Saturday Question: Skincare – Scented, Fragrance-free or Unscented?

With the current trends for “clean,” “organic,” “vegan,” “eco-friendly,” “cruelty-free,” etc. beauty products, the question of scent in skincare products is constantly being mentioned. With it comes some confusion: people associate scents with being harmful, while the absence of scents seems like a safer choice. In reality, it is not necessarily true. “Unscented” products might contain ingredients that neutralize or mask scents but are themselves irritants, while naturally occurring pleasant aromas might be completely harmless. Of course, having a fragrance added to the product (either to make it smell better or not to smell at all) will not necessarily irritate your skin, same as all-natural ingredients are not guaranteed to be safe, as we know from IFRA’s regulations for even those minuscule amounts that get onto your skin as perfume application. So, the safest combination for sensitive skin would be products that contain only safe ingredients (with or without their natural scent) and no added fragrance to either enhance or hinder our scent perception of the product. This is theoretically. But what in reality? Do you care for the scent in your skincare products?

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #77:

Skincare – Scented, Fragrance-free or Unscented?

Do you care whether your skincare products have a scent (natural occurring or added)? Do you prefer it one way or the other? Do you make an extra effort to ensure that the product you’re getting smells the way you like (or doesn’t smell at all, if this is your preference)?

What are your favorite products smell-wise?

My Answer

I can’t say with certainty whether my skin is sensitive. I do have some skin allergies, but those seem to be triggered mostly by environmental factors: I started having any issues (other than mild acne, from which I suffered my whole life) only 3 or 4 years ago when we had the first huge fire in our area with air quality being classified as “dangerous” for a couple of weeks. At that point, my skin started reacting to everything, and that was when I switched to the simplest routine with a couple of products that I tolerated well. Back then the question of ascent or fragrance in products didn’t even occur to me.

A year of working from home miraculously healed my skin super-sensitivity, and I started dabbling in an enhanced skincare routine, as I described in one of my Sunday Self-care Series post. And that was when I realized that I do not enjoy skincare products that do not have any smell. The scentless Ilia Lip Wrap Treatment Mask was one of my least favorite lip products. I tolerate The Ordinary products, but mostly because those are super-simple “one-track” remedies. With everything else… I want a pleasant scent. My skincare doesn’t feel luxurious enough if I cannot smell anything at all. Among products that I enjoy, I’d name Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Gel, Guerlein Youth Watery Oil and Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask in Berry.

Lip Masks

So, if I absolutely have to (if my skin starts “misbehaving” again), of course, I will pay even more attention to what I react to, and I might decide to eliminate some of the products that do not swear not to make the situation worse (being “free-everything”). But until then I try to stick to products that provide enjoyment to all of my senses.

Speaking about satisfying all the senses… Check out this post (and a giveaway) on Jessica’s blog (Perfume Professor) for the review of the latest products from Boxwalla’s subscription.

 

How about you?

Skincare – Scented, Fragrance-free or Unscented?

Just Splendiris!

I loved the name long before I got a chance to try this perfume and before I found another favorite from the brand. I read a beautiful review Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) wrote for Spenderis by Parfums Dusita and thought that I wanted to like it. Usually, it’s a recipe for disappointment. But not in this case.

Splendiris ticks almost all the boxes for me. It is beautiful: I don’t think that it’s a universal pleaser, but if it’s your cup of tea, you don’t have to work hard on liking it. It is original: I have many iris perfumes, but Splendiris doesn’t remind me of any of them. It has a presence: while not a “powerhouse,” it is not timid, and the scent is quite distinct and pronounced. My only complaint is that Splendiris is less tenacious than I’d like it to be. But I do not mind re-applying.

Rusty and Dusita Splenderis

I’m sure that most of my loyal readers have tried Splendiris by now (so, tell me – do you like it?), but for those few who might have missed it, I want to say that, in my opinion, unless you dislike iris perfumes in general or cut out perfume testing at the price level that is lower than Parfums Dusita’s offerings, this perfume is worth trying: you might still not like it, but as far as spending money on perfume testing hobby goes, Splendiris is a solid candidate (check out Lucas’s review linked to above if you want more details).

