eyeliner on a cat

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

Monday, March 25, 2013

Perfume Palate: a Matter of Taste [Ferris Egoiste]

Ferris (@DkChocoMan on Twitter) is a  very curious, friendly sort of fellow, and he possesses the kind of infectious eagerness to connect with others in the perfume world that makes me very happy to be doing what I do. He and I have one thing in common besides fragrance that came as a surprise as I first read his questionnaire responses: he works in the veterinary industry on the food side, I worked in a clinic setting for 11 years. Eventually I decided to commit myself to what I really love to do (writing and fragrance) and I've been lucky enough to parlay that into a bit of a career for myself.

Blogging about perfume has led to many incredible relationships and events, I've had great luck and have also fought in the trenches for what I believe in (both online and in the real world). I'm still learning, still making mistakes, still laughing a lot and grateful that I have people in my life who get the jokes. It's guys like Ferris who keep me grounded and open to dialogue and shared experiences. 

You can find Ferris in his own little corner of the scented web, and it's called In the Nose: A Fragrance Blog.

First of all, please state your name and occupation:

Ferris, Veterinary Food Inspector.

What is your favorite perfume at the moment?

My favorite perfume at the moment is NY Oud by Bond No. 9

What is your favorite fragrance house or brand of perfume?

Currently my favorite fragrance houses are Bond No. 9 and Chanel.

How often do you wear perfume, and under what circumstances do you wear it?

I wear perfume every day whether it’s going to the office or special evenings out. The only times that I'm fragrance free is when I step out the shower, going for a run or working out at the gym. Depending upon the occasion or event I will vary the dosage/ application, i.e.  dabbing vs spraying or using fragrance infused body lotions.

Is it important to you to know who the perfumer or creator is behind the perfumes you wear?

No, it isn't essential that I know the perfumer; however I find it very fascinating to learn about them and the story that inspired the scent. I think it adds to a perfume’s mystique.

Do you follow the work of certain perfumers, and if so, who?

I don’t follow a particular perfumer; however, I am a fan of most of Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s creations, Fleur du Male specifically. I haven’t tried anything from his private collection yet, but I have heard nothing but great things about it.

Think of an iconic perfume bottle design from the past. What is it?

The most iconic perfume flacon of all time, without question, is the one Guerlain created for its crown jewel Jicky.  It is the epitome of classic bottle designs.

How many times a day do you estimate that you think about perfume?

I can’t really put a number on that; it would be too many to count. LOL I think about perfumes throughout the day. I'm always thinking about the latest creations (classic ones as well) and wondering how they will smell on me compared to the hype about them.

Think of the last time you complimented someone on the fragrance they were wearing. Did you ask them what it was, and if so, did they tell you?

It was very recent, about two weeks ago, one of my coworkers had on a particular perfume that smelled very pretty. I recognized the notes immediately (coumarin, musk, vanillin) as the scent was quite intense. I asked her what it was and to this day I don’t remember what she said.

In just three words, describe your ideal fragrance:

Smooth, luxurious, sophisticated

[ed: I'll take one of those any day of the week!]

Friday, March 15, 2013

Moody Rouge: Exploring mood and perfume with Rouge Bunny Rouge Fragrant Confections [a group blog]

One of the things I love about the little blogging group I'm a part of is that when it's each of our turns to choose the theme for the given post, there's always room for personal interpretation of the task. The lovely Birgit (Olfactoria's Travels) chose the theme this quarter-- and loosely, the task equates to choosing perfumes to enhance (or change) a mood. To my mind, this is a huge part of how we perfume-obsessed folks are hard-wired. Fragrance is a tool we can use to self-diagnose and self-medicate: pile it on or pare it down, move laterally or in circles-- it's what sets the tone for the day or evening. I also utilize music and fashion in similar ways. Whether I choose to push forward into reality or perpetuate fantasy is another consideration, as my moods are apt to change on a dime, which is one reason why I need a large collection of perfumes. The other reasons I really can't justify with any kind of viable logic, unfortunately.

