Friday, May 20, 2011

I am loving: L'Occitane Shea Butter Balm

L'Occitane Shea Butter Beauty Balm in Orange Honey
Limited Edition
$16.95 AUD
Spotted at L'Occitane, the new Shea Orchard Range with limited edition fragrances! There is Shea Butter Luscious Beauty Balm and Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Cream in three new gorgeous fragrances: Vinyard Rose, Apricot Flower and Orange Honey. Oh My, they all smell so good! As much as I wanted them all, I picked up Shea Butter Beauty Balm in Orange Honey and loving it to bits!

Shea Butter Beauty Balm has 95% Organic and fair Trade Shea butter in it. It feels amazing on the skin. The butter looks like a firm balm in the container but melts at body temperature and applies like a dream on the skin! Winter is a great timing for the release of these products as shea butter cures and soothes dry skin so well. Being a multipurpose balm, you can pretty much use it for everything. L'Occitane has come up with 50 ways of using it.

My skin is not the only part me loving it. My nose is loving it as well! The Orange Honey fragrance is so yummy! The non citrusy but smooth orange combines wonderfully with honey and smells good enough to eat! Both orange and honey are of natural origin, so I guess you could eat it for real! The smell does stay on the skin for a long time, making it somewhat like a solid perfume!

Braille Labeling on L'Occitane
It comes in a tin which is shaped like a semi circle, like an orange segment. Looks cute! I have noticed the Braille writing on most of the L'Occitane products with wonder and appreciation. There is a little inspirational story behind the Braille labeling of L'Occitane products. I read an interesting article in CNN Money about this. In 1996 when Olivier Baussan, the Founder of L'Occitane was visiting one of his boutiques, he was fascinated by a blind woman inhaling and experiencing the perfumes. After that, most of the products had Braille labeling to make it more accessible to visually impaired. It only costs 4c to 6c extra to incorporate Braille on the packaging, estimated according to CNN Money.

In 1998, L'Occitane, in association with American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), launched a perfume school for blind teenagers. It is called Provence dans tous les sens. Every year, visually impaired students from ages of 14 to 16, selected by AFB, are flown from US to France where they learn perfumery from a blind perfumer. All the proceeds from the limited edition products go to this.

Along with community trade and empowering women, L'Occitane Foundation is closely associated with ORBIS which is an NGO that runs ophthalmology centers in isolated populations of developing world. They are partners with Hellen Keller International Childsight which improves vision and academic potential of children living in poverty. Through Order of Malta they make cataract surgeries available for poor. I am touched! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Seven Days of Sandalwood-Diptyque: Tam Dao

Notes according to Diptyque website
Ambergris, Cypress, Rosewood, Sandalwood
Tam Dao "Memories of the East, the precious, sacred scent of sandalwood in the heat of an Asian jungle."
If there is one sandalwood fragrance out there that is not only beautiful but also cures the mind and body, it is Tam Dao! Tam Dao is a blissful sandalwood that evokes a sense of calm. One whiff takes you into a trance. Just magical!

The sandalwood is not intense, it is light and pleasant but still has the smoothness and luxury of sandalwood itself. Tam Dao has sandalwood in its spirit but translates to something modern, light and wearable. It does lean towards being masculine and I want my man to swim in its elegance. But on me, it is just divine and sensuous! Being an EDT, makes it milder and the staying power on my skin is not that great. But I recently tried it on the cuff of my jacket and the heavenly smell just followed me everywhere!

Mecca Cosmetica is a great place to sniff away! It costs $150 AUD for 100mls and $120 AUD for $50. The Perfumed Court has decants at $3 for a ml, which is where I originally got mine.

This concludes the Seven Days of Sandalwood. But there are many sandalwood perfumes on my list to try: Creed Imperial Santal and Original Santal, Caswell Masey Sandalwood, Floris Santal and Le Labo Santal 33. Hope I get a chance to try these soon!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Seven Days of Sandalwood-Versace Crystal Noir

Lots of interruptions to my Sandalwood week! At first, it was a glitch with Blogger, then totally me and my lack of time to sit down and sniff properly! Tonight, I have settled on the couch with my favourite purple socks and a drab but comfy sweater on, eating chocolate-laced oat porridge ready to sniff and review Versace Crystal Noir! Winter Bliss!

