Monday, November 29, 2010

TEMPTU Retouch Foundation

Right off the bat, I'll tell you that Retouch Foundation from TEMPTU is worthy of my highest marks (or very close to it) when it comes to foundation.

First of all, I didn't even realize that TEMPTU made a traditional foundation until recently, and you can barely even call it traditional. It comes in a click-bottom tube with a brush, and I admit that I have a love/hate thing with the packaging. It looks sleek, the cylinder is airtight (YES!), but it has a brush on the end (with a cap), which in general, I'm not a fan of. This is very handy for throwing in your bag and running out the door, and the brush is very soft and effective if you like that sort of application method. Personally, though, I want to apply foundation with my fingertips, it just looks and blends better that way. So, I just have to click out the product onto my fingers, and then go from there. It usually takes 3 or 4 clicks to get the right amount to cover my face lightly.

Whoa, boy. There is a lot to love here. It has a light texture and sheer coverage that has a satin finish (not matte, not dewy, just right there in between). I got the lightest color (001 Porcelain), and it has a very flattering slight pink tone to it, which makes it perfect for wintertime for me. It's got wonderful slip, so you have time to blend, and the color is buildable. Perhaps it is meant just to supplement the airbrush foundation for touch-ups, but it's perfectly wonderful on its own. It's got a vanilla scent to it, and that may bother some people, but I actually love it. This is ideal for someone (like myself) who is addicted to tinted moisturizer and wants something with just a tiny bit more pigment for the winter.

Several hours after application, skin still looks fantastic. It lays down the perfect canvas to apply other makeup, and does not settle into fine lines, look cakey or feel heavy. Best of all, it does not irritate my sensitive skin. I've also found that it's very useful for dabbing under the eyes to brighten the area or on blemishes or discolorations mid-day.

Retouch Foundation is top of the line as far as I'm concerned, and you just can't mess with the impressive lightweight formulation. I would just urge the company to offer other packaging options. I've never used TEMPTU airbrush foundation, but now that I know how beautifully their traditional foundation works for me and how their shades work, I'd be much more inclined to try it.

Retouch Foundation retails at $47, and you can buy it on their website at

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sensory Quesionnaire

Here is my result from filling out Glass Petal Smoke's Sensory Questionnaire:

Name/Country of Origin/Profession:
Carrie Meredith, USA

1.     What does your sense of smell mean to you?
My sense of smell is my ticket out of this stratosphere. I go to great pains to scent my environment just so, and choose and blend my perfumes each day either to suit my mood, or to alter myself, much as I did when I was younger with tattoos and piercings. To successfully modify my space, body and mind with scent is to exercise a certain control that is much more difficult for me to attain in other areas of my life. I use my sense of smell as a means of gathering pleasure where I can find it, and as a psychological tool to dig into and then reorganize my thoughts and creativity.

2.     What are some of your strongest scent memories?
All throughout my childhood, my mother would bring me along to the barn where she kept her horse. I would follow around the barn cats all day until I discovered that the horses were actually pretty cool too. I never minded the smell of horse manure or any horse-related smells. What held my particular attention was the saddle shop, and the smell of the saddle oil and leather, the boots and other riding gear. Leather and hay are two notes I am always looking for in perfumes these days. There is a place for horse skank, and surprisingly, that place is in my house.  

3.   What are some of your favorite smells (things in nature, cooking &/or your environment)?
Fresh watermelon is the happiest smell I can think of. To me, it has this ozone-y amazingness that can’t be surpassed. I also love the smell of cat fur, lilac bushes, leather jackets/handbags/boots, mud, mushrooms, wood (in any way shape or form, including live trees), funnel cakes being made, Kasugai gummy candies (Muscat flavor).

4.  Do you have any favorite smells that are considered strange?
I like the smell parakeets give off if you sniff their heads at certain points in their molt cycles. I think it’s a hormonal thing for them. For me, your guess is as good as mine.

