Thursday, December 29, 2005

Best of 2005

I apologize for being late in posting this, I came down with the plague yesterday and have been trying to get well before I have people in my house for New Year's Eve. I have been charged with creating a Top 10 list of 2005's beauty discoveries. You should know that I am very much a creature of habit - I tend to stick with what I know (or think I know) works. So in the course of a year, I don't make all that many new beauty discoveries. However, here are 10 products I have truly come to love in the last year, listed in no particular order:

1. Caron French Can Can - This has been the year of Caron discoveries for me. These days, it is rare that a fragrance really sparks my imagination and captivates me. When I wear French CanCan I can't stop sniffing myself. Notes: jasmine, lilac, violet, lily of the valley, rose, orange blossom, patchouli, iris, sandalwood, amber, oakmoss (thank you to Bois de Jasmin for this information). This one is available only as parfum extrait (at least in the Caron boutique) but it's my absolute next fragrance purchase. It's completely worth it. This is class personified. When my mom sniffed it on me, she said "It smells old-fashioned." It does. But like your favorite grandmother or aunt, the one with impeccable taste who always wore hats.

2. Nars Blush, specifically Nars Deep Throat - I rarely try new makeup, but everybody had been raving about Nars blushes so I thought I'd try it myself. Had a makeover by the Nars folks at Barney's and I bought the blush. It's a wonderful blush, goes on just right, is hard to overapply, never looks streaky and is perfect for daytime wear. I plan to get another Nars blush for evening.

3. Guerlain Shalimar Light - This one I fell in love with on first spritz. Shalimar has always been a bit on the heavy side for me, and I tend to like heavy scents. But I tried this in an Ulta store right in the beginning of summer and I needed to own it. It starts off with a burst of fresh lemon - not the artificial kind, but like a lemon grove lemon. This fragrance to me is like wearing Shalimar you applied 8 hours ago and walking through a lemon grove. This is Shalimar perfected.

4. Malin & Goetz Cleanser - When was the last time you looked forward to washing your face? This grapefruity lathering face cleanser will do that to you. I received a sample, used it for a couple of weeks and fell in love. I'm totally hooked and my skin looks great. I also use their lotion for daytime. Malin & Goetz is a new addition to the skincare world, but their products are amazing quality and minimalistic in packaging and added ingredients. Great stuff.

4. Trader Joe's Midsummer Night's Cream - I picked this up recently at Trader Joe's and although it's a cream, it's not quite as thick as many others. Definitely thicker than a lotion though. This is the one that saves me from owning a million body lotions and creams in corresponding scents to my fragrances. A little of this cream in my hand (convenient pump bottle), a spray or two of the day's fragrance, mix it in and voila! Layering.

5. Caron Narcisse Noir - Ooooh, I fell hard for this one on first try too. I love the paperwhite scent. So clean and yet simultaneously intriguing. You want to keep smelling this one, to go beneath the clean white exterior. This is a beautiful fragrance.

6. Johnson & Johnson Vanilla Jasmine Baby Powder - A very recent discovery, I love inexpensive good finds and this one totally fits the bill. It has none of that baby powder smell, but instead a lovely warm floral scent. And the powder itself is great too. If you haven't tried Johnson baby powders since you had a baby or were one, it's time to give it another shot.

7. Ormonde Jayne Tolu - The first time I tried this one, I didn't love it but on retrying it, I fell madly in love and this was my staple fragrance all summer. However, it's also perfect for Winter and especially holiday parties. Tolu is hard to describe...think old-world library but not musty. Overstuffed chairs, comfort, lingering smell of incensey tobacco. Lush and comforting and definitely unique. It's that crazy resin. The resin combined with the slight edge from the sage keeps this from being too plush a fragrance, if that makes sense. I can sit on the overstuffed chairs without sinking in up to my neck.

8. Coty Sand & Sable - This is one I keep around to remind myself that I'm not really a fragrance snob. "Hey, I got this at the drugstore for uder $10!" It seems that most people have Junior High School memories with this one, but in Jr. High I was wearing Ysatis, so this for me is a 2005 discovery. Tuberose based, it really does smell luxurious like sable and I can smell the sand in there. It's the perfect summer evening fragrance.

9. Yves Saint Laurent Nu Body Cream - I received this as a birthday gift back in January, after I fell in love with Nu the fragrance. Unfortunately, it seems to be completely discontinued and available only when lightning strikes at Marshalls or TJMaxx for between $15-20. I've also seen it online for around $60. This is like the spiciness of Nu, but mellower and in a thick, rich body cream. It's sandalwoody and spicy and I can smell it the next morning when I put it on before bed. This is an incredible body cream and I'm just about to begin hoarding mode on what I have left.

