Monday, November 14, 2011

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love The Brows.

I actually have decent eyebrows, well defined and dark - even when I was a child and my hair was blondish. They'd be really good, except one of them is higher than the other. I know, I know, nobody has a balanced face. I've seen computer images where they've made people with perfectly symmetrical faces and it's creepy as hell. It's just that my eyebrows are uneven. Really uneven, like one is way more arched than the other, making me look like a sarcastic smart-ass Mr. Spock*

I had always thought I'd gotten my eyebrows from my dad. Dad had awesome eyebrows, thick dark and black.
My parents' wedding photo. Note the awesome brows on Dad.  

 When he was young they were sort of Elvis-y. As he got older they were picking up a hint of Brezhnev.

Sadly, he died before his brows could fully realise their destiny, but I am absolutely certain that he would have eventually rocked an eyebrow combover. The man had brows.

Being a child of the eighties, I appreciate full, well-defined brows. Elizabeth Taylor, for example. Nastassia Kinski. So I've never really plucked mine, except for a few odd hairs that want to go for a unibrow, and to try and level them out a bit, so I don't always look like I'm going to say "Fascinating!"
One of the more recent pictures of my brows.

Behold, my brows in all their glory. One of them is headed north. It always does that. And it drove me nuts for years. And then it happened.

My sister does genealogy. And she happened to come across a really good picture of my maternal great-grandmother.

Sadly, I did not inherit her hair.

The first time I saw this picture I thought- Hey! Those are my eyebrows! And they are. Actually, I pretty much look just like her, I think, barring a few stylistic differences. And her brows don't look weird. They give her serious face a quirk of amusement, a hint of strength. This picture was taken sometime in the 1920's and you can see she's cropped her hair. I love knowing that Gramma had a bit of the rebel in her. And you know, after I saw this, I stopped perceiving my wayward brow as an insult to my face. I never met Pauline Navarre, but now I feel, every time I look in mirror, that she's looking back at me, and that one odd eyebrow isn't a defect, but her way of saying hello to me across the generations, a special gift from a woman who only saw me once, on the day of my birth.

*Many of my friends would consider this to be a perfect description of my actual personality, but still...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh My Darling

Recently I got a couple of solid perfumes from Darling Clandestine. I'd been wanting to try them for some time, and earlier I purchased a couple of scents during a referral sale. They were Serpentina and Tapadero and I really liked them. I liked them enough that, during a BOGO sale I ordered solid versions of Inked and Monstre Delicat. I liked Serpentina and Tapadero but I loved, loved LOVED Inked and Monstre Delicat.

stolen from DC's etsy store.

 Serpentina, a crisp, green, ethereal fragrance with a little opium bite, smells like dirt. Not in a dirty way, but in an earthy way. A gardening way. In fact it smells like gardening, like greenness of plants and the loamy scent of turned soil. If you've ever done a bunch of gardening without gloves, this is the smell that's left on your hands, the wonderful, nurturing scent of green growing things and the earth that surrounds them.

Tapadero is another outdoorsy scent. The site calls it a sharp, clean fragrance bright with roses and sage, with a sweet smoky leather finish.  I had a pony as a child* - I usually rode bareback, but always had reins. Tapadero smells like the worn leather scent of a tack shed and a breezy summer day. Sun, sky, an endless stretch of grass, leather and utter freedom.

Nice huh? Very, but those two are nothing compared to the olfactory awesomeness of my second order.  Follow me as I describe where they take me.

Inked (this fragrance throbs with a sting of sea salt and leather and splashes of communion winet) is sexy. Really, really sexy. Sweat and leather, a hint of smoke, a drop of wine. Hell, Inked smells like sex - raunchy, primal slightly tipsy sex - the kind that leaves the bed irreparably disheveled; exhausting, exhilarating and faintly shocking. The first note is suedey, followed by a salty rush of sweaty bodily sweetness rippled through with stale cigarettes and a forgotten bottle of wine spilled on cheap carpet. One sniff and you just want to drown yourself in it, it's like the porno of perfumes.

Monstre Delicat, described as  a clean, blue, rainy fragrance with haunting, moody black notes. It's the kind of half-sleep you get as the sun is coming up after a night of abandon. It's a little sweeter, a little sadder - the wash of pale grey light on a dreary morning, the moistness of dew, of dried sweat. You haven't quite escaped the madness of the night before, but now you're struck by the poignancy of it. The reality of being transient flesh and the fleeting nature of life. It is a blue-grey scent - the scent of a rainy sky with the crackling, spicy undertones of a storm just passed, or yet to come.

Serpentina and Tapadero are complex, rich scents, but they are the sort of thing you could wear to work without feeling out of place. They're evocative and daring, but not dangerous. Monstre Delicat and Inked are very, very dangerous scents. They work very well together and almost make a kind of poetry. They're wild, sexy and out of control. They're the perfume equivalent of realising you've forgotten to re-button your shirt, or tame your hair and fix your lipstick and you know everyone's looking at you thinking "Uh, huh - they just got some."

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary.

*Don't be jealous. The pony was a little bastard and he hated me. Actually he hated anything that interfered with his master plan of eating until he was as wide as he was tall and only moving when absolutely necessary. His name was Buck. I don't think I need to explain this, except to say that most of my memories of him consist of sitting on the ground watching his fat pony butt heading away from me.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Good Day to Go to the Mailbox

I got a package in the mail today - 3 solid perfumes from OHWTO.  Besides the regular size perfumes I got two more solid perfumes in clamshell samples, a plastic centipede, candy (yay!) and a purple plastic pumpkin ring (say that 10 times fast.)

The samples were three of the Halloween scents, Sugar Skulls, from last years entries and two new scents, Santa Muerte and the cumbersomely named Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things.  The samples are Homecoming and Sugar Leaf.

As I've said before, I love solid perfume because it's pretty much idiot proof. And I am often an idiot, so it's all to the good.

We'll start with Santa Muerte, which was my least favourite. OHWTO describes this as "This is much "darker" than the usual OHWTO scents, and very complex. A Blessed Bounty of Sacred Offerings- Amber, Cinnamon Pastries, Caramel, Carnation, Tuberose, Spices, Chocolate, Tobacco, Labdanum, Church Incense, Dark Patchouli, Vanilla, Musk, Cognac, Fruits, Black Agar, Cardamom, and Lilies."
When I smelled it in the tube it smelled like maple and I was sad because I can't stand the smell of maple. Once I put it on, the maple smell dissipated and turned into something, as the description says, very dark and very complex. It does have a thick, dark, treacly smell to it, which is probably why I thought of maple at first, but as it sits on the skin it turns into something earthier. 
kind of like this

I'd say it smelled like carmelized Patchouli, except there's no such thing. Honestly, I would expect to ooze out of the tube like sugar in the middle of being worked into a toffee or a dark caramel and look like amber-brown molasses. It doesn't, of course, but if I hadn't seen it first, that's what I'd expect. As it dries down it gets softer and some of the floral scents, particularly the carnation get a word in edgewise, but it remains dark. It's sweet in a sticky way, and just a little bit much for me. I don't see myself wearing this as often as some of the other scents. It's not bad, it's just...intense.

