Saturday Question: Have You Adopted Any Makeup or Skincare Advice From Your Mother?

My loyal readers have probably got used by now to my not that straightforward chain of associations when it comes to Saturday Question topics. But today’s one is especially “twice removed.” I’ll explain in My Answer. Though, each of you should feel free to respond directly to the question without going into the intricacies of my train of thought.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #121:

Have You Adopted Any Makeup or Skincare Advice From Your Mother?

When we’re young, we often pick up something from our older relatives, siblings or friends. Years later, we either stick to those advices, just forget them or realize that those were not really the gospel they seemed back then.

Do you remember any of those? Do you still follow any? Or, the opposite, have you got disillusioned in some of them?

My Answer

I promised, it wasn’t that straightforward.

Yesterday I watched one of the most hilarious videos from Lisa Eldridge. I’m sure that most of you knows who she is, but unless you follow her closely or visit your YouTube subscriptions regularly, you could have missed this – and you shouldn’t! It is an extremely funny GRWM-type of video, but instead of chatting with the viewers herself, Lisa was following audio instructions from a legendary Hollywood makeup artist from 50s-60s of the previous century. I hope you’ll watch and enjoy it as much as I did.

Since I’m neither an MUA nor mekup history buff, I was, let’s put it this way, slightly less impressed by the guy himself then commenters on the video page and thought that he was a pompous dick (pardon my French), despite Lisa’s attempt at the preemptive PC spiel. And still, thanks to Lisa’s talent, the video is worth watching. A week ago I would have said that, not the least to appreciate how far we came from the time when old and [self-]important men were telling us what we should or should not do with our lipsticks and eye shadows. Today the freedom to match my lipstick to my nail polish somehow suddenly feels less significant. But I digress.

As I watched that video, I was surprised by how many of the beauty advices got through the continents and, what is even more impressive, the “iron curtain” and were passed onto me by my mother.

I won’t list all of them not to spoil your viewing, but I’ll mention one that I tend to follow decades later: Do not apply mascara to your lower eyelashes.

The reasoning for this advise was that it would make my eyes look smaller. I do not know if that is even true. But even if it is, those who know me or saw my mom’s pictures would probably agree that this should be the last of the beauty-related worries for either of us. And I think that later in her life my mother had changed her opinion and was applying mascara to her lower lashes. And yet… Not that I wear mascara too often in general. But when I do, by my estimate, my lower eyelashes stay bare 9 out of 10 times.

 

How about you?

 

Have You Adopted Any Makeup or Skincare Advice From Your Mother?

Sunday Self-care, Episode 9: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I’m sure that experiences we had with shampoos depended strongly on time when and places where each of us was growing up.

In my childhood, it was a common knowledge that you shouldn’t wash your hair too often; and thinking now about the quality of hair products we had, I’m not surprised. I suspect that a cold climate and absence of hair driers contributed to that as well.

In decades and continents that passed since, the quality of shampoos I used progressively improved. Looking back, I realize that I liked all products that I used while I used them. And every time after years of sticking to the same variety, I would switch to something else. Usually more expensive.

I went from L’Oreal and Herbal Essence to Paul Mitchel and Biolage. The first really expensive (at least in my universe) shampoo was Fekkai Full Blown Volume Shampoo. I could swear my hair got more volume and became more manageable once I braved the expense. I loved and used it for years… until it had been reformulated. I don’t know what exactly the brand did, for all I know it could have been done to save dolphins or reduce the greenhouse effect. But I could tell that something had changed. Had they discontinued “my” shampoo and released another one under a different name, I could have given it a chance. But they hadn’t. So, I moved on.

For the last 7 years I’ve been using Living Proof Full Shampoo (and conditioner). It does everything I expect from it. I like it and still manage to buy 1 liter bottles online with a nice discount – so, while still steep, the price doesn’t feel completely unapproachable.

Living Proof Full Shampoo

And then I made a mistake: I got curious about “what is out there.” Since I wasn’t paying salon prices for either haircuts or coloring, it felt only right to experiment with some luxury shampoos… I shouldn’t have. I hoped that I would try the ridiculously expensive Oribe shampoo and wouldn’t find it special in any way.

