Of all the LUSH products Rose Jam is by far my favourite and most used. It is a rich, jammy rose and amps any rose fragrance or can be worn alone as a soft rose wash that lasts a couple of hours by itself. I’ve lost count of how many bottles of Rose Jam I’ve gone through but it must be 10 or more.

Tabac Original

This was my fathers fragrance, and this year marks 30 years since he died. When I saw this freaking enormous bottle for sale, I bought two. Of all the money spent over my life on fragrance and accoutrements Tabac Original is still one of the best scents around. Not only does it smell fantastic but nowadays it is also a rarity to smell someone wearing it. Barbershop done right.

Sea Salt Mimosa

I have a mate, Andrew, in the USA who I send stuff to, and he repacks and forwards it on. TBH I have no recollection of where I bought this and a couple of other C O Bigelow shower gels from. They do some really interesting scent combos though and give huge bubbles in the bath. This one is salty mint. YUM! The fragrance doesn’t last on skin though spa my enjoyment is bath only. This is a good thing if I don’t want my bubbles to wreck my fragrance later.

 

As you can see, I have a formidable arsenal of potions. Part of my lavish bathing adventure is picking the scent.

What do you bathe or shower with?

Portia xx

Not Such a Silk Road…

I have “dysfunctional relationships” with Ormonde Jayne (brand): while I love it and have been loyal to it for many years, it seems that it doesn’t love me back. I do not mean me as a blogger – that is normal and expected even from a much “blogger-friendlier” brands. But I always had a feeling that they didn’t love me enough as a customer either.

Being a fan, over years I bought numerous perfumes directly from the brand, both full bottles and travel sets, in store and from their website, full-priced and discounted. And in all these years, with all perfumes bought, I got a single free sample.

I do not think it happened by chance: it seems like a rather well calculated business approach. And while I disagree with it (I would expect that someone who’s already paying for one perfume from the line is more likely to buy another one, given a chance to try it, but what do I know about business?), obviously, it has worked well for the brand, at least for the last 10 years that I’ve been following it. So, I do not hold it against them.

Recently, I got a scare: on one of the blogs I follow I read about a possible discontinuation of Ta’if – one of my top three all-time favorite perfumes. It was a false alarm, we confirmed right away that it was still available on the brand’s site. But I immediately decided that, just in case, I would need to get a back-up bottle of it soon, which I recently did, taking advantage of the sale the UK site had.

Even having to pay for the shipping via DHL (dangerous goods and all that), the price was much better than I could get from the US distributors. And since I was already paying for the shipping, and because who knows when I will get to travel to the UK next time, I decided to participate, again, in the brand’s favorite game: buy a discovery set. This time it was a discovery set for their newest line – La Route de la Soie (The Silk Road).

 

Ormonde Jayne La Route de la Soie (The Silk Road)

 

The collection includes four already released perfumes and three perfumes that will be launched this Fall.

Byzance

Top notes: Blackcurrant Buds, Milky Accord, Pink Berries; middle notes: White Wood, Wood of Cashmere, Iris Butter; base notes: Moss, Suede, Madagascar Vanilla, Balsamic Accord.

Damask

Top notes: Blackcurrant, Italian Lemon, Pear; middle notes: Rose, Jasmine, Pink Berries; base notes: Mineral amber, Musk, Vetiver.

Levant

Top notes: Bergamot, Mandarin, Tangelo, Rose Petals; middle notes: Lily of the Valley, Peony, Orange Blossom, Jasmine; base notes: Cedarwood, Amber, Musk.

Tanger

Top notes: Ylang Ylang, Italian Mandarin, Italian Bergamot; middle notes: Rose Petals, Wood of Cashmere, Neroli; base notes: base notes: Moss, Dry Amber, Madagascar Vanilla, Balsamic Accord.

Indus

Top notes: Blackcurrant Buds, Lychee, Nutmeg; middle notes: Persian Rose; base notes: Musk, Chinese Patchouli, Incense, Armenian Plum.

Xandria

Top notes: Rum, Rosewood, Apple; middle notes: Ceylon Cinnamon, Tonka Beans; base notes: Dry Amber, Musk, Guaiacwood, Earthy Accord, Oudh.

Xi’an

Top notes: Black Pepper, Nutmeg; middle notes: base Cedarwood, Rhubarb; base notes: Musk, Indian Sandalwood.

 

If you are in the mood for reading reviews, you’ll easily find several for the first four, and Neil (The Black Narcissus) has just posted a quick review for all 7. If you were to ask me, for myself I liked Tanger (cheerful and the most classical-Ormonde-Jayne perfume from the collection) and Byzance (I don’t know how, but for my nose it has the same strange “hot iron note” that I like in Serge Lutens’ Gris Clair), and I think Xandria smells nice on my vSO. Damask is quite pleasant, I’m just not sure if it’s different enough from other roses I already have (though, since the FB price isn’t that bad, it might be worth trying if you are looking for an ambered rose). The other three… None of them was offensive or even unpleasant.

 

Rusty and Ormonde Jayne La Route de la Soie (The Silk Road)

 

If these perfumes are ever offered in OJ’s new 30 ml format, I might be tempted to buy a bottle or two. If no, then most likely we’ll part our ways once the samples are gone: even though I still have warm feelings toward the brand, I think they are doing just fine without my support.