Sugar Skulls I had wanted this last year, but ended up not getting it, so it was first on my list this year. It's described as "You'll smell sweet baked goods, vanilla cookies, anise, and roses- all the scents of a stroll through a Mexican neighborhood at that time of the year. " And yes, that is exactly how it smells. It's not too strong, and the anise isn't overwhelming. This is not an absinthe type anise, but a soft, sweet anise with a rush of vanilla and soft rose petal fragrance. It doesn't smell like food, it smells feminine with a kick of spice. I've never been in a Mexican neighborhood, but I can imagine terracotta plastered walls with brilliant cotton curtains and stark white linens drying on a line. The anise gives it an exotic touch while the vanilla and rose make it warm and comforting. Perhaps a vase of roses on a starched lace doily with the sun pouring in the window. It really is lovely and simple without being ordinary.

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things*: Acorns, Oak, Vanilla, Apples, Roasted Spiced Pumpkin, a bit of Musk and a mound of freshly-dug Dirt. Sort of disturbing! Not actually disturbing, in fact, I'd call this a work of genius. Why? It's the apple. I hate apple notes in perfumes, because they never actually smell like apples - at best they smell like apple cider, at worst like spoiled apple juice. Apples themselves have a crisp, light fruity scent and this is the first perfume I've ever smelled that captured exactly the scent you get when you bite into an apple. It's perfect, and that's only a small part of this scent - there's the wonderful nuttiness of the acorn, a slight whiff of spices and dirt. I don't get the musk, but, as I've said before, I can't smell most musks. I do detect a warm slight underlayer, though which is probably musk. This smell is exactly like heading out to the backyard late in the afternoon to rake up some leaves, gather up some nuts, maybe mound over your rosebushes or put in a few late mums. Stop to rest with plump juicy apple to munch on and you've got it. It's fresh and outdoorsy, delicious and airy all at the same time. It seems to retain it's character pretty well as it dries down, the flash of apple is strongest in the tube and softens as it wears on the skin, while the nuts and earth come up a bit, but the overall essence doesn't change. Just smelling it makes me want to step outside and revel in the autumness of the day.

The two samples were Homecoming,  "A fall-inspired blend, Homecoming captures many of the scents of autumn in New England. Tart cranberries, dried figs, mulling spices, dried split firewood, fallen leaves and warm 'Hot Toddies'". Becca's going to kill me for this, but the first thing I thought when I smelled it in the tube was "Hamster Litter!" Bear in mind, of course, that I mean fresh, unused hamster litter, which I quite like the smell of. After a moment I realised that the litter I always used when I kept rodents was primarily cedar with a few other woods mixed in, so it was actually wood I was smelling. No rodents were harmed or even inconvenienced in the making of this scent**. 
**as far as I know

Once it's on my skin, I definitely smell the cranberry, it gives the whole thing a tart effervescence. That fades a bit with the drydown and the other scents float to the surface. Is there a such thing as cranberry wine? Because that's what this ends up smelling like to me.

The other sample is Sugar Leaf which is a funny, bright little scent. "Notes of Vanilla Sugar, Sparkling Citron, Apple Peel, Sheer Floral, Sensual Woods, Creamy Musk It's fresh, sweet and citrusy with a warm undertone. I don't get any apple here, but that may just be because my nose refused to acknowledge it after the perfect apple tone in CSPWDT. No other apple scent is worthy. It's a nice sugared fruit scent. I would never have picked it on my own, but it is quite pleasant.

If you've never shopped at OHWTO, you've been doing yourself a disservice. Go there, now, and browse, because Becca has a fabulous selection of scents and products and they are all quality stuff. Her Black Magic soaps set the bar for awesomeness. You'll thank me later.

P.S. I just looked at my candy and OMG I got a Mango DumDum! Mango! How freakin' cool is that!
photo courtesy Temptation Candies

*When I wear this in public, I really, reeeallly hope someone asks me what I'm wearing.

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's not you, it's me.

I had a heartsy voucher for Sweet Anthem, a company I've been meaning to try, and grabbed the pre-order for the Fall sample set. It started shipping at the beginning of October, and mine arrived today.  They arrived packed in a bubble mailer and with a glassine envelope holding little ziplocks of two scents each.

The first thing I noticed was - these are STRONG scents - I could smell them before I opened the envelope and none of them were leaking. And they last, even after thoroughly scrubbing my wrists between scents, I could still get a faint whiff of what I'd used last. The sample sizes are quite generous, 2ml bottles of liquid perfume. Scents and samples are also available in solid scents.

photo courtesy Sweet Anthem Perfumes.

The first one I tried was Nell: A tea fit for any such party: gilded roses, a bouquet of carnations, and a black tea sweetened with milk, spiked with a smattering of cardamom, and a peach slice swimming where a lemon should be. Top Notes: Cardamom, Creamy Milk, Peach • Heart Notes: Damascus Rose • Base Notes: Black Tea(Spice)  Nell started out sophisticated and intriguing. Roses with a hint of spicy bitter citrus. The notes only list peaches but there's a definite air of bitter orange or lime. Sadly, Nell was one of those dates that starts out promising, but ends up disappointing. After about a half hour, the sophisticated, worldy scent dissapated, leaving just a bitter citrus note behind. I didn't get any carnation scent at all, which is a shame, as I love carnation. If she'd kept her initial bloom, I'd have liked Nell, but in the end it smelled less like a fragrance and more like a garnish.

Colin:Thick air of cardamom, incense, and myrrh set the stage for many a-ghostly and storied song, and provides asylum for spice-laden spectors who steal sweet maidens into the dead of night. Top Notes: Benzoin, Cardamom• Heart Notes: Honey • Base Notes: Amber, Frankincense, Myrrh (Incense). Smoky and buttery with a spicy sharp bite to it. The cardamom is quite sharp, as is the myrrh. I liked this one a bit better, I just wish the amber and honey notes had mellowed the bite a bit. Again, after a bit of wearing, this one turns painfully bitter on me. Both Colin and Nell could work as unisex fragrances.

Beatrice One of the main players in the late-shift masquerade, Beatrice is a hearty soul full of all sorts of fragrant warmth. What type of pie, indeed. Top Notes: Rhubarb • Heart Notes: Mahogany • Base Notes: Frankincense, Tonka Bean (Incense) This one is sweet and tangy and a little bit resinous. The pairing of rhubarb with spicy, woody undertones is brilliant - the whole thing smells warm, rich and delicious without smelling foody. The rhubarb notes are strong initially, but over time the whole thing mellows into a warm, wonderful outdoorsy smell, a combination of burning leaves and tangy fruityness.The underlying bitterness these scents all seem to have on me is very subtle here. Beatrice would also make a lovely room spray.