Oribe Gold Lust Repair and Restore Shampoo

I do not think that Oribe’s Gold Lust Repair and Restore Shampoo makes my hair any healthier than the Living Proof’s shampoo does. But I like more how my hair looks when I use it. Is it really so, or is it the same effect as with drinking wine while knowing that it’s expensive? I don’t know and, same as with wine, won’t even pretend that I’m sure that in blind tasting I would necessarily tell them apart. But I enjoy using it, it feels special, and I know that now I don’t want not to have it in my shower (of course, as long as I can afford it). I still plan to alternate it with my Living Proof shampoo though.

* * *

There is a moral to this story: if you are happy with shampoo you currently use, unless you have money burning your pocket, don’t go to the next price level: it’s very hard to go back. If you do not like your current product, try finding something you like more in the same price range first. And whatever shampoo you end up using on a permanent basis, try to buy the largest bottle available and, whenever possible, with a discount.

Oribe Gold Lust Repair and Restore Shampoo 1 Liter

 

Images: my own

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

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

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

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

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

Silk Face Masks Slip and Blissy

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

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

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

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

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

Slk Face Mask Slip

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

Face Mask with Cats

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.

Images: my own

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 6: Read My Lip… Care Choices

Three years ago, I shared with my readers the greatest discovery I made for my lip care.

I loved Agave Lip Balm and Agave Lip Mask from Bite Beauty and used them for a couple of years… until the brand decided to join the holier-than-thou crowd and went vegan. No. Same as fat-free or sugar-free foods are not identical to their less healthy predecessors (you might like them or prefer for health reasons or even for their taste, just don’t try to persuade me that they taste the same), lanolin-free Agave Lip Balm wasn’t as moisturizing as the one that I fell in love with. I found and bought a couple of old formula products postponing inevitable, but at some point, I had to accept that my favorite product was gone.

As I was on my last tube thinking of what to do next, I got an amazing tip from one of the YouTube videos. If you haven’t heard this yet, don’t laugh, but Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream for Breastfeeding is just amazing for keeping your lips moist all night. It’s not expensive, and it comes in small inconspicuous tubes (in case you want to have some in your purse).

I was completely satisfied with my discovery and would have stuck to using it for years to come, but in my Sephora Birthday Gift, I got a sample of Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. It was love from the first use! The one I got was the original (Berry scent), and not only it keeps my lips perfectly moisturized through the night, but it also has a very enjoyable light scent and texture.

You would think I’d stop there: I found two great products. But finding that Laneige mask made me think that I was so stuck on the loss of my favorite Agave Lip Balm that I didn’t even think to look for anything else. So, I just couldn’t resist when I saw on Sephora’s site a Give Me Some Lip Balm Set.

Lip Masks

It was quite educational to try 5 more products. I tried them without reading anything about them. While all of them are fine and quite… usable, none of them was love for me.

Sephora Coconut Lip Balm & Scrub – a strange combination, in my opinion: who on earth has come up with the idea that these two purposes can be served by the same product? I would have probably liked it more had it a more pronounced coconut smell/taste. I might finish it eventually, but it’s not something I will ever consider purchasing.

Tarte SEA Jelly Glaze Anytime Lip Mask in Strawberry Jelly has a light tint and some scent… The tint reminds me of a strawberry more than the scent. It is fine, and I use it at my work desk when I’m not wearing lipstick for a Zoom meeting. Since during the day I periodically eat or drink something, I’m not sure how well it hydrates – I re-apply it from time to time, which is fine with me. But once it’s gone – it’s gone.

Rose Petal-Soft Deep Hydration Lip Balm by fresh has a noticeable rose scent. It smells very pleasant until I apply it. Surprisingly, I discovered that I don’t like a rose in my lip products: it feels as if I had not fully washed off rose soap from my lips. I can’t complain about its moisturizing qualities, but I won’t use it if I have a choice.