The Versace Website says:
Crystal Noir is a “magical” fragrance: ethereal yet carnal. Precious, delicate and persistent.
It has an ultra-feminine oriental/floral scent. Its olfactory pyramid is deliberately minimalist to enhance the intrinsic elegance of the ingredients.
Versace Crystal Noir is a Floral/Oriental, exotic and very sexy. Sandalwood is just beautiful in the dry down,  making it one of my favourite sandalwood fragrances. A slightly spicy opening is dominated by white flowers. The flowers have an angelic presence to make the perfume heavy and heady. The dry down is a beautiful creamy sandalwood with coconut and ambery/powdery undertones which makes it complex and very alluring.

Crystal Noir is something you wear to complement a sexy mood. It makes you feel immensely sexy yet comfortable in your own skin. It has a great sillage and stays and stays. This sensual fragrance is available everywhere and a bargain can easily be scored! StawberryNet sells it for just over $50, really a great bargain for a wonderful perfume!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Seven Days of Sandalwood-The Body Shop: Woody Sandalwood

TBS Woody Sandalwood
Notes according to
Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Patchouli, Clove, Amber Musk
Tonka, Vanilla, Labdanum
TBS Woody Sandalwood perfume oil is a beautiful Sandalwood fragrance. A very dry, deep woody perfume. It comes across as strong but somewhat soft and comforting. The spices and the earthiness of Patchouli take the centre stage to begin with but it dries down to soft woody base. It is unsweet, dry and spicy version of woods. It is stark but very easy. It gives comfort and pleasure by being rigid, dry and denying the sweetness, kind of an austere perfume.

I am pretty sure that this has been reformulated. From memory, it used to be more "sandalwoody" and deeper.  In new one, there seems to be more of Cedar than sandalwood. I liked the new one too.

This one is discontinued in Australia and maybe still available in the UK. It is rare but can be found on eBay. I initially bought a bottle of the perfume oil from eBay for 3 pounds (I should have known better) I am pretty sure it was rip off because, in spite of the reformulation, it did not smell anything like what it should. After vain attempts to return it and a negative feedback to the seller, I finally got myself a real one. Though I miss the old one, the new one retains all the characteristics and the essence of the old one. A very impressive woody perfume oil. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Seven days of Sandalwood-Scent By The Sea: Sandalwood Vanilla

Sandalwood Vanilla is a beautiful little number by Scent by the Sea, an Etsy store that makes absolutely gorgeous perfume oils. Some time ago, I tried the sampler sets and very impressed with the scents and the service. My favourites are Sandalwood Vanilla, Cinema Rouge and Egyptian Honey. 
Scent by the Sea: Sandalwood Vanilla sample
Sandalwood Vanilla is an amazingly sweet vanilla with woody sandalwood. Something so simple can be so beautiful! On my skin, the sweetness is subdued, the depth of the sandalwood is enhanced and the vanilla comes out beautifully. It is so unique with the balance of creaminess of vanilla and sensual sandalwood. It is such a pleasure to wear, very comforting!

I haven't got a full bottle of this yet but just about to make an order! The full bottle costs $10 USD and the sampler sets are $12USD for 12 perfume oils. There is a new sampler set where you can choose your own scents! The service is great and shipping is very quick. Got to love that! 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Seven Days of Sandalwood- Serge Lutens: Santal Blanc

"The vision of Sandalwood combining cinnamon bark, Siamese benzoin, iris and musk. Wooded silk. Silken wood"

Serge Lutens Santal Blanc begins with warm spices. The spices are creamy and mild blending away into woody notes. It is not just sandalwood, but cedarwood and the like give the fragrance the silky feeling. It is white and velvetty.

1.2 ml spray sample
I don't really know what to think of it. It is nice, in fact beautiful. I like it but don't really feel anything magical. The wonder of the woodiness is somehow lost on me. It must be one of those perfumes that doesn't match the personality and don't even know why. I hope to update it soon, with a more positive note.

You can try it at Mecca Cosmetica. I love that place to sniff all the good stuff! It costs $175 for 50 ml and $95-$115 for 50 mls at StrawberryNet. My sample was bought from eBay.

There is a very interesting description of the inspiration behind this fragrance on Serge Lutens Facebook page. They have notes for most of the fragrances. Good read.