I bought a travel set earlier this year, and it arrived packaged beautifully and with wonderful attention to details. Both Rusty and I enjoyed the unboxing.

 

 

In general, I applaud the brand for their testing and purchasing options. If you’re not familiar with the brand, you can buy a set of their first 9 released perfumes + select one of the two newer perfumes (EUR 59 + EUR 9 for S&H to the US). Those are large (2.5 ml) manufacturer’s samples, and the set includes EUR 40 voucher to be used for the future purchase. It is possible to buy separate samples as well, but I suspect it’ll be too expensive to send them to anywhere but France. They also have all of their perfumes in travel sets (3 x 7.5 ml), 50 ml and 100 ml bottles. When you buy anything but just samples, you get a choice of three additional samples with your order. Orders above EUR 150 are always shipped free of charge, and I saw once or twice a promotion where travel sets were shipped free of charge. I don’t think they have a newsletter to subscribe to, but the brand is active on Instagram and Facebook, so if you were to follow it there, you’d catch the next promotion.

 

Images: my own

Montana Parfum d’Elle 2

Montana Parfum d’Elle 2

Hi Crew, Claude Montana has long been known for out there, boundary pushing design. His fragrance Parfum de Peau was a blockbuster and since then has been spotty; at best. Some have been downright ghastly. Montana Parfum d’Elle 2 is not one of his worst. The bottle alone is worth having in your collection. It’s fabulous, madcap and ridiculous in equal measure.

Montana Parfum d’Elle 2 (2002/3)

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Aldehydes, Peach, Red berries
Heart: Geranium, Iris, Magnolia
Base: Amber, Musk, Tonka bean, Cedar

Soapy fruity floral in a big hair, cinched waist, shoulder pads and glittering bling kinda way. A definite hark back to the showstoppers of the late 20th century that arrived in the early 2000s, a full rejuvenation of the original, including a bottle change for ease of discernment. There’s even that hairspray and nail polish vibe of a 1980s salon, or a drag queens dressing room anytime since there’s been hairspray and nail polish. No one will tell you this is fine fragrance, it’s FUN fragrance. For those nights you want to be completely over the top. You know, a club night out, gala, prom, wandering around a coastal town in tourist season, anything that you want to radiate super feminised fragrance. Hell, wear it to the grocery shopping!

The note list seems a long way removed from the fragrance except the aldehydes and anonymous fruits. Everything else is buried in the mix.

I love this scratchy, flamboyant, magical mess and it gets a bit of wear around here, especially when I’m off to a drag gig. Montana Parfum d’Elle 2 is so fun it fits the bill perfectly. You’d have to be guy with rock solid confidence to wear this in public or just not care about peoples reactions. No, I take that back. This would be so unexpected on a guy and be a definite statement, also if you were into the opposite sex I think they’d swoon.

Could you? Would you Montana Parfum d’Elle 2?
Portia xx

Saturday Question: Will You Miss Any of L’Art et la Matiere Perfumes?

It is not a confirmed information, but it looks like if not a straightforward discontinuation some changes are about to happen to this Guerlain‘s line. After the last week’s perfume bottles swaps discussion where hajusuuri mentioned that Guerlain was changing bottles for this line, I saw ThePerfumeGuy’s YouTube video, in which he shared tidbits he got from several brand’s SAs, all of which boiled down to these perfumes being re-released in new, larger and more expensive bottles. And it is not clear, which of the perfumes are coming back.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #76:

Will You Miss Any of L’Art et la Matiere Perfumes?

Do you have any that you planned to buy eventually but haven’t yet? Or are there any bottles that you planned to re-purchase once you finish the current one? Do you hope for any of the previously discontinued perfumes from this line to come back?

My Answer

For the longest time, I planned to buy Angelique Noire once I finish the decant I have. I always liked this perfume, but with how seldom I wear each of the perfumes in my collection, I easily had another year before facing the decision whether to buy a bottle or try to get another decant.

When I learned about the upcoming changes, I searched for a bottle and found it available on one of the large department store’s websites. I could have bought it then and there, but of course being me I wanted to wear Angelique Noire once again… Do I have to tell that the next time I looked it was gone?