Annabelle: Sweltering jasmine flowers cling to a cloud of osmanthus, and the spray of sea air and salty musk will surely keep you oceanside even though the summer respite has left us. Top Notes: Sea Salt • Heart Notes: Jasmine, Osmanthus • Base Notes: White Amber (Marine) Marine notes and amber! Oh I'm in heaven. It's like the waft of a bouquet of flowers while strolling down the beach in the early morning fog. This is a fresh, wet, slightly sweet, salty fragrance, the pervasive bitterness tempered by the saltiness and the richness of the amber. I think this is what a mermaid would smell like.

Leslie: Old teenage hopes are alive at your door. Citrus notes entwined with smoldering florals concede to a lovely, idyllic foundation of moss, woods, and leather.  Top Notes: Grapefruit, Yuzu • Heart Notes: Lily, Incense • Base Notes: Leather, Sandalwood, Sea Moss. (Musk) Fruity and sharp. This one is also very fresh and bright smelling. This would be a wonderful smell for a teenager who wanted something distinctive and crisp. The yuzu is strong, very strong, on initial application, while the sandalwood and leather notes creep up underneath slowly. This is a wonderful feminine scent without being girly, a tomboy scent, really, very energetic and confident. Grown-ups can wear it too, it just makes me think of a girl with freckles and a baseball cap running out to play after school. The bitter undertone is almost non-existant in this one.

Miranda - We fall, but our souls are flying. A baleful blend of banded peppers and woods, tragically impaled with bloodshot immortelle blossoms. Top Notes: Pink Pepper, White Pepper • Heart Notes: Immortelle • Base Notes: Black Agar, Cocoa, White Agar (Spice) This one is lovely, sweet and haunting. It starts with an odd, mentholy whiff, then graduates to a dark floral, but not too heavy.  The pepper notes make it sharp, while the cocoa gives it a rich, warm bottom note. This is probably the most autumny scent in the bunch, with a hint of spookiness in the undertones. The bitterness here works to the advantage of the blend, giving it a poignancy, like preserved blossoms found between the pages of an old book.

Maureen -  These thousand dreams could wake you; a complicated, seductive "floriental" for any girl child in the dark. • Top Notes: Almond, Fig, Mint • Heart Notes: Moroccan Rose • Base Notes: Chai Tea, Myrrh. (Oriental) Oh, you sexy thing, you! Definitely the most grown up of the bunch, Maureen is luscious, a food blend without being foody - the smell of an exotic Oriental bazaar, spices and incense mixing with bakery scents and a touch of floral as the rose scent, a good deep, old rose scent, wafts up through the blend. The mint brings a final, bright touch. It's sexy, exotic and a little bit risque. I love this one and the bitter undertone is very subtle.

Also included was a sample of Anita: And it's a very special thing -- she makes the people clap and sing. Be happy all the time in this nearly drinkable peppermint mocha perfume. Top Notes: Moroccan Mint, Peppermint • Heart Notes: Coffee • Base Notes: Vanilla.(Gourmand) I love the scent of coffee. Hate the taste, but love the scent. This is less of a minty coffee scent than a coffeish mint. Mint definitely dominates and the coffee and vanilla give it weight and warmth. This would also be a good unisex perfume. It does have that bitterness, which is an odd juxtaposition with the mint but in this case it adds a manly edge to the fragrance.

You'll notice I keep mentioning a bitter undertone. I don't think it's strictly the perfumes. Every scent reacts differently to everybody and every body's chemistry. I think the bitterness is just the way her blends, probably some of the base ingredients, react to my skin. It's not necessarily bad, but with some of the fragrances it was jarring. I doubt it would be as strong on someone else. I have the same problem with Estee Lauder perfumes.  It doesn't matter what the scent is, or how lovely it smells in the bottle or on other people, when it hits my skin it goes from scent to stench. Always and without fail, within half an hour, I can't scrub that stuff off fast enough, it just morphs into something revolting on me. Which is very sad, because some EL scents are wonderful. Just not on me.

Overall I was quite pleased with my Sweet Anthem experience and would recommend them. A nice variety of scents, all well made and well-thought out combinations. I think I might prefer these in a solid scent for daywear, as they are quite potent. Only two of the scents really reached out and grabbed me as something I would want, but that's a matter of preference, not quality. These are excellent perfumes that, in the case of this sampler set, were just mostly not to my taste. Sweet Anthem offers a nice line of perfumes, several of which are still on my 'want to try list', notably Tara and Anastasia. The scents are available in a variety of liquid sizes and formats and in solid.

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary. Photo from Sweet Anthem's Etsy site.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Last breath of Summer.

As much as I love autumn, I'm always sad to see the summer end. It's been years since my back to school days, but autumn's first blaze reminds me that soon the planting and the gardening will be over, the roses will die back to hips and berries, night will fall earlier each day and soon we'll face the dreaded "s" word*

Once Halloween is done, the party's over, and autumn goes from spooky and harvesty to dead and depressing. Winter is romantic until about mid-January, then it's hell on wheels. Frozen wheels. The snow stops being pretty and pristine and the streets are just a muddy, slushy, churned up mess. The fireplace and hot cocoa stop being charming and become grimly necessary in the long, uphill death march that is February in NE Ohio.

But let's not think about that right now! The trees are turning and it's beautiful here. It was almost 80 degrees today, and if I'm careful about where I look, I could almost pretend it's still August or late September and there's time yet to put in that last bed of late summer annuals. My roses are still blooming and I've got a few tomatoes ripening on the vine - making up for such a crappy growing season earlier. In celebration of mock late summer, or an early preview of Indian Summer, which hasn't happened yet, I bring you three summery scents from Fairly Charmed.

I don't remember how I found the shop, but my need to deny the oncoming cold season led me towards green, outdoorsy scents. They deal in solid scents and lip balms, and I chose to try the scents.  I love solid perfumes because they're great to toss in a purse without having to worry about breakage or spillage. Also, as I've said before, I'm incredibly clumsy, and solid scents in balm sticks or pots bounce on a tile floor rather than shatter like, say, my glass bottle of Crabtree and Evelyn Violets toilet water** did the other day. (sob)

Anyway, I purchased a pick 3 for 12$ and chose The Meadow, Allegheny Moss and Acorns & Oak Leaves.  These three scents are extremely similar, and the shop also carries florals, earthy and other scents.  I'd put these in the sweet green category. They're packaged in oval lip balm tubes, have a nice soft, but not mushy consistency. They do contain beeswax, so they are not vegan. The ingredients (besides fragrance) are Shea Butter, Sweet Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, BeesWax, Avocado Oil and Cocoa Butter.

