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Thursday, July 4, 2019

On personal impressions and thoughts

I took an extended break for the last couple of years.....the realities of life pulled me away for awhile from being able to find time to do what I love and had me focusing instead of my health and family.  Though nothing is ever perfect, things currently seem to be stabilizing and with that I am happy to say that my little reviews and discussions can move forward.

I spent some time think about this wonderful and beautifully engaging interest.  Perfume serves so many purposes and people enjoy it for so many reasons.  It is an art.  It can be a rush.  It can offer solace, solidify experiences, help add confidence, or recall distant memories in the blink of an eye (or sniff).  It can he used to relax, energize, or send messages to people about who you are without having to rely on words.  It can be a beautiful way to create connections and friendships, or a way to appreciate art in a very personal way, allowing yourself to be the canvas and interpreter of a scent.

I was at the Opera last night in Santa Fe.  The Opera House is a lovely open air structure that allows the cool desert breeze to gently freshen the air as you enjoy the performance.  This being my first time in this lovely area, I was surprised by how many scents I smelled on various people during intermission and throughout the performance.  I caught myself wanting to stop someone because they smelled so viscerally beautiful but I couldn’t identify who had walked past.  Someone else was wearing a crisp cardamom and sandalwood scent, while yet another smelled of a fragrance that rasped the inside of my nose.  I realized how much I truly miss living in an area where people feel free to express themselves through all kinds of mediums, and how each of these people had made an impression on me without me ever seeing their faces.

My break was necessary and ultimately ended up solidifying my love for this hobby, bringing me back to my initial passion for trying new scents and enjoying what I own.  It helped me learn more about what I love and much about not necessarily being influenced by others’ impressions of scents....after all, even an artist who paints the same painting over and over on a blank canvas will never have the exact same result in the end.  The break taught me that perfumers are artists, but ultimately we are the resulting art.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Experiscent Number 9: Get into the...........

Mmm.  Oils.  I don't know anyone who doesn't have an affinity for them.  Experiscent number 9 is n ot a very well known scent outside of perfumista territory but it deserves a lot more attention than it's ever gotten.  Beautiful and mysterious yet approachable and somewhat familiar, with a relatively low price for the punch that it packs.  It was super-enjoyed by all the blind reviewers almost immediately (score!!!)  Panel reviews:

Paula:  First wearing: This is an oriental (?—or maybe an oriental fougere?) that perhaps shares some notes with Trayee.  It doesn’t exactly REMIND me of Trayee, just seems to have something in common. There is something pungent, not quite camphoraceous, in the opening of this fragrance. I’m struggling to identify what I’m smelling. Herbs? I don’t know, but it’s kind of dark and chemical-ish, almost medicinal. It’s sort of interesting but nothing particularly attractive, at least on me.

Second wearing, a few days later: Now it reminds me of Panda (note:  from Zoologist perfumes), but instead of being fresh and green like Panda, it’s murkier, like bamboo and tea leaves at the bottom of a pond. It’s warm, dark, musty, and pungent all at once. …After the top wears off, I’m getting some sweetness in this one too. …In the drydown, I’m getting some woods.

Erica (edited because she knew what it was immediately :)  )  Oh how I love this gorgeous, unmistakable, unique perfume. The orange blossom is almost soapy and almost sugary, a vivacious and vibrant contrast to the deeply brooding oudh. All other accent notes such as saffron, cinnamon, and sandalwood are merely glints of light thrown by the main gemstones of orange blossom and oudh. I am obsessed with this perfume oil and deeply grateful to own a bottle myself.  

IgorAt first I absolutely hated this scent. I thought it was cumbersome and heavy like a tombstone. It reminded me of the black leather car seats that get burning hot in summer and radiate a very noisome heavy smell. That was my reaction for the first 5 minutes, I even wanted to go ash it off. I’m very glad I did not. I gotta say that it has become my most favorite among all nine. I’m not a fan of leather in fragrance, but it has dissipated into deliciously buttery and soft Italian leather. What makes it especially beautiful is the addition of the sweetness, maybe vanilla, which makes the scent smooth and waxy, yet earthy. Within half an hour the heaviness lifts, leaving behind engulfing sunny warmth of amber and musk undertones. The longevity is fantastic due to the nature of notes used, 12 hours on me. The sillage is moderate, stays close to skin, but you definitely leave a trace as you walk by. I don’t know why but it painted a very vivid picture in my mind. Sophia Loren in San Remo in 1970’s, is seating at the small café by the water on a lazy summer Sunday afternoon. She is wearing a white airy linen dress, clanking gold bracelets and oversized dragonfly sunglasses. She has a horn shaped terracotta Florentine leather bag from which she whips out a cigarette, lights it up, leans back and enjoys a cup of coffee. The fresh air hits her face and caresses her hair. Everything is filled with soft warmth of a perfect summer day.

Alyssa:   Hellooooo smooth oud! The color and consistency in the vial made me smile as soon as I saw it because of my intrigue with attars and such. While I was hooked on the opening of this fragrance due to the smoothness I couldn’t wait to see what was in store but the dry down unfortunately let me down and turned a bit bitter on me. I cannot wait to find out what this one is though to see what else is offered

NicoleBoom! The spicy cinnamon and spilled bourbon wafting in the air on a dusty summer day. The heat baking it into the wood even harder than it would soak in alone. A slow rolling, boozy drawl that seems to linger past normal business hours. Sensual in a way because the warmth and pepper surround you, while the whisky slow burns on it's way down. Just the way a cowboy likes his drink, neat with some heat. This particular scent lasted an unusually long time on my skin, and remained bold until the very end. The pepper, cinnamon and bourbon notes all gave distinct imagery this time around. It obviously reminded me of the Old West, cowboys, little mining towns and dusty trails. Gorgeous, seemingly simple at first but then it evolves into so much more! I would enjoy wearing this on a night out dancing, just because of how sensual it comes across.