In a futile attempt to find it, among other places I visited the brand’s site. Of course, it’s not available there as well, but at least Angelique Noire is listed there with a somewhat pacifying “Email when in stock” action offered. I do realize that it might come back reformulated again and in a 100 ml (or larger?) bottle. But there is at least some hope. And that’s when I realized that I didn’t see there the first perfume from Guerlain that I bought – Cruel Gardenia.

Guerlain Cruel Gardenia

I still have probably about 20 ml left in my bottle (the photo above was taken about 5 years ago). But the thought that it might be gone completely upset me so much that I ran back to the same sites looking now for a backup bottle of my beloved Cruel Gardenia. Luckily for me, it has always been an odd one in the line, so it is the last one left from the older creations (another one still available in the US stores is Iris Torréfié, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it). Since I want it for myself and do not plan to sell for profit or split, it doesn’t matter to me that others do not like it as much as I do. So, now maybe one of the last few Cruel Gardenia bottles left in the US is on its way to me.

How about you?

 

Will You Miss Any of L’Art et la Matiere Perfumes?

Rusty the Cat: “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”

While the color of my opposable digit is probably the closest to Pantone 448 C, I love flowers. And since I can’t grow them, I buy them.

As I discovered, I’m good at both picking fresh bouquets and keeping them alive. But here comes another complication: the only place in our house where flowers can survive is our bedroom. It’s not because the atmosphere there is somehow special. But it is the only living area to where Rusty has access only in our presence.

It is important because, being left alone with flowers, Rusty either plays with them, which results in knocked over vases, or eats them, which is even worse since many flowers might be poisonous for cats.

The positive side of Rusty’s obsession with flowers is that every time he does get access to them, I get a chance to take many pictures of him: he’s so occupied with sniffing, pawing and biting them while he can that he doesn’t immediately notice me with a camera to start turning away.

 

 

As I was looking through pictures to choose those that I haven’t published before, I realized that I didn’t find any of Rusty with carnations. I should probably pick up a bouquet of carnations next.

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

Saturday Question: Do You Swap Perfume Bottles?

As many of my questions, this one was brought by something that I came across elsewhere: in the recent 356 perfumes in 365 days series’ post mmkinpa showed a bottle of Annick Goutal Musc Nomade that she got in a swap. That sent me thinking about swaps.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #75:

Do You Swap Perfume Bottles?

The question isn’t about exchanging decants or samples. But do you swap actual perfume bottles? If yes, what do you swap away? Have you ever got anything great in a swap?

My Answer

I rarely buy something impulsively. So, by the time I decide to get anything into my collection, I’ve spent some time thinking about that perfume, imagining having it, coming up with all the justifications of why I need it… And once I get that perfume, it is here to stay. I might share samples and decants from the bottle I got, but it is almost impossible for me to part with a bottle once I got it.

Not related to this, most of the swaps offered in places where I see them (NST swap meets and FB groups) would not interest me even if those perfumes were offered “for grabs” for free, so it’s completely out of question exchanging them for anything from my collection.

I need to work on letting go of perfumes that I know I won’t wear: it makes total sense to pass them onto someone who would enjoy wearing them instead of me waiting for those unloved ones to go off. But even if I manage to persuade myself to part with some of them, I think it would be easier for me psychologically to give them away than to exchange them for something else: I usually love my unloved ones still more than most of perfumes offered for swapping.

 

Do You Swap Perfume Bottles?

L’Esprit Libre by Divine NEW 2021

Hi Crew, L’Esprit Libre is one of two new releases from Divine this year along with Divine Intense, which doesn’t appear to be for sale on their site yet. Both crafted by the incredibly prolific Yann Vasnier, 91 named fragrances on Fragrantica. The email dropped into my inbox announcing the new arrival, and before I was even able to think it was checked out and on its way to me. All thoughts of lockdown business collapse, lack of funds and any skerrick of rationale deserted me. It wasn’t even a late night event, suddenly I’d bought it and L’Homme Sage, which has been on my list for years. Excitingly, they arrived in the mail this week. I’ve been lovingly looking at the pristine corrugated boxes in cellophane but decided it was time to open L’Esprit Libre up to share how it smells. It’s so rare for me to feel this kind of excitement about a new release.

