eyeliner on a cat

eyeliner on a cat
beauty, scent & style scrutinized for pleasure

Monday, January 31, 2011

Candles: The Way To My Heart

I am obsessed with candles, and I have been for a long time. I'm always thinking about or fussing over candles, but with Valentine's Day approaching, I thought I'd write a little about my latest favorites. When somebody gives me a candle as a romantic or a platonic gesture, it is like mainlining pure joy for me. Yes, I love them that much.

My Modern Alchemy Opium Den candle is dwindling down to the end already, and I feel I've only just started to get to know it. It's pure, smoky incense, 70s style. Rich and strong, the scent lingers in the air even when it's not lit. The color and personality is bordeaux red, and this makes it especially appropriate for a Valentine's Day gift, I think. It comes in one size [7.4 oz] for $50, available at Modern Alchemy.

Next is Voluspa Warm Perique Tabac. This was a candle that I initially got a votive size to try out, and I instantly fell in love with it because of its ability to comfort and relax me. Today, I received the two-wick size that I ordered from Candles Off Main, and immediately started to burn it. The scent instantly makes me happy. It gives a persistent warm, dry woody throw and I feel that this scent would be appropriate for any room, occasion or season. It also comes in a room & body spray, diffuser, other sizes and a gift set. The 11 oz. two-wick version is a steal at $16.

I am currently staring down an oncoming blizzard that threatens to shut down the city, so a nice tropical floral scent is exactly what I need. I often gravitate towards these scents in winter to transport myself mentally to a place where I won't freeze my face off if I step outside the door. This is where Diptyque Mimosa comes in. I have a votive size, and frankly am shocked at how quickly this little candle can fill a room with a sweet, gentle fragrance. It is a refreshing, almost ozone-tinged scent, and would warm the heart of anyone you might gift this to. The 6.5 oz size is available at Luscious Cargo for $60.

What I'd like to know is, what are some of your favorite candles? Are they new finds or perennial favorites? What scent would please you most if you received a candle as a gift this Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Adara Organic Coconut Oil

I've recently had the pleasure of adding Adara Organic Coconut Oil in Green Tea scent to my after-bathing and skin care routine. I'd heard that coconut oil is supposed to be very good for the skin and a multi-use thing too (you all know how much I love a multi-purpose product), but had not tried it for myself yet. There are several things about this product that are different from what most people are probably used to. Here are a few of them:

1. It arrives in solid (unfractionated) form, and for me, remained solid even at room temperature, so you do need to heat it up under hot water for a minute or so to melt what you need to use.

2. It doesn't absorb into the skin right away, you'll need to give it 20 minutes or so to fully absorb if you slather it on a bit generously like I do.

3. While this is indeed an oil, it's not thick or greasy. As it melts into your skin with body temperature, it will almost disappear.

These things, while different from the norm, don't bother me one bit. In fact, I think it makes the experience of moisturizing the skin more special and luxurious. The Green Tea scent is heavenly. It is fresh, uplifting, totally delicious and perfect as a bath and body (and hair!) scent. Spring, are you here yet? No? Okay, I'm going back to bed.

The natural properties of coconut oil are conducive to reducing redness and inflammation, and the lauric acid it contains will help to smooth out any rough patches you might have on your skin. I put this to the test, because I have red AND dry patches! I used the Adara for several consecutive days right after showering, and by the third day, the patches were gone (no additional exfoliation was used). I also use it to hydrate my face. I will admit that I was a little hesitant to use it on my face at first because the fragrance is pretty strong, I took into account how gentle the product is, and I went for it. The scent is not at all overwhelming and didn't bother me. I have found that this is great to use at night before bed, first warming up product between palms and pressing into the skin on my face and neck. I even use it around my eyes. When I wake up the next morning, my skin feels incredibly smooth and soft and it's still hydrated. I do encourage moisturize more than just twice daily, and if you're one of the many who do that, this type of product is ideal for frequent use. In my experience, it does not cause skin congestion or breakouts, so it would be suitable for all skin types including acne prone. In fact, I know that many people with acne-prone skin use coconut oil for cleansing and hydration because it creates a protective environment for the skin which makes acne-causing bacteria very unlikely to hang out.

This product also can be used in a number of other ways, including as a makeup remover, pimple treatment and a pre-wash deep conditioning hair treatment (I've not tried these yet, but plan on it). This lovely stuff is imported from Singapore, it's preservative and paraben-free, and according to the company, only 24 hours pass between the pressing of the fruit to the bottles being filled. There is another nice bonus when you purchase Adara products: they practice Fair Trade, and believe in providing fair wages to their workers and helping to build a stronger community for the families that create their products.

There is something just so old-school about using oils on your skin and hair, and the sensory pleasures it provides makes it well worth the few extra minutes you will need to spend every day using it. In fact, the Adara coconut oil begs you to slow down and enjoy life a little bit more, to enjoy the tactile and olfactory sensations of treating your body and mind well.

Other scents available are Jasmine, Lavender, Peach, and Unscented (MUST try Jasmine!). An 8 oz bottle retails for $30, and a 2 oz trial size is $12 at b-glowing.com. I can tell that the 8 oz bottle I have will last me a long time, because I've been using it every single day for about a week and have hardly put a dent in it.