TronaWarm, indulgent, sweet, caramelized honey syrup drizzled over vanilla ice cream, that is all I could think of when I walked into the coffee shop, it was a beautiful day, sprinkling showers and sun mixed together creating a relaxing, laid back atmosphere. Creamy Caramel Macchiato was on the agenda in this cozy street café today. Initially, I smelled this lovely buttered popcorn drenched in caramel and then came the benzoins and musk, I never wanted to leave the café, The smell draws you in and you get warm fuzzies all over, it is strong and seems to last all day. I notice it is an oil type, and gourmand. It is a wonderful scent, not at all overbearing and can be worn anytime of year. It makes me think of warm, cozy days, toasty marshmallows and the woods. Unisex and reminds me of Kyse perfumes

JenWOW! This one packs a spiked-velvet punch. I'm fighting a cold and debated on trying #9 or waiting, and decided to just do one dab on one wrist so I could have some to try again after my head clears up…and it was a wise choice. I'm guessing this is a perfume oil from the viscosity. I get some cinnamon and maybe a few other warm spices. Something else is quite earthy. It smells as heavy as it felt on application; I'm glad it is a cold day here in the desert to keep this at bay! This is the first tester that has given me a distinct mental image of the wearer, and I totally see my 19 year old Bauhaus and black loving self going gaga for it. This one calls for dark rooms, dark lips, dark clothes, and (possibly cheap) dark booze.

AlfredoNo.9 Is smooth and almondy with hints of anise or licorice...I'm also getting something green lying underneath....Patchouli is that you??  The drydown on me is a rich french vanilla...this would be a scent I'd reach for on a Bright Autumn afternoon going to a Café with one of my Friends.  Easy and relaxed.

Emily:  I'm 99% sure that the first thing I smell from this oil is olibanum (aka frankincense), so that probably means I'm totally wrong. Well, if I'm wrong it'll be worth the humilition to find out what that is because it smells amazing. It only lasts 15 minutes or so, sadly, and goes through a minor powdery stage as it transitions to some indolic white flower, probably tuberose.

My review and reveal:
So excited to reveal this one.  It's Ghroob (the oil version) by Arabian Oud.         
There are some scents that immediately throw me back to my early twenties.  This would have been 1991 to about 1995......that time of my life was marked by late nights, lots of leather and loud music, and long days in the sun at music festivals, having a drink and not having much of a care in the world.  I moved to Seattle during this period and at the time there were many import stores and smoke shops, with the occasional coffee bar.  Grunge was the music of the day and various oil perfumes could be smelled in every dive club.  Everyone's youth was underscored by the intensity of the fragrances......spice here, wood or musk there.......patchouli, vanilla, jasmine, and china rain scents were also the rage.  At this point in my life most of those scents are something that i only associate with the past, but when i find an oil that has the apprpriate level of maturity that I love at the current stage in my life I'm all over it.  Ghroob was one that I picked up after a wonderfu person on an online forum stated her love of the fragrance....and now it came in an oil!  A bonus for me, since living in a low-humidity environment can subdue even powerhouse fragrances.  I bought it online and was very pleased with how it immediately brought to mind the memories of my early Northwest days and the sense of anticipation that I had about my future.  

Ghroob opens with a pale yet rich leathery aura, with something that feels like fuzzy apricot skin.  The fruitiness I will attribute to orange blossom, it doesn't seem like a smack in the face here but hangs in a hazy veil.  A melange on spices hangs in the atmosphere.....saffron always weaves a silky feel for me and here it is an indulgently rich addition,  exotic yet welcoming.  Cinnamon is definitely apparent, but like the baking cinnamon, just a touch, like you would find in a tagine.  

Though i get florals they are incredibly well blended.  For brief seconds each is identifiable, but just as quickly they blend back into the fold, and the use of palmarosa (which to me smells like an oregano touched lemon and rose) and herbs adds a new and intriguing element to the florals.  They never get too sweet and makes this scent a perfect unisex fragrance.  At no point does this scent ever identify as one family of scent...... Layer upon layer, it shifts and turns, constantly keeping your nose intrigued.  Now it is spice, now musk, is this a floral?  As you become used to one facet, another teases in the background until you focus on it, and once that one starts to fade another one is ready for your attention. 

When I wear this now and someone who has now lived a bit, the anticipation about my future has proved to be a good thing.  I have maintained much of who I was, but have the perspective of an adult.  When I go 'home' to where I grew up, it's wonderful to have a scent that makes me appreciate everything that I have experienced.  Ghroob allows me to embrace my maturity while still providing me a vision of my past.  Now,  I feel that this is a leather jacket on an autumn night in NYC.  It's a little smokey, a little steamy, and a hint of spices and headshop incense pop as you walk past different shops on your way to meet your friends.  The present stage is good, but we will always retain a fondness for who we were before.

Ghroob's notes as per Fragrantica:
agarwood (oud), saffron, cinnamon, orange blossom, thyme and marjoram; middle notes are bulgarian rose, jasmine, gardenia, palmarosa and geranium; base notes are sandalwood, white amber, musk and vanilla.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Experiscent Number 8: sweet explosions

Scent number eight is a fragrance that I bought on impulse and while I enjoy it, it's not a favorite of mine.  I wanted to have it reviewed blind for its interesting's light, yet rich.  It's a mid range scent in terms of price.  It was not created by a niche house, yet it's not completely mainstream either.  I found it to be a fragrance that could garner fans on either side of the perfume preference spectrum:  woods, florals, citrus and gourmand notes all mingled in this one, and the responses I got were similarly mixed.  Blind reviews were:

Igor:  Explosion at the Willy Wonka Factory, a tsunami of sweetness, sugar, sugar, more sugar, flowers, vanilla , and musk. I love sweet fragrances so this scent, naturally, for me is great. The top note is a dune of sugar and then some, but it quickly goes away, within 10 minutes, leaving behind a very lovely steady flow of vanilla, berries and musk. The base notes have, if I’m not mistaken, patchouli and caramel and some dark buckwheat honey. In the drydown the cloying sweetness transforms into earthy bitter-sweetness that is not overbearing, but very grounded. The longevity is great, lasts hours on me and the sillage is lovey, just enough for others to notice you without being too much. I have a suspicion that this juice can be a member of the Thierry Mugler family; maybe a new Angel flanker? Perhaps? Anyway, a nice visual that I get is the Parisian bistro drowned in a cozy winter evening. A gas heater sends it soft warmth to the couple on the covered terrace. They are sitting on the old wooden chairs that have been recently lacquered. They are speaking softly, while enjoying foamy cappuccinos with caramels and almond cookies. The smell gets mixed and a new concoction of cold Parisian pebble street, coffee, sweets, warm sweaters and scents of freshly baked bread. A sweet and happy “Yes” for this scent. 

