eyeliner on a cat

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Organic Beauty: New RMS Lip Shine in Sublime

There are only a scant few cosmetics companies that I feel that I must have everything they make. RMS (makeup artist and organic beauty guru Rose-Marie Swift) is currently at the top of the list. There's a brand new Lip Shine shade called Sublime, and sublime it is. Loaded up with skin-loving ingredients like coconut and moringa oil, Vitamin E and rosemary extract, RMS Lip Shines are cushiony-comfy to wear. The densely pigmented formula is buildable and can go from very sheer to near opaque depending on your preference. I've even used mine as a creme blush.

My favorite thing about the Sublime Lip Shine is the color. It's fresh, it's exciting and cheery, and it almost makes me want to hurl all my neutral/nude shades out the window. Almost. Hallelujah for blue-based pinks! There aren't enough of them, and this color does not exist anywhere else in the world of organic beauty that I could find (and believe me, I've searched exhaustively). It's a bright, bubblegum pink that I think would best suit cool and neutral skin tones, but I've been told by an esthetician on Twitter (shout out to @BarefootHoodoo!) that she has been using it on all her clients, and that it looks amazing on everyone.

RMS Lip Shine is also available in two other shades: Moment- a rosy brown shade, and Bloom- a very sheer neutral pink shine (see below). Bloom is next on my hit list.

photo credit: beingcontent.com

For versatility, color payoff, fabulous organic ingredients and the of-the-moment bright and flattering color of Sublime, I dub this Lip Shine my #1 must-have beauty product for summer

[I purchased mine for my own personal use at Spirit Beauty Lounge for $25. It's also available at NuboNao and other retail websites, and also direct from RMS Beauty]

NuboNau has been gracious enough to offer all readers of this blog a 15% off welcome discount for the store! The code is NN15, and the discount is not just for the RMS brand, but for all! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Immortal Mine by Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl

I am rather late in reviewing Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl's Immortal Mine, but as usual, the Perfume Goddesses had a plan for me. The last perfume I reviewed was the incredible Sepia from Mandy Aftel, and the theme was decay and the unique beauty it engenders. Immortal Mine fits right in there. It was created for the Clarimonde Project helmed by Lucy Raubertas of the blog Indieperfumes; a group of perfume writers and perfumers got together to create together in the spirit of the story Clarimonde, a 19th century vampire novel. I have not read the story, but I love where Immortal Mine is taking me as I gingerly sniff my wrists.

Everybody knows that I love me all kindsa vampires, and before anyone out there can utter the words "Ugh, I'm so burnt out on vampires", let me just say that there's more to this shadowy mythic world than Twilight or The Vampire Diaries. Folk tales exist on virtually every continent that have spawned some of the most incredible literature (and later, films) of any time period.

Now, on to the perfume! It is oil based, and while I generally prefer alcohol based fragrances, sometimes oil better suits the formulation. This is always clear to me with other Maria McElroy creations, especially the ones filled to bursting with resinous ambers. Immortal Mine is not the kind of fragrance I like to pick apart and try to figure out what magic is behind it, it's one I just want to wear and revel in its unique atmosphere. That's how I feel about my favorite Hammer Horror vampire films-- the genius lies in the rich atmospheric qualities of the films, not technical largesse.

The Byzantine excess of the Immortal Mine bottle

My sample of Immortal Mine arrived in a velvet pouch, dripping with blood red wax all around the top of the vial, with a crow feather and wax-sealed introduction note. There's only one word for that, and it is BADASS.

The fragrance itself makes me think of sweet, dry earth, a mineral wash over everything. I smell stone, old books covered with dust, something lactonic playing against subtle tartness. What lies beneath it all is blissfully incensey and woody, and more than a little unsettling. It's a moving fragrance that holds my interest for hours, and based on that alone, I would definitely buy a bottle (or a gallon).

Anyone who appreciates (or shamelessly hoards) resinous, ambery and woody fragrances with a healthy dose of mystery beneath the surface will be interested in Immortal Mine. Its unique beauty certainly stands apart from the rest of my fragrance collection.

[Immortal Mine is available at Indiescents.com in a 1/3 oz bottle for $200 or sample vials for $10. Sample was provided by one of the perfumers for my consideration]

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Aftelier Sepia: a review, and a pondering on the nature of things


I am a Virgo. Mutable, a child of Mercury or Vulcan, depending on what you believe. I am perpetually in awe of what I encounter on my path in life. It's taken me awhile to figure out that I must yield to immovable forces, and that it's wise to recognize when to do so. That brings me to my introspective question of the day:    Do we assimilate ourselves into the hearts of perfumes when we wear them, or does the perfume go through some sort of transmogrification to become part of us? If every action has a reaction, am I reacting or is the perfume? Who's Zoomin' Who?