5.  Describe one or more of your favorite cooking smells.
Warm corn tortillas, grilled pita bread, portabella mushrooms on the grill, fresh caramel corn, cake batter, pickled things, olives.

6.  What smells do you most dislike?
When I was a kid, my grandfather would make oxtail stew whenever my grandmother let him have at it in the kitchen. My grandmother used to cook homemade meals for her Afghan Hounds every day, usually ground hamburger and pasta or rice. Any combination of those ingredients can  remind me of doggie meals or oxtails. Let’s just say that I’ve been a vegetarian for 18 years and counting.

7.  What smell did you first dislike, but learned to love?
I have recently done a switcheroo with my scent preferences that has me surprised. I used to be obsessed with amber fragrances, and now they’ve become very hard for me to take. On the flipside, leather in perfume used to really turn me off, and now I’m seeking it out in as many different scents as I can in order to test my boundaries. I also used to have an aversion to jasmine, and that is also slowly earning my favor again.

8.  What mundane smells inspire you?
Burning wood, snow, rain and fresh air. The elements and how they relate to the changing seasons are the most inspiring things to me. I’m not sure if I would really call them mundane, but they are what you get, whether you like it or not, if you want to be alive every day.

9.  What scent never fails to take you back in time and why?
Musty paperback book smell reminds me of digging through all of my grandfather’s books when I was young to see if there were any I wanted to read. Of course, this was how I developed my taste for mystery novels and specifically, Sherlock Holmes.

10.  What scents do you associate with memories of loved ones?
a. My mother used to wear YSL Paris, among many others, but for some reason I always associate Paris with her.
b. My grandfather wore Brut, and I was just thinking about it yesterday actually, musing on the name. I wish I could have been in that board meeting when they greenlighted that name.
c. My husband has what I like to call “cake-head”. He uses Jonathan Product Dirt in his hair, and it smells just like vanilla cake. Anytime you go within two feet of him, the cake-head scent emerges, engulfing everything and everyone in its path. It’s actually kind of nice.
d. The smell of Lancome foundation (a rosy sort of floral scent) will always remind me of my grandmother. She wore a full face of makeup and dyed her short hair jet black her whole life and throughout her very elderly years.
e. The great love of my life, my cat Maggie, passed away a few months ago (she had cancer), and I had come to truly define myself as her caretaker ever since she was diagnosed in February. She had a particular love of one kind of canned cat food made by Merrick called Turducken. It has a very gamey, oily smell, and even though I hate the smell of any kind of meat (and kitty food goes without saying), I began to associate the smell of the cat food with Maggie’s utter ecstasy at being served the stuff, so coping with the smell of it became not just okay, but a really, really good thing. The cat I have now, Troutie, will not eat any canned food at all.

11.  What fragrance(s) remind you of growing up?
Anything from the Sanrio store, and fortunately, they are still going strong so I can indulge myself anytime if I want a walk down memory lane. Demeter came out with a Sanrio 50th Anniversary scent that is supposed to smell just like a Sanrio store. Long story short- fail.

12.  What fragrance(s) remind you of the places you visited on vacation?
Juara Candlenut Oil perfume is a divinely tropical scent, but the closest I’ve come to visiting any place tropical is The Mirage hotel and casino in Las Vegas. They pipe in this fake tropical smell that used to get me all pumped to drop some cash at the low-limit blackjack tables while drinking fruity cocktails. That’s what I call ME time.

13.  Describe a piece of sensory literature that is very magical for you.

Unless some sweetness at the bottom lie, who cares for all the crinkling of the pie?

The book The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley was published a couple of years ago, and was a revelation for me. It’s about an eleven year old girl named Flavia de Luce living in 1950s England who solves a mystery by using her precociousness, her bravery, and her deep understanding of chemistry and how to create poisons by using plants and other neat things. She is at once fascinated by the world around her, and repelled by many of its inhabitants, and that is a position I can sympathize with wholeheartedly. There are many wonderful sensory descriptions, and it would appeal to any perfumer or perfume enthusiast. Or any person with a beating heart.