I've become completely charmed by Rouge Bunny Rouge's initial perfume trio, consisting of Vespers, Chatoyant and Lilt. They are like girls I know and love. They're models and they're beautiful and full of easy, unaffected quirkiness and prone to spontaneous fits of joy/anger/sadness-- whatever the drama du jour may bring. Each girl/fragrance is quite different from the next, but you really must meet them in a group. Rouge Bunny Rouge calls their fragrances "Fragrant Confections", and there is a very charming enchanted garden theme (an extensive one, which falls in line with the brand's already well-wrought whimsical vibe) attached to it. I must admit that my attention can only be held for a few seconds when it comes to the marketing back stories-- I'm just a straight-up juice hound. These fragrances speak for themselves, which is what everyone hopes for: the perfumer, the brand, and the wearer. The gorgeous artwork that accompanies each fragrance is one of the coolest aspects of the entire collection (see illustrations below).

Vespers is the most youthful of the trio. Innocence is its strongest force, backed by the kind of self-confidence that is inherent in only a few, and exhibited humbly in even fewer. This composition is largely based on muguet, rose and a tart pop of green apple. It's a bubbly, decidedly un-serious yet tenacious floral fragrance and has the appeal of freshly-scrubbed beauty. The drydown features a somewhat predictable combination of sandalwood, vanilla, cedarwood and musk, however, that rose and muguet combo will stick with you to the bitter end. Lovers of warm floral fragrance-lovers will want this one for spring and summer.
[perfumer: Sonia Constant]


What Vespers would wear

Lilt is the edgy, funny girl. Her fragrance brief might state that she would like something that technically is a perfume to be worn, but that it shouldn't necessarily smell like one. It should smell like fig leaves and twigs being crunched under a pair of Balenciaga studded combat boots. Insanely verdant, an overdose of all the things you liked best about Premier Figuer and Philosykos, but GREENER. Not a grain of sugar in sight, but definitely a wink and a smile. This girl reminds me of the graphic novel character Death, who is undeniably goth, but has a cheerful affect about her. She may be Death, but she appreciates what it means to live, breathe, love and steal moments filled with curiosity and reverence. Other notes include peach, cocoa, violet, vetiver and musk, but once you get a hit of that green GREEN stuff, you won't want to move past it. Once you do though, it becomes the sticky, ripe fruit that its verdant beginnings promised us. Weird, beautiful, unforgettable.
[perfumer: Shyamala Maisondieu]


Death-- from the comics & graphic novel by Neil Gaiman

The first time Rouge Bunny Rouge sent me samples, they had all leaked and there was nothing left in the atomizers. I smelled the remnants of one perfume more than the others, and whichever one it was, I needed more of it as soon as possible. Enter Chatoyant. Its opening is all sparkling citrus with a bit of pepper, and after about 10 seconds, everything starts to groove together. I love it when that happens. Enter a deceivingly light floral heart of orchid, jasmine, rose and muguet. The base consists of sandalwood, cedarwood, musk and vanilla. Pretty similar to Miss Vespers, don't you think? Chatoyant is a very different animal. Her sartorial style dictates that she strategically highlight at least one body part at all times-- she's Jessica Rabbit; she's Angelina Jolie in the black dress with the slit practically up to her hip. Chatoyant is sex, maybe too much of it, barely contained and concealed. The effect of each note rising up to meet the others is one of  sensory rapture- and experiencing the full effect of the drydown adds another element of complicated emotion to this hot mess of a girl you just can't stay away from. The journey ends with surprising warmth and wisdom.
[perfumer: Franc Deleamont]


Chatoyant brings to mind this vintage Schiaparelli Shocking ad

So now that you've gotten to know these distinct personalities and their many moods, it's worth mentioning that wearing all three fragrances at once DOES actually work quite well. That's because this is a very well-designed collection, and I wouldn't believe for a second that anything here was a happy accident. Major props go to RBR creative director Alexandra de Monfort and all three perfumers for making a memorable first collection. This brand is officially on my radar.