L’Esprit Libre by Divine

L'Esprit Libre DivineAccording to the Divine site:

A light breeze, green and mellow with bergamot and green mandarine, then suddenly when you’re least expecting it, a ray of peony and magnolia. At its heart, a blue twinkle of iris, talc and earth, with essence and butter of iris and a leisurely finale of musk and ambergris.

WOW! Remember in the early 2000s and the world went mad for sheer feeling, radiant fragrances that had amazing projection and longevity like Elie Saab and SJP Lovely? They were almost always done with a white floral at the heart. It was like the logical next step from those enormous 1990s sheer/huge aquatics like L’Eau d’Issey and Aqua di Gio. This L’Esprit Libre feels like it’s the next progression in the story.

The citrus opening is sheer, tart and intoxicating. It starts icy cool and by the time the heart has arrived has warmed considerably. The peony and magnolia are only very peripheral, amorphous nods during the opening but make a more definite appearance well into the heart, but what does shine is an unmentioned woods note blown on the breeze. I’m wondering if it’s part of the dry rooty iris that feels sliced open as you pulled it up with earth still attached. (Edit: Amusingly, in today’s wear I have it on the back of both my hands and they both smell quite different. Left is much soapier and more floral, right features dry woods.) I’m surprised that there isn’t a mentioned green herbal note or a woody one. Maybe it’s a basil and an angelique, generic sawdust. These are what my brain keeps telling me but I’m not convinced.

L’Esprit Libre smells like a completely new direction for the Divine Parfums crew. Through the heart I definitely get the idea of breeze, or sky, or even that joyful feeling of being outdoors in the sun on a cool, breezy day. This is no loud 1980s showstopper, but it is wonderfully noticeable; I’m wondering if the more I wear it the more I can notice it? Maybe the more nuance I pick up? There’s something quite space age about it.

The ambergris is not a fecal, salty, bilge water adventure. There’s no hark to Womanity. It’s a sea breeze, not on the shore but maybe on a restaurant verandah overlooking thew sea, just a little up the hill.

For such a sheer fragrance the longevity is excellent. Projection is amazing for over an hour before it softens considerably.

Does L’Esprit Libre sound like something you might like?
Portia xx

Saturday Question: Which LE Perfume Would You Want Re-released?

This question is inspired by my story about the recent Diptyque‘s limited edition perfume Ilio that got sold out seemingly within weeks after its release.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #74:

Which LE Perfume Would You Want Re-released?

We are talking not about discontinued perfumes that we loved or former beauties reformulated beyond recognition. The question is about the true Limited Editions that companies released at some point, sold out and never brought back.

If you could tell to one brand which one of their LE perfumes you wish they would bring back for this year’s holiday season, what would it be? Just one! (As a suggestion: if someone has already named one of your “candidates,” respond to their comment in support. That would allow you to name your own choice in your comment – and see if others would support it).

My Answer

When I came up with this question, the answer immediately popped up in my mind. But since I have a luxury of a home-grown database of all perfumes I own or had a sample of at some point, I decided to be thorough. As I looked through all the LEs (I have them marked), I realized that in the last 15 years I didn’t come by too many limited edition perfumes, and out of those several that I tried, liked and bought, my initial idea was still the best choice for me. And I couldn’t think of any such perfume that I liked but missed before it was gone.

So, even though I still have some of this perfume left, I would like Jo Malone to bring back Sweet Milk from their their 2001 LE Tea Collection.

Sweet Milk by Jo Malone

Which LE Perfume Would You Want Re-released?

Mediterranean Mirage

It wasn’t even a real vacation: this year my vSO’s birthday fell on a weekday, and since we weren’t traveling this time, we decided to take a day off. In the new reality of working from home, unless we physically leave the house, it usually results in both of us taking a quick peek at work emails… and 3-4 hours later telling ourselves and each other that it’s not the right way to spend a day off. To avoid even a temptation, we decided to spend some time at Santana Row (“Silicon Valley’s premier destination for shopping, dining, living, and more.”) and even invented a goal of that visit: to actually see and touch a travel backpack that we were going to buy as a present for my vSO.

