shiseido: 3 posts

Top Favorite Japanese PA++++ Sunscreens

“Apart from genes and healthy lifestyle, nothing will make as much difference in the way your skin looks as sun protection.” These words come from my mom’s dermatologist in Kyiv, a woman in her late seventies who had the most beautiful skin I’d seen. It had all the natural signs of age, but it was smooth, even toned and glowed like the inside of a seashell. At the time sun worship was a religion, so her advice seemed outlandish. Nevertheless, so impressed was I that I decided to follow it.

My mom’s friend would have loved visiting Japan, where the skincare wisdom is based on daily sun protection. Parasols on a sunny day outnumber umbrellas on a rainy afternoon. Unlike in the US or Europe, where a tube of sunscreen comes out only for seaside vacations, women (and men) use sun protection every day. Which means that the expectations from the skincare brands are high. Not only are the sunscreens more cosmetically elegant, with finishes that make skin look healthy and smooth, but they also offer excellent protection against UV radiation.

For the past few years, I’ve been spending more time in Japan, so it’s been fascinating to learn of new products and try many different cosmetics. My favorite Asian sunscreens still remain the ones formulated for the Japanese market. They tend to have soft, matte finishes and wonderful, light textures. Many products contain alcohol, since it not only makes for an easier formulation, but also because it gives a cooling effect on a sweltering Japanese summer day. I avoid it. My combination skin is prone to dehydration, and I avoid anything with alcohol. The only exception on my list is Shiseido SENKA Mineral Water UV Essence, because the alcohol in that formula doesn’t bother me.

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Shiseido White Rose Natural : Perfume Review

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I debated whether I should review Shiseido White Rose Natural, because it’s expensive and available only in Japan. For some, this may be a tantalizing combination, for others (and we are in the majority), the ultimate frustration. But if you’re a rose lover, a perfume history buff, or like me, have a strong interest in Japanese fragrances, White Rose is hard to resist. Given Japanese perfume tastes, it’s somewhat of a puzzle–a rose that doesn’t smell at all like the fresh watery roses that grace the regional top seller lists. White Rose Natural combines the boldness of American perfumery with the refinement of French, but the end result is that smells remarkably Japanese, even if it doesn’t follow the established trends.

white-rose

Last year Shiseido celebrated its 140th anniversary. Its story is full of interesting tidbits. Did you know that the company was founded by the ex-head-pharmacist to the Imperial navy, Fukuhara Arinobu, when he was only 23? Or that Shiseido is believed to have introduced ice cream to Japan? White Rose may not be an expected Japanese perfume, but then again, Shiseido doesn’t always play by the rules.

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Shiseido Feminite du Bois : Perfume Review

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Girl_with_pearl_earring

Shiseido Féminité du Bois is a brilliant revelation that cedarwood, a note considered to belong in the sphere of masculine perfumery can be made into the main theme of a feminine composition that does not compromise the resinous dryness of wood for the sake of fitting with the traditional concepts; nor softens it with flowers until the wood looses its unique texture.

Serge Lutens oversaw the creation of Féminité du Bois for Shiseido, and the fruity, violet tinged cedarwood accord that radiates in it is the backbone of the entire Lutens Les Eaux Boisées series, which include Bois de Violette, Bois et Musc, Bois Oriental, Bois et Fruits, Santal de Mysore, Chêne and Un Bois Sépia. Created by Pierre Bourdon (who subsequently worked the plumy cedarwood accord into the luxurious richness of Dolce Vita (1995)) and Christopher Sheldrake in 1992, Féminité du Bois arranges the spicy top accord with the weightless floral heart. …

The entire composition rests in the strong embrace of cedarwood, dusky like the shadows that contrast with the dazzling light of Vermeer’s paintings, elevating simple moments into visions of disarming beauty. Féminité du Bois exquisitely captures the texture of raw silk with its transparent layers of notes, the clinging dryness of woods interspersed with the velvety flesh of red plums.

On a technical level, the silky duskiness of Féminité du Bois is achieved not so much through the cedarwood oil, but via an overdose of Iso E Super, a material which has little smell, other than the impurity in it that presents an interplay of hues, like an iridescent coating of an oyster shell. Refracting through specific notes, Iso E Super can assume either the radiant warthm of amber, the balsamic dryness of cedarwood or the sweet darkness of violet. In Féminité du Bois, Iso E Super harmonizes violet with cedar notes, allowing for the rough edges to be smoothed away, while retaining the strength of woods.

The fascinating quality of this radiant composition lies in its ability to weave a fruity facet into the woody layers, without clichés of sweet and sugary notes that dominate many feminine fragrances. At the same time, it carefully blends the gender line without appearing androgynous. Ultimately, like all things beautiful, Féminité du Bois is suitable for anyone who would appreciate it.

Féminité du Bois includes notes of cedarwood, orange blossom, rose, violet, honey, plum, beeswax, clove, cardamom, cinnamon. The fragrance is discontinued in the States, however it is still widely available in Europe. Online, it can be found from various discount fragrance stores.

Painting: Jan Vermeer. Girl with a Pearl Earring. c.1665. Oil on canvas. Mauritshuis, the Hague, Netherlands. From abcgallery.com.

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

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