Emily:   Impressionistically, I would say that this is a watercolor of a perfume. It feels soft and muted to me. It begins as a candied floral to my nose, somewhat powdery with a tiny bit of mint (or perhaps a minty patchouli). The bouquet strikes me as light purple—and that’s not impressionistic: I mean I think it’s based on purple flowers, guessing heliotrope. I’m going to call it a fruity floral overall, but what I find most interesting is that the stone-fruit note is at its strongest 4 or 5 hours into the perfume’s development. That's something I don't see very often.

First wearing: This one is a sweet almond fruity-floral…it reminds me a little of Decou Vert from last month regarding the sweetness part. But it is warmer and more generic, less fresh and floral than Decou Vert. Pleasant, but not particularly interesting or memorable to my way of experiencing it. One thing I do like about it is its “waftiness”—you smell it all around you when you are in motion.

Second wearing, a week later: I am getting fruit to open. I can’t say for sure which fruits. Maybe berries, or plum? Anyway, fruits. There is a little green freshness to it, like eating fruit salad outside with a cool breeze blowing. …Now I’m getting some of that odd buttered corn note I remember from January's Guerlaine Elixir. I believe that was supposed to represent marshmallow? …This one has super longevity. It’s gone on the whole day.  …Next morning: I can still detect it!

Erica:  What a bright, ebullient perfume! I haven't smelled Clinique Happy for about a million years but this is what it should have smelled like. Joyful freesia and a sunbeam of bergamot, with a friendly white musk, soft as goose down. Fresh and innocent, carefree and jubilant. Just darling! Not my style for personal scent choice, it feels a little too young and fresh for me, but I do appreciate its happiness.

Jen:  Sweet, fruity floral with something creamy underneath. Definitely berries, possibly some litchi? I initially wanted to peg it as a specific Lancome fragrance, but when I grabbed my sample to compare they were not nearly as similar as I had thought! Noses and brains are so funny sometimes. It still smells like Lancome or another mainstream perfumer to me, though. 

Such a fun spring scent! The opening reminds me of sun sweetened orange peels. The bright opening note is perfect for spring, so fanciful and happy. As it settles, a white musk comes in the forefront and the sweet falls to the back, subtle but still there. Then a floral note appears slowly; mixing sweetly with the citrus and musk. It dances along a familiar memory but twirls away before you can grasp it. The dry down is wonderful, not too bold and yet not too shy.

Trona:  It’s June in London, birds are singing, the sun is shining and people are bustling about. A very large park along the outskirts of the city is home to a very beautiful old world English garden, upon entry, you are hit with a citrus blast that quickly settles down, The garden is overgrown and in full bloom, A sea of green covered in whites, pinks, and gorgeous blues create a meadow of lovely wildflowers nestled throughout the tall grass. Jasmine and lilies stand out and compliment the lime (Bergamot) mojitos one can imagine drinking here and on this day. The air is sweet, yet, dry and a bit sour from the citrus, as the hours tick by, the heavenly air is warmed by the sunshine and a sweet warm amber shows itself. It is slight and not to be overdone. By nightfall, all that is left of the garden is the shadow of its earlier glory. I also felt this one was familiar, it is nice and feminine but lacking a WOW!! Factor, I think it is elegant and appropriate for day wear and office wear. Sillage is about 3-4 hours, pretty close to the skin.

Alfredo:  A fresh citrus, creamy opening which quickly becomes warm & soft.  I'm picking up honeysuckle & orange lower with just a touch of patchouli & soft sandalwood.  Having gentle sillage and projection, this is the type of fragrance you can enjoy on these first days of spring sitting in the backyard while reading a good book and enjoying a refreshing glass of lemonade.  It's easy & relaxed.

Alyssa:  This one I had to try out a few times and I had the same reaction each time - I want it off unsure emoticon. It was such a mish mosh of notes on my skin and just smelled perfumey. I could not pick out a single note due them all wearing me at once.

My review and reveal:

Scent number 8 was Boucheron Place Vendome Elixir.  This was a flanker released in 2014, meant to be a cration bawsed on the departmentstore in Paris bathed in golden light in the evening.  The bottle itself is a beautiful quilted heavy gold tone, and the scent definitely reflects warmth and light. The notes listed for the scent are mandarin, pink pepper, pear, jasmine, rose, orange blossom, rosewood and vanilla. Curiously,  usually not listed are the two notes that overpower me every time:  honey and benzoin.  I like benzoin.....I like it a heck of a lot.  But when coupled with honey, it's all I smell.....a sweet, unctuous, thick scent that feels like I'm wearing a heavy fur in 95 degree humid weather.  These notes are not listed in Place Vendome Elixir but are sometimes listed for the original, and I still find them very strongly present here.  In this version, however, there is rosewood.  Is it real rosewood?  I'm have no idea.  Rosewood is a fairly expensive material and and has been over-harvested for decades.......there are many blends that have been created to simulate the scent, so the chances that it has a high percentage of true rosewood is seems low to me (or maybe it contains a very low ratio).  However, what I do enjoy about Place Vendome elixir is that it 'fits' into a mood for me.  The original, though pretty, left me scratching my head.......the honey/benzoin really seemed to steamroll the light elements of the scent and I couldn't imagine ever liberally spraying it and then walking around in a floaty daytime dress.  However, the Elixir flanker clearly fits into a dark, winter evening mold for me.  The honey and benzoin are still there but are curiously handled with a lighter touch.  The use of those notes do remind me quite a bit of La Vie Est Belle and Guerlain's Mon Exclusif so if you enjoy those this is worth a try.