I say “invented” because we could have easily gotten it delivered to our place with a free delivery and return. But it felt like a special treat – going to a regular (not a grocery) store, touching things and choosing them not by magnifying each of the 1.5 (on average) available pictures and reading a dozen of reviews of the “I give it 3 stars because I thought it would be bigger” (despite clearly provided dimensions)-type. Not that I haven’t done all that before going to the store…

The mission was a complete success: the backpack was exactly as we imagined it based on pictures online and carefully measured our old one. It will perfectly fit two work laptops that we always bring with us to our vacation trips (those emails won’t read themselves, you know).

Tumi Backpack

Inspired by that, we decided to visit a recently built luxury wing of the mall. I’m not sure whether it happened before the COVID, or if they used that year to complete the project, but we haven’t been to that mall in a while, so both versions are plausible. My main goal was to see if there were any new perfumes to try at any of the shops that carry brands that I might be interested in.

Macy’s, through which we went to get inside the mall, smelled just awful of the cheap synthetic men colognes. It was disgusting, and we hurried to leave the area. I don’t remember when the last time was I stopped at any Macy’s cosmetics counter: for many years they’ve been so stingy with samples that I just stopped buying anything there. In general, I’m sad, but I think that Macy’s is on its way out: inside the stores, it feels like it was in Mervyn’s first and then Sear’s before they finally succumbed to inevitable. Oh well…

Nordstrom was slightly better, but there wasn’t a single new perfume to test. And then looking through the Directory I found a stand-alone Diptyque boutique, which hasn’t been in this mall when I was there last time. I remembered that there was a new Diptyque perfume that for some reason I couldn’t find at Diptyque counters in department stores.

I marched into that boutique and, instead of my regular “just browsing,” immediately inquired about “the latest one” (for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name, but even if I could, I wouldn’t be sure how to pronounce it). “Oh, yeah – Ilio,” replied a cheerful SA, “It is sold out.” I didn’t expect that, but since I wasn’t there to buy it, I was insistent, and he acknowledged that they still have a tester for it (but no samples, of course). Since that was all I wanted, I lavishly sprayed Ilio on my wrist, and we went to check out a new seafood restaurant.

As we were waiting for the order (the food was good, but the service was unexpectedly slow… though, I haven’t been to a restaurant in a long while, so maybe it’s a new normal?), I kept sniffing my wrist. It was quite nice. With the international perfumistas’ gesture, I shoved my wrist under my vSO’s nose and demanded to know what he thought. As usual, he thought it was “nice.” I authoritatively explained that it was a nice mimosa scent…

When I got home and checked both Fragrantica and the brand’s site, I discovered that there was no mimosa among the Ilio notes: prickly pear, bergamot, jasmine and iris. I can’t say that I was too surprised: as I keep repeating, I don’t think my nose is that well trained, I rarely smell notes announced in perfumes (and now clearly smell some that aren’t). According to Diptyque site:

Ilio is a tribute to this Mediterranean land bathed in light and fragrance.

And then I went to read Lucas’s (Chemist in the Bottle) review, and you can imagine my surprise when I read that he also thought that Ilio smelled of mimosa! We both saw (well, smelled) something that wasn’t there.

As I was investigating that mirage mimosa note happening, I discovered that Ilio was sold out almost everywhere. Of course, I wanted it!

Diptyque Ilio

If you are curious and haven’t read yet, for the review go to the link I provided above. But this perfume is almost impossible to buy now. And, to tell you the truth, it is not really worth it. It is pleasant. It is nice. It is not something that I would expect released as a celebratory perfume for the 60th anniversary of the brand. It is not something that you are missing out on. But if you feel like you are, you could get it on eBay for $200+.

On a separate note. What is with all these brands that for their anniversaries release super-limited editions in quantities that are being sold out within days (if not hours) from the release?! Did they actually not expect to sell them easily, so they decided to do just a gesture? Or do they try to condition consumers to be prepared to buy future releases without thinking much? I can’t imagine that they tried to create a business opportunity for all those eBay sellers who ask a double price for all sold-out special items?

 

Images: my own