In the Search for the Perfect Lavender, Take II

It’s not exactly true: I think I found my perfect lavender perfume – Lieber Gustav 14 by Krigler. Since I published that Take I post, I finished the decant of Serge Lutens Gris Clair and bought a bottle of it. And I’m still contemplating getting Fourreau Noir if I ever get somewhere where I don’t have to pay $300+ for the bell jar. Maybe I should go for a travel spray.

    

Rusty and Lieber Gustav

 

But lavender is still on my mind, and I seek it in many different forms. Earlier today, for example, I had a cocktail with lavender syrup. It was probably the best part of the dinner.

For the recent 3-4 years I kept planning to go to a lavender festival. But every year I was either traveling somewhere else at that time or would remember about it only when I saw some lavender at a store – and it was already too late for that year: the main flowering time would be over.

Before I proceed with my story, I want to remind you (if you haven’t read it before and/or didn’t follow the link I shared above) that lavender came into my life relatively late, so I wasn’t really familiar with many aspects that probably would be obvious to those of you who grew up in countries where it was widely used.

 

Lavender

 

A couple of years ago I bought a lavender bunch at a local farmers market and, as I do with other flowers, put it into a vase with water. It smelled nice but a week later it started dropping buds and, what was even worse, the stems were rotting. I cut off everything that was in water, fasten the remaining stems with a blue rubber band, and put that improvised lavender sachet into my linen closet. Unlike it happened with Le Labo’s Rose 31 (if you weren’t around 5 years ago, see my post Know-how [not to]: Freshen up a linen closet), this haven’t fended me off lavender, though, as it was drying, it kept losing its petals, which made it a little messy… But I put it on some napkin and kept moving that napkin from place to place when I needed to take something out of the closet or put in.

 

Rusty and Lavender

 

The next year, when I got another lavender bunch, I was smarter: I hanged it to dry in the spare bathroom and then, once it was dry, I used one of a bigger organza bags that I’ve got either with a purchase of something else or from a swap with a perfumista friend to put the bunch in to prevent a mess.

 

Lavender Sachet

 

You can’t imagine how proud I was coming up with that novel idea! What’s more, my vSO was very impressed with what I’ve done. I was (and still am) using it in our bed putting it between pillows during the day. By now I have probably half of it just bouncing in the bag loose, but it still smells nice though very faint. I bet Rusty can still smell it strong.

 

Rusty and Lavender Sachet

 

And then one day Robin from the NST posted in her Daily Lemmings this:

 

Diptyque Lavandier Wand 2018

 

I was gobsmacked: it was so beautiful, so elegant, so… in a different league compared to my creation. I don’t remember if it was still available when Robin posted it, but by the time I thought of getting it, it was sold out. And since it usually means that it isn’t coming back, after researching it online and discovering that, even though there were many similar products offered, nobody does it exactly the way Diptyque did, I started planning on trying to make one myself next time I get a lavender bunch.

I studied instructions, found ribbons to use (2 different sizes and colors!), and was waiting for the lavender season… It must have happened this summer, right? Every weekend I was on a lookout for the main ingredient for my DIY project – without much success. I don’t know how but I managed to miss it again. I blame my work schedule. I should try again next year.

Meanwhile, I keep adding from time to time a drop or two of lavender oil into my sachet. And I also found and was enjoying Lavender Lip Mask from Bite Beauty – a brand that makes my favorite Agave Lip Balm.

 

Lavender Bite Lip Mask

 

Images: all but Diptyque’s wand – my own

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(Pillow) Talking myself into buying perfume

I like makeup but do not wear it much, so finally I persuaded myself to stop buying eyeshadows, eyeliners and other products that I never finish up or even use enough before I feel they are too old to touch my skin.

So, not to tempt myself, usually I do not read magazines, make-up-focused blogs or groups and do not watch YouTube tutorials and such. But from time to time I can’t help being exposed to some cosmetics-related news. Over years I noticed that one of the most effective marketing moves with me is reading that something “iconic” is back in stock.

I do not have a good explanation why it affects me – after all, I didn’t care about those products when they were popular and still in stock. But it’s a fact: I immediately feel like I need to at least try that product.

This was exactly what happened to me with the Charlotte Tilbury’s lipstick Pillow Talk: a couple of years ago I read that it was being finally re-issued. Before than I’d never heard of either the brand or that lipstick but for some reason it sounded (and looked on pictures – ha!) really appealing.

 

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Lipstick Ad

 

If it weren’t for years of resisting the urge to blind-buy perfumes, I would have bought Pillow Talk lipstick online months ago. But I thought I should try it first. Time passed, and I either couldn’t remember the brand name when I came to a store, or that store wouldn’t carry the line. Then recently I almost payed a double of that lipstick’s price for a set of the lipstick, lip liner and gloss from that collection in the last Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale but others beat me to it (hopefully, knowing what they were buying), so I finally made an effort, found and tried it at Sephora.