[product was provided by b-glowing for review. My opinions are solely my own.]

Friday, January 21, 2011

Welcome to the NEW Eyeliner on a Cat blog!

Unfortunately, eyelineronacat.blogspot.com is no longer living, but this place is. I'm happy to be back up and running. You'll see that I've posted most of my previous entries from the old blog, they have white backgrounds with the date they were written. They will all technically be under today's date, however. If you were previously a subscriber of my blog in any way (RSS feed, email, Blogger), you will need to subscribe/follow again, they are different accounts completely.

If you have linked to my blog on your site (and thank you if you have!), I encourage you to replace the link with this blog's link. Conversely, if I did not remember to link to your blog here when I did before, please comment here and I'll be happy to add you. I will probably be tweaking the design of the page for awhile yet, but overall, am happy that it looks different from the one before.

So, as the panic subsides and things go back to normal, I would like to thank all of you who offered advice, help, or just a virtual shoulder to cry on. This is truly a lovely community of bloggers.

Today, I celebrate my getting back on the horse by wearing Andy Tauer's Lonestar Memories. I'm not only back on the horse, but I'm riding off into the sunset.

Aftelier Tango: a Scentimental Journey: Jan 18, 2011

Jan 18, 2011 

by Carrie Meredith
As I sit here contemplating Aftelier's Tango and all the things it has brought to mind, I keep returning to something Mandy Aftel said to me about Tango recently in an email. Much like parts of the same person, or perhaps a group of people being thrown into a room together, she refers to the components of Tango as "'difficult' essences, and worked for a long time to create that smoothness with so many 'difficult' personalities." So, let's attempt to dissect this Sybil scent, shall we?

Tango is a rich, potent perfume that opens with a brilliantly warm punch of wild sweet orange interlaced with ginger. We meet Wild Sweet Orange and Ginger at the same time, and they can each be called upon at different times separately, and they also play nicely together. Let's call them The Twins. A damp, fresh tobacco absolute makes itself known quickly, and Tobacco is the man who has it all together. Tobacco reads good books in his classic leather armchair and wants to tell you all about them, he is entertaining to children and is the kind of man that women adore and men aspire to be like. He is here to stay (thank goodness). The Twins are helping Champaca (Mom's nickname) in the kitchen, and Coffee's knocking at the front door. This is where everything gets kind of strange. The Twins rush to the door to answer it, but they don't recognize Coffee, so they don't let him in the house. Coffee goes around to the back and tries again. No answer. So he goes to a side window, smashes it in, and climbs through the broken glass and tumbles down the hallway. The Twins are screaming, and where did Champaca go anyway? Never mind, here comes Tobacco! It turns out Coffee is Tobacco's old college friend, and everyone laughs in a slightly uncomfortable way at the mix-up. Coffee wouldn't take no for an answer, and it turns out that's a good thing, because the depth that he offers to the conversation is startlingly good, but he begs off early claiming he has somewhere else to be. Nobody believes him. Grandpa Tonka arrives just in time for dessert, and afterward, he and Tobacco go out into the backyard for a pipe. Ginger sneaks out the back door and is spying on them, trying to imagine what it's like to smoke a pipe. What she doesn't realize is that
 she exists inside the pipe

All analogies aside, Tango is indeed an unusual scent, and a beautiful one. From the pleasantly acidic opening to the leathery, woody aspect, and on to the almost incense-like soft drydown, it is a sentimental journey to be remembered fondly. It's just "off" enough, and just comforting enough that I have put it on my short list of favorite perfumes. It's one of the most elegant and warm tobacco scents I've had the chance to experience, and I will treasure my little screw-cap vial until it's empty, and then sell all of my (and my husband's) possessions to fill my bathtub with the amber-toned juice.

Why does Tango resonate so deeply with me? Is it because it's only human to have dissenting voices inside, fears, hopes, small comforts and big dreams? Maybe. What is simple, unassailable truth is that I'd waited too long to try Mandy Aftel's creations, and now I have some catching up to do.

Tango is available at Aftelier.com: 1/4 ounce perfume for $150, 30 ml edp spray for $150, 3.5 ml perfume pendant for $80, 2ml perfume mini  bottle for $45 and 1/4 ml samples for $6.

For a nice review of Aftelier's Memento, visit Scent Hive.

[sample provided for review by the perfumer]

Soivohle Nightjar, my ticket out of here: Jan 12, 2011

Jan 12, 2011 5:15 PM

by Carrie Meredith
The city of Chicago is buried in snow, the temperature is freezing and there is no sunlight to be found. To rise above the oppression of this dismal winter day, once again, I turn to Liz Zorn. This time, my antidote to the doldrums is Nightjar.

Nightjar is a delicate fragrance comprised of mimosa, osmanthus and frangipani, with a whispering base of sandalwood, tolu, tonka and musk. The opening is akin to rays of light breaking through a tree line, the tropical flowers working their magic to dissolve my gloomy mood. Did I just smile? No, couldn't be.