Mandy Aftel and I definitely hang out in the same universe-- that much is clear. Body and soul, her creations are stirring to me. I react to them with a deep curiosity and appreciation, and they make me feel so balanced that I even tend to have increased empathy for the people and other living things around me. This sounds like a positive step in the direction of world peace, doesn't it? See, Norwegian black metal hasn't ruined me completely. There is hope.

Sepia is Mandy's newest creation, and has a very unique inspiration: the dusty ghost towns of California. Her travels to these places was a very moving experience for her, and she has expressed herself eloquently with Sepia.

Fragrance Notes:
TOP: blood cedarwood, yellow mandarin, pink grapefruit
MID: pink lotus, strawberry, jasmine grandiflorum, cocoa, coffee
BASE: flowering tobacco, oud, indole, ambergris, cepes, labdanum


One of my initial impressions of Sepia was that it feels very much in the same family as Tango, but a bit less sweet and richer, deeper and more earthy. It also shares genes with another of my favorites, Cacao, with the gorgeous combination of fresh citrus and cocoa. The indole is perfectly dosed and works so beautifully with the jasmine and notes of dry earth, tobacco and cepes. Many people are afraid of indole (or are just opposed to the idea that its scent is associated with excrement or decaying bodies), but rest assured that it has been used in Sepia very judiciously and should definitely not be problematic for anyone who is (or thinks they are) sensitive to it.

[Beautiful new boxes and EDP bottles!]

The EDP version of the scent leans more in the direction of Tango. The notes of cocoa, strawberry and coffee are most prevalent on my skin. It's also more buoyant, less earthbound than the perfume. It's vulnerable to the wind. This diffusiveness allows the citrus notes to sing in its ideal register for a short but blissful duration.

With the perfume, the heightened intensity of the base notes (especially labdanum) behave in a  more incense-like way, and the gourmand notes are the first to hit me and the longest to stick to my skin (my skin is a notorious sugar magnet- amplifying even the tiniest hints of sweetness). The strawberry note in particular seems to intensify over time, and marries with the ambergris so perfectly. Ultimately, these little variances between the EDP and the perfume makes the perfume my preferred version of the fragrance (by a small margin, however).

The first time I wore Sepia, I was unsure about how I felt about it. It felt foreign to me, and historically, that's never meant anything but good things-- I enjoy not having specific reference points for perfumes. With Aftelier Shiso, the fragrance conjured alien landscapes for me, and with Tango, a surreal psychodrama played itself out set in my childhood home. Sepia is intended as an ode to the beauty of decay, when something is all but forgotten and only the bones remain. It is a stark contrast to her fleshy, robust and sticky Fig perfume and the tropical seaside lushness of Parfum Prive; Sepia is about the romance of what has passed and can never be replaced. It exists somewhere between reverence and reverie-- a newly occupied space for Mandy's perfumes, and a welcome addition to her well-edited and diverse lineup.

There is Beauty in Decay [photo courtesy Mandy Aftel]

Lately, I've been returning to my youth via the traditional hippie-ish scents of the incense I used to burn constantly-- Nag Champa, Frankincense & Myrrh, Patchouli, Dragon's Blood, Sandalwood, and all manner of various aromatics and ambery resins occasionally combined with elements like fruits and gourmands. I've been buying up and stockpiling "headshop" oils, incense, bath and body products-- whatever I can find that recalls the stuff I once habitually used and treasured. I've even located a source for Frankincense & Myrrh laundry soap.*



I am currently in the middle of this fragrant frenzy, yet it wasn't until the 3rd time I wore Sepia that I realized that there is a place for this luxury artisan fragrance among my veritable army of incense and oils.  Of all the incense-y perfumes I own, Sepia is the only one that doesn't announce itself as an incense fragrance; it wasn't intended as one, after all. But...labdanum and strawberry with so many other rich and mysterious elements... yes, it's happened again. I'm able to assign my own memories, feelings, images and associations with another Aftelier creation. From my perspective, that's the sort of blessing that only the very best perfumers can bestow upon the wearer. Sepia found its place in my life by instinct alone, and has already joined the ranks as one of my favorites.

Layering tip! There is a palpable sort of magic in the air when you layer Sepia with Oud Luban, which lends its beguiling smokiness to Sepia, enhancing its incense-like qualities and even transforming them. You can create an incredible third perfume by combining them.

* Visit IndigoWild.com for a nice selection of natural cleaning products, as well as a bazillion wonderful personal care products with scents suitable for current or former hippies, or people who aren't hippies but like hippie stuff (like me).

Aftelier Perfumes Sepia is available at Aftelier.com: 1/4 oz perfume for $150, 2ml mini bottle for $45, and 30ml EDP for $150. Samples are also available in both forms.

[samples provided by the perfumer for my consideration]