Beauty: 64 posts

Scented products other than perfume: candles, creams, incense, oils, soap and much more. I also include skincare tips, favorite makeup discoveries, DIY ideas and beauty rituals incorporating scents.

The Big Decision : Wedding Day Perfume

Last year you helped Patricia pick a perfume for her daughter’s wedding. Today she reveals the bride’s choice.

The venue and caterer had been booked months before, the flowers selected, and the dress chosen and on order. The musicians had been given their sheet music to learn, the photographer and videographer lined up, and the bridesmaids (her closest high school friends, his sister) and maid of honor (her sister) had saved the date. But one decision still loomed large: which perfume would my daughter wear on her wedding day? I had promised that the bottle of her choice would be delivered well before the date of the ceremony.

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In search of good perfume ideas, I proposed the question to my friends here at Bois de Jasmin in one of our Recommend Me a Perfume threads and received many thoughtful suggestions ranging from dusky roses to light white florals. Since at that time my daughter lived halfway across the country, I lovingly prepared a box of samples to send to her, based both on what I could decant from my collection and gather from the list of recommended perfumes.

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Catherine Deneuve’s Beauty and Perfume Routine

Celebrity perfumes come and go, but Deneuve, created by the French screen goddess, remains a legend. More than any other discontinued perfume, this green leather-chypre, an heir to Miss Dior and No 19, comes up in readers’ queries time and again. Catherine Deneuve is the ultimate perfume lover; Bois de Jasmin even has a Catherine Deneuve tag as a testament to her scent obsession and my admiration. I’m pleased to add another item to my list: the Into the Gloss article, in which Deneuve describes her beauty routine, her love for Cle de Peau powder, Carnal Flower and Francis Kurkdjian’s nose.

“When I start a film, I like to have a special fragrance to wear for it. So, I’m starting a film tomorrow and I’m going to wear Frederic Malle’s Eau de Magnolia—I like it because with every perfume, he works with a different person to do something special. After the film, I keep the perfume, and when I wear it I remember the experience. It’s not something I’ve always done, but I’ve been doing it for a few years. And also I like very much the perfume of Francis Kurkdjian, becaue he’s very special. He’s the one who did the first perfume of Jean Paul Gaultier but now he’s doing perfume for himself. I like his nose.

In the summer, I love to wear jasmine. It’s a very natural, floral scent, but at the same time, has something a little deeper. There’s a musk from Frederic Malle—Carnal Flower—that he also makes as a Hair Mist which I love. Also orange blossom—that’s lovely. Read more.”

Another interesting read is Catherine Deneuve on Her Favorite Perfume and Other Fragrance Topics. The woman is a perfumista, I tell you.

Photograph of Catherine Deneuve via Cineteve, from Anne Andreu’s biography released in 2010. Also highly recommended.

Pink, Perfume and Blush

I like pink. It’s one of the most intriguing and unpredictable colors–cheerful and aggressive, uplifting and alluring, delicate and tawdry. Pink in its pale, ballet slipper manifestations can seem precious and dainty, but saturate it–or contrast it–and the effect becomes much more subversive. Move anywhere outside central Europe, and pink’s reputation for girlishness and frivolity begins to appear less certain. Already in southern Spain and Italy the simple coquetry of this shade turns seductive and smoldering–in the hot pink of the matador’s cape and flamenco skirts, the Sicilian church frescoes and the intensity of bougainvillea against the chipped white stucco of Moorish palaces. Forget about pink being just for debutantes when in India; real Indian men wear pink. The intense tropical  sun bleaches pastels to nothingness, but pink holds its own, forcefully.

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The monochrome January palette needs an infusion of brightness, so my interest in things rose and fuchsia colored is correlated with the length of winter. This is probably why by the time spring arrives and the beauty magazines insist on pastels, I instead turn to greys and ambers. Pink can find its many expressions, in perfume, blush, lipstick, and it need not be only about roses.

Consider Frédéric Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur. The polished woods and musk would give it a sober air of an Oxford don, if it weren’t for a vivid geranium boutonniere. It’s bright and dramatic, an interplay between geranium’s green metallic and velvety floral notes. Pour Monsieur uses a particularly intense geranium essence, and I see it as shocking pink, nothing delicate about it.

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Daily Pleasures : Jasmine Shower Gels

It’s easy to fall into a routine underpinned by the stable schedule of work, studies and family responsibilities. One day flows into the next, alternating with all too brief weekends and lit up by the distant glow of a vacation. Around here this way of life is referred to as métro, boulot, dodo, translated literally as “commute, work, sleep.” As the daylight hours get shorter, I feel the drain of such a schedule even more. Waking up to the murky darkness and a glittering sliver of moon–the same vignette I saw before I went to bed, I start counting the number of days until the winter holidays. Which at this point feel too distant for comfort.

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On the other hand, it’s always possible to make a mini holiday for yourself, even in the middle of the dullest period. It can be an hour at a museum, a shopping excursion with friends or even just a favorite scented candle. Surrounding yourself with favorite objects and planning events that give you a dose of pleasure goes a long way to alleviating the sameness of inescapable routine.

Lately, my little joys have been jasmine scented. It may come as no surprise to my regular readers that I love jasmine, but there are times when I’m particularly obsessed with it. Jasmine is linked to all things I enjoy–Chinese tea, Persian gardens, Indian incense, Ukrainian summer nights and Sicilian desserts. Just a whiff of its complex perfume, a harmony of apricot jam, green banana and a hint of warm suede, is thrilling. Since I try to start my day on the right note, jasmine scented showers are it.

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Chanel Creme Pour Le Corps (Fresh Body Cream) : Review and Experiment

If a brand promises a separate product to extend the lasting power of its perfumes, it’s either a sign of a gimmick or technical problems with its fragrances. That being said, if your skin is dry, then you might notice scents vanishing quickly, but this trouble is solved by any good drugstore moisturizer. Where does it leave Crème Pour Le Corps Les Exclusifs de Chanel, Chanel’s rich body cream designed to be layered with the fragrances from its Les Exclusifs collection? It’s not quite a dull gimmick, but it’s not an essential product either.

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Crème Pour Le Corps is an excellent moisturizer, and if your budget has space for a $130 body cream, then by all means, try it for that reason alone. The cream absorbs instantly, but it leaves my skin soft for hours, always a plus. On the other hand, there are wonderful products available from Avène, La Roche Posay, Eucerin, and Ren, and I’m not a big fan of jar packaging; for hygienic reasons I prefer tubes or pump dispensers.

The only reason I’d possibly consider Crème Pour Le Corps would be its purported ability to make the ethereal 28 La Pausa wear like iron. I think of 28 La Pausa as an iris cologne, and I use it lavishly as such, but at times I really wish this tender blend of iris, mellow woods and musk wouldn’t vanish so fast. Which is why I decided to experiment by layering it with Crème Pour Le Corps. I’ve undertaken said experiment with my usual geeky pedantry scientific precision. I’ve applied a layer of cream on one arm and added two sprays of 28 La Pausa. My other arm received just two spritzes of La Pausa, without any cream. I waited and sniffed my arms intermittently.

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