Lip Fetish Divinyl Lip Shine in Nude Venus from Pat McGrath Labs is exactly what it promises to be – a lip shine with just the slightest hue. It’s not something to use at night, but during the day it has its uses – as a part of the discounted $21 5-product set. But I would have never paid its full price of $36. Almost all lipsticks, lip balms, etc. that I own are at least as nice as this Lip Shine, if not better. And most of them are less expensive.

Ilia Lip Wrap Treatment Mask is fine doing the job, but it is completely scentless and tasteless… For $26 it costs, I can buy more than a year supply of that Lanolin Nipple Cream.

My experiment has shown that with skincare I follow the same pattern as I noticed with perfumes and food: I do not like “all-natural,” “fat/sugar-free” or “clean” products (in the Sephora set all but Pat McGrath’s products were marked as “clean at Sephora”). In my book, all those properties are secondary to a good product. Quite rarely do I find something that I like among those that proudly announce their “virtues.”

I plan to keep taking advantage of the off-label use of the Lansinoh’s lanolin cream. And once I finish my small jar of Laneige, I’m going to buy the full version. Eventually, I might try their other scents: grapefruit and apricot smell nice. But initially, I’ll continue with the original berry scent, hoping that they won’t mess with a good thing that works. It is such a pleasure to use that product!

Do you have any favorite lip moisturizers?

 

Image: my own

Sunday Self-care, Episode 5: Not that Ordinary Skincare

For many years my skincare routine was quite simple. In the morning, it was a face cleanser and a tinted moisturizer with some sunscreen properties. And in the evening, the same face cleanser was used again (a single cleanse since I didn’t use too much makeup) and a simple moisturizer. Sometimes I would use a random serum sample from a GWP (though, it was just a handful of otherwise trusted brands, such as Shiseido, Dior or Estee Lauder). The most exotic item in my day-to-day skincare was a softener from Shiseido (I’m not sure why; I think I just liked the scent and the feeling on my skin).

I kept telling myself that I would start doing more once I get older… But I kept postponing it, mostly because without a good understanding of what was supposed to be used with what, in what sequence and, what was the most important, for what purpose, it felt like a big fraud and attempt to get me to pay money for something I didn’t need.

Many skincare brands’ websites have some type of a step-by-step wizard that after asking you about your skin type and age group moves onto your skin concerns. Until very recently, reading those questions, I couldn’t figure out what to choose since nothing offered as an option seemed like a serious enough concern for me to do a targeted intervention.

Today, looking back, I suspect that the may reason for my attitude was that, despite my lifelong struggle with mild acne, my skin was in relatively good shape. My skin was never dry, and it isn’t that oily either any more. Signs of aging? Sure, but who of age 25+ doesn’t have those? Uneven skin tone? Of course! All my life I had freckles that I didn’t really like but kept under control with the year-round SPF and a tinted moisturizer. Acne is a different story, but I’ll do a separate post on it later in this series. All-in-all, I was reasonably happy with what I saw in the mirror.

And then I didn’t. First, I started noticing some dryness under my eyes. Then I suddenly realized that some areas of my face have visible pores. Then, as I described in the Fun out of the Sun episode of this series, I discovered that my skin tone got much more uneven than I ever remembered it to be. All that didn’t happen in one day (or even month), but at some point I started thinking about trying to counteract at least some of these effects.

My “gateway drug” into the new skincare reality was a Glass Skin Discovery Kit from Peach & Lily. I can’t remember how I discovered it, or why suddenly it spoke to me. But the idea of having a full set – a four-step skincare routine – suddenly felt very attractive. I bought the set and then even before I finished it, I got full-size products.

Has my skin gotten even a step closer to the mythical “glass skin”? I don’t know, probably not. But I like using this brand, so I keep it in the rotation.

Peach and Lily Skincare

And then I discovered The Ordinary. Of course, I heard about it at least several years earlier, it has been raved about even in perfume blogs and was considered as some type of a skincare revolution. Since back then I didn’t have any concerns they promised to help with, I wasn’t interested. But once I became interested, I wanted to try EVERYTHING.

I read through pages and pages of blog posts and articles, viewed numerous videos and went through the Regimen Builder of the brand’s site. I couldn’t figure out what I needed. I combined multiple recommendations and bought my first batch of The Ordinary products 8-9 months ago.