10. Le Couvent des Minimes Honey products - this is an amazing line, found in my Bath & Body Works flagship store. The whole line of honey stuff smells just like real honey, and the lotion is thick and creamy, like whipped honey. This is amazing for layering, or just for any time you want to smell like pure, gorgeous honey.

Thank you for reading, and please visit the other blogs participating in the Best of 2005! Also, a huge thank you to Scentzilla, Now Smell This and Blogdorf Goodman for all their work in coordinating the Best of 2005. I wish my readers and fellow bloggers all the best in 2006.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Scent of a wolf

Recently I was part of a gathering of people who get together periodically to go fragrance sniffing in New York City. I've made some wonderful friends and met many amazing new people, as the group changes and grows. This gathering is very much anticipated in our home.

At the last one, a beautiful young woman with purple hair and a smile that lights up the room handed me a sample of a fragrance she had created. I had met this woman before, she is known to many of us as Lupa, but we had never really talked much. I didn't know what to expect at all and was a little nervous (what if I hate it?) but curious to see what a fellow perfume lover had created herself. I'm always touched when somebody creates something and is able to share it like that. Musicians, artists, perfumers...obviously when one reaches a certain level it's about marketing and not paying attention to any negative feedback, but at this level, a friend handing me a sample vial is very meaningful. "I created this and I want you to try it" is a way of sharing herself on a different level.

I went home with my bags and bags of goodies and samples and purchases, dumped them all out on the bed, pulled out Lupa's and set it on the dresser for sampling the next day. It's called Exult: Summer Fling.

I put it on and a hefty dose of nutmeg greeted me immediately. This settles down pretty quickly and a beautiful jasmine comes into play. I can smell some vanilla in there, but it's not a foody vanilla, and it's not sweet. It anchors the fragrance and helps to balance the nutmeg and jasmine. After about 20 minutes, it settles into the fragrance it remains for a good while, with nutmeg in the fore followed immediately by the jasmine.

I should say here that Exult is a natural perfume and so is made using only all natural essences. If you've never smelled essence of jasmine, it's really something different than what you get in commercially marketed fragrances. I don't personally believe one is better than the other, but they are quite different. Natural jasmine is a rich, sexual earthy scent. It's rich in indoles, which are found naturally in jasmine and orange blossom, as well as coal tar and fecal matter. Which is not to say it smells like poop - as anybody who has ever smelled a jasmine flower will know. My point is that if you've never experienced natural jasmine, you might not know immediately what it is that you're smelling.

In the drydown, finally the frankincense pokes its head out. So by then, I have nutmeg on a bed of jasmine flowers, with a few drops of vanilla and bits of frankincense here and there. For a fragrance with only 4 ingredients, it's surprisimgly complex and changeable, and ultimately intriguing. I know what's in there and still each time I wear this fragrance, it's a little adventure on my skin. It's a beautiful fragrance and I'm honored that Lupa has chosen to share it with me.

My one disagreement with her is the name. Exult works, but Summer Fling doesn't sit right with me. Maybe because it's freezing cold outside, but to me nutmeg = winter. Add vanilla and frankincense and you've got a recipe for a perfect winter fragrance. Jasmine gives it wings.

You can find lupa at her blog, no one knows why the wolf laughs.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


An essay on December by my daughter, age 7. Spelling and punctuation are as it was written.
Written on December 1, 2005

What I like about December is that the first day of winter is in this month. Winter is so beutiful that it is almost as beutiful as spring!

It looks as if it were sleeping because of it's white blanket. But sleeping winter is fun because when you make shapes in the snow, your shapes get sewed into winter's blanket.

And when winter wakes up, she puts her blanket away but she is still beutiful. Those are the things I like about December.

It was brought to my attention last night that I had promised to post my scent of the day and I've been remiss. My deepest apologies.

Today's Fragrance: Susanne Lang Cashmere dry oil roll on. The description from LaCreme Beauty is: "As we journeyed by camel across the Jailsalmer desert, the sunset took forever to die in its furnace glow. Night rise was enthralling, the pinprick seductions of a billion stars, the calming solitude of lunar horizon. I pulled my cashmere shawl closer, detected hints in the wool, the aroma of incense, spices and precious woods sold in the market where I had bartered for it."

That's a pretty good description. This is a very snuggly, warm scent, but with a hint of sweet lime, maybe cedar, keeping it from being one you completely sink into, like a too-soft bed. This is a just-right bed, with a snuggly down comforter. I get the spices, but they're subtle. I get the precious woods, again subtle. It dries down to a great skin scent and if I had to guess (I can't find any listed notes) I'm pretty sure I'd say there's a bunch of Tonka bean in there - which to me is a nonfoody vanillic comforting scent.