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.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sugar Kisses

I knew as soon as I checked out their web page that I was not Sugarcandie Beauty Bar's target audience. I am not a girly girl, I do not 'luv' pink, nor do I go for outdoorsy FuN. I did, however, have a 10$ gift certificate, and there was more than enough to choose from, that I figured I'd have no problem finding something.

pretty, but not really me.
In fact, it took me quite awhile to make a choice. Most of the offerings simply didn't appeal to me. I have three different Jack the Ripper inspired perfumes, so, as you can imagine, marshmallows, whipped cream and beach baby type scents aren't at the top of my must-have list. When I was a teenager, I'd have gone nuts over the stuff - all brightly coloured, sweet and glittery and made to look like ice cream, cupcakes, etc. And that's okay - plenty of people love that sort of thing. I bet Lolita types would be in heaven here, and Goth Loli's might find a thing or two in the Dark Carnivale section, which is where I hoped to find something. Alas, too many of them sound great until they add the marshmallow or caramel. I like foodie scents, but I don't want to smell like a dessert tray.

much more 'me'

I settled on a sugar scrub and a bath salt. The formulas are wonderful. Very luxurious, both leave a nice, moisturising layer on the skin without being greasy or oily. They did leave my tub a bit slippery, so I recommend caution on that front. The jars are a nice, generous size and packed full of product. My order came with three samples of sugar scrubs, each with enough for one or two uses.

The fragrances left something to be desired. Both had an unpleasant initial smell, which may have been from the plastic jar, or simply from the scents not having had time to 'marry' properly. In any case, the weird scent went away after a few days.  I ordered the scrub in "Forever FuN in the Sun!" A mouthwatering fun fragrance bursting w/ wonderful exotic fragrance notes of raspberry, cantaloupe, and watermelon, middle notes of jasmine and violet, and fresh top notes of grapefruit and kumquat....Forever Fun!  because it contained two of my favourite smells - violets and melons. Unfortunately, all I get from it is grapefruit. I'm almost done with the jar, over a month later, and still, all I get is grapefruit. No floral, no berry, no melon. Very sad, especially since the scrub itself is luscious.

The bath salt is also wonderful, gives an absolutely perfect amount of softness and smoothing to the skin. I chose "Sinful Chocolate Cake Cravings" Sinful calorie free indulgence...full of rich decadence with delicious chocolate cake batter baked to perfection infused with sweet cream cheese swirls frosted off with more luscious sweet cream cheese frosting...delicious, decadent.  
Doesn't smell anything like chocolate with cream cheese. I'll cut Sugarcandie some slack here, though, because I find that a true, sweet milk chocolate smell is almost impossible to duplicate. You always end up with something that smells like it wants to be chocolate but can't quite get there. Sometimes you get a cocoa scent, but that's not the same as sweet chocolate. I have gotten a few fragrances that nail the bittersweet scent of dark chocolate down cold - notably from Solstice Scents and The Morbid The Merrier, but not milk chocolate. It doesn't smell bad, just doesn't smell like the description.

Of the three samples I was sent, two I hated and one was absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, Sugarcandie labels its samples with non-waterproof ink. You can see the problem here. After a great deal of puzzling, I managed to figure out that the one I liked had to be "Enchanted Tea Party at Dusk". I ordered the bath salts in this fragrance from a reseller.  According to Sugarcandie's site, this is: Alice's own blend of squeezed yellow lemons,  enchanting whispers of sweet orange peel steeped w/midnite black Tea Leaves swirled with crushed violet sugar cubes served w/ruby red pomegranate sugardrops...........You're invited....Won't you come join the party?
In the jar I get the black tea and fruit with a hint of sweetness. In the bath, it just smells like fruit punch, but a really, really good fruit punch, and it's heavenly. The sample that came with this also smelled quite nice, and I'm pretty sure it was "Kiss Me! Pink Sugar." It smelled like your basic vanilla sugar with a dark brown sugar or brulee undertone. I'm guessing about the name for the reason stated above.

In addition to the wet ink issues - their TAT is long, 14-28 business days, and mine fell on the very outside of that limit. Within the limit, but just barely. To be fair, I don't think this would have bothered me so much if they weren't located about an hour away, which really isn't reasonable of me.

So I guess the questions are, would I buy from them again or would I recommend them?

Yes, I would buy from them again. I believe in always giving businesses a second chance. Everybody has a bad day now and again, and sometimes that's the day you first shop there. I only really liked two of the six fragrances I tried, but that doesn't mean that I won't like any of them, and, as I said, the actual product is wonderful. Yes, they were slow, but not outside of their stated TAT.

