Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Aftelier Tango: a Scentimental Journey

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]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Soivohle Nightjar, my ticket out of here

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 at Soivohle.com. Sample vials are also available. It is a limited-production fragrance released for Fall/Winter 2010.

Friday, January 7, 2011

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

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]

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


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!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christian Dior La Collection Couturier Parfumeur: Leather Oud

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!).

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Il Mondo di Odore

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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

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

(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.]