Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sweet Narcosa

So I was finishing up trying out all my new Gloi summer products, to review when I came to Narcosa.  I saved it for last, since I wasn't terribly taken with it, sniffing the sample vial, so all I got was the perfume. Not that it seemed bad, just that Brier Path and Sanctum were so wonderful, that poor little Narcosa seemed like an afterthought - Brier Path's slightly more elegant older sister.

"A thick haze of tonka and black vanilla, three jasmines, tuberose and ylang ylang."
image courtesy of House of Gloi

Boy, was I wrong. I daubed the perfume on yesterday and went about my business. At first it smelled the way it does in the bottle - a sweet, slightly powdery white floral - vaguely old-fashioned. It reminded me of something my grandmother had had once, or maybe my aunt. Nice, but nothing special. However, as the day went on and the perfume aged, the magic happened. The undertones of tonka and vanilla clouded the floral essence, making it richer, deeper and more complex. Grandmother's perfume, indeed - only if Grandma was, say, Virginia Woolf. Out of the bottle it was pearls and stockings, but time and deeper notes added gin and cigarettes.

I was really quite taken away by the scent - it seemed like something out of Paris in the twenties or thirties, the parfum of choice for a slightly boozy cabaret singer, or a hung over chorus girl. Ladylike and elegant on the surface, but underneath, smoky, sultry and a little wild. Dirty jazz in the background, wet streets, and flickering streetlamps. You might see Henry Miller, drunk in the corner, or hear Jospehine Baker's voice come lilting out of a club.  One of my favourite photographers is Brassai, and his work came to mind, with the scent of Narcosa weaving itself in and out of his images, along with cigarette smoke, fog and too many cocktails.

I was quite astonished by how powerfully evocative Narcosa turned out to be, how very vividly it captured my idea of a certain time and place - even though it's one I never experienced personally. That's one of the things that makes perfume so wonderful - it can capture moments, ideas, entire worlds in the barest thread of fragrance. For me, Narcosa smells like this:

Lovers in a Cafe 1932
Rue Quincampoix 1930-1932

For you it might be something else entirely.

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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Been Through the Desert...

I have dry skin.
You'll probably hear me mention this repeatedly, but I do. Not dry, like a bit flaky and patchy, but dry, like, is that a lizard on your face or are you just happy to see me? Even as a teen I only had mildly oily skin (my hair, though - that was another story).

As adulthood and (gasp) middle age set in, so began the Great Drought. It's been a struggle to find cleansers that didn't dry me out, or aggravate my extremely sensitive, rosacea-prone skin. I've used a variety of things, with particular partiality to Aveeno and the Yes To! line.

And then I heard about oil cleansing. To most people, it sounds crazy - smear oil on my face? But as someone who routinely steam-hydrated my skin then slathered on Vaseline to hold the moisture in, it sounded great. I came across a little shop on Etsy, Caravan Herbals, that offered this:
photo courtesy Caravan Herbals
 Caravan Herbal Beauty's Nourishing Cleansing Oils
This blend of oils is specifically formulated for those of us with dry or mature skin.

Jojoba Oil - aids in cleansing by mimicking our skin's own oils
Apricot Kernel Oil - for sensitive and prematurely aged skin
Hemp Seed Oil - amazing healing properties with many important vitamins for our skin
Rosehip Seed Oil - extremely high in fatty acids to moisturize and for treating wrinkles and premature aging
Castor Oil - anti-inflammatory and very healing

An amazing blend of ingredients, and most importantly for me - no lavender. It's very hard to find things for sensitive skin that don't have lavender. It's a wonderful herb - I just happen to be allergic to it. The oil comes in an amber PET bottle, 3.6 oz. for 21 dollars. I bought mine last summer, and I'm just now starting to run out. She also offers a formulation for oily/combination skin, and one for sensitive or problem skin.