I’m almost positive that had I tried it on my own before reading anything about it and hunting for it for that long, I wouldn’t have bought it. But I was conditioned, and I couldn’t resist.

 

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Lipstick

 

I’ll spare you my attempts at swatches: you can find a lot of those online if you’re curious. It is a nice lipstick that doesn’t suit me completely but I wanted to get it, I did, and I’ll use it up. Eventually. But it directed my thoughts toward perfumes: do I ever do the same there?

I think with perfumes I exercise better restraint, and a news about any perfumes being re-launched, if anything, would rather make me more skeptical since I’d suspect reformulation at play. And reissue means that it’ll be available for a while… so why to hurry? But when I hear about perfume being discontinued, that’s when I suddenly get anxious and start talking myself into grabbing a bottle while I still can. A couple of days ago, after learning about Parfums DelRae closing, I sifted through four or five pages of search results looking for perfumes that were still available. I knew that a couple of perfumes that I wouldn’t mind getting were sold out long ago (I tried looking for them before), but I found 3 perfumes that were still available, and only after that I checked my database for what my impressions of those were. To my surprise, one of the perfumes that I could still get was the one that I previously tried and liked a lot – Coup de Founre. The “surprise” part comes not as much from the fact that it was still available but from reading my thoughts on that perfume from four years ago (that’s when I tested it last): I liked it and thought that I needed to test it from a spray bottle… but then I never did because the only store that used to carry the brand in our area – Barneys – dropped the line a while ago. Had it not been discontinued now, I would have probably never got to buying it. But facing the complete extinction of Coup de Founre, I pounced.

 

Rusty on a Pillow

Will you miss any of DelRae’s perfumes?

 

Images: the first one – brand’s ad; the rest – my own

Healing Bite

Biting your lips is one of the common causes of chapped lips. As well cold weather is. It’s never cold where I live, and I do not bite my lips. Nevertheless, I constantly have a feeling that my lips are dry. I’m not sure of the real to imagined ratio of this problem, but since it feels real, for the last many-many years I’ve been using one product or other to keep my lips moist.

I am more or less covered during the day (you might say, literally) since I wear lipstick and do not mind re-applying. But at night it became a hassle: I’d put on some lip product before going to bed and then would wake up a couple of times during the night to use it again.

Up until 7 month ago I’ve never heard about the BITE Beauty brand. And then either as a GWP or a birthday gift from Sephora I got a set with mini lipstick, lip crayon and a dime-size double-packette of lip scrub and lip balm. Both make-up items did not work for my skin tone, so I quickly re-homed them with a friend, but I kept treatment samples for “maybe one day…”

“One day” occurred soon when I misplaced the regular tube from the night stand. Since it was late, I didn’t feel like sending the search and rescue expedition downstairs, so I just applied some from the sample and went to bed.

When I woke up early next morning, one of the first conscious thoughts was: “My lips still feel not dry… Wow.”

Next I did what I often do with perfumes when I fall in love with them: I bought a full product even before I finished the sample.

Bite Agave Lip Balm

From the brand’s site:

It’s handmade with natural and organic ingredients, including agave nectar, shea butter and Madagascan vanilla CO2 extract, to help deeply hydrate. And, its nurturing base, made with lanolin and beeswax, helps seal in moisture.

Agave Lip Balm is just amazing. In six months I’ve been using it I had to re-apply it during the night just a couple of times but usually I just use it once before going to bed. It doesn’t feel greasy or sticky. It is not shiny, but lips do not look completely naked. Agave Lip Balm has a very faint vanilla scent. At $18 for a regular tube, it is the most expensive lip balm I’ve used so far, but I think it’s worth it. I’m on the second tube now (it lasts for 3-4 months of nightly use), and I plan to get the next one before the current one is done.

If only I could find something like that for hands…

Image: My own

They had me at “Hello” – and now “Goodbye”

How was that for an attention grabbing headline? But if you think about it, you’ll appreciate me not using just the last part (I was tempted a little but then I thought of all that wolves business and decided not even to joke about such serious matters).

But back to the topic. It is true: Lipstick Queen had won me over when I saw online the first (for me) lipstick from the brand – Hello Sailor. I liked everything – the color in the tube, the name, a pin-up-girl-style packaging and, as I confirmed later, the tint on my lips. I’m on my third lipstick now; and once it’s finished, I plan to get the next one.

 

Lipstick Qeen Hello Sailor

 

In four years since I said “Hello” to the first sailor, I found several more colors that I liked and adopted (see Black Lace in Tropics and Frog Prince(ss)’s Kiss). Both of them enchanted me with the name and the color in tube but after that I tried them first and then bought.