The scent wears close to the skin, and as it progresses, a slight verdant undertone emerges and it tangles deliciously with the brightness of the osmanthus. Wait, yes, that was a smile, but you have no proof.

The florals wear on steadfastly throughout the entire experience, and it's something to be grateful for, because you won't ever want them to fade. Once the tonka, soft woods and musk peek through after the heart settles, you are left with a sugar-veiled, tropical-tinged floral skin scent that has surprising longevity. In full-on giggle mode, I realize that cabin fever has indeed claimed me, but with Nightjar, I have my chance now to escape to someplace warm and breezy, teeming with flora and optimism.

See you guys later.

Nightjar is in Absolute concentration and is a mixed media composition. 4.5 ml is $70, and 15ml is $180 atSoivohle.com. Sample vials are also available. It is a limited-production fragrance released for Fall/Winter 2010.

The Peel Chronicles, part II: Colbert MD Intensify Facial Discs: Jan 7, 2011

Jan 7, 2011 5:48 PM

by Carrie Meredith
My quest for the perfect at-home peel is ongoing, and although I have already found one I'm partial to, I just cannot resist trying one that sounded as promising as Colbert MD's Intensify Facial Discs.

The active ingredients of this product are lactic acid and bromelain (a concentrated pineapple enzyme), and I hoped that they would prove to be gentle for my sensitive skin. Happily, my hopes were fulfilled. I completed the simple process of wetting the plush little pad and moving it over my face in circular motions, and I noticed a slight foaming. It's recommended you do this for 30 to 60 seconds. I braced myself for stinging, because even with the peels I like, there always seems to be some stinging. 30 seconds, no stinging. 60 seconds, still no stinging. I rinsed and went ahead and used my sample of Colbert MD Nutrify & Protect Day Cream. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I felt my skin and inspected it in the mirror. There was zero redness, and my complexion looked brighter and felt smoother and softer.

Here's the scoop: with this peel (which is recommended to be used 1-3 times a week depending on the level of your skin sensitivity), you get all the benefits of an effective at-home peel without the irritation usually associated with it. Now, I have experience all degrees of irritation, from a slight stinging to burning to raised welts and rashes that took a week or longer to heal. The Intensify Facial Discs are at the very bottom end of that spectrum in terms of irritation. I initially thought that because there was no irritation, that it wasn't really going to be an effective product. I used it 3 times in the span of about 10 days, and I can say with confidence that the true benefits are all there. It is meant to be used in tandem with the Daily Nutrition for Skin trio of products (which contains a serum, day and night cream; I used up my samples of all of them and they are all very nice products), but the Intensify Discs can easily fit into any skin care regimen in a supplemental manner.

Using a chemical exfoliant regularly as an anti-aging tool, for dry skin, acne-prone skin, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation has immense benefits, but it's difficult to find the right product. You will need one that won't irritate your skin, one that's not too strong or so weak that you don't see results. What I didn't really think about when using some other peels is that when I thought that my skin wasn't having any reaction to it, it actually was. I have always equated a slight burning with "It's working". Nope, it does NOT have to burn to work wonders, and thankfully, I've learned that lesson.

The Colbert MD Intensify Facial Discs retail for $52, and you get 20 discs in the jar. I plan on continuing to use these twice a week, so I'll have enough for 10 weeks. If you break that down, that's $5.20 a week, or $2.60 a pad. The price is comparable to other higher-end peels on the market.

[This product was sent to me for review by the company. I have not been financially compensated for my opinions, they are solely my own. Photos courtesy of Colbert, MD]

'Fumechat!: Jan 4, 2011

Jan 4, 2011 2:18 PM

by Carrie Meredith
Martha at Chicken Freak's Obsession had the idea to do a regular perfume chat on Twitter, and Victoria at EauMG and I thought this was a great idea.

Please join us every Friday night on Twitter at 10 pm Eastern time starting this Friday, January 7th, and make sure to use the hashtag #fumechat. We want to talk about everything and anything having to do with fragrance. Come and go as you please, and you don't even have to dress up for us (although I will be secretly judging your shoes).

Hope to see you all there!

Christian Dior La Collection Couturier Parfumeur: Leather Oud: Jan. 3 2011

Jan 3, 2011 9:29 PM

by Carrie Meredith
Dior's Leather Oud was released this past fall as part of a ten-fragrance collection. With the proliferation of oud scents increasing every day, I had to ask myself whether I thought that Dior's version is relevant to the genre. My thought on it is this: the chances are good that a lot of people who don't even know what oud is will smell this and want to buy it. The reason is simple, it's uncomplicated, modern and beautiful, and that makes it relevant in my eyes.

The notes besides oud are listed as cardamom, clove, leather, gaiac, cedar and sandalwood. I don't get much spice at all on the opening, but I'm actually glad for it. The wood and leather is what needs to, and indeed does speak the loudest here. The cedar lends the scent a modern, dry edge that I really love, while the gaiac and sandalwood smooth out the base nicely. The leather comes across to me as more of a cool suede than a rich leather accord, and the oud is notably strong, but again, not particularly rich. The journey from top to base is short, and that suits me just fine. Sometimes it's nice to have some perfumes that don't unfold over time; it's like that one friend you have that you always know you can rely on. Dior Leather Oud is grounded.