This stuff has been a godsend to my skin. I don't use it every day, more like 3-5 times a week. I need to vary what I put on my skin, or it will get cranky. I alternate this with Yes To! Cucumbers or Blueberries and OHWTO's Black Magic soap.  Some nights I also mix a little Aromaleigh Nocturne into the oil and use it as a moisturizer.

Why is it so great? Thanks to this stuff, my skin is now producing its own oil again. To most of you this may not seem like a big deal - but to me it's a huge step towards healing and maintaining my skin. It hasn't made my skin oily, it's redressed the imbalance in my skin that caused it to resemble cracked earth, and healed to the point where it is starting to function properly, hydrate itself and generally behave like skin rather than living taxidermy.
only a slight exaggeration

 Plus, its a wonderful, relaxing bed-time ritual. I use a Yes To! wipe to get any mascara off, then pour a little oil (very little - about a quarter sized puddle) into my (clean) hands and massage it into my face. It feels heavenly, and I get to spend a few minutes just relaxing and rubbing the stress out of my head. Then I put a hot, wet cloth over my face and let that sit for a minute or two, soaking the nourishing oils into my skin and easing away tension. Then a quick splash of cold water to close my pores and I'm done. Very often I don't need any additional moisturizer, as the oils have cleaned and moisturized my skin in one go. 

The whole procedure turns facial cleansing from an automatic chore into an enjoyable, stress- relieving experience. If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine myself at a luxurious spa. At least until the dogs start barking, the phone rings, or some other intrusion presents itself. I did say almost. 
Dawn, the owner behind Caravan Herbals, has a nice little offering of goods, including lip balms that I plan to try when I order some more cleanser. Plus, she's super sweet. One of my dogs, Bismark, has terrible allergic dermatitis, (much like me) and if he gets a hot spot, he'll end up tearing it raw. I asked her last year if she could whip something up for him - and she did - Herbal Skin Healing Salve, which did wonders to calm poor Biz's skin, and mine, when I get hives as well. It's fantastic, and I highly recommend it if you (or your dog) have skin issues that need to be calmed and healed.

Bismark says "two paws up!"

I cannot recommend Caravan Herbals highly enough - a wonderful seller with wonderful products. For me, this is the sort of thing that makes indie shopping so great - fabulous, natural products made with time, attention and love. A welcome change from the generic, mass-produced mainstream. 

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

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stuff you know you want

Who stole my week?

Seriously, wasn't it Tuesday, like, yesterday? Was I abducted by aliens and missed a couple of days? That would explain a lot.  Any way - here's some cool stuff that every geek and soap/B&B lover NEEDS:

+2 extra clean - Geeksoap

Photos courtesy Geeksoap

Digital Soaps

Photos courtesy of DigitalSoaps
Luxury Lane Soaps - I have one of the Carbonite Soaps - I've never used it - it's way too cool for that.

Photos courtesy Luxury Lane Soaps

Geeky Clean

Photos courtesy Geeky Clean
Two Eggplants

Photo courtesy Two Eggplants
Cleaner Science (it glows in the dark - how cool is that)

Photos courtesy Cleaner Science 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Matte Silk - Holy Grail!

If you've been looking for a finishing powder - I can highly recommend Evil Shades' Matte Silk. I've tried a bunch of different finishing powders - AL, Bare Minerals, etc., and they were all nice but this one - just wow! I put my makeup on, dusted the Matte Silk over, glanced in the mirror and did a double-take! I looked FANTASTIC! My skin was perfect matte porcelain, my pores diminished, my skin tone even and radiant. It was like a jar of magic. I went out shopping in horrible humidity and when I got home, I still looked pretty damn good. I'm never leaving the house without it again.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Raspberries and Gloi

Haus of Gloi is one of my all time favourite B&B companies. Britton makes the most wonderful vegan products in some of the most amazing scents. Many of them are foodie or maybe foodesque, but she does have a wide variety of scents in her regular line plus seasonal scents that rotate in and out. In addition, she does occasional 'Reverie' offerings, one-off products which might be available as a perfume, a soap or something else. Her most recent Reverie is called White Raspberry and it's available as both a perfume and a soap. The perfume oil is currently in stock, and the soap is due to be restocked soon according to the HoG Facebook page.
"Tart raspberry and a clean cream accord " is how the perfume is described on the web page and I'd say that's a pretty fair description. I'd also say, that if you like the scent of raspberries, you should order this perfume ASAP before it's gone forever.  I have a few of HoG's Reverie scents and they are all a lot of fun, and you never know when she's going to run out. A few scents have been added to the permanent line, but most are get them while they're still around.