Recently one more lipstick from this brand caught my eye. Since now we have a Lipstick Queen counter in one of the close-by department stores, I went from testing and liking the color to appreciating its name: Goodbye.

 

Lipstick Queen Goodbye

 

Describing a lipstick’s color is probably an undertaking comparable to describing perfume’s scent. Though I’m not good with either, I’ll try. Goodbye is darker than my other Lipstick Queen favorites, with more pigment – so it covers lips better than more sheer colors – but it has a lot more shimmer than my other darker gloss sticks (such as Laura Mercier’s Black Orchid), so it is more forgiving, and it gives a more even coverage. The color on the lips is dark berry or plum with brownish undertone and bluish sparkle. One coat gives enough hue to the lips; and then with each additional swipe you can build it up to a darker color.

Either a tube or swatches’ pictures do not do the lipstick justice. But I showed you the former, so now I’ll show you the latter as well (in comparison to two other lipsticks I mentioned in the post).

 

Lipstick Queen Goodbye swatch

 

Other than with perfumes, do you pay attention to products’ names before you buy and use them?

 

Images: My own

Frog Prince(ss)’s Kiss

Did you grow up with the Frog Prince or the Frog Princess? Not only I (and my whole generation, I think) grew up with the female version of this character but I don’t think I heard about the existence of the other one until I was in my late twenties. It’s especially surprising because we had other Brothers Grimm’s tales translated and published. It might be that the local version – The Princess Frog (or Tsarevna Frog) was one of the popular and loved folk tales: there were books, movies, animated films and predecessors of the modern audio-books – vinyl records. There even was a painting by the famous Russian neo-romanticism artist Viktor Vasnetsov.

Vasnetsov Frog Princess

Just in case anybody is curious, you can read The Frog Princess in English. For the rest I want to mention that, interestingly, there were no kisses involved as well even though, as you can see, the heroine of this tale is older than characters of Grimm’s version. But our folklore also had that kissing frog theme played out in many ways.

***

Lipstick Queen is one of my favorite brands: I love their quirky names and colors (I previously posted about Hello Sailor and Black Lace Rabbit), and I’m constantly on the look-out for their new products. So when last year I saw their Frog Prince lipstick (since then they’ve launched two more product in that line), I had to have it!

Lipstick Queen Frog Prince

While I liked the idea of a green lipstick, and from my experience with the lipsticks mentioned above I knew that on lips they do not stay blue or black, I wasn’t sure what color I’ll get from that green beauty, so when I saw the holiday set of mini-lipsticks, one of which was Frog Prince, I leaped.

Lipstick Queen 3 Lipsticks

The first thought that went through my mind when I looked at the swatch was that mini-size was a good decision: with my pale complexion green lips would look rather unhealthy. But since it was in my hands I had to try it. The transformation was amazing! On my lips it became pink – sheer but with enough pigment. That frog clearly needed a kiss to reveal its true self. I can see more princes in my future.

And since I can’t show you the results of that transformation, at least I’ll leave you with the picture of Rusty trying to paw that frog.

Rusty and Lipstick Queen 3 Minis

 

Images: my own

Black Lace in Tropics

If I were to name the best material for tropical clothing, I would be choosing between cotton, linen or silk, and I would be looking at it from the point of the comfort of wearing it in the heat and aesthetic. But, as I discovered, in the beginning of the last century there were serious debates in the Great Britain on that subject from the prospective of health and hygiene in tropical climates. People were writing serious articles in the Journal of Tropical Medicine arguing pros and cons of those fabrics that I mentioned above plus wool, about which I wouldn’t even think despite the existence of the term “tropical wool” (now I actually know what it means). The best color for tropical clothes was also widely discussed: wearing less heat-absorbing white/light colors was supported by one camp, while the other one advocated the idea of mimicking “black” skin (for the health reasons).

Also, it was interesting to learn that Burberry was producing and advertising clothes for working and traveling in the colonies, and that those weren’t cheap back then either.

Burberrys' Tropical Clothing Ad

From when I was a child, I knew that skin doesn’t “breathe” in clothes made from synthetic fiber (one of those wisdom that is passed from the older generation and usually isn’t questioned). A couple of years ago I had a chance to actually prove it to myself: as I was using a steamer on the clothes I had with me on a trip, I noticed how great it worked with my wool sweaters and my vSO’s cotton shirts but was completely useless for my blouse made of one of rayon’s variations.

It pains me to see that more and more summer clothes are produced from the synthetic or semi-synthetic materials. I understand that it’s cheaper than natural fabrics but how greedy are those companies that charge $100+ for a “summer” dress made of polyester?!