Each 50ml EDP bottle is $129 and is available in the US at Beautyhabit.com.
[I should also mention that I'm in love with my Rouge Bunny Rouge lip gloss and eye shadow as well-- highly recommended]

For more explorations of the connections we make between mood and fragrance, visit my partners-in-crime:
Fragrant Moments
Candy Perfume Boy

[perfume samples provided by Rouge Bunny Rouge for my consideration]

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dr. Denese SkinScience: adding science back into the mix

I've been using natural and/or organic skin care products almost exclusively for a little over a year, and have had really great results. My pesky skin allergies and irritations all but vanished, I've learned of the dramatic and pleasurable results that a good facial oil can provide, and I've healed from major surgery by using gentle, natural remedies instead of standard-issue hospital fare. Now, I'm looking to throw a few very carefully curated scientific skin care products back into my regimen, because time just won't slow down, no matter how I complain.

When you look in the mirror day after day and say to yourself (or out loud!): "I think I'm aging quite well", you almost certainly are. Perception is everything. I've reached the point where I can still say that and mean it, however, I also see where improvement is needed. I know that deep lines, wrinkles and sagging cannot be obliterated completely by skin care products alone (that's a job for the cosmetic surgeons and derms). Skin that is healthy, well-hydrated, with cells that are turning over at the appropriate rate and is being fed ingredients to encourage collagen production, etc, has the appearance of being smoothed out for the short term, and some ingredients have long-term, cumulative benefits.

A healthy glow can be faked (and often should be), but how do you feel when you wash your face at night and use your evening skin care products? When the BB Cream and spackle comes off, does your self-confidence go with it? I'll say this: I wouldn't kick a free syringe of Botox out of bed right now, but it's not likely I'll ever go there.

In the meantime, products such as the ones Dr. Denese formulates are a real treat to use, because not only are they created with ingredients that are proven effective in anti-aging, but they make you look and feel awfully good. I recently had the opportunity to delve into the brand beyond the HydroShield Face Serum, which I had already been a huge fan of, and I found some new gems.

Wrinkle Rx Extreme Pro-Peptide Gel

Here's what I would imagine to be a common scenario in the beauty and skin care industry:
A wrinkle-fighting, hydrating anti-aging serum or gel is in the works, but it's not that different from other high-end, dermatologist-developed products on the market. What do you do? Some would (and have) launch the product as is, not striving for uniqueness. Dr.Denese? She develops and patents her own peptide complex (and several others). It went to work immediately on my "elevens", the lines between the eyebrows. I have always been a frowner, a furrower, and no matter how hard I try to relax my facial muscles, they do what they want to do in the end. The Wrinkle Rx Extreme Pro-Peptide Gel is not a product I would have immediately gravitated towards, because my wrinkles are not at all extreme, and the name made me feel that it was not particularly suitable for me. I'm so glad I gave it a chance, because it's one of those instant gratification things: 1. Apply gel to areas where deep lines live. 2. Let it dry 3. Look in the mirror. Radiant smoothness! The proprietary peptide blend will also work cumulatively for the long-term. This is a winner.

HydroShield Ultra-Moisturizing Face Serum

I love this stuff. I love it so much that a 1.7 ounce bottle is long gone by the time I'm done with my 3 EZ-Pays on it. I use it twice a day, generously, and massage the remnants on to the backs of my hands. It's a clear, super-slick and silky serum packed with retinol, ceramides and other good stuff that dries to a matte finish in about 5 minutes. In warm weather, I really don't need another moisturizer on top. This is far and away Dr. Denese's most popular product, for many reasons- but mainly because anyone can use it. And, I think it's fair to say, everyone should use it.

15 Day SkinScience Booster Program

This product comes in a long box with each evening's dose in a separate ampule. The first five days, the serum is a lot like the HydroShield Serum. The next ten doses are a tantalizing combination of  hydrating, anti-aging and vitamin-based ingredients. I really wish I could buy a big bottle of this stuff. I wake up every morning with balanced skin that glows. After 15 days, my complexion is far more even-toned and even-textured, my pores appear smaller and overall, my skin is profoundly more hydrated than when I started. Definitely worth trying.