I love raspberries, both eating and smelling, so I ordered the perfume as soon as it was back in stock. I wasn't disappointed - the scent opens with a bright, tart ripe raspberry smell with just the faintest undertone of cream. After it's been on the skin for a while, it turns absolutely magical - the berry scent softens and the cream scent blooms into full, rich lusciousness. At this point it almost smells like a raspberry liqueur or cordial, or some wonderful raspberry drink smothered in melting whipped cream. It's such a simple combination, but it blends so seamlessly and wonderfully. And it lasts! Most oil based perfumes start to fade on me in a couple of hours, but this one just won't quit. Even after having worn it all day, I still get a sudden, blissful whiff of scent, long after I'd forgotten I was wearing it.  

I always expect magic from HoG, but this particular offering is an outstanding example of minimalism at it's finest.  I'm hoping I can snap up some soap when it's relisted.

Meanwhile, my Gloi summer scent haul is on it's way,  I'll give you all the details when I've gotten a chance to sniff it all.

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

Saturday, June 18, 2011

You had me at Unicorn Pee

Like many of you out there, I love makeup. Sure, if I had to choose between scent and paint, I'd go with scent, but it'd be tough. I went for an au natural phase for awhile and stopped wearing it, then I burned my leg very, very badly, and all my skin freaked out for awhile, I had to be so careful what I put on it  - and my skin is hyper sensitive to start with. So about a year and a half ago, at the same time I discovered indie perfumes, I discovered indie mineral makeup. I found Aromaleigh just as they began going out of business and went absolutely insane buying as much of it as I could before it was gone forever. And I bought A LOT.

Not that I'm complaining, but now I own a whole lot of eyeshadow (and other stuff - mostly eye shadow). I have a few other companies, Hi-Fi, Persephone, Moi, Meow, all good stuff. But by the end of the AL sale, the shadows were coming in big baggies, and there was a lot of trading. Around January, I looked at my stash and realised I had dozens and dozens of full e/s in baggies stuffed into various boxes, totes and bags waiting to be jarred and sorted so I could actually wear some of it. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to wear all of it. So I put myself on a makeup no-buy, until I got all that stuff sorted out. No more eyeshadow, blush or lipstick until I reclaim my bathroom from the grip of sparkly chaos.

AHAHAHAHAHA! Massive fail. I was good till just recently - okay I did get a f/s and a few samples from Meow's St. Patty's day sale but that hardly counted.  Then My Pretty Zombie was on Heartsy. And Linnaeus was having a sale (I've been lemming the gemsbok collection since I saw it). And Evil Shades did a twitter sale.

So anyway, I got my MPZ order already and HOLY COW! These shadows are amazingly buttery and creamy. The texture is just fantastic and it just feels so amazing to wear them. And the colours are amazing as well. My swatch-fu sucks, but I'll try putting some up tomorrow. I got Amacryst, Bride, 13 Gypsies, Unicorn Pee, Thundernuts and Gangrenous in full sizes and samples of  Tarayvonne, Nacreous Alchemy and Abyssal Gems. Every one of them is a winner and I know I'll head back for more. Meanwhile, I'm expecting some gemsbok in my mailbox any day now, as well as some Evil Shades goodness - I had to try Matte Silk after reading Grey's review. And you should totally head over to Linnaeus for some 20% off goodness while it lasts.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Absinthe with a twist

Very excited to see I have some followers! Hello and welcome.
Today we're going to talk about The Morbid The Merrier's solid perfume version of Dessert Absinthe.

