eyeliner on a cat

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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Gorilla Perfumes at LUSH: The Smell of Weather Turning and Tuca Tuca

I am woefully behind the pack when it comes to Gorilla Perfumes at LUSH, and with a tidy reputation for innovation and wearability that doesn't break the bank, I'm glad I got the opportunity to test a few. The scents below are my two favorites, but there are plenty of good ones left to review another day.

The Smell of Weather Turning
This is quite a remarkable fragrance that I have become rather addicted to. It is the kind of scent that would turn my head if I caught someone else's sillage whooshing on by. Initially, the camphorous blast of mint (and I think there is likely eucalyptus here as well) almost feels like too much, and then the other notes start creeping in to join the fray. The subtle sweetness of beeswax and hay (two extremely weak spots of mine) that lies just beneath the surface at every stage of wear is my favorite part. Because of the camphor effect, the oakwood comes across as a different type of wood- like cedar or hinoki- something with bite. Does it smell like weather turning? I don't know. Not where I live, anyway. Does is smell damn good? Yup. And at only 20 bucks a pop for a 10ml slim atomizer, it's a bona-fide steal. If you're looking for a new perfume that is literal and earthy and surreal and strange all at once, The Smell of Weather Turning is your man.

Notes: Oakwood, hay, beeswax, nettle, English peppermint, mint and Roman Chamomile

Final verdict: At $19.95 a pop for a slim 10ml atomizer, it's worth buying just to experience its oddness, but soon enough, you'll be spraying and sniffing with your most incredulous expression plastered across your face. Better and heaps more interesting than many perfumes that cost 5 times as much. A must-try.

Tuca Tuca
Apparently this fragrance is named after a song and a dance craze, but since I'm not familiar with it at all, I'll spare you any pithy references. I thought this would be very sweet and feminine on me, but it's got some impressive weirdness going on, and as I see it, weirdness in perfume can't be feminine or masculine, weird is just weird. There is a touch of fruity tartness (strawberry?) that is not listed in the notes list, but it's there. This is a pretty versatile, utterly wearable scent that would make a great "don't think, just spray" perfume to use just before you head out the door. The violet leaf accord lends a nice, chewy fixative for the base, and that spicy sweetness underneath is very persistent and long-lasting. So, we have chewy, spicy, sweet and weird-- what does that sound like? Cardamom cake from Ann Sathers? I'll go with that.

Notes: vanilla, sandalwood, vetiver, violet leaf, ylang ylang

Final verdict: Fun, interesting, rather joyful. Once again, the price is even-right-er at $10.95 for a 10ml slim atomizer.

[samples were sent to me by the company for my consideration]

Friday, June 15, 2012

Destination Scents: a Group Blog

Once upon a time, I would take vacations whenever I could. I loved traveling, sometimes without even really knowing where I was going, like on a cross-country road trip with no set itinerary. My favorite old haunts in Las Vegas still call out to me. I once went to London by myself, just for the heck of it. At this point in my life, I'm not able to get away for vacations much anymore, but that doesn't stop me from daydreaming about it. All the perfume-related events I've missed and the people I would love to meet-- I definitely long for that jubilant feeling that accompanies waiting for a flight at the airport. When Olfactoria revealed her choice for the theme of this particular group blog, I relished the chance to dream out loud.

Las Vegas This is a place I've been to a dozen times, but not recently enough to see The Wynn and some of the new and enticing shopping spots that have popped up. A good scent pairing for the insanely hot weather of Las Vegas would be something cheerful with juicy citrus notes that would probably need touching up throughout the day. Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine would be perfect. When I'm in Vegas, I drink coffee like it's going out of style, and it's all about staying up as late as possible so I can keep playing $2 blackjack at The Sahara. Oh, and you know I'll be at The Rio waiting backstage for my intellectual dreamboat Penn Jillette (married? who, me? eh.).