The Meadow is part of the Twilight series of fragrances based on the books/movies. In spite of my utter loathing for all things Twilight (my vampires*** can kick their sparkly white-boy undead butts)I liked the notes, so I bought it. The Meadow is described as:  "a fantastic fragrance. A bit green, a bit earthy, and a bit electric! While the Twilight movie combines Muse and baseball for an exciting game, we've combined the best odors into this scent. It really doesn't matter if you are Twilight fan or not, this grassy green, melon, rich wood and vanilla scent is sure to please." It's a very pleasant, sweet-grass scent. None of the notes stand out in particular, but the whole, overall aroma is fairly meadowy. It reminds me of tall grasses, grown so long they've tasselled at the top and the rush of green scent and flavor when I'd chew on the stems as a kid. I wouldn't call it a melony or fruity scent, but there is an overlying sweetness reminiscent of a scattering of summer flowers. It's a nice, bright scent, like a sunny morning in a farmer's field left to go fallow for the season. Maybe with a baseball field hidden in the back.

Allegheny Moss was inspired by the Allegheny National Forest, and contains notes of "Iceland moss, quillaja, yucca, olibanum and galbanum. A soothing fragrance with a fresh appeal." This one's probably my favourite of the three. Definitely the greenest and least sweet. If The Meadow is bright green, this is a deep green, very foresty. It smells like wandering off the hiking trail in a park on a summer afternoon, climbing down to a riverbed and listening to the water rushing over the stones. It smells like trees and moss and climbing ivy, with a glimpse of dappled sunlight. There's green and a slight, sharp damp pungency that's very characteristic of wooded areas around the Great Lakes.
stolen from Pennsylvania's Travel Guide web page. Probably full of gorgeous scenery.

Oak Leaves & Acorns is a flowery, spicy green scent. This could be a late summer autumn scent. It's listed as "Rustic pine, wild violets and fall leaves are the center of this intriguing new scent." I'm a sucker for anything with violet notes. Mmmmm...violets. I can definitely smell the violet note, mixed in with a spicy, woodsy smell. This one does make me think of the forest as the first few leaves have started to fall. It's a bit crisper than the other two, and the violet gives it a heady punch. I'd say this one smells like a sundown walk in September, the first fallen leaves mingling with the last of the blossoms and a few lingering berries.  That combination of beauty and sadness as another season nears its end.

Any of these scents would be good for daytime or early evening wear. I wouldn't put them with a slinky black dress, but they're perfect for a dinner date or an afternoon out. They're not excessively complex, and they wear well, even in solid format. While I don't expect to use them up as quickly as some of my other fragrances, I do see myself reaching for them when I want something fresh, green and outdoorsy, like a quick shopping trip or running errands. Or when it's 15 degrees and snowing bloody murder outside. I was very pleased with my overall purchase and will be trying other some of the other scent and balm offerings in the future.

*snow. Also sleet and slush
**which, of course they don't make any more.
***The Hunger, for example.

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary. The book, which I don't own, but I'd love to check it out, is by Ed Bernik (photographer), Lisa Gensheimer (Author), Jonathan Tourtellot (Author).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Haus of Gloi Autumn sampler #2

I got my Gloi autumn sampler today, the #2. I missed getting #3, I'm hoping it will restock, and I already have most of the scents from #1 (which I'll discuss later) as they are all repeats.  #2 Seems to be the foodie selection, as everything in it reminds me of some sort of autumn treat. There's only one scent in this particular batch that's a must have, but they're all quite pleasant. The overall effect is very delicious and childlike, as if I were standing outside a sweet shop smelling all the wonderful treats waiting just inside. Not just any sweet shop, these scents all have a milky richness to them, that reminds me of something old fashioned; a shop in a Dickens' tale, or perhaps Honeydukes. If I close my eyes and sniff the various samples I can imagine a Halloween haul from another generation, before mass-manufactured candies and desserts, before fear, suspicion and crazy neighbors ruined trick or treating for everyone.

This is in New Zealand. Sadly, I am not.

Ghost Puffs - (Buttery popcorn and marshmallow goo orbs, presented on a wooden stick.) I came of age in the 80's and the world of mall shopping. Back then, just about every mall had at least one shop that sold a variety of popcorn treats. Kettle corn, popcorn balls, cheese corn, buttered popcorn, caramel corn, candied popcorn on a stick, anything and everything sweet you could make out of popcorn. The buttery, candy-coated aroma would waft out into the mall, luring you in. Once you'd smelled it you had to buy some. I usually got the caramel corn. A whiff of Ghost Puffs captures the sweet, sticky aroma of walking into that store.

Pumpkin Eater -(Cream, glowing pumpkin, rich vanilla bean and the tiniest touch of nutmeg butter.)
Creamy vanilla and pumpkin. This smells like sweet frosted pumpkin cookies, or perhaps a pumpkin custard. It's got a very strong cream and vanilla overtone, very desserty but not any one particular dessert. Have you ever had Life Savers Creme Savers? They're a blend of fruit and creamy vanilla hard candy. If they made them in pumpkin, this is exactly what they'd smell like. It's a wacky description, I know, but that's what I get, ribbons of sweet pumpkin and creamy vanilla with just the tiniest hint of spice.  Do they make pumpkin milkshakes?- I think a sweet pumpkin shake with a tall head of whipped cream might be another close match for this tricksy little scent.

Pixie Sorceror - (They look cute, but beware! Deceptive pomegranate candy floss, beneath that a spiteful blend of coffee co2, vetiver and myrrh.) For the record, this scent is driving me mad. It smells like...just like...almost...and then it's gone. Something, something I remember from years ago, but I don't know what and I don't know when. It's absolutely infuriating - every time I take a whiff the memory dances in to view and then out again, like a shadow in the mirror that I can't quite catch. I'm thinking it must be the vetiver, but I've no idea what I remember that has vetiver in it. Some sort of salve or cream that my grandmother had, maybe. That frustrated memory makes it hard for me to judge this. It smells brown to me, warm antique brown, like a piece of victorian furniture or an an old trunk in the attic. It's a good smell, slightly resinous, and very haunting. I'd like it even without the thread of memory tangled in it, but that association takes this from a good smell to a must have. Even if I never remember why, this fragrance gives me a powerful sense of goodness and old pleasures forgotten, but not quite lost.

Old Cider Haus - (Old oak, sweet drying hay fields, crushed apple pulp and vanilla bean husks.) Butterscotch. For some reason, Old Cider Haus smells like butterscotch to me. I wasn't sure I'd like this one, as I'm not generally fond of apple scents.  I love apples, but apple-scented things almost never capture that crisp scent you get when you bite into a ripe apple. Instead it's usually the smell of apple juice or cider, or worse, that fermenty scent of overripe apples, none of which I like. Fortunately, the oak, the hay and the vanilla are blended in enough that the apple gives a just warm, slightly spicy note to the mix. The whole thing, overall, is buttery and creamy smooth. If you like Pumpkin Queen, you'll probably like this, it's the same sort of  warm, goldeny sweet kind of scent, like autumn sunshine on a field of haybales.

I'm liking this particular sampler, although most of the scents are things I'd want in room fragrances or bath salt, which, sadly, are not options. They're generally a little too sweet to my taste for daily perfume wear. Pixie Sorcerer, however, will be finding its way into my shopping basket, and hopefully one day I'll remember what it smells like.