The Ordinary Skincare

After it arrived, I started panicking: I had no idea what could be combined with what either inside the set that I bought or between The Ordinary and all other products that I had. For the first time in my life, I had products that among the recommendation for use had instructions “do not use with other XXX.” It was scary because I wasn’t sure whether what I shouldn’t have combined with these new ones was in the products I already had: it’s not even enough to read labels since those tell you the specific ingredients’ names but not their generic/group name. So, I didn’t use any of them for a couple of months waiting until I would figure that out. Slowly I built some understanding of how products of the set that I got could be combined, but I still wasn’t sure what other products could be used together with them.

After approximately 6 months of using The Ordinary products, I can tell with a conviction that their Caffeine Solution works: it does reduce an under-eye puffiness within minutes. Everything else? I can’t say one way or the other: I don’t see any drastic improvements, but I’m not sure what I could expect after a half-year use. What I do know is that I do not enjoy that DIY lab-style skincare where I need to work hard on figuring out the allowed combinations.

I’m not sure that I or my wallet are ready to switch to Sisley or La Mer (while I still have doubts in my mind as to how much the topical solutions can do), but I think that my next stop will be brands that do at least some work of combining ingredients into something that resembles a finished product. I have many higher-end skincare samples from my recent epic GWP haul, so I plan to go through them figuring out if I want to give any of those brands a try. What I mean is, I know that it’s impossible to get any real results from a trial version of the active product. But since I have my doubts as to the effectiveness of any products, at least I can try to choose those that I enjoy using.

 

How do you build your skincare regimen? Do you have a good understanding of the ingredients that the products you use have? Or do you rely upon someone’s recommendations? Or do you not care?

 

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.

Saturday Question: Are You Tempted by GWPs?

You can make this question as much or as little about perfumes as you wish.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #64:

Are You Tempted by GWPs?

I’m not sure if it is a common practice for the B&M stores or sites that you shop from regularly, but in the U.S., beauty departments, brands and stores periodically have “events” during which they offer “gift with purchase” (GWP). If where you live it also takes place, do you time your purchases to such events? Are you buying anything you didn’t plan to because you want to get a GWP? Maybe not the complete purchase but something as an “add-in” to reach the required minimum?

A bonus question: have you ever found anything (perfume or a skincare item) that you wouldn’t have tried otherwise but now like and use?

My Answer

Twenty something years ago, fresh in the US, when I saw a printed ad for Estee Lauder‘s GWP at Macy’s, I couldn’t believe that it could be true: in my native country each of the pieces offered free with any $25 purchase would have cost probably half of that amount. A co-worker, to whom I showed the ad, confirmed that it wasn’t a trick and even offered to give me a ride to the store after work. That day I bought my first bottle of Tuscany Per Donna (I tried it before and liked). And I was perplexed by the fact that they were giving for free all those wonderful travel size goodies. I don’t remember what was in that GWP, but for many years after that I was using cosmetics and skincare from Estee Lauder trying to time my purchases to their GWP events. I stopped doing that when most of the items in those gifts became make-up items – and I didn’t have much use to them.

I’ve never bought anything more expensive than $5-$6 that I didn’t plan to buy if I needed something extra to get to a free shipping or GWP that I really wanted to get, but I don’t remember ever buying anything just to get a GWP (though, on a couple of occasions I’ve been tempted to persuade myself that I needed something right away – usually I was able to resist).

With perfumes, I usually try to wait for a percent off since those perfumes that I like usually do not come with anything that interests me.

Recently, as I started using more make-up and skincare, and especially since it is more difficult to test new products these days, I started following more closely different sales and GWPs events… When I was placing an order at Bloomingdale’s about 10 days ago, I knew that I was getting a lot of “goodies” – that’s why I decided to make that purchase in the first place. But when I started getting all the packages with what I ordered plus all the gifts, it was something unreal. I felt like…

Have you ever had a dream in which you would come across something wonderful, something that felt like a treasure – rare perfumes or coins or sweets or something else that in your dream seemed magical? And when you would wake up and realize it was just a dream, you’d feel disappointed. It felt like that dream but without the waking-up part. In all years I’ve been playing this game, I’ve never managed to get anything like that. That was a very unusual combination of a gift with any purchase, then Mother’s Day GWP, plus 2 cumulative gifts from Bloomingdales, plus GWP from SpaceNK. Now I have a lot of testing to do.