But do I think this set is worth buying? It depends.

If usually you do not buy perfumes for testing, or if Ormonde Jayne perfumes have never worked for you, you can safely skip this set.

I’m convinced that it is not worth £42 (plus shipping), which the brand does not offer to redeem even partially against a full bottle purchase (I know, it works for them, but I’m trying to be a voice of reasoning for others who are not in love with the brand).

BUT

If you are an Ormonde Jayne fan, as I am, and you have a sampling budget, I would suggest you took advantage of their current private sale*: until September 7th, this set is offered at £30, including free worldwide shipping (other sets are also on sale). These are generous 2 ml spray samples in a nice box. As far as sampling goes, not only you could – you probably often do do worse (at least, it’s true for me with those $4-$6 + tax + S&H 0.7 ml dabbers from Luckyscent and other similar places). And since it’s a very new collection, you should be able to partially recoup your losses would you decide to sell it after testing or offer it in a swap.

 

* If you are in the US and have a credit card that doesn’t take a fee for foreign currency transactions, check if their conversion rate is better than PayPal’s (true in my case – I used a Capital One card). Also, if for whatever reason the online checkout doesn’t work for you, contact the UK support directly (customerservices@ormondejayne.com).

Disclaimer: No affiliations whatsoever: I’m just a slightly grumpy customer of Ormonde Jayne (I paid the full price for the set!) and a happy customer of Capital One.

 

Images: my own

Portia’s Theory of Fragrant Relativity

Hi there, ULG Perfume Buddies. I have a theory. Well, I’ve called it a theory, but that’s because I suffer delusions of grandeur. It’s just a thing that’s been rattling around in my brain for a while. It didn’t really have much fom till I mentioned it to some mates, and they all piled on with thoughts and japes. It was kind of out-of control. What came out of it was a crystallising of my thoughts, and then I thought it might be fun to discuss it with you all.

In 20-40 years time, the perfumistas will be reminiscing about their love for perfumes from Juicy Couture, Jessica Simpson, Agent Provocateur, Lady Gaga and Benefit.

They will dream of fruitchoulis, calone and rose/oud combos like we do about oak moss and musks.

The prices of these scents will skyrocket on the future equivalent of eBay, and we will finally get our long lost fougere, chypre and galbanum rich beauties for next to nothing.

Now, I also have a confession.

When I heard that Agent Provocateur had gone bust, I went straight to FragranceNet and bought two 100ml of three from their range. Maitress, Lace Noir and Blue Silk. Then I went searching high and low for their original Agent Provocateur EdP, found two bottles of that for quite good prices and am awaiting their arrival. Finally, I saw Fatale Intense in my local chemist and snaffled that too.

NOW I have to find somewhere to put the damn things…

Also, have you noticed Jessica Simpson frags getting harder to find? I might have panic bought some of them too.

 

 

The only bottles already in my collection were original Agent Provocateur EdP and Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights (not pictured). They have been long standing regular use perfumes in collection, and I’ll be sad to not have them. So, buying them makes sense, right? Backing up your disappearing beauties is a perfumistas stock in trade. Everything else, though, is a freaked out blind buy. There is no rhyme or reason to this. Suddenly the urge was upon me, the hunt was on, my cart full, checked out and sent. It’s like all my impulse control goes flying out the window.

Do you ever panic buy stuff just because it’s going, going, gone? What do you think of my Theory of Fragrant Relativity? What will you want to hoard?

Portia xx

 

Image: my own

Use it or…

This post is not about one of the favorite perfumistas’ topics of [not] hoarding perfumes we love. It’s a great topic, and I have no doubt we’ll talk about it again soon. But today I want to talk about body care products.

As much as I love good smelling products of all kinds, it might be challenging to follow a fragrant shower gel or a body lotion with perfume application. So, it’s a good idea to have products that match perfumes we love. I mean, it’s good as an idea. But with my perfume usage pattern where I wear another perfume every day, it’s not feasible to stock my bathroom with matching products.

The next seemingly good idea would be to get just those products that match one’s holy grail perfumes. It might work for some people who wear their favorites often, but since my most favorite perfumes are those that I wear only for special occasions, I would have not too many opportunities to enhance the experience by using a matching product. And yet… I couldn’t resist and got several wonderful though completely unnecessary items.

I thought about incorporating those body lotions or shower gels into my daily routine separately from matching perfumes but from the past experience I know better than to trivialize special things by relegating them to mundane use.

Last week, as I was going to put on one of my all-time favorites Ta’if by Ormonde Jayne, I thought it would be a great opportunity to use a wonderful matching bath and shower crème that I got a while ago as a gift with purchase.

 

Ormonde Jayne Taif Shower Creme

 

Several years ago Vanessa warned me what might happen, but I put those words of wisdom in the back of my mind: back then my tube was still fresh and smelled divine.

Today that at one time great bath product still has some vague pleasant aroma (unlike the one Vanessa portrayed in her post), and it still feels nice on skin. But it doesn’t smell of my beloved Ta’if, which probably isn’t such a bad thing since now I will be able to finally use it up since it doesn’t clash any more with perfumes I wear.

But you’ve been warned. And keep in mind: body creams have even worse shelf life.

 

Images: my own