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary. The candy shop is in Oamaru New Zealand. Image courtesy the same.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Solstice Scents Autumn sampler

I got my autumn sample set from Solstice Scents today. I've been very excited about this set as it seems to vary from the traditional pumpkin and spices melange usually offered this time of year. Not that I don't love all that, I do, passionately, but it's fun to sample some of the other fragrances this time of year has to offer, like drying herbs, the last fruits of the year or a few faded flowers.

Thornwood Thicket -(Sugared Blackberries, Black Agarwood, Aloeswood, Sweet and Smokey Guaiacwood & Amber) the last harvest of summer. Robust ripe berries and fruits and a glass of mulled autumn wine. Deep, rich and dark, this one is delicious, like a bowl of black grapes, blackberries and a smoky wine and cheese sideboard. Imagine a Dutch still life distilled into an essence - this is it. Wine, fruit; it smells like wet purple silk, or a plate of juicy damson plums. I'd almost call this a late summer perfume - somewhere between the dregs of summer and the creep of autumn, the last few gatherings from the garden while the golden light of summer's afternoon fades into fall.
Frans Snyder 1616

Foxcroft - (Ozone, Rustling Leaves, Rich Black Soil, Chimney Smoke & Woods) Pumpkin guts. And I mean that in the best possible way. This one smells like walking through a pumpkin patch on a damp, chilly autumn day. There's the scent of earth, the promise of frost in the air and the green and spice scent of melons, the ones waiting to ripen and the overripe ones, that have spilled their entrails on the ground for next year's harvest. That smell, unique to the inside of a pumpkin, whether hollowed out for a jack-o-lantern, or split into the damp, leafy ground. This one really captures the essence of an autumn day in the country, more than anything I've ever smelled.

Witch's Cottage. (Warm Baked Goods, Dried Herbs, Sweet Annie, Soft Woods & Fragrant Hearth Smoke) The faded green scent of drying herbs with an undercurrent of spice and smoke. Stand outside the kitchen window on a warm autumn day. Breathe in the scent of the last of the garden, the herbs and a few diligent vegetables waiting to be gathered in for one last harvest. Through the open window you can smell something rich and savory in the oven. The more this dries down, the spicier it gets as if you were moving from outdoors to in. I hope she makes this one in a room spray. This is what I want my house to smell like all the time. The perfect blend of garden, kitchen and hearth.

Devil's Tongue - (Chypre, Brown Leather, Warm Tobacco, Woods & More) A brackish stream winding through the woods to a forest grove. There's green in this one too, but the deep shaded green of a well-worn path through the woods. The brightness of the bergamot and the creamy amber are like dappled light along the road. A mossy dampness lies underneath it all. This is a masculine scent, a woodcutter or huntsman in an ancient forest. I smell Robin Hood or Wayland Smith in this, but a Maid Marion could wear it as well, with a tomboy's grace and nonchalance. Devil's Tongue is a variety of Arum, also called Corpse Flower, Voodoo Lily, Snake Palm. They like shade and wet, loamy soil.

Manor - (Woody-Vanilla Musk, Vanilla Accord, Glorious Black Agarwood & Exquisite Aloeswood) Resinous. Almost sweet, like incense way. This one surprised me. It is rich and dark, like an old, wood-paneled room, but there's a creeping sweetness mixed in. The site describes this one as an abandoned manor house. I'd call it an abandoned plantation, an old southern home just on the edge of the bayou. Old and forgotten, with burnt down candles, dust-covered, warping furniture and the gardens turned dark and wild. It's a skeleton of wooden walls and silken drapery, silently waiting for the swamp to reclaim it. This is the most haunting scent of the collection, full of echoes of things that once were and will never be again.

Gehenna - (Red Musk, Dragon's Blood Resin, Burning Wood, Somalian Myrrh & Egyptian Musk) This one has musk in it, red and egyptian, at least one of which is triggering a migraine for me, so I'll only give it the briefest sniff.  It's sweet in a musky, incens-y way. Similar to Manor but with more the feel of an exotic oil or sticky resin. It's a good smell, but it doesn't seem autumnish to me. I'd put this in a Christmas set, as a "We Three Kings" type aroma. Probably the myrrh that brings that to mind. It's  like a warm, costly golden perfumed oil, glistening in the shade of an oasis. Shame about the musk - I'd like it otherwise. Gehenna is a place just outside of Jerusalem where the pagans sacrificed their children to the god Moloch. I didn't know that until I just now looked it up, but it's an apt name for something that smells like the desert and anointing oils and resins.

I like them all, as I expected, and it's hard to put my finger on a favourite. I think Foxcroft and Witch's Cottage are the ones I like the most, but I expect I'll get Manor and Thornwood Thicket in one form or another as well. I'll have to pass on Gehenna, and I'm still up in the air about Devil's Tongue - I like it, but I like some of the others better. It'll come down to time and funds, I expect.

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What's that smell?

Let's talk about sillage. It's a french word, and it basically means the traces of scent that surround someone and linger after they are gone. If the gods are kind, that scent originates from perfume or cologne. If not, well...I feel your pain. I was stuck behind a fine specimen of cro-magnon in a sweltering hot KFC yesterday and he had some serious 'natural sillage' going on. He also had a bunch of prison tattoos, including one that said "White Pride". Oh, the irony.

Anyway, sillage. A funny word, but the idea of someone wafting about in a cloud of exquisite perfume sounds so romantic in books. It's alluring when you picture, say Lauren Bacall in a film noir, wrapped in satin and pearls redolent of Shalimar or something by Chanel*. You want to scent yourself all over, put on a silk blouse and pretend you're getting ready to meet Philip Marlowe or Frank Chambers.

Sadly, I never get to be around those hedonistically fragrant people. I always get stuck with Ogg- exemplar of the white race. Or some woman who hosed herself down with Eau de Skunk Butt before doing her shopping. In theory, sillage is a wonderful thing. All too often it turns out to be air pollution of the worst kind.

This is a particular problem for people - like me - with severe allergies. I have one friend I make very certain only to wear the lightest of fragrances around - anything else sends her into a swelling, sneezing fit. As for myself, lavender and several musks are both severe allergy and/or migraine triggers. Same with certain artificial pine scents.**

This is why I sympathise with people/places that want to ban perfumes. Much as I adore scent - and I wear it every day - I wear it for me, not for everyone in a fifty foot radius. I think the optimal amount of sillage is something I can detect and people close enough to whisper in my ear, or put their arm around me. Scent should be an intimate murmur, not a bellow.

What are your thoughts?

*Except Chanel #5 which smells like industrial waste.

**I can't actually smell most musks. I don't realize it's there until the throbbing starts in my temples. As far as pine goes - ugh. I survived I don't know how many Christmasses with the family putting up an artificial tree and then my Mom would soak the room with 'pine scented' air freshener; horrible soapy sticky-smelling stuff that made me sick. I still get flashbacks.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The most wonderful time of the year

Autumn! Full of wonderful, harvesty goodness. Mmmm, pumpkin, spices and burning leaves. I love autumn and halloween is my favourite holiday. And I love all the autumn/halloween themed stuff that's available this time of year. So many indie companies offer a special line of autumn scents - I save up for this time of year the way most people do for Christmas. Here are just a few places I'll be spending too much money this season.

