Thursday, March 22, 2012

In a Lather

It's a very short leap from perfume obsession to a deep love affair with other scented body products, and I've been a soap junkie for decades. I can't think of the last time I used a standard drugstore/supermarket bar of soap, though there are some that are perfectly acceptable, of course. I never feel quite secure unless I have a good stash of indie/crafty/natural/fancy bars of scented soap in my bathroom cabinet, and right now I am really digging the wares produced by Paintbox Soapworks, an Etsy seller specializing in "Luxury Glycerin Soap" and coordinating lotions and scrubs. As you can see, the Paintbox soaps are charming even before you crack open the cheerful and sleekly designed wrappings. The scents are rich and inventive, and many are unisex. Just a few examples of what's available:

The Queen is Dead - Blackened honey, glossy leather & a glittering swirl of smoke rising from the earth...

Sweet Cheeks - Fuzzy ripe apricot cuddles up with sweet vanilla & amber & a touch of white freesia

The Olive Tree - An unusual, botanical blend of white olive blossoms, osmanthus & fresh air, grounded by blond woods & a touch of musk

White Cotton Sheets - Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Breezy white florals, dry musk, hawthorn & a touch of ozone

Glycerin soaps lather well and rinse off easily, which is great with sensitive skin like mine. One drawback is that they disappear relatively quickly as a result, but that's just a good reason to stock up. I actually like being able to swtich scents a little more frequently -- sometimes I'll have a large bar of something more solid that I enjoy but can't wait to see the end of so I can try something else.

I'm currently quite enamored of Paintbox's Lavender Truffle scent -- rich dark chocolate, scented with lavender. I just received my order of a trio of products scented with this -- a full size bar ($6), a bottle of body lotion "Slip" ($8), and a tub of "Sorbetto" sugar scrub ($10) which does indeed look good enough to eat. You can order the trio for $24, choosing whatever scents you wish.

I'm also very taken with the $6 soap sampler, pictured above. You get to choose any five general catalog soaps, presented adorably in a long box, nestled into cushioning as if they're jewels (or, OK, watercolors). It's such a great way to try out the variety of scents and a fabulous bargain.

While I'm at it, I'll also note that customer service is fantastic -- automatic refunds for combined shipping, a handwritten thank you note, a cute colorful plastic spoon for scooping Sorbettos, and a couple of free sample-size soaps are presented in a white shipping box stuffed with colorful tissue paper. It's lovely opening up for yourself, or for giving as a gift.

So three cheers for Paintbox Soapworks!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Makeup I Have Dreamed

Last night I had a dream I needed to buy a new concealer. [Note: this is actually true, I do need a new concealer, and I never buy the same one twice as I've never found anything like an HG concealer so need help.] So in my dream I headed off to the MAC counter and explained that while my current MAC concealer was OK, it wasn't quite doing the trick. The nice man told me what I really needed was a slightly darker color than I usually use (and in the dream I was aware of not telling him if I wanted cooler or warmer, because I'm still really confused about that and wanted to see what he would suggest) and -- here's the surreal part -- that it should have a dark pink duochrome shimmer in it. Now, if you think about it, this is exactly what you DON'T want in your undereye area, something dark and pink and sparkly, but in the dream it was a miracle substance and made me look (a) like a dewy young thing and (b) like I'd slept for several days straight.

Maybe I will experiment, just to make sure my sleeping self didn't have a revolutionary makeup idea.

The Greening Spring

April is the cruellest month, seriously. When the spring palettes come out I always sigh and turn away, because no matter how pretty the Easter egg pastels look in the packaging and in the ads, they're more or less useless on my skin -- chalky, clashing, just not right for me (never mind that my very first makeup included a pink and baby blue eyeshadow duo my mother bought me at the Almay counter when I was hosting my first boy-girl party in 1980). But I did feel a hankering today for a touch of spring green, so I found a way, adding a touch of shimmery, mossy light green to the outer lid. Here's the breakdown:

Skin--Neutrogena Healthy Skin Glow Sheers in Fair to Light; MAC Select Moisturecover

Eyes--MAC Painterly Paint Pot base; Armani Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadow in Rock Sand on lid into crease; Sweet Libertine Treehouse of Horrors on outer lid; Armani Smooth Silk Eye Pencil in Emerald on upper lid; NYX La Amoureux mascara