Place Vendome Elixir opens with a definitive burst of pink pepper followed by a rose-hazed blast of flowers.  The jasmine is somewhat apparent but I don't get any large impression of orange blossom, which may be because of the pink pepper hovering over everything.  The presence of this scent is very apparent in the beginning....if you're going to wear this around scent-phobes you might want to give yourself about 20 minutes before going out with them.  The first phase is the most impacting and has the most strength.  There's a brief period about a half hour in where I get glimpses of the pear, nicely used to balance rather than becoming an overly terpenic wave of fruit.  It goes nicely with the rose-y undercurrent and the jasmine is more noticeable at this point.  Continuing to develop,  the scent starts to highlight a touch of wood......this would be the rosewood.  It's a pleasant underpinning, in my opinion it smells a bit like walking into an abandoned homestead that's been baking in the hot sun.  It's a touch sweet, a bit papery, and gives the impression of warmth and air. 

Oddly enough, the wood recedes for a while, allowing honeyed flowers to bloom continuously.  The pink pepper continues to pop and serve its influence over the whole life of the fragrance.  Overall, it's a fruity floral that has been given a dose of sophistication without going the route of fruit/patchouli.  However, it doesn't quite go the route of completely mainstream, there's enough to garner interest here from people looking for a scent that holds a bit more intrigue. This is a grown up scent, an adulterated version of candy.......eating a honeyed pear in a dimly-lit, plush velvet chair on a dark winter's night. It's not incredibly long lasting which is surprising.  I found the original to be more present, long-term, than this one. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Experiscent Number 7: Sexy Pears

With spring here, much of my current rotation is being spend revisiting scents that I haven't worn in months, and pulling out scents that may have been forgotten for a time.  Opening the armoire of my scents is always a little bit like a treasure hunt.  I may go in looking for something but along the way I start down a road of scent adventures that may or may not take me to my original goal, but possible turning me towards another forgotten payload of beauty.  It's always a thrill of rediscovery.

My choice for Experiscent number 7 is a modern creation by Bertrand of my very favorite noses.  When I first tried this scent I didn't pay attention to who had created it, but once I looked at a larger description I felt like 'Of course!'.  I always love the way he blends light, effervescent notes with darker elements that I don't always think would work together, but somehow he balances them beautifully in his creations and this one was no exception.

Notes from the panel:

Alfredo: I Kissed a Boy and I Liked it....the taste of his CHERRY Chap Stick!  Wow what a FUN sweet, almost waxy scent.  I'm getting loads of Cherry Goodness from this BRIGHT flirty juice...whatever florals are in this I'm getting cherry blossom of course.  When I get a close sniff it practically tickles my nose.  This would be the perfect Party Scent...when you're out to have a good time with your friends ...or THAT Boy with the Kissable Lips!

Alyssa:  #7 was definitely my favorite of the bunch. Mmm what a pretty, bright and effervescent fragrance! It had a little bite to it as well which I always enjoy. I thought I smelled a bit of anise in the opening but couldn’t really pick out much of anything else. It wore pretty well on skin, 5+ hours but I would’ve loved for it to stick around a little more!

First wearing: This is a soft floral with iris. Very quiet. I think I detect some heliotropin (almond) too. Some sweetness….cocoa? And amber. This scent is not very strong--I have to really press my nose to skin to smell it now after 20 mins even though I used half the vial on one forearm! Not radically different from #8; in the same style for sure. After the top notes subside, the amber is becoming more prominent and starting to take on a shrill chemical character that makes it a no-go for me. …Not much longevity on this one. Gone in a couple of hours despite a generous application.

Second wearing, a week later: Is that orange blossom to open? I detect the iris for sure (not a very rooty/starchy or carroty iris), and the amber is right up front this time--it’s really strong, and has a burning quality to it. …After the opening, today I am also getting a very sweet note that is almost overwhelming. It smells kind of gross and fake. This strikes me as not a very well balanced perfume.  (later)…I am actually getting a bit nauseated by the sweetness, which has a chemical edge, not like something found naturally. …Luckily this stage didn’t last too long. I wonder why it bothered me this time? I am on a diet so hungrier than usual…maybe my tolerance for the weird sweetness was lower on an empty stomach! Between that and the burning amber, I was glad that there is no longevity to this scent. 

Trona:  When traveling through an Italian countryside in Tuscany, I breathe in the crisp fresh air tinged with a sort of tomato note, I capture such an effervescent pear scent, it tingles in my nose. It is strong enough to get my curiosity going and I continue walking into a marvelous orchard of pear trees with green grass and violets about, I smell the sweet and fresh remnants of grapevines from the vineyard alongside me, the odors akin to a lovely version of Lolita, the day is cool, but the sun is out and shining its light on all of natures beauty around me. I immediately felt I recognized this perfume, moderate sillage, lasts about 3 hours on me, the fragrance is a strong pear for me, I also get something else, a fresh green and something that is reminiscent of tomato. This was well blended, as I had a tough time pulling notes out, but I have a feeling there could be anise or licorice in this one and it comes off as pear to me. 

Emily:  Fruity! I’m thinking pear, though I wouldn’t say no to apple or litchi. It reminds me a lot of Asphalt Rainbow by Charenton Macerations (there’s a bit of a plastic quality), but with a quieter floral. It's probably not rose; certainly not one of the big, white tropical beauties. I want to say peony, even though I am not sure I know what peony actually smells like. It seems to be dipping its toe in the aquatic notes, so for all I know it could be water lily or lotus blossom. Whatever it is, I’ll bet it’s pink. Drydown strikes me as mostly musky, with perhaps some very light woods and comes far too soon.

Igor:  The scent is very light and milky at first. I might be imagining, but could be lactones to recreate the scent of peaches or a touch of watery milky iris. The notes that add to complexity are florals, maybe Lily of the Valley in it and some orange blossoms and very faint green hints on the base of laundry musk. After 20 minutes he scent becomes very powdery and sweeter. Ok, maybe it is just me, but this fragrance does not engender any emotions whatsoever. It is a clean, generic scent, almost like a hospital disinfectant. I work at a hospital and I swear our hand disinfectant smells just like this.  (audrey's note:  I'd be disinfecting all day!  :)  )  Longevity is moderate, about 3 hours on me; the sillage is low as I could barely detect it on my wrists. I would easily pass that at the fragrance counter since it has no emotional anchors for me. 

Jen:  In the bottle and immediately on my skin it smells like cherry cough syrup. After a bit I get a deep, rich sweetness; think dried fruits swimming around in a thick syrup. A bit of a waxy vibe comes around every now and then. There is also a surprisingly savory something, too. Maybe something nutty? I'm pretty ambivalent about this one.