Leather Oud is marketed by Dior as an "intensely masculine" scent, and I wholeheartedly disagree. This perfume can be worn by anyone who has the inclination towards these notes. It will be a gateway scent for some, and a "don't have to think, just spray and go" scent for others (like me). I think Leather Oud has the potential to please many, especially fans of Le Labo Oud 27 (but don't expect Le Labo's animalic bite). I love the minimalist bottle, and the photograph below makes me extremely happy. I look forward to trying some of the other La Collection scents, especially the Vetiver (and coffee!).

Il Mondo di Odore: Jan 2, 2011

Jan 2, 2011 11:46 PM

by Carrie Meredith
I was recently invited to contribute to Il Mondo di Odore perfume blog, and I am very grateful for the invitation. I look forward to working alongside the following talented writers:

Aromi Erotici
Actias luna
Daly Beauty
Mimi Gardenia
Redneck Perfumisto

I really like the laid-back vibe of the blog, and have very much enjoyed being a reader of it. I am sure I will enjoy contributing even more.

Egyptian Magic Cream: Putting Lord Pharaoh ImHotep AmonRa's pride and joy to the test 12/30/10

Dec 30, 2010 8:37 PM

by Carrie Meredith
(Yes, that is really the CEO and founder of Egyptian Magic Cream's name.)
I love multi-use products. Even if I just use them for one thing, just knowing that there are more possibilities makes me happy. Like using kitty litter under your car tires if you get stuck in the snow. But Egyptian Magic is special, this is the sort of thing you'll want to use yourself, give it to your entire family, and put it on your puppy's winter-chapped paws.

First of all, I must tell you that this is not a "cream" at all, it is actually a salve, made from olive oil, beeswax, honey, royal jelly and bee propolis. I will mention here that they also list "divine love" on the ingredient list. Ugh. Anyway, moving on. When you use Egyptian Magic, you can swipe your fingers along the top of the (generously sized 4 oz) jar, warming the solid salve with your body temperature. I actually prefer to scrape a bit out of the tub with a cosmetic spatula to be more sanitary, rub it between my palms to melt it, then I apply wherever it is I feel like applying it. I've used it on extremely irritated, reactive facial skin and found it to be soothing and indeed healing. I've used it on rough heels and elbows, and it softened them nicely. It makes one of the best cuticle treatments I've ever found. I've used it to shine my hair (don't use on fine, thin hair) and as a lip balm. I have mixed loose mineral pigments into a bit of it to make creamy, bright shades to use on lips and face. It is wonderfully hydrating, fantastic for dry skin and suitable for people with eczema. It is also supposed to help heal post-surgical skin, bug bites, blemishes, diaper rash and scars, but I can't speak from experience on those things. I don't need a baby, but I could use a mini-brow lift and a kind benefactor. Right.

I find that Egyptian Magic is a great alternative for those times you want to reach for the Aquaphor but are kind of dreading the greasy aftermath of it (like before bed as you fear for your pillowcases). Another benefit for some will be that the ingredients here are all natural, contains natural antioxidants, and the jar does have an expiration date on it (in my case, it's October of 2014). Here is a night time moisturizing skin ritual I've grown to love involving Egyptian Magic:

-Cleanse with a gentle cleanser (I love Atopalm Moisturizing Facial Cleansing Foam)
-Use a hydrosol or thermal spring water spray (La Roche Posay has selenium which soothes skin)
-When skin is almost dry, use a gentle moisturizer like Atopalm MLE Cream, or retinol/retinaldyhyde product
-Apply a light layer of Egyptian Magic, gently pressing into the skin all over face and neck, which will effectively seal in moisture

I have a lot of skin sensitivities, rashes, breakouts and such, and a product like this is extremely useful to me. This takes dry or damaged skin, brings it into the supple arena and keeps it there. It's also gentle enough to use around the eye area. I should note that this would probably not be a good product for people who are very allergic to bees. It would be nice if they made little travel sized jars to throw in your purse, because it's a huge jar and not travel friendly. You can transfer some of the contents into an empty small jar, though.

Overall, I think this product is well worth a try if you have stubborn dryness, are prone to irritations, or just to have around for any number of the uses I have mentioned here. A 4 oz jar of Egyptian Magic is available for $36 at b-glowing.

[product was sent to me for review by b-glowing. I have no affiliation with Egyptian Magic or b-glowing, and am not being financially compensated. My opinions are solely my own.]

**Edit- January 23, 2011: It's been about a month since I started using Egyptian Magic, and it's become literally indispensable to me. Why can NO other product soothe the irritations I get in the corners of my eyes? Not the most expensive or dermatologist-recommended creams can do it. Egyptian Magic is low-tech, but there's something insanely effective about it. Its heavy-duty moisturizing properties work for the entire body and smooth flyaways on my head, yet it's gentle enough to use in the eye area. Maybe my skin just REALLY likes olive oil, or bee by-products. MAYBE the ancient gods and goddesses of Egypt are smiling down on me because I've chosen correctly in my lifelong search for good skin products. I'll go with that. 
~Carrie Meredith

EDIT-- December 28, 2012: It's now been 2 years since I first tried Egyptian Magic, and I am still as devoted as ever. It's never failed me as a moisturizer and protectant. It's a brilliant, gentle product worthy of repurchasing, and a bargain, too.