Pore Refining Toner

You might be thinking, "a toner? BO-RING!", but this is no boring toner. It contains so many good things that I love: aloe, glycerin, rosehip, fruit acids, CoQ10, retinol.... I could go on. It feels like heaven and gives a pleasant rice-like natural sweetness to the nose. I keep some in the fridge and when I have eye puffiness, I soak cotton rounds with the stuff and place them over my eyes (applying gentle, rolling pressure under the eyes) and puffiness is relieved. At the moment, I enjoy using it after cleansing, but when the weather warms up, I think I'll be spritzing out of a spray bottle so nothing goes to waste.  Let me point out in a little sidebar here that some people don't think toners are ever necessary, but I really enjoy using them. This has become one of my favorite toners due to its gentleness and soothing ingredients.

Advanced Firming Facial Pads

Advanced Firming Facial Pads contain glycolic acid, alpha lipoic acid, and proprietary ActiZone Firming Factor which, according to Dr. Denese's website, "works to deliver the skin you want under the skin you have". I like that line. It's not promising the moon, it's something that is a reasonable expectation for a consumer to have. While I'm not a huge fan of jar packaging, I have to admit I've become quite accustomed to using one of these pads every night. It's cooling on the skin, exfoliates a little, hydrates and tones a little, and is very refreshing. Many nights, this will even render a toner unnecessary for me. I LOVE the feeling of wiping the slate clean, literally, without my skin feeling dry or tight. The Advanced Firming Facial Pads kick it up a notch in my quest to make the pores on my nose look smaller.

HydroShield Dream Cream

Loaded up with glycerin, retinol, dimethicone and ceramides in a very lightweight hydrating base (it's more like an emulsion than a cream), HydroShield Dream Cream is a really wonderful moisturizer. My skin leans toward super-dry and cranky, and a dab of this stuff calms it down and shuts it right up. I love the way it makes my skin look-- very plump and youthful. Hydration is half the battle, and this gives me the edge I need. I really wish this was in a pump bottle, though-- the consistency is certainly appropriate for it.

SkinPerfect Rx Glycolic Transforming Peel

The Skin Perfect Rx Glycolic Transforming Peel was recommended to me by a Dr. Denese SkinScience staffer; it's her holy grail home peel. I'm known for my love/hate thing with at-home peels and have the battle scars to prove it. I will say this-- my skin is not as sensitive as it was a couple of years ago. This peel does sting a bit, so instead of leaving it on for the 5-7 minutes recommended on the label, I wash it off after 3. It delivers dramatic results without being overly harsh. There are some interesting ingredients included besides the glycolic and lactic acid powerhouses: aloe, willow bark, orange and lemon, sugar maple and mushroom extract.  I use this once a week maximum, and I'm very happy that my skin will tolerate it. As skin ages, skin cells need a jump to turn over and regenerate. This is an easy way to stay on top of it. This product will never win any awards for its scent (it's sort of like milk gone bad), but I'd MUCH rather smell something rather funky for a few minutes than have chemical fragrances added!

In general, I find Dr. Denese's SkinScience line really elegant and effective. I would recommend any of these products to people 30 and up, or even late 20s. SkinScience has a brand image that really appeals to older women (as is evident by consistently amazing sales on QVC), but the main reason I wanted to feature these products was to get a message across that anti-aging measures can and should be taken by young, middle-aged and more senior women alike. This goes without saying, but I'm gonna say it anyway: the most powerful anti-aging tool anyone can employ is a good sunscreen, and it should be applied vigilantly. Also, make sure to get enough rest; there's a reason it's called beauty sleep! Those two things alone have helped me immensely over the years.

Shopping notes:
On the Dr. Denese SkinScience website, there are a few trial-size kits available for good prices. There are frequent sales and specials so be sure to sign up for the e-newsletter. You can also get up to $10 off your order by tweeting from the website and sharing on Facebook. To make things even more enticing, virtually everything you buy can be split up into 3 monthly credit card payments (usually with a minimum order of $50 or $75). I wish every company did this! I was able to snag myself a 4oz bottle of HydroShield Face Serum this way (you'd think I pour the stuff over my cereal every morning with the way I use it).

[some products reviewed here were sent to me by the company for my consideration, and some were purchased by me for my own use. all opinions stated above are my own and I have not been compensated for them]