                        Maggie (Miss Crabtree) 10/14/96- 8/27/10
EDIT: to show my dear departed kitty, who interestingly, had a tumor inside her nasal cavity, so although she couldn't much smell her food anymore, it was habit that drove her to run to the kitchen for Turducken. Around the same time, my doctor diagnosed me with a concha bullosa, a blockage in my sinuses that will probably have to be removed (which isn't that big of a deal). The coincidence continues to creep me out, but despite that, I ain't gonna let no "blockage" stop me from sniffing, although I wonder if it's affected my sense of smell at all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide 2010

I've compiled this little list of gift options that I find to be exceptional in many ways. The price points vary as widely as the products themselves, and I have fawned excessively over each item and/or already own and happily use them. I have also listed any sales I am aware of associated with each company along with the item. Now, let your eyes feast!

D.L. & Co Gingembre art glass vessel with ginger scented candle
$250 [starting Friday, use code BLACKFRIDAY for a 25% discount on all products, including those from Modern Alchemy, Burn and Lisa Carrier lines]
This is pure, unadulterated luxury. It's hard to even begin to describe something that speaks for itself so clearly.

Paul Smith 2010 Extreme for Men Gift Set
$44.82 at A spicy, woody scent with an incense note, includes EDT 50 ml and Shower Gel 75 ml.
[Free shipping worldwide for the holidays, no minimum order]

Ash Pony Clutch in Black
on sale at for $245. This is a staggeringly cool clutch and would please the more edgy chicks on your list who get a kick out of buckles, zippers and other shiny and potentially dangerous things.

Alternative Apparel The Rocky Eco-Fleece Zip Hoodie
$50.00 [friends and family sale: save 20% with code FAMILY until 12/5/10. Also, some Black Friday discounts happening on selected items]
This unisex hoodie is the softest thing a person could put against their skin, and is made from a blend of organic cotton, recycled polyester and naturally occurring rayon. Everyone, including your mom and your brother will love this.

m Luxe Bath Collection in Hana
$25.00 at
Includes: Creme d'Amande Lotion (8 fl oz.)
Savon d'Amande Soap (5.75 oz.)
Luminaire d'Amande Candle (4 oz.)
A sweet almond scent with a hint of black cherry and chamomile, and a very good value.

Soivohle Art Liquide Little Black Box, Earthy Palette
$30 at Contains vials of Green Oakmoss, Sonoran Leather, Vanillaville, Massive Patchouli and Blood Orange & Vetiver
You can mix and match your own vials to go in this beautifully presented box, or choose one of the pre-selected collections. Prices will vary, but the quality and thought put into each fragrance will not; Liz Zorn is a talented perfumer responsible for some of the most memorable perfumes I've tried.

Besame Sweetheart Balm
$18.00 at, available in Sweet Rose (pink) or Cherry (red).
A moisturizing balm for the lips with a hint of color, can be used alone or layered over lipstick for extra sheen. Besame is noted for excellent, retro packaging and formulations, but the only thing retro about this modern must-have is the cute packaging. Find me a girl who doesn't want twelve more lip balms, and I will certainly be checking for a pulse.

Tarina Tarantino Queen Alice Lucite Chain Toggle Necklace
$175 on
An Alice in Wonderland themed necklace, "inspired by vintage 70's fashion and the yellowed pages of a favorite old book". A super cool statement piece.

REN Skincare Kit for Sensitive Skin
$30 on
Includes: Calendula & Arctic Berry Ultracalm Cleansing Milk (25 ml) Hydra-Calm Global Protection Day Cream (15 ml) Omega 3 Overnight Lipid Renewal Serum (15 ml) Frankincense & Boswellia Serrata Revitalising Night Cream (15 ml)
Kits are also available for Dry Skin, Combination Skin and Normal Skin.
[orders over $50 get free shipping and free Rose Body Care Travel Sizes]
REN Skin Care is simply awesome. I've used the brand for years, and believe that their products are well made and effective. A gift of skin care (especially one of this caliber) is giggle-inducing for the product junkie.