Seven Days of Sandalwood- Keiko Mecheri: Bois de Santal

White Sandalwood of Mysore, White Rose, Ambergis,
Tonka, Siamese Benzoin
Keiko Mecheri says: "True Sandalwood of Mysore is used as a pivot of this fragrance tailored for a modern dandy. A chord of rose and ambergis sublimes its nobility. Precious woods and balsamic notes reaffirm its sensuous warmth. Pure, mysterious"

KM's Bois de Santal is a little beauty! A fresh and sparkling fragrance with a modern vibe to it. The sandalwood is full but so light and delicate. White florals (Osmanthus, is mentioned as a note) make the whole thing so weightless and effortless! The dry down is a soft sandalwood made softer by powdery amber.
TPC decant
$3 for 1 ml
I like this take on sandalwood as it makes it more contemporary. Very wearable, sophisticated. It is soothing and uplifting. Perfect for summer nights! If you are lucky enough to live in a place where you can try Keiko Mecheri, this is a must-try, along with Peau de Peche (my favourite) and the Loukhoum ones (foody rose). In Australia, you can sniff them at Libertine Perfumery (Brisbane) and Galerie de Parfum in Myer, Melbourne. Both these places have online shopping and a 75 ml bottle retails at $225 AUD. Alternately you can try it at The Perfumed Court.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Seven Days Of Sandalwood - Serge Lutens: Santal de Mysore

Bell Jar of Santal de Mysore
1991, Christopher Sheldrake
Notes (as per TPC)
Sandalwood, Hot Spices, Cumin, Styrax, Benzoin
This is a rich, rich fragrance! Not only a rich price tag of $200 for 50 ml but also the perfume itself is rich rich rich! It starts off with a blast of spices, quite strong, opens up the nostrils! Cinnamon is nice and pleasant. Cumin really stands out and this is one of the perfumes where it turns "organic" on my skin. Santal de Mysore has the amplified spiciness of Arabie, but only sweeter. The initial dramatic spiciness is toned down by sweet, honeyed and candied thing that makes it 'warm' from 'hot'! The sandalwood is creamy and opulent. The spices, the sweetness of the honey may make it sound foody but to my nose, it is far from it. Benzoin plays a huge role in transforming the perfume. Benzoin polarises this spicy, sweet sandalwood into deep, resinous and balsamic one, still sweet and warm! It dries down to a creamy, sweet sandalwood laced with some spices and resins.

1 ml decant vial of EDP
from The Perfumed Court
$6.99 USD
Santal de Mysore is not a typical sandalwood perfume. It has some interesting spicy and resinous twist. It feels exotic and old but so close to the heart. It must be the nostalgic factor of spices and sandalwood with the fantasy of royalty and the oldness that takes you to a different time and place! Tiny little drops from my precious little vial don't really last that long on my skin. Maybe it would last longer if I stopped being stingy and used up the whole vial!

Seven Days of Sandalwood

Sandalwood is one of my favourite notes in perfumes. Over the next seven days, the theme is going to be Sandalwood. One sandalwood perfume reviewed everyday! I am really excited! Just before that, I'd like to share my thoughts on sandalwood in general.

Sandalwood is sourced from many places but the rarest is Mysore Sandalwood (santalum album), an endangered species due to over harvesting, illegal harvesting and lack of a real sustainable plantations. It is widely used in perfumery, skin care and art.

Beautifully carved
sandalwood box
Sandalwood means a lot to me, it has a special place in my heart. I was born and brought up in Bangalore that is just a drive away from Mysore, India. Sandalwood is very iconic there. Funnily enough the local film industry is called Sandalwood (along the same lines as Hollywood, Bollywood!)

Needless to say, I have grown up with a lot of sandalwood around me. Though I was lucky enough to learn to identify the tree (thanks to my botanist dad) and visit an exclusive sustainable reserve (thanks to my mum) I wasn't literally surrounded by sandalwood trees. They are really rare but sandalwood used in some form everyday. Back at home, we have a little piece of hard sandalwood that has been in the family for more than a century! It has gotten harder and richer with age. A paste is made by gently rubbing the wood on a smooth stone. This is sandalwood in its purest form. It feels amazingly cool on the skin, kind of endothermic and so pleasant!

The smell of sandalwood is just heavenly. It is light, fresh and woody (of course!) very soft, slightly sweet and creamy. It is mostly a base note. It is considered masculine (beautiful on a man when combined with Vetiver and spices) but it can be creamy, light and alluringly sensual on a female as well. I just love to wear sandalwood perfumes.

