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

Lipstick Extravaganza

What would possess anyone who does not have a YouTube beauty channel to buy 6 (six!) statement lipsticks these strange days when most of the time we spend not at home is either exercising or wearing masks (or both)?

Lisa Eldridge Lipsticks

I blame Laura Mercier (brand) that discontinued/reformulated my decade-long favorite tinted moisturizer and Tara (A Bottled Rose) who introduced me to Liza Eldridge’s blog… 7 years ago.

For many years my makeup routine was so minimalistic, and my attention was so focused on perfumes and lipsticks, that I wasn’t really interested in any makeup-centered blogs. And being a complete Luddite when it comes to YouTube, I steered clear of that medium for the longest time.

As my last tube of Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF20 in Porcelain that fit my skin perfectly was nearing its end (while already being past expiration date), I got completely baffled by the idea of finding a new suitable product without being able to go to a physical store and try it on my skin. The solution I found was to check swatches and comparisons online and try to find what beauty blogs write about different foundations.

The more I looked, the more often I was coming across YouTube videos. So, I tried watching some, but it was such a mixed [makeup] bag of presenters… And then I remembered that Lisa Eldridge was such a talented makeup artist, and that I liked her videos back when I was following her… So, of course it made sense to see her recommendations for a type of a product I tried to choose.

I came to Lisa’s site and YouTube channel right at the time she was about to re-issue her legendary True Velvet lipsticks. I read about them two years ago when she launched them first. But back then buying a lipstick without trying it at least on my palm was a non-starter, and the collection was quickly sold out anyway. This year with ALL lipsticks (and other makeup items) being sold this way, I suddenly got an urge to … well, speaking our perfumista language, blind-buy one of the True Velvet lipsticks.

As I waited for the release date, I kept watching her presentation of the different colors, swatches on different skin tones and reviews for the previous releases. And I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to buy. So, when the time came, and the color that I liked the most (Velvet Affair, probably the most neutral of them all) was sold out within the first day, I threw my usual caution to the wind and bought just six out of 15 lipsticks in the release.

 

 

Do I like them? I do. And I don’t. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever worn matte lipsticks before, so partially my dissatisfaction comes from seeing on my lips something I’m not used to. Also, wearing a “full coverage” lipstick when working from home seems a little out of place, while I really enjoy wearing more sheer ones. But the more I wear them, the more I like them: beautiful colors, very pleasant feeling on my lips and extremely nice metal packaging with a magnetic cup. And now I like choosing every day which lipstick I’ll put on, play with different lip pencils and try different methods of application. Of all shades that I’ve got, the most “dramatic” of them, Velvet Decade, I like the most, which is ironic since had I managed to buy Velvet Affair, I might have never even tried Velvet Decade.

Lisa Eldridge Velvet Decade Lipstick and Natasha Denona Glam Palette

Just in case you were wondering, as of now, seven shades are still available at the brand’s site (no affiliation).

 

Images: My own

Lipstick Queen’s Mixed Metaphor

My day-to-day makeup routine has never been too extreme: a tinted moisturizer, a setting powder, a brow gel and a lipstick. And, of course, perfume, but that goes without saying: I don’t consider it as a makeup, it’s a part of my clothing. For the first six months of working from home, with just a handful of Zoom meetings that required my video presence, I almost completely quit using makeup during a workweek. And since on rare excursions to grocery stores I would wear a mask, lipsticks stayed tucked away in a drawer for most of spring and summer.

At some point, as I decided to put on some makeup for a video-meeting, I realized how much I was missing these small daily rituals. So, I thought that instead of colorless lip balms, I could probably use up some of the numerous lipsticks I managed to accumulate before they are hopelessly beyond any mentally expanded expiration date.

In my collection, I have all possible lip products of different colors, formulations and intensity, so I wouldn’t have to search hard for something appropriate to wear, but I thought of something even better!

Almost two years ago I bought a holiday edition from my favorite brand, Lipstick QueenThe Nude Album Lipstick Palette. Visually, it is a strange combination of a vinyl album and a painter’s palette. But somehow this mixed metaphor works, and the combination feels very organic – until you start thinking about it.

 

Lipstick Queen The Nude Album Lipstick Palette

 

I loved how The Nude Album Lipstick Palette looked, and those colors suited me perfectly. But can you imagine hauling around this set?! And if I were to put on one color at home and then take with me some lipstick for a touch-up in the office, why would I not put it on to start with? So, the set was just sitting in my drawer… until I realized that now when I stayed at home it was just perfect: I could apply and re-apply any of these lipsticks throughout the day, either using the same color or going around the palette. Now every day I feel a little like an artist painting those beautiful fall colors on my lips.

 

Lipstick Queen The Nude Album Lipstick Palette

 

The Nude Album Lipstick Palette is still available online, both in the US and in Europe, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wears lipsticks in these shades: for less than the price of one lipstick you will be getting 7 colors to play with. The quality is the same as for the regular Lipstick Queen’s lipsticks. And the set looks even better in person than in photos.

 

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

Fantasy Vacation Scent

Last month one of the NST’s community projects was Fantasy Vacation Friday: “pick a destination and wear the scent that takes you there.”

It reminded me of a couple of products I wanted to tell you about that fit into this topic – even though those weren’t perfumes.

 

Sunset on Maui

 

When it comes to buying perfumes, I’m easier persuaded by a sale (15-20% off) than by a Gift with Purchase option, because usually I do not need those additional goodies that are offered with perfumes in which I’m interested. But it’s a completely different story if we’re talking about skincare and other beauty products: I love getting GWPs there.

I keep using the same products for years, so unless one of the trusted sources recommends something especially enthusiastically, I rarely try anything new. Even less so in the recent couple of years, since following our big fires in the region, I developed strange sensitivities and allergies that cause me to be especially cautious with anything new I use (because from time to time even proven products cause my skin to react with itching and not that attractive puffiness).