From the shop "I took my usual absinthe perfume oil and softened it with cream and sugar and soft citrus. Upon opening, the first notes are lemon, sugar, and anise - very reminiscent of a lemon sugar cookie. After wearing it for just a few minutes, however, the bottom notes emerge... woodsy, earthy, mysterious, and alluring. I created this perfume for those who prefer something softer and more feminine than traditional absinthe."

Absinthe blends are fairly common among indie sellers right now, and they are all pretty much variations on a theme - a basic black licorice/anise blend with additions of citrus, usually lemon, sometimes lime. They all smell pretty similar, and if you don't like anise/black licorice notes, you probably won't like an absinthe scented perfume. I love the smell and taste of anise, and though I hate the taste of black licorice, I do like the smell, so absinthe-type scents are obviously a win with me.

Dessert Absinthe takes that standard blend and sweetens the whole thing down with a soft, lemon sugar cake note that tames the harshness of the anise. For an absinthe-type perfume, it's almost delicate, and definitely sweet. Think of it as absinthe with training wheels. It's really quite lovely and it allows the underlying anise notes to creep up on you slowly instead of jumping right out at the top of the blend. The creamy lemon scent fades away first, dissolving into the sharper, spicier undertones but the overall scent always retains that hint of sweetness that differentiates this blend from a plain absinthe. If you're someone who's been intrigued by this type of scent, but not sure if it's for you, this, or TMTM's slightly darker Cocoa d'Absinthe might be a good start. If you love the scent but need something lighter for work or any other conservative atmosphere, this blend is a winner giving you the punch of absinthe wrapped in sweet citrus cake overtones.

TMTM's solid scents are small and inexpensive, most around $4.50 and great for throwing in your purse without having to worry about breakage or spillage. The solid scent doesn't seem to last as long as the liquid version, at least not on me, so you may find yourself reapplying throughout the day.

Just in case you don't know, Absinthe was a popular drink during the end of the 19th century particularly in France.

Edgar Degas 1876  
Alphonse Mucha 1896

Often called 'the Green Fairy', for its bright lime green colour (although it can also be blue or clear) absinthe is a high-alcohol content blend of sweet fennel, anise and wormwood. The early 20th century temperence movement was particularly opposed to absinthe and, as a result, the popular drink was banned in many countries for quite some time. The early 21st century saw a revival of absinthe and most countries lifted the ban. Absinthe retains its decadent, dangerous reputation, which probably accounts for the bulk of it's allure.

Many people will tell you that wormwood is poisonous, and, therefore, that absinthe is poisonous as well. I grow true wormwood (artemisia absinthium) in my front gardern - it's a pretty, silvery leafed plant. And it tastes revolting. "Bitter as wormwood" isn't just an expression. You'd have to be pretty darn tough to eat enough of it to poison yourself. Absinthe contains a distillation of wormwood, but, honestly, you'd have to drink so much you'd get alcohol poisoning before the wormwood could get you.

I have had the occasion to sample absinthe, complete with the addition of a melted sugar cube dripped in through a slotted spoon, etc. (And believe me, you need the sugar). It initally tastes like a glass of very hash liquid black licorice. Just about the point where I had decided it was the most disgusting thing I'd ever had, there was a wonderful bloom of anise flavouring (mmmmm...anise) which was enough to convince me to drink a few more swallows. I can't tell you alcoholic it was, because I rarely drink, so I'm a lightweight, but halfway through the glass, I decided to sit down on the floor, so that when (not if) I fell over, I'd be that much closer to the ground.

Really, it's not that decadent or dangerous - except - what most accounts have forgotten is the sugar cube, which keeps the whole thing from tasting like licorice Draino. Back in the heyday of absinthe drinking, it used to be laced with laudanum or some other opiate blend, many of which were legal at the time. That was what turned the original absinthe drinkers into sotted zombies.

Perfume comes in a black oval .15 oz lip balm sized tube and is colourless.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Morbid The Merrier Review

Since Lysa's having such an awesome sale, let's start with a few of her scents. I have three perfume oils in the 5ml size: Horseman, Lizzie and Saucy Jack. All three were introduced for the Halloween 2010 season.