This one literally sparkles in the opening and seems effervescent. It brings to mind sparkling mimosas, pineapple and tropical breezes. The bright, pretty opening softens fades and then returns throughout the day. As it softens, a powdery floral simpers in, soothing and gentle. After about 30 minutes a hint of the top note returns and dances along as the dry down begins. As it develops, there is a sensual warm vanilla that envelops your senses. After a short time the top note seems to return and a sparkling vanilla caresses your skin. On me this one lasts all day and remains into the next day. Beautiful, full and absolutely divine. This is something I would gladly wear all the time because it is so beautiful.

Erica:  This is far and away my favorite from this round. It reminds me so much of Serge Lutens Douce Amère that I wonder if it's a SL scent I haven't tried yet. There is a gentle grace infused into this perfume. I sense round white blossoms resting on a wispy cloud of pillowy vanilla. I swear I can detect nutmeg as well. At the bottom I sense clove or star anise, a cautious hint of some ancient spice. It's a feminine, delicate aroma with a glowing warmth that I'm drawn to immensely. I also must say that after the drydown, I am nostalgically reminded of Vanilla Fields and it is such a tender scent memory. Love! 

Reveal and my review: 
Scent number 7 was La Belle Helene by MDCI.

MDCI scents always surprise me.  I find many of their scents to straddle a line between modern and quietly vintage.  La Belle Helene opens with ylang and pear with a slight hint of lipstick wax.  Pear can be tricky.....sometimes it can feel like a strong dose of nail polish remover, but not here.  In La Belle Helene, the Pear is sweet and clear, not quite juicy but closer to a pear skin or pear brandy.  The pear and ylang blend well with the lipstick note, there's a whisper of rose over a rich underpinning of plum and wood notes.  The use of ylang here is light handed; ylang can sometimes overwhelm but here is enhances, giving the pear great clarity.  Myrrh is a lovely addition as well, adding a silken, rich element to what might have turned this scent towards a basic fruity floral, and gives it a 'grown up', sexy twist.  As the scent develops it loses nothing of its top sparkle and gathers more character,  very much as if a pretty woman has become even more beautiful once you've spoken to her and found out just how intriguing she is.  The notes continue to dance and weave, now it is vibrant, but a minute later it's slightly mysterious and plush.....the basenotes of myrrh, a wisp of vetiver, musk and a touch of oakmoss.  The notes also list licorice wood......and I do think I get a hint of licorice but it's very faint, though notable.  This lingering veil lasts for hours on me and I keep getting delicious whiffs of it from my shirt sleeves, and every time I say 'mmmm' and breathe it in deeply.  Great transitional scent from a cool to warm season or summer night scent. 

I like combinations of fruit and oriental notes.  This scent sits firmly in the same line as Patou Forever, Histoires Georges Sands, Boadicea Glorious, and to some extent Quelques Fleurs.

Official notes as per Fragrantica:  Top notes: pear, aldehydes, tangerine and lime. Heart: rose essence, osmanthus, ylang-ylang, orris butter, Mirabelle plum and hawthorn. Base: myrrh, vetiver, patchouli, cedar, oak moss, white musk, sandalwood and licorice wood.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Skin I'm In (Cross Post with Beauty Over Forty)

As I get closer to my 45th birthday (wow, even writing that makes me thing WTH happened), I feel like I'm a chump.  Remember, wayyyyyy back when, to the puberty years where you were told 'oh, acne will go away as you get older.'  I really, really looked forward to that day.  Granted, I didn't have acne like some had it.....I rarely got the big red pimples and certainly not in great quantities.  What I did get, however, were milia.  If you haven't milia I guarantee you're not missing much.  What they are are small cysts of dead skin cells that get trapped under the top layer of your skin.  There is no pore over them so you can't pick or pop them, it simply won't work and will leave you with a huge scar and possible skin discoloration (long term.  no thank you).  A pleasure, to be sure.

So here I am, almost 45, I still get milia and occasional acne, but now with the added joy of wrinkles.  What's a woman to do?  It's a constant battle to find a product that works.  So far I've found that I have two best bets:  the dermatologist for extractions, and Retin A.  Though both of these are great they're relatively pricey depending on what you have done and where you go.  Luckily, here is central Oregon, I can get milia removed for 35.00 (whether it's one or a hundred) but frankly, walking around for 5 days looking like I walked into a beehive isn't always my favorite state of affairs.

So, the key is to find products that work on my skin to not ENCOURAGE the milia......because they're optimistic little jerks that find any way possible to just Make It Happen! on my skin.

My dermatologist told me to stay away from abrasive exfoliators and even sounded ominous regarding Clarisonics.  I ignored that last piece of advice.......the brush isnt' supposed to scrub your face so it can't hurt right?  (I actually don't know.  We'll see how it goes).  But surprisingly, she also informed me that milia are also exacerbated by sun exposure, which I did not know.  Once again, I remember back in the day hearing that sun was good for pimples!  Great in fact! (then again we didn't think tanning was a problem, either).  So, sunscreens have been added.  But, I don't exactly love smearing white paste around my face (I was told that zinc oxide based sunscreens work best) or feeling like I'm wearing a mask.......and what about when I wear makeup?  How is one to moisturize when everything might make me erupt into a billion pesky facial cysts?

Recently I got an extraction done and am paying more attention to what I'm putting my face through.  I've compiled a list of products that seem to be working nicely.....

1.  Obagi Sunscreen.  Yes, it's pasty and white, but nothing gets through it.  Nothing.  I could have a small nuclear explosion go off near me and I'm pretty sure there would be a skeleton left with an untouched Audrey mask.  It's that good.

2.  Christian Dior Diorskin Healthy Glow Ultra-Fluid Serum Foundation SPF 25.  Feels like nothing and offers just enough coverage to minimize the pesky scars.  There are many available tones and it's pretty easy to find a match for your skin.  It also hasn't increased or irritated those pesky gross skin cysts. Downside:  kind of pricey, so if that's not your speed try

3.  Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C+ Illuminating BB Creme.  Available at CVS and other drugstores, this Finnish brand offers SPF 20 protection and decent coverage.  It only comes in light, medium and dark though, so some blending might need to happen.  Good for summer daily wear if you need something more than just sunscreen.