Cheeks--NYX Pinched blush

Lips--MAC Viva Glam VI

Monday, March 5, 2012

By the Book

I have finally gotten around to reading Neil Gaiman's Stardust, a beautiful book. I am enjoying it very much. I probably would not have gotten to it had I not been prodded by the extensive collection of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfumes inspired by Neil Gaiman stories, and if one from the Stardust collection hadn't vaulted into my Top 10 list from the moment I first tried it. The scent is Lady Una, based on a very sexy fairy character who has stunning violet eyes and smells like blackberries. The notes are "Honey musk, green tea leaf, blackberry leaf, vanilla bean, and fae spices" and while I was initially interested in it for its vanilla note, the honey musk is what has really grown on me. Musk can be hard for me to wear, with even the lightest, more shimmering varieties turning either cloying or skanky on my skin. I often notice it unlisted but present in scents that are supposed to smell like cake -- perfumers must rely on it to create that warm, yeasty scent of baked goods. After the initial drydown I often can smell the musk throwing off the rest of the impression of deliciousness. But in Lady Una, the honey musk and vanilla leave me with a warm, deliciously sweet and tangy scent that clings to my skin, with a slightly fruity leafiness. It perfectly captures that captivating kind of innocent sexiness and a romantic evening in the warm outdoors.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Notes from a Haul

I allowed myself to indulge in a bit of an Armani haul recently during the Neiman Marcus beauty event. I mostly have gotten over my Gift With Purchase vulnerability of years past (how many Clinique eyeshadow duos and sample bottles of yellow moisturizer does one person need?) but the combination of the Neiman Marcus tote bag and Giorgio Armani makeup bag pushed me over the edge into placing an order for some items I needed to replace (Gloss d'Armani in Plum 600) and that were on my running to-buy list (Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadow in Rock Sand).

The Neiman Marcus bag was so-so. Some perfume samples, some Cle de Peau cotton cleansing pads you're supposed to be all excited about taking to the counter to find out how to use (I'm guessing: pour some skin care product on them and rub on your face), some shampoo and conditioner. The bright pink tote, though, will come in handy. But the Armani bag was fantastic (the offer seems to have changed slightly since I ordered, but you get the idea) -- generous samples of skin lotion, primer (which I've had before and love), foundation, and illuminator. A roller bottle of Acqua di Gioia perfume. A full-size nude lip pencil and full-size black-brown eyeliner. And the makeup case they all came in is actually sleek and something I will use.

My order included Eyes to Kill in Rock Sand and Pulp Fiction. I love this formula; it really is All That. It's extremely shimmery, layerable, and silky, and a little goes a long way. I can easily see the pots I've bought lasting for many, many years, so I don't mind spending the $32 it costs. I think one of these probably gives me better value than four $8 shadows. Rock Sand is a peachy nude, and Pulp Fiction is a beautiful and sort of odd purple-gray-taupe. I also bought Smooth Silk Eye Pencil in Emerald, which is exactly the blackened green I've been looking for. It's a true green, but dark enough that it doesn't look flashy or too 80s. I also replenished my Gloss d'Armani in Plum 600, which has become a staple of mine and the only lip gloss I think I've ever used up. Again, I think this is a formula good enough to be worth the $28 price tag since (a) I use it frequently, more than I use any other gloss and thus worth more to me than four $7 glosses, and (b) the longwearing formula allows me to apply once in the morning and maybe touch up once more after lunch, making a tube really last. I also picked up a Rouge d'Armani lipstick in #406, a stunning red from the fall collection, which is backordered but I expect soon. It's a gamble, but I looked at a lot of swatches and it seems divine.

In the photo above I'm wearing some of my new purchases:

foundation: Armani Designer Shaping Cream Foundation in #5
eyeshadow base: MAC Paint Pot in Painterly
eyeshadow: Armani Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadow in Rock Sand
eyeliner: Armani Smooth Silk Eye Pencil in Emerald
mascara: NYX La Amoureux
blush: Laura Geller Baked Blush/Highlighter in Como/Portofino
lips: MAC Viva Glam VI