Haus of Gloi

Solstice Scents

Steam Bath Factory

Black Baccara Halloween Sampler

Alchemic Muse

I'm anxiously awaiting Lysa's Autumn selections at TMTM and hoping Becca at OHWTO will have something as wonderful as last year's Coven. What are you all looking forwards to?

Monday, August 22, 2011


Yup. I've been tagged. Thanks to the lovely Lisa Neff over at Fleurs-de-Lisa, who did the tagging.

So here goes: My top ten favourite cosmetics/beauty items, in no particular order.*

1. e.l.f. mineral primer - I can't tell you how many primers I tried. I was completely unimpressed by all of them. Lorac, Smashbox, too-faced, etc. None of them made my skin look any better or my makeup wear any longer. Just an extra step. Until I tried e..l.f. (and later The Porefessional). My skin loves silicones, and they make a wonderful barrier for sealing my  moisturizer in and keeping my skin from trying to slurp any foundation off my face. It does a so-so job of minimizing my pores and fine lines and does make my foundation glide on beautifully. Plus it feels creepy and weird on my fingers before I apply it - it's a gel-like formula, but it feels all velvety and non liquid. I love that. Science! It's my current HG primer, along with Porefessional, which has a nice light tint to it and is slightly better at hiding pores (and a lot more expensive). I try to buy all of my e.l.f. products in stores, like Target or Kmart or something, since ordering from their site can be a nightmare.

2. Pure Face Organics Day Moisturizer I found a bottle of this, for like, 2 dollars on clearance somewhere. It's amazing. My skin absolutely loves it and it feels like heaven. Smells a bit weird, but the scent grows on you after a bit. I've no idea what in particular works so well for me, but it's hands-down the best moisturizer I have ever used. I'm scraping the last bits out of the bottle before I order a new one at $18. I've also used the eye cream - meh, and the night cream, which breaks me out, badly. There are two more products in the line I have yet to try, but even if this one item is the only thing they offer that works for me, it works so well, I'll still be happy.

3. Evil Shades Matte Silk  EvilAngel claims that this powder is only Rice Powder, Magnesium Myristate, Calcium carbonate, Titanium dioxide, Zinc oxide, Silicon Dioxide, Cyclopentasiloxane.  She's lying. It also contains a teeny-tiny invisible airbrush artist who will make your skin look absolutely amazing when  you dust this stuff on. Or Fairy Dust. Or something, 'cause it's magic in a jar. The first time I tried it, I actually did a double-take at my reflection. I looked that good. It even looks good when you wear it all by itself. Seriously - if you don't own this,  you should. It's the first product I've ever tried that not only lived up to it's claims, but exceeded them by a whole huge mega-bunch. Another HG item.

4. Caravan Herbals Nourishing Cleansing Oil I use this for the oil cleansing method and it has improved my skin by leaps and bounds. My rosacea is calmer, my skin is less dry and desert-y. It's soothing, both facially and mentally and it works without breaking me out. What more can you ask of a product! The number of things I can't put on my skin greatly exceeds the number I can, so I'm always thrilled to find a good product that I can actually use.

5. Meow Pampered Puss Foundation in a blend of Snow Lynx and Inquisitive Sphinx. One of the very few foundations I've found that matches my pasty whiteness. The blend varies from season to season, anywhere between 50-50 to 25-75. My skin is a goth girls dream. Or it would be if it weren't so thin, delicate, sensitive and rosacea prone. For me, foundation is more than just a way to make my skin look better, it's a physical shield between my skin and a whole world full of irritants. Meow's foundation is simple, basic and soothing and protects and prettifies my skin without aggravating it. I do have to apply lightly, since powder foundation can look like crap on dry skin, but, overall, I'm much happier with this than I have been with any commercial or liquid foundation I've tried.

6. Yes To! towelettes. I use both the blueberry and the cucumber, usually in the morning, or when I have mascara to wipe off. They do the job, my skin loves them and they're simple and easy. I hate the way the blueberry ones smell, but my skin really likes them, so I've just learned to live with it. I learned a long time ago to give my skin what it wants or pay the consequences.

7.Benefit Badgal Plum mascara - thought it was time to throw in a bit of color. I have good lashes. They're long, black and clearly defined. All I really need in a mascara is enough colour to make them show up against any shadow I'm wearing and to not clump up. Far too many mascaras either turn my lashes into a terrifying chunky mess or end up smeared all over my brow-bone/undereye area. I like a simple, basic brush with deep bristles to coat my entire lash instead of just the tip, and I hate the kind with a crap-ton of fibers, which eventually migrate into my eye. I love the plum colour for daytime wear, as it brightens my olive green eyes. This isn't the best mascara I've ever tried, but it is the best plum mascara I've found, since I only wear black for more dramatic looks. For black, I prefer Revlon 3-D Extreme.

8. Fake Nails - any brand really. Revlon are very nice. I'm wearing Broadway Fashion Express 'Fame' at the moment. I'm a biter. And I don't mean 'a little nibbling on the edge of a snagged nail' biter. I mean a 'gnawing the nail down to the bloody nub then chomping away the the cuticles, ripping the skin off until I have to wear band-aids on all my fingers' biter. Seriously. I'd show you a picture of my nails without any enhancements but you'd gag. And probably have nightmares for years to come. I used to have my nails done with acrylic gel at the salon, but that is expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient. Plus, breathing in the salon fumes, even for the hour or so it takes to have my nails done always left me with a horrible headache and sinus problems. I want my nails to look nice, but more in a 'normal human who has not recently been attacked by a rabid rodent' way rather than a perfectly done 'just stepped out of the salon' way. Glue-on nail technology has progressed dramatically since my youth, and a good pair looks convincing and lasts me about a week, even with knitting, typing, cleaning and gardening type activities. Plus if I want polish, I can do it before I put them on, since my polishing skills are the equivalent to a spastic four-year olds.

9. Morgana Cryptoria Lip Balm in Nevermore Everything that makes a balm wonderful, plus colour. Okay, it's a bit stiffer than your average balm, which is good, otherwise it'd end up looking all smeary and Joker-y. But it's still nicely moisturizing and with a wonderful warm mauvey-violety ever so subtle sparkle. The perfect fusion of lip balm and lipstick. Plus it's available in more colours than any one person can possibly use. (Not that we won't try).

10. Hair dye. Usually in some shade of cool red. Right now it's Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Colour R3  with Splat! Luscious Raspberries over it. I've had every colour of hair imaginable in my time. (except green. I've yet to find a green I like.) I love brightly coloured hair. One of these days, I'll do a post about it. I change my hair colour constantly, depending on what catches my eye or my mood. I'd rather go outside naked with no makeup than have boring hair. Plus my hair is ultra-short, so if I screw it up, it grows out in like, three weeks. Neither of these two are the best or the brightest dyes I've ever used, but they hold up well through multiple washings and I'm lazy, so it's working for me right now.