4.  3Lab Skincare Hydrating Vita Cream:  this pale blue-green gel cream is wonderful on my oily and cloggable skin.  It doesn't have any weird offensive smell, it's very lightweight and takes no time to sink in.  Apparently it also has apple stem cells.....ok.  I'm not an apple so i'm not sure what it's doing for me that way, but it moisturizes nicely, doesn't sting or anything, and is great under makeup.  Once again, though, it's pricey.  So if you don't feel like shelling out that kind of cash try:

5.  Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel.  Wayyyyy cheaper than the 3Lab but still effective.  I had a little more trouble with this one but it still moisturized fairly well and the affordability factor is definitely a consideration.

How about you?  Any experience with skin challenges, and what are you doing for them?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Experiscent Six: Arid Purple

For number six, I wanted to get feedback on a definitive unisex scent. Featuring lavender, which is a note that I love, this scent is, IMO, harder to wear than the notes would have you think. On some, it's an absolute love......the clean, bracing feel of the lavender opposes they smoky dry notes of the base. On others, it's overly linear and perhaps a bit grating.  The panel:

Alfredo:  Crisp and green with an herbal aspect...... possibly Chamomile.  I I also detect some anise wrapped in leather, an Aromatic Fougere that is Masculine and Assertive...I picture a Gent in the late 1970's or early 80's,  wearing this on a daily basis as his Signature to work and for his weekends going out.

Igor:  For me personally a very loud and resounding “NO”. The vial came broken and the contents were spilled inside the little bag. I tried them out straight on my wrist as I did not have enough to also do it on a blotter. The fragrance is so aggressively masculine. It is a blast of very acrid bergamot and strong musk. Maybe I’m imagining it, but I also get some dry English lavender. The scent wanes a bit on the drydown, transforms into a waxy vetiver scent . The longevity is very long, could not wash it off, it lasted until the next morning. The sillage is beastly; you could smell me from another room. It is very reminiscent of the fragrances of the late 80’s early 90’s, Aramis and Tsar, the choking, uber- masculine chypres. I personally did not like them back then and still have not warmed up to them. I cannot see myself wearing it. But on others they work a lot nicer. If I were to put an image to this, it would be Mickey Rourke in 9 ½ weeks. Overly masculine, freshly shaven guy in a high waisted Versace suite.

Emily:  Chypre? I get my chypres and my fougères mixed up, but I think this may be the former. No, wait, that might be lavender as the floral component, which would kick it back towards fougère. Anyway, I find it rather powdery and lightly mossy. The most interesting part is some animalic component which is just strong enough to be provocative, but nowhere near "yikes." It has good bone structure. Development is slow and subtle; many hours later it's a bit more mossy and woody. It is certainly classically inspired, if not an actual classic.

Alyssa:  Whoa nelly, this was an instant extreme like for me! As soon as I popped the vial open I said out loud, “this is an Alyssa scent”. I literally was inhaling this intoxicating scent on me and I kept getting mental images of what outfit I would be wearing this with as opposed to describing the scent itself. I saw it as a night out on the town with the ladies type of scent - either for some drinks or some dancing. I saw myself in a light pink silk cami with black lace trim, a pair of dark skinny jeans, black high heels, black leather jacket and some big silver hoop earrings to finish the look. This is a scent I’d be proud to wear and wear it well - she wouldn’t wear me.

Rina:   "Dad's Aftershave.." I don't know most notes, so I can't say this is vetiver or hedione or Hai Karate. It smells clean and masculine and freshly showered. Like Matthew McConaughy getting into his tux for the big poker game.. Alright, alright, alright! Alas, like Lady Luck, it was fleeting after a few hours but so good while it was there.

Trona:  It’s a gorgeous day, warm sunshine bathing old winter skin. Sequim is the destination today to frolic in the farms that made this town famous. Arriving at the Purple Haze Lavender farm, can’t help but be taken aback by the sea of purple waves and the heavenly scent of lavender, the powerful jolt of lavender mixing with the spearmint bushes that line the fields makes for a divine intervention in one’s attitude. Literally forcing a peaceful and joyous reunion of soul and body if only for the day, the effervescent aromas mingling gently among the intoxicating purple theme. Walking through the isles of aromatic bush, a hint of lemon pops in my nose, delighting my senses as I search the area to see what source I smelled. I turn to a rickety, old greenhouse with peeling white paint and a slightly leaning door, and spot the tender potted lemon tree with beautiful plump lemons as if on display at the tiny window. They steal the show, like a welcome friend amongst the endless sprays of purple and green, but only for a moment. Wandering off again, absorbing the scenery, the air is thick in lavender, but a sweet lavender, and a slight hint of mint now, even a tinge of tea and peppers, like English breakfast and pink pepper, most likely from the herb house on the property. Thoughts of relaxation and lazy days affect the mind and by days end the sweet scent remains ingrained in my mind and heart, as I drift off to sleep. This is a lavender powerhouse, sweet and minty, strong mint at first, turning mild throughout, pepper enters later on in the middle notes and leave a slightly powdery residue, the lemon brightens the lavender intoxication and breaks up the theme. Finally, a little tea (herbal) and maybe even spice come into the picture at the end, the scent is moderate sillage, long lasting and beautiful, it is relaxing and evokes feelings of peace and aromatherapy healing. Excellent scent for bedtime and any time of the year really. Unisex. All ages, but most likely to be used by mature adults.

This opens with lavender made sweet and soft by maybe a powdery vanilla? The sweetness dissipates fairly quickly though (so maybe not vanilla after all), and the lavender increases in strength and starts to smell a bit like fabric softener. …Not getting a lot of development from this one. It's still sweet soft lavender, maybe just a bit more herbaceous than it was to open. Pleasant enough, but not tremendously interesting. ...Now the fabric-softener quality is transitioning to a certain astringent soapiness. Maybe a bit of amber, with a very slight burning quality. I get tremendous longevity with this one, even though not much evolution—I can still smell plenty of soft lavender-vanilla a good 9 hours after applying. ...In fact, I can still can smell it (faintly) the next morning after almost 24 hours!