Mysore Sandal Soap has a long and interesting history, Wikipedia's article says it all. It made using pure sandalwood oil that is legally harvested from sustainable reserves.

It is the best soap, EVER! I have been using this soap since I was a kid and still keep buying it from Indian grocers. You can pick up a bar of Mysore Sandal Soap at any Indian grocers for about $5.
I enjoy a shower with it, not only for the smell factor, which by the way is just fabulous but also for how good it feels on my skin. Being blessed with dry skin, I can't use any soap at all. Mysore Sandal Soap is absolutely non drying and makes my skin feel nice!

It is an iconic soap and was very famous among people of my parents generation. The production and availability has decreased significantly over the past decade, in front of my eyes! It is most definitely not due to the declining popularity but sadly due to declining forest reserves. There is another variation of the soap called Mysore Sandal Gold that is aimed at a younger demographics (I feel so old!) It is nice but I much prefer the original because it 'feels' more like sandalwood!
Mysore Sandal Soap
Kora Organic Rich Body Lotion
Another nice sandalwood product that I have found is Kora Organics (By Miranda Kerr): Rich Body Lotion. Although it did nothing nourishing for my skin, it smells beautiful, of light sandalwood!

So, starting tomorrow, wait for my "Seven Days of Sandalwood"!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Perfume (+Makeup) Collection Update

I did huge perfume/makeup clean out recently. Just an update on how much my perfume collection has grown in a period of 4 months! 
You can see how my collection was in Dec 2010 here. I still have all those, these are some new additions. 

Full Bottles:
I feel like I have some explaining to do about my full bottles. I am not usually the kind who'll jump to buy a full bottle but here I am with 6 full bottles in 4 months, eeeek!

Avon/Christian Lacroix Absynthe was a swap from a good friend. 
Bond No 9 Fashion Avenue, well, I bought it because it is Bond No 9 and it was on sale. Not too happy with it. It is Ylang Ylang with hints of mimosa, I could use my EO instead!
Ame Toscane by Isabel Derroisne was a gift from another great friend. Notice the beautiful bottle shaped like a female body!
L'Occitane Labdanum de Seville: OMG, this is labdanum heaven! It is discontinued now in Australia and I bought it for half price just before it went off the shelves. That is something! No regrets, one of the best perfumes in my collection.
Don't Get Me Wong Baby: Etat Libre D'Orange was another one that is so-so but it was a half price bargain! 
Beyonce Heat is the bottle I won from FB. Not my thing, it will go to someone who would enjoy it. 

Samples and minis:
Tom Ford Private Blend: Amber Absolute
Tom Ford Private Blend: Oud Wood
Agent Provocateur: Maitresse
Khiel's Original Musk
Serendipity 3: Thanks to Dee
Ralph Lauren Samples: Thanks to Jac
Les Parfums de Rosine: Rose Praline
Lumiere Noire: Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Perfume Oil Full Bottles:
From my previous haul post

Finally, a sneak peek into my current Makeup Collection!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Liebster Blog Awards

Liebster in German means Dear/Lovely
So, officially my blog is Lovely ♥
So very exited to have been nominated to receive the Liebster Blog Award from the gorgeous Jac of ChloeBlue Likes To Sparkle! Thanks Jac, it is such a pleasure!

The Liebster Blog Award is designed to bring well deserved additional recognition to those bloggers with less than 300 followers. If you receive the award you link back to the blogger that nominated you and nominate 3 more blogs. 
I would like to pass on the Liebster Blog Award to three blogs that I read and really love!

The Science of Beauty by Sarah: Sarah is a science gal with a passion for beauty. Now that's a terrific combination! Sarah writes all about beauty with a scientific eye, busts/proves beauty myths with lots of evidence. Head over there and follow her, she makes all the nerdy stuff sound very cool!

Things I Love by Lilpil: I love reading her beauty product reviews! Lilpil writes the beauty stuff with a passion, so detailed, such a pleasure to read. Gotta read her reviews before heading out to buy a new product!

Little Jo It's All About Me by Little Jo: Jo just started writing this fabulous beauty blog. Let's all head over there and follow her to see what she beautiful things she has to say! 

My shout out to all the bloggers out there, new and old, big and small, beauty and non beauty: Keep Writing!