Tokidoki Robbery Palette
$49 at
Three cosmetic palettes containing eyeshadows and blush in an adorable tin with a removable magnet. Tokidoki has wonderfully saturated pigments in very imaginative presentations. You can also potentially break up the palettes to gift separately.
[free shipping over $50]

[all photos are property of their rightful owners]

Ingrid Pitt [1937-2010]

Ingrid Pitt, of Hammer Horror fame, passed away unexpectedly the other day at age 78 of heart disease. She was a major beauty inspiration of mine, and inspired me in many other facets of my life as well. Her wit was intact until the very end, and her writing was sharp, unapologetic, and she never shunned her sometimes racy past with her Hammer days. She broke down barriers by baring it all, and she did so proudly. She was a talented actress, and she had more spirit than any one person should be allowed to have. A couple of years ago we exchanged emails, and she egged me on to continue writing, and I'm happy for it. Every time I feel a voice of doubt rising up within me, I can hear her laughing at me and telling me to be brave. I'll never be as brave as Ingrid was, but I can only try.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Voluspa Floraison Eau de Parfum: 3 Scents Reviewed

I recently got a few samples of Voluspa perfume with my candle order from Candles Off Main (all Voluspa candles, of course). Honestly, I didn't even know that Voluspa made perfume up until the time of my order, so I was surprised and very eager to sniff. There are five scents total available from Candles Off Main, and they retail at a very affordable $18.00 each for 1 oz.

First up is Cocoa Tamarind. I got a very strong opening of cocoa and vanilla with this with a slightly bitter tang of the tamarind fruit beneath. So far, I was getting what I expected. Then it changed. A bouquet of flowers emerged, and I could smell nothing else. I waited about a half an hour, and by then it had morphed yet again. At that point, it settled into a soft skin scent with vanilla and a slight floral note within. Quite pleasant, but I'm a bit baffled by the wild alchemy of this perfume.

Next is Jasmine Brown Sugar. Once this hit my skin, I knew I loved it, and I instantly knew why. It smells incredibly similar to one of my favorite (and unfortunately no longer living) Voluspa candle scents, Vanilla Creme de Fleur. Fortunately I still have a bit of my last candle left for comparison, and it's pretty much dead on. Upon opening, the jasmine is present but not cloying (as jasmine usually is on me), and the brown sugar represents as a sweet skin musk. The effect is very soft, and the scent does not change very much the longer it's worn like the Cocoa Tamarind. This is a very comforting scent and I am happy to know that I am able to have a perfume to replace a favorite candle (rest in peace, Vanilla Creme de Fleur, you will be missed).

Last is Enfleurage. The opening is bright, sweet floral, slightly antiseptic. It quickly turns very Violet Candy on me, and then the rose notes emerge pretty strongly. The drydown is sweet, sweet, sweet flowers. My skin doesn't approve, unfortunately. Floral scents don't usually work on me, so I'm not surprised, but I had to try it anyway because the notes include vanilla bean and cucumber, and I was curious to see how they worked in. I can catch the vanilla, but not the cucumber.

Other scents available: Mimosa Martini and Mignonette.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fusion Beauty PrimeResults Anti-Aging Primer

I have a thing with primers. I like to try them all, but I'm slowing down on that because it's becoming evident exactly which type is suitable for my skin and the makeup that goes over it. Needless to say, I've got heaps of them. They get used a few times and then languish in a cabinet for the rest of their lives.

The Anti-Aging primer from Fusion Beauty is happily not one of those that will go forgotten. It has a thick silicone-based consistency that filled my fine lines, softened imperfections including little scars I have, and melted into my skin with body heat. It has a light peach tone that is quite flattering and very sheer (it will work on any skin tone, as it does not leave a significant deposit of color).