Now to spread the love: 10 wonderful bloggers chosen semi- randomly from my daily reading list:
Liber Vix

**Rules of the Top 10 Award**
1.  Thank the person who tagged you and link to their blog.
2.  Put the Top 10 Award logo on your blog.
3.  List your Top 10 cosmetics/beauty items.
4.  Choose 10 bloggers to tag, link to their blogs, and let them know.

*I expanded the tag from just cosmetics to include beauty items, because beauty is more than just face-paint and I'm not sure I could come up with 10 cosmetic items without repeating myself.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rhymes with door hinge

Orange and amber. Can you really go wrong with this combination? I think not.  I'm quite fond of most citrus fruits, both as a snack and as a fragrance and there are very few I will turn my nose up at (I'm looking at you, grapefruit). Orange and lime happen to be two of my favourite non-exotic citrus scents, and I passionately adore the scent of amber.  I happened to be browsing The Morbid The Merrier's site a while back looking for another perfume and came across this:
Key notes:
orange blossom, blackened amber, blood orange, whiskey, and a most decadent Indian white amber

Orange! Amber! Is there a downside to this? I think not! Obviously I snapped it right up. I mean, even the name sounds exotic and heady: Dhanya- like some Hindu goddess. Being a complete geek, I looked it up. Dhanya is a Sanskrit name, which, depending on the source you use, means 'most glorious', 'virtuous', 'thankful', 'blessed'. It may also be a Tamil name for the goddess Lakshmi.

So, anyway, Dhanya is part of TMTM's Odditoria line, which tend to be even darker and more exotic than the standard TMTM fare. A little slice of heaven. I want to try all the scents in that line, but this is the one that caught my eye that day.

Dhanya doesn't smell Indian to me. The first note I catch is a burst of orange - true orange, not orange candy or Bayer Baby Aspirin orange. After a little wear and warming on the skin, the blood orange - which I can only describe as somewhere between orange and tangerine scented - surfaces, cushioned by a rich, creamy layer of amber. You sort of float in this sweet but citrussy mixture for a long time, dreaming of Morrocan orange groves or the gardens of Alhambra, when the wicked whiskey undertones sneak up on you. They're delicate, but at the same time sharp and just a little bit naughty, like a little girl taking a sip of Daddy's gin while he's not looking. There's not enough whiskey to make the scent boozy, just a little bite beneath the juicyness of the richer notes.

I love this scent, it's simple without being simplistic, it's a wonderful layering of like upon like that blends complimentary aromas together without sacrificing their individual virtues. The final touch of whiskey is the perfect contrast to top it off. If you don't care for the main notes, you won't like this perfume, but if you do, you'll be astonished at how breathtaking and intricate such a simple mixture can be. It's so easy to make an orange-scented perfume that's a basic, safe, Florida sunshine smell. Which is fine and has it's place. But add just a few variants and you find yourself a world away, someplace much more exotic and fantastical, with just a hint of hidden danger; a cafe in Casablanca, or strolling down the streets of Granada as the sun sets.

image courtesy of TMTM

Odditoria perfumes come in a 5ml roll-on bottle, which I just love. I'm hella clumsy, so anything I can't accidentally spill is a big plus for me. It's $12 per bottle, which is a great price for so much scent packed into one little container. This scent lasts all day on me, and if I put it on late enough, I still get a hint of it in the morning.

To add to the wonder that is all things TMTM, Lysa has announced the upcoming Fall line and a big sale this Sunday, August 14:
"I am holding a special pre-Halloween sale for Saucy Jack and The Saw is Family. I have a VERY limited supply of fragrance components for both of these, so I will make as many bottles as possible and place them for sale THIS SUNDAY @ 4PM PST - MIDNIGHT in the Etsy shop. I really don't like doing it this way, but Halloween is going to be pretty intense this year, and I wanted to get these out of the way before listing all the seasonal stuff. Should I have any bottles left after the pre-sale, they will return to the vault (aka my perfume cabinet - ha ha) and I will list them with the rest of Halloween until they're gone. I feel very sad, because these will never return, and The Saw is Family is one of my personal favorites EVER. "

I'll be lurking to grab my bottle of the Saw Is Family. See my review of Saucy Jack here. You probably need a bottle of at least one of these. Be there or be square.

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary.

Monday, August 8, 2011

In Ohio

I was going to write a cheerful post about facial products and discounts and so forth. Unfortunately, recent events have made that seem frivolous right now.

Some of you may be aware that I live in Northeastern Ohio. You are probably also aware that there has been a terrible tragedy in Copley Ohio, which happens to be quite near here.  I heard about the shooting this afternoon, but only recently got details on what actually happened.

So often, we see these things on tv and on the news. We are shocked and horrified. It seems unreal. Our hearts ache for the people involved and we thank our Gods that our family and friends have never had to deal with such a tragedy. After a great deal of back and forth between friends, I have learned that someone, or more correctly, the immediate family of someone, who was once a close friend of mine, someone who was part of 'the old college punk rock crowd' I hung out with many years ago were injured and killed in this shooting. Please join me in a moment of prayer for the Dieter and Johnson families in their time of loss.

I never met my friend Lesa's sister Becky, nor her brother Craig. I'd lost touch with her long before her nephew Scott was born.  I visited her house once, but don't think I met her  neighbors. I'll never have the chance to meet most of them now, but I sincerely hope Becky recovers soon, and that I do get the chance to meet her some day.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

And everywhere the glint of gold*

Let me begin this post by saying that I do know what gold actually smells like. All metals have a smell, not something you notice when wearing them, but when you're working with them, sanding, cutting, filing, hammering, etc. you notice it. I happen to be quite fond of the smell of wet steel, but that's just me. Anyway, Black Baccara's Mummy perfume oil is not what gold smells like. It's what gold ought to smell like.

When most people hear the word 'mummy' they think of a guy in bandages stumbling around in a horror movie. Or the Brendan Frasier movies. That's not where we're going with this.

not this guy
I'm talking more like an ancient king, wrapped lovingly with linen and unguents, arrayed in gold, spices and flowers, prepared for his journey into eternity.

this guy
Because that's where Mummy (the perfume) takes me. Mummy is described as "An arcane, exotic aroma which brings up visions of a freshly unearthed Mummy's tomb. Spicy cloves, tobacco, cinnamon, and amber combine with soil, hints of wine, and cardamom. An intoxicating, primordial, and captivating unisex perfume oil. Dark, spicy, timeless and evocative of the myths of ancient Egypt."