Sara Happ The Lip Slip and Kaplan MD Lip 20 Gloss Dec 29, 2010

Dec 29, 2010 9:50 PM

by Carrie Meredith
This is the tale of a balm that wants to be a gloss, and a gloss that wants to be a balm. Amid the confusion is my delight. Confused or not, both Sara Happ The Lip Slip and Kaplan MD Lip 20 Gloss have instantly taken their places in my daily roster of lip products.

Sara Happ The Lip Slip has a slightly sweet taste, and smells softly of vanilla and rose. It has a lot of lasting power, has a bit of a shimmer effect in a transparent light pink base. It is highly moisturizing, and looks gorgeous when worn alone or layered over lipstick. It comes in a generous half-ounce size, so it will last quite a long time.

This is the inspiration for the product: "the supple feel of a shimmery gold YSL calfskin bag, a bottle of Coco Chanel Mademoiselle, your favorite camisole; soft, sweet, nude, girly and grand."

The presentation is really lovely and would make a great gift. Once the recipient realizes you've given them the gift of voluptuous, glossy and super-hydrated lips 24/7, you'll become one of their favorite people, I promise. It retails for $24 at b-glowing.

Kaplan MD Lip 20 Gloss is a treatment gloss if ever there was one. A gloss that wants to be a balm and pamper your lips so badly that it actually succeeds, and then some. The shade I have is Nude Sparkle, and it has a nude, sheer base with pronounced bronze glitter. It sounds like party central and it looks extremely festive if you layer it on, but never does the glitter look tacky, it is totally luxe. It is extremely comfortable to wear, has a mint scent and is not exactly glossy in the traditional way; the glitter does all the talking here and is free of any tacky feeling that usually accompanies gloss. There is supposed to be a bit of a plumping effect, but I don't really get much of that, and there is no stinging or tingling. What I do get is a moisturizing, glamorous treatment "gloss" with a totally non-sticky base and SPF 20 that has me very excited, because this has not really been done before to my knowledge. Something new in beauty that is useful to me! I have been wearing this non-stop. It makes lips smooth as glass and super-sexy. 

Lip 20 Gloss was developed by dermatologist Stuart H. Kaplan to be an anti-aging lip treatment intended to provide moisture, repair lips, add natural fullness and sun protection. Some of the star ingredients here are marine collagen, antioxidants, botanical extracts, hyaluronic filling spheres, sea buckthorn berry extract, aloe vera and Maxi Lip, a patented peptide. I also have my eye on the Natural Sparkle and Clear Sparkle shades, and definitely plan on picking them up soon.  It retails for $30 at b-glowing

[Products were sent to me by b-glowing for review. I have no affiliation with b-glowing, Sara Happ, or Kaplan  MD. My review is completely my unbiased opinion, as per usual.]

Soivohle Winter Poem: a review

Dec 28, 2010 1:19 AM

by Carrie Meredith
My first experience with Soivohle's Winter Poem shocked me instantly out of my dead-of-Winter coma that I had been struggling through. Released for sale on Winter Solstice at midnight, I was pretty much first in line for this. It's not at all the type of perfume I would usually try from the description alone, but for some reason I knew I had to give it a spin.

The opening is filled with bright floral notes of freesia, gardenia and jasmine, and it doesn't take long for the fruits to squeeze their way in. I detect perhaps yuzu or nectarine, and it persists well into the dry down. The florals sparkle, shimmer gently and offer a welcome mental and emotional break from the winter blues. These are not the hard-edged, heady floral notes that usually give me a hard time.

After about an hour of wear, the base emerges with moss and a soft musk, but they never dominate in this blend. They are there to support the flowers and the fruits through their linear journey to the end. This scent has an inherent sweetness to it that is not cloying, but really serves to bring out the light earthiness of the base notes.

As I wear it, I long for Spring, with its giddiness and promise of rebirth. I think I understand why this doesn't smell like a rich "Winter" scent, its freshness and ability to clear the mind's cobwebs is why Winter Poem is an instant classic to me. It is a perfume blended with great care and skill, and I hope that many of you will get to experience it before it's gone.

Winter Poem's base is from a saved quantity of one of Liz Zorn's earlier perfumes called Writing Lyrical Poetry, but has been tweaked to create an original limited edition absolute. It is available in a 15ml flacon for $100, 5ml for $35 and a sample size for $5 on Soivohle.com. This perfume will only be available until Valentine's Day. Liz Zorn's new Facebook Page can be found

Painting: George Bellows, Love of Winter 1914
Photo of Winter Poem 15 ml flacon, property of Liz Zorn

Le Labo Cuir 28 Dubai city exclusive due out this month: Dec. 25 2010

Dec 25, 2010 2:29 AM

by Carrie Meredith
From Edouard Roschi:
"We are working on an exclusive scent for both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as part of our "city exclusives" range - which we have already put out in six cities - with the Dubai scent hopefully ready for release this December. The scent is called Cuir 28 and will contain woody and spicy tones."

Needless to say, I am hot on the heels of this one. While it's true I have endeavored to collect every Le Labo scent made even if only in sample form in most cases, the thought of a Le Labo leather fragrance is almost too much for me to bear. I believe it has currently been released for sale at the Paris Gallery Le Labo shop in Dubai. 

I've already spoken with The Perfumed Court via email, and they seem uncertain at best as to whether or not they will be able to secure any bottles.  On that note (pun intended), if anyone can help me track down a sample or full bottle, I'll be forever indebted to them.

Amaranthine via My Dairy Queen: Dec 21, 2010

Dec 21, 2010 8:08 PM

by Carrie Meredith

When my cat Maggie (aka Miss Crabtree) was diagnosed with a cancerous nasal tumor this past February, we weren't sure how long she had to live. Due to the nature and placement of the tumor, chemotherapy and the anesthesia required for radiation treatments were not going to be feasible (plus, all the going back and forth would have been upsetting to her). So, we had to adopt a "wait and see" attitude. Over the months, I had grown to become her nurse extraordinaire, giving her multiple pain medicine injections daily. At the time, I worked in an animal hospital and had everything I needed to give her the palliative care she deserved. I fussed over her every moment I could, and we both loved it.

We had been best friends for the 13 and a half years of her existence. She had been with me through many significant phases of my life, and had moved residences with me countless times. She had a fiery, demanding personality, but was very adaptable and easy at the same time. She and I were inseparable, and had a love between us that I never dreamed possible between an animal and a person. When I looked into her eyes, I saw myself. I often wondered if she viewed me as an extension of herself in the same way.

After I found out she was sick, my one wish was that she could be with me for one more Christmas. She loved lounging and sleeping beneath the Christmas tree so much, and she would revel in all the wrapping paper and ribbons, guarding the presents and surveying the festive land like the queen lioness she was. However, Maggie's tumor steadily worsened and so did her overall well-being, until I decided that I could no longer manage her pain with medications well enough. I had to let her go. That day in late August, just before my birthday, I suppose that part of me went with her and I don't expect to see it back again.

 I was thinking about what scents I associate most with the joy that she brought into my life, and what I came up with is not surprisingly associated with food. Maggie was instantly obsessed with anything I was eating, and that especially applied when it came to desserts. Her favorite was the cream from tiramisu, and of course, vanilla ice cream. I found out while taking a continuing education course on animal nutrition that cats cannot taste sweetness. That blew me away. I wondered, what was it about desserts, ice cream, even the wrapper from a bran muffin, that made them so appealing to her? It wasn't sweetness, that I knew, then how about dairy? That must be it. She was a dairy queen.

So in honor of Maggie, I will wear Penhaligon's Amaranthine tonight. With notes of condensed milk, vanilla, cardamom and tonka bean (evident in the drydown), I think I could have made her quite a nice dessert with those ingredients. Amaranthine initially brings forth green tea, rose and Egyptian jasmine along with other floral notes, musk and sandalwood, and comes across to me as a complex scent (the most complex of any from Penhaligon's I've tried).

It wears strong and long, and speaks of lightness and depth all at once. The potent florals, bright green tea and coriander languish for some time, but the drydown is completely different. It moves stealthily, it's smooth, delicious, and all of those wonderful gourmand notes get to come out to play. And they do, joyfully.

                                                    [photo of Maggie and the brownie, 2004]

Best of 2010: Dec 20, 2010

Dec 20, 2010 6:29 PM

by Carrie Meredith
I've put together this little list of my favorite products from 2010. It has been a very eye-opening year for me, especially concerning my exploration of fragrance. I've discovered a lot of new skin care products and methods to care for my skin that have helped me immensely. My candle addiction has led me to some amazing scents and places to buy them. New beauty products have sprouted out from practically every corner of the world, and I have enjoyed testing them out.
One n' Only Argan Oil Shampoo & Conditioner is available at Sally Beauty and is a great dupe for Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo & Conditioner, and costs only $9.49 each ($8.49 if you have a Sally Club Card). I actually like these better than the Moroccanoil, I find it leaves my hair extremely moisturized and soft.

Nail Polish
Deborah Lippmann Hit Me With Your Best Shot is an amazing shimmery metallic black that I can't seem to get enough of, and you can get it at Luscious Cargo for 25% off right now (all Lippmann products in stock are on sale).

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Cuir et Champignon is an earthy, breathtaking perfume that combines the nouveau foodiness of mushroom with the Do Not Eat taut strength of leather. The addition of woods, tobacco and civet make this an unforgettable and addictive blend you'll want to revisit often. The 0.25 oz EDP refillable purse spray is available at DSH Perfumes for $40, along with many other sizes and also bath and body products.

Firing up a Voluspa Maison Rouge Warm Perique Tabac candle is a special treat. The smooth woods and leather is a scent I would easily wear on my skin, and wish I could. Even the tiny travel votive will create enough scent throw to fill a room. The 15 oz size (along with several others) is available at Candles Off Main for $27.

Chantecaille's Les Macarons Face Palette is an unbelievable assortment of delicious eye, lip and face colors and a double-ended brush. Their formulations make blending pleasurable, and there is lots of fun to be had here with the lovely pinkish shades and deep plum liner. This is a lovely gift, but I would be surprised if you could buy this and actually let it go. It's available for $68 on Chantecaille's website.

Skin Care/Books
The Skin Type Solution by Leslie Baumann, MD This is the updated version for 2010, and I can't say enough about how much this book has helped me understand my skin better. According to dermatologist Leslie Baumann's philosophy, there are 16 skin types, not just the four we're used to. You can take the quiz that's in the book HERE. In the book, she goes on to provide an in-depth explanation of what products you should be using (and avoiding) for your particular skin type. I have just realized this year several things I have been doing wrong, and it's nice to finally feel like I'm on the right track and I'm seeing results to support that. The book retails for $15 at the Baumann Store. 

Yep, I only have six entries for this list. I've covered all the categories I feel I need to. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, and a fantastic 2011!


One Sex: Dec. 17, 2010

Dec 17, 2010 2:02 AM

by Carrie Meredith
I was busying my mind this past evening with thoughts of how so many serious perfume lovers don't seem to have many stigmas when it comes to whether any given perfume should be worn by a man or a woman. I love the adventurous nature of perfume lovers. Even if someone has very particular tastes (and we all do, don't we?), they are usually first in line to try something new to them or different, regardless of which sex the scent is intended for. Plenty of scents have qualities that speak clearly of femininity and masculinity, but it seems some of the most well-loved scents among us can easily be, and are, worn by either sex.

One of my very favorite perfumes that fit this category is Comme des Garcons Wonderwood. It contains insanely smooth varied woods, slight incense and nutmeg, and is a perfect scent for the cooler months. It also has a light feel to it thanks to a little punch of bergamot and cedar, and could safely suit any season.

Next I'd like to mention Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Wood. This is not just an earthy oud, there are vague spices present that remind me a bit of Black Orchid. There is a somewhat sweet drydown that meshes with my body chemistry in the most perfect way imaginable. This scent is a chameleon, for sure.

The last scent I'm favoring for this topic is Le Labo Gaiac 10 (Tokyo Exclusive). Continuing along the heavily woody path, Gaiac 10 leaves an impression of tea on my skin along with freshly snapped cedar branches, olibanum and a soft base of musk that wears very close to the skin. This is a radiant and lovely scent that I would be very happy to have a full bottle of, but geography says I cannot.

What are your favorite "unisex" scents?

[photo of the beautiful Jenny Shimizu from Rodarte: the book]

Dior Gold Revolution Vernis: Dec. 13, 2010

Dec 13, 2010 5:12 PM

by Carrie Meredith
I love a good metallic nail polish. I will say this: I have become extremely used to Essie polish and that is almost exclusively what I use, including nail polish remover, but I am always tempted by some of the higher-end brands. I took advantage of the Sephora VIB $20 gift card that was sent out, and bought myself this little beauty:

It's called Gold Revolution ($21), formerly known as Timeless Gold (it says Timeless Gold on my packaging and bottle, but the number, 226, is the same). This is a really beautiful metallic, and I've got nothing like it already. I am going through another gold/bronze phase right now, and this nail polish feeds the need quite well. It has a unique blend of gold, silver and bronze metallic flecks that give a very chic molten effect. You won't need to worry about matching this polish with your skin tone, it will work on everyone, I promise.

Another thing I like about Dior nail polish is the brush. It's wide and flat, and covers the nail nicely so that you don't need to make too many passes to get the coverage you want.

I am also eyeing up Aztec Chocolate from Dior. a plum taupe shimmer. Based on my experience with Gold Revolution, I won't hesitate to indulge again.

*photograph used is solely my property

Peels: the truth so far: Dec. 6th, 2010

Dec 6, 2010 6:35 PM

by Carrie Meredith
I am always looking for new at-home peels to try in order to address my issues of skin texture, spots of discoloration, black and white heads, and need of general anti-aging benefits. My problem is that my skin is sensitive and sometimes reactive, which limits what I can use.

I recently tried
 Makeup Artist's Choice (or MUAC) for the first time. They are known for having affordable, potent skin care concoctions, and have been touted as such on the Makeup Alley skin care board which I frequent. They offer sample sizes of virtually everything (which is wonderful), so I got a variety of products. They included a free sample of their Cucumber Toner; which I found to be very soothing and refreshing. For the purpose of this post, however, I'm mainly going to talk about their alpha beta Radiance Peel. They included a helpful instruction card with it. Unfortunately, I didn't think things through very well, and skipped the patch test. This oversight cost me. While the peel seemed gentle enough from its description (mandelic acid and fruit enzymes, both on the gentler side of the peel spectrum), it proved to be just too strong for my skin. I only left the peel on for two minutes, and after I used a cloth to remove it and then used a very mild, acid-free cleanser, my skin was red  and inflamed with raised bumps. I will say this, several hours later, my skin was almost back to normal (with the exception of a decent sized red splotch on my jawline), and felt extremely smooth and soft. At only $14 for a 1/2 ounce size, this would be a great, inexpensive peel for someone, just not those with sensitive skin. I intend to keep trying other MUAC products like serums and cleansers, but I will probably steer clear of their peels. *unrelated product of note: they sell one ounce of 100% pure virgin argan oil for just $10, and it's lovely.

 the day I wrote this, the damage this peel had done to my skin had not yet fully emerged. I had dry, inflamed scaly patches all over my face, and a big, broken-skin welt along my jawline. It's now the fifth day after I used the peel, and my skin is finally back to normal. Hallelujah!

I am a huge fan of
 Paula's Choice products. I like Paula Begoun's skin care philosophy, her no-nonsense approach, and I truly believe that for your money, her products pack the biggest and most effective punch.  She recently released a couple of new AHA products; RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment with 10% Alpha Hydroxy Acid and RESIST Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% Alpha Hydroxy Acid. They were designed to be used together but you can use them separately as well. They are available as a package deal on the website for $46 and there are also sample packettes available. I bought the full size of the Daily treatment, and it is wonderful. You can't do better for daily maintenance, and I highly recommend it, even for people with sensitive skin. I have used it (so far) for a week straight with zero irritation or redness. It is a thicker, lotion-like formula, and it is meant to be used right after washing the face before any other products. You can use any anti-oxidant serums or moisturizers afterward. I recommend waiting about 30 minutes after using the Daily AHA treatment before applying any other products, so as not to dilute the effect of the AHA. I got a couple sample packettes of the Weekly Resurfacing treatment which I was also very interested in trying. It has a very thin, toner-like consistency, and can be applied with a cotton pad or with fingers. I had to take pause, because it is meant to be used on the face overnight once a week, and I knew right away that my skin would not tolerate that. The other option is to use it as a mask, leaving it on for 10 minutes, then rinsing and going on with your normal skin care routine. I tried this, and it was effective. There was just a little stinging, which I know shouldn't go on for more than a couple of minutes, so I rinsed it off a few minutes early. The irritation faded quickly, and the results were good. Overall, the Daily 5% AHA treatment is a slam dunk, and used in combination with the Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum w/ Retinol (one of my favorite products, of which there are three formulations to suit your skin's specific needs), your skin will definitely feel soft and smooth, and over time, the benefits will be incredible.

My last peel product will be the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel. Now, I will say up front that there is some criticism of this product for its inclusion of alcohol, but I have not found it to be a problem for my skin. Alcohol in small amounts will not really do any harm to your skin, but some people won't use it at all, so I wanted to mention that first. The other issue is with packaging. There are two options: a two step pre-soaked towelette packette system, which is what I prefer, because the beneficial skin ingredients will not be compromised like they can be with the jar packaging system. Bacteria, light and oxygen can mess with the good stuff. But, moving on, the first step is the peel and the second step neutralizes it. I like the simplicity and ease of use with this peel. I also like how my skin is not irritated at all when I use it, and this is the only peel where I get an amazing glow right after I use it. Exactly what is in the peel you ask? Well, I don't really know. Dr. Gross is not up front on the label as for what concentration of AHA/BHA is in the peel, but he does say that there are 40 ingredients in all (many of which I think are in the neutralizing step, such as a small amount of retinol), and he makes general claims about the anti-aging properties of the peel, and that it delivers results instantly. This is the first time I have ever said this: these general, lofty claims he makes? They are correct. Yep, he's not messing around, there are instant results indeed.  I've seen the Alpha Beta Peel infomercial on TV, he's on QVC, it's big, and I can completely see why. It's as close to a miracle product as I've found, and with a product this good, comes the high price tag. It's $80 for 30 individual treatment packettes, or $28 for 10 packettes. Here's the bright spot: you don't actually need to use them every day. In fact, I use one generally every three days, and continue to have great results. So, potentially, you can spend $80 and have three months worth of product. That's not too bad. If you have stubborn skin issues, you may want to consider the Extra Strength Peel, which is slightly higher in concentration and price.

I listed these products in order of efficacy from least to most efficacious, and the best is the most costly of course (unless you portion it out over two or three months like I do). I initially set out to find a replacement for the Dr. Dennis Gross product because of the cost, but it seems that the more peels I try, the more I want my Dr. Dennis Gross peel back. 

**Here is a tip from me to you: throwing cost to the wind, if you should get a bad irritation from a reaction to a product, nothing helps soothe and actually heal my skin like Creme de La Mer. Earlier in the year I had a horrible reaction to Bremenn's Emergency Zit Stick, a Benzoyl Peroxide treatment (I hadn't used any since I was a teenager), and La Mer nursed my skin back to health in record time. I know that lots of people think La Mer is overpriced and ineffective, but I beg to differ. I could devote an entire post to La Mer, but I won't (for now). This is just a piece of advice that maybe you'll need one day, but I hope you don't.**