Second trial: The opening is all lavender, but soft and soapy instead of harsh, astringent, or "man"-fresh. Indeed, it strikes me as quite unisex. ...Now I'm getting a bit of pepper. Not as much sweetness as the other day. There is nothing too complex here—just a good, solid, soft lavender perfume that should be quite palatable and unobjectionable to most.

UPSHOT:  Good traditional fresh unisex scent with excellent longevity. I don’t know what Yardley’s English Lavender smells like off the top of my head, but my idea of the name and concept of the perfume tells me it should smell pretty much like this! This perfume could make a workhorse office scent for the man or woman who wants to smell Oxford-fresh all day without needing to reapply. It’s not for me, but I wouldn’t at all mind sitting next to a person wearing this—it would be almost a literal breath of fresh air.

Jen:  I want to start by saying I have come to firmly believe that any one can wear any scent that tickles their fancy, "feminine" and "masculine" labels be damned. It's still somewhat of a new concept for me, though, so it is hard for me to fight against my initial impression that #3 veers very hard towards the "Masculine" label. Be it on a man or woman, this scent has my heart going pitter-patter everytime I catch a whiff, and my 6 year old may have side eyed me nuzzling my own wrists. I have no idea what usually goes into a fragrance like this so I am at a loss here for notes, but to my untrained nose this one is incredibly well blended. It feels smooth and fresh and woody and clean and maybe mossy all at once in a beautifully understated but definitely noticable way. As it dries down I am getting a slightly sharper note, but it is still excellent. I am *dying* to find out what it is. I don't even want to take a shower because I want to keep sniffing! This is my number one favorite out of the six scents I have sampled so far in this experiment, even if it isn't something I'd necessarily wear myself. So good!

Erica:  My scent-loving dad joined in for this round of blind testing. 
My thoughts: A beautiful blast of sparkling lavender at the opening draws me in, but then the lavender fades too quickly. Left behind is a bland fougere that smells very generic, like shaving cream. I love the lavender at the opening, but I'm disappointed by the average fragrance that lingers after the lavender burns off. 
My dad was very dramatic about refusing to tell me what he thought until I said my piece. Once I shared my thoughts, he proclaimed it to be "bug spray" and we had a laugh. Um, it didn't appeal to him. 

Scent number 6 was Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande.  When you do a search for this one, the notes that are listed are simply "Lavender and Incense"........ok, we got that from the name :).  I've always found this to be a nice, herbal blast of notes to open.  The lavender is definitely present, I get a touch of clary sage again, and a bit of rosemary.  The incense shows up on me as a masculine spicy presence.  I believe I get frankincense, and perhaps a bit of tonka.  There's a bit of an ashtray vibe.....elegant lavender cologne worn in a dive bar.  I like the contrast of clean with comes across on me as a slightly sexy scent and feels good to wear with the basic of basics:  a white tank top and my favorite jeans.  I wouldn't say this is my favorite SL Lavender, that title goes to Fourreau Noir......but whereas Fourreau Noir are the dry, golden autumn evenings, Encens et Lavande is a cold December morning.  

I was really intrigued by the strong emotions......everyone seemed to have a resounding YES!  or NO! about it.  It got me to wonder how the additions of a few twists could turn a basic  perfumery note into something inducing such polarity.  I think many of us have strong associations with lavender which sets our expectations immediately upon sniffing it in the opening.  For some, it indicates cleanliness, in others peace, and for others it induces a medicinal or antiseptic memory.  For me, it invokes memories of cool breezes on warm, dry days.  Sometimes, the incense is this confuses me, and my nose isn't expecting it for some reason.  However, that is the element that I enjoy in this scent.  It keeps me guessing and I feel differently about it every time my mood and/or the weather changes. 


Friday, March 11, 2016

Experiscent Number 5: Viridian Powder

In my perfume life my opinions of green perfume have swung wildly from extreme love to dislike, and the copious variations of what makes a scent 'green' have made it an intriguing type of scent family for me.  From soft, dark mosses to cool mints, bright lime to bitter greens, the uses of 'green notes' help to balance florals and citruses alike, give energy to musks, and add a fresh air element to woods. 

Scent number two was a purchase for me that came about when I saw a bottle listed on ebay for a great price with no other bids.  I had tried others from this perfume house and enjoyed them, so I blind bought it with neutral expectations, as the note list wasn't overly intriguing to me but it was a bargain.  I ended up liking it immediately.  I really wanted to get opinions on this one, I don't think it would be something that most people would order samples of (they're hard to come by, sample-wise).  Here's what they said:


Vanilla-almond to open with a hint of booze with maybe a bit of champaca or perhaps immortelle?—some sort of sweetish flower.  This strikes me as semi-edible, like a perfumed macaron. After a little bit, it gets flower-ier--a bit of rose-marshmallow?  Quite sweet and pleasant.  Yes, I’m going with the macaron idea here as the one by which I shall remember this perfume. …I continue to like this one, and am getting quite good longevity.  Smells like vanilla marshmallow in the far drydown, with a hint of champaca. 
On the second trial, this is very sweet floral-almond opening , quite lovely.  Is it honey? Probably not.  It’s more vanilla-sweet.  Marshmallow, perhaps?  But it’s unmistakably floral more than gourmand.  Though I would say that whatever the flowers are, they are edible!  I’m getting good sillage and a little cloud of waft as I move around with this one.  Me gusta.  I feel like this is likely to have decent-quality ingredients in it.  It doesn’t feel super-luxury expensive, but middle- to upper-middle class.   I wouldn’t mind a decant of this to get to know it better.  I’m not so head-over-heels with it that I feel urged to acquire a full bottle at this time, but I could see wearing this whenever I want to feel like a sweet, innocent, good girl from a respectable family. 

Nicole:  This one opens in a blast! Big, loud and definitely a signature scent meant to turn heads. My first impression is a boozy, honey type floral with green in the background. Very heady and sensual without being dark. It settles nicely and eventually evolves into a semi sweet powdered floral.

Alfredo:  This has a Lovely Opening that greets you with cheerful florals reminiscent of Pink Roses, Iris & Violet buds.  I also detect an apple & kiwi-like fruitiness which makes this sweet yet tart.  The dry down is a sheer soft powder.  All in all it's a Beautiful fragrance that brings to mind a romantic turn of the century young lady who's ready to head into The Modern Era with Excitement and JOY!