Yes, I would recommend them. Just because their fragrance line and shop image doesn't suit me, personally, doesn't mean it's bad. I'm aware that my tastes can be a bit off the beaten track. The product quality is high, as long as you're willing to be patient waiting for your order. They often have sales and gift certificate give-aways, and following their Facebook page can keep you alerted to these.  Also, if you have more than one jar of something, the fragrance is listed on a label on the bottom, and  - you guessed it - not waterproof. It seems like this would be a no-brainer, but apparently not. Make sure you get a permanent marker and write over the fragrance label BEFORE you shower or bathe with it.

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

Thursday, July 14, 2011


One of the things I love most about scent is how evocative it is. The faintest whiff of a scent from your past can bring back memories and feelings even more vividly than a picture or a piece of music. Very often I'll come across something that smells like.....and I can't quite put my finger on it, just a strong sense of time and place. I love those moments, even though it drives me crazy not remembering exactly what it was that smelled that way.

Two of my absolute favourite commercial perfumes are special to me, not just because of the way they smell, but because they are wrapped up in associations and memories that I cherish.

Sunflowers by Elizabeth Arden. I bought it when it came out. I loved it then and I love it now. Flowery, melonny and bright. And I do love melon scents. It debuted while I was in art school, which was the happiest time of my life. For some reason, when I smell it, I remember the cold, wet day I had to drive out to Kent to get a particular type of photography paper, as all the stores here were sold out. It was sometime in mid-March, and as I was driving past, I noticed that the local A&W Root Beer stand was open. Around here, that is one of the first signs of spring, and something I (and probably many others) look forwards to. I was so excited, I cut across two lanes of traffic and swerved wildly into the parking lot for the sheer bliss of the First Root Beer of Spring (and cheese sticks). Mmmmmm. Sunflowers, for me, will always be an olfactory record of that funny day, and that perfect year.

Opium by YSL. Not any of the variants that have come out since the original, nor the reformulation (which I have read about, but not smelled), but good old- fashioned Opium. I love this scent, it's powdery, floral, spicy, woody - a wonderful melange. I've always loved it. Yes, it's so 80's, but I don't care. It's one of the best fragrances of all time. Plus, back in the day I had a dear, dear friend,  Christina, who wore it all the time. She lived in an apartment near another friend, who always remarked that she could tell when her cat had been out visiting Christina, because he'd come home smelling like Opium. "She'd come [over] wearing my cat Fred around her neck. I could always tell when Fred had been with Chris by smelling him".

I remember a night in Youngstown, outside The Cedars Lounge, where she and I explored and old, abandoned movie theatre. It had been built sometime around 1930, and was thoroughly decrepit and wonderful. We spent hours wandering through it in the semi-darkness, full of beautiful old rooms and fittings. A lost treasure about to be destroyed, we were probably the last people to wander in and appreciate its faded beauty.

Sadly, she left this world suddenly and unexpectedly just a year or two after this picture was taken. Even though that was many, many years ago, when I smell Opium, I remember Christina, her smell, her smile and the sound of her voice, silent for far too long. Until we meet again, dear friend, I will wear it in your honour.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bath PrOn

cause sometimes you look for something on Google and end up in totally unrelated places:


from The Steampunk Forum
from The Steampunk Home

from Custom Estate Creations
from Orion Victorian
from Mr. Peacock

Juvan Designs
Hexotica gothic burlesque

e l home design


I see I have new followers! Hello new people! Welcome and I hope you enjoy the blog. Today, we'll start with the fruit plate.

One of Haus of Gloi's summer scents this year is called Sanctum: "A welcome respite: Muskmelon, coconut water infused with bergamot flower, kaffir lime,  polished ho wood and sticky benzoin."

If, for some reason I were going to be executed, I think I would choose to be drowned in this perfume. I love it that much. I've been looking for the perfect melon-scented perfume for years. I've always loved the melon notes in Arden's Sunflowers and I love the smell, and taste, of actual melons. I don't know if they still make it, but Partylite used to have a candle scent called Honeydew that captured the perfect melon scent - not  the fresh green new melon/cucumbery smell you usually get, which I like just fine, but more of a deep, robust, absolutely as ripe as fruit can be before it goes bad, voluptuous melon melange. I've been hoping that someday, someone would include that note in a perfume.
            kind of like if this were scratch n sniff