Even without the title or the description, it would summon up visions of golden sands, pharaonic tombs and gilded treasures lit by the flickering torches of ancient priests or dashing archaeologists.  To me the cloves and the cinnamon are strongest at first, then the amber and wine scents begin to fill out the spiciness, giving it body and volume. That lingers for a while until the rich tobacco notes trail through, adding a duskiness to the blend. It all coalesces into something warm and lingering, very rich, very exotic and absolutely intoxicating. It's lush, long-lasting and just about perfect. If I close my eyes, I imagine the first glimpse into the Tomb of Tutankhamen; the whisper of  long forgotten scents wafting towards the surface for the first time in millennia, revealing ancient gold, ancient wood, ancient spices and a window into a lost world.

If you're a fan of warm, spicy, amber scents, you'll like this. If you like HoG's Depravity, you'll like this. It's not the same scent, but it's the same type of scent and has similar notes. I love Depravity and I love this perfume. If I had to pick only one scent for the rest of my life, it would be one of those two. I pray I never have to make that choice. Right now I only have a sample vial of Mummy, but I intend to buy the 10ml. of this very soon. I'm just sad she doesn't offer it in gallon jugs.

So - amber fans - get yourself some of this perfume, and on a warm, sultry evening, dab it onto your pulse points, dim the lamps, light some candles and read a copy of The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen

edit- links added.

*Howard Carter, November 26, 1922
 ** I recommend Shawaza, Ahsas or anything by Solace/Jeremiah Soto or perhaps Le Serpent Rouge by Arcana. Just saying.

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blinded (With Science)

I'm having an interesting discussion with Skulda, over at Skulda's Claws.  She has a post about detoxifying your makeup kit and the 'Dirty Dozen' of scary stuff that is probably in a lot of your cosmetics and other products. The website she links to is set up by David Suzuki - who is completely awesome - but I disagree with some of what he has to say. She also links to Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, and they happen to be a personal pet peeve of mine. Why? Because a lot of the information they provide is based on myths, urban legends and scare tactics. Like the one about nail polish having formaldehyde in it. I'm personally partial to the science based and intelligently researched Personal Care Truth website. Contrast their article with Dr. Suzuki's. Or this one.

One of the reasons this sort of thing is a pet peeve of mine is my mother. She very firmly believes that all chemicals are 'bad' and that natural and organic is always good. She's quite elderly and relies on several medicines to live - COPD medications, blood thinners, heart and blood pressure medications. She hates taking them and constantly insists that she'd be fine if she just stopped putting all this 'stuff' into her body. Every time she gets ill, she blames it on her medications and sometimes stops taking them. This usually lands her in the emergency room. That's why I find sites like Personal Care Truth invaluable. Or, as I like to point out to her, my father and his family all grew up on a farm. Everything they ate was natural - grown right there, pesticide free or traded for same with a neighbor. You wanted chicken for dinner, you went outside and strangled one. You want veggies - you know where the garden is. Even their water was straight from the well. Dad wouldn't even take an aspirin unless he was in trauma level pain. In spite of them all being younger than her, they're all dead. Most of them of some kind of cancer. My father of leukemia, and before his sixtieth birthday.  Mom's family all lived into their 90's, every one of them medicated to the gills. I also point out that the world is full of natural, organic stuff you don't want to go anywhere near - poison ivy, anyone?

Before I go on - I am absolutely NOT anti-natural or anti-organic. I may be a skeptic, but I'm definitely a bleeding heart, left wing, eco-friendly, artsy, non-conformist liberal. I prefer natural and organic when I can get it, and I'll get to why in a minute. I grow my own vegetables when I can, eat as little meat as I can. I love cheese too much to be vegan, but I do try to get locally, ethically produced eggs, meat and cheeses. Most of my skin care and cleaning products are natural, organic, and if possible, indie. I use eco-friendly cleaning products like Method and 7th Generation (especially laundry soaps). Cruelty free and environmentally friendly as important to me.

Why? - I have multiple chemical sensitivities. It's not the chemicals fault - it's me. I have asthma and I'm also allergic to damn near everything. Except, oddly, poison ivy. I'm allergic to lavender, for heaven's sake. I have to be insanely careful what gets on my skin, or into my lungs. I'm violently allergic to fabric softener and dryer sheets. Can't even touch the things. Two or three times a year I end up at the doctor covered in hives from any of a number of causes. So it's very, very important to me to know EXACTLY what I'm using. I've had far less trouble using natural and organic products than with more conventional synthetic, processed goods. Why? I have a theory about that.

WARNING - what follows is NOT science. It is my opinion based on my own personal experiences. I could be totally full of it. Just saying.

I think the problem isn't chemicals, but rather the extreme refining and processing involved in making modern products. The chemical is stripped from it's natural matrix and processed to be more effective, stronger and cheaper, and I think in many cases - or at least for people like me, that causes as many problems as it solves. Aspirin is more effective than willow bark tea, but it is also more likely to damage your stomach. Do you see where I'm going with this? Also, while some of these products aren't intrinsically harmful to the person using them, (since no given individual is likely to be exposed to a sufficient amount), I do worry about the cumulative effect on the environment. Parabens may not be harmful to me personally, nor am I likely to use enough to cause problems to the environment as a whole, what about the effects of millions of people using them and sending them into the air, the ground, the water? I don't think we know enough yet to be sure about that, and I prefer to err on the side of caution.

And I just find that simpler, more natural products cause me less health problems and work better. I use SLS free shampoo because my hair responds better to it, and it doesn't strip out the chemical cocktail I call my hair dye as quickly. If it works, and doesn't cause me problems, physical or ethical, I use it. Given a choice between to reasonably equal products, I'll go natural first. But if natural and organic doesn't do the job, I'll start looking into processed chemicals. If my head hurts, bring on the aspirin. Chemical laundry soap - oh hell, no. I like my skin and I want to keep it hive-free, thank you very much. Febreze? You don't even want to know what that does to my lungs. Silicons, mineral oil, petroleum jelly? Bring it. I still heart Burt's Bees and Organix.

My other big problem with the whole OMG! Your makeup is full of poison! mindset - the Safe Cosmetics Act. It has been revamped into the SCA of 2011, and it's still out there. From their web site "The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition effort launched in 2004 to protect the health of consumers and workers by securing the corporate, regulatory and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products."  It sounds awesome. It should be awesome. It's not. It's bad, bad, bad, and here's why. It will most likely bring about more animal testing without increasing the safety of products and might well damage or even destroy indie beauty as an economically viable business.
Colin Sanders (if you only read one link, read this one)
Essential U - detailed blog with lots of information
Herbs of Grace
Soap Queen
Winged Seed
Alabu Skin Care Blog
Personal Care Truth
PCT (again)
Natural Soap Bar Co.
Savvy Sister

 Most of all, I'm in favour of people making intelligent, informed choices, whether or not I agree with them, based on as much information as they can gather, rather than simply relying on knee-jerk "They say" platitudes.

What do you all think? Do you prefer natural organic products? Why?

This post contains my opinions and lots of them. As always, your mileage may vary. You are encouraged to discuss and debate these issues, provided you do so in a respectful and adult manner. Abusive and inflammatory posts will be deleted.