Emily:  I find the opening pleasantly floral and a bit familiar. As I strain to pick out a note--any note--my brain locks on lily of the valley. Is it? I don't know, but fortune favors the bold and I don't get any points for half-assing this, so I'm moving forward on that assumption. The next thing I notice is a light green scent, pleasant and not bitter the way I find many "green" perfumes to be. Fragrantica informs me that Lily of the Valley is a "green floral," so that tracks nicely. Anything else? Maybe some bergamot, in aid of an air of freshness. Not that it matters much, since it doesn't stick around long. In perhaps 15 minutes the whole thing has taken an abrupt turn for the powdery and eventually settles into something in the realm of amber. I'm guessing this is at least somewhat modern because I'm not finding any of the aldehydes or oakmoss I would expect from, say, a Rive Gauche or a Coty Muguet des Bois.  

Erica (and her amazing dad): 
My thoughts: Sweetly powdery floral, along the lines of violet, mimosa, wisteria, and magnolia. Sniffing the vial I am not feeling it, but on my skin I am finding that it's not totally horrifying despite the syrupy sweetness. Late in the dry down, I sense a peripheral vanilla cotton candy vibe. If this had a color, it would be a soft candied pastel violet and cloud-white marbleized swirl. Makes me think of the brand Tocca, I wonder if I have worn this before. I really handle the cloying aroma very long though, I think I may have a negative association with this scent.
This is my dad's favorite. He said it was very feminine and beautiful. He sat huffing the vial for quite some time. Go figure! It was his favorite, yet my bottom of the three. 

I loved how this smelled from the vial and upon first application it actually made me think of the leather in L’Artisan’s Traversee du Bosphore! Now I have always heard the term anosmia and being anosmic to a scent, but I never understood that term till this one. I was literally able to smell it for about 10 minutes and that was it! I gave it three tries to see if I was having an “off day” but each time the same thing happened. I am super curious to see if anyone else had the same reaction.
Jen:  Green floral? The opening made me think of water lilies (which is a note I am totally unfamiliar with, but it's what came to mind). It was a light, slightly sweet, watery green, which also kind of sounds cucumber-y, but this felt more floral to me. After a little bit of time passed a cold note came up. Not quite mint, more medicinal. Kind of cough syrupy. This one also faded really quickly on me, but that could just be me getting used to wearing perfume in the desert vs the everglades! Didn't hate it, but wasn't super excited by it.
Series 2 Fragrance 2 It’s shopping day and she enters as a cute, young, suburbanite, wearing tall boots and a brim hat. Her short,  flowy dress dances with her gait flirtatiously. Her presence is cheerful and playful, a breath of sweet air. She bustles with energy and her bright personality is evident from her pink fruity lip gloss and mint wad of gum that pops when she chews it. A few minutes later, her sass, it appears, a little spice from her personality poured out like iris soup with white pepper sauce. Her sweetness remains, but she claims the afternoon with vivacious tenacity. A sugared piquant in powdery glaze, her colorful heart is versatile and well bred, Though her vanilla virtue begs for attention like a spoiled schoolgirl. As the evening approaches, she becomes soft, and quiet, sweet as jasmine and a joy to entertain. This fragrance is feminine and sweet, I suspect from jasmine or ylang ylang, it is complex in that it changes to so many notes and pleasantly so. It is youthful, energetic, and fresh, not sexy, not sophisticated, but playful and flirtatious. I believe it opens with a sweet floral, I get iris and something fresher like lily along with a jasmine, the iris turns powdery and I get a pepper that dominates along with the sweet powder throughout the heart. In comes vanilla and that sweet jasmine a few hours in. It becomes soft and near to the skin and lasts about 5-6 hours on me. Lovely, lovely scent, I think well blended. Very nice to my nose!

This one was very tough for me because I know I’ve smelled it before. So now I’m hitting my head on the wall trying to remember what it is. It is really hard to focus on the notes without trying to remember. I get a lot of white flowers, vanilla and orange on top. On drydown I get more white flowers, specifically neroli very mild and well mixed neroli with strings of vanilla. The longevity is great, 4-5 hours. After wearing it for about 3hours, I get traces of sandal and honey. The sillage is very strong too. I feel like it is a woman’s designer fragrance because of its delivery and the composition. I can go out on a whim and guess that it may belong to the Armani clan. Armani Code for women? Funny enough it reminds me of my boss at the pharma company I used to work for. She was a petite Italian lady who , I swear, smelled like this and I used to compliment her on it all the time. The other interesting image this scent engenders is the wave of mixed scents you get upon entering Sephora. To me this is such a Sephora scent.

My thoughts:  
Scent number five was Decou Vert by Laboratorio Olfattivo.  I really enjoy this one.  The opening is a fresh burst of green over delicate white spring blossoms, a touch of lily of the valley.  It's a ittle cool, a little sweet, like an April breeze carrying the scent of grass and dew while the first warm weather blossoms are bursting open.  The green notes dissipate but still weave a pleasant tune behind the constant hum of florals.  It adds a plus density and wears like a very soft, light velvet.  I think the genius in this scent is the use of magnolia......I find magnolia to be very tricky.  In scents, sometimes it feels very sharp and cloying to me, but here it holds the feeling of the newly opened flowers with a cool tone.  It's balanced with some other florals, the notes list lilac and jasmine.  Though others noted the lilac, it's not an obvious note to me, but adds a definitive spring vibe.  The fragrance holds all the elements of a spring tapestry for the entire life of the scent.  The leaf and dew notes eventually fade but the blooms never become overwhelming.  Like Igor, I get a touch of honey in this as well and it adds a vaguely gourmand twist without getting truly into edible territory, it just adds a touch of interest.  The lasting power on this fragrance is very good....I think the oakmoss on the base keeps in very grounded and furthers the realistic perception of the floral notes.

Laboratorio Olfattivo offers some great scents at fairly reasonable prices.  For some reason they haven't had as much of an impact on the perfume community yet, but they are all beautifully made....I believe that over time they will become more well known.  Decou Vert is a beautiful spring scent and well worth trying.