They did, and it's called Sanctum. I experienced a moment of pure joy when I sniffed my sample vial - there it was, that same rich, wet, juicy, burst of melon. I inhaled it, sniffing the little vial like someone who'd just gotten a long-needed fix. It was heaven. It was also heartbreak - why? Because this perfume doesn't last at all on my skin. Within half an hour it's gone, faded into the dimmest melon memories. The cruel irony of it all - one of the most wonderful scents, one I'd longed for, lo these many years, and -poof- it's gone faster than Cinderella on a curfew. Life is so unfair. I've purchased the perfume oil, the sugar scrub and the pumpkin butter. I'm hoping (pleaseohplease) that layering the scent will help it last longer. Failing that, I'll try applying it to my clothing (after testing for stains) rather than my skin, to see if that makes a difference. This is the first Gloi scent I've had this problem with. The other scents all last a respectable amount of time and Narcosa and White Raspberry linger gloriously for many hours on me. I think it's just Fortune's way of pointing and laughing at me. (grumpy face)

So other than the 'eat me before it's too late' meloniness, what does Sanctum smell like? In the bottle, that's all I really get with the perfume and it fades too quickly on me to identify any other notes. If there's a dry-down, it's the saltiness of my tears as this delicious fragrance vanishes on me. 

Just don't blink
 The pumpkin butter, however, does seem to linger a bit, and I get a strong undernote of the bergamot and coconut. After a while the whole thing mellows a bit and none of the notes can really be differentiated - just an overall rich summery harvest smell. In the sugar scrub the Ho wood note is almost as strong as the melon, and the lime and bergamot come in second - it's a bit greener smelling to me than the perfume.  

They are all wonderful. I wish Britton would make this in a room spray so my whole house could smell that way. It's definitely a summery fragrance, and if you don't like melon smells, you won't like Sanctum. About February, when it's cold and miserable and the snow has gone all grimy and dirty, I'm going to lock myself in the bathroom with my scrub and butter and perfume and just smell the magnificent lush summery ripeness. A welcome respite, indeed. 

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary. 
Images: Still Life with Melons, Peaches and Grapes Reproduction by John Defett Francis, 19th c. courtesy Weeping Angel Wings, unknown sculptor, courtesy

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I am an addict

I confess - I am a lip balm junkie. I can't survive without lip balm. I have approximatly ten different tubes in my purse at any given time, four on my computer table, two in my pocket, five or six by my bed and a large cup filled with them in my bathroom. I apply it constantly - pretty sure my lips can't survive without it anymore. I have, on occasion, been late to school, social events, work, etc. because I realised I forgot/was out of lip balm and had to stop and get some. I guess it's cheaper than smoking. It certainly tastes better.

So I was pretty happy that I finally got my hands on EOS' summer lip balm set today. It contains two limited edition flavours Passion Fruit (lavender) and Strawberry Sorbet (pink).

I love EOS lip balms. They're smooth, nicely moisturising without being too soft. They are only lightly flavoured, 95% organic, 100% natural and not tested on animals. They also come in adorable packaging - little, soft, rubbery, ever-so-slightly squeezy spheres. As lip balm goes, I give them an 8, with a +2 extra cuteness bonus. I currently own at least one of every flavour, with my favourite being the lemon - it tastes like those delicious lemon, sugar and ice drinks you can get at fairs and other event concession stands. Next favourite would be the mint, which is lightly minty (of course). The honeydew/honeysuckle only tastes like honeysuckle to me, I don't get any melon flavour, and the summer fruit and tangerine have a sort of generic pleasant fruit taste. Nothing to write home about.

On to the new flavours. I love the soft floral smell of the passion fruit - I've  never tasted passion fruit, so I can't comment on the accuracy of the light, vaguely tropical not-quite-mango flavour of this particular balm, but I like it. The strawberry sorbet has a very faint strawberry candy scent and a fleeting hint of what might be a strawberry taste - it's so light and elusive I can't tell. It definitely has a flavour, but it's gone before I can identify it.

I love EOS balms, and I'm a total sucker for their packaging. Unfortunately, the dogs also love EOS balms - they're a nice, chompable size, they have a squishy, yet crunchy outside and a tasty, creamy inside. Hiding it where they can't find them is getting to be a challenge, and they've found, and enjoyed quite a few of them. If they get ahold of either of these two, I doubt I'd replace them with the same set. More likely I'd just grab a few more of the lemon, which I prefer. So the final verdict is, I'm not sorry I bought them, but I won't be sad when they're gone. Hopefully, EOS will come out with something uber-yummy this fall or winter (pumpkin? wintergreen? maybe?)

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