Beauty Samples

I got all these promotions after reading a newsletter from the GWP Addict blog. They mostly cover sites that specialize in skincare, but sometimes those overlap with online stores that carry perfumes as well. And, from what I can see, even though US-oriented, it covers some international sites as well.

 

Are You Tempted by GWPs?

Second Sunday Sample: Tom Ford Soleil Brulant

As I’ve said many times before, I’m a Tom Ford fan. So, whenever the brand releases new perfume, I jump. And this weekend I drove to the nearby shopping mall to try the newest release from the brand – Soleil Brûlant. I’m glad that a friendly SA was there, so I managed to get a handmade sample (normally these days you cannot get any, because, “you know, we’re in pandemic,” and it’s not like take-out or even eat-in food that you put in your mouth, it’s much more dangerous if an SA would make you a sample of perfume that contains more alcohol than required by CDC for hand sanitizers).

New Soleil Brûlant releases sun-kissed florals warmed by amber – evoking the opulent, golden sun beaming over private islands. Your own private summer.

That was a quote from the brand’s advertising video. And, in my opinion, it sets up this perfume to fail. I do not mean globally or related to sales, but rather from the fan-base prospective (and since it doesn’t look like Tom Ford’s PR works with “Influencers,” it might backfire). What you smell is not what you’d expect to smell based on that description.

You know the type of reviews where the reviewers describe minute-by-minute how perfume smells on their skin? I never really understood that approach… until I smelled Soleil Brulant. Even for my nose, which isn’t the most accurate or educated, a lot is happening in this perfume within minutes.

Notes deciphered from the brand’s site: mandarin, bergamot, pink pepper, orange blossom, black honey, amber, resins, wood, vetiver, leather and incense.

Tom Ford Soleil Brulant

From the nozzle I smell mandarin, which I like very much and anticipate smelling on my skin, so when upon spraying I cannot detect it at all, I feel slightly disappointed. What I smell instead is some roasted nutty or maybe coffee note followed by slightly mentholated sweetness. It is replaced by scorched woodsy smell (maybe burning incense?). And resin. Then about 30 minutes into the development I can finally smell some citrus! Very briefly. Then wood returns. A couple of hours later, I can smell something that my nose qualifies as “tobacco,” but I know that sometimes that is how what is called “leather” smells to me. Since honey rarely works on my skin, and I do not like orange blossom, those are notes that I usually recognize. But not in Soleil Brulant. I don’t question their existence in this perfume, and I believe that some sweetness that I’m experiencing comes from it. But both those notes are not as prominent to me as I smell them in other perfumes, both when they work for me or don’t.

I don’t know in which Universe this would be considered summer perfume. OK, it is summer perfume in terms that its name describes summer (everywhere I see it translated as “Burning Sun,” in my head I call it “Scorching Sun”), but what I smell I wouldn’t either associate with that season or wear during it. But I will try to do it at least one – just out of curiosity.

As a conclusion, I do not think Soleil Brulant is bad perfume. I find it original and not boring. But I’m not in love with it, and I don’t think I would have been buying it even at the lower Private Blend’s price level, but definitely not as their premium tier price of $350 for 50 ml. I still think it will sell well, not in the least thanks to that golden bottle (I don’t like it, but I read many praises for it). I also wanted to note that if we all keep buying these perfumes and cosmetics, someone at Estee Lauder will be able to afford not just a private summer on a private island, but with a little effort maybe even a private sun. I, for one, has recently “contributed to the cause” by getting their new Sunlust Lip lip gloss from the same collection as this perfume. I do not need it. But in my mind it somehow was a precursor to my Hawaiian vacation that I really want to happen. Well, I’ve got the lip gloss – so, I’m half-way there, right?

Tom Ford Sunlust Lip glossImages: 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