So why would I bring a black lace with me on my tropical vacation? I wouldn’t have if it hasn’t been … a lipstick.

Lipstick Queen Black Lace Rabbit

When I read about the upcoming release of Black Lace Rabbit, which was “playing on the idea of “going down a rabbit hole where nothing is what it seems” (a nod to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), I immediately felt drawn to it. And since I love Lipstick Queen‘s Hello Sailor (I’m finishing my second lipstick and plan to buy the third one), I ordered Black Lace Rabbit online without trying to find it in a store first.

In a tube Black Lace Rabbit looks solid black with golden flecks but on lips, unlike those cheap Halloween makeup lipsticks, Black Lace Rabbit is just a sheer and slightly shimmering tint – like a veil over the natural lip color. It seemed very appropriate for the tropical evening attire.

Lipstick Queen Black Lace Rabbit and Hello Sailor swatches

As I was taking pictures of Black Lace Rabbit, a perfectly color-coordinated with my photo session local cat visited our lanai. I think that with his third eye he perceived how much by that time in our vacation I was missing Rusty…

Maui Cat

Images: Burberrys’ ad – from the article referenced above; others – my own

WASH ‘EM CLEAN

Long Live Fluffy Towel
And Toothpowder
And Fragrant Soap
And Fine-toothed Comb!
Let’s wash and slosh,
Bathe, dive and tumble
In basins, in bathtubs,
In ocean and river,
Always and everywhere
Hurray for Water!

As an epigraph I used loosely translated closing verses of Moydodyr – the poem for children by Russian poet Korney Chukovsky published in 1923. Moydodyr (Wash’em’clean) is an anthropomorphic washstand, a self-proclaimed commander of other washstands and sponges, who teaches an untidy boy (and the readers) “the virtue of hygiene“.

Mojdodyir

I doubt that in my childhood there were too many kids who didn’t read that poem or watched the cartoon. As Wikipedia correctly states, “Moydodyr character became a symbol of cleanliness.” But I must say that for the country, several generations of which grew up on this poem, we were quite unwashed masses. I’ll spare you horror stories about hygiene norms and routines from those times: hopefully, many of those are left in the past. But I want to share some of the less detestable but rather peculiar memories. Soaps.

I don’t know how it was in early 20s when the poem was written, but by 80s books were probably the only source of fragrant soap. Soap produced in the USSR was mostly functional but not something that would bring joy to any of your senses: usually it was a rectangular bar of some undefined light color and, if you were lucky, a faint unpleasant scent. I suspect that my dislike of natural/organic/handmade soaps has a root in those childhood memories.

Soviet Fir Soap

In today’s economy whenever I read in a product’s description “Imported”, I immediately assume that it’s a euphemism for “Made in China” so in my mind it’s a disparaging attribute: had it been a “respectable” producer, it would have been named specifically – “Made in Germany/France/Italy/the U.S./etc.” Faceless “imported” usually means “a country where labor is cheap and quality is corresponding.” But when I was growing up that property had the opposite effect: it would immediately raise the status of the item. “Imported X” was universally considered of a better quality and more desirable than locally produced X. “Imported shoes”, “imported furniture” and “imported soap” are just a few examples. Usually it didn’t even matter from where those were imported (unless it was perfume, in which case it had to be French).

If anybody was lucky enough to get them, those fragrant, perfectly molded and beautifully packaged representatives of remote civilizations “imported” soaps would usually lead a life of leisure surrounded by the finest things… in underwear drawers staying there for years – until finally making a guest appearance in the bathroom. I mean, appearance for some special guests – and only after that fulfilling their utilitarian destiny.

The situation with soaps (and other imports) had significantly improved even before I left for the U.S. Camay, Palmolive, Nivea and dozens of other soap bar brands came into our lives and became something mundane and ordinary – just like it should be. And since I haven’t lived there for a long time, I don’t know if the next spiral of craziness (all-natural, artisan and such) has reached them already.

But even now and here it’s hard to get rid of old habits: almost three years have passed from the time Rusty and I demonstrated to you the wonderful linden-scented bar until I let the first drop of water touch it. It still smells nice but I think it dried out a little while waiting for its show time.

Linden Soap And Rusty

Amouage Dia soap ended up in my stash by chance: there was a closeout sale at the online store and I just couldn’t pass on a great deal. For the last couple of years I was trying to decide when the time would be right to start using it: it’s so luxurious that it felt wasteful to open it without a special occasion. Well… It’s still in its original cellophane.

Rusty and Amouage Dia

I wanted to see what Rusty thought of the Dia soap’s scent. I’m not positive but does it look to you like he’s trying to show me the proper way of cleaning myself without a soap?