Probably because of that I’m usually tempted by those skincare GWP from department stores that feature many different products. This is my chance to try something new without risking wasting money on something that I simply cannot use (see, I’m not even talking about products not delivering the promise).

Also, it works well with those products that I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. For example, having longish fine normal to oily hair, I would have never even considered trying Moroccanoil Hair Treatment. If it weren’t for a small sample that I got in one of the GWPs.

 

Moroccanoil Hair Treatment

From the brand’s website:

Moroccanoil Treatment is the original award-winning hair product that created the worldwide buzz on argan oil and pioneered oil-infused hair care. Rich in antioxidant argan oil and linseed (flax) seed extract, this iconic hair treatment instantly nourishes and helps strengthen hair, leaving it shinier and healthier-looking with each use.

We all know that it’s nonsense, right? Nothing that you apply “from mid-length to ends” can do anything meaningful to your hair other than temporary mask some imperfections or help with styling. But that “treatment” smelled so wonderful that I kept using it from that test bottle. And once I finished it, I bought a full-size bottle. And then another one.

 

Moroccanoil Hair Treatment

 

And then I realized that since I was mostly attracted by the scent of the product, it didn’t have to be something I use for my hair… And that’s how I discovered Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil. It has exactly the same scent and it nourishes my skin.

I brought Dry Body Oil to my last Hawaiian vacation, and it was just perfect: with all the swimming, sweating and showering, I had enough opportunities to enjoy this scent, apply my beloved Bronze Goddess, and still wear other perfumes for evening meals.

 

 

I do not know when I will be able to get to Hawaii again, so from time to time I spray Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil right after shower, and the scent memory vividly reminds me of great vacations I had in Hawaii. I wouldn’t want to wear this scent as perfume, but it’s perfect as a body product. So recently I added to my self-care ritual one more product from this line – Moroccanoil Hand Cream.

Now I have a perfect set to go on my fantasy vacation whenever I want.

 

Moroccanoil Products

Images: my own

The (Last?) Two Queens

Lipstick Queen is one of my favorite lipstick brands. It isn’t the only brand that I wear but it’s one that is heavily represented in my lipstick wardrobe and on my blog. I won’t reveal the total number of tubes from the brand, but I’ll say that there are at least three shades that I bought repeatedly, some even more than twice.

I’m not sure what attracts me in these lipsticks the most: I like their names, I enjoy strange colors, and their formula (especially the one they use for their sheer lipsticks) works great for my lips. So, whenever I would come across the next release, I’d get curious and often end up buying it, even though my lipsticks collection is running over the space I designated to it, similar to my perfumes wardrobe.

 

 

I have a bad feeling that I might need to start looking for another favorite. First, at some point, I suddenly realized that I haven’t heard for a while about any new quirky names/collections from the brand. Then there was a slew of their products on sale at different outlets (I took advantage of some of those). Then I noticed prices going back up for several of those lipsticks that I keep an eye on planning to replenish once the lipstick in use is done. And then I went to the Lipstick Queen brand’s site to discover that it shrank to a couple of pages: no online shopping, no information about the new and existing products – just a store finder. It looks like the company that bought Lipstick Queen in 2011 lost interest in the brand soon after the original owner had left it in 2017.

I decided to tell you about two lipsticks I added to my collection last – while those are still available, if anyone wants to play.

 

Lipstick Queen Queen Bee Lip Treatment

 

I saw some sites calling Lipstick Queen’s Queen Bee a “lip treatment.” I’m not sure: I bought it as a lipstick, but as well I can imagine that I’m “treating” my lips because it doesn’t provide too much color anyway. As much as I love the idea of a golden lipstick (and have probably a couple more tubes from different brands to attest to that), my skin is too fair for it to wear on its own other than for those hot days when a real lipstick would feel too heavy, but one would like to add some shimmer to lips. Hawaii is a perfect place to wear Queen Bee (and to take a picture of it). Otherwise, it goes well on matte colored lipstick if I want to brighten it a little.

 

Lipstick Queen Queen Bee Lip Treatment Swatch

 

If to borrow terminology from photography, while Queen Bee is a like a warm filter that can be applied to one’s lips, Ice Queen is a cool filter. It also provides shimmer but it’s rather silver-toned. Most likely, I’m influenced by the name and packaging, but with the same sheer coverage I still consider Ice Queen a winter lipstick. Counterintuitively, my lips and complexion “tolerate” this cold shimmer on its own better than the golden one. But I still wear it mostly over darker colors to add festive stardust to my lips during the holidays season.

 

Lipstick Queen Ice Queen

 

Poppy King, the creator of Lipstick Queen, was planning her comeback with her third lipstick company and a new line Femme De Poppy. Last year she launched it at Barney’s… It doesn’t look like the new owner, Saks, picked it up. Today the new brand’s site is even less informative than the Lipstick Queen’s one. But I signed up for the updates and look forward to trying whatever Ms. King comes up with next. I’m really rooting for her not only because she created those great lipsticks that both work well for me and amuse me (wearable blue, green, black lipsticks named Hello Sailor, Frog Prince and Black Lace Rabbit with well thought-through packaging), but also I feel like I can relate to her: we’re almost the same age, she has fair skin, and she gets her inspiration from her kitty cat Meowsy. On the other hand, unlike her, I’m absolutely not entrepreneurial. I’ve just ordered and plan to read her first book (not an affiliated link) – Lessons of a Lipstick Queen: Finding and Developing the Great Idea That Can Change Your Life – not that I plan to change my life but I’m curious.

 

Rusty and Lipstick Queen 3 Minis

Images: my own