The packaging is sleek and I love the fact that it comes in a pump, because I have a primer from another company with a similar texture that I like, but hate that it comes in a jar. Packaging a primer in a jar is unsanitary and any good skin ingredients that might be present would be compromised with such packaging once they come into contact with oxygen and light. Fusion Beauty's Anti-Aging Primer also has generous sizing at one ounce, so it will last a very long time.

I used a cream concealer and mineral makeup over the primer, and found that the makeup I used stayed put very well, but what's really got me excited is how my skin felt smooth and hydrated all day. If you use a good moisturizer, a primer like this will literally seal in the hydration, and in this case, will impart additional hydration (sodium hyaluronate and glycerin).

The thing I dislike about most primers is how many are watery and if you attempt to mix them into your foundation, you have an unsavory texture on your hands, which leads me to my next experiment. I mixed my Fusion primer into my creamy tinted moisturizer (Chantecaille Just Skin), and it was HEAVEN. This is the answer to any conundrums of only having two minutes to do your makeup before you have to run out the door. Mix this primer into your cream or liquid foundation or tinted moisturizer, add a touch of blush and lip gloss, and you're done. Not only will you be done, but your skin will look amazing.

Verdict: Love. This is a versatile, thick primer that does what it says. It softens the look of lines and wrinkles, and perfectly preps skin for makeup (but in my opinion, could be used in lieu of makeup also). Containing Matriyxl 3000, rose hip fruit extract, peptides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, there are clearly several beneficial ingredients for the skin. The texture and formulation are ideal for dry, aging skin.

I have only one caveat: this primer is pretty highly fragranced with a floral-type scent, so if you object to that or are prone to headaches, I would avoid it.

[note: this product was sent to me for review by Fusion Beauty. My opinions are solely my own, and have not been influenced by any persons, corporation or organization]

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Micallef Aoud Chronicles

I tend to favor perfume houses and at the very least, test out everything they've created. In this case, it is Martine Micallef, whose fragrances have by and large captivated and inspired me. I find the quality and creativity of her fragrances to surpass most.

That is why I had to giggle when I tried Vanille Aoud on my skin. All of a sudden, I had this fantasy of a Hello Kitty Aoud fragrance being pushed by Sanrio, one that is sweetened up for a pre-teen and the severe earthiness of aoud is barely detectable. Micallef has another aoud scent that I find to be exceptional, Aoud Gourmet. While also sweet, Aoud Gourmet retains the integrity of the aoud, and it is the scent that made me interested in experimenting with layering. That's pretty huge.

With Vanilla Aoud, there is an odd tropical essence that pervades, a slight pina colada overtone that is pleasant, but not really of my ilk, reminding me more and more of Micallef's very light and fluffy Yellow Sea the longer it sits on my skin. A couple of the notes listed are musk and benzoin (and a surprising prune), but I would be surprised if anything could anchor this scent to your skin.

Not every perfumer's scent can be an absolute slam-dunk; that would mean that they are not human. I am convinced Martine Micallef is wonderfully human, and the wild variety and supreme craftsmanship that her fragrances offer us are well worth wading through a (very) occasional fizzler.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Layers: my bliss for one night (or more)

Tonight I discovered a truly inspiring scent combination. I will warn you, it may break the bank, but LUCKY for us, we've got for sampling.

Try a spritz of Le Labo Oud 27 (see previous review, it is woods in your face times twelve), and add a couple of light, well-placed dabs of M. Micallef Note Vanillee Art Collection. This vanilla from Micallef is a true, luxe, warm vanilla, unsullied by weird additives that can sour a vanilla quickly or make it smell cheap.

The result is my idea of heaven. It is Autumn, it is Winter, and potentially sleep inducing. By the way, I love sleep. In my life, it is only second to opening packages. If you want to hug people (read: men) and leave an impression they will remember, don't forget these two scents.