Horseman is part of the Sleepy Hollow series, and is still available. The shop describes it as "Fiery jack-o-lanterns, black leather boots, temple incense, and the edge of a dark Autumn wood. Opens sweet, almost caramel-foody, but after only a few minutes on the skin, it darkens dramatically, almost changing into a different scent altogether."

I think this is a pretty good description. It starts out with a strong buttery-caramel scent, followed by a slight resinous undertone. As it fades, the dry-down becomes smoky and dark with a touch of leather while keeping a sweet toffeeish scent. It's subtle and it lingers, giving a strong overall impression of drinking hot toddies by an autumn bonfire. This could be a unisex fragrance, if the gentleman in question doesn't mind a slightly sweet aroma about his person.

Lizzie is no longer available, but the site description is "A waft of Mother's garden blooms, Father's unlit pipe, tiny roses on the parlor wallpaper, and a dusty wooden axe handle."

This one is a floral with slightly dark undertones. I can't pick out the individual floral notes, though I think I might be getting a touch of gardenia. There's a breath of greeness as well. It's got a dusty feel to it, like something old and neglected. There's definitely a hint of woodiness underneath the floral. Lizzie is floral without being too sweet, and the wood tones anchor it and fill out the base. Think of visiting an old Victorian haunted house during the day - beautiful but derelict, with a hint of menace waiting in the wings. You could wear this to a conservative workplace without feeling too edgy or out of place.

Saucy Jack
This was another limited edition fragrance, described as "Deep, dark, and resinous... redolent of stained and tattered petticoats, damp brick, and spilled blood in a London alleyway...."

Of the three, this is my favourite. It's similar in tone and ambiance to the other two, but the initial notes are a bit sharper. The woodsy, resinous tones dominate, followed by a sharp floral sweetness. There's nothing delicate about Saucy Jack, it's heady and luscious, like some dangerously tempting forbidden bouquet. Wear this on a hot summer night - it's dark, sexy and alluring.

Each of these fragrances sold for 12$ and came in an amber 5ml bottle with a eurostopper and an individually designed label.

I hope you've enjoyed this little introduction the The Morbid The Merrier. I'll continue later with reviews of some of the solid scents and samples I own, as well as a few lip balms.

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sale Alert!

Huge Sale at The Morbid the Merrier -
Details here.
Shop here.

I have several of her perfumes, which I will be reviewing once we get this show on the road - and I love all of them.

For now, Grey over at Gothique has reviewed several of their perfumes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Introduction and Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my little blog.  I love blogs - beauty blogs, craft blogs, gaming blogs - I follow a ton of blogs. I never expected to start one though. However, after following a number of beauty blogs for a little over a year, I noticed that, while there are plenty devoted to makeup, there aren't whole lot devoted to perfumed products. Of the few out there, most primarily deal with mainstream mass produced perfumes. I love finding opinions and feedback on various good smelling things, and I'll bet other people do too. So I decided, hey, I love indie perfume and bath products and I own a metric boatload of them, maybe I can help fill in that empty gap a bit. So this blog will be primarily devoted to things that smell, preferably things that smell good - perfumes, soaps, scrubs, lip balms, bath products - you get the idea.

Let me show you around.
I have a list of the various shops I like to frequent - mostly Etsy, a few Artfire and a few with their own pages. I have a list of blogs I follow, but it is by no means comprehensive. I just picked a few of the sites I read that sometimes include reviews of perfumes and bath/body products. For the full list, just scroll down to the bottom, where it says 'view my complete profile.' And if you know of any blogs that review/discuss/spotlight indie perfumes and bath products, send me a link!

All of my opinions will always be my own and your mileage may vary. Especially with fragrances, opinions can be highly subjective - the very thing I love about a product may be the thing you hate, or vice versa. I hope you will find my reviews interesting and informative and I will always welcome any constructive criticism and suggestions.