Las Vegas's finest, illusionists Penn & Teller

NYC I love this city. It's one of those places where I feel utterly at home-- I instinctually fall into line with the fast pace. I blend in there, which affords me discreet people-watching opportunities. My choice of fragrance for NYC has to be Le Labo Oud 27. I associate the scent with NYC because I always picture the Le Labo boutique in my mind briefly when I wear it. It's cool, completely urban, and it's not something you'd expect to be wafting from a woman passing you in the subway.

one of my favorite shopping destinations in NYC

Dubai I have never been to Dubai but have been invited a couple of times. Until somebody pays my way out there, I won't be going any time soon. I've been interested in visiting for some time, and I'm pretty sure I'd love it. I've heard Dubai is the spot for over-the-top luxury, so of course I'd want to put that to the test. I would bring along two Amouage fragrances to wear: the first is Opus III- it's sweet-ish, very feminine, and so delicious. The other is Opus VI, which makes me think of crushed violets and the bright pop of rose damascena ever-so-judiciously blended in. The resinous, animalic base lasts forever. Both fragrances are sheer perfection.

one of the many cool structures in Dubai

San Francisco I've only been to San Francisco once, but it was magical and left a lasting impression on me. I find it hard to describe exactly how the city makes me feel-- maybe it's just one of those things that will always defy explanation for me. In honor of my dear friend and Berkeley-based creative genius Mandy Aftel, I would have to wear Aftelier Parfum Prive. It's rich, intoxicating, luxurious and makes me think of the water. It is one of my very favorite perfumes of all time.

San Francisco

London To me, London is like New York City, but not quite as schizophrenic, and more comfortable. London is grounded and surprisingly easy to navigate (as long as you're not driving) and also encourages the bliss associated with losing track of time. I'd wear the geographically appropriate  Ormonde Jayne Woman, the fragrance that ignited my obsession with perfume to new depths. I let this perfume teach me about the experience of vivid visual imagery in relation to scent. Before I first arrived in London, my expat friend there warned me that Londoners are not very accepting of American tourists, so I was surprised to find that the locals were exceedingly kind to me. Perhaps I'm just a non-touristy tourist. Regardless, I had a boundless reserve of love for a city that in turn loved me back.

London's Fashion and Textile Museum

So tell me, what perfumes would you match up to your favorite vacation destinations? Do you have a vacation planned for the near future?

Click through to my fabulous blogging partners for more destination scents!
Olfactoria's Travels
Fragrant Moments

Monday, June 11, 2012

Organic Home Fragrance: NuboNau Trinity Candle in Refresh

Is it possible to create a luxury spa-quality candle with all of the proven aromatherapeutic benefits of natural, certified organic essential oils, with all the sophistication you desire, and none of the cliche trappings of aromatherapy (i.e. health food store smell, hippie, kitschy, crunchy)? Oh, yeah. It is.

NuboNau Organika candles are beautiful  in their simplicity, like a neutral-color Calvin Klein sheath dress for your personal environment. They burn cleanly and evenly, and the scent throw is excellent, yet it's never overwhelming. Each candle is hand-poured and fragranced with 100% certified organic (by the Soil Assn.) essential oils, sustainable vegetable and plant waxes are used, as well as lead-free, unbleached  cotton wicks. There are no synthetic stabilizers or boosters-- in fact, they contain nothing synthetic at all.

There are three fragrances available: Tranquility, Euphoria and Refresh. I asked Hazel, the owner of the NuboNau Skin Care Boutique in Encinitas, California, to choose a blend for me based on my scent preferences, and I received the Trinity (3-wick) candle in Refresh. It was immediately clear to me that it is perfect for my home environment, which includes a very picky husband. He loved Refresh instantly, as I did.

As for the fragrance, citrus oils are the most prominent scent element, with a persistent herbal undertone. It just makes me want to take deep breaths, and I can safely do that without any smoke-related carcinogens hovering in the air. I don't know exactly which oils comprise the Refresh aromatherapy blend, but to give you an idea of its scent, I think it probably contains a combination of several of the following:
eucalyptus, geranium, bergamot, neroli, juniper, cypress, lemon balm (melissa), lemongrass, rosemary, thyme, ylang ylang

This candle creation is not a passive object, it goes to work for you. It calms nerves, sharpens focus and squashes harmful inner monologues; it's literally an anti-depressant. From the sublime fragrance blend to the satisfyingly clean and stark presentation with a special silver lid etched with what looks like a Mandala, it's an unfussy ode to the simple perfection that exists only in nature.

I adore the re-usable magnetic-flap boxes!

I've also had the opportunity to try votives of the other two candle scents- Tranquility and Euphoria, and they are both lovely, but Hazel was spot-on by pairing me up with Refresh. We were just meant to be.

The NuboNau Trinity 3-wick Candle is $95 and is available on their website or in-store. The Duo Votive Set is $59 with a choice of 3 fragrances (Tranquility, Refresh, Euphoria). NuboNau also carries a lot of my favorite natural and organic beauty brands, and they also put together great little themed gift sets (of mixed-brand origin, which is wonderful). They also have The Facial Room, where signature facial services are offered using Aromatherapy Associates, Pai and Ila Spa products. I NEED one of those Pai facials. I'll add that to the list of reasons why I should visit California as soon as possible.

Remember-- eyeliner on a cat readers can get 15% off any order at NuboNau.com with code NN15 [thanks, Hazel!]

[product sample was sent to me by the company for my consideration. I have no affiliation with this company or any other]

Monday, June 4, 2012

Flower Power: In Fiore Night Queen Parfum Solide Haute Concentre

In Fiore is the brainchild of Julie Elliott, who creates fragrances and skin care products with a deft hand and a host of pure floral ingredients that seems dizzying at first. The In Fiore skin care regimen I've been trying out is not tailored to the average American woman who is short on time and can't even bother to take off her makeup before bed. In Fiore is for someone who values her sanity and takes her time indulging the senses simply because she sees the necessity in that. This appeals to my hedonistic side quite a bit, and I will happily take 15 minutes (or more if I'm applying a masque or two) twice a day to make my skin glow supernaturally. There are many steps, and each product works in synergy with the next. Every skin concern is addressed in several products in the line. For me, it's an intoxicating and entertaining process.

Now that you have a little background on the range of products available, I encourage you to take a look around  In Fiore's website to feast your eyes on the aforementioned  lovely products. For now, I will move on to today's main event: Night Queen solid perfume.

Notes: Jasmine Sambac, Grandiflorum and Auriculatum, Bulgarian and Centifolia rose, Italian bergamot peel, saffron, Dark Indonesian patchouli leaf, Oud of Assam

Night Queen Parfum Solide Haute Concentre, one of ten fragrances available, is quite simply a jasmine lover's dream. And I'll even go one better-- I challenge anyone who historically has not enjoyed jasmine as a fragrance note-- this soliflore will be of interest. As you can see from the notes list above, different types of jasmine essences are utilized for different effects, and I think this is the main reason why I love it so much. There are a few of us out there who love the spicy, slightly jagged edge of jasmine sambac, and it's frequently passed over for its more refined sisters (always the bridesmaid...). The moonlight-stippled aura surrounding Night Queen is one of vintage repose and quiet confidence-- it reminds me of this image that I adore:

Just another Monday Night...

Brass mirrored compact each solid comes in

The patchouli and oud are in perfect proportion and lend the blend rich incense tones. The two types of rose used (centifolia and Bulgarian) act as enhancement for the jasmine and contrast for the base, but it's not intense enough by itself to make its presence known unless you're hunting for it. In other words, it's perfect for me. It's a fairly dry scent, yet surprisingly multi-layered with excellent throw. It feels like everything has its place specifically to allow the jasmine to take the lead, and lead it does. I'd follow this Queen anywhere.

The solid perfume compacts are brass with the In Fiore logo etched on to the top, it is quite generously sized, and there is a fully functional makeup mirror inside. The consistency of the beeswax mixture is soft and it spreads well, probably because of the skin-loving jojoba seed oil it contains.

There are a couple of surprises buried within the pretty brass compact-- the honey-scented wax nudges me toward orange blossom on a warm day. As usual, my skin grabs and amplifies any sweetness available to it, but there's only a little bit. Night Queen is devastatingly lush and has made its mark on me. It is now among my very favorite jasmine perfumes. Ever. If you're looking for a perfume in solid form that, strangely, has about the same scent throw as a liquid perfume and/or  if you're a jasmine nut, you need to check out In Fiore solid perfumes, and start with Night Queen. I've already got my "I'll die if I don't try these" list of other In Fiore fragrances I need to take a spin with next. In the spirit of Night Queen, I will proceed with wild abandon.

In Fiore Parfum Solide Haute Concentre in Night Queen (and nine other scents) is $65 and available through   the In Fiore website directly, or at BeautyHabit.com.

[Product sample